Friday, December 30, 2011

Why I Sleep With My Kindle Fire

The latest figures are in and Amazon sold four million Kindles in the month of December of which the Kindle Fire was the bestselling. I was one of those blessed individuals which received one for a Christmas present. Now, my wife is having second thoughts about having bought it for me. I can't seem to put the thing down and it has become the new occupant in our bed at night.

One of the reasons has to do with a little app called MySword. This app is free and has a full complement of standard commentaries, Bible dictionaries, Bible versions, and other helpful study material. It had to be side loaded but that was easy enough just by going to the website. This allows me to do a full fledged study in bed. It also allows me to write all of my teaching notes for Sunday on it. I've used it every Sunday since I got it and it's what I teach directly from.

Another thing is the Netflix app that plays flawlessly. I often wind down at night in bed while watching a television show or listening to a podcast (with proper earbuds of course) from a Bible teacher to which I subsequently fall asleep.

Of course, it also allows me to read my books in bed. Currently I'm reading Frankenstein and the NKJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible...which I'm always reading (check out what I'm reading with the Goodreads section to the right). As a writer, it's important to always be reading. In the past, I had to be concerned about my wife telling me to turn off the light. Now, I don't need a light to be on because I always have it with the Kindle Fire which has a very bright backlight that I actually had to decrease. It doesn't disturb my wife so much any more. Of course, when I do this, I always fall asleep. 

Another convenient thing as a writer is it will allow me to test it by formatting some of my written material and seeing how it will actually look live on the Kindle. This is going to help tremendously when I begin releasing my books.

I know it's only been less than a month but I've been waking up about five out of seven days with my Kindle Fire in my face right next to me. It has increased my productivity in ministry and is a my secondary piece when I want some time away from my computer in the basement. I know they say three's a crowd but my Kindle Fire is small enough to where I don't think it's going to count. Of course, the litmus test is to see if my wife says the same thing.

Say a prayer for me.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Judging a Book By Its Cover

With the advent of eBooks and ereaders like Kindle, Nook, and iPad, the aspiring writer has an opportunity to be on par with the Big 6 publishing houses. The one thing that they had in the past that authors did not was distribution. Now, you can get that rather easily with free accounts with Amazon, Barne & Nobles, and a slew of others.

The convenience of being able to produce your own book and keep all the profits for yourself is liberating, to say the least. The savvy indie publisher/author will know when to do things themselves and when to call in a professional.

One of the instances that I am adamant about calling in a pro on is in the area of book covers. In this industry, people judge a book by its cover and rightly so. It can make or break a book as I've mentioned before. I scrutinize covers constantly and will be the first to tell you that if I dislike the book cover, as in it looks cheap and unprofessional, I will not buy the book. Hands down. No discussion. It is a reflection of how serious the author is taking their craft and when they can't take it seriously enough to present a polished product, I'll pass.

In Christian fiction, I find this to be the number one problem. In perusing the Christian sci-fi Top 100 at Amazon, it took me to about the 40s before I found a cover by an indie author that looked professional. It was called The Didymus Contingency by Jeremy Robinson. The cover is good and it actually prompted me to check out a couple of his other titles.

Even if the book is free, if the cover looks amateurish, I won't bother looking further at an unknown author. There has to be a perception of value that I'm getting from the beginning. Apparently, I'm not the only one that thinks this way. Over half the readers will agree with me when they shop for a book. Of course, this is fiction only, not non-fiction which is a different story.

Since the cover is so important, it would behoove you to make sure yours looks the best that it can. I suggest saving up the money, budgeting between $400 and $600 dollars. You can get a very nice looking cover for that price.

Below is a short list of book cover designers/artists that I recommend (remember, this is for fiction only):

The book cover above is a part of Carl Grave's portfolio. Guy is good if you're going for the thriller novel look. Christopher Steininger is just a good artist. The two companies listed make pretty good covers and Howard David Johnson does some top notch work for romance and fantasy.

The long and the short of it is that you don't want to cut corners here for the sake of a lack of funds. Everything that we do we should do for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). This is an area where you need to bite the bullet and get someone to do it for you. It's the first step in getting folks to take notice of your book. And that's the point, right?

Monday, August 08, 2011 The Un-Christian Christian Forum

I've been thinking long about whether to write this post and needed to make sure that it was going to be a post that didn't end up being the opposite of what I wanted it to be. Some time has passed and I feel compelled to write this and let the chips fall where they may.

I recently was a member of the Christian forum. At first, I thought it would be the place for me because...well...I love the Lord. Seems reasonable to seek out others that were supposedly like minded and writers. Writing is a lonely endeavor and we need that kind of support.

I posted on there for a while but it began to occur to me that something was amiss. Some of the moderators were acting in ways that were not only questionable but simply wrong. Quite frankly, sinful.

I also noticed that no one could be challenged on the forum if they had bad doctrine or theology and wanted to use that to justify it in their writing. I personally was being accused of doing things I hadn't done. Moderators were sticking their noses into conversations that had nothing to do with them and began wrongly interpreting what was beings said putting words in mine and others' mouths.

It wasn't all bad. I actually made some good connections with people in the short time I was there and I still am in contact with them. But because of these actions, I announced that I was no longer going to post on the forums. I did that not to bring attention to myself, but to let people know that there were elements on that forum that were not attracting Christians but driving them away. However, I did say I was going to pop in every once in a while to the separate social groups I was a part of to check in on those people I had  relationships.

It was a week after that post that I decided to check in and found that I no longer had an account. I wrote to find out if I was banned and for what reason. Still waiting for an answer on that.

Apparently I wasn't the only one. The moderators went on a rampage I suppose. I don't know the details but it was apparent that they didn't like me and my direct approach with a stance on strong doctrine. They also didn't like the "tone" of my posts.

Now, in all my years on the Internet, I have never been banned from a forum or treated in that manner to where I can't even get an explanation. In short, this was the rudest, most unloving, immature forum I've ever been on. Hands down.

That all being said, I don't have any hard feelings. But I can't, in good conscious, recommend any Christian writer to join that forum, especially if you disagree with the moderators or have strong opinions. I will continue to strongly dissuade people from joining the forum if asked. Apparently, the same grace by which Christians are saved is not extended there and we don't need that. They're part of the problem, not the solution for Christian writers. It's sad really but no surprise in the day and age we live.

What I'm hoping is that someone will contact me from the site and there can be some kind of reconciliation as brothers and sisters in the Lord. However, I'm not going to hold my breath. That's grievous and sad but the reality.

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