I’ve been struggling a lot to keep writing, to keep creating, to find the inspiration and the focus I need to do my job. A lot of it is related to my Depression, but there comes a point when the difference between being a professional and a hobbyist is actually doing the work, even — especially — when it’s hard.
So this weekend, Anne and I took the kids up to Santa Barbara to celebrate our birthdays (which are all in the next two weeks), and to get a change of scenery for a couple of days. It was a gorgeous trip, emotionally and spiritually, and while it didn’t give me the magic bullet to suddenly break through the struggle I’ve been having, I made a ton of progress, because I read a book that I took with me. Here’s my review that I posted to my Goodreads thingy:
It’s a quick read that you can finish in one sitting, but the ideas and advice it contains will stay with you long after you’ve put it down. Some of Austin’s suggestions will validate what you’re already doing, some will challenge you to fundamentally change a creative practice, others will inspire you to grab a notebook and get to work immediately.
Because it’s such a small and accessible book, you’ll want to go back to it from time to time. Just like Stephen King’s On Writing, as you change and grow as an artist, it reveals new ideas and inspirations to you that you may have missed on a previous read.
This is a fantastic addition to your library, and a wonderful gift for any creative person in your life.
I’ve been profoundly inspired by Austin’s book, because he reaffirmed things I’ve already been doing as an artist, but mostly because he gave me permission to think about the entire creative process differently.
For a long time, I have felt like a travel writer who never leaves the house, and Steal Like An Artist helped me find the door so I can get back on the road.
Kerry Knudsen is curator of lichens at the University of California. He is profiled in Matthew Killip's short film. Knudsen's intense passion for the beauty and mystery of lichens is thrilling.
The Atlantic has an article about Knudsen, called The Ex-Anarchist Construction Worker Who Became a World-Renowned Scientist. (more…)
From Fox Business:
An activist investor wants Barnes & Noble Inc. to try again to sell itself, arguing the bookseller needs an owner who can invest in its beleaguered operations.
Sandell Asset Management has recently started buying a stake in the New York bookstore chain and is already among its 10 biggest investors, according to people familiar with the matter.
. . . .
Even though physical bookstores have declined in popularity in the U.S. in the internet age, Sandell reckons they aren’t going away and that Barnes & Noble’s status as the only national chain could attract a well-heeled private-equity firm or another retailer.
. . . .
The company has explored several possible deals to sell or break itself up over the years, including a buyout attempt by its chairman, Leonard Riggio. But none of the plans came to fruition and the stock has slumped 60% in the past two years, with the company’s market value plunging to just above $500 million.
Like many retailers, Barnes & Noble has struggled to compete with Amazon.com, which dominates the online sale of physical and digital books. For the fiscal year ended in April, Barnes & Noble’s revenue declined 6.5% to $3.9 billion, while earnings rose to $22 million. The bookseller, which currently has more than 600 stores, said it expects sales at stores open at least a year to show a percentage drop in the low single digits in fiscal 2018.
Conservative Iranian state television presenter Azadeh Namdari makes a big deal about how important it is for women to obey an Islamic dress code. But someone took a video of her drinking a bottle of beer and not wearing a hijab while she was on vacation in Switzerland. When the video was made public, Namdari said the video was taken immediately after her scarf fell off. She didn't explain how the bottle of beer ended up in her hand. I reckon a squirrel in the tree overhead dropped it she accidentally caught it. Then she took a sip to find out what it was. Since alcoholic drinks are forbidden in Islam, she definitely spit it out.
This eraser wheel is wonderful. It removes old, weathered decals in seconds.
I attached this eraser to my cordless drill and effortlessly rubbed some very old and bad looking decals off my VW Van. I replaced them with something closer to my heart.
I cleaned up with rubbing alcohol after removing the decal.
ABN Decal Eraser Wheel Pinstripe Removal Kit via Amazon
Paris, France is making good on its promise to reopen long polluted waterways to bathers.
