Office Update, Beards, and Fantasy

Video update here! In fact, I have two videos for you. First of all, an update to the office. It’s ready for me to use and I should be using it tomorrow. Take a look.

Second, the theme of beards continues, and I talk a bit about beards, fantasy, and authors with beards.

Mine is getting shaved off tomorrow. What do you think? Who has the better beard, Patrick Rothfuss or George R. R. Martin? Discuss in the comments below.

Should You Directly Sell Your Books on Social Media?

When you go on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, do you enjoy reading ads? Probably not. This has been one of my main problems with how I use social media. That’s changing, and I’ve seen the results. While I do publicize my blog posts on social media, I’ve been sharing/retweeting others’ posts, as well as just talking and socialising on social media. On Twitter, that’s resulted in more than doubling the rate at which I gain followers. I don’t use it as an advertising platform anymore. I found this recording of a Google Hangout by Author Hub, and it has some good advice about using social media to sell books.

What do you think? And how do you like Ashley Hewitt’s moustache? Let me know in the comments below.

Choose My Best Instagram Photos – Round 1, Group 38

I’ve finished adding Japan photos to Instagram, so it’ll be capped at 63 groups for the first round. Once we finish group 63, we’ll move on to the second round, which will be randomly sorted photos that passed the first round. It’ll basically be the same format.

But now, on to the 38th group. This time, you get to see trains, buildings, and darkness. Enjoy!

The rules are simple. I post 10 of my Instagram photos every few days, and you get to vote on your favourites. It’s multiple choice, so please vote for 2 to 4 photos (3 is ideal). Leave a comment saying why you voted the way you did. The poll comes after the photos.

Here are the photos:

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¥100 only

A post shared by Jay Dee Archer (@jaydeejapan) on

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Sotetsu train car 7

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Marker in the station

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Sotetsu Shonandai Station Staff

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Hina Matsuri is today

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Cyclist in the fog

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Remember 311

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Venus and Jupiter meeting

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Venus and Jupiter up close

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Walkways in the sky

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And now the vote. Please vote for your favourite photos (ideally 3, but anywhere between 2 and 4):

Please leave a comment with a reason for your votes. I’d like to know what works with my photography. Thanks!

Is It Easy to Restart Sports After Many Years?

The last time I rode a bicycle was in 2005. The last time I went swimming was in 1996. The last time I went skating was in 2011. The last time I went skiing was in 1993.

This week, I’m going swimming for the first time in twenty years. In 2010, I went skating for the first time in 17 years. I’m going to go skating later this year. But is it easy to get back into it?

When I went skating in 2010, I used rental skates in Japan, and I had a bit of a difficult time at first. My ankles weren’t as strong as they used to be. That or I was heavier than I used to be. Well, I skated for a couple hours, finding that I was getting back into it fairly easily, other than the muscle strain. A year later, I went skating again, and it was much easier. I wonder how it’ll be later this year when I teach my daughter to skate.

But this week, the pool at the local recreation centre is finally reopening after some construction/repairs. It’s been twenty years since I’ve gone swimming. I wonder how well I’ll do. When I swam, I was more interested in just having fun. But this time, I want to swim laps, as well as have fun. Thankfully, the pools are open for public swimming many hours every day of the week. I’m looking forward to it.

Have you returned to a sport after many years? How well did you do? Let me know in the comments below.

Week in Review – May 29, 2016

Another week down, more stuff happened. Of course stuff happened, but not everything I hoped to happen happened. But let’s see what actually did happen!

Reading

I’m at 41% at Redemption Ark by Alastair Reynolds still. I set a new reading order for the new books I received last week, though.

Writing

Turns out I didn’t get any writing done. Caught a cold, and haven’t felt up to it. I’m getting over it, though. I’m going to work on the office tomorrow morning and then I can start writing.

Patreon

A week after starting up Patreon, it’s still at $0. But then, I haven’t had any writing done, which is something that should help. Of course, if you are interested in supporting me, then please head on over to my Patreon page!

Languages

I finally got back into studying again. I did a bit of Esperanto this week.

Canada

My wife’s English lessons have started. We also started exercising at the local recreation centre. This week, the pools should open.

Videos

I got a new video out, and it’s a look at the state of my office. As I said above, I’m going to start working on it tomorrow.

The Blog

I’ve been talking more about writing and books in the past week. I’ve also been focusing a lot on social media, especially Twitter. I’ve seen an increase in the following rate in the past week, which is nice to see.

Studying

I actually signed up for a couple free courses on FutureLearn, one about the British Empire, the other about Japanese philosophy. Sound interesting?

The Next Week’s Goals

Go swimming. At least twice. And I intend on getting my daughter swimming, too. I also plan on writing and getting the next three parts of Journey to Ariadne up for critiques, so I can edit them. I will also be working on the outline of Knights of Ariadne, my first novel. Hoping for a good chance to edit a new video, one that should’ve been made two months ago.

How was your week.

You’re Probably Using Too Much Space After a Period

periodspacingI’ve been doing it wrong. Actually, I know I’ve been doing it wrong for a long time. You see the space after the period in these sentences? Double spaced. It used to be pretty standard. It was used to make sentences appear more separated. I was taught to do it that way.

