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Messages - Brevoort

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Writers' Cafe / Re: New Exercise Guidelines + Treadmill Desk
« on: May 20, 2015, 08:01:29 pm »
What I want to know is how the heck do you people walk and type at the same time?  I'm still walking very slowly, but my hands still want to jounce around so much that it disrupts my typing horribly.

The key, at least for me, is to have your laptop or keyboard at a height where you can comfortably rest the heels of your hands on either the front of the keyboard, or on the shelf support.

The general rule is to have the keyboard at a height that allows your forearms to extend horizontal to the ground with your upper arms vertical. (forearms at a right angle to the uppers)

This gives your wrists  a stable support and allows you to type securely and accurately.

My setup is a Sole treadmill with a 12" deep board spanning the treadmill arms. It is velcro'd into place. On top of the board is a 5 or 6" tall support shelf from Ikea once sold to support a CD Player and CD's underneath. It is also Velcro'd into place. And of course the laptop is also secured with Velcro (marvelous stuff that Velcro)

I use Velcro so I can disassemble the whole thing in about 7 seconds when I want to do some running training.

With the rig I generally walk and type between 2 & 4 km/hr but I occasionally do a slow run at 6 or 7 and am still able to write without trouble. The key is to keep your wrists in place on the keyboard/laptop.

Using a mouse for more than just a simple link click is problematic and I generally slow everything down to a baby's crawl if I have much of it to do. But that is a good thing because the people who have researched this type of exercise highly recommend frequent changes in belt speed and gradient.

The one thing I cannot do is drink coffee and walk on the treadmill at the same time without spilling. Just does not work at all.

Writers' Cafe / Re: A thank you to KBoards authors
« on: May 19, 2015, 04:03:27 pm »
Starting next week, we're going to periodically publish promotions for books appearing in KBoards signatures.

That's a pretty classy move. Thank you

Writers' Cafe / Re: Scrivener and Dropbox
« on: May 10, 2015, 01:23:15 pm »
All of the devices that you're using w/ Dropbox & Scrivener need to have Scrivener installed on them though.

Not quite.

If you are using the Mac version of Scrivener you can use the Sync-External Folder feature to get your files into Dropbox as RTF files. Then, you can use any text editor you want on your phone, tablet, PC, or whatever to read, write and edit. You don't need Scrivener on any of the other devices.

This is quite separate from having your Scrivener files resident in Dropbox for use by any other Scrivener equipped device.

Sadly, the Windows version does not have this feature yet.

Writers' Cafe / A Hidden Barrier to FB ads & Newsletter Web signups
« on: April 23, 2015, 12:20:24 pm »
During the recent discussions here about Facebook ads and newsletter signup forms on webpages I have noticed no discussion about the growing effect of ad blockers on the web in general. In the recent court discussions in Germany about whether the ad blocker Adblock Plus  was legal or not (it now is) some numbers came out that intrigued me.

But first, some personal observations.

I visit a lot of author websites mentioned here. On only a very few of them do I see any indication of a newsletter signup option. Sometimes I will see a graphic asking for a signup or just a text mention, but clicking on them produces nothing. On most other pages there is nothing.

For the longest time this puzzled me because some of the pages had been specifically mentioned on KBoards as having signup forms.

It turns out that if you have Adblock Plus running, or one of the others like it out there, you won't see links that lead to things like MailChimp signup forms.

By the same token, I have not seen an ad on Facebook in my newsfeed or timeline -- ever. Adblock keeps my Facebook free of it all and what it doesn't then my tracker blocker extensions in Firefox and Chrome block them.

Now, until the German court case I just assumed that perhaps not very many people used blockers and that's why no one here mentioned problems in getting in front of eyeballs.

But here are some 2014 numbers in a report from done in conjunction with Adobe.

  • There are about 144 million active adblock users around the world.
  • Adblock usage grew by nearly 70% between June 2013 – June 2014.
  • Growth is driven by Google Chrome, on which adblock penetration nearly doubled between June 2013 – June 2014.
  • Adblock usage varies by country. In some countries nearly one quarter of the online population has it installed.
  • Adblock usage is driven by young internet users. 41% of 18-29 year olds polled said they use adblock.
  • Adblock usage is higher with males, but female usage is still very significant.
  • A majority of adblockers expressed some willingness to receive less intrusive ad formats (however they strongly rejected intrusive ad formats such as interstitials and popovers).
The news release with links to the full report is here.

