boundless

A sadistic serial killer. A young girl. A quick read. The flash fiction story boundless is now free.

Repetition

The horror novelette Repetition is now available.

Introducing Derrick and Max

This is from the first illustration I did for the first Derrick and Max book. Derrick the Dog was released June, 2013.

My first ArtRage drawing

This was the first original drawing I completed with my Wacom Bamboo tablet and ArtRage, done almost entirely in pencil. Just a little practice drawing, not related to any of the stories I'm working on.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!!!

Note: Not sure what happened. This was scheduled to go live on 12/25, but it never posted. So, I'll extend the freebie days through the end of the year. Now, onto the original post.

Or happy whatever-you-happen-to-celebrate.  At our house, it’s Christmas.  If you’re exchanging gifts this season, then I hope you’ve been a good boy or girl and get to unwrap a shiny new ereader.  If you have, then I have a gift for you, too.
 
In honor of this gift giving day, I'm giving to you, faithful followers, the gift of free ebooks.  All of my ebooks have been marked as free.  The price has already trickled out to Barnes&Noble, and hopefully by the time you read this, it will be free everywhere.  The only exception may be Amazon, where I can’t set it as free.  We just have to hope that they price match soon.  If you pick up one or more of my books and you like it, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review.  It really helps, and I definitely appreciate it.  Just don’t delay grabbing your free copy, because this is a limited time offer.

That’s all for now.  I hope you have a peaceful, safe, and enjoyable holiday season.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Top 6 Twitter Tips

I’ve been on Twitter for awhile, now.  It’s probably the primary outpost in my hub and outpost model, which I’ve been using even before I knew what it was called.  I’m on Facebook and GoodReads, also, but Twitter seems to be what I’ve taken to the most.  Maybe because it’s so quick and easy.  It’s simple to jump in and out of the conversation.  But it took me awhile to learn some of the subtle uses of it.  To spur you on your way to Twitter greatness, here are my top tips.  Some of these may be author-specific, or at least specific to those who will be using it to market a good or service, but there should also be some good ones for anyone who wants to be a more effective tweeter.

English: Tweeting bird, derived from the initi...

English: Tweeting bird, derived from the initial 't' of Twitter Deutsch: Twitschervogel, entwickelt aus dem Anfangs-'t' von Twitter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Use it for the right reasons

If the only reason you’re on social media is to market and sell, then I wish you luck.  Some people may go there so they can be advertised to, but I can’t imagine there are many. If, on the other hand, you’re getting on social media to connect with your peers, meet and engage your fans, help others, pass along useful information, learn, and generally use it to form relationships, you’ll probably enjoy it more and your followers will enjoy it more.  And when you (sparingly) use it to promote your goods and/or services, I think you’ll find it more rewarding.  See the 80-20 rule below.

2. Be active but not hyperactive.

If you want followers, you should be active on Twitter, but you don’t want to annoy the heck out of your followers (who will then likely stop following you) by posting dozens of tweets a day.  Space out your tweets.  Consider using some of my techniques from the autopilot section below.  You should focus on quality over quantity.  If you keep screaming, “Notice me,” after you’re noticed for all the wrong reasons, you’re going to be ignored.

3. Remember the 80-20 rule.

This is the one that goes 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people, or if you’re in Scouting, it’s the 90-10 rule (or is that 95-5? I forget).  For tweeting, this means that (at least) 80% of your tweets should not be advertising.  They should be interesting, helpful, or anything that’s not advertising.  Do you like watching commercials, or do you spin through them (or change channels, etc.)?  If your twitter feed is nothing but you repeating, “Buy my book!” your followers are going to tune you out.  If, on the other hand, you’ve brought value to their day, you might get rewarded with increased mindshare, good feelings, and maybe even a sale.

4. Put Twitter on (semi-) autopilot. 

You’re doing stuff through the day or night.  You’re blogging.  You’re reading websites.  Maybe, you’re reviewing books on GoodReads.  These things can be used to populate your Twitter feed, keeping you visible, providing value to your followers, and helping you meet that 80-20 rule.  So, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go sign up for IFTTT.  Look through their recipes.  There are way more than just Twitter recipes, but that’s what we’ll focus on here.  Well, Buffer recipes actually, since IFTTT had to remove all the recipes where Twitter was the “If”.  :(
  2. Go sign up for Buffer.  Link your Twitter account to it.
  3. If you’re not already using Instapaper or similar, start.  Really, start now.  Instapaper is to the web what a PVR/DVR is to TV.
  4. Find some IFTTT recipes you like and modify them to fit your needs.  Of special interest are the ones that involve RSS and buffer.  Tie in the RSS feed from your blog.  Tie in the RSS feed from your liked articles in Instapaper.  Figure out if there are other information sources you use that would be interesting or useful to your followers and tie that in.

Now, when you tweet, add it to Buffer so you don’t send a barrage of tweets to your followers all at once.  Unless what you’re sending is time-sensitive or you’ve run out of Buffer space, then tweet it right then.  It’s actually a good idea to mix some of that in so you’re getting some tweets in there at your out-of-the ordinary times (hence the semi- up there).  Then, you don’t seem like a robot, and you’re more likely to catch those followers who might not be checking Twitter on Buffer’s schedule.

