Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Best Reads of 2011 AKA Witty's Reviews

Due to the continuing unemployment, I haven't indulged in a lot of reading or purchasing of book titles.  It's a good thing the public library is nearby (hi, Centennial Park crew!) and I was able to snag a few titles of fiction, non-fiction, graphic-novel, and whatnot for review today:

BEST FICTION BOOK

Hurricane Punch, by Tim Dorsey.
As mentioned before, it's not what's new I'm reviewing but something I've read this year.  And this year, during a nice phase where certain ebooks were for sale, I added Dorsey's eighth Serge A. Storms novel to my Nook Color.
I've might have mentioned the Serge series previously: it's about a seriously deranged enthusiastic promoter of Floridian tourism - Serge, natch - who travels about the Sunshine State obsessing over some new trivial matter about the state, leaving chaos, bodies, and sexually satisfied women in his wake.  Hurricane Punch is an interesting insert into the series, where Serge is facing certain realities: he's hitting middle-age, he's getting to that point in his "career" where serial killers start making mistakes, and he's facing competition in the form of a mysterious new psychopath calling himself "Eye Of The Storm" and mimicking Serge's killing style.  Equally distracting is that Florida is facing another hurricane season and Serge is desperate to track every single one...
While morbid black comedy isn't everyone's cup of coffee, the Serge series is still entertaining at least to this long-time Florida resident for the sheer level of trivial details that Dorsey throws into the stories.  The local culture of hurricane response, the fact that Tampa Bay still has two strong newspapers when most media markets are down to one, stopovers at key locations such as Yeehaw Junction...  Tasty tidbits in the larger story.
Naturally a lot of the novel leaves a lot to coincidence and contrived wrap-ups, but in terms of humorous thrillers I recommend this book and the series as a whole.


BEST NON-FICTION BOOK

All apologies, but failed to read one that I feel good about recommending.  Read mostly technical, computer science titles for skills refreshing.

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL

Brief Lives (Sandman), by Neil Gaiman and Jill Thompson
The bad news this year was that a bookstore chain, Borders/Waldenbooks, went out of business.  The good news, it meant fire sales where graphic novels got to be 50 percent to 60 percent off.  What that meant: I got around to beefing up my Sandman graphic novel collection.
Brief Lives is perhaps the crux of Gaiman's entire arc covering the decline and fall of the Endless Aspect of Dream.  What happens here is that Dream's youngest sister Delirium - an unstable aspect of life - suddenly gets in her head the idea of finding "their lost brother", an Aspect that abandoned his duties, and she petitions all of her siblings until she guilt-trips a distracted and unamused Dream into helping her find Destruction.  And then Dream has to say to his aide, "What could possibly go wrong?"
This particular volume has a lot to say about Life Itself: how we perceive it, how it flies by, how we define it... and sad of all, how brief life can really be.  As Destruction, once found, points out during his evening confrontation with Dream and Delirium, even the stars in the night sky do not last and will flicker and end.  Even the Gods and Immortals we meet during Delirium's quest must face an end of their travels.  Or, as Death tells one character during the story "Everyone gets a lifetime's worth."
It also has one of my favorite story endings ever, both apt and bittersweet.
I've been a huge Gaiman fan since this series came out, and I seriously feel this is required reading for anyone getting into it now.

BEST NOVEL BY SOMEONE I KNOW VIA THE INTERNET

Haven't read any of the recent Stefan Petrucha stuff or Sheryl Nantus', although Sheryl is coming out with a sequel to Blaze of Glory titled Heroes Without Monsters Within next month...

UNAVOIDABLE BOOK FRANCHISE OF DOOM

Anyone else notice how James Patterson is putting his name on a lot of books that seem to be written by other people?  Yeah, Tom Clancy kinda does the same thing.  But Patterson puts his mug on television ads shilling the works...

Hopefully by next year I'll have a job and a restock of my reading collection.  Til then...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Logo for Witty Librarian at Cafe Press

Having received some concerns about the legibility of the text on my original design for the Witty Librarian store, I looked into creating a larger logo with slightly bigger text:






How does this look to you?  Please comment.

One Problem With Being a Librarian During The Winter Festivities

...is that when I offer people a wonderful "Io Saturnalia!" almost none of them get what it is I'm saying.

Sigh.

Okay, here's the Wiki entry on Saturnalia:

...A number of scholars view this festival as the origin of later Christmas celebrations, or at least as contributing to them. Others point out that the Christian feast of Christmas on December 25 does not coincide with the date range of the Saturnalia, and that Christmas in any regard has not always been celebrated on December 25. The Catholic Encyclopedia states that church's view on the matter by saying that while midwinter pagan feasts such as Saturnalia may have helped influence the eventual choice to fix the date of Christmas, this does not mean that Christian Christmas traditions find their origin or inspiration there: "though the abundance of analogous midwinter festivals may indefinitely have helped the choice of the December date, the same instinct which set Natalis Invicti at the winter solstice will have sufficed, apart from deliberate adaptation or curious calculation, to set the Christian feast there too."

