Slurpy News

I got the green light for a deadline of mid-November on the new RLP, which isn’t all that secret since I announced it a week ago. So technically it’s not a SSRLP like the last one but we love this one enough to call it SLRP or Slurp. Henceforth it shall be called. 🙂

Some of the conditions for this are different: Shared author credit for one; shared royalties for another. (The advance is all mine, though.)  I don’t mind though. I wouldn’t be able to write it without this guy’s book in the first place. So it’s all good and no one’s cheated.

So I got it, now I have to write it. I know nothing, whatever, about half the book. I have to learn it post haste.

So, the rules remain basically the same as they did for the first one. X-number of pages, X-number of pictures, send in the first chapter for review and style check. Then run.

I’ll need to find out how many pages, how many pictures, things like that. Once I know I’ll be free to fire away. And with a mid-November deadline I guess it won’t be published this year after all. Oh well.

Between now and Monday, I need to finish the e-book I’m self-publishing. That means finishing the edits and the proofing, and sending it off to my beta Kindler. Heh. This is going to be fun, because it’s wanton abandon to a self-serving project for a while. Once it’s finished or on Monday morning, whichever comes first, I abandon everything but job hunting for the Slurp.

So, now I’ll be busy. Here’s hoping I can finish this thing on time and in a timely fashion.

Wish me luck.

-JDT-

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Self-Pub eBook Update

Well, I’ve been a busy, busy boy lately.

I’ve spent more time reading up on Kindle publishing than I ever imagined I would. And my buddy Bryce helped out a lot too.(Matter of fact, watch both this space and his for a full run-down of the how-to of Kindle self-publishing, soon as I can get the time block cleared to do it.)

What I’ve done so far is download a couple of utilities that make processing the Kindle format much, MUCH easier. There are three specific ones I’m using for this process:

  1. A command line utility Amazon offers on their DTP (that’s digital text platform) site. You run it from a command prompt in Windows or whatever operating system you’re using (think I saw instructions for both Linux and Windows, maybe another one – Mac? – too). Basically you run the utility and it spits out a .mobi format (the one the Kindle uses) file for you. But the catch is, you have to input one of the acceptable file formats to begin with (luckily, HTML is one such format).
  2. A second utility which does something similar but uses raw Word documents as input. It doesn’t, however, work quite as well, at least not in my testing. (I haven’t tried it with HTML documents yet; that experiment is later today.) It’s also a GUI program, meaning it works IN Windows instead of a command prompt (which many will think of as a “DOS” program).
  3. Finally, I’m using the Kindle Previewer to view the converted e-books and see how they turned out. They lack the professional kerning capabilities of a major publishing house utilizing a professional typesetter, and I could run the Word files through Adobe InDesign (which is a typesetting program), but it’s sort of a PITA to do that and very, very time consuming (since this is NOT my full-time job and I cannot afford a typesetter).
  4. Also, I created a cover for the book, which I think (and my wife agrees) is quite nice. It’s slick. But I don’t know how to get the image into the book. I know it will go up with the upload to be a thumbnail for the Kindle store, but how to include it as part of the .mobi file?

So my questions keep piling up. Back to the Kindle publishing forums I go, I suppose. Maybe it’s in the formatting instructions somewhere.

All right, then, here’s what I have to do:

  • Make a single Word document of all the stories I’m including in the compilation
  • Convert that document to HTML
  • Run it through the utility(ies) to see how it turns out
  • Upload to Kindle store and Smashwords and pray. Pray, pray, pray.

Did I miss anything?

Here’s one for you Kindle owners out there: Can you download books from sources OTHER than Amazon’s Kindle store? That is, if I email this thing to you, can you get it onto your Kindle and check it out for me, see whether the formatting is at least comparable to professionally converted ebooks? I’d like this product to be as close as possible to professional quality; after all, I’m going to have to charge for it.

Also need any and all information you all can share about the “front matter” in a self-published e-book. How should the copyright information read? And should I include a dedication and acknowledgements page? (I did do it myself, but I still need some help.)

Oh, and any takers on the proofing stuff, please let me know if you’re still available. I’m way behind where I wanted to be, but I’m getting there. Thanks!

Hm. I think that’s it. What’s on your plate this weekend?

-JDT-

Why Friday

Well, blogging bud and fellow wannabe writer Linda asked a great series of questions at her place about why writers write what they do.

It gave me a great deal of pause, really. I’ve never thought about why I might be doing what I do when I sit at the keyboard and write. She had some great insights and shared some pretty honest stuff about her writing and then tossed it out to all of us in the Peanut Gallery: Why do you write what you do?

But she went deeper than that – as any good writer would – and asked a few more questions I found interesting. I’m not deep enough to expound on those things, or even to pontificate on them. But I did find them thought provoking and figured I’d at least try and scratch the surface here.

Why write that? Why write what you write?

I know if I move in certain circles I’ll be condemned eventually for what I write as fiction. Oh, I won’t go into the reasons here, because it’s never happened and even if it did I wouldn’t much care. But I’ve long held the belief what I write could never be what the condemning crowd reads. The twain can never meet, period.

But I thought about it and now I wonder. Hm.

I don’t write because I have to. I’ve stopped; stopped for a good long while. And I can stop, but won’t. I don’t care how many “gurus” and “published authors” say it, I’ll never heed the advice if you can quit, you should; real writers can’t stop writing.

That’s poppycock. I know a lot of writers and at some point, most of ‘em stopped for a time. Voluntarily. Until such a time as they didn’t want to stop anymore. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is their prerogative. I may be the best artist on God’s green earth, but if I don’t feel like drawing or painting, I ain’t gonna, and no one can tell me I have to.

