Authors Input Wanted! Help An Up And Coming Developer Make The Tool You Need!

So, I’ve been talking with a couple of developers in recent months who are working on a new tool for authors to convert their manuscripts to ebook formats.

The basic premise of what the final product will do is this: Authors will upload their manuscript (in MS Word’s .docx format to start with). You then make adjustments, setting chapter breaks, setting up the various sections, and so on. Then, once you have it exactly how you want it, you download the ebook in whichever format(s) you need.

The project is still in development, but they want to hear from as many authors as possible to make their tool the most useful it can be. If you’d like to take a look at a prototype of the interface and let them know what you think, just click this link right here!

IMPORTANT: This is just a mock-up of the interface for testing and feedback purposes. It will almost certainly change as things are refined and as they learn more about how authors want to use the service. The interface shown at the link above is competely non-functional – it’s just to show you how the final system would work, as it stands now. They want to know how YOU would change it to make it work best for your own projects.

If you click on the screen, you’ll see blue boxes flash to show different parts that you can interact with to see how the final product would work. Experiment, play around, and give your feedback to the developers!

After you’ve explored the interface and have some ideas or thoughts to send along, send them an email at typebookfeedback@outlook.com and let them know what you think! Also, visit their landing page at www.typebook.co. At that site, you can see some of the early proposed pricing for the service. They also want to know what you think is a fair price for the service, so send that info along as well. The listed prices are just preliminary at this point. At the bottom, there’s a sign-up box so you can be contacted for follow-ups. Also, if you’re so inclined, follow their official Twitter account.

Now is the time where authors can make their thoughts heard! They want to make this project the best, most useful tool for turning your manuscript into an ebook. But, they need your help to do it! Please consider taking a look and sharing your thoughts with them.

One final note: I’m not affiliated with Typebook in any way. I just happen to know about the project and think they’ve got a shot at creating a really useful tool here. They’ve asked me to help spread the word, which I’m happy to do.

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Update – March 2015 – Podcast Appearance and Call For Beta Readers

Not much new to report, but a couple of things worth talking about.

First, you may have noticed that I’ve titled this one as the update for March. I don’t know if that’s going to be “a thing” or not, but I do want to update the blog more regularly, if only to keep you all in the loop on what I’m up to. So, maybe I’ll make this a monthly thing?

The first bit of news to report is my recent appearance on Armand Rosamilia’s Arm Cast Dead Sexy Horror Podcast. As usual, those of you who follow my Facebook page have probably already heard about this, but it was a fun little interview. One reason it was so enjoyable is because Armand doesn’t do interviews in the traditional sense. Instead, it’s just two authors sitting and talking about whatever for an hour or so. We talked about writing (of course), as well as music, Dungeons & Dragons, his upcoming wedding, and all sorts of stuff. Go check it out!

Arm Cast Podcast Logo

This is a fun show!

Another thing worth mentioning: As you know, A Man With A Gun is finished. While I do have some beta readers currently going through the first draft, I would like to have more folks giving it a look and giving me their thoughts. If YOU would like to be a beta reader, hop over to my Contact page and drop me a line. Let me know what format you would need it in (PDF, Doc, Docx, etc.). I can’t promise that I’ll accept everyone as a beta reader, but let me know why you’d like to beta read A Man With A Gun and maybe you’ll be in the list!

In case you’re wondering, A Man With A Gun is a near future sci-fi story with some dystopian elements, along with some paranormal/horror and western bits. Yeah, it’s a genre-bender. The manuscript is currently around 87,000 words (a little longer than Frostwalker was) and it’s a raw first draft – not even really proofread.

My first drafts do tend to be pretty clean, but I’m sure there are plenty of typos. However, beta readers are free to provide as much or as little feedback as they’d like. If you want to hunt down typos, that’s fine. If you want to ignore them and focus on story issues, that’s cool, too. If you want to just give me a few sentences telling me what you liked and didn’t like, that’ll do pig. It’s entirely up to you how much feedback, and what type, you’d like to give.

Lastly, if you do beta read the manuscript and don’t finish it, I’d like to know where you lost interest. That’s important info!

That’s got most of the high points covered. In other news, as I mentioned in my last post, I planned to take two or four weeks off after finishing A Man With A Gun. Unfortunately, coming down with the flu pretty much meant that my whole “break” was spent lying in bed wishing I could die.

In addition to that, a computer I built a year ago suffered a motherboard failure, rendering it inoperable. This wouldn’t matter too much, but that computer contains the hard drive where most of my writing files are stored. No data has been lost, of course, but I can’t access the things I need to work on certain projects. This has limited my options for when I do go back to writing, but I don’t think it will be a major issue. A story idea is brewing already, and it’s just about ready to break forth, spewing onto the keyboard!

