Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tag Clouds

For some reason, possibly because I'm dumb, I neglected to put tags on any of my uploaded eBooks. I only noticed this when I put a book trailer* up and realized that I didn't even do the basic painless search advertising. It doesn't really come naturally to me to come up with little one or two word niblets and I always miss something. 

So, as I often do when confronting a boring task that I need to practice, I look for a way to liven it up a bit.

I ran Deep Sleep, my most popular short story at the moment (at least on Smashwords), through Wordle:

Obviously, Francine is the name of the only character in the story that has a name. Then I took the more interesting words from the cloud and put them in as tags. I figure it isn't false advertisement if they're mentioned a lot. I added science fiction and last survivor just to round out the theme, and there it was. Pretty easy, I guess.

I'm sure this can only help.

*It's only been a day, but I'll give a cautious thumbs-up to the eBook trailer since a lot more people took a look at the story. So at least it wasn't a waste of time...


One of the scenes I just wrote in "The $10,000 Whore" feels like this picture. Altogether too cute and pink, but hey whatever. If I don't feel uncomfortable while writing a story, there's no challenge to it. I mean, she's using an iMac. That ain't right.

This is one story that's going to pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors. And the protagonist might even survive, if anybody does.

- - - -
250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
Short Story "The $10,000 Whore"
Reading - ?


Friday, November 19, 2010

Invisible Goals

I'm not productive enough.

Even though by the standards of my friends and neighbors I'm a veritable dynamo (a DYNAMO, baby!), that's not really important. Those guys are obviously losers, or else they wouldn't like and/or live near me.

I set my own goals, and put them into two categories: Think Bigger & Think Better

My Think Bigger goals:

-I want to write a novel a month and a short story a week. I make a lot of free time that could be devoted to Writing, and volume, repetition and mind-boggling dedication has historically been the method to my madness.

-I want to have three girlfriends at the same time. That's always a good goal, and it would really help that first goal. I write a lot better when I can babble at a diverse (blonde, brunette, bisexual) group of people to generate ideas.

My Think Better goal:

-I want my three girlfriends to be friends with each other too. Nobody likes a catfight, ladies.

-In my continuing endeavor to Spell-Check and Submit It, I want to be able to dash off a short story in the three hours it should take to do that and then to be able to regularly say "I like it!" after reading it. So I'll be reading up on short story construction by the Old Masters (and some of the new ones too), then I'll just keep writing these short stories at speed until something clicks.

I'm not interested in polishing up a turd, I want to shit diamonds.


This is how I imagine the life of a very high-class hooker. It's the end of the day, she's tired out from reading all the latest fiction and brushing up on the business topics of interest to her next client, a wealthy industrialist, so that she can engage in witty repartee on the morrow during their tête-à-tête. She's using the fancy chair wrong, but it's oh so right.

Later, her client is murdered and she is framed for the killing. Can she evade her personal Javert while trying to find out who would kill a wealthy industrialist? Find out!

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
Short Story "Ten Thousand Dollar Whore" - started
- - - -
Reading - ?


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Space Whale

This doesn't count as phoning it in, OK?


I'm in the midst of an unexpectedly busy day & night & day after, so I'll just post a real book trailer I made while I should have been writing. It's a minute long!

Drugs are Legal, People Ain't

Just for the record, this took a lot longer to make than it should have, and it's all thanks to Windows Movie Maker being annoying. I'm finding a better option before (if) I make the rest. Still, not half bad.

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Alien Concept

If you try hard enough, there's no such thing as an alien concept.

In three hundred years, when we humans are making sapient designer species in labs to colonize those worlds we're too lazy to survive on, someone will have wrapped their minds around a lot of crazy stuff just by virtue of being born three hundred years from now. Well, not born in the traditional sense, but that's just reinforcing my point.

That's the real point of speculating, getting all the alien concepts out of the way so that you can apply them. It's evolution. Those folk who stood staring at fire because it was unfamiliar mostly died off when the forest burned around them. Those who watched from a safe distance then got a free meal but also learned how to cook it. Then they figured out how to control it and carry it around, and that's why Humanity was not eaten by a grue.

So, if an idea you write down scares you, find out why. Then write the reason down too. I'll be awaiting you on the next planet over.

There's no such thing as an alien concept on Earth.


I should have used this picture for the Romance post.

Instead, I'll let you imagine it's the ending of "Ostracon", Mesolithic Knight-Errantry and Courtly Love. It's at least the inevitable ending of all stories.

