Friday, April 29, 2011

Storms and Tornadoes

  Alabama was hit pretty hard in many areas by strong winds and tornadoes. I live in Birmingham and a massive tornado hit some of the nearby communities very hard. They say that the extent of the devastation across the state was only last seen in 1932, when 268 people died in Alabama alone from tornadoes and 315 total in Alabama, Texas and South Carolina. So far they say the death toll in Alabama alone is at least 209, with many more in other neighboring states. Tuscaloosa was very hard hit as well. I was off work Wednesday when the storms rolled through and was watching the broadcasts and saw on the CBS broadcast a tornado actually form live on TV. The meteorologist was pointing out the cloudwall and rotation and then the tornado came down right where he was pointing as if by magic. It then became larger and larger and proceeded to churn it's way along through the city of Tuscaloosa, blowing up transformers and tearing up structures as it went. It was amazing to see and something I'll never forget. By the time the tornado reached Birmingham they say it was like a mile wide or more-so big that it was difficult to see on the many webcams that the weather broadcasters were trying to use to get a shot of it. But obviously it was there hearing of all the destruction caused all around this area. I just hope the likes of storms like this won't be seen again for a long time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting and Uploading to SITB on Amazon

 My book submission to Smashwords is still in queue; it started at position 3909 and is this minute at #1165 in the queue. I guess a lot of people are submitting books and it takes a while to run them through the "Meatgrinder" as they call it. So, I can only wait. I also just uploaded my files to the SITB (or Search Inside The Book) Program on Amazon.com. I like using it myself when I'm shopping for books, so I would guess that others would too; which is why I signed up. It makes sense, to see some of the book & getting a feel for how it is written before buying. Now I need to wait for that to process through Amazons system. So, I'm waiting again. Lots and lots of waiting....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Uploaded to Smashwords

My first novel has been uploaded to Smashwords.com. I'm now waiting on it to be converted. My file was in a queue of about 3900 other's who are also uploading, so it will take a while before I know if my book is okay and will pass on to the Premium distribution. I got my fingers crossed. I took like 3 days in my spare time to go thru the book in MS Word & trying to abide by the rules of the Smashwords Style Guide, so hopefully it passes muster.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Magnetic Screen Monitor Idea

  A thought rattled around in my noggin today; has anyone ever created a magnetic screen for the output of something like a monitor? I guess it would appear much like an "Etch A Sketch" with tiny bits of a powder inside used for drawing whatever images are desired. However, the mechanics would be much different. Somehow the powder of the magnetic screen monitor would create the image instantly and as quickly as a crt screen can (which uses magnetic deflectors to direct the electron beam to create the images). But in the magnetic screen Monitor the image would not be scanned repeatedly like in a crt, rather the image information would be sent to the display and changed there directly. I think it would be similar in some ways to the design of a liquid crystal display. The screen would be made up of thousands or possibly millions of very tiny pixel-like magnets, and each would have 2 states that they could be in: either at rest and unpowered, or active and powered. When unpowered the screen would be either grey or white, but when powered the powder would be pulled to it creating a black pixel. The combination of all the pixels together in a pattern would create the images. There could be many pockets inside the screen holding the powder so that it wouldn't need to travel far to reach a magnet. Also, when unpowered, the magnets would actually have a negative-like charge in them to repel the powder (to avoid extra powder falling onto unwanted areas). I'm not sure what applications a monitor using this technology would be good for, although I thought it was an interesting idea. Someone may have, and probably has, thought of it before. I have no idea.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Smashwords, Wyrmewood is Coming Soon

  I am currently working on getting my first novel submitted to Smashwords.com and into their Premium Catalog. It would be a good idea, as Smashwords.com distributes their Premium Catalog ebooks to major online retailers including Barnes& Noble, Sony, Kobo, the Apple iPad iBookstore and the Diesel eBook Store.This would mean a much larger readership audience compared to only having the book on Amazon.com. Hopefully it will be ready in a couple of days to submit; I'm having to go through the book, checking for formatting and indention problems. So keep an eye open for Wyrmewood and the Forsaken Orb in many more epub outlets soon.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My 3-D Kindle Idea Got "Shot Down"

  It seems that my 3-D Kindle idea was rejected by 99% of posters at Kindle boards. I guess it didn't go over too well. Oh well, it was just an idea. Maybe it would be useful for certain applications, but for the general public I suppose they would prefer either a 2-D Kindle or a real book. My mind thinks of things sometimes and I wonder if other people might find the ideas useful. You never know if you don't share. I'll keep thinking and posting though, someday I'll come up with a winner! :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Has Anyone Thought of a 3-D Kindle Yet?

