I’m scared and I don’t know why you aren’t

“Trump's a political outsider.”

“Trump speaks his mind.”

“He's going to get the corruption out of Washington.”

“We don't want another four years of the same politics in Washington.”

“It's time we sent a message to Washington that they can't just ignore us.”

I've heard the arguments. I understand them. Congress' approval rating is lower than Ebola's (wish I was joking) and the “fly over states” feel justifiably like our concerns aren't important to the policy makers in Washington. Concerns that have been stoked and enflamed by a pompous, posturing, shit lord with corn-silk hair … I'm sorry … President-Elect Trump.

Continue reading…


The Dragon That Can’t be Fought

With the demise of Borders, the battle of eBooks is one that is primarily fought between Barnes and Nobles and Amazon. I won't discount Kobo, Sony or Apple, but in my mind they are three minor players in this particular battle. For my own part, I have a Kindle. I've had one for roughly three years now and I love it. If I were stranded on a desert island with only one piece of tech (and a solar charger) I would choose my Kindle without a seconds hesitation. Out of all the little gizmo's I have, it is without a doubt my favorite one. It even beats out the iPad, upon which I am writing this right now.

Chances are though, that if I had a Nook, it would be my favorite device. Really, the eReader itself is just the platform that allows me to enjoy well over 300 books on a device that weighs less than a paperback. I know, I know. Some people will go on and on and on about how you just can't read without the feel of the paper turning or blah blah blah. Sure, your physical book doesn't need to be recharged either…but that's not really much of a concern anymore. I plug the sucker in once a month and I'm good to go, despite how bloody much I can read when I really get into something.

Whether you like it or not, whether you have a Nook, or a Kindle or a Kobo or just use your cheap Android tablet or even your phone, eBooks are here to stay. Here me now, believe me later if you must, but eBooks are to Books, as mp3s were to CD's (as CD's were to tapes). And this is the point: There will always be a place for physical books, but the eBook will be the future, and just like with the music industry dragging its feet when digital music came about, the established publishing industry is having to be dragged into the future kicking and screaming.

Right now, Amazon is using some pretty shadey tactics to dictate its own terms to the publishing industry. Take the recent frakas between Amazon and Hatchet. Its really hard to brand Amazon as anything but the heavy of the piece. Yeah, they might be trying to get a better deal for authors, but they're also trying to get a better deal for themselves, and that's probably the most important thing for them. With every move it makes, Amazon is trying to corner more and more of the eBook market, and largely, its kicking ass.

The major publishers, the Big 6, (or is it 5 now?) don't like this. And I can understand why they wouldn't. Amazon is doing all sorts of crazy shit, like making an all you can read eBook service that tastes a lot like Netflix for books. Lets all remember what exactly Netflix did to Blockbusters for a minute. Anyone been to a Blockbuster lately, except for the going out of business sales? They're offering royalties that make a LOT of authors (myself included) wonder why they'd want to go with a traditional publisher. Not only that, but they're doing their level best to make sure that those same authors keep their books with Amazon as exclusively as possible. They've offered eBooks for a nominal price if you've bought the physical book with them any time in the past. You can RENT school books from them. They just introduced a book crowdsourcing service for indie authors that give some pretty good incentives for non-established authors.

You see that big list of stuff Amazon is doing up above? Every one of those things is something that the Big 6 should have doing. The problems they are having with Amazon being too big and powerful now? Its entirely their fault. Is Amazon right in throwing its weight around? Eh… I don't know. Will we regret it if they get an effective monopoly over the new publishing world. Most likely. Still, if the Big 6 don't like how Amazon is using its power now, they have only themselves to blame.

Seriously guys. This was your game to lose and, lets face it, you're losing. You even had a ready made ally in your corner in Barnes and Nobles. Their entire business was built on selling books… and now its half selling books, half selling other stuff and coffee. Not only that but there's TONS of indie bookstores you could have worked with. A year after Amazon started doing its “buy a physical book and get the eBook for a little more” thing, I still can't go to a Barnes and Nobles, buy the book and also get an eBook sent to me, even if I owned a Nook. That's just plain stupid.

I'll admit, several publishers are coming around, getting wise about how winds in publishing are going to blow. Tor and Baen are getting pretty good in the new digital world, as I would expect from people who publish genre fiction. It used to be you couldn't even buy Baen eBooks on the Kindle, BUT you could buy them from their own site, and all their books were priced damn good, were free of DRM and came in multiple formats. They didn't NEED to work through Amazon because they went and made their own system. If a publisher their size did it, there is absolutely no reason why the Big 6 couldn't have. If readers knew where to get their authors for cheaper, Amazon would lose a lot of its gas. Or at least, it would have.

Instead, the big publishing houses got scared of piracy. They slapped DRM on their books and raised prices because…reasons. I would love a reason from Penguine why the Dresden Files eBooks actually used to cost MORE than the paperbacks. No no… I'll wait. I am a Dresden Files FANATIC and I would have snapped them up without hesitation, even though I already own most of the paperbacks, and some hardcovers. But when you tell me that I have to pay $2 MORE for the eBook than I paid getting the paperback, there's something wrong with your brain. Its mistakes like that and many others that put you in your current position, and Amazon in their's.