Just remember these three things:
1) Say "Io Saturnalia" a lot;
2) Find out which Roman Pagans are still around to answer back;
3) Celebrate.

Monday, December 5, 2011

To The Seven People Who Read This Blog: Cafe Press For the Holidays!

If anyone's got moneys to spare, and any friends or relatives who work as librarians, I do have that Cafe Press store of Witty Librarian gear. 

I just added some Christmas ornaments, a vanity plate for cars, a few more shirts and sweaters, and ereader (Kindle and Nook) sleeve covers!  If you are looking for any fun merch for Festivus/Saturnalia/Christmas please check it out!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why I Failed NaNoWriMo This Year

Well...

1) Personal issues such as the loss of my poor Silly Kitty Page, whose cancer got bad enough to take her to the vet for one last visit...

2) Problems with my story's narrative, even with trying to correct some of the character introductions and opening action scenes.  Things felt heavy-handed or operating on poor assumptions.

3) Chronic Depressive Mood and growing stress from job-hunting as I close in on my third year of full unemployment... :(

All apologies.  I am thinking of getting some short stories or novella-type work done in the coming days.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One Week In On NaNoWriMo 2011

...and I am above 11,000 words.

It's a story idea I've considered before, which had some big flaws about halfway into it, about a university librarian and his crazy student workers who have various "spooky" adventures involving ghosts girls, clones, aliens, and whatnot (various plot ideas from back when I was a huge X-Phile).

I've rebooted the start to be more action-packed, and looking to streamline some of the character introductions.

Wish me luck.

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

Yes, I will be doing NaNoWriMo this year.

Yes, you can track my efforts here.

Yes, I will get this damn novel finished for once.  We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Gift To The Seven People Who Read This Blog

A FREE download of The Hero Cleanup Protocol!

1) Visit the Smashwords' website for the estory.
2) Select Add To Cart button.
3) Use the Coupon Code JJ47F.  It should drop the price of the estory to FREE.
4) Follow the download instructions for the version of ereader you have.  There are separate versions for Kindle, ePub (covering Nook, iApple and other readers), and more.
5) Install the story file to your reader and enjoy!

If you can, please give the estory a review (and be gentle!).  Thanks!

EDIT: The code is good until November 1st.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sticking To Deadlines

As far as the writing plans for the Labor Day Weekend panned out...  not so well.  In short, I'm scrapping what I did write (which wasn't much).  And focusing on getting a few other projects prepped for later.

Writers Block.  I hate it.  I have it.

There was a time when I spent a lot of it (time, that is) writing.  Mostly fanfiction, back in the Nineties during my love affair with the television show The X-Files.  Gossamer has an archive of most of what I wrote in terms of fanfic.  For normal writing, regular fiction writing, I was focused on short stories mostly for writing contests.  Eventually I coalesced the more coherent shorts into a smallish anthology Last of the Grapefruit Wars, which I published in 2003 through a Print-on-Demand service Xlibris.

And since then?

Most of my ambitious projects - actual novel writings, additional short story attempts for contests - don't go very far or very well.  I've tried the 3-Day Novel contests for years to no avail...  I've joined the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and while the last two years I've "won" the months by hitting the 50,000 word counts I've yet to complete either novel into an acceptable conclusion.  This year was practically a miracle seeing me get some stories - Welcome to Florida and The Hero Cleanup Protocol - self-published...

I could explain it away if I was distracted by work or by family.  But I've been unemployed full-time the last two years (going on three), and my family is mostly off doing their things while I'm struggling with mine (and family have never really been major motivators in my writing projects, to be honest).

The unemployment issue is what worries me most: when I was working, I was stimulated with library work - research, above all - and that stimulation helped with getting some works off the word processor.  Now, stressing out over each submitted resume and cover letter seems to dull my interest in getting writing work done.  Even suggestions that I go into freelancing work (for websites like Guru or Examiner.com for example) somehow don't appeal to me even though there's a huge part of me that does.  It's even part of the reason why I don't blog as much as I should: if I kept more active, I'd think I'd get more traffic here.

As for future projects... there's obviously NaNo in November.  I've been given a heads-up about a 24-Hour Comics contest, hosted this year on Saturday October 1.  I am/will be tempted to join in that.

Wish me luck.

Friday, September 2, 2011

And The Winner Is... PIE!

