Lee Child’s Killing Floor

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So I’m sorry to say I have never read a Lee child book before. If I had, I would have devoured each book like a lion tearing through raw animal flesh. Sorry for the bloody imagery. I had no preconceived notions about this book. I’ve seen Lee Child pop up on Joe Konrath’s blog called A Newbies Guide to Publishing, although I can’t remember the post. He was battling with their group over something. Not sure if it was about sock puppets or what.

Anyway, I was at Walmart, that huge conglomeration of Chinese made fluff, and I was wandering through the only isle of American made stuff, (books!) that my eyes fell upon the book. No, it wasn’t the snarky cover with Tom Cruise on the front. The cover had a bloody hand on both the front and back covers. Rather amateurish, but hey, at that point I wasn’t judging the book by its cover. I read the description. It sounded interesting. Then I started reading the forward, written by the author. Believe it or not, that’s what hooked me. We have been in similar situation. He was unemployed at the time of its writing, it being his first published novel, so I could definitely relate. I put it in the shopping cart and intended to put it down somewhere between the coffee isle and the mixed nuts.

I some how made it to the car with it still in my bags. I got home, devoured it in a mere 4 hours. (Not all in one sitting of course, I’m a busy guy.)

The story starts out with this guy, Jack Reacher, getting arrested in some small town as he’s sitting down for some eggs and toast at a small diner. At this point I’m probably supposed to say something flowery, but I won’t. Lee’s sentences are clipped. Short, and too the point. Jack tells the story, and he doesn’t bother over describing anything. It felt almost as if, in reading, Jack was recounting a story over a ham and cheese sandwich. Or maybe a rare steak and a beer. One thing I found in the writing was how real everything felt. Jack doesn’t punch people in the face. He knows he might break his hands. Instead he head-butts them. The details Lee Child decides to include don’t feel overdone, like he’s feeding too much information to you just because he knows it. The book is visceral without being overly descriptive, in a way that some horror writers are. There’s my quote: “The book is visceral.”

The book had a great ending, which I won’t spoil for you. But if you like action in your books, some whodunit, and stories where the good guy wins, this is definitely for you. I’d give it an easy 4 1/2 stars.

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Trade Paperback Proofs

 

While I have a moment in between working on new chapters, hanging out with the inlaws for the holidays, and just general lounging, I thought I’d give you a preview of the upcoming paperback version of Confessor. The cover turned out nicer than I thought. There are just a couple of internal things I need to tweak but nothing major.

 

The photos aren’t as good as I would like, but you get the idea.

Overall I’m completely happy with how it turned out. CreateSpace does an awesome job. The book is bound well, shouldn’t fall apart in your hands after several read throughs (I’ve read all the books I own multiple times, lol). Honestly, it feels great to actually have a physical book. Well, back to slaving away. Hope everyone has a good holiday.

Reblogging this for a buddy (we also share a last name, lol). I’ve downloaded the first one and it’s fantastic so far. Pass it along!

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Formatting for CreateSpace

Using open source software for anything can, at times, be tricky. Mostly that stems from the fact that everyone follows Microsoft, even though not everyone can afford their programs. I won’t get too deep into the whole open versus closed software debate here, although I am clearly opinionated on the whole topic. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to use open source software, ranging from hate of Microsoft, to just wanting an inexpensive way to do things. Anyone who knows me knows I both hate Microsoft, and hate paying bloated prices for software.

CreateSpace-5×8-template

Here’s the template I used for my book Confessor. Credit goes to its main author, http://blog.edwardmgrant.com/?p=872

This is only for CreateSpace use, I’ll go into Kindle formatting in a different post. While this template only says it’s for 5×8, I found it easy enough to change the page size and gutter. I matched the gutter to CreateSpace’s MS Word template (which doesn’t work well in LibreOffice, the main reason I went with this template) and had no issues. On Edward’s blog, he lists directions that have to be followed in order for it to work. It took me a little bit to figure out how it worked. Basically the template comes with styles, so here’s a walk through on how it works.

Here’s what the title page looks like. You just change the title to whatever you want, change the font, etc. Same with the stuff on the left.

For the first two chapters, you just copy your own text, highlight the “your text here” text, and paste over it. Easy enough. Again, change the chapter heading to whatever font you want, rename it to One, ONE, chapter 1, whatever.

At the end of your chapter 2 text, leave your cursor at the end of it and, at the top of the page, navigate to Insert>manual break>page break, then click OK.

This is where the page styles come in. On the new blank page, right-click and select Paragraph. This window will pop up. Select the Text Flow tab, then make sure the Insert and With Page Style are checked. Then in the drop box under the type, select First Page Of Chapter. Then commence copy and pasting your next chapter in.

Repeat this step with every chapter.

Stay tuned for my (hopefully) next post on formatting for Kindle. I also tried some specialty things, like using jpegs for chapter headers, but I’m still waiting for proofs to see how they turn out. I’ll keep you posted.

That’s all there is to it. Most of what I’ve read on formatting seems to either assume you’re a rocket scientist, or a programmer. This way, you don’t need to be either.  Feel free to check out the template and post your questions/comments below. Don’t forget to check out Edward’s blog as well. Happy formatting!