I think these numbers indicate that there is a serious barrier to authors getting their messages out. I also wonder whether FB's estimation of ad impressions is anywhere near correct. Unless the company has found a way to detect how many ads are blocked by view by users then its impressions reports to ad buyers could be greatly misleading.


The very best of luck Chris. I think that given the amount of thought you put into stuff like this that it will do well.

But a couple of questions if I may.

I am getting ready to knock the slipway chocks out from under my first launch and I am still a little hazy on what is possible.

Am I correct in thinking that what you are doing is putting No Mere Zombie up on Amazon at a temporary sale price of .99 for a few days as a pre-order but, not anywhere else at the moment, then entering the other stores at full retail?

At that point will you be increasing the Amazon price to full retail to match the other stores? If so, how much lead time do you have to give Amazon to raise the price to full on the day that it goes wide elsewhere?

I assume that the book is already in the other stores and ready to go when you pull the trigger on the published date, correct?

Sorry if this sounds dense but the closer I get to liftoff the more I becoming consumed by detail that I hadn't anticipated, and overloading myself in the process.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Some help ful info about buying a laptop
« on: April 17, 2015, 06:19:28 pm »

I suggest that you choose your laptop by its keyboard ( . . . ) you will spend every day with that keyboard.

I strongly echo this advice.

The keyboard is the most important part of the setup for anyone who writes for long periods. Second would be the monitor or screen.

Earlier, there was very good advice that recommended a MacBook Pro, an ASUS laptop, or possibly a Chromebook. The Chromebook is by far the cheapest, almost falls into throw away category, and very good. But, to get the most out of a Chromebook you need to be on-line all the time. However, you can most certainly use it off-line for writing and then sync it all back up later.

If the MacBook Pro is out of the question then have a good look at the ASUS line of laptops; very impressive.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Weird Smashwords Thing...
« on: April 15, 2015, 10:04:44 am »
I'll add that I love Smashwords, but every time I put a book there, in RTF, PDF, etc it is quickly pirated. I'm trying mobi and epub only this next time.

I doubt that will make any difference -- at all.

The preferred ebook formats on the pirate book sites are epub and mobi in that order, but they will also take anything else as well. As I said earlier, there are one click solutions to file conversion and also to DRM removal.

It is quite possible to download a book from any of the booksellers and have it sitting on several pirate sites for others to steal in less time than it took for me to write this post.

It is about as complicated as adding an attachment to an email.

Writers' Cafe / Re: 1 Week Training My Dragon
« on: April 15, 2015, 09:35:21 am »
( . . . ) does anyone know of any major differences between the Basics version of Dragon and the Home or Premium ones?

The Basics Edition is a re-branded Essentials and both are discontinued. They are pretty much what Home is in version 12 and on.

Nuance, over the years, has renamed several of their products, some several times, and in doing so have removed all references to the previous incarnations from the website making it difficult to tell one version from another.

The differences in the current line up (Home, Premium, Pro, and Legal) are outlined in this PDF Nuance document.

There are two main, and for me, very important features that are in Premium and not in Home.

  • The ability to have several recording profiles (e.g. Headset at desktop, Handheld recorder, different people, etc)
  • The ability to use a handheld recorder and then import the digital files into Dragon for transcription.
Have a look at see what you need.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Weird Smashwords Thing...
« on: April 15, 2015, 08:51:13 am »
I find it a huge convenience.

TXT files can be read on any device running any operating system. They are also immune from format standards changes over the long term. In other words, they will still be readable decades from now, well after some other formats have slipped into obsolescence. (Remember Microsoft's long abandoned LIT format for books?"

There are a lot of reader devices out there using pretty arcane formats so in order to read an ePub or some other more common format a file conversion will be needed and it's easiest with straight text.

I often import a non-fiction book into a database program (ZootXT) so it can have its contents cataloged, sorted and manipulated.

