Thursday, April 29, 2010

How to name a novel

I've been writing a new fantasy series, and I'd really like to know what to call it. Creating a title for a book is generally a long process for me. It's tremendously difficult to condense a novel into a single phrase. It is a novel after all, and coming up with a title requires boiling it down to about a quarter of a tweet, if that.

These are the guidelines I used when naming the four novels I've already published:

- The title should convey the overall spirit of the novel.

- The title phrase should have some dramatic quality.

- The title should be short.

- And the most subjective of them all: The title should sound cool.

Selecting a title that fits all or most of my guidelines is not achieved overnight. I keep a running list of title ideas that I add to for weeks. Then I ponder the list and cross off ideas until I finally make a decision. Getting the list started is the hardest part, and that's what I need to do.

I'm already fourteen chapters into writing the third book of my new fantasy series. Everything is untitled, and it's bothering me, so I'm off to start some lists.

To see the lovely titles of my completed fantasy books that the public has been enjoying for a few years, please go to Brave Luck Books (TM).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ebooks for $1 or less group at Goodreads

I've been a member of Goodreads, a book reading, reviewing, and sharing site, for about 2 years. I really enjoy the site, mostly because it helps me make a note of books I want to read.

Today I joined a group there that is dedicated to Ebooks for $1 or less, including free. I listed Union of Renegades of course. All the usual categories are present, like Literature, Self Help, Cooking, Thrillers, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, etc.

For people who like to hunt out free or low cost ebooks to sample, follow the link to the group:

Ebooks for $1 or less group

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

20,000 Leagues Under the Seas by Jules Verne ebook

Too much time has passed since I added to my Ebook Classics collection, but I have a good reason. I've been savoring my reading of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas by Jules Verne. This is an outstanding novel that in my opinion remains at the pinnacle of the science fiction genre for its scientific foundations, lavish detail, social commentaries, and pure ability to entertain.

Reading this novel took me into the illusion of the ocean's tranquility. The beautiful and vast underwater-scapes of Jules Verne's novel immersed my imagination in the wonders hidden from terrestrial life. I disconnected from the societies of the land while experiencing life on the Nautilus and shared in the distraction of the heroes in the tale who are the prisoners of Captain Nemo. But the wonders of the novel's underwater tour of the world could not entirely make me or the heroes forget that Captain Nemo was mysterious, strange, and utterly disturbing. Nemo and his loyal crew even spoke in a language specific to the Nautilus that emphasized the isolation that the main characters experienced. They were trapped without allies on a seemingly inescapable underwater vessel, and the only man they could converse with was the brilliantly insane Captain Nemo.

Nemo is at the heart of this classic novel. All the characters and settings are lovingly conceived and crafted, but it is the Captain who ignites the novel with the true power to entertain generations of readers. His disdain for human society that caused him to retreat to the oceans made me empathize with him because his criticisms rang true, like in this scene:

I went below to the lounge, from which some chords were wafting. Captain Nemo was there, leaning over the organ, deep in a musical trance.
"Captain!" I said to him.
He didn't hear me.
"Captain!" I went on, touching him with my hand.
He trembled, and turning around: "Ah, it's you, professor!" he said to me. "Well, did you have a happy hunt? Was your herb gathering a success?"
"Yes, captain," I replied. "But unfortunately we've brought back a horde of bipeds whose proximity worries me."
"What sort of bipeds?"
"Savages!" Captain Nemo replied in an ironic tone. "You set foot on one of the shores of this globe, professor, and you're surprised to find savages there? Where aren't there savages? And besides, are they any worse than men elsewhere, these people you call savages?"

Although Nemo seems to lump all people into the category savage, he possesses a soft spot for those who suffer the exploitation of unjust society. This is shown when he gives a bag of pearls to a pearl diver he and the others save from a shark attack. The gift is meant to spare the man from the exploitative work of pearl diving that pays only pennies and will eventually claim his life.

The narrator of the story, Professor Aronnax, is puzzled by Nemo's compassion for the poor diver from Ceylon because Nemo had always expressed his disgust with the people of the world. In this scene Aronnax questions Nemo on this point.

When I shared these impressions with him, he answered me in a tone touched with emotion: "That Indian, professor, lives in the land of the oppressed, and I am to this day, and will be until my last breath, a native of that same land!"

Captain Nemo is indeed an enigma, which always makes for the best sort of characters in a novel.

I highly recommend this novel to all lovers of fiction, not just those who like science fiction. This novel is most deserving of the label classic. To add it to your ebook library in a quality DRM-free format of your choice, visit the page I created for the 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas ebook.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How to make a new word: ebook, e-book, eBook?

The digital revolution triggers new words all the time. Usually, the new digital inspired words arise from the need to describe a new noun or verb in the digital landscape or to label a digital version of a long established item in the analog world. The electronic book is a current example of a digital item seeking a new name. Most people verbally refer to them as ebooks, but, when written out, I have seen three predominant forms: e-book, eBook, and ebook.