Up to three hundred people at any time can use the lifeguard-protected pools, although the pools only have locker space for 80. Located in a part of Paris already popular as a place to stroll in fine weather, the new bathing spot is likely to prove a major hit in an already hotter-than-average summer. Early reports suggest that the water is indeed delightful, though a small residuum of green algae does make a post-bathe shower a good idea.
How did Paris pull this off? The city’s been working on cleaning up the waters here for decades. Paris’s canals here were once unsurprisingly filthy, running as they do through a former industrial area once packed with cargo barges and polluted by sewage. Since the 1980s, however, regulations managing industrial run-off have tightened substantially, while Paris has invested heavily in wastewater treatment and in preventing sewage from being discharged into the canal during periods of high water. Two years ago, following a concerted clean-up, bacteria levels dropped below safe levels, and rogue bathers have been jumping in the water here for a while. Meanwhile, the Canal Saint Martin, which runs downstream from the basin down to the Seine, was entirely drained and cleaned in 2016, a process that sent a powerful visual message to Parisians that the area’s historic filth was being swept away.
There are no good reasons, and a lot of bad ones, that your dog can be vaccinated for Lyme disease but you can not. Profiteering and vaccination fears have teamed up to leave humans defenseless from a terrible malady.
WBUR shares the story:
For Dr. Stanley Plotkin, a prominent vaccine scientist, Lyme disease is personal. His son, Alec, collapsed from a slow heart rate when he was 39, brought down by a rare heart complication from Lyme.
His son survived, but the incident helped cement Plotkin's resolve to pursue a human vaccine against Lyme disease. Using his bully pulpit as an emeritus professor of infectious diseases at the University of Pennsylvania, he’s taken his case from The New York Times to the New England Journal of Medicine, in which he called the lack of Lyme protection "the worst recent failure to use an effective vaccine."
That’s because we used to have a vaccine for Lyme, called LYMErix, but it was pulled from the market. Now, the only family member who can get a Lyme vaccine is your dog.
LYMErix had some problems. It required three doses at $50 each, and they were not covered by insurance -- so involved some inconvenience and out-of-pocket money. Despite a good safety record in clinical trials, some people experienced what they thought were side effects and sued SmithKline Beecham, the manufacturer. In 2002, SmithKline pulled the vaccine, after only four years on the market. (More on the history of the Lyme vaccine here.)
While the official line is that poor sales led the vaccine's maker to pull it, most experts think the specter of lawsuits was a key factor. Though an FDA panel ultimately found no link between the vaccine and arthritis, SmithKline settled lawsuits making that claim. And by then, the vaccine was already dead.
That cautionary tale still reverberates at companies developing new potential Lyme vaccines. "When I talk to manufacturers, they essentially ask me: 'Will it happen again?' " Plotkin said.
Seven percent of American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, according to a survey conducted earlier this year by the Innovation Center for US Dairy.
This has nothing to do with books, but PG found it interesting/disturbing. He doubts that many Canadians would be so ill-informed.
From TCK Publishing:
One of the factors that decides whether your book will be successful or a flop on Amazon Kindle is the formatting.
While reading a book, have you ever seen the text all run together, paragraphs with weird characters, or chunks of text that just seems to go on forever?
How did you feel about it?
You probably just ended up putting that book down.
You can have an astounding title, a spectacular cover design, and awe-inspiring content, but if you don’t format your book correctly, it will affect your readers’ overall experience.
Poor formatting makes it difficult to read your book. It also affects how your readers perceive the quality of your book. Readers have been unconsciously trained to read books designed in a particular format—and to expect that format every time. They pick up on the layout and arrangement more than they think. If the formatting of your book is not what they are used to, they may feel that it’s been cheaply made or done by an amateur.
Does this mean you have to hire a professional to format your book?
I’ve seen a lot of authors spend hundreds of dollars just to have someone format their book. They think they don’t have the knowledge or skill to do it themselves.