I had brief hopes that the book publishing industry wouldn't have to learn the same lessons that the music publishing industry had to learn. Unfortunately, it seems that change is scary no matter what your business in. But hey, maybe its not too late. Like I said, its still your game to lose Big 6. If you want to beat Amazon at its own game you're going to have to start changing your mindset. If you embrace the digital change, start treating your authors better, and start courting the indie, there's no reason you can't take some of your own back. Not that you will… but I live in eternal hope that someone will listen to my advice. Now, if anyone of you is interested in an increasingly epic fantasy about an evil empire cast in the role of the good guys, I will instantly rewrite this to cast you as the hero of the piece. Let me know. I will completely be your bitch for a good publishing deal. Just sayin'. Think about it. Call me. Please?

Alright. Yeah. I'm coming on a little too strong. How about we give it a couple days and see how we're both feeling then?


WordKeeperAlpha 2.0 development continues

Some of you may be familiar with my little side project WordKeeperAlpha, but I'm not going to assume a whole lot. If not, its a tool I created, and am creating, for authors to keep track of their writing habits. One of the most important thing about writing books is, duh, writing, and doing that on a regular basis. The idea behind WordKeeper is that you will be able to see your writing habits graphed out over time, set goals and meet them. In theory, this will help you write more and get your story done quicker.

The first, and current version of WordKeeper is certainly a first effort, and handy enough for one of its original purposes: setting goals and seeing your progress along them. The graphing function is a complete hopeless cause using code that was largely aped from a tutorial and poorly done. The design is … well, designed by me, which is to say primary colors largely favoring blue and not much else. In other words, while I was pretty proud of it last year, this year I'm a little embarrassed by it.

Which is why I'm working on WordKeeperAlpha 2.0! This is pretty much a complete redesign of the original that I'm rebuilding from the ground up. I didn't really want to, but sometimes when something is broke you just have to replace it. Granted, I'm using a lot of lessons I learned from the first go around on 2.0, but I'm still having to redo pretty much everything.

This time around I'm using Twitter Bootstrap, which any designer will find blatantly obvious. I'm also incorporating several new bits and pieces, such as more jQuery, a different approach to security that actually lets me do the 'Remember Me' functionality, which is nice. Instead of just doing things, I'm focusing as much as I can on doing them right. Fast loading times, less load on the server and all the UI sense I can bring to bear. Like I said when I was making the original, I'm not a designer, but I try to get by and beg the forgiveness of my betters.

The charting part of WKA 2.0 will be handled by some software designed just for the purpose of charting, HighCharts, which makes the whole process much easier, and MUCH better looking. Currently I'm trying out a few different charting options, seeing what makes the most sense to include initially and what doesn't work so well. For example, the day by day chart is pretty good, but looks a little cramped in a full month view. A year by year chart will be needed eventually, but since I have all of 21 registered users, half of which are friends and family just checking it out (thanks Dad), isn't really needed. Five years down the road, it'll be a neat thing to look at.

Another big thing that I'm adding in 2.0 is Projects. While its nice to know that you wrote 1300 words yesterday, I think it will be handy to know what you wrote these words on. Are you blogging way more than you write on your books? Are you neglecting your blog by the numbers? You'll be able to see this reflected in the graphs and set word goals by projects and define sub-goals. It'll be pretty spiffy when its all done.

And there will finally be some Twitter and Facebook integration, and an 'author page' that you can share with friends and fans so that they can see your progress, what you're working on and maybe give you encouragement or berate you for taking the last week off to play XBox.

There's tons to do yet before I'm ready to take 2.0 live, but if you'd like to see an example click here. Once 2.0 is live, WKA should be ready for prime time and hopefully will start commanding a larger user base. The goal is for it not only to help ME be more productive in writing but also to make enough money to support my eventual writing career. We'll see if either of those things happen.

Longer term plans call for WKA 3.0, which will be professionally redesigned and have an even broader set of features, possibly even more social integration. That is years off though; a far off goal. Still, I'm really looking forward to showing all of you 2.0 when its ready to go live sometime much later in the year. There's a LOT of work left to do on it, and WKA is still a secondary goal to finishing Impervious (which I've been working on tonight). Tomorrow I'll update this with a few screen shots from the demo I have set up, just to add a little color to this wall of text. Now, its time to hit the sack. Later.

 


An end of year update – Merry Christmas!

Sorry I've been quiet since my mid-NaNoWriMo update. I'd like to say that I've been super busy getting stuff done and finishing up my project from November, but the truth is that I've been super-lazy. Granted, I have been doing some work on Edge of December, but I've mostly been screwing around catching and trianing my Pokemons. Delphox will totally kick your ass, so back off.

That being said, I'm back in the game. I've got a nice long break for the rest of the year and a little into next that I'm going to (hopefully) use to get some serious work done. December was supposed to be to finish up my NaNo project and kick WordKeeper V 2.0 out, so I'm hoping that I can still get at least one of those done. I also have the added goal of figuring out how to end out the current Arc of Edge of December. Granted, a lot of work for the few days I have, and not everything is going to get done, but I'm sure I can make some serious headway.

