Martyn K Jones

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Biting the bullet


What with everything going a little sideways in the last seventy two hours, I’ve compounded my various felonies by signing up for Simon Fraser University’s Certificate in Technical Communication course. Three modules, the first of which is now bought and paid for. Most of the ground I’ve covered as paid work before, but as the saying goes in BC “If you haven’t got the right piece of paper”. My XML and HTML are a bit rusty, I need to get totally au courant with the Canadian style guide, and I’m fine with editing PDF’s, but now with WordPerfect I have the best tool for any writing job. Might even be worth my while buying Corel’s PDF editor, although I’ve already got an old Adobe 5.0 licence and software buried somewhere in my collection.

Now Angie’s on the home stretch of her biology teaching course, which the Education Ministry have insisted upon, the educational burden will shift onto my shoulders and she can relax and enjoy the Summer. However, my April and May will be spent head firmly wedged in English textbooks and burnishing my CV until it gleams. I have DreamWeaver if need be as a web site builder, and a spare domain name to experiment with, so away I’ll go. I also need to put in some serious work on my professional online presence, which is a bit sketchy at present.

Of course this will mean delays on the creative writing front, but as that doesn’t pay many bills, it will be done during ‘leisure’ time only. ‘Darkness’ has just undergone a major narrative restructure, and between now and Tuesday when we head off to the UK for a week, ‘A Falling of Angels’ will be getting similar treatment. If I’m really lucky, I may even get some writing time in while we’re on the move or hanging around in England. If not c’est la vie.

New profile picture


Martyn K Jones new profile After so long hiding behind work cap and shades on my profile picture, I’ve elected to change my profile avatar for something more realistic.

This picture was taken with Angies new iPad while she was getting fixed up with new contact lenses this afternoon. Cameras and sound on those things are surprisingly good. If I didn’t have other pressures on my finances, I’d buy one like a shot. With a wireless keyboard of course, but the screens are that good there’s little of the eyestrain associated with less advanced kinds of LCD monitors. Don’t even get me started on the various ‘aps’. Saw one yesterday which gave live weather data and sea states. Stunning quality. Awesome. And I don’t use that term lightly.

Now Angie’s told me to step away from the keyboard and take some time out. Our subscription issue of Psychology Today just arrived and I need to do a little reading up on addictive personality types for ‘A falling of Angels’.

Facebook back up and running


After a delve through the locked files on my laptop, I came up with the coded answer to my Facebook security question. Thank goodness for that. Now I can access my Facebook page again. No doubt I’ll have to repeat the performance when we go over to Ireland on the 20th, and again on our way to Amsterdam on the 24th and 25th. Thence on my way back to Vancouver and home. Yet now I’ve gotten the answer I need, that shouldn’t prove a problem. Have had to decline one invitation in London, as I’ll be in the wrong country. Sorry chaps.

Lots of discussions within the family about the future, in more ways than one. There are plots and counter plots in the offing which will be great if they all work out. Haven’t been able to get back together with old friends because they probably don’t check their Facebook messages that often. Pity, but there you go. This is real life, and I’ll have to put up with it until something better comes along.

‘Sky’ and ‘Falling’ have been uploaded through Kobo’s ‘Writinglife’ programme to get them out to a wider market. No negative bounceback from iBookstore and Barnes & Noble, so I think I’m all good there. I thought writing and proofing the books on its own was pretty hard work, but the learning curve on the distribution and marketing side is pretty steep too. That aside, I feel a lot more comfortable with what I now have out in the marketplace.

Packing and packaging


Packing and paperwork become a priority from today. We leave on Sunday for the UK, and all the paperwork is being double checked and then checked again. Arranging feeding exercise and watering of dog. Treats and presents for Jo and Laura. Flight, hotel and car hire bookings obsessively pored over. Scanning the small print in travel insurance. Checking cash supplies. Credit cards brought out of cold storage. The usual travel minutiae.

