Monday, September 28, 2015

The Problem With Book Covers

When it gets down to it, books have to attract readers to get read.  And you attract readers with what they see.

So the book covers need to catch the eye.  The cover needs to stand out with a unique or enticing image.  The cover has to rock.

Getting a good artist or photographer helps.  But the other thing is that the labeling - the title, the author - has to be both legible and eye-catching too.  Anything too bland - a basic Sans Serif like Arial, or a basic Roman like Cambria - and people won't notice.  Anything too cutesy or gimmicky - Comic Sans, Papyrus, Papyrus Sans (ye gods) - and people will recoil.

So I'm working with the artist for my next work, and trying to come up with a feasible cover text for the title and author.

My personal preference for the author font is Flareserif (similar to Albertus).  I suppose I *could* use the same font for the title, but most times you'll notice publishers don't go that route: the title has to stand out a little more.  Have a little more flair to it.

So I'm juggling between these fonts for "Body Armor Blues":

Bulletproof Deco:

Glaser Stencil D:

Red Circle:

If anybody suggests Helvetica I will hurt you.  That costs money, dammit.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Prepping for NaNoWriMo 2015

It's a month away.

And as a Municipal Liaison, I have to get some things set up for November.

The good news: the NaNo organizers created a Lakeland Region to cover the growing Polk County population of writers.  Now I need to get the word out to the writing groups that we can go with our own groups rather than farm out to Tampa/Brandon or Orlando.

(On a side note, I've seen they divided up Pinellas County into THREE SECTIONS.  Given that it's our smallest physical county and yet one of our most densely populated, this is still a bit surprising)

I have to get the Google Calendar set up for the Region (done) and managed.  I have some dates for Write-Ins already set with Lakeland, Bartow and Winter Haven: now I need to confirm some actual locations for Lake Wales to help cover the southeastern corner of Polk County.

And now I gotta think about which novel idea to follow through on.

I'm thinking either a new novel idea on:

1) An alternative history novel about the American Civil War where the South DOESN'T start it by firing on Fort Sumter so that they can secure French recognition... with the consequences playing out affecting the fates of Mexico, Virginia, and the border states.
2) That urban fantasy novel I tried starting this Labor Day (I can use NaNo to finish it).

I could bring back one of the earlier attempts, although I dread getting bogged down in the weeds where I keep getting lost on those works.  Best to see about something fresh, IMHO.  (although I keep thinking I can get something good out of Ocean Dancers...)


Update: I've added a poll to this blog, over on the right, and if people are willing to vote please do.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Labor Day Weekend 2015 Accountability

(cross-posted with my political blog)

Did I spell accountability correctly...?  I never do...

Anyway, this weekend I'm gonna use the Three-Day-Novel time period (I did not apply for it, 'cause I need to save up the $50 fee for Star Wars toys!) to pound out a trashy urban fantasy novel.

It should be easy.  Like so:

1) Urban setting AKA The City: New York City by default.  Nearly EVERY city in a U.S. fantasy story is based on New York City.  Los Angeles only if sunlight, surf, or film-making is part of the narrative.  San Francisco if you want quirky hippie Wiccans.  Washington DC if you want everything blown up to serve your political ideology.  If you use Atlanta or St. Louis or Houston or Tampa, what is your problem?  And the capitol of the state of Montana does not count as an urban setting, sorry residents of the state of Montana...

2) Protagonist(s): Sexy vampire.  There's ALWAYS a sexy vampire.  His/her morality will be just off by enough to make him/her excitingly dangerous, yet human enough to enjoy having great sex with.

3) Narrator: A third-person or first-person tale-teller who gets wrapped up in the crazy event who stands in as the Everyman naive newcomer to the Masquerade (aka the Magic World hidden from the Mundane World).  Kinky make-out session with the Sexy Vampire is mandatory: it all depends on if you open with it or draw the story out for UST fuel to the end of the novel.

4) Sword: There should at least be one sword, so it can be wielded by the Sexy Vampire for the book cover.

5) Monsters: Dumb ones.  Easy to kill, and inhuman to allow for a massacre of them without any moral quandaries.  Mooks with swords instead of plasma rifles.

6) Quirky Secondary Characters: they're not as sexy as the vampire but by their wacky habits allows the writer to diversify and show off character-building skills, and these characters can appeal to the readers and turn into spin-off lead figures for later works.

7) MacGuffin: A reason or object the sexy vampire is set against a particular villain.  It needs to be satisfyingly unique to stand out as a doom-worthy artifact or deadly secret that could end the sexy vampire's lifestyle/friendship with his/her equals.

8) Potential victims: the innocent crowds of people in a packed city who ARE NOT AWARE OF THE MASQUERADE and thus need protecting "from themselves!"  This includes the local law enforcement, who would usually have the manpower and firepower to handle most situations in the first place if properly informed.

9) Dead Friend Walking: an ally of the Sexy Vampire or narrator who's a firm friend indeed, and is thus doomed to die in order to make the conflict "personal" and to highlight just how serious the crisis is.

10) A Betrayer: Sometimes it's the Dead Friend Walking who either willingly or by magic force turns against the Sexy Vampire/Narrator.  If it's a complete stranger, it has to be someone directly tied to the MacGuffin to make it meaningful.

11) A Fancy Nightclub That's Way Too Exotic With The Interior Design: Think how Hollywood movies spend a sh-tload of money on cool-looking sets, creating a night club full of lights, chrome handlebars, plush leather sofas, stocked bars, mirrors everywhere (even for vampires - they can use the mirrors to spot Normals), incredibly cute Normals dancing the night away, and a spot where Sexy Vampire and Narrator can make out in public and still not get caught doing it.

