New Writers Guild Book Released

The Montague Library Writers Guild has just finished their third collection of Prince Edward Island anecdotes and poems. With SIXTEEN contributors this time it is almost 180 pages in full colour. The content is totally focussed on either early life of the authors or their current experiences and joys.

The book may be obtained from the authors (for $15) or online at Amazon.VOICES book cover

Loman’s second sailing book

northern lights

northern lights

It is almost done and the pictures are again awesome. He paints them himself…acrylic on hardboard, I think…and then adds story to create a hypothetical journey reminiscent of the mid 1800s.

colorful sky

colorful sky

I’ll have more to say when it is all done, but I thought I would show you a few of his pictures now.

Old Glory Faces the Hurricane

Old Glory Faces the Hurricane

Preparing the third eBook

 

Cover of third Revisiting Scripture eBook

Cover of third Revisiting Scripture eBook

This ought to get easier! It seems to take about 6-7 weeks per section even though the bulk of the entire series was done months ago. There is something intimidating about turning it loose even though eBooks on Kindle can be updated at any time and previous purchasers can download a new version for free. Seeing the number of typos in the first two, I spent more time, with the help of my wife, going over the text with a fine-toothed comb. High praise came when she reported that the last iteration was ‘less bumpy.’

The mechanics of getting to the eBook file format should have gotten easier, but somehow the creation of the table of contents didn’t seem to be working right… I was seeing hyperlinks instead of section headings. I never did find out what was the problem, but when I took it to the html,it seemed just fine! Editing the html in Wordpad went fine… cut out all the font face names and change points to ems. Getting an ISBN is now simple, and the final upload went well. I made up all the covers in advance, so they were ready to go… I have been happy with the way they are readable even on my Kindle Paperwhite… large type and high contrast.

So if any of you want to read more, hop over to my Revisiting Scripture blog or, better yet click here to buy a copy!


 

Library “Art Gallery”

Shadows on the Snow

Shadows on the Snow

I brought a couple of my photos in to be part of the opening exhibit of photos from the Senior’s College classes…one of mine, shown above, is to be included. Last weekend I was part of a group Swarna, the librarian, shanghaied to set policy for this, her’ latest publicity venture for the Montague (PEI) library. She now has a set of chains hanging down on an open wall intended to hold pictures… paintings or photographs. Each exhibit is to be up for 6 weeks and the space is available on a first-come-first-served basis by signup. Being the sort of person she is, there will be “grand openings” every 6 weeks with refreshments… anything you spent at the library book sale supports local programs!

In the discussion of policies, I was surprised to discover how much my experiences with the Artisans on Main…discussed in blogs from last summer… gave me a clear picture of what I did NOT want for this activity.

  • There should be NO jury passing judgement if the art is good enough to be shown.
  • There should be no favoring more polished or professional work over beginners work or even work by children…whoever signs up first gets the space.
  • There should only be help in hanging and arranging an exhibit if the contributor specifically requests it. Otherwise mounting and arranging the exhibit should be entirely the responsibility of the artist (or their mother or father).

I suppose I am still smarting under the exclusivity and judgmental attitude that gradually grew up within the Artisans, but I want this library project to be free form any taint of such restrictiveness. For what its worth, I hope to sign up for a spot soon next week!

5 day free period ended

Kindle select allows 5 free days every 90-day period and I have just ended that time for my first eBook, Revisiting Scripture: Assumptions. According to the reports 524 people took advantage of the offer…no actually 523 since I downloaded a copy also to test it out. And about 100 of you visited the Revisiting Scripture blog site.

While I was publicizing the promotion in every way I knew of, the results were quite gratifying, since I followed a week-long set of info blogs by Ryan Deiss last Fall on how to promote eBooks on Kindle and his demo brought in well over a thousand downloads for a book on gardening…I forget the actual numbers.

The idea is to spread the word by giving it away and then, hopefully, get unsolicited reviews that can convince future buyers that it is a good risk. Of course, ‘risking’ $2.99 is not a big thing, but I find I myself am cautious to spend even $0.99 after having seen some very poorly-formatted eBooks. What really bugs me are the ‘how to’ books that look like they have been tossed together to make a quick buck…usually telling you how you too can grab content from somewhere and soon sit at home watching the $$$ pile up. If the cow isn’t producing enough milk, add to the herd! Somehow I start to feel that I have been milked…or should I say, bilked?

Since I’m well into two years writing this book…or series, for the eBooks…I tried the promotion mainly to try to share what I am discovering in Scripture rather than to make lots of money. The next critical hurdle will be to see how many reviews appear and how the readers evaluate my work. If you have read it, please post a review!

Making Verbs from Nouns

 

I have gotten on a Facebook link that puts up Calvin & Hobbes comic strips and particularly like the newest one where Calvin is “verbing” words. The comments took off with references to texting, medaling, Google, transition, effort, architecting. I guess we’re stuck with language changing…even if we don’t like it.

e-Picture formatting

I was talking, with a friend who does web-site layouts, about the huge variety of platforms now requiring attention for an application. No longer can you just size any pictures to read well on a 600 x 800 monitor…no you have to consider HD aspect-ratio display formats, high resolution displays, and now iPads and other tablets, smart phones, and various e-readers…high and low resolution…big and small…portrait or landscape orientation.