A weird thought just buzzed into my brain; a 3-D Kindle. I don't know if anyone has already started making this or if it's soon to be produced. But it seems like the idea would be desirable. Since the paper type books are fading out to be replaced by virtual books, it seems logical for a 3-D Kindle to be the next step. They already have 3-D movies and TV's. A friend of mine would rather have a real copy of my book instead of an eBook, he told me. So, that left me thinking that many people will want the look of a real book, instead of the current 2-D flat-screen image we get on Kindle's. Here's a drawing of what my idea might look like in use:
Anyway, it was just a thought I had. And one I wouldn't be surprised to see become a reality. :)

One Idea For A Future City = No car traffic to deal with

  One of the things I've always found illogical in current cities was car traffic. It is a necessity for the cities of today, but for the cities of the future I think it will have to be eliminated. No one should be driving a vehicle inside a city any more than someone should inside a shopping mall. Vehicles should only operate outside the cities-for people to drive to other cities, and for trucks to deliver goods to and from cities. The only traffic inside the future city would be people walking about or riding in automated transports. The city would be quite large so having a transport system would be needed, but it would be all automated. If you've ever seen Minority Report then you have seen an example of what I agree is the solution to moving people about town. A transport system which uses magnetic automated vehicles on metal roads that can even go vertical. And it would work out perfectly for those people who already seem to be living in this sort of future world & spend about as much time driving their cars as they do texting or talking on their phones or whatever else.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A City of the Future

Here is a design for a city of the future. It is only a very basic design showing the format of the city and was something that I whipped up in like 20 minutes. But it is a good representation:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Future City Idea

 I've thought about how cities in the future would be like. And it seems to me that eventually we will have cities very different from what we have today. A little over a hundred years ago, with the Industrial Revolution, the large cities of the world began to go through great changes. Buildings grew taller as the means to build them improved. And as designs for buildings have become more elaborate the need for technology to keep up with their demands has had to evolve as well. Human necessity is the driving force behind the structures we make. If we decide that there is a need for something, people usually figure out a way to make it happen. And there is something I think about people that is strangely inherent, at least for Americans and many other humans of earth: we never seem satisfied with things as they are. We're always coming up with a better way to do something. Change is inevitable. Over the last 30 years there have probably been so many new ideas and concepts that to list them all would take several life-times. And there's no slowing down. If anything it is speeding up. So the thought that say in a hundred years New York City or any other major city will look exactly as it does today to me seems ridiculous. I won't be alive to see it then (unless I live to be 146 years old), and I have no idea what it would be like, but I know that it would be much different than what we see today. In my next post I'm going to try and make some drawings to show what I think a future city could look like.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Self-Publishing an eBook or Kindle Book