Most of my design work is done for the new version of WKA. All that's left is a few smaller pages and finishing the design of the social aspect. That, I don't know what I'm going to do with it. It might be a little bit of trial and error until I find something that works. Version 2.0 will be significantly more fully featured than the current generation, with a bit of social built in, some Twitter and Facebook integration, a nifty little tool that counts the words you've written and a much more advanced graphing utility to track your progress. Also, I'm integrating projects so that you'll be able to set goals per project and track them independently. Once I have it done, it will be a pretty awesome way to keep track of your writing trends and hopefully inspire you to write more.

Once December is over, I'm starting work back up on Impervious, with the goal of pushing right through the second draft, at which point I'll be looking for some Beta readers. While the beta reading is in progress, I'll finish out book 2, and maybe get a start on book 3.

Though I did spend a fair amount of time screwing around this year, I've actually written more than I ever have previously. According to WordKeeper I've written some 85,000 words since I started it at the start of the year, and had a few really good months before I got it up and running. I'm guessing that I wrote at least 100,000 words this year, which isn't bad at all! I finished up Impervious, split off Unstoppable from the vast expance that was the original draft, got started on the second draft of Impervious, got WordKeeperAlpha up and running, started on the second version of WKA, got a new blog up and running (though I need to keep it better updated), made several new writer friends online and finished NaNoWriMo again with a brand new story! None of this takes into account the awesome stuff that Glenn and I have been doing over at Edge of December where we Kickstarted our first book, and put out several eBooks. We're getting really close to finishing out the current Arc of the story, which is going to be HUGE!

Granted, that's not quite the goals I had set at the beginning of the year last year. I wanted to get a few more short stories written and submitted to various venues, and have closer to 125,000 words written, but I'm still really happy with everything I've gotten done! If I can keep up this pace, I'll have my first book done and available in 2014 with a second and third following close on its heels! That's super exciting and will serve to motivate me! There's going to be a lot of awesome stuff happening next year, so make sure to stay tuned. Hopefully I'll be a lot better at maintaining the blog and putting up some more articles that are more than just status updates between my long absences.

Here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, however you celebrate them. I should be putting out one more update before the new year with some updates on WKA, but if that doesn't happen then everyone have a good rest of the year!


Someone queue up a montage, please.

Hey folks! I know its been a while, but things have been…if not busy then distracting around here lately. I lost my job about a month or so ago and have been doing what I can to reacquire gainful employment, which includes phone calls, cover letters and teaching myself some new tricks.

First off, I hate cover letters. I understand their purpose, but it seems like such an antiquated notion in this day of digital communication. I find most things in the world of business confusing. Granted, the form of a cover letter is nothing compared to the impenetrable legalese of a contract or other legal document. I suppose I'm a bit biased, given that I'm an author and writing something that isn't pleasant to read and easy on the eyes causes me something very akin to physical pain. I feel a total lack of self expression when writing cover letters that I wonder how a manager could ever use it to get a proper sense of me, as a person or potential employee.

Second, and for the first time in this blog, we'll talk a little about code. Oye…this unemployment thing is making me feel old. I've been teaching myself the basics of MVC by developing a web application for building Magic decks (employers reading this, yes, I'm THAT nerdy). The process of moving my thinking from web forms to MVC has me thinking “but the OLD way was so much easier”. When no, it really wasn't, I'm just set in my ways, which is goofy since I've only been coding for six years or so. Either way, I dived head first into a completely knew way of doing web applications and it hurts my brain meats from time to time. That being said, I think I've got a pretty good handle on the basics and have even gotten some pretty neat things working in the Deck Builder application. Right now I'm working on my user system, trying to integrate it into the overall scheme early on so I don't have to go back and do it later, which is proving a little mind boggling. The world of computer programming is just so damn big! No matter how much I know or learn, there's whole realms of information that I don't even know about. And that's just in the .NET world!

Which brings us to today. I've spent enough time banging my head against programming concepts for the time being. Whether or not I wanted it, I've been gifted with what I've always wanted; plenty of time to write. So, from now on I'm going to split my time between bettering myself as a programmer and finishing Impervious. My goal was to have the first draft done by the end of the year, something that I was making decent progress on until the last month or two. Its at about 60,000 words so far, but that means I've got about another 90,000 to go before the first roughest draft is done. After that, the second draft is going to be, more or less, burning down what I've written so far and reforging it from the ashes. Its going to be a violent and frightening process, but I'm really, REALLY looking forward to the end result. I love the story so far, but there are things that I really have to play up in the next version, and other's that I'm going to have to drop. Its entirely possible that this first book will in fact become the first two books, I'm not sure yet.

Whatever. Before any of that happens though, I've got to finish it. And since I have the time, lets find out how long it takes me to punch out 90,000 words. What do you say? Now, I've still got plenty to do for Edge, and more to do aside from that (applying for jobs and what not) but writing is going to become something I do everyday again. Time to see what I can do.