Wait.
Damn you Carl Sagan and your obsession with pies!!!
Actually, the early vote results are for the "unemployed insomniac" plotline.  That means my primary writing objective today shall be a story I titled Midnight Blues.  I consider it an attempt to create a new subgenre: the Recession Noir.  Hopefully I can get a chapter or two done today... off to work.  Happy Labor Day to all of you who voted!  And to those who didn't vote... the pie was crumbly.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Polling the Seven Readers About What I Should Write Next

What the hell, let's make this democratic.  I inserted a poll to this blog (to the right of your screen).  Hopefully the text is legible and you can select an option as you prefer.  While the deadline is set for a week, I'd like to get some results in before Friday, so I can get a good idea which idea is good for you.  ;-)

It's all up to you people.  And don't worry: I'll make sure that regardless of the plot line, I will include an action sequence involving exploding penguins.

...what?

Monday, August 29, 2011

In Lieu of the 3-Day Novel

Normally, this is the week I'd get ready for the 3-Day Novel Contest.

But not this year.

For one thing, you have to pay for it.  Ouch.

Second, I've found that having it Labor Day weekend makes some sort of sense... except that it's usually the same weekend as the start of college football.  And my devotions to USF, UF (and my family's devotions to the same as well as Mom's War Eagle roots) seem to take a full day out of my attempts to write.  This year, for example, I may have to babysit my nephews while my twin brother and his wife head up to Gainesville for the UF home opener, and while Mom & Dad are off at Selmon's for the Auburn watch party.

Third, that despite all my efforts and planning and outlining... well, what I come up with tends not to be well-written, well-organized... and nearly everything I've pounded out basically are works I've never re-visited.

So this year, I'm swearing off the 3-Day.

Instead, I'm doing the 4-Day Whatever-The-Hell-I-Write Self-Imposition.

The plan is to write something on each day of the weekend - Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday - that do not necessarily have to be novels.  I do, after all, have an interest in writing short stories, and I think my short story efforts can be done within a day.

Given the epublishing limits or lack thereof - that I can basically write a short story however long I want, well into novella size if need be - I could well get at least ONE thing done over this weekend that's publish-worthy.

Some of the ideas up for work are a story idea I've had for awhile about a wacky road trip to Vegas (the trickiest part is writing the whole thing in present tense, which is harder than you think); a humor story about teens planning a Skip Day; another story in my superhero 'verse; an unemployed insomniac getting wrapped up in an unusual criminal conspiracy; and perhaps revisiting an old story in my files that needs a rewrite.

So there goes, here goes, it will go, it may have went.  Shush, I'm working on tenses...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Self-Publishing, Self-Marketing

If any of you seven readers of this blog get into self-publishing, you need to recognize that the real key to success is marketing.

Sure, a good story goes a long way, but if people don't even know that story exists and is available for download to anyone's ereader... well, it just sits there.

When I mention to people on the various online chats I visit that I self-publish stories, more often than not they will ask me "What's it like to go that route?  How hard is it to get self-published?"

I always reply that the publishing part is easy.  Just find a good self-publish site online - say, Smashwords - and follow their instructions to create an account, then follow the instructions to upload and prepare your story for publication format.

Formatting sounds difficult, but it's not.  As long as you know Page Setup / Format Paragraph options for your word processor (more than likely Microsoft Word, or if you're cheap Wordpad which comes with the Windows OS) you can format:
  • Auto-Indent of first line (usually half-inch or .5).
  • 1.5 or double-space line spacing.
  • Default font and Default size (usually 11 pt - 12 pt to begin with).  If you want to make sure, set your font to Times New Roman, which is standard font.
  • (Optional: 6pt spacing after each paragraph to create legibility between paragraphs)

The other thing to know is that you're publishing to a format - usually ePub - that shares traits with HTML.  That means:
  • No fancy fonts that HTML doesn't recognize (that's why I said Times New Roman earlier.  You can use Arial as your sans serif font.  Really don't mess with any other).
  • No text symbols (umlauts, tildes, that Scandinavian o with a slash through it, stuff like that) that would get eaten by HTML.
  • You can use Bold and Italic for highlighting of text, as HTML/ePub recognizes that.
  • You can create links within your story itself: especially links to personal websites to promote author information and direct traffic to other works for sale.

This is all standard desktop-publishing techniques/tricks.  The basic rule: keep it simple, but also readable.  (This is why asking friends with the right skill sets to edit your work before publishing is a really really good idea)

That all is easy for me.

The problem I have is marketing.  Getting the word out.  Advertising.  There's a level of aggressiveness to marketing to where I'm just simply not comfortable doing it.

If you've got salesmanship skills, good for you.  The trick for marketing ebooks as best I can tell is blogging, webpage sites, getting ebook reviewers to sample and review your titles, word of mouth, local author signing events at bookstores, stuff like that.  The specifics still elude me.

The regional gathering of the Florida Writers' Association (I just joined this year) had someone a few months ago present a lecture on self-marketing.  I gotta see about getting some one-on-one help with this, and see about getting the stuff I have out now more aggressively known.

