Monday, May 28, 2012

Three covers... three ideas...

With a little more than one more chapter to go to say that Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls has reached the "beta" stage, it's getting close to finalizing AT LEAST the layout of the book's cover.

So here are three layout ideas:

Here's cover number one (with lotsa blue!)

Here's cover number two!

And last but definitely not least!

I would love to get some feedback on what would look best as an ebook cover and paperback as well.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More from Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls

     In this yet another "clip" from Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls, Patrik and Galena have almost arrived in Lycentia and hope to meet up with their old friend Franck. But as they depart on the last leg of their journey, they witness something horrifying:


The next morning after Patrik and Galena had arrived in the village just outside Lycentia, the stable master assured the innkeeper that attaching an entirely-new wheel to the wagon was better than repairing the old one. As the replacement was made, Galena casually looked around the stable for the little girl. But she was nowhere to be found. And except for them and the man repairing the wagon wheel, the square was completely deserted. Patrik was not concerned about the girl's whereabouts and reminded Galena that one of the first things they would do once entering Lycentia was to find Franck.
Patrik gave the stable master a few silver coins and thanked him for his trouble. He and Galena then climbed on the wagon and proceeded to head back down the narrow road for the capital city. As the wagon approached the first curve outside of the tiny village, Galena pointed at something in a clearing just to their left.
     “What is that? It looks like a bunch of people,” she said.
     “Yes, it's a small gathering of people,” Patrik replied but then refused to even look in the direction of the distraction.
     “Father! Stop the wagon! I want to find out what they are doing over there!” She grabbed the reins and pulled back on them,
     “What are you doing? We need to be in Lycentia!” Patrik yelled as she leaped off the wagon even though it had not come to a complete stop. “Galena!” But it was no use. Instead of arguing with her, he coaxed the horses to move as close to the edge of the road and then also exited the wagon. By the time he had gotten off, Galena was already standing next to the small gathering of people. They were standing in a circle around a large pile of wood. And on top of that woodpile appeared to be a small body.
     “It's a funeral,” she whispered to the innkeeper as he walked up to join her.
     “Funeral? For who?” Patrik asked. Galena tapped the shoulder of a man who was close to her and asked who had died. The man replied so quietly that Patrik couldn't hear the response. “So, who is the funeral for?” Patrik asked Galena again.
     “The man said that it's for a little girl,” Galena replied. A solitary tear made its way down her left cheek.              “A girl who was only five years old,” she added with a quiet sniffle.
     “What did she die from?” Patrik then asked. The man who Galena had talked to heard the question moved away from the small gathering and walked over to the innkeeper.
     “Food poisoning,” he said. “At least that's what we're supposed to think.”
     “Poisoned? How could “ Before Galena could finish her question, the man turned around and walked back to the group. A few minutes later, the same man who had talked to them picked up a torch, lit it and walked up to the woodpile. Surrounded by near-silence, except for the chattering of a squirrel high above them, he thrust the torch into the woodpile, the dry tinder nearly exploding into orange and yellow flames.
     “Why are they burning her?” Galena asked. “Why didn't they just bury her like people in Noran bury their dead? Like we buried Uncle Pieter?” Patrik shook his head.
     “I don't know,” he replied. “I just don't know.”


BTW,  two more chapters to go before Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls is drafted! Woot!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Facebook's Not-so-big Day

Today was a big day for Facebook. The social networking behemoth's IPO began this morning with the cost of one share at $38. It is believed that over 400 million shares were up for grabs. In just a few hours, the cost of one share had not risen: it had actually gone down. Underwriters soon stepped in to guarantee that the share price would not drop any more. By the end of the trading day, a share of Facebook stock was selling for around $38. A few analysts have concluded that Monday would be a good day to try to sell Facebook stock.