   Okay, this will be a bit tougher than the process for self-publishing a paperback book on Amazon.com.
And this is how I did it, I'm sure there are other ways to do it, but this worked for me.
Step 1: Write your book in a word processor like MS Word or OpenOffice. It doesn't really matter how it is saved I guess as long as you can copy and paste the entire text.
Step 2: download a free program called Crimson Editor (available at crimsoneditor.com)
Step 3: goto agoodread.com and look in the lower right corner of the screen. There you see a place to input your name and email to get the Kindle eBook macro. The macro will be used in the crimson editor and all the information about installing it and using it are on the agoodread.com website which is provided by the creator: Judith Tramayne. Trust me, if you do your eBook my way, you'll want this macro in your crimson editor.
Step 4: run the crimson editor, open your book file (in Word or OpenOffice or whatever), cut and paste the entire text of the book from the book file to the crimson editor.
Step 5: Okay, here's where the tough part starts. Follow the video tutorial on how to use the macro in crimson editor from the agoodread.com site. It shows you quickly the different steps to adding html code to the book. The point of what you are doing, as Judith Tramayne says, is to create a CLEAN html file of your book. The CLEAN part being the important part, as it removes unnecessary things. Let me tell you why we're doing all of this. I tried to simply use both an .odt and a .pdf format file of my book to submit at first before trying it this other way with a clean html file. The other ways the submitted file resulted in a horrible looking book. It just didn't work. So, I recommend highly doing it the Judith Tramayne way. The only bad thing is that doing this takes a looonnngggg time. My book is 396 pages (like 128,500 words) and going through the whole thing and making a clean html file took me like 4 days, working for hours and hours each day. Thankfully I had the whole week off for vacation when I was doing it so I was able to get it done. Also when doing this (adding the code macros) you need to check your work frequently to make sure it is coming out right. To do this just save your html file in crimson editor-like onto the desktop-and open up the html file in your browser so you can see it (I use firefox). It won't be exactly like a Kindle eBook reader output but it is fairly close. The thing that iritated me the most when coding was putting words into italics. You just gotta be extremely careful and precise to make sure you get it right, or else things will come out messed up. (simply typing in a word processor is so much easier compared to this).
Step 6: Okay now that you've spent several days adding all the macros/html code to the book's text and you've checked to make sure it looks okay, we now have 2 options: add a table of contents or not. I think that if you have a real short book then a contents page could be skipped. But for my book, which has 23 chapters, a contents page was a necessity. This part for me was hard to figure out because finding the information on how to do it isn't easy on the Internet. What I usually did find was so convoluted or complex to understand that even I couldn't figure it out (and I have a computer science degree). I don't understand why people can't just do what I'm doing here and explain things simply. (BTW: Judith Tramyne sells the information on how to add a table of contents to the html you've made for like $70.00 or something which for me wasn't an option as that's just way too expensive.) Anyway, I finally found out enough by looking around at different websites to make my own contents. And here's an example of the way I did my book:
(In this example we have a prologue and 11 chapters, but it works for however many chapters you have)
        <div id=”toc”>
        <p><a name="home"><h3>Contents:</h3></a>
        <p><a href="#Prologue:">Prologue:  name of prologue</a></p>
        <p><a href="#chap01">Chapter 1   name of chapter</a></p>
        <p><a href="#chap02">Chapter 2   name of chapter</a></p>
        <p><a href="#chap03">Chapter 3   name of chapter</a></p>
        <p><a href="#chap04">Chapter 4   name of chapter</a></p>
        <p><a href="#chap05">Chapter 5   name of chapter</a></p>
        <p><a href="#chap06">Chapter 6   name of chapter</a></p>
        <p><a href="#chap07">Chapter 7   name of chapter</a></p>
        <p><a href="#chap08">Chapter 8   name of chapter</a></p>
        <p><a href="#chap09">Chapter 9   name of chapter</a></p>
        <p><a href="#chap10">Chapter 10  name of chapter</a></p>
        <p><a href="#chap11">Chapter 11  name of chapter</a></p>
        </div>
        <mbp:pagebreak />
 There are a few special considerations on this for it to work properly which I learned; the code inside <> is blue in color (like <p>, </p>, etc.)
  The href are red in color, (if it isn't red, then something is wrong. you need to rewrite it)
  The "#chap05" or "#chap11" or whatever chapter number you have are purplish in color, (if it isn't purple, like it is black instead, then it needs to be rewritten)
Basically the colors are blue, red, purple and black. I guess this is a way to tell in the crimson editor if the html has been coded correctly. If you write up a contents like my example above but its all just black in the crimson editor, then it's not going to work correctly. (at least it didn't for me. I had to rewrite some of the lines to make them work.) What will happen is, when you save the file in crimson editor and view the html file, you will see links which will look like this:

Contents:

Prologue: name of prologue
Chapter 1 name of chapter
Chapter 2 name of chapter
Chapter 3 name of chapter
Chapter 4 name of chapter
Chapter 5 name of chapter
Chapter 6 name of chapter
Chapter 7 name of chapter ...etc.