One thing I’m trying to get up and running before we go is some editions of ‘Sky’, ‘Falling’, and ‘Head of the Beast’ in the Kobo marketplace. From what I’ve read so far, since I exclusively hold the copy and publishing rights, I can utilise existing ISBN’s and simply have Kobo as a separate distribution platform for eBooks. My only issue at present is setting up the royalty payments. Despite repeated checks with my bank and a dozen failed attempts with Kobo, their site won’t register my account to set up the electronic funds transfer or direct payment. No doubt I’m missing a trick. Somewhere along the line. Possibly. I need to read the FAQ’s no doubt. Again. Perhaps it’s too early in the morning. Yet there’s this driven streak in me that won’t let go. I’ve started, so I’m going to damn well finish. Get it out of the way so I can enjoy time with family and friends without having to worry about it. Although I’m sure there will be something else to obsess about.

I haven’t even started packing.

To Kobo or not to Kobo?


Just had a very polite reminder from the Kobo people about their Writerslife program. The issue here is getting into the Kobo Library program, which is a very low cost way of accessing the Library system here in BC. Haven’t had time to examine the interface just yet, but perhaps when I’ve finished the final drafts I’ll be shunting a copy of one of my eBook manuscripts onto their distribution system just as an experiment. Just to see how it goes. Specifically as a ‘Kobo’ edition. Or maybe not.

I’m not sure exactly how their process works, and will need to read the fine print to be sure I don’t go snarling myself up in legal shenanigans over rights issues. Perhaps if I clearly mark which serial rights have been ‘sold’ via which organisation, I should be on fairly safe ground. Memo to self; check copyright law in Blacks Writers Guide and its North American twin.

Another two or three days work to go before the first two MSS are ready to begin their journey from raw document to eBook. I was going to use Lulu.com, because I understand how their system works, and because they have distribution links to Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and iBookstore. As far as eReader platforms are concerned this covers the Nook, iPad and most Kindles. But on the other hand, in the battle of the formats, Kobo seem to be quite popular as the reading platform of choice in my target market of choice; the more mature Sci-fi reader.

Is Kobo the eBook of the future?


Yesterday Angie and I finally bit the bullet and purchased an eReader. Specifically a Kobo Glo. Since then it’s been information overload. My learning curve is tightening like a hairpin bend. Libraries. Distributors. A whole world we knew nothing about. The scope and size of the opportunities it has brought up are simply enormous.

Up until yesterday I thought I was, in my own small way fairly well informed about eBooks, Digital Rights Management and the various electronic formats, but I’d like to say this; my mind has officially been blown. Megaton range. All via a Kobo Glo. No other eReader has quite opened the door like this. Not to just a whole new world, but a whole new continuum. I actually feel a little overwhelmed. I think I’ve just caught a glimpse of an almost unlimited publishing future, and it has the Kobo label firmly stamped in one corner.

What with that and learning how to produce my own hams from pork shoulders, plus our wedding anniversary, this is going to make for a full weekend.

Old stock and a series of freebies #SelfPublishing


Got talking to a work buddy yesterday afternoon about publicity, Facebook and Twitter. He suggested giving a freebie eBook away as a kind of loss leader. Just to “Get the conversation going” as he put it. As I’m working evening shifts all this week, I’m using my day times revising some of my back catalogue of short stories ready for free release via Smashwords. Smashwords seem to have the widest distribution for various eBook formats, rather taking the pain out of providing separate editions for one group of platforms.

I think a good chunky read can be boilerplated together from a mix of sci-fi and supernatural stuff that doesn’t really fit in with my currently themed body of work. On the other hand, it’s amazing what you find when you start digging on your hard drive. Found a couple of short, thousand word pieces that fit in beautifully with the narrative for ‘A falling of Angels’, the next in the Cerberus series. Another few story fragments that can be hammered into fully fledged, and quite satisfying prose with a minimum of effort. There are a few that rage, a few that weep, and a couple with built in quirky smiles, like ‘Polish Ted’. Many of them set in an England I am all too familiar with. Although a few years ago I did rewrite a version of ‘Polish Ted’ for a US setting under the title ‘Cold Warrior’, and as a story it still worked beautifully. I might even bolt that one in as a ‘contrast and compare’ exercise. Just run the stories one after the other. See what the feedback is like. It’s as easy a way to put a 100,000 word collection together in a relatively short period of time.

Plenty of entertainment. For free. Give me a month or less.

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