Charting Growth

I’ve been listening to a couple of good writing podcasts, and they’re both in agreement about self publishing your early work. Don’t, they say. Readers are looking for a well written, engaging story, and not to follow along in your journey of growth as a writer. On top of that, you don’t want to associate your name with beginner’s writing mistakes.

Well, whoops. There’s a clear improvement in my writing from the beginning to the end of The Remembrance. That’s been out in the wild since 2006, so that cat has been out of the bag for a good six years. Todd’s Story has been out for a few years as well, which is (hopefully) better written than The Remembrance. Then came Fight or Flight. I’ve pretty much done exactly what they advise not to do.

I’m not seeing a good reason to change that trajectory now. To add to the growing list of cliches, the damage has already been done. Adam’s Name should continue the arc of improvement (I hope), and I’m just going to have to thank my readers for being along for the ride.


GoodreadsAs long as I’ve been a member of Goodreads (some time in 2008?), I have been under the impression that only books with ISBN numbers could be added to its hallowed database. Perhaps this was the case when I joined, but no longer! No siree Bob! What have I done with my new-found knowledge? Good question!

I’ve added Todd’s Story to the Goodreads database. Now you can add it to your library, give it incredibly uplifting reviews, recommend it to your friends, start a discussion about the book, and other sundry (and yet awesome!) things.  So, I say unto you, go forth, and read good!

Sale at Lulu

As both the hardcover of The Remembrance and the trade paperback of Todd’s Story are only available through Lulu, I figured that I should clue you guys in to a sale that they’ve got going on until 15 July.

Enter coupon code BIG305 at checkout and receive 20% off your order. The maximum savings for this offer is $100. Enter coupon code BIGGER305 at checkout and receive 25% off your order of $500 or more. The maximum savings for this offer is $500.


EPUB frustrations.

I am having an adventure.

As an experiment, I am making Todd’s Story more friendly for eBook readers.  My experience with  my wife’s Nook has told me that pdf files and eBook readers are not exactly the best of friends.  So, after some Googling (yes, it’s a verb now, shut it), I decided to go with EPUB format.  It seemed to be the most cross-compatible.

I downloaded a copy of Calibre, and off I went.  Okay, converting from pdf was terrible, but converting from low-formatting formats like .rtf is better.  rtf it is.  The next hurdle came in variable-width formatting.  Normally, not a problem, but both Calibre and my wife’s Nook interpret hard carriage returns as a double space, which is on top of the 1.5 spacing it already gives text.  Okay, no problem, I went through and changed my paragraph separations.  There was nothing to do with the song lyrics, so I left them as-is.

The next step was to make sure that the cover image would show.  Calibre puts the EPUB file, the source rtf, and the cover graphic all in the same directory, so I couldn’t be sure if the image was included in the EPUB file or not.  More Googling ensued, and Aldiko ended up on my Android phone.  I moved the EPUB file over, imported it, and… success!  Cover graphic!  I won’t have to archive multiple files into a .zip or whatever to distribute it!

So, I start flipping through the pages in Aldiko.  All of the formatting is gone.  Centering, bold, italics, everything.  Carriage returns are normal.  This looks like it was written in Notepad.  Not exactly easy on the eyes.

On top of that, my wonderful WordPress install is telling me that it won’t allow uploads of EPUB files into its Media section, because it poses a security risk.  Yeah, XML based files would.

Geek note – Yes, I could host and link the file manually, but that’s not what I’m trying to do here.

My next steps include checking if Lulu will allow me to upload my own EPUB file instead of paying them more than I can afford to convert it for me and testing my EPUB file out on an iPad 2 and any other eReader that I can get my hands on.

Wish me luck.

Self Promotion


The pic shows two copies of The Remembrance, my first novel, on the Michigan Writers shelf at Everybody Reads Books & Stuff.  That’s on East Michigan in Lansing, next to Gone Wired and across the street from Emil’s.  Location, location, location!

They carry everything from fiction to progressive politics to family tragedy to green living. If they didn’t have something that I was looking for, they ordered it for me. I can’t rave enough about this place.

In other news, Fight or Flight, a webcomic written by me and illustrated by Richard Schlaack, continues to chug along.  It updates with either comics or sketches every Friday here.  A paper issue is in the works.

Todd’s story is available via the link to the left (if you’re viewing this on my site, and not via rss).

Is there any place you’d like to see me for a signing? Drop me an email (via the contact page) and I’ll see what I can do!

Fresh off the presses

It’s been three and a half years since I put anything to print. Too long. A couple of months ago, I decided to change that.

I gathered together the Dr. Celestine’s Carnival of Souls posts that I’d written about Todd. I went over them again, editing out typos and considering whether I should keep or omit the song lyrics. I contacted Gil to pitch my idea to him. No profit coming to me, novella will be at cost, POD through, and your copyright and credit will be there for the setting and the Carnival’s characters. He was so geeked about it, he put together an incredible cover. I refined the document in OpenOffice to include a gutter in the margins, slogged through the cover creation process (three different editing applets to get what I want!), and created a wonderfully melodramatic blurb for the item listing page.

And then I published it.

It’s available now. Right here. Sixty-five pages of dark modern fantasy novella goodness. So, I come to you guys with a conundrum. Sure, I’ll be bringing copies to Penguicon to sell and to sign. I’ll sign any that people bring to me, too. Since it’s material that’s been available on the internet for a while, and it’s non-profit, I’m thinking that a release signing might not be the way to go. Should I just say order your copy now and bring it to me at Penguicon? Should I chuck caution to the wind and hold a release signing? Or should I get my pen back in contact with the page writing the sequel?

If it tickles your fancy, go and buy one! At under US$6.00, you can’t beat it. If you want to read it first, all of the posts are linked to in order here.

Thoughts From the Day Job

Holy wow, someone gets it.

Horoscope for 2 Dec 2009:
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): “Dear Rob: Last night my son and I were star- gazing. When we focused on the constellation Cassiopeia, an owl started hooting. Then a brilliant shooting star zipped by as a huge bat flew right over our heads. Was this a bad omen? Bats are creepy — associated with vampires. And in Greek mythology Cassiopeia got divine punishment because she bragged that she and her daughter were more beautiful than the sea god’s daughters. But I don’t know, maybe this blast of odd events was a good omen. Owls are symbols of wisdom and shooting stars are lucky, right? What do you think? Are we blessed or cursed? -Spooked Taurus.” Dear Spooked: The question of whether it’s good or bad luck is irrelevant. Here’s what’s important: You Tauruses are in a phase when the hidden workings of things will be shown to you — the mysterious magic that’s always bubbling below the surface but that is usually not visible.

First revision of the cover for the Todd stories is AWESOME. I shall nibble on my fingernails during its resizing.

You posted to the what now?

So, to deal with Susan tiptoeing around in my brainmeats, I’ve gathered the posts that mention her together as a set of links and posted it to the Google Group.  What Google Group, you ask?

I will likely be doing the same with Todd’s story shortly.  The entries are much easier to read in order than they are in Livejournal’s reverse chronological order.  Just a side-effect of shared fiction within a blog environment.

Anyway, if you’re inclined to read, please do.  If you’re inclined to comment, that’s also welcome.  Good night, all. :)