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Messages - JRHolmes

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There is a broad generation of writers who started their creative life with pen and paper role-playing games. Sadly, the day of those role-playing games declined under first the collectable card games and later the computer RPGs, and that generation is not being renewed in the numbers that it existed in the past.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Launching a new series the right way
« on: December 18, 2015, 05:42:09 PM »
Just a solid plan and one that is incorporating most of the successful experience of the group here.

I'll also be curious about the effect that Annie B notes. This is certainly a set of results that I'll be following.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Laptop suggestions!!!!
« on: December 15, 2015, 07:46:53 PM »
You can write, keep files and browse the internet on just about any laptop regardless of pricepoint.
I think what you need to do is actually visit some showrooms and lay your hands on the various laptop keyboards to see which one fits nicest with your hands. For a writing computer, it's kind of like buying a pair of gloves, the most important question is whether or not they fit you.
I'll second this. Some writers have loved working with Chromebooks (they particularly like the collaborative editing in Google Docs). Most Chromebooks came with that inexpensive 1366 x 768 screen that I find very limiting, but there are a few new Chromoebooks with 15 inch screens with better resolution that I might consider.

Take a look at the biggest complaint(s) you have with your current device and make that one of the key tests of any replacement. If Scrivner is something you think would be helpful (an opinion shared by many here), look at the Macbooks or Windows machines, knowing that the Windows version is a few steps behind.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Blurb
« on: December 13, 2015, 11:48:51 AM »
I think that Antares' edit makes for a pretty strong blurb.

It introduces the main character [very] early, hits a major note of his conflict and then states the problem that the story tells.

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Congratulations on getting the book out and all the success with sales. Looks like a great start for that book and a goodly bump to all the previous ones.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: I just received my first Amazon review...
« on: December 05, 2015, 12:30:13 PM »
If you sit around thinking reviews are for you, the writer, you're going to have a bad time. Readers are not crit partners, nor are they beta readers. They're paying money for a finished product, and the reviews they leave are for other readers.

This is too true by far. The OP appears to be making exactly this mistake.

Now, I'll admit that this isn't terribly valuable a review for other readers either, but if viewed that way it isn't as disappointing.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Switch to Photoshop from Corel Paintshop Pro?
« on: November 22, 2015, 06:54:33 PM »
Exploring my alternatives: I see that I could get the Creative Cloud subscription for one month for $16.

I see that despite the word "cloud" in the title, there's nothing different between Photoshop CC  and any other application on my computer. I still download the program (probably even bigger than elements?) and install it on my computer. I was hoping it was an online app, and I could avoid the kind of problem I'm having with Elements.

That was pretty much my recommendation above. The "cloud" part of things is that the application (and you are right that it is pretty much an application that consumes processor by the handful) is closely tied to the Adobe system and benefits from almost continuous updates and features and there is a storage part at Adobe that goes with it.

As I said, I dislike subscription offerings like this, but being able to pay for a single month when you need it may be an economical choice for you.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Switch to Photoshop from Corel Paintshop Pro?
« on: November 20, 2015, 06:59:31 PM »
Photoshop is basically sold at the non-corporate level through the Creative Cloud licensing these days.  The per-month subscription is pretty reasonable, and entitles you to updates for the whole time you are subscribing (there are also yearly discount rates, etc).

I dislike the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription system, but you may be in a position where that works to your advantage. You probably don't need to use Photoshop every month, so bunch your jobs into a single occasional month and do a single month subscription. Next bunch might be 3-6 months later. At that point the subscription becomes a good deal.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Pls Critique My Damonza Cover (First Draft)
« on: November 15, 2015, 01:53:11 PM »
Does the shape of her butt look a little off?

There is a bump on her left thigh, but I don't think that it will be apparent in a thumbnail. Now, if you plan to use that for a paperback, it may be something to fix.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Pls Critique My Damonza Cover (First Draft)
« on: November 15, 2015, 01:32:03 PM »
That's a hit for me as well.

Though it doesn't specifically say Science Fiction to me, it hits the Paranormal side pretty hard and looks like others of that type.

And, it looks like a much more attractive cover than your other science fiction books

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Stumped on Military
« on: November 13, 2015, 09:19:24 PM »
So take what I said and simply speed it up. Put the in custody somewhere, take the tests, get the statements, compare the tests, make any needed comments, and then let the sh*t hit the fan.

Takes as long as you need it to. If this is minutes, the whole testing thing can be done with a hand device with an instant readout, and the interrogation can be done in the hanger at the point of a dozen guns.

Have to agree with Tim on this: all the steps can be compressed in the narrative as much as you want. Give a couple highlights of the key parts of the process. Think of it like a montage in a movie that highlights what you want the audience to know and rapidly skips over the rest.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: What do you think of these sci-fi covers?
« on: November 13, 2015, 08:42:15 PM »
Kickass cyberpunk space opera.

Agreed, possibly with a bit of an animé bend to it (the hair draped over one eye is a classic trope).