5. Use lists.

When I first started getting followers, I would vet them.  Did they tweet all the time?  Were they going to clog up my feed with sales pitches and make me miss out on the people I really wanted to follow?  If yes, I didn’t follow them back.  And eventually, most of them stopped following me, too.

Now, I use lists in conjunction with Hootsuite, and I follow back most of my followers using Tweepi.  I can look at my main feed to see everything that’s going on with all my followers, even the ones who scream, “Buy my book” all the time.  But I have a couple of private lists that contain the people I absolutely don’t want to miss.  So, I get the best of both worlds:  extra followers and extra visibility, some of whom I may forge lasting relationships with, without missing out on the people whose tweets I don’t ever want to miss. 

6. Use hashtags.

If there’s a better explanation than Laura’s, I haven’t found it.  Click here for a great article and collection of hashtags.

 

That’s my list.  I hope it’s useful.  If you have some tips that need to be shared, please add them into the comment below.  If you found this useful, please share it!

 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Get Derrick the Dog for Free in September!!!

Derrick the Dog (DtD) has been very well received.  It's gotten some nice reviews, and it even made it all the way to the number one spot in one of the sub-genre's on Kobo.  However, it hasn't gotten a lot of visibility.  So, for the remainder of the month, I've marked the ebook price down to... FREE!!!  The updated price should trickle out to retailers over the next few days.  Unfortunately, I can't mark it as free at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but in fairly short order, their bots should pick up the change and price match.  Here's where you can help.

Please help spread the word.  You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Pick up a copy if you don't already have one and give it to or read it to your favorite children.
  • Forward, like, (re)tweet, or share this with somebody you think would enjoy DtD.
  • Leave a review on your blog, site, or at the book review or retailer's site of your choice.
    • Even if you didn't like it.  Every review helps.  Or if you're not comfortable with that, send me your feedback

Although I don't respond directly to reviews (it's considered uncouth for authors to respond to reviews of their works), I still read them.  Thanks to the feedback I've received on DtD, I think the next Derrick and Max book will be even stronger:  a tighter, more concise story, more illustrations, and more fun.  And for paper readers, we're going to do some fun stuff with layouts, formatting, and spreads to make it more visually interesting.  Speaking of which, I need to get back to my illustration work!  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Is it art?

I was on deviantART this morning, perusing the What's Hot section of the front page.  It's a nice mix of photography, digital art, photo manipulations, sculpture, etc.  I like to keep up with what my peers are doing.

zentangle

Zentangle trio by Kyla Reese. Used with permission of artist.

I clicked on http://www.deviantart.com/art/Magic-Dress-01-462682323 and was reading the comments.  Within the comments, the photographer got into a heated discussion with a commenter regarding whether the photo was pornographic and whether it was art.  I found the question of whether the photo was pornographic rather absurd, as there is no nudity or sexual activity depicted in the photo, and indeed it appeared on the What's Hot page with mature content hidden.  There still remained the question as to whether this was art.

Later on in the morning, I read an article in Trailer Life magazine about a 26-foot-tall sculpture in Sarasota, FL, depicting the famous Time photograph of the V-J Day kiss.  It seems that there are some folks there who are up in arms about it and think it should be removed (and, of course, as in every public debate, there are those just as vehemently opposed to removing it).  One of the persons quoted in the article described it as "tacky."  And there was the question as to whether this was art.

I respect the opinion that the statue is tacky, whether I agree with it or not (I've not seen it in person, so I reserve forming an opinion).  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and no one is going to produce art that appeals to everyone.  Heck, I think the Mona Lisa is over-hyped, although I would still consider it art.  So why the debate as to what is art?  I blame the currently held definitions of what constitutes art.

Now, for the obligatory definition for Messrs. Merriam and Webster.  Their dictionary defines art as something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.  I'm not really thrilled with that definition.  How skilled?  As I said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so who's to say whether it's beautiful?  To whom must the ideas or feelings be important?  No, I don't care for this definition.  It's limiting and exclusionary.

I would posit that art is a representation of something real or imagined or some combination thereof produced for the intended purpose of expressing the creativity of the artist.  With this definition, it need not be "beautiful" or "important" which are subjective anyway.  It encompasses all forms of creative products, from sculpture to photography to literature to illustrations.  It places the burden of deciding if something is art on the creator and his/her intent, and removes the second guessing or questioning of validity of the consumer of the art.  Under this definition, little children have as much right to consider their drawings art as does any other artist, new or old, master or novice.  It respects the effort that the artists invest in their art and removes the need for them to defend their art (or at least the definition of such).

I consider what I write and illustrate to be art.  It may not be good art, and I respect anyone’s right to not like it, but don't tell me it's not art (and no one has, so far, so this isn't me being bitter).  After all, if someone takes the time to bring forth their creation and to share with another, who is that second person to question whether the creation is legitimately art.  If the creator thinks it's art, that should be good enough.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Site Updates

A couple of small announcements that we wanted to make about the site.