I’ve formatted my ebooks myself and I’ve mastered the techniques to do it quickly and efficiently. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars just to get your book looking professional and well-formatted. I can teach you how it’s done. All you need is to study the steps and implement them with the next book you publish.
. . . .
One point that I want to make is that the series of steps that I’m going to show you offers a guide to formatting your manuscript. You can still choose to make changes to the basic template! You can change how big your title is going to be, customize the subtitle, alter chapter headings, and all that. You can also change the alignment to centered or justified.
However, there are some things that I think you don’t have to bother with.
An example is the font. If you have a special font that you want to use, that’s fine.
But truth is, the font doesn’t really matter because 99% of readers choose their own fonts on their device. They can make the font bigger, smaller, or fancier as they wish. To make this process quick, I just utilize the style set on MS Word and set it to “Simple.”
“Style set” basically tells MS Word what kind of fonts to use for your title, headings ,and paragraphs. I use “Simple” because it’s the easiest and most straightforward style.
To change the style set in your document, just click on Change Styles, scroll over to Style Set, and select the option Simple.
. . . .
End this section by inserting a page break. What this will do is ensure that your readers won’t see the next section or chapter of your book until they click on the Next button and scroll to the next page on their Kindle device. So, at the end of title page, every section, and every chapter, you’re going to insert a page break to make it nice and neat.
Click on the Insert tab and click on Page Break.
Link to the rest at TCK Publishing and thanks to Carl for the tip.
The OP doesn’t lend itself to further excerpts because it includes detailed instructions with screen grabs from Word illustrating each step.
PG has used Jutoh to format Mrs. PG’s books for a few years and been generally satisfied with the results. As with many things computer, once PG finds a solution that works for him, he doesn’t tend to continue his research into alternative solutions in that particular area. (In a better world, Alan Ashton and his students would still be running WordPerfect and PG would still be using it.)
However, PG thinks he would have noticed if a much better ebook formatting solution was discussed by indie authors during his wanderings around the net.
PG was intrigued by the approach in the OP because he always goes through Mrs. PG’s manuscripts using Word to clean up and standardize formatting, etc., prior to dumping the the results into Jutoh.
Since Mrs. PG is a writing genius, PG doesn’t want to interfere with her creative process by asking her to worry about formatting when she is communing with her muse.
On the other hand, PG’s muse was kicked out of the Muse Guild for bad behavior a long time ago, so PG is less concerned about his muse refusing to commune on command because PG’s muse can’t stomp off to inspire anyone else without the consent of the Guild. PG’s muse throws hissy fits and sulks a lot, but, in the end he always returns.
But enough of Muse gossip.
So the question for PG is whether expanding his tweaks to the Word file would be faster/easier/better than using Jutoh to prepare the file for uploading to Amazon. He likes Jutoh and knows how to use it to finish the formatting job, but is always interested in improvements to his current methods of operation.
Feel free to express opinions on Jutoh vs. Max Word in the comments.
I bought some of these 7W Ultrabright mini LED flashlights a while back and they are my favorites. They are surprisingly bright (it has a bright/dim/strobe setting) and a zoom feature to focus the beam on a small area or spread it out. A twin-pack is just $9. It uses either a single AA battery or a 3.6 volt type 14500 Battery (rechargeables are cheap).
Authors Guild and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announced that they had together reached an agreement with Hungary-based Galaktika Magazine.
For at least a decade, Galaktika re-published stories by multiple authors without seeking permission or remitting payment. Galaktika claimed that, since the stories had been published online, they were in the public domain--which is contrary to copyright law.
From the joint press release:
Under the terms of the agreement, Metropolis Media, Galaktika’s publisher, promised to seek permission for any works they use in the future and to compensate the authors whose works were published without permission. Galaktika has agreed to pay each author whose work it infringed fair compensation, with the fee to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis....Complaints about non-payment by Galaktika date back to at least 2006, and infringement complaints go back to at least 2012.