Except mine, of course, since I'll be living forever.

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cover Art

So, you want to make an eBook cover free? No? Well, that's what we're doing today.

I've finished up a new story featuring Alan (the main character from "Moving In, Moving On") called "The Language of Ice Cubes", so I'm going to need an ebook cover. Here's how I do it.

First, I find an appropriate picture. In this story, there's a ghost palm tree so I grab the nearest picture of a palm tree I've taken. I make sure there's a big blank space for the title and author name, but you knew that.

Then I open up GIMP (it's free!) and drag and drop in the picture. Right now it's too big. We're shooting for 500x800, which is 0.63:1. I'm going to choose an exciting portion of the picture that has enough space for the title and author name.

To save a lot of fiddling and annoyance, check on Snap to Grid (View --> Snap to Grid) first. Then find the Rectangle Select tool and click and drag until you've got a good-looking 0.63:1 rectangle, like so:
Rectangle Select
Note that the ratio is at the bottom of the window while you're dragging the rectangle. Once you've done that,  Copy the selection to the clipboard (Ctrl-C). Easy so far...

Second step is to get ourselves a new image. Do this:
Edit --> Paste as --> New Image

You should now have an image of the selection, so save this new image (you can close the old image to reduce clutter). Now, this new image is probably not 500x800, but that's easy enough.

Go to
Image --> Scale Image
and input Width 500 and Height 800 and behold!
Great, now we have a blank canvas upon which to put our title. Find the Text button (it looks like an A) and put each word of the title in as a separate text box. You can find the layers to the right for when you move it around. Remember, you can use the arrow keys to nudge the text boxes around. It'll be easy with a bit of practice. Here's the basic one:
Now, use your eye for color and layout to make it look pretty. If you want to test out the contrast, you can use this tool: Color Contrast Analyzer. This is useful for backgrounds that aren't as obvious as Light Blue and Black. Such as Foliage and Gold for the author name in the final here.
Save your file now, as an .xcf so that you can play around with it later. We'll also need a .jpg, so go to
File --> Save as...
and replace the .xcf with .jpg and save (see below)

There, that was easy! Anybody can do it.

Or you can give me $50 and a picture and I'll do it for you.


"The Language of Ice Cubes", magical realism with a dash of romance.

Alan just wanted something to do, but he soon discovers that maintaining a relationship in small-town Thailand is a more challenging proposition than he expected. Can he (and she) find a way through to happiness?

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?


Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Trailers

What's the deal with Book Trailers? They're everywhere!

I can see the allure, but is it really a good use of my time? Also, why are these trailers so long?

So of course I whipped one up for "Ostracon" using the picture from yesterday's post and an orphaned audio clip from a dead project. I gave myself a time budget of 30s, because that's my attention span for a commercial.

Darwin never said it, but David did. Welcome to the future.

That only took about ten minutes and was rather fun, so my ruling is that I might as well have one as not. I bet if I spent thirty minutes, it wouldn't be so lame.

But it's still not a priority.


Those of you who screw around with video more than me, is there a good, free video editing program that'll output to .avi? It doesn't have to be very robust, just capable of doing what I did up there or fiddling with the occasional webcam/Skype video.

An atlatl to anybody who helps! In fact, atlatli for everybody! This shall henceforth be known as Atlatl Day.

250 words? Yes
Short Story "Ostracon" - almost done.
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
- - - -
Reading - ?


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Comic Romance

Where I really come into my own while writing romance side of things is playful banter. There's no romance like a comic romance, nobody likes drama anyways. My ideal relationship would be Nick and Nora Charles. (I would be Nick.)

On a less applicable but similarly named note, I liked Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist?

Um...this topic felt like it would be a lot longer. Huh.

Good work, David, way to phone in Post 100.

(Oh, by the way, the big change was that I managed to change the webpage favicon.)


Finished editing up "Sorcerer's Hire", seemed to work pretty well. It might technically be "spellpunk" instead of straight fantasy, but it qualifies for David's Intro to Fantasy. For my next foray into writing the Fantasy genre, I'm exploring the Knight-errant trope in "Ostracon".

Here's a picture of a caveman attacking a badger that pretty much sums it up except for the actual plot.

2000 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
Short Story "Sorcerer's Hire" - minor edits, done.
Short Story "Ostracon" - in progress
- - - -
Reading - ?

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