Thursday, November 22, 2012

Book Selection

As I look through free Kindle books it has me thinking about how I select a fiction book. Non-fiction is completely different. This is a much a message to me as anything else. I think my fiction selection generally follows this pattern:

  • Author - If it's by someone I like, nothing else matters. Preston and Child could write a vegetarian cookbook and cover it in a paper bag. I'm in.
  • Cover - Yeah, we know, don't judge a book by it's cover but I'm a visual person. Cover's tell me a lot. Is this supposed to be a thriller? Is it chick lit? Horror? Romance? A good cover at lease gives me the category. Joel Friedlander knows more about books covers than I ever will. The more of his stuff I read the more I notice covers.
  • Description - I need to know the storyline. If the storyline and the cover match, then I'm really interested. If you give me a chick lit cover on a book about finding Incan gold while being chased by alien frogs I'm put off by the disconnect. It makes me think that you're sloppy. I don't care about blurbs. Blurbs are crap. I've watched celebrity endorsers scribble out a blurb in 5 seconds flat without knowing jack about the book.
  • Ratings/Reviews  -  Yep, I read reviews. I tend to read them on Amazon and Goodreads. I to put more stock in the Goodreads reviews but I'll check Amazon because of the volume. Anything really generic is ignored. I tend to read the good and the bad to get an idea of what to expect.
  • Price - If the cover is good and the description works I'll take a chance if the price is right. An indie author that no one has ever heard of trying to price their work at $9.99 probably doesn't have a chance. Remember, the first criteria is author. If I like someone's stuff I'll buy it, even in different genres.
  • Buzz - Rarely but occasionally I buy a book based on buzz. About half the time it works out. If someone is already getting that kind of buzz they don't need me.
Author, cover, description. That's the key, in that order. A good cover shows professionalism. A good description proves that an author can write. A review or two and a reasonable price gives me a reason to try. If I try a book and I like it, I'm willing to buy more.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dear Microsoft and Apple

Dear Microsoft,

Every time that Outlook locks up with the little spinning wheel or mysteriously slows down my system I wish for a big "crash stop" button like the button on the iPhone. It's about control.

Dear Apple,

After about a month of working with Windows 8, I find myself trying to used the "Pull down to close" gesture on my iPhone. It's about simplicity.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Windows 8 Thoughts

I've had the Windows 8 preview since it was first available, and then the release version as soon at it was available on MSDN, running on a secondary laptop. A week ago I installed it on my primary machine, a Lenovo X201 Tablet PC with 2 touch points. Everyone I've talked (including me) agrees that it takes a week to two weeks to make the mental shift from Windows 7 to Windows 8. It's about a week to get comfortable and another week to discover all the little things you missed initially. I feel like I've used it enough to toss out some comments.

  • The touch interface rocks, even on a machine with only 2 touch points.
  • Draggling down to close take a while to get right. After that, no big deal.
  • If you are upgrading, drivers are an issue. Shame on Microsoft and manufacturers for not being ready. Neither my Acer Aspire One or my Lenovo X201 have completely updated drivers.  Every error, every blue screen so far has been a driver issue.
    • On the Lenovo, I just found an updated driver to make the camera work and the fingerprint scanner is still on the fritz.
    • On the Acer I'm getting weird issues. I tried to install Office 2013 from the ISO download and it repeatedly failed. Finally I dragged out a portable DVD player, burned a disc and installed it successfully that way. I had similar issues with Win8 on this machine.
  • I can scroll Metro style screens using the mouse wheel which is nice. I still wish that I could hold the mouse to the right and have the window scroll like the Start screen does. That behavior is really inconsistent.
  • I'm in love with the People app. I just wish they had taken it even farther.
  • I miss browser add ins in the Metro style IE 10. I want to push stuff to Blogger and save items to Pocket and I can't. I end up having to just email things to myself and it feels like a step backward.
  • The fact that charms like search and settings are contextual is a shift for MS. Whatever app I'm in, when I hit the Search charm, it searches that app. When I hit Settings, the options are different depending on the app I'm in.
All in all, I'm pretty happy. I want a Pocket Metro style app, Flipboard would be nice too. So will Apple make a Metro friendly iTunes app before Microsoft makes an iPad friendly version of Office?

Monday, October 22, 2012

10 Kooky Tips On How To Write A Book

Wordserve Water Cooler has 10 Kooky Tips On How To Write A Book. Among them:

2) If you have kids, get a lock for your bedroom door
My reasoning is two-fold: 1) my bedroom is where I write, and 2) my bedroom is where I cry when I am convinced that I cannot write, and it seems to upset the children when I cry uncontrollably.

Make sure to check out the rest.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Visual Cues in Writing or My Gunsmith is Writing a Zombie Novel

I saw Larry Correia's post "My gunsmith is writing a zombie novel".  That's all it took and I was off to to follow the progression of the story.

Joseph Chetwood is writing much of Uprising Crusader online. The story is serialized on the blog but it feels like you're reading a working draft. I'm assuming that there will be an edit round when he's done but the story itself is intriguing. The gunsmith angle brings a nice dose of realism.

More intriguing is that in every installment he has a single image that is representative of that section. I have no idea if this will make it into the final draft. As a reader, I almost hope it doesn't. The images distract from my imagination. BUT AS A WRITER, IT WORKS. I tend to a be visual person and I love the idea of using an image of what I'm trying to convey in a particular section to help move my writing forward. I'm tempted to try that with the fiction piece I'm working on.

Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by sbpoet

New GP Book Coming

Packt Publishing has given the green light to my next Dynamics GP book. It will be due out early next year. I'll have more, including the topic as we get closer to release.