Drew Merten:

This is written by a guy named Erik Christian. He’s got an awesome blog, so check it out. This particular post is spot on, so I thought I’d share it.

Originally posted on erikchristian:


It’s not rocket science to know that America is riding on a free fall of bad credit. We owe everybody, and we as individuals are like little Americas. We go around and shop with our eyes and must need this and that, sign the line on the bottom of a credit contract, and off we go. If only consumerism didn’t stink the morning after. We could sit alongside the news channel and watch the decline of consumerism, and the rise of the national debt. We could go buy cake on credit to celebrate.

No, I’m not cynical. I am whispering this message softly because I have barely escaped the fiasco with bad credit, bankruptcy, and a lot of stuff lying around my house, stuff I can’t really get comfortable with as truly being mine.I see the eyes of shoppers get watery with a great deal, a blowout sale, or Two…

View original 306 more words

Books, Linux, and assorted news

My book giveaway went great. I wound up extending my free book giveaway through Saturday.  I had 251 downloads in the US, 35 in the UK, and 3 in Germany. I’m sure my numbers won’t stand up to many other writers, but for a first time out, I’m very happy with it. I don’t have anything to compare it to, so I’m interested in hearing from other indy authors t see if they have had similar results. I also finished proofing the paperback version of the book, so I will announce it when it goes live.

I’ve been planning on writing a series of posts on e-publishing on Linux, using only open source tools such as LibreOffice and gimp, among other things. Over the last few months I’ve (hopefully) learned everything I need to know about formatting. I also did some extensive work with gimp for covers, so I should have plenty to write about in the coming weeks, haha. Indy publishing has been a huge learning experience for me, and I’m still trying to figure out the ins and outs. Everything in its time, of course.

You will probably see some more posts unrelated to writing. While I love talking about writing, and will continue to share things as I learn them, I don’t want to get burned out just talking about that. So expect some deviations.

I have a Youtube channel in the works that I’m putting together with a good friend of mine. More on that as it gets formulated.

That’s all I have for now, hope everyone has a safe Thanksgiving and Black Friday :)

 

Confessor: FREE on AMAZON

Update: It’s available now!

Yes, you heard right. Tomorrow morning  (12:00 am Pacific time to be exact), the kindle version of my thriller, Confessor, will be absolutely free. If you don’t have a kindle, don’t worry. You can get either the Kindle app for your phone or tablet or PC, or you can read via Amazon’s cloud reader. If you’re curious what kind of stuff I write, or just looking for something new to check out, now is the perfect time. I’d also be interested in hearing from anyone who’s read it or wants to review it. you can find it here:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A2VGD2Q

Enjoy!

Confessor: book one.

So I finished my second book, which can be found amazon.com/author/drewmerten (copy and paste for now, link is broken for some reason) . It is the first in a series.There is both a trade paperback version and an ebook. For the paperback version I went through CreateSpace, an Amazon print on demand company. I’m sure most people know about this, but if not, it’s not a vanity press. I don’t have to pay them up front to print my book, they take their cut when someone purchases one. I am also testing the waters with KDP Select, and will be offering a free download of the book soon, so stay tuned!

Spirituality in writing

So, I’m only two (or three) days out from having the editing finished on my current WIP. Then a few beta reads, then publishing. My original plan from there is to launch into the sequel of it. (EDIT: since writing this, I’ve discovered the sequel isn’t next in line) I’m not  If you know me at all personally (I’m sure most who read this don’t) you’ll know that I don’t take things lightly. I have taken a spiritual road that, four years ago, I would have never imagined I’d take. No, I’m not gonna get all religious on you. I don’t believe in religion, in the way that most people think of it. When I set out to write stories, I want them to say something. I want them to speak of hope, and love, and fortitude. I want people to maybe take away something they didn’t have when they sat down to read it. I’ve had long conversations about this with many people. There are some who write just because they want to tell a good yarn, the characters perhaps are interesting, the situations engaging. But do they say anything? I’m not talking agenda here. I’m not talking about pushing God on people through fiction (something I’ve abhorred when I have read some “Christian” fiction). I’m not talking about pushing political views either. (Although sometimes, that comes through in writing as well) But for me, the most memorable stories are ones where hope, and love, and goodness, run through them, even as darkness threatens to overwhelm, where goodness wins in the end. Or at the very least, doesn’t completely lose. I’m not opposed to telling a story where things aren’t bad for the main character at the end of the story. I put my main character in my current WIP through some not very nice things and left him in misery at the end of the book. (I said it before, there will be a sequel.) But one thing I never, ever do is start a project like this with the intention of having nothing to say.

I have heard some authors say that, to paraphrase, “our job is just to tell the damn story.” While I agree with this on some level, I believe it is not my job to tell a spiritually dead story that says nothing of the human condition, that leaves no room for the things I mentioned. Every writer, I believe, writes what is within them. Dean Koontz had this to say, “Everything I believe about life and death, culture and society, relationships and the self, God and nature–everything winds up in the books, not in one more than another, but equally, title after title. A body of work, therefore, reveals the intellectual and emotional progress of the writer, and is a map of his soul. It’s both terrifying and liberating to consider this aspect of being a novelist.”