I often run into PDF documents that will not display at a readable size on a handheld device. A TXT version allows me to scale the type to suit me.

As for being editable; well they all are, even Amazon ones protected with DRM. An eBook management program like Calibre will take any format and convert it into just about any other format with a single click, and allow editing along the way. There are also single click solutions to the evil DRM problem as well.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Canadians hate me
« on: April 10, 2015, 07:00:15 pm »
I think that it most certainly is because so many Canadians use the .com site. For the longest time the .ca site didn't offer ebooks or Kindles for that matter, and didn't offer much else of anything when it comes down to it.


If you chose to be non-exclusive, then you can distribute it wherever you want.

Yes of course. That makes sense.

Although the two editions would be different in format (multiple chapters with added material top & tail, versus a single electronic file) going non-excluseive would avoid the whole prospect of some endless argument with Audible about what constitutes a significantly different version.

Thanks for the insight.

I can't seem to find the answer to this on either the Podiocast or Audible websites so perhaps someone here knows.

Can I publish a free version of a book in the form of weekly podcasts through Podiocast, and at the same time put it up on Audible as a complete audiobook for sale?

Some of the answers I have seen from Audible seem to indicate that this is a no no for them because it is seen as leading to a disagreeable listener experience, as in "Why should I have to pay when I can get it for free?"

But, according to international copyright standards I believe that they would in fact be separate editions, even so far as to require unique ISBN's and cataloging data. The podcasts would also include unique additional material in the form of introductions, summaries, and closing plugs.

Does anyone have any guidance here; I really would like to publish an audiobook as a series of weekly podcasts as a way to build an audience for the full and complete version on Audible.

Writers' Cafe / Re: The Canadian Authors Support Thread
« on: March 17, 2015, 08:37:45 am »

What are some other Cross Border differences you guys have run across for spelling?

Spelling differences between Canadian and American english are pretty straightforward and can be dealt with by using a country specific dictionary during a spell-check. The bigger problem, and it is a huge one, is the subtle and dramatic differences in syntax, vocabulary, and phraseology.

No spell check will pick up even the most well known wording differences such as

  • pop-soda
  • blinds-shades
  • veranda-porch
  • asphalt-blacktop
It is extremely unlikely that a Canadian raised editor would be able to go through a writer's work and pull out all of the Canadianisms, but a U-S editor would find it a trivial exercise. The same thing is true of a Canadian editor editing U-S writing for a Canadian audience.

But you still won't get it right.

There are large swaths of the United States where people speak and write (speech mainly) in something indistinguishable from Canadian english. People in Upper Michigan, across the northern tier states, northern New York, Maine, Vermont, are examples of Canadianized (note the Z) Americans.

It works the other way too. People in my part of the world speak a form of Canadian english that is nearly identical to that spoken in the Pacific Northwest and through Montana and Wyoming in particular.

As far as I know, there is no software that can go through a manuscript picking out the Canadianisms and then suggesting their U-S equivalent. They do exist for switching between U-S and British writing but unfortunately not for Canadian english. And of course there are so many subtleties and exceptions that the job is always incomplete.

There is a pretty good write up of some of the problems inherent in Canadian and American writing at this University of Toronto website.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Non-USA writers and ACX - an update and thank you
« on: March 16, 2015, 01:32:48 pm »
Thank you for posting this update. I did not know that you were offering this service and had resigned myself to waiting interminably for ACX to open things up for Canadians. Well done.

On a side note; does anyone know why ACX limits itself to US & UK based authors? Is it a rights or licensing issue?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Terry Pratchett has died
« on: March 12, 2015, 09:28:40 am »
By terrible coincidence, on my morning run I happened to be listening to the audiobook of Jingo and the section about crossing the Black Desert after death. A few minutes later on the car ride home I heard on the radio that Sir Terry had just headed out on that same desert. A horrible coincidence.

It is a great loss.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Grammarly Question for Grammarly Users
« on: March 02, 2015, 05:59:22 pm »
( . . . ) I think the plugin only works for Word in Windows yes? Not Mac?

Unfortunately Windows only.

I don't think you should actually put the blurb in the ebook. There's no need.