The agreement comes as a result of efforts by the Guild, SFWA, literary agents, and authors to hold Galaktika’s publisher accountable for reproducing copyrighted works in print and online issues of the magazine in violation of the authors’ rights.
The problems didn't get wide exposure, however, until March 2016, when journalist Pintér Bence conducted an investigation for Mandiner Magazine that found "blatant copyright infringement" of dozens of authors in 2014, 2015, and 2016. In the March 2016 edition, for instance, "of the five [English-language] authors published in the magazine, not a single one was informed of the publication; they had not consented, nor were they given royalty in exchange."
SFWA also became aware of the infringement in 2016, in part as a result of Bence's article, but also because of several complaints to the SFWA Grievance Committee and to Writer Beware. In September 2016, SFWA issued a statement on the situation, formally recommending "that authors, editors, translators, and other publishing professionals avoid working with Galaktika until the magazine has demonstrated that existing issues have been addressed and that there will be no recurrence."
SFWA and the Authors Guild joined forces in the fall of 2016, after literary agent Jonathan Lyons brought the problems to the Guild's attention.
The agreement, say the two organizations, "sets a benchmark for transparency and gives individual authors leverage in pursuing their claims." Metropolis Media won't be off the hook for infringement claims until all authors' claims have been settled to the organizations' mutual satisfaction. To assist with that, SFWA is making public a complete list of all authors who are owed money, and had not already come to an agreement with Galaktika as of June 1, 2017.
The list will be online within a few days; I will link to it here. Alternatively, affected authors can request the details of the unauthorized publication(s), including the names of stories and publication date. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Nerdy Book Club:
I was an absolute book fanatic from the start. Or, to be more precise, I was an absolute PICTURE book fanatic. When adults asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always the same: picture book illustrator.
Every week as a child, my mother took my brother and sister and me to our public library. Every week I brought home an enormous stack of books. In the evening, I would sit on the living room couch next to my mother as she read the words to books like Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and Where the Wild Things Are to me. And I would interpret the pictures for her.
. . . .
Years passed, me checking out as many books as I could carry and drawing nonstop. And then one day, around the start of a new school year, everything changed. Suddenly I was too old for picture books. It was time for me to move on to middle grade books.
I could not process this idea. How could I be too old for picture books? I wanted to BE a picture book illustrator!
Besides, middle grade books were serious. Middle grade books were realistic. And worst of all, they had no pictures!
But at least I had Robert Newton Peck’s “Soup” books. These middle grade books were about a boy and his buddy named Soup, who ran around together having adventures and getting into all kinds of trouble. In short, these books were about me. I almost wondered if Robert Newton Peck wasn’t somewhere nearby, watching my life unfold and scribbling down brilliant, new material in his notebook.
. . . .
But eventually my teacher pressed me to broaden my horizons. I had no such interest, so when asked to choose from a cart of books that had been wheeled into our classroom, I picked a book called A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith. Judging by the cover illustration, it was practically the long awaited third installment in the Soup series– two buddies, running around (this time among blackberry bushes), having adventures and getting into trouble.
One should never judge a book by its cover. (Spoiler alert) Unlike the Soup books, the Soup-like buddy in A Taste of Blackberries dies. I was shocked. I was confused. It had never occurred to me that such a thing could happen in a book. Was that even allowed? I had so much to think about. Despite my best efforts, my horizons had indeed been broadened. It was an intriguing feeling.
Link to the rest at Nerdy Book Club
Trump's plan seems to be: 1) force Sessions to resign. 2) appoint Giuliani to be attorney general during the Senate recess session as a way to avoid the Senate confirmation process. 3) ask Giuliani to fire Mueller, who is investigating bribery, extortion, and money laundering in the Russo-Trump empire. 4) profit!
Ladder lockdown is a metal tray with super-grippy patches on its underside; set it down on any surface (including ice!) and then set your ladder's feet in the tray and cinch it in place and the ladder won't "kick out" and injure you and your loved ones. (more…)