I recently ‘bought’ a (temporarily) free book on Kindle, Lexi Fairheart and the Forbidden Door, to see how a picture-oriented children’s book worked on a eReader…a Kindle Paperwhite in this case. I had understood that they didn’t work well on that platform. Reading it on the Kindle app on my laptop, the pictures were in color and looked very good,  but on the eReader, while they were sized OK, the conversion to black& white made them so dark it was impossible to see any detail…I would suppose a change in the brightness of the pictures with an eye to the conversion might have helped. [Also, the same problem I had with fonts on my own eBook plagued this eBook...the choice of font styles was totally overridden although the size could be altered.]

When I now start to configure pictures for eReaders I face the challenge of what resolution to use, what aspect ratio, and how light or dark to make them. Kindle suggests 500 x 700 pixels for interior pictures and something like 1800 x 2500 pixels for covers, but they caution that you should preview all files on the various target devices to make sure you can accept the result. That is well and good but what it dramatically shows for picture/drawing/graph-oriented books, the  highly fragmented viewing market really demands that I prepare different files for each target device. Whatever the capabilities of the operating systems on the devices, they do not intelligently optimize all the various files that they display.

How wonderful it would be if there were a defined standard which, in a single file, would play well across all platforms–probably that is presently impossible…it would require the capabilities of a photo editor program in each device as well as a computer with the graphical layout savvy of a professional designer.

New (to me) camera

 

computer screen at 2' with background 6' behind at F1.2

computer screen at 2′ with background 6′ behind at F1.2

After losing perhaps a dozen auctions I succeeded in acquiring a Nikon D200 digital camera body on eBay, which I was able to pick up in person in Muncie, IN (USA) on the way to visit family in Lafayette.. The particular unit was relatively heavily used with about 90,000 shots taken…rated by Nikon for about 200,000. 

Why did I want an “old” camera? It turns out that the first few Nikon digital models were designed to still work with the older manual lenses, and I had a whole set of nice ones from my film camera days…f55 1:1.2…f135 1:2.8…f19 1:3.8…f28-200 1:3.9-5.6…f500 1:1:8. Most of those lenses are easily duplicated in magnification by almost any cheap digital camera today, but the large apertures…up to 1:1.2…and the wide angle…f19…are the things that are not readily obtained on fixed-lens cameras. In particular the 1.2 allows me to take a picture of a person in front of a busy background by blurring out the background and keeping the subject in sharp focus. Most digital cameras have such sensitive sensors that they don’t need large apertures to gather enough light at hand-held shutter speeds. So the depth of field stays large…sharp focus from 6′ to infinity! The casual user WANTS that sharp-all-over effect so it is no problem for the manufacturer to use cheaper smaller aperture lenses.

So, now I hope to begin producing more pictures with selective focus.


 

FREE e-book

coverkindle01As part of my experience with e-books I am using the 5 free-download days beginning next Wednesday…January 23rd through January 27th. Far back last Fall I followed Ryan Deiss at Digital Marketer as he walked through a promotion of an e-book about gardening just to prove what could be done…I don’t think he even wrote the book. He showed that in the free download period he got hundreds…or was it thousands…of downloads and as a result got a significant number of reviews which went on to result in a steady stream of sales after the free promotion went off. 

Well, that sounded interesting since I had been working for a year on a book about Revisiting Scripture. Included was the advice to price e-books at the low end…$2.99…and make them relatively short. At that point I had over 300 dense pages of text in preparation for a printed book that I will eventually publish…printed through Lightning Source as the other books I have published for friends. I decided to break the material up into six approximately-equal-sized pieces and release them as a series of e-books. So far two are done and up on the Kindle Store.

I hesitated to enter the promotion field until I had the content firmly in place…I think I’m there now. So I have just…minutes ago…submitted the first book to Kindle to be free from next Wednesday, January 23, through Sunday, January 27. And then, having found two sites that promote free Kindle books, sent announcements to Pixels of Ink and Free Digital Reads.

Since the first e-book only got 5 downloads…and those only in the first two weeks…and still has gotten no reviews–good, bad, or ugly–I am hoping this promotion will at least achieve some visibility for the work. Even when I gave old doc files to friends I got virtually no feedback…a sort of black hole. So, PLEASE, if you look at the book give some sort of review! Thanks.

Second E-book published

2nd E-bookAfter editing through the original material on God, Sin, and Salvation, the second of six E-books is up on Amazon Kindle. The process was easier than the first time, with a grasp of the need to erase all font names and font sizes in points…change to ems. The final fix was to clear up the footnote reference numbers to be the same font and size in the text, which showed how much duplicate ‘junk’ WORD keeps in the file when it converts to html. The final product is behaving well on the Paperwhite preview and I hope to have a look at it on the actual reader soon. 

I upgraded the Kindle Previewer with no noticeable change in performance…I assume Kindlegen has not changed much. I have run across some advice on how to utilize the free-download to better effect by notifying several sites that list free downloads. I have held off for fear the 5-day-maximum free period (per 90 days) would expire before anyone found it. So far my first book downloads have totaled 5! ):