Oh yes, I certianly do think that there is a need.

Last week I asked just this same question and the advice I got was to put the book description right after the title page. I am going to do that, as well as to link to it from the Table of Contents.

I have a huge pile of To Be Read samples, free books, and purchased books on my reader and some have been there a long time. Many do not have embedded meta-data that I can call up in my readers. The result is that I frequently come across books that I have no clue as to what they are. I am not going to put the reader down and call up Amazon on a web browser to check the books's listing. So, more and more, I am just deleting the unknown books.

I have heard this same complaint from other people and I do not want anything that I eventually publish suffering a similar fate.

It is intensely irritating to come across a book that gives me not the slightest inkling of what it might be about, or even what genre it might be.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Grammarly Question for Grammarly Users
« on: March 01, 2015, 04:36:26 pm »
I use the Grammarly MSWord plugin which has no limit.

That said, I find Grammarly quite frustrating, especially in its mindless insistence that very conjunction needs a comma. I supplement it with Serenity Editor which is much more powerful, but is awkward to use and quirky. It is a much better writing tool than Grammarly, in my opinion, for all its oddness.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fast, Cheap and Accurate Editing - MARCH SPECIALS
« on: March 01, 2015, 08:20:55 am »

Just a heads up Beth, but you have an extra "t" in that url and it is failing as not found.

Writers' Cafe / Where To Put Back Cover Book Description in eBook?
« on: February 27, 2015, 11:08:53 am »
I have a large To Be Read collection on my reader. I frequently find titles in it that have been there so long I no longer have any idea what the book is about or why I added it. It has got to the point where if there is nothing on the cover that gives me a legible hint of what the story is about I just delete the book. Some books contain a book description in the book details or meta-data sections and that's fine, but many don't. I certainly am not going to hit the web to read the book blurb on Amazon, hence the quick delete. I just don't have the time to mess around with so many books.

It seems to me that some sort of book description, (back cover blurb material in the print world,) would be useful to the reader of an ebook. But where to put it, and how to label it?

I am thinking that an added Roman numeral page at the end of the ebook, but linked to right off the top of the Table of Contents might be good. But perhaps it should be physically placed near to the title?

Any thoughts?


Writers' Cafe / Re: Would you read this? A Silicon Valley Thriller
« on: February 18, 2015, 09:27:22 am »
Does this sound interesting or would you pass it by?

Yes, I would indeed pull the trigger on this, but not primarily because of the blurb.

While it is intriguing, sets up a good mystery, and sounds original, its strongest selling point is not the words. I look at blurbs with quite some suspicion when I don't know the author's work.

But, I recently finished No such Things as Werewolves with deep satisfaction. So, your proven track record in an unrelated title carries huge weight with me. It just, (in my biased personal opinion) only goes to show that the Write Another Book adage is a huge sales multiplier.

So, when is it out? Couple of days, next week, first day of spring? Get back to the writing.

Writers' Cafe / Re: ISBN numbers
« on: February 17, 2015, 02:42:36 pm »
Is there such a thing as ISBN numbers for ebooks? We looked at Bowker and they say such a thing does not exist. I thought you had to have a different one for different versions.

First off, there is indeed such a thing as ISBNs for ebooks and I am very surprised that you were told otherwise. True, they are not legally or otherwise required, but if you want to sell through different distributors and in different formats throughout the world then it is silly not to use them. And I doubt that you could sell through international distributors without an ISBN.

If all you do is sell through KDP then you can get by without one. But if you want to ensure that your book title is indexed by Google, shows up in the databases that libraries and book chains use, and to protect your intellectual property, then they are necessary.

Likewise if you are using your own publishing name. If you want your book listed in the catalogs, particularly if you are selling hard copies, you need to be listed as a publisher and not just lumped into the catalog under the generic publishing names of smashwords, creatspace etc.

In Canada ISBNs are free and the agency that issues them encourages people to get a different ISBN for each book format and edition. It eliminates confusion for book buyers because they can tell instantly just what they are ordering and whether they already have a copy. It also makes the payment of royalties, etc, a lot easier for everyone because you can know what was sold.