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Stumped on Military
« on: November 13, 2015, 08:31:01 PM »
With that sort of circumstance, all of the individuals would be incarcerated separately and interrogated. Even the person speaking gibberish would be interrogated to the best of their capability (even yes/no answers would be something). With that there would be the detailed physical exams that the society is capable of (and with nanite type tech, that could be quite detailed).

Then we get the scenes with the military version of Columbo/Holmes laying out the limited amount of what they know. Then, with all that set up, a dramatic second interrogation with them as a group that will be interrupted as the major threat they escaped makes itself known.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: I'm reticent to dumb down a teenage boy
« on: November 13, 2015, 07:53:52 PM »
Not to sell any teen boys short, but I think that the collective advice here is pretty accurate. On a one to one basis, boys would be willing to be open about feelings with already close friends, but in a group setting, group-image becomes a much more important feature of the conversation for any boy.

Maybe the best way to get to this is to start with a private conversation between two of the boys that is pretty open and emotional. Then another of the roommates comes in and they try to clam up, but it's obvious that something was going on. If the new person won't/can't leave, things might more naturally open up again.

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Indie publishing is a retail business (you sell directly to the end consumer.) Traditional publishing (in the case of most publishers) is a wholesale business: you sell to a retailer, who marks up the product and sells to the consumer. At least for now--eventually, however many years down the line, traditional publishing will need to adapt to retailing or they'll have a hard time surviving. But that's another story. But this is why traditional publishers use agency pricing and windowing: so they can direct flow toward their retailers and sell more of their wholesale product. They really don't care all that much about selling lots of ebooks. Their business model is currently still reliant on bookstore sales.

This is a great insight and something that independent writers need to pay attention to. I would go further and state that, for most fiction writers, traditional publishing's greatest selling point is exactly that they manage and dominate the wholesale market that feeds to brick and mortar bookstores and other outlets. We've seen that it is perfectly possible to independently and affordably hire editors, cover artists and marketing assistants on a per book basis. And, while it is certainly possible to replicate the marketing of your book catalog to physical bookstores in the same manner as small traditional publishers, that matter of catalog is a great barrier to independent writers who tend to be more focused on a book-by-book or small series marketing.

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Thanks Ann & JR - that's the look I was going for.  Now I need to make some puffy accordion spacesuits!

Now take a look at some of the Major Matt Mason toys. They were designed just after that era.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5kbmukN3Rs

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I took JR's advice last week and downloaded Blender and after fiddling around with it I made my first spaceship. I'm going after the retro-futuristic look from the 1960s, so my intent is for a fairly painterly look. Here's a screenshot of the tool in wireframe view, then a render from the tool, and then some painting over and compositing in Photoshop.

That turned out much better than I would have expected for a first fiddle. It has a great 50s Collier magazine look to it.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Should I raise my prices?
« on: November 01, 2015, 01:26:49 PM »
Well, if that was Amazon's thinking then they should have given me the option to price my short story at 16 cents, since that's all it made from a full KU read. Or maybe Amazon just views shorts the same way it views horror, to be placed in the basement and not seen by the delicate eyes of it's shoppers?

We have known from day 1 that KU 2 isn't intended to be attractive for short stories (though KU 1 certainly did well there).

I think that you are right and that under KU 2, Amazon is showing that they don't want too many short stories in the pool. Too bad, because there are a bunch of KU readers that like to pick up something short to read during a commute or over a lunch hour. These readers are less interested in stories that take hours to read. They just want that quick hit that shorts provide so well.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Should I raise my prices?
« on: November 01, 2015, 01:22:31 PM »
I'd keep book 1 at 2.99 and put book 2 at 3.99.

Go with Annie's suggestion. Reserve the .99 for rare promotions and that will serve you well.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Should I raise my prices?
« on: November 01, 2015, 07:02:32 AM »
To a certain degree, I always wondered if the per page KU payouts were a very subtle signal from Amazon about what they felt the appropriate price of books should be. Therefore those books that were earning more for a full read from KU than from a sale were being encouraged to raise their prices.

This wasn't a popular idea around here, but it is worth thinking about.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: how do you handle pen names going direct with ibooks?
« on: October 31, 2015, 05:16:29 PM »
Don't go direct with iBooks. It's not worth it. You'll regret it.
Use D2D or Smashwords.

There has to be a story to go with this.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Shared world question
« on: October 31, 2015, 04:49:21 PM »
Did you receive both of the messages from the forum? The Welcome message that repeats your username/password and then the Account Activated message?

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Definitely pro level numbers (albeit on the lower end). You should be proud and pleased with that level of success in science fiction.

Now the big question is what was the pace of those sales. Presumably they weren't spread out evenly over that year, but if you are still selling 100+(or even 50) a month after a year, you can be very proud indeed.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Shared world question
« on: October 31, 2015, 04:39:10 PM »
Tricks to registering successfully:
1. Usual Capcha test.
2. Type 'nospam' where indicated.
3. DON'T fill in any profile information.

Between the 3, spambots are kept out.

See these instructions. I'll bet the 'nospam' step is the hangup.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Shared world question
« on: October 31, 2015, 04:04:07 PM »
I see that Tim is awake (love that Australian time difference) and activating registrations.

Thanks Tim

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