These chapters above will be clickable links that take you directly to the chapter number. That's basically it to adding a table of contents, pure and simple. In addition to this I also added links from the start of each chapter to return the reader to the contents page. If you want to do this just add the code:
       <p><a href="#home">Top of Page</a></p>
just after the chapter headings. Here's an example:
      <mbp:pagebreak />
      <br />
      <a name="chap01"><center><h3>Chapter 1</h3></center></a>
      <p><center><b>name of chapter</b></center></p>
      <p><a href="#home">Top of Page</a></p>
      <br />
When you do this it puts a clickable Top of Page under the chapter name that if clicked returns you to the beginning of the book at the Contents. My book has a prologue and 23 chapters, so I have 24 of these in my book. This might sound crazy, but when you see it it makes sense. At least to me it does, so I used it.
  Step 7: Okay, let's assume you've gotten this far and have a clean, saved, coded and macroed html file of your book. Now we need to change it from html into eBook format. The eBook format is .prc. I discovered by looking around on the Internet something called mobipocket.com I wasn't familiar with the Mobipockets before this but apparently these are eBook readers/telephones/ etc. Anyway, on the mobipocket.com site they have software you can download free for both reading eBooks on the PC and also creating eBooks from your document files. Mobipocket reader, and Mobipocket Creator respectably. I recommend getting creator, but the reader I don't (I use Kindle for PC you can get for free from Amazon.com for eBook reading on my PC). Okay run creator. Click "Import from existing file . html document" I tried using Adobe PDF but it came out looking horrible. Put your file in "choose a file" and click "import". This creates a new folder and takes you to a new page. (the name of your destination folder is at the top of the screen in blue to the right of the red book. Click cover image and click add a cover image if you have one, other wise skip this. Also, if you have any graphics images in your book you need to add them in here too. You can do this by dragging them in to this page, which I recommend as it seemed to work best for me, or clicking add file and finding them. Okay once you have the html file, cover image, and all other files you click on "Build" at the top. Next page says Build Publication. I didn't use any compression or encryption and just clicked "Build" below & the program built my .prc file and put it into the file folder listed up in the blue above like I mentioned before. This .prc file is what you will be submitting to Kindle.
  Step 8: goto kdp.amazon.com This is the kindle website for Amazon.com. Sign-in with your Amazon.com account & password and follow the steps to self-publish your book. Once you are ready to upload your newly created eBook choose the .prc file you created and upload it along with a cover image if desired. (As in my paperback book I created my own cover image). Once you're done with this and you've submitted your files they review the files to make sure they are okay. This takes a day or two. Once they are done reviewing the files go "live" and you  start selling.
   That's about it on making an eBook. At least that was the path I took. My book came out, after much effort and redoing things over and over several times, looking pretty good. If you have a better and easier way that actually works good then I bow to you. But the way I've outlined above is I think the best way to do this without having to pay someone else to either do it for you or tell you how to do it. I found out everything that I posted above myself on the Internet for free and paid not one red cent for anything. The only thing it cost me was the time to get it done, which was a good deal of time, but time I have. So anyway, good luck in writing your own eBook whether you follow my way or find a way of your own.

