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eBooks are sexy!

Published on April 27, 2010 by in Books

The eeeelectronical version of The Cat in the Cradle is now up on Fictionwise as a multiformat release. This means you get every format an eBook lover could ever need for one low price. Personally, I’m a big believer in eBooks. The way young whippersnappers always fiddle with their phones convinces me that this will be the chosen format of the future, but many people I know refuse to make the change, usually citing the following reasons:

The smell and texture of paper. Sure, I like this too, but let’s face it, these sensations are only registered for the first few seconds of reading before the story becomes the full focus. No one presses their nose to the book and inhales after every sentence. Well, one guy does, but nobody likes him.

Having something to hold/put on the shelf. It’s not like eBooks exist in thin air. There’s still the reading device to be held and often only one hand is needed, even for page turning, which makes cuddling up with a book so much easier. As for all that shelf space you’ll be saving, buy some nice house plants or some classy art.

I wouldn’t like it. Have you tried? How do you read websites, emails, or text messages without looking at a screen? Yes, reading for long periods of time is different, but most of us surf the web for hours at a time. Newer eBook devices are more comfortable to look at than computers and cell phones too, reducing eye strain.

That last reason is the biggest obstacle. Most people aren’t too keen on trying something new, even though they like to pretend otherwise. I’m not worried about it though. The new generation is raised with a bottle in one hand, a cell phone in the other. It’s only a matter of time before eBooks become the standard format, and here are some of the benefits:

Is that a library in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? There’s nothing worse than being stuck on a flight or in a waiting room and realizing that you hate the book you brought along. EBook readers can store every book you own, which makes switching titles a cinch. Moving day isn’t such a strain on the back either.

Free books! Just as mp3 players made it easier to access free music, so do eBook readers. Most publishing houses give free samples away to entice buyers, but this can also save you from buying a book you wouldn’t have enjoyed. No more reading in the aisle at your local book store. There are tons of free complete books out there as well, a surprising amount of them legal.

Save the planet! There’s a million reasons why we decimate the Earth’s forests on a daily basis. Taking books out of the equation is a great way of slowing that destruction down.

Make your stuff more useful. Hopping on the eBook wagon doesn’t require buying a pricey Kindle. Chances are you already own a capable device in the form of a cell phone, PDA, Laptop, etc. This is a great way of giving eBooks a try with little or no investment.

A pretty penny. EBook pricing is becoming very competitive, and while some publishers still have their heads up their asses, most eBooks cost a fraction of the print version.

The cool factor. You know that relative that still listens to records and cassettes and complains about music only being available on CD? Do you really want to become like them? Yeah, that’s right, I’m employing peer pressure.

Those are just a handful of the benefits. I do hope people will give eBooks a chance. Computers were once considered inaccessible or difficult, but just look how beneficial there are to us today. EBook are simply a wonderful extension of this. If you haven’t already, why not give them a try? You’ll never lose another bookmark again.

 
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Piracy!

Published on April 23, 2010 by in Books

My novel has been pirated! No, I don’t mean that a creaking, monster of a ship pulled up along side my apartment building and spewed out pirates that ravished me before taking all my print copies away. That would have been awesome. Rather my book has been uploaded somewhere on the internet for anyone to take. I have to admit, I was bummed when I first found out. I estimate that I made about $50 before this happened. Total. I didn’t receive an advance for The Cat in the Cradle, and drumming up sales for an unknown author is harder than you might expect. Still, if there’s one unstoppable force in the world, it’s piracy. Knowing there was little I could do, I decided to go with the flow and posted the following message to the place it was being downloaded from:

“Wow! My book has been pirated already. Well, I hope you guys enjoy! If you do, please leave me a nice review on Amazon or consider buying the print version. Happy reading!”

I thought this was a pretty cool attitude to have. When I checked back the next day, I found my message had been deleted. Why? That’s the equivalent of a homeowner saying to a burglar, “Ah! I’m being robbed. Well, don’t mind me. Help yourself!” and then getting punched in the face for his benevolence.

The bright side to all of this, is that my book has been downloaded more than a hundred times. That’s a lot of readers! Any legitimate author writes for themselves first, penning the story they’ve always wanted to read. The next consideration is the audience, and knowing my characters have found so many potential fans is pretty thrilling. If I weren’t in a financial partnership with my publisher, I think I would offer the ebook for free and see if I could live off of print sales or donations to this site. I’d like to think I could make enough to keep writing, and if my book is going to be given away, it should be on my own terms. This might be something I pursue with my next novel. Until then, I can only hope that anybody that reads The Cat in the Cradle, no matter how they come by it, takes a little time out to help support the book, even if only by word of mouth. I mentioned donations… right?

 
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The Cat in the Cradle Sketchbook

Update! All eBook versions now include the illustrations!

The eBook version of The Cat in the Cradle doesn’t come with the illustrations. Rather than spend another night crying in sympathy for those who are missing out, Andreas and I put together a free art book containing all of the missing illustrations. That’s right, free! Not only does it include all the missing illustrations, but it comes with a slew of never before seen concept art and commentary from yours truly.

While digging through his sketchbooks, Andreas came up with some real gems. My favorite can be seen here. Click it and it grows! This is a watercolor of Dylan, the main character of the story, and I’m absolutely enamored with it. This, along with more than fifty other wonderful images, is available from Smashwords in all eBook formats for zero dollars and zeroty-zero cents. All I ask in return is that you tell others about it, and maybe give my novel a mention as well. Enjoy!

Update 2! The Sketchbook has been reworked to only include concept art and sketches from the Loka Legends series. If that’s not cool enough, it’s bundled together with two short stories. You can nab it from the following retailers: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, iTunes/iBooks, and all other formats.