For me, that just about sums it up.

Why Self Publish?

Recently I’ve been asked why I decided to self publish, over doing it the traditional way. I borrowed the Declaration below from Joe Konrath over at http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ .

The truth is, I have been dreaming of being published for most of my life. From the time I discovered that I wanted to be a writer, around the ripe old age of seventeen, writing has been the one thing I’ve consistently come back to. But like all authors, there’s something about the dream that draws me in. Maybe its holding my own book in my hands, feeling the cover and texture of the paper,  or maybe it’s seeing my name on it, knowing that this was something I Created. I don’t know. But whatever else it is, for me it’s also the dream of making a living doing something I love. That, above all else, has been my motivation. I don’t need to be rich. I don’t need a million dollars (although that would be nice!) and I certainly don’t need fancy cars, a big house, and specially tailored clothes. All I need is to be able to make a living. That’s it. Impossible? It used to be.

There was a time when writing a book was akin to playing in a band, or being a supermodel. You had to be DISCOVERED. That meant you had to send your manuscript in and hope someone read it. That meant you had to receive rejection after rejection, and not necessarily because your writing was bad. More likely, it was because whoever happened to be on the receiving end of it didn’t want to read it. or, maybe they read it but just didn’t like that kind of book. or, maybe the grass grew an inch too tall because of the big rain, and they had to leave work early to mow the grass, or maybe…

You see how this goes. When you publish the, ahem, normal way, you are at the mercy of a gatekeeper. Someone who will Judge your book, and most likely tell you its crap, even though it’s really not. Or, maybe it really is crap, but relying on some self-appointed gatekeeper isn’t the way to find out one way or another.

There is a lot of slogging through crap when it comes to trying to get published. This declaration pretty much sums it up for me.

 

The Declaration of Independence for Writers

When in the Course of publishing events, it becomes necessary for writers to sever their ties with the industry that is supposed to have “nurtured” them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we should declare the causes which impel those writers to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all writers should have an equal chance to find readers. That their successes or failures should be dependent upon their own actions and their own choices. That they should be paid fairly for their work. That they should have control over the works they produce. That they should have immediate and accurate access to their sales data. That they should be paid promptly. That they should not be restricted from reaching those who may enjoy their work. That whenever a publisher becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of Authors to abolish all connections with the offending parties.

The history of the legacy publishing industry is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over writers. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have given us take-it-or-leave-it, one-sided, unconscionable contracts.
They have failed to adequately market works they have acquired.
They have artificially inflated the price of ebooks.
They have refused to negotiate better ebook royalties for authors.
They have forced unnecessary editing changes on authors.
They have forced unnecessary title changes on authors.
They have forced crappy covers on authors.
They have refused to exploit rights they own.
They have refused to return rights they aren’t properly exploiting.
They take far too long to bring acquired works to market.
They take far too long to pay writers advances and royalties.
Their royalty statements are opaque, out-of-date, and inaccurate.
They orphan authors.
They orphan books.
They refuse to treat authors as equals, let alone with a reasonable measure of fairness.
They make mistakes and take no responsibility for those mistakes.
For every hope they nurture, they unnecessarily neglect and destroy countless others.
They have made accessories of the authors’ ostensible representative organization, the quisling Authors Guild, and are served, too, by the misleadingly named Association of Authors’ Representatives.
They have failed to honor promises made.
They have failed to honor their own onerous contract terms.
They’ve failed the vast majority of authors, period.

 

The first thing I began to notice when I was debating on which way to go, was the price of ebooks. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but If I’m not receiving a tangible, i.e. a paperback or hardback for my money, I don’t expect to pay the same price or higher. And yet, all my favorite authors (that means you, Dean Koontz!) have (had?) ebooks that were more expensive than even a paperback. Utterly ridiculous. I’m sorry, but it does not cost the same amount to make an ebook as it does paper. Not to mention the author who wrote it is getting the shaft. I have begun the slow process of not buying books from the big six publishing houses, and also, searching for good books written by unknowns who have self published. While I prefer a paperback over ebooks, ebooks are the future. You can debate this all you want, but its true. So while I still want to see my books in print, at some point there aren’t going to be any more brick and mortar stores that will carry paper books. The ones that still exist are hanging on for dear life, or looking for alternative ways to bring in revenue. Like Barns and Noble, for instance. I don’t have hard data here. If you want that, check out Joe’s blog, he’s got tons of it, including his self pubbing sales numbers. When the big book stores die, the only place to get them will most likely be places like Amazon. And fortunately, you can have you book printed as well.

I’m not sure when I realized I wasn’t going to be published the usual way. Maybe it’s when I realized that authors get screwed, earning only something like 35 cents on a paper back. Or maybe it was when I realized I was being forced to pay 15 bucks for a book that only exists here, in digital space, instead of decorating my large oak bookcase. Every writer must find his or her own path. For me, it’s self publishing.