I don’t write horror because I have to, either. I’ve written plenty of non-horror stuff, but it’s always gonna bend dark. Yessir. Some may not call it horror, and that’s fine. I don’t do gore, but I don’t do happy either. (Drives my wife crazy.) I tend toward the dark, the sardonic, the weird, the creepy and downright scary if I can achieve it (rare for me). Don’t read my stuff to feel good. Not gonna happen.

I don’t write for myself. I’ve tried that. It just doesn’t work for me. I’m not saying it’s not okay for others, but I know myself. I have to have someone read my work or I’ll go bonkers, end up twitching and drooling. I need the knowledge of intake by another person. My kids NEED to have one of us look at and approve of their drawings when they do them – all of them. No exceptions. My level of busy is irrelevant. Stop, Dad, and check out what I drew  and say it’s cool or else there’s no point to us drawing.

They obviously get that from me. I have to have someone see what I’ve done. I have to. Megalomania? Narcissism? Maybe. But I need to have someone read my work.

This actually helps me a bit. Now I know one reason I write: To be read. But why do I write what I do? Why the horror feel? Do I need a plot or can characters drive my story? (I don’t think I exactly know what that last bit means, no matter how I try.)

I don’t know. But I know I write to be read, and the next logical step in that process is to get published.

Well … okay. The next step is to have something I can submit. Heh.

Details.

What drives your passion? Writers, why do you write what you write? do you know?

-JDT-

‘Net Peeves

‘Net Peeves – that’s my little coined term for things you see on the Internet which affect you roughly the same way fingernails on a chalkboard would. Maybe it’s when people start substituting letters for words (“where r u? we’re gonna b l8! ne1 there?!”), although this is more common in text messages and chat programs or IM conversations.

For me, there are many. Way too many to list. I have a short list below, but I want you all to know NONE OF YOU, faithful readers, are the subjects of these items. None. I mostly get burned and chaffed by seeing this stuff in either print (yes, I’ve see it in books I’ve read from the library recently), and from people who really should know better, should’ve been taught better, need to know the rules better and don’t.

Here are a few of mine:

  • “internet” instead of “Internet” – This is a proper noun, guys. It’s capitalized. And I’ve see so-called “professional writers” (like journalists) do this in print and online. Meanwhile, I can spell, write in complete sentences, and can’t seem to get a job. WTF? And similarly…
  • “god” for “God” – gimme a break. And by the way, this doesn’t bother me for the reason you might think. If you mean the Judeo-Christian deity, and let’s face it you know you do when you say things like “oh my god” because I dare you, dare you to try that with the Muslim god-concept – then it’s capitalized because it doesn’t refer to a generic god-concept, neither a generic class of beings or a generic member of that class. Don’t believe me? Look it up. I guess my question is, what’s the motivation for NOT capitalizing it? ‘Cause it ain’t for good grammar’s sake. (And likewise, if you reference the Judeo-Christian religious texts it’s capitalized too: “Bible” NOT “bible”.)
  • “step foot” instead of “set foot” – as in, “I won’t step foot in Yellowcat’s restaurant unless I know she’s not there!” If you’re going to be so hackneyed as to use a stupid cliché, at least get the cliché right! (There are a LOT of others, but this one came to mind while writing this post.) Again, I see so-called “professional writers” do this. Correct: “I won’t SET FOOT in Yellowcat’s ….”
  • “would of”/”could of”/”should of” for “would’ve”/”could’ve”/”should’ve” – C’mon, are you serious? You’re really telling me you think the word “of” should and can follow would, should or could? That you really didn’t know the correct term is a contraction for would have, should have or could have? Really?
  • supposably (or some equally stupid variant) for “supposedly” – If Microsoft Word’s spell checker hates it, there might be a reason. Why not look it up? If you’re writing for Internet (see the uppercase “I” there?) and using a program without a spell check feature, you need to be sure you know what you’re doing and have sufficient mastery of the language to get by. Typos are one thing; ignorance of vocabulary is another. We all have limits to our vocabulary; that’s what dictionaries are for. If you can’t install a spell check utility (there are tons of really awesome free ones out there), why not use dictionary.com or something? Please.

Okay, those are a few of mine. How ‘bout yours? Do you have a few ‘Net Peeves which drive you to rip your hair out and gnash your teeth when you see them? And more importantly, do you see them here, on my blog? (Egg on face!! Tell me so I can FIX it!) Maybe you hate when I write “gonna” instead of “going to” or “lemme” instead of “let me”. Whatever it is that grinds you, sound off.

Sound off and lemme have it! 😉

-JDT-

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Hey! I’m AT THE BIJOU!

My buddy Absolutely*Kate, one of the most colorful and powerful voices in hardboiled, noir-genre prose I’ve read in many a long year, did me a great honor and pubbed one of my #FlashFriday pieces from late last year!

Now, it probably wasn’t the best choice I could’ve made. She asked me for a piece and under the deadline I didn’t think I could dash one off which would uphold the standard she’s set for featuring artists. So I gave her one which I liked and which had a warm reception from the reading public.

I hate being repetitious and hope it won’t work against me, since a lot of the FF writers have already read it, but I was so honored to be asked to join the featured artists AT THE BIJOU.

Please, if you have time go check out the arrangement Absolutely*Kate gave the piece and tell her what you think of it. (Polite company language only, please! Heh.)

Thanks y’all!

-JDT-