When I got my first Canadian ISBN I was astonished to see just what they are used for. All types of books yes, but also film, animation, paintings, plastic figures and on and on.

But at the cost they are in the United States, I sympathize with the pain.

Writers' Cafe / How to Connect an Alphasmart NEO to a Nexus tablet
« on: February 17, 2015, 12:18:26 pm »
There are likely few people here who would need this information, but just in case . . .

This morning I was able to connect an Alphasmart NEO to a Nexus 7 in order to use its larger screen for writing, along with the superior keyboard of the Neo.

You need an OTG Micro USB to full size USB 2.0 adapter cable. They sell on Amazon for 2 to 8 dollars.

All you do is, start a writing app on the Nexus 7 (I used Evernote), plug your Neo's USB cable into the OTG cable and the two will connect. Nothing will show on the Neo's screen other than it has detected and connected to a device. Now all you do is type to your heart's content on the NEO and watch your words appear on the larger screen. You can also dump text into the Nexus using the same method you use for a PC.

Just write as normal in one of the Neo's file sections, connect the Nexus with an open writing app, and hit Send.

That's handy on the road for getting your stuff out of the Neo and into the cloud or your email.

This technique also works on an iPad, according to a video I saw on Youtube. In that case the connection was made in the same way with an OTG cable but through the Apple Camera Connection adapter. (I could not get this to work with my iPad version 1.0 but it seems to work with later versions.)

It also does not work with the Nexus 4 phone which disappoints me because I'd most often make use of that connection. Apparently the Nexus 4 does not support OTG connections unless you root the phone and install a different firmware, something I have no clue about and no interest in learning how. However, it may work with other phones that accept an OTG connection.

For the cost of the cable it might be worth experimenting.

Writers' Cafe / Re: So, my new pet peeve.
« on: February 14, 2015, 08:27:49 am »

There is an hour long, hard science, interview program on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio One network called Quirks and Quarks. It is also carried in the United States I believe on either PRI or NPR.

Typically there will be five interviews with scientists from all fields.

It is astonishing how often the guests will start their sentences with "So"

More than once I have listened to a show where every answer to the interviewer's questions started with "So"

It irritates the hell out of the audience and Quirks & Quarks even did a program segment delving into the subject because it has become such a pervasive speech mannerism in local years. I can't find the  archived interview on-line although it is there, but this quote from a Seed Magazine article pretty well sums up how it all started in Silicon Valley.

Microsoft employees claimed it as indigenous to Redmond, Washington, with the rest of their rich lexicon of geek-speak and corporate jive. Employees at Hewlett Packard survived boring meetings by counting the number of “so"s. A joke even circulated: What’s the sound of Santa Claus at an HP Christmas party? “So so so!”

The full article is at . . .

Writers' Cafe / Re: A Radio Show is going to Promote my Book!!!!
« on: February 14, 2015, 08:07:57 am »

Any advice from the pros about how to handle this?

I am absolutely not trolling for business in my day job here, but among other things I advise clients on how to deal with the media, including interviews.

There is a section of my business blog that goes into this in more detail than you will need but parts may be of interest . . .

Radio interviews are quite fun; they don't carry the same gravitas and baggage of slash and burn television interviews, neither do they seem like a walk down a trap line in the dark, the way some print interviews can go.

If you are not being interviewed about the book and the host instead is just going to review or plug it then try a couple of these  things:

  • See if the host will give away a copy on air. "The third caller in to the studio will get a free copy of . . ."
  • Ask whether the radio station could put a link on its web page to either or your webpage or your online book listing.
While you are at it, draft a one paragraph email news release and send it to any other radio stations in your region that might be interested in a local author hitting the electronic book shelves.

Don't labor over it, don't fret about it -- just write a few lines (the fewer the better - think along the lines of a slightly verbose Tweet) about your book and why a local station might want to mention it. Send it to the Program Manager, or the News Director, or anybody who looks like they may have some say over on-air material. Don't spam the whole radio station.

There are billions of tonnes of electrons on the web about how to go about writing a news release etc, but it all boils down to;

  • Keep it short - one paragraph
  • Simple, declarative sentences
  • Provide a phone number and a real email address.
Have fun.

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