Saturday, June 25, 2011

We're Back!

The trip was great! We put in 1,100 miles exploring Washington and saw trees, mountains, rivers, lakes, falls, clouds, hamlets, towns, cities, one of a kind shopping venues, elk out our hotel window, and the Mariners beat the Phillies in a great baseball game. We loved it.

During an excursion to a remote beach recommended to us by a cute waitress from Russia, we ended up driving through Forks, WA – famous from the Twilight books. We saw a tour bus offering a three hour Twilight Tour in a town that didn’t take three minutes to get through end-to-end. We thought it was amusing, but it still brought home how much influence some books can have on people’s lives.

Speaking of influential books, did you hear that J.K. Rowling is going digital? She’s planning a site called Pottermore that will not only provide fan interactivity but will be a portal for eBook versions of her classic Harry Potter volumes. We’ll certainly purchase electronic versions to go with our paper ones. Suddenly it seems a lot less lonely being independent eBook creators.

Which brings us to what we hope is old news for all the fans of our blog. Our first eBook, Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain, has been released. Currently it is available at our own sales site, Amazon, B&N, and Google. Apple, Sony, and Borders take forever to get it up on their sites. The easiest way to link to any of these distribution outlets is to go to our eBook portal We hope everyone will get the chance to read it and tell us what you think of our efforts.

Well, it’s now back to the grind. We are working on a second eBook we hope to release before summer is over. This time it’s a romantic comedy with plenty of mischief and a hint of mystery. We hope The Valentine’s Game will be available in August, which will give you plenty of time to read The Mark of Kain and tell us what you think.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thinking About Trees

A couple of years ago we took an extended Thanksgiving holiday and drove from San Francisco to Portland and throughout western Oregon. The impressions from that trip made it into Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain, which is set along parts of the Columbia River we found so fascinating. Next week we are picking up from where we left off. We’re flying to Portland and plan to take the long way to Seattle by circling around Mt. Rainier. We wouldn’t be surprised if this new scenery makes it into the Bobbie Titan sequel.

It’s not just the people and how they live in that part of the world that is so absorbing. It’s also the trees. While there are almost as many trees in Oregon now as there was at the time of Lewis and Clark, most of these are in managed tree plantations. But there are still almost 3 million acres of ancient forests in the state and when you walk through any of these magnificent groves, even if it is along a paved path next to a highway, the majestic feelings you get from these unimaginably old living creatures is undeniable.

We want to capture the spirit of the trees like these into a story. Before we wrote about kids with super powers we wrote a fantasy adventure with kids and dragons. In that story the trees come to life and play an intrinsic part in resolving the conflict. The story was too long for a typical young adult novel and spent too much time world building. Still, we are anxious to get back to it and see what we can do to make the ideas of heroic kids in an imaginative world come alive for young readers. And we want to give voice to the tree, ancient beings who see the world not second-to-second but decade-by-decade. We’re hoping our vacation to the Great Northwest will inspire us to revisit the forests of our imagination so we can reclaim a story worth telling.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Butts Mean Business

This week’s picture has absolutely nothing to do with the blog post topic. It has everything to do with the fact that last week we had twice the visitors to this site. While we would love to believe this is due to our incisive descriptions and our sterling wit, we’re pretty sure this isn’t the case. In the last post we highlighted our eBook cover which featured a comely rear end with a butterfly mark. In order to keep your interest, we’ve included a few more bikini clad butts while we discuss eBook publishing. Hopefully the accompanying photograph will keep you awake long enough to finish reading the post.

All major online eBook sales channels (Amazon, Apple, Google, Barnes & Nobel, etc.) accept independent authors. If you have the time and patience to deal with all the unique formatting and uploading rules, you can get your eBook out to everywhere someone is likely to find it. Since there is a pretty steep learning curve to figure out how to meet all the requirements, it’s natural that third party eBook publishers and distributors have started to provide a “one stop shop” for the independent author to get their eBook on the web.

We definitely knew we were going to go with an independent eBook publisher rather than do it all ourselves. We just needed to decide which company to go with. We initially looked at because we really like their business model. There is no upfront cost. Smashwords makes all its money on a percentage of the revenues coming back from the book distributors.  Unfortunately, “smashwords” is an all too literal description of the eBook formatting results. They rely on a software program they lovingly refer to as the “meat grinder” to turn an MS Word document into multiple eBook files. The results aren’t uniformly consistent and they frequently turn out truly ugly products. Smashwords is also abysmally slow. This is no doubt due to their popularity. Smashwords does seem to have good business relationships with a large number of eBook distributors including all of the major players. Still, with their “anything goes” philosophy it looks to us that it is becoming the home to the “great unwashed” and it is now frustratingly hard to find a well written and edited eBook worth reading from their collection.

After experimenting with Smashwords we decided to find an eBook preparer and publisher with a more hands on approach. We looked at eBookit, Publish Green, and Book Baby. We eventually decided on eBookit because they seemed to have all of the bases covered. They brag about their attention to quality and are reasonably priced. Publish Green looks like it offers more and they maintain a very professional site, but they cost six times as much to get the eBook out the door. Book Baby is a spinoff of the famous CD Baby music distribution business and it looks like it has potential. The terms are more favorable to the author than eBookit, but they don’t distribute to as many places and don’t offer as many services yet. Still, the company seems to understand digital distribution so we will definitely check them out again when it’s time to release book number two.

So this morning we uploaded Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kane to eBookit. They say we’ll have a proof to review in two to five days. After that, they’ll distribute our book to all the major eBook outlets. This means there aren’t going to be too many more posts before the one asking you to buy our eBook. Maybe we better start hunting for the perfect butt picture to accompany that announcement now.