I have more writing in me.  There's a few writing events coming soon (a Write-A-Comic event for October oooh yeah, the NaNoWriMo obviously.  But not the 3-Day Novel.  I'm burned out of that) and I think I can squeeze out another story for publishing this year.  If I can do that, I need to market it like mad the second I get it uploaded.

Good luck, self-publishers!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Librarian Is

Derek Thompson posted on The Atlantic the other day this article "What People Don't Get About Working In A Library".

Naturally, I posted my own response, defining in my terms what a Librarian is.

Librarian = Bibliographic expert.

Librarian = Research specialist.

Librarian = Hunter-Gatherer of the Information Savanna.

Librarian = Finder Of Secrets.

Librarian = Wielder of Reader Advisories.

Librarian = Party Organizer and part-time Hogwarts Professor Impersonator (true.  I got a photo of me in a Hagrid outfit around here somewhere...).

Essentially, to me a Librarian is a key player in the Information Age, the professional who can store, sort, index and locate all forms of materials in all formats (print, audiovisual, electronic).

Don't sell us short.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Things might be changing...

Keep an eye out for updates.

Also, Harry Potter post in the making.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

To the Seven People Reading This Blog...

...any of you hear yet if Amazon's fixed Kindle to be compatible to epub/DRM specs?  I thought it was happening this month...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

eStory: The Hero Cleanup Protocol - Published!

After a few months of realizing I needed to edit the story some more to Smashwords' content rules, that I had to follow through to the Premium stage and request an ISBN (which is the ISBN-13 number 9781458089526, I hope), and that I needed to resubmit after all the corrections...

The "Hero Cleanup Protocol" estory is now available for purchase!

I finally got a cover artist, a friend of a friend of a colleague who knows a guy, fellow by the name of Mike Rooth who does this sort of artwork on a commission basis.  A thumbnail copy of the cover is to the side of this paragraph.  Once the cover was finalized I completed the Smashwords submission process and finally got the approval about a week ago.

I was only waiting until now to verify that YES the story is for sale.

Because I've already got two purchases yesterday!  Ahhhhhhhh, the emotional high of selling your work, it's like a perfect drug...

It's selling for .99 per copy, the cheapest it can go, as it's a short story and not a full novel.  The good news is, the overall experience of submitting a work for publication seems relatively simple. As long as I do a better job of planning ahead for cover art, I should get a finished and edited-reviewed draft up and for sale within weeks instead of six months or more with a print book.

The best thing about Smashwords is that, unlike the direct-retailer situation I had with "Welcome To Florida" the story I submitted directly to B&N's PubIt service, what I've submitted through Smashwords is going to show up in other retailers: Not only Barnes&Noble's Nook, but also Sony's Reader, the Kobo, Diesel ebooks, and Apple iBook.  Amazon's Kindle doesn't have it yet, but Smashwords is waiting for Kindle to get the conversion upgrade for DRM formatting, so when that happens you Kindle owners can buy a copy!

My trick now: marketing.  Hoo boy.  So here's the deal, folks.  If you can get 49,998 more people to buy a copy of "The Hero Cleanup Protocol", I'll be a very happy librarian person.  Thank yew.  :-)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kinda Decompressing After Extreme Blogging for April

So I apologize to the seven people following this blog.  ;-)

Future posts about summer movies, job hunting, getting a cover artist for a short story, and more to follow.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

To Andy: The Month of Blogging Is Over

And what have we learned?

That I need to do more blogging on Doctor Who!

No wait, that's not it.

That I need to send my resumes to more libraries!

No, that has nothing to do with the blogging.

That I need to do more blogging on Doctor Who!

No... wait, I've been here before... Oh no... One of those aliens is blogging with me!  NOOOO!  RUNN!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Seeking Karmic Balance Between Job Hunting And Saving Turtles

Having spent more than two years now job hunting for librarian or computer/desktop help, I've long ago gotten to the frazzled psyche of a man who looks at an Application form and says aloud "Oh no.  Not again."

There's something... soul-crushing with filling out an application for employment.  There's the hassles of creating not just one resume but a series of resumes to cover every possible contingency that is out there... but now you've got to fill out a form that's asking for the information all over again.

So I was at an office this morning.  I dropped off my resume at a table at the St. Pete Job Fair last week, and the company called for me to come in and fill out an application (and apparently a face interview to follow it).  And I was sitting there, doing my best to fill out yet another application form...

...and I started getting one of those headaches.  The kind of headache that tells me "what the hell am I doing?"  The doubt that a long-time unemployed person gets after getting rejected and ignored long enough to haunt you.

And I panicked.

This is the absolutely worst thing to be doing when a job interview is on the line.  Panicking.  At that moment I knew the whole effort was going to be a waste, that I wasn't going to be any good for the interview.  I crossed out some of the personal info I already put on the form, handed the clipboard back in, apologized for wasting time and left.  Kicking myself mentally the whole way out.

