Dying To Live Forever returns to Amazon Kindle

wpid-wp-1439815498058.jpgMy book Dying to Live Forever has returned to Amazon Kindle and is on sale this weekend until July 4th, 2016.

Celebrity scientist and inventor Rik van der Gelder finds his lust for living waning after having lived two full lifetimes, courtesy of the ‘fountain of youth’ rejuvenation technology he helped to introduce. Bored nearly to death, he escapes alone in his starship, desperately searching for some relief from the never ending job of living. But a deadly attack and crash landing on an isolated and dangerous planet force him into a desperate struggle for his life.

Surviving the bizarre, deadly terrain and venomous creatures won’t be easy. Assaulted at every turn, Rik encounters an alien artifact that leads him down a rabbit hole of discovery and intrigue. Standing together with artificial intelligences and the insect-like race that built them against a common enemy could result in a deadly battle and the end of Rik. Or maybe it’s just the beginning…

Publishing by Unpublishing

wpid-wp-1439815498058.jpg

The home-made cover for my first book.

I’ve decided to submit my book first book, Dying to Live Forever, to a “real” publisher. My marketing and sales skills and inclination to spend time doing those things are virtually nil. I want to have someone else who likes and has talents for these things actually work on them for me. And book publishers – they’re pretty good at these sorts of things, yano? At least I hope so.

My book will reappear when/if some publisher decides to become my publisher. If not, maybe I’ll look at other options. In the meantime, which is, by the way, many months in the slow world of traditional publishing, my book will be unavailable.

Fortunately for everyone, the new version of the story will be much improved. I’ve made another pass through it and it’s substantially better already – with having even been seen by a professional editor whose job it is to make books better (or suck less).

My second and third books are still in the pipeline, and this very morning I (re)started my work on the first of the ANGEL series of stories, going through it with a fine toothed comb looking for badness, building better character development into the story, finishing up scenes, etc.

Please, if you love me, or if you love science fiction by geeks and for geeks, stay tuned…

It’s Done

I finally finished my (first) book and it has been delivered successfully in EPUB form into three electronic publishers’ hands. You can yourself a copy by going to Amazon.com and searching for a Kindle book called “Dying to Live Forever”. I hope you like it!

If you want to read it on Google play, just go to this link.

If you want to read it on Kindle or you just like buying things from Amazon, go here.

I have been writing this book off and on over the course of at least ten or fifteen years. But in the last year or so I have gotten serious about being an author. I don’t want to be someone who just writes. I want to be published and have people like my stuff and be eager for more. I want that, and i want it badly. I’ve interrupted nearly every aspect of my life, spending pretty much every moment I wasn’t sleeping or doing my day job for most of the last month toiling away to get this thing finished and published.

Cooper the Wonderdog.

Cooper the Wonderdog.

Now I can take a day or two off from reading to let my eyes recover and to reacquaint myself with my wife and family. I know Cooper the Wonderdog will be thrilled not to have to stand guard by my desk all the time.

It will be a little sad to see it go, really. I’ll miss my characters and their adventures. I guess I can now take up where I left the characters of my next two books, which are in a series together. They’re really cool people, and I think readers are going to love them and what they get up to.

I think I might sound tired in this post — I am.

But I’m also really excited. I can’t wait to hear what people think about the book. To this point, I have feedback from some reviewers and family members, but I guess I won’t actually believe my stuff is worthwhile until someone pays for it with real money and then gives it at least a halfway decent review. It’s strange how this feels. It’s like they would be reviewing and validating me and not just my book.

Eureka! I Have a Workflow

Warning sign WARNING: Geeky HTML and Makefile stuff in this post will render your eyeballs glassy if you’re not into that sort of thing.

I have been trying for weeks to create a workflow that allows me to edit my manuscript in Markdown format and then, with a simple command, generates all of the document formats I need to publish my book. That way I can create review copies and send them out, get feedback and make the changes I want, and then do it again — all in a precisely correct, reproducible way. Yesterday, in a long session, I managed to get the tools to do what I want. Maybe sharing this will help someone someday?

The requirements I had were:

  1. No manual steps at all. Just edit the manuscript and type make to get all of the required output files, ready to print or upload to Amazon, Google, Apple, my own Kindle, or whatever.

  2. Allow me to tag text with classes in my manuscript so I can include things like a real title page in a title-page-y font, a haiku, emails or text messages formatted so they look like they would on a computer screen, or even a THE END at the end of my story that is more than just some bold text on a line by itself. I wanted control over my inline and block element classes so I could do custom CSS for these special things.

  3. Let me include fonts in the output files, minimized to just the glyphs I use in my manuscript and ready to be used by the eBook reader if the user wishes it.

I use Python Markdown to generate HTML from the Markdown formatted manuscript and Calibre‘s ebook-convert command to do the multi-format conversion, taking my HTML, CSS, and font files as input and generating EPUB, AZW3, PDF, and maybe MOBI format.

Even though I could have Calibre invoke it for me, I use the Python Markdown tool directly. I was having trouble getting Calibre to turn on the Markdown extensions I needed, and I just decided to Hell with it. Don’t get me wrong — Calibre is a wonderful tool, and I thank the obviously brilliant Kovid Goyal for creating it for us all to use. By all means, if you use Calibre, please consider donating some money or some code. The Markdown extensions I ended up needing for Dying to Live Forever were attr_list, smarty, fenced_code, and sane_lists. The output of the Python Markdown step is an HTML file with inline and block element classes I can style using my CSS to make everything look just the way I want it.

Some notes about Calibre, in case anyone wonders why I did things the way I did.

First, I couldn’t find a way to get Calibre to substitute my scene breaks with what I wanted. The HTML file I gave Calibre used simple <hr />, but nothing I did — and I tried for quite a while — seemed to be able to trick Calibre into substituting what I wanted, which was <div class="hr">&larr;&nbsp;&rarr;</div>. So I just brute-forced this using a global search-and-replace operation on the HTML before I gave it Calibre to handle the rest.

Second, as I mentioned before, I couldn’t get Calibre to use the extensions I wanted to pass to markdown_py, so I just brute forced that too.

After the Markdown conversion, I run ebook-convert for each file format I need. Today I have EPUB and AZW3 formats, but I expect to add PDF soon so I can give a dead trees copy of the book to some folks who don’t use eBook readers. Along the way, this dead trees format was very nice for marked up review copies with scribbles everywhere for comments and corrections.

This ZIP file contains the Makefile and CSS I used. I used Calibre version 2.4 and Python Markdown version 2.4 (coincidence?).