12) Overpowered Villain With One Obvious Weakness: His (sometimes Her) Pride.  And that the Artifact-As-MacGuffin can be turned into a stabby weapon shoved into his head for maximum gory deathiness.

13) A Catch Phrase: "Bite me" is too obvious, but what the hell.

I plan on having 18,000 words done by Monday. :)

Update Monday: I got about 7000 words.  I bit off more than I could chew thinking I could get 18,000 words done.  :/  On the other hand, I'm going through a solid revision of the last project "Body Armor Blues" and am lining up a cover artist to self-publish by the end of the month...

Friday, September 4, 2015

Star Wars The Force Awakens Has All The Toys I Want help a Jedi out.

For starters, there's a LEGO Millennium Falcon (WITH NEW RADAR DISH!)

There's a real-working desk-sized BB-8 toy that can be remote-controlled by your tablet/smartphone.

There's a chance to buy your very own Harlan Ellison uh Lawrence Kasdan no no your very own Simon Pegg!  Whadda you mean, he's not for sale...?

(takes his 50 p) (gets out, crying)

These are kind of the things I missed asking for Christmas back when I was eight years old (did get the action figures and the fluffy Chewie doll SHUT UP).  It'll be a little embarrassing asking Santa for them at the age of 45 (okay so I haven't grown up THAT much...).  And I hate to admit it, but the Saturnalia holidays is not up on toy-gifting (damn the harvest festive bacchanal nature of the Romans!).

So I would very much like... ahem, NEED... to buy these toys for meself.  Thing is, I'm a little strapped for cash at the moment.  And the Falcon set alone is around $140.

That's where you, the faithful seven readers of this blog, come in.

Can you all ask about 50,000 of your closest friends and co-workers and deep-pocket rich people around you to, you know, buy my ebooks?!?!?!  The extra cash-flow from the sales should cover the purchase price of a life-size Jabba the Hutt sofa...

I don't think I can boot up a Kickstarter crowd-funding thing for this sort of project.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Library Card Month

Bartow Public Library is celebrating September as Library Card Month where we're encouraging people to sign up for library cards for the first time.  There's adults who've never gotten a FREE library card before, as well as kids, so we're doing what we can to promote the effective value of having a FREE library card.

Such as:

  • Library cards are free to get... (okay, if you lose it there's a 1.00 replacement fee, so the trick is "don't lose your library card.")
  • Libraries let you check out a lot of books at one time for a two-week or more period depending on library circ policy.  Bartow allows for up to fifteen books at one time, for up to two week checkouts.  You can renew and prolong the checkout as long as no one is on Hold for waiting for that book.
  • Libraries have audio CDs of music and audiobooks, Bartow circulates those up to fifteen as well for two weeks (plus renewals).
  • Some libraries - like ours - circulate DVDs for checkout.  Again, Bartow allows up to fifteen DVDs for up to two weeks, plus renewals.
Also, you can use public computers to do things like job hunt, study online, email and social chat, creative projects, and yes Facebook.

So, can I interest you in getting a library card FOR FREE at your local library?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Weird. Traffic Bump just an hour ago from France.

I don't mind the statistics much, but the sudden bounce in views that don't link to a specific blog entry, and are coming from overseas, and are using proxy IPs for anonymous connections, kinda makes me wonder if my site's getting hacked or used without my knowledge somehow.

I'm not seeing any odd posts, or edits, or any spammer comments like I got back in 2010 from China.  Good Lord, I got Chinese spam that I could not read so I didn't even know if they were trying to reach me or leave some weird code for other people to read.  Ever hear about Number Stations?  They're these shortwave radio stations that only enthusiasts and spies listen to, and sometimes there's coded messages and stuff, and maybe this is some Internet based Number Station deal where they identify some low-traffic innocent bystander blog site and use it for codes and warnings and stuff.  Oh My God, my blog could be getting set up by... by... what's the French equivalent of the CIA?!  Damn.  I'm getting abused by the DGSE, I know it!

...Okay, if French intelligence is using my blog for coded traffic, they better compensate me by buying my ebooks.  And leave reviews for them on the retail sites!  Five stars, across the board dammit.  If the Chinese intelligence is using my blog, though, uh-uh, no way, not unless you confirm Tank Guy is okay and safe and stuff and you agree to allow multi-party candidates in your next election cycle.

...and now I'm in the mood to do a review of the James Bond movies...

(Update) My Horde allies are telling me this is common: spam bots creating traffic.  I should name my spam bots Coneheads because they come from France...!

Friday, August 21, 2015

There Is Still A Need For Blogging

One of my upcoming computer classes at the library is going to be on social media.

We still get patrons who are confused about certain media outlets such as Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter and Pinerest.  The class will cover some of that.

I'll also be going into blogging as well.

I've seen a few "Blogging Is Dead" articles online, which may sound like it's a fad that's passing into history, but I would disagree.

The blogging they're talking about is the paid-for professional bloggers, the media commentariat you see cross-pollinating on television and magazines and radio.  Many of them are opting out because of the time constraints and external pressures that blogging creates for them.

For the regular public, however, blogging still has its uses.

There are still social groups that can share information through a blog, track events, promote themselves or others.

There are still individuals marketing themselves as artists or professionals seeking clients or audiences.

There are local businesses who can use the effective page creation tools to set menus and directories of information, and maybe indulge in running diaries of projects or flights of whimsy related to their community/marketplace.

It's just when I teach this class I won't be using Blogger.  Sorry guys, I'm only here because Blogspot was cheap and easy back in the day before it merged with Blogger.  I'll be teaching WordPress instead because it offers a slightly easier Comments setup for people to install.