Facebook is now a public corporation. According to its stockholders, it needs to show a profit. Facebook, according to its stockholders, is now worth over $100 billion. Facebook, according to market analysts, is worth quite a bit less than that. And that is why Facebook stock will be purchased for less than $38 a share come Monday.

What can be learned from this?

Below is a breakdown of how Amazon ranks ebooks for the Kindle based on how many are purchased per day.
Bestsellers Overall Rank 40,000 to 100,000 – selling close to 1 book a day. (per kindleboards)
Bestsellers Overall Rank 8,500 to 40,000 – selling 1 to 10 books a day.
Bestsellers Overall Rank 3,000 to 8,500 – selling 10 to 30 books a day.
Bestsellers Overall Rank 2,000 to 3,000 – selling 30 to 55 books a day.
Bestsellers Overall Rank 1000 to 2,000 – selling 55 to 100 books a day.
Bestsellers Overall Rank 200 to 1000 – selling 100 to 350 books a day.
Bestsellers Overall Rank 80 to 200 – selling 350 to 550 books a day.
Bestsellers Rank 65 to 80 – selling 550 to 650 books a day.
Bestsellers Rank 20 to 65 – selling 650 to 1,100 books a day.
Bestseller Rank of 10 to 20 – selling 1,100 to 2,000 + books a day.
Bestseller Rank of 5 to 10 – selling 2,000 to 3,500 books a day.
Bestseller Rank of 1 to 5 – selling 3,500+ books a day.

Let's say that 5 ebook copies of Betrovia are purchased everyday. That would give Betrovia a ranking of 20000 or so. Is 5 books a day a lot? Yes, that would add up to over 150 ebooks purchased per month. And that would almost be enough for a mortgage payment here in Jefferson City. And that would be a good thing.

What if a system like Amazon's ranking system was used to rank corporations based on shares of their stock sold on a daily basis? Actually, there such a system is already in place. It's called "value."

If a share of Facebook stock was a "hot item," like any Amazon ebook that is ranked in the top 100, then that share would cost a whole bunch more than $38.

Some of the ebooks ranked in the top 100 are being sold for $.99 while others are being sold for much, much more (take the 50 Shades of Gray series set, for example). And why would someone pay even $9.99 for a digital ebook when a paperback or even hard-cover version is not that much more? "Value," again, is the answer.

While many people, including me, get lots of pleasure out of reading, liking, sharing and posting on Facebook, how many people "value" Facebook?

The share price come Monday evening will be the answer.

The value of a share of Facebook

Monday, May 14, 2012

Excerpt from Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls

What follows this little intro is a piece of Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls. And which character is presented here? Let's just say that he's one to be feared, one who Patrik and even Ilead have no choice but to deal with.