This is what two years plus of job hunting does to you.  I try.  I do my best to get in the mindset when I go into job fairs, and interviews, and shipping resumes to hiring workplaces.  But the second that Doubt hits you...

The drive home was troubled.  That headache was still with me.  I took a scenic route home, looping around to get to a grocery store (needed milk, after all).  The road I took is undergoing construction, so the lanes are down to two (one each direction).  At one spot, the cars in front of me start swerving funny.  And then I quickly see why.

A turtle was crossing the road.

This is Florida.  This is occupational hazard to driving down here.  Lots of roads through wooded areas with nearby lakes.  Lots of places for turtles to live and grow.  And sad to say, turtles get the urge to wander from time to time.

And our roadways are not designed with turtle-safe passages underneath them.  Nor any turtle-level barricades to discourage them from passing the road.

To the cruel and disheartened, let me tell you: driving over a turtle is a bad thing.  Especially to me.  I've read Terry Prachett's Small Gods for one thing.  I have some inkling of the concept of spirit guides, animal totems, etc.  And turtles are a very spiritual animal.

Years ago, when I first coped with depression down in South Florida (was on Zoloft at the time), there was a day driving to work where I rescued a turtle off a major roadway... and I felt damn good the whole day.  It's not a day I've forgotten: it's been one of the few days I ever felt good.  Emphasis on ever.

I am not driving over a turtle.  I owe them.

I got out of the car, with the drivers in the cars stuck behind me sticking their heads out yelling about what the hell was going on.  I shouted back "I'm not driving over turtles" and focused my effort on picking up the little guy as he was scrambling across the road.

Turtle lifting is tricky.  You don't want to drop them, and they do wiggle a lot.  The turtle you see just wants to cross the road from Point A to Point Wherever the Turtle Thinks There's Turtle Happiness.  So to him, getting lifted off the road and floating through the air makes no sense.  Those stubby little turtle legs keep kicking in a walking motion.  I finally got my fingers safely under his shell and carried him over into the dirt in the direction he was going.  I made sure he'd be safe by carrying him a few more yards to the side than was necessary, in case the turtle changed his mind (Oh God. I hope not).  By then the drivers saw I was turtle rescuing and waved back to me that they understood the situation.  Got back in the car and kept driving in my own path.  I know the turtle and I will not cross paths again...

So that's been my day so far right now.  I screwed up a job interview and I saved a turtle off a busy road.  I wonder how the Karmic balance on that works out.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What Else Do Libraries Want From Reference Librarians?

The toughest part of job-hunting these last two years has been tweaking my resume to try and highlight what exactly my expertise and skills are.

And coping with the feeling that I'm still missing the magic phrase that would make a library HR job-hunter go "Hola, this guy has mad skills!"

I mean, I spell out that:

  • I've got years, 14 years and then some, working the reference and public service desk, answering questions, pointing people to the best resources, getting them to the research they seek;
  • I've got years, just as long, working with computers - from the heady days of CD-ROM readers (I can still remember the time it took to switch disks locked into special case holders) - into the first citation-only online databases and from there into full-text articles and now into PDF print-quality journal pages.  And not just researching them with Boolean search methods but with every Advanced limiter command prompt known to database managers.

And that's just with being a reference librarian.  Past that, I've got additional skills with collection management, shelf management (and weeding of dated materials), subject headings and cataloging keywords, and even some skill checking books out and handling overdue fines.  If there's been anything a librarian has to do, I've done it.  I've even been a branch manager (granted, that only lasted a year before my immediate supervisor found me wanting and suggested I get demoted to just reference librarian... yeah, you're not supposed to mention the "negative things" but hell, it happened and I've got to explain it sooner or later).

And still, I feel I'm missing something.

Anyone out there reading this blog have any suggestions on what I need to say on my resume to impress the libraries out there hiring?  Because in this job market, I'm up against one of the tightest markets for librarians ever as every state out there is facing massive budget cuts (and libraries are the easiest target for politicians everywhere... )

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Asking Xlibris To Lower the Cost of My Book...

...I kind of got the feeling when I called the publisher a few days ago to lower the price of the ebook version of Last of the Grapefruit Wars from $5.99 to $2.99 that I was pulling teeth from a very upset lion.

I think the conflict came from the fact that the publisher is one of those mainstream Print-on-Demand services.  Cutting the price in half seems like cutting half the money they'd be getting from selling that book.

Problem is, no one has been buying that many copies of my book (I'd say about two ebook purchases in the last year...) anyway.  And I think the price of it at over 5 bucks was part of the problem.

The book itself is pretty small in terms of page count (in ebook version it's under 100 pages): calling it slim is being polite.  But nobody is going to be buying a thin volume at over 5 bucks... when there are thicker-page-count novels going for less.

With the advent of direct publishing in ebook format, there is now a glut of self-published authors selling directly to the market.  And as they don't have to share (much) with a mainstream publisher with the profits, those authors can set their price any way they see fit.  And a lot of them are selling at 2.99 per ebook.  So I might as well drop the price of Grapefruit Wars to that level as well.