 
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A Long Time Coming…

XY Magazine 35 RawMany moons ago, in the sci-fi sounding year of 2001, I sent a poem off to XY Magazine. I suppose you could call it that. Really it was just a few angsty paragraphs of my feelings, but to my surprise, they wrote back and said they would like to publish it. I’ve always been a reader, and like most bookworms, occasional bursts of writing would take place in between the devouring of novels. To be honest, I didn’t want to be a writer when I was young. I wanted to be a rock star, preferably punk, even though I barely had any interest in music or the punk movement. I think it was just the green Mohawk I was after. But there were times I toyed with the idea of creating stories of my own, and looking back, I can see how I constantly acted them out with my action figures, and later simply by daydreaming.

The little article published in XY magazine is what woke me from my daydreams, and the emails from those who related to what I wrote sealed the deal. The next year I started my first book. In twelve months, I think I managed to write four paragraphs. Working a full time job and feeling optimistic enough to write afterwards isn’t easy. When Andreas and I first talked about moving to Germany, losing my employment was the biggest motivation. I’ve never seriously confessed that before, but now that I’ve made something of my unemployment, I feel okay saying it. Still, let’s not tell Andreas just yet. I wrote an entire book in less than a year, one that was pretty horrid. You’ll never see that one, but from lessons learned came The Cat in the Cradle, and two more novels after that one, but forget about those for now. My first book is out! I’m really, really, excited. And kind of scared. But mostly excited. No matter what becomes of my first foray into the land of hopeful novels, there’s a little kid inside of me that is feeling very proud of what he’s done, even though he still thinks that green Mohawk would look pretty cool.

 
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John Barrowman’s The Making of Me – Are We Born Gay?

Published on March 22, 2010 by in Gay, Television

I snagged a copy of John Barrowman’s “The Making of Me” to watch this weekend. It’s a one hour special where the openly gay celebrity goes on a quest to discover what exactly makes him homo-tastic. Is homosexuality something that people are born with? Captain Jack… er, I mean John Barrowman explores this question by talking to the field’s leading experts. The documentary is highly entertaining and, no surprise to any of us, it turns out being gay isn’t a choice, but there a multiple biological factors that might determine sexuality. These are the theories that the documentary explores:

Sex on the brain: Utilizing MRI scans and a series of racy images, scientists can monitor the blood flow in the brain and tell whether you are gay or not. The brain reacts so fast to the stimulus, that it isn’t a conscious choice of what one decides to find attractive. Too bad we can’t hook the homophobes of the world up to this thing! I bet a lot of them would be surprised.

The older brother phenomenon: Studies show that the more older brothers you have, the greater the chance is that you’ll be gay. The theory is that women’s bodies perceive the testosterone in the womb as a threat, and combat it with greater effort for each child. The less prenatal testosterone, the more likely a boy will be gay.

Finger length: This one was a bit odd, but by comparing the length of your index and ring finger, it may be possible to tell just how much testosterone you got in the womb. A somewhat larger percent of gay guys have index and ring fingers of an almost even length. The random sampling they produced on the show was about 60%. This again supports the idea of sexuality being determined in the womb. For those playing at home, John Barrowman has straight guy fingers.

Girl brains, guy bodies: Gay guys think like girls. John takes a series of problem solving tests, and performs just as well as girls do on tests where straight guys tend to fail. This has been backed up in another study where the hemispheres of brains are compared between guys and gals. Not only do gay guys have girl brains, but lesbians have guy brains.

It’s how you play: One psychologist looks at the way children play, and feels it is an indicator of sexuality. John Barrowman liked dolls, for instance, and a girl who grew up to be a lesbian liked trucks and rough play. Personally I thought this study was stupid. I grew up loving action figures, violent play scenarios, and romping through the wood with my dog. What about straight girls who are tomboys, or straight guys that love a good chick flick? Personally, I don’t think there is much correlation between personality and sexuality.

The X chromosome: Another study that fell flat was the idea that moms have a gay X chromosome and a straight X chromosome, and that which one you get determines sexuality. Test results show that John Barrowman and his straight brother both got the same X chromosome from their mom, so this obviously isn’t true.

That was about it for the experiments that John Barrowman got involved with. While no gay gene has been singled out, there is mounting evidence that testosterone levels in the womb and the way our brains are formed are what determine sexuality, rather than any environmental factor while growing up. As a nerdy Doctor Who fan, I enjoyed this documentary. It was cool getting to see John’s Scottish parents, his doll collection, and especially his hotty-hotty partner. Check him out:

 
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Final Cover Art Revealed!

Andreas finished up the cover art for The Cat in the Cradle this weekend, expanding it so it wraps around the spine to the back of the book. I think he did an exceptional job. Here’s your chance to see it without all the title and synopsis text that be present in the printed version. Clicky-clicky for a bigger version!

The empty white box is for the bar code, of course. Andreas came up with a lot of rough images before we settled on a final concept, and it’s amazing to see how the art evolved when looking through them in sequence. The earliest and roughest sketch, seen to the left, was later used as the basis for the art on the opening chapter. All together, there are about five unique images that came before the final art.

I’m very, very lucky to be married to an artist willing to take time out of his busy schedule to fulfill my silly whims. Andreas spent an ungoldy amount of time creating the twenty-five interior illustrations in addition to the cover, each with their own concepts and alterations. Believe you me, this is going to cost me a ridiculous amount of foot massages.

Despite being advised not to, we all judge a book by its cover, so it’s very important they look their best. What’s the best cover art you’ve ever seen? (Aside from mine naturally. Heh.) It could be anything from books, DVDs, album covers, anything. What’s your favorite?

 
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