         The thieves ransacked the cottage, killing all but one of its inhabitants in the process. The sole survivor, a youngster barely the age of two, was left in the middle of the dirt floor to fend for himself. His father's body lay to his left, his mother's to his right. Without tears, without any outward show of emotion, he watched the renegades fill their gunny sacks and dash out of the cottage door. As if he was cemented in place, the boy sat there, in between the bodies of his parents, until neighbors once they were certain the bandits would not return ran to the cottage to see what was left of it.
         The boy was taken in by his mother's older sister who had remained childless up to that point. His aunt lived in somewhat isolated cottage many miles west of Ahnak, not very far at all from the tragedy that took place that warm, foggy summer night. The cottage was much like his parents' one room with one door facing the dusty high-plains pathway that branched off of the main road that connected the seacoast with Ahnak. The boy grew up in that tiny abode, learning from his aunt how to hunt, to fish and even to tend a small garden. What they could not kill, gather or grow on their own, they traded for with the goods they themselves could garner.
         Even though the high-plains path was merely a tangent from the main thoroughfare that ran directly from Ahnak to the Great Sea, those who traveled it were few and far between. This meant the things they needed off and on but could not get or grow on their own had to be procured via other means. The woman owned neither horse, mule nor ox, so she had no way to transport herself and the boy. When necessity dictated, they would walk to the next closet cottage; the closet village was too far for the woman and boy to walk to. But the boy's aunt, his adopted mother, had a knack for knowing which travelers to seek out and from which to hide.
         Most who ventured on this side road were adventurous Haarigoians exploring the hills and valleys of the high plains. Now and then, even Muad shepherds following their herds stumbled upon their cottage. For over ten years, the two of them survived some years barely, others with more than enough food to spare.
By the time the boy was twelve, he had developed into a strong hunter, a crafty fisherman and an accomplished gardener. But his favorite vocation was fishing. He made his own hooks out of shards of small animal bones and fishing line out of plant fibers that he grew in the garden. Even though the fruits of his fishing labors were not as bountiful as the other vocations, fishing allowed him time to sit by the edge of the spring-fed stream behind their cottage and ponder his future. Whenever the memories of his violent and deadly past crept into his present thoughts, he forced them deeper and deeper into his subconscious. Each time he cast his line into the cool waters of that stream, it was as if he was throwing those images into deeper and deeper water.
         One winter day, when the wind blew hard and fierce out of the northwest, the boy and his aunt were returning from a re-stocking trip to the small hamlet that sat at the junction of their high-plains path and the road to the Great Sea. When they had left the village, the weather was pleasantly warm for that time of the year, and the wind was nonexistent. But as they neared their home, as if to somehow push them back in the other direction, the wind came roaring over the high ridge that separated the valley in which they lived from the Great Sea many miles to the west. And to make matters worse, just as they were sight of the cottage, they were attacked by a pack of feral wild dogs.
         Before they could make it to the door of the hut, the dogs had tackled the old woman to the ground. To keep them from grabbing onto the boy, the woman remained passive, allowing herself to be bitten, clawed and ripped to pieces. She shouted for the boy to run which he did. He ran with all his might to the only place where he knew he could be safe: a tiny cave just up the small ridge on other side of the path from the cottage. He didn't even look back as he felt if he did, he would suffer the same fate as his adopted mother. As he arrived at the mouth of the cave, one of the dogs latched onto his left foot, nearly pulling him down from the rocky outcropping of the small cave. Without thinking, the boy pulled his skinning knife out of its sheath and buried it to the hilt in the dog's neck. The hound released his grip, and the boy scurried into the cave
         He could hear the rest of the dogs barking and growling below him but did not want to look out at them. He knew what he would see if he did, their gangrene-ladened maws dripping with the blood of his mangled caretaker. Once again, he was alone; once again, he sat motionless; once again, he could do nothing but wait.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Graduation Day

This morning before 6AM, Wifey, Ryan and I drove to Springfield to watch Ethan, our eldest child, graduate from Central Bible College. At the ripe "young" age of 23, the lad has earned both a BA in Global Missions and, on the side, certification in TOEFL (teaching of English as a foreign language). His plan is to relocate to Hualien, Taiwan this fall to teach English in a government school. And an interesting note to add here: he was born less than 60 miles from Hualien.

The ceremony took place at Central Assembly of God church and started at 10AM and concluded a little after 12. It was a very nice ceremony... actuallly, it was more like a Sunday morning church service with some praise and worship songs and even a sermon (a nice duet performed by two of the class of 2012).

We then continued the celebration by feasting on TexMex delectibles via Chipotle's (a first time experience for Wifey and I).

After the meal, we took Ethan back to his apartment and then drove back to Jefferson City via Freeburg (the bank needed to be cleaned first).

And here's a picture of the graduate:

Before we left, Ethan convinced us to bring a few things back to Jeff City to store away for him until he decides that he needs them again. He also gave us a nice wooden coffee table that Wifey wants to refinish (somehow).

One thing I noticed that he didn't pack up to send back with us to Jeff City was the paperback copy of Betrovia that I gave him for Christmas.

I wonder how far along he is in the book?