Frequently Asked Questions - F.A.Q - FAQs on K...

Frequently Asked Questions - F.A.Q - FAQs on Keyboard (Photo credit: photosteve101)

  • There is now a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section that’s live.  We’ll try to keep that up-to-date with the questions that we get asked most often.
  • We’ve also added a Works-in-Progress section to the Library.  I (Brian) have been getting asked repeatedly how I’m coming along with the next Derrick and Max book (and also about the next D Lee Warren book).  Well, now you’ll be able to tell where I am with the projects that are actively being worked on.  If it doesn’t seem like they’re going up very quickly, that would be because I work at a snail’s pace.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?  Maybe?
  • Also, if it’s been awhile since you’ve stopped by, we’ve made minor changes and improvements here and there to make the site more visually appealing and easier to navigate.  For example, there’s a new welcome page when the site loads and a reorganizing of the menu items so that it follows more of a high-level from left down to a more low-level toward the right. 

Please let us know what you think of the changes and if you have any suggestions for further improvements.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Writing While Driving

Image representing Swype as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Note: I did some minor edits below for clarification, but what you see below is pretty close to what Swype was able to pickup.  I’ve left it rather ugly so you can get an idea as to how well it manages to pickup what you’re saying while driving down the road.  I’ve since figured out how to make better use of punctuation.  I’ve also been working on my enunciation and voice projection, which have helped the accuracy.

Okay, we're going to try something new here . If you're reading this that means [the] experiment worked .

Longtime readers of this blog will know that I have a nice long commute to work . Although I tried to make the time useful any my time [by] listening to podcasts, [but that’s] still a lot of time to [that could] be better spent on other activities .

Last year, I set a rather lofty goal for myself right [to write] 200,000 works [words]. At the end of the year, I had only achieved [less than 10% of that]. Although part of that could be attributed to a lot of time spent illustrating, I still fill ball [fell far] short of my goals and was disappointed with the results . This year, I still have a lot of illustration were headed [work ahead], but I don't want my word count goal to suffer. So I got thinking about all that time that I spend in the car as potential writing time . So I started to research the possibility of doing my writing while I commute .

It's not as far-fetched as it sounds . There are a number of examples of authors who have managed to write at least the first draft of their books while driving to and from their day jobs. ( insert some examples here [see below]). So, I started researching options that were [able to transcribe what I dictate]. After looking at several possibilities, I discovered that the inexpensive swipe [Swype] keyboard includes Dragon NaturallySpeaking technology. I decided to give it a shot . In fact, I'm composing this blog post on my mobile device using swipe [the Swype] keyboard, speaking as I drive to work . So far, [it seems] to be working pretty good . True, it's missed some words here and there , but overall it seems to be catching most of what I'm saying. So, I'm going to knock out this blog post and see about doing a couple more before I try something is waiting is [as challenging as] working on the first draft of the story . But I will let you know how it helps [goes].

( go back up and add Evernote along with Dragon NaturallySpeaking ) [this was a note to myself, complete with opening and closing parenthesis, that I spoke into life.  Indeed, I used Swype with Evernote to record this.]

If you've also use your [commute] time to write especially if you're using the [speech-to-]text technology , I love you [to] hear from you in the comments about your experience . Or if you found other inventive ways to create writing time let me hear about .

 

Examples of writers who’ve put their commute time to good use:

Peter Brett

Jason Freedman

Andy Leeks

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Read an Ebook Week

March 2-8, 2014

Smashwords is kicking off its sixth annual Read an Ebook Week promotion

Read an Ebook Week is an international celebration of ebooks in which thousands of authors, publishers, and retailers feature free and discounted ebooks to help promote the joys of e-reading to the world's readers.

During the promotion, all my ebooks will be free through the Smashwords store.  You can visit my publisher page to see all available works.  Or click the image below to find all available books being offered through the promotion.

 

Read an E-Book Week, March 2-8, 2014

Saturday, March 1, 2014

DtD is a Bestseller!

Provided you take a loose enough definition of the word, that is.  dtd on kobo

I went to Kobo to get links to my books for the library page, and imagine my surprise when I discovered that Derrick the Dog was the #3 bestseller in Kids & Teens, Fiction, Chapter Books, Intermediate.  I immediately clicked through to see if, in fact, there were only three books in that category, but it turns out there are more… quite a few, in fact.  DtD was beating out some heavy hitters, like the Muppets, Cam Jansen, and Judy Moody.  Now that I actually see that on the page, I’m kind of awed.  Wow.  I took a screenshot for posterity’s sake.

Lest you think I’m being snarky or cynical, I genuinely appreciated and got a kick out of this.  It made me laugh.  Hopefully, this won’t be my last bestseller’s list, but Kids & Teens, Fiction, Chapter Books, Intermediate, you’ll always be my first.  Thanks, Kobo, for helping to get our books out into the world and into the hands of readers.  And thanks, of course, to you dear readers for picking up DtD and giving it a chance.

 

Update 03/13/14:

Say What?!  Now, that’s a mighty fine birthday present:

dtd #1 on kobo

Thanks again to my awesome readers!