Self-Publishing a Paperback Through Amazon.com

   I decided to go this route instead of trying to find an agent willing to publish my book as it is a 0% rejection route and it is basically no charge to do it for the writer.It just takes time.
   Step 1. Write your book in some word processor like MS Word or OpenOffice or whatever. I use OpenOffice as it is free to download and I'm poor. However you like to type up your book is up to you. If you put images into the book you need to make sure to follow certain rules (read up on these at the Createspace.com site) There are also certain rules to follow about margin size (it basically depends on how many pages you have in the book.  Again check Createspace.com).
   Step 2. go to Amazon.com and register for an account if you don't already have one. (fill out profile info if you want to too). It is needed in the next step.
   Step 3. go to Createspace.com and sign-in. Amazon uses Createspace as there publishing house so to speak & that is who will be creating the paperback books that you sell or buy yourself.
  Step 4. Decide what size you want your book to be; there are several choices to choose from on Createspace and the choice you make will affect certain things; it will alter page count and thus might also alter margin size requirements. I made the mistake of submitting my book with incorrect margin sizes twice because I didn't read the requirements carefully. So make sure you follow the rules precisely or you'll end up resubmitting your book several times.
  Step 5: Once you've gotten your book sized to your satisfaction you'll need to save your book in .pdf file format for submitting to Createspace.com. Also you need to either upload a self-made cover-page or choose one of Createspace's cover-page templates. I chose to make my own cover and hunted down a free to use image from  http://digitalmedia.fws.gov/ which is a place you can download outdoors images & use them by giving credit.(Seems like most places want to charge for using their images).
   Step 6: Createspace reviews what you submit for a time (it took them about a day for my book). If the cover image and interior file passes inspection you order a proof copy to be sent to you which will take from 1 to 10 days to reach you depending on how much you're willing to spend on postage.
  Step 7: You receive the proof paperback and look it over carefully to make sure it looks perfect. My first proof ended up having about 8 to 10 little errors and also I moved the text on the cover image just a bit to center it better. (So basically the proof wasn't perfect yet). I resubmitted my cover image and interior files again. and once again they reviewed them for about a day.
    Step 8: The files passed their inspection and so I ordered a second proof copy. (note that it does cost some money to get your proof copy-it's not free. For me it was somewhere around $9.00 to $10.00 for the book and another $6.00 or so for postage-the cheapest rate. It all depends again on book size and page count as to the book price.)
    Step 9: Receive the second proof and review it for perfection. If it is perfect then tell Createspace that the proof is acceptable and tell them to put it up for sale on Amazon.com. If and when someone buys the book it will be published by Createspace (it is a POD or publish on demand service) so no books are made unless they are bought. You'll need to choose a price for your book which should be a bit over the "price threshold" which is what it costs to print the book. Ex: if it costs $9.00 to print it and you price it at $10.00, you'll make $1.00 off each book that sells. There's some optional things you can do once you start selling: Pro Plan, and EDC. Pro Plan does several things; lets you earn a larger royalty share, it costs less when you order your own books, and you gain access to EDC. EDC, or Expanded Distribution Channel, basically makes the book available to a much larger audience of buyers, outside of Amazon.com . Retailers, bookstores, libraries, academic institutions, wholesalers, and distributors. Through the EDC you have the potential to distribute your work to thousands of retail and wholesale outlets throughout the U.S. The two optional plans cost $39.00 each to add to a book, but to me it looks like it could be well worth getting- at least the Pro Plan. But I'll probably get both.
   So, thats it to making your own paperback book and self-publishing it on Amazon.com. If you thought that was complex just read my next post which will cover how I self-published my book for the Kindle.

Lunch Time

   I'm at lunch right now, just posting about what I am planning for my next few posts. I am going to tell the steps I did in publishing my book Wyrmewood and the Forsaken Orb on Amazon.com in both paperback and the eBook (Kindle). The process is different for each and I had some trouble in getting them done (especially the eBook because of the strange steps I had to go through and never having done anything like this before). The paperback I'll explain first because you sorta need to do it first anyway; because really all you need is to export your MS Word or OpenOffice document into a pdf file for uploading and you're nearly all done. Doing the eBook however requires much more effort. So anyway, my next post will cover making and publishing the paperback.

Whoa Dizzy

    Got up to get ready for work today and started feeling dizzy. Like I had a sick feeling. I've been off work for a week's vacation and gotta start back this morning. It should be good to get working again-I almost think that I've forgotten how to do the job I been gone so long.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The First Post Ever - YAY!

   Okay, Here I am writing the first post ever for the Shelnuttarium, which is a blog for me-James Shelnutt-to tell about the things I am doing or thinking. I started this blog to keep track of whats going on since finally finishing my first book and getting it published; which is very soon to be happening. The book is the first of a trilogy and is called Wyrmewood and the Forsaken Orb. It is about a young boy who one day is transported far away to another world he learns is called the Orb & where he meets up with a dragon who lives there. The dragon is in need of his help and as the boy and the dragon become friends they learn more about each other as they struggle to try and get back to their home-worlds. It is part fantasy and part science-fiction while also being an adventure for the reader that I hope he or she will enjoy. check it out soon on Amazon.com under my name James Shelnutt or Wyrmewood. It will be available in eBook (Kindle) and paperback formats (maybe even others in the future).