It makes basic sense.  If the demand is low, lower the value on what you have on supply to encourage people shopping for bargains.  You just can't go too low to hamper the costs of producing said supply (this is where you get that economics chart of the supply-and-demand X crossing).  Considering I paid Xlibris good money to have the short story anthology made available to direct-retail purchases, I think the costs of supply have been covered.  Now it's just selling the damn thing (and marketing with Xlibris is another issue altogether)...

Still, I NEED to deal with advertising that ebook and let people know it is for 2.99 now...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Things I Should Be Doing In Terms Of Writing

1) There's a story challenge to write for an all-dialogue short story.

2) There's that Jar of the Atlantic short that's been on the docket for 11 years.

3) There's the NaNoWriMo novel that's got 2 months to complete before the prize discount on getting a free copy printed by CreateSpace runs out.

4) The next Writers Association meeting in Wesley Chapel is the same day as Free Comic Book Day (May 7th)!  Damn.  The Wesley Chapel B&N better have comic book giveaways!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Witty Librarian and the CafePress of Doom

I've been meddling in the affairs of shoppers by creating more items with Witty Librarian quote-age and Logo over at the Witty Librarian Shelf of Stuff on CafePress.

So... if you know any librarians with truckloads of money to spare...  uh, lemme rephrase that.  If you know anybody with truckloads of money to spare who wants to purchase gifts to librarians, send them my way.  :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Negotiations For A Cover Artist

It helps to be a comic book fan and to follow links on DeviantArt to those artists who take commissions... ;-)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Welcome To Post #100.

And for this post I would like to ask a few things of my fine upstanding blog readers:

1) Do any of you know a good graphic artist/comic book illustrator I can commission for creating an ebook cover?  Seriously.  Email me p.warten@gmail.com.

2) Can you all get 50,000 people to buy my ebook Last of the Grapefruit Wars or the Nook-exclusive estory "Welcome To Florida"?  (my latest estory "The Hero Cleanup Protocol" is going through some evaluation at the moment...)

3) Can you help a fellow librarian who's down on his luck?  HIRE ME!!!  (Waaaaaaaaah) (runs toward the horizon)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New eStory: The Hero Cleanup Protocol

by. Paul Wartenberg
cover by.  Paul Wartenberg, 'cause I'm waiting on word from Adam Withers if he's available to draw a cover for me... ;-)

The story is an idea I'd been bumping about for ages: my own little superhero reality where it's a world where Superheroes exist... but because they didn't know they classified as supers, by the time they could do anything about it (the Sixties) all the superhero names were claimed by the comic book industry.  So they have to go with fake "real names" like Charlie or Vicky... except for the rare few who can afford to pay a name squatter the rights to those names.  This is also a world where Superheroes have to be registered: either work under legal guidelines for the U.S. Marshals or the military (where supersoldiers rarely worked out well...), or "retire".  The mechanics of the world is that 1) anyone can be a hero: there's no defining DNA or chromosomal trait or mutating process; 2) most super powers are basic such as improved agility, speed, and flight... but that's usually it, there are few advanced powers like firestarting, telekinesis, or scrying; 3) the powers are mental in nature, not physical, even the powers of strength and invulnerability; 4) Most supers don't even know they have powers because they're rarely in a situation to employ them; and 5) there are few true Superhumans or God-like beings: most are mortal humans (there's one or two notable exceptions, and they're terrifying...).

In this world, there's (supposedly) one potential superhuman per 500,000 people.  Most supers organize into teams per city/metro, dedicated to stuff like bounty hunting, emergency response to disasters, and public relations (they're treated like sports athletes and celebrities: the third thing you get when you become a Registered Super - AKA Talent because "Super" had been trademarked - is your own playable trading card).  And in this world, every wannabe hero goes through rigorous training with the FBI and Marshals offices at Quantico.  They also go through rigorous psych evals, because the last thing anyone wants on their team is a superhero ready to snap at any second.

My story is about what happens when a new hero arrival snaps on his first day.  That's the Cleanup Protocol.  And it's my introduce to the key character of my superhero universe: Powersurge, the exception to all the rules I made...

It's been uploaded into Smashwords, made available for various ereader services.  I think it has a converted format for Kindle as well, which is a bit surprising because I thought Kindle was still using an exclusive format...

This was part of my Local Authors event presentation: I wanted to demonstrate the relative ease of getting a story uploaded straight from Word document format into an epublishing market.

The tricky part now is, obviously, how to get 50,000 people to buy that estory... ;-)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Local Authors Event: Tarpon Springs April 5th

I will be at the Tarpon Springs Public Library today to promote my book Last of the Grapefruit Wars, my eshort story "Welcome To Florida", and possibly see about posting a new eshort through Smashwords to demonstrate how that might work.  No guarantees though.