The hyphenated form e-book is a logical approach. The "e" emphasized by its segregation with the hyphen makes it clear to the reader that the defining element of this book is the "e" that stands for electronic. Although a reasonable way to write e-book, I do not like it. Hyphens are always cumbersome to type. Sometimes I hit the = instead and have to start over. I remember in the 1990s when email became a well known word. I often saw it as e-mail back then, but the hyphenated version quickly was dropped by the masses who no doubt decided that typing hyphens all the time added work instead of meaning. The form e-mail is very rare now, if used at all.

The next form eBook is the one I dislike the most. Since when do we capitalize the second letter of a word? I suspect that Apple inspired this form of the word with its style of naming its products with a lower case first letter followed by an upper case second letter: iPod, iPad, iPhone, iBook. Other companies do this with various products and services too in an attempt to add distinctiveness. I suppose that's OK for the branding schemes of a company, but should this style really be applied to a basic noun? What would be the special reason for it? I know that the English language is often criticized for not making sense, but the capitalization of interior word letters has never been among its confusing habits before, and I doubt it is an element that would be beneficial to adopt. What if you need to start a sentence with the form eBook? Do you type EBook? Do you always use the form eBook even at the start of a sentence? Will we just start dropping the capitalization of sentences and make all text look like the lazy musings of a semi-literate text messenger? oBviously I vote "nO" on eBook.

The form that I prefer is ebook. It is easy to type. It has contains no random and nonsensical capitalizations. It communicates the meaning, which is a book in electronic form. I believe that ebook is the ultimate usage that will become the standard, just as email became the standard form of that word. Ebook provides the path of least resistance while effectively communicating its meaning.

Language is a matter of shared opinion. Opinions vary but usages tend to emerge as varying opinions are gradually eliminated. Language changes too over time. Maybe ebook will disappear entirely and people will call it something else and restart the confusion and creativity until people collectively narrow down the nonsense to a new accepted usage. When making a new word, people appear to fumble through various usages before settling on forms that convey meaning but don't require too much work to say or write.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Art of War by Sun Tzu this month's featured ebook classic

Over the weekend I watched the Chinese movie epic Red Cliff parts 1 and 2 directed by John Woo. Except for a couple minor goofy flaws, it's a tremendous and exciting movie. While watching it, I particularly enjoyed how the master strategist applied principles similar to those detailed in the famous ancient work by Sun Tzu The Art of War.

The Art of War provides very interesting reading. Although it comes from an ancient world, the essence of Sun Tzu's advice remains relevant today.

Sun Tzu said:

In the operations of war,
where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots,
as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand
mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carry them
a thousand li, the expenditure at home and at the front,
including entertainment of guests, small items such as
glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor,
will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day.
Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 men.

When you engage in actual fighting, if victory
is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and
their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town,
you will exhaust your strength.

Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources
of the State will not be equal to the strain.

Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped,
your strength exhausted and your treasure spent,
other chieftains will spring up to take advantage
of your extremity. Then no man, however wise,
will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war,
cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

There is no instance of a country having benefited
from prolonged warfare.

In my classics collection, I have prepared in multiple ebook formats The Art of War.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm a featured expert this week at

In March I was invited by to start submitting articles to their expert advice categories. This site focuses on the work-at-home mom audience and, along with promoting job opportunities, it also publishes articles on a variety of subjects like writing, relationships, literature, health, and so forth. Yesterday, I received an email informing me that I was being featured this week on their home page.

So far I have written two articles about self publishing and ebooks.

How to self publish your fiction as an ebook

Self publish your expertise and earn extra income

I'm pleased to be a contributor to Bizymoms. Anyone who needs to promote themselves definitely needs to have articles accepted by various online publications to raise awareness and generate web traffic.

Monday, April 5, 2010

iPad users can read my fantasy series

That tech behemoth Apple has jumped into the ebook retail scene in a big way with the release of its already popular iPad multi purpose tablet device. I read this morning that over 300,000 iPads were sold over the weekend. If any of those people happen to enjoy reading fantasy fiction, you can freely download the iBook version of Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I with your new iPad. It's a free way to test out the iBookstore if you are interested in using your iPad as an ebook reader.

The rest of the novels in my fantasy series are also in the iBookstore. The distribution services provided by Smashwords made my inclusion in the Apple iPad ebook marketplace possible, and I'm excited to actually be a part of the big launch of a high profile ebook retail site and reader.

I also read that the iBook application for the iPad allows the use of ebooks from sources outside the iBookstore. To access ebooks with your iPad from alternative sources, according to the iBook application documentation, you must use:

- ebook files in the epub format WITHOUT digital rights managment (DRM).
- sync the epub ebooks to the iPad through iTunes version 9.1 or later.

This means that any iPad user can also use the epub versions of my fantasy novels from my website because I do not use any DRM.