Other issues not related to writing have been popping up. Some of it due to the illness and some due to all the time I put into writing in the first part of the year. Things I set aside in January and February are having to be dealt with now.

It will be good to get back to writing, but I have to admit to a strange uneasiness as well. Sort of an indistinct anxiety hovering around the idea of diving back into the writing. It’ll work itself out eventually.

For now, that’s about got it. I look forward to hearing from you, so feel free to drop me a line – not just if you’re interested in beta reading, but if you’d just like to chat. The best part of this writing thing is hearing from readers!

Win A Kindle Fire And 40 Books To Fill It With!

FreeKindleGiveaway.com is a cross-promotion effort where you get to enter to win great prizes. Right now, their current promo is your chance to win a Kindle Fire along with 40 Kindle e-books to put on it. Entering to win is easy and free – just use the Rafflecopter entry at the bottom of this post. But, before you do, let me tell you about a great book!

Continue reading

No Wild Oats, But I’m Sowing Something

Those of you who follow my Facebook page have probably noticed that I’ve not been posting a lot of writing updates lately. That’s because I’ve not been doing a lot of writing lately. Fear not, work continues on A Man With A Gun, but it’s been slow and the words aren’t flowing lately. The story needs more time to gestate in those lower chambers of my mind before it can be brought to the page. Yes, I am a writer – but I am also many other things. Among those other things, I’ve been getting my hands dirty.

It may be a genetic thing. My parents were farmers, before retiring in recent years. Their parents were farmers, too. Hogs, chickens, tobacco, assorted vegetables, and so on. I imagine those who came before my grandparents were largely farmers as well – it’s just what we do, I guess.

Then again, maybe it’s not just us. Maybe it’s something intrinsic to mankind. The days start to grow longer, and frost becomes less common. The sun shifts its path through the sky, cresting the horizon earlier, and from a point further north each day. The Earth starts to awaken, and something that had lain dormant within us through the cold winter months begins to stir.

Let me be clear about something up front: I have no desire to actually be a farmer. It’s not the sort of thing I can make a life out of, despite that call that I feel. Also, it looks suspiciously like work. Frankly, I’ve grown up farming and it’s not how I want to make my mark. I love the people who do it, but it’s just not for me.

But, I do feel that call. Also, I like fresh tomatoes. Usually, I have no luck. I get a late start, I lack the equipment I need, whatever. However, last year I was able to have a little bit of success. I built a raised bed, only 4 x 8 feet, and about 2 feet deep, and crammed it full of tomatoes and a few other things. Okay, a LOT of other things. It started out looking like this:

2013 Garden Bed Start

 

 

And ended up looking like this:

2013 Garden Bed End

It grew like a jungle! There were tomatoes everywhere, and the one huge plant sprawling on the corner (a German Queen) produced tomatoes nearly the size of my head and had vines spreading out over a 6 ft diameter area. It was insane – and very satisfying! Also, I discovered that if you have a jalapeno plant in your garden, your wife will put jalapenos in everything she cooks. But it was good, and we’re looking forward to more of the same this year.

This year, it’s not so crowded:

2014 Garden Bed Start

Just tomatoes and peppers in there this time, but several varieties. We’ve got Cherokee Purple, Cherry Tomatoes, Boxcar Willies, Jalapenos (both hot and sweet varieties) Aji Dulce, and one just for fun: Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper, the 2013 Guinness World Record holder for hottest pepper. This year there will be tomato cages as well. Tying them up to stakes was an exercise in futility last year, and it was way out of control. For those who are interested, all twelve of these plants were ordered through www.chileplants.com, and we’ve been quite happy with them so far. We’ll see how they fare in the hot North Carolina summer!

But, wait! There’s more! Since the raised bed is going to be tomatoes and peppers alone this year, there’s got to be somewhere to put the green beans, corn, potatoes, and other assorted odds and ends. This year, I made use of the tiller, and after this afternoon, I think the thing is going to kill me.

Yes, I cut my hair. Settle down. It will grow back!

Yes, I cut my hair. Settle down. It will grow back!

That little plot isn’t much, but it’s probably enough to get some stuff in the ground and maybe soothe that itch to grow things. Before this afternoon, that was grass and weeds. Now, after much sweat and some blisters on the hands, it’s a garden – or will be in a few days.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing instead of writing. Or, at least, some of what I’ve been doing. Do any of you out there feel that call? Does some primitive part of your brain pull you out into the sun, drive you to till the earth, and watch things grow at your direction? If so, do you answer that call?

Authors Supporting Our Troops – Time To Pitch In!