Enjoy the Issue 20 updating to City of Heroes!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

This Is A Month Of Blogging

I might not succeed.

Andy from Ta-Nehisi's Open Threads mentioned that April is supposed to be a month of daily blogging, a means of getting bloggers more active in the actual act of blogging.  You see, outside of the professionals who are paid to blog as a means of reporting, most amateur bloggers are... inconsistent.  Sometimes not even blogging for months on end.  When that happens, people who might read that blog tune out, traffic decreases, the possibility of getting your words seen and recognized fades.

So, to blog each day.

Like I said, I might not succeed.

At least not here.

I do have another blog, one where I am more active: my political blogsite The Amendments We Need, although it's been awhile since I've posted any amendment ideas...  The deal with that one is, well, it's more biased, and little bit angrier, and a lot more profane (kids, cover your eyes).  It doesn't have much to do with my writing interests and my librarianship profession, which I separated to this blog here.  Thanks for visiting, by the way.

What I may try to do is blog alternately, once here, once there.  But again, this is a busy month for me, and there's about 20 other real-life things I got to be doing around here.

So I might not succeed.

Check with me by April 30th.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The St. Patrick's "Everyone Pretends They're Irish So They Can Get Drunk" Obligatory Thread

It's that time of year again to break out the green socks!




You know how hard it is to find an anime of Belldandy with a U2 soundtrack to it?



Anyway, enjoy St. Patricks Day and stay safe!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Personal News: About My Cat Page

Page the Silly Kitty, I call her.

I adopted Page thanks to the help of an old workplace friend Judi (she's now helping with the Cat Rescue group in Broward County) back in 2001.  So she's roughly 10 years old this year.

Sad thing is, I found a lump on her side a few months.  Finally got her into the vet's, hoping that it was just an inflammation from the booster shots she got back in November...

It wasn't.  It came back as a kind of carcinoma.  A cancer.  And it was growing past the skin and bits of muscle that the vet had cut out.  Meaning we probably didn't get all of it.

She's suffering through the humiliation of the cone collar this past week, and my older cat Tehya is throwing more of a hissy fit that usual at Page (vet says it's because Tehya can smell something different about Page).  She doesn't seem to understand why I'm whispering to her more than usual, at most all she's hoping for is the day I get that cone off her neck...

Hug your kitties when you can.

Our pets never live as long as we want them to.

Friday, February 18, 2011

PubIt Badge for My eShort

Hmm.  B&N says I can do this on my blog...











Hmm. It's not working so well, the image isn't fitting the badge.
Anyway. BUY MY ESTORY!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Authors Den

As mentioned in the previous entry, I had attended the Feb. 5th Authors Event in Wesley Chapel, and had come away meeting fellow local authors such as Philip Rice, who recommended to me a website called Authors Den.

It's a directory of independent authors, listings of their works, links to those titles available online, contact info, and so on.  I signed up for it.  It's a question now of figuring out how to use the site to market myself, to increase interest in my work, so on.

By the way, I still need to pay off this new computer.  BUY MY BOOK AND ESHORT!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I Survived The Feb. 5th Local Authors Event in Wesley Chapel

I sold one paperback copy of Last of the Grapefruit Wars and handed out about twelve bookmarks for the eshort story Welcome to Florida.  Have to admit most of the book shoppers were curious but few were buying.

I sat next to, by the by, Philip Rice with his memoir Mixed Bag (he was a fellow survivor of the XLibris experience) and also next to Madonna Wise who was promoting a pair of local histories on Zephyrhills.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Computer Died. Buy My Books!

I need the money to pay for a new gaming PC.  Seriously.

Buy the estory Welcome to Florida!

Buy my short story anthology Last of the Grapefruit Wars!

Get 50,000 of your friends to do the same!

Help a poor veteran of the Rikti Wars who's down on his luck!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Feb 5th: Local Authors Event at Barnes and Noble Wesley Chapel FL

I will attend the Local Authors event at the mid-Pasco Barnes and Noble store in Wesley Chapel, FL, this Saturday Feb. 5th from 2 pm - 4 pm.  Its at the Shops at Wiregrass Mall, 28512 Paseo Dr.  It's off of State Rd 56, east of the I-75 intersection along the Pasco-Hillsborough border.

I will be marketing my collected shorts anthology Last of the Grapefruit Wars, and will see about advertising my recently released estory "Welcome to Florida".

Please attend.  I need a few people to show up and scream like I'm a Beatle.  :-)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Short Story: Welcome To Florida

I've been keen on writing short stories for a good while.  I'd like to think I'm good at it.

So I finally went with getting a short story submitted to an epublish service.

Available on BN.com with their NookBook ereader.  "Welcome To Florida."

Yay me.

The process itself with the ereader service is quick.  You just go to the retailer's self-publish option (Barnes & Noble is PubIt! and Amazon is Kindle Direct Publishing, for example), you sign up to their contract of eternal damnation and give away your firstborn, actually you give them financial info for a direct deposit account, you upload a copy of your story/essay/novel, provide a "book cover" for it, add a description and keywords for browse/search engines, select the price for sale, preview the work to ensure text and font alignment is good, and submit.  When I did it with PubIt, it took 24 hours after submitting for the short story to appear for sale on the NookBook menu.

And then you pray that 50,000 people see it and buy it.

The good part of the deal is, there's no hassle to getting published (as long as you don't violate community decency standards or national state secrets).  You write it, you format it, you get cover art made, you submit it.  In the old days (say, fifteen years ago), getting published meant you had to A) write a rough draft, B) find an agent, C) get the agent to convince a publisher to look at your work out of thousands of submissions, D) get signed to a book deal contingent on good sales, E) go through a massive editing process that takes months, F) go through a printing process that takes a year, G) get marketed to retailer and libraries and hope to God the book reviews are kind.

The old way was limited to about 20 to 30 new authors/books a year per publisher, pretty much.  In a competitive market, it was brutal.  The advantage to getting signed by a major book publisher, of course, was that it paid well and that the publisher handled all the marketing.  The alternative was called self-publishing.  You went to a vanity press or started your own press, and got it to crank out copies for you to sell.  You got published of course, but the disadvantages were that you A) paid out of your own pocket which most people can't afford, and B) you had to market your own book all by your lonesome: no agent or printer to make the deals or create ads for you.

About ten years ago, a new service popped up.  Thanks to the Internet, submissions and marketing could work in other ways.  Called Print-On-Demand, you still paid to get published, but it was cheaper (in some cases very cheap) than vanity presses.  The services also had fees for marketing services, but they still worked as leads in getting the word out and your book advertised.  What made the POD attractive was that the printer could keep the work on file in a professional format and easily print out more copies on short notice.  The PODs also had deals with retailers (like Amazon) to have the book available for online or special order.  They also began dabbling with ebook formats during the early 2000s, but lacking viable reader devices made that iffy.

Until Amazon came out with the Kindle.  And other book retailers followed suit with their ereaders.

The ebooks are everywhere now.  They were one of the hot items for last Christmas.  Sales for ebooks now outpace books.  And the competing devices - the handheld tablets - have apps that convert them into ereaders as well.  Getting published straight to ebook is looking very attractive.

You don't even need to publish books.  The ereaders are not limited by small file sizes (just big ones, meaning Stephen King and Tom Clancy need to start editing their books down more).  The story I submitted to PubIt for the Nook was on my word processor about 10 pages long, and that was with a cover page and Authors page.  The file itself was about 14k of memory converted to ebook.  Very small.

Publishing a short story is akin to issuing a music single compared to a whole album (in fact, most music until the 1960s were issued as singles only, with albums made as compilations afterward.  You could blame the Beatles for insisting on working album first, single second).  If you have an iPod or MP3 player, you can buy a song separately from the album.  The same can be said for the estory separately from an ebook.

The only real conflict I had with submitting "Welcome To Florida" as a story was the pricing.  I can set my own price from lowest to highest.  Most ebooks by established authors go for $7.99 to $11.99 perhaps higher depending on file size and author's ego size.  Most small-press publishers would get their ebooks at $4.99 to $6.99.  New authors or self-publishers tend to price their books however they want... but if they were smart they'd keep it under $5 to entice an audience that's looking for bargain deals.  The cheapest you can price an ebook on PubIt happens to be... $.99.  Roughly the price of an MP3 song, by the by.  I tried asking for a cheaper price than that because A) I'm new and need to attract the audience and B) I figured selling a short short for around $.65 was fair.  No, I had to set it at $.99, so I hope any buyers of the story won't feel gypped.


So, the great news is, I got a story published.  Didn't have to market it to story magazines or short story anthologies.  Didn't have to sign an agent to commission.  I published the book and set the price.

But now it's all on me to get the word out.  It's all on me to market the damn thing.  It's up to me to find at least 50,000 friends and family members with a Nook ereader (or Nook app) to spend the $.99 to buy the short story and not ask for a refund.

Good thing I'm attending a Barnes & Noble Local Authors' event this Feb. 5th 2011 in Wesley Chapel, FL at the Wire Grass Mall.  It's from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  Please do show.

Also, I need to print up bookmarks advertising it... It's doable...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trying To Write. Trying To Publish

I'm looking at publishing some short stories directly into an epub system like say Nook's PubIt or Kindle's... PowerSurge/CreateSpace, I forget what it's called.  If I can get a volunteer or three (again) to scan some stories for 1) grammar erroks, and 2) general readability... that might not help, because I get frustrated with criticisms that tell me to do 150 other things than I'm used to doing.  Sigh.  :/