No matter what your political leanings or beliefs, one thing we all agree on is that it’s important to support those who serve in our armed forces. Many of my own family members have served over the years, as well as many friends. But whether you’re a friend, a relative, or a complete stranger, I am forever grateful for those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedoms.

Because of this, I was very happy when I stumbled across an event being run by fellow horror author Armand RosamiliaAuthors Supporting Our Troops 2014!

ASOT 2014

This is a great chance for authors like myself to give something back to those who have given so much. I’m proud to be a part of this event, and I hope many of my friends in the indie author scene will join in!

Get My Books Free During “Read An E-Book Week”, March 2 – March 8!

The ebook revolution continues! Books in digital format are still a bit new to some people. But, this portable, flexible, and connected new way of reading has taken the world by storm. If you’ve never read an ebook, now is your chance to give it a try – for free!

girlreading

Read An E-Book Week is an opportunity to pick from thousands of books for free and try ’em out. You don’t need to have a Kindle or any special hardware. Chances are, whatever you’re reading this on will work just fine. There are free Kindle apps for PC, Mac, Android, and Apple devices as well as other formats, such as PDF, that you can read on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

During this year’s Read An E-Book Week, I will be offering all of my works at Smashwords for free! This is a great opportunity to check out my pulp horror short story The Card if you’ve not read it before. If you really want to cash in, grab my survival horror novel Frostwalker and save $2.99! While you’re at it, my other short, Out After Dark is also free – but it’s always free at Smashwords anyway.

ThreeBookCovers

How To Participate

During the event, head over to Smashwords, add my books to your shopping cart, and use the coupon code RW100 before you check out. It’s that simple! Just use the coupon code when you checkout at Smashwords and you’re set!

Thousands of other books will be available for reduced prices or even free like my own. Take a look around and see what catches your eye! But remember, this event only runs from March 2nd until the 8th. At midnight (Pacific time) at the end of March 8th, the deals end – but the ebooks you get to keep!

Take the plunge and get into ebooks – you won’t regret it!

Get My Short Story “The Card” Free – But Act Fast!

So, here’s the thing: I know what it’s like to shop for books. I also know what it’s like to have a very limited budget for entertainment. This is why I understand the difficulty people have with taking a chance on an author they don’t know. For most of the Earth’s population, I am one of those authors you just don’t know.

Because of this, I think it’s very important that relatively unknown authors such as myself get their work in front of readers. Until you know me, and know that my work is worth your limited entertainment dollars, I can’t reasonably ask you to risk your cash on my work. It’s going to take some give and take – and I have to give before I take anything.

That’s part of the reason why my short story Out After Dark is free. Another reason is that it’s rather short, and I don’t really think it’s long enough to charge for. Granted, publishing it through Amazon means that I can’t set the price to free – but Amazon does price matching. That story being free at Smashwords and all the other places that Smashwords distributes to (iTunes, Sony, Kobo, B&N, etc.) means that Amazon makes the price on Out After Dark free – at least, on the US Amazon site. Not entirely sure where they’re setting the price elsewhere.

The CardHowever, that’s just one story, and it is rather short. The Card is a longer piece, and it’s not in the overdone vampire genre (even if I think Out After Dark is a new twist). The Card is a very original piece. I do think The Card warrants a price, and 99 cents is pretty much the lowest you can go.

Now, in an effort to get my work out there, and give readers a chance to get to know me, and a chance to enjoy my work, I’m posting this coupon code to get The Card for FREE. However, this coupon code is only good for the next day or two. It expires February 14th, but I’m not sure if that is midnight (California time) the morning of the 14th, or if it will be good until the end of that day. Smashwords wasn’t entirely clear on that when I generated the coupon code. Bottom line: get it fast while you can! Here’s the code:

TQ57Q

To use this code, go to Smashwords and add The Card to your shopping cart. Input the code in the space provided, then check out! You may need to create a Smashwords account, if you don’t already have one. It’s free and easy to get a Smashwords account, so don’t let that hold you back. Using this code, The Card will be yours, and on your account, for as long as you want it. No strings attached!

After you’ve read The Card, if you liked it (or even if you didn’t), I hope you’ll leave a review at Smashwords. If you’re so inclined, you can review it at Amazon and Goodreads as well.

If you like my work, I hope you’ll try my full-length novel, Frostwalker. Again, I don’t feel like you need to spend your money without knowing you’ll like what you’re getting. You can read the first 33% (one third) of the book for FREE at Smashwords. I hope you’ll check it out!

Lastly, please share this with your friends! I really want to reach as many of you as possible. Someday, I wouldn’t mind writing full time, paying my bills doing what I love. But even if I reach that goal, I hope I never lose sight of what is important: This isn’t about making money. It’s about telling great stories and entertaining readers!

Thanks, and enjoy!