You see, I was taught to type on a typewriter. When I started typing in school, we didn’t use computers with word processors. We used electric typewriters. And since their wasn’t variable spacing for the letters, and we only had one font, we used a double space after the periods. I got used to doing that.

These days, word processing software has made this obsolete. In fact, using a single space has been standard for many years. There was no need for me to learn to use a double space. But over the years, I was using a double space because that’s what I was taught and I was used to. Out of habit, I’d been using double spaces while knowing it was wrong.

Now, I’m typing with single spaces after the period. What about you? Do you use single or double spaces?

Doing Art for Ariadne and More

If you read my story for the A to Z Challenge, you may remember the art I did for the first couple stories. I found it a little difficult to maintain that, since some of the stories were kind of difficult to draw. However, I do like to draw quite a bit, and will be doing a lot of concept art for Ariadne. Here are examples of what I drew for the challenge.

Cloud Tree
Cloud Tree
The Column of Ariadne
The Column of Ariadne
Chisel and Wood
Chisel and Wood

They’re pencil art, but I can do pen, as well as adding colour. The above pictures were sketches done in less than thirty minutes. If I take my time, I can make them look much better.

One of the rewards I have for Patreon is an advanced look at any concept art and sketches I do, as well as the chance to get an original drawing based on Ariadne.

But that’s not all, I’m interested in doing some science, science fiction, and fantasy style artwork that’s not related to Ariadne.

Any of you do art? Have any online? Let me know in the comments below.

Edmonton Tour: Skyscrapers and More

I love skyscrapers. I love architecture. Here you’ll see some of downtown’s taller and older architecture. But this is only part one! There will be a couple more posts that feature some of the more beautiful architecture.

First up is MacEwan University. It’s a unique set of buildings downtown.

And here is the main entrance.

Not under construction yet, you can see an ad for the Encore Tower, which will be a forty storey condo building. Behind to the left is Fox Tower I and on the right is one of the Icon towers.

Here is the Quest Condominium building.

Here’s an older building I don’t quite remember the name of.

And this is the Neon Sign Museum. The entire museum is on the wall of that building, which is an old AGT building, now Telus.

The building in the middle is Manulife Place, now the second tallest in the city, though was the tallest for many years. To its right is Commerce Place.

Here’s a closer look. I really like these two buildings.

Here’s the Epcor Tower. It’s the current tallest in the city, though a couple under construction will be much taller.

And the always attractive Manulife Place again.

The gold towers are Scotia Place, which are going to change colour soon. They don’t make the gold glass anymore, and it’s too expensive to maintain.

And this is downtown’s famous hotel, the Fairmont MacDonald Hotel. It’s a very expensive luxury hotel. Don’t mind my finger.

This used to be a place where you could make phone calls. The payphones have been removed. Now you can get a little shelter from the rain and look at lots of posters and ads.

This is the Alberta Hotel. It was reconstructed recently. Every brick was catalogued and stored for a long time, then they rebuilt it from the records they had.

And there’s Canada Place, the federal government’s home in Edmonton. It’s actually a massive building, though not tall. It’s quite long and has the largest floor space of any building downtown.

A look down Jasper Avenue, the main street through downtown.

The Sunlife building, my old workplace. That was a long time ago.

And that is downtown. At least, those are the skyscrapers and older buildings. Next time, I’ll show you around the Arts District, a very lively area with some unique architecture.

Comments are always welcome!

Authors Answer 82 – Cover Art

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But really, people do judge books by their covers. A great cover can sell a book. It’s important to have well done cover art. Authors who are traditionally published usually have it done for them by the publisher. But a self-published author has to commission the artwork from an artist themselves and pay for it. Or maybe some authors do it themselves. So, how did we get it done?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 82 – How did you get your cover art done?

Linda G. Hill

So far that’s a secret. The artist who has agreed to work on my cover art doesn’t want anyone to know until the novels are out. Stay tuned!

Gregory S. Close

I spent a lot of time researching this, and months browsing DeviantArt and other sites for a quality freelance artist.  I finally settled on Mike Nash.  He had an impressive portfolio, had done artwork for Star Wars and Magic the Gathering, and he was accepting new commissions.  It’s more expensive to go with an artist like Mike, but I loved the result and I believe that you generally get what you pay for.  The cheaper options often look very much like cheaper options.

I felt pretty vindicated when I got an “excellent cover” compliment from Brandon Sanderson at WorldCon.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I bought pre-made cover art from an online shop that specializes in book covers. Not the most glamorous way to go, but if you can get lucky and find a good fit for your story there’s nothing wrong with that.

Eric Wood

Unfortunately, I don’t have any cover art, yet.

Allen Tiffany

Great question because there is a lot of talk about cover art. Unfortunately, a lot of it is really bad.

In my case, for my first novel, I did it myself. I knew exactly what I wanted – an iconic picture  of US infantryman getting out of a “Huey” helicopter in the jungles of Vietnam – and quickly found a high res photo in the Gov’t  archives.

For my upcoming novel, which I have not yet revealed, I sort of had an idea for what I wanted and scanned a lot of book cover designer’s websites. At long last I found a cover I loved. Totally in love. Thought it was brilliant. I wrote the creator and told her what I was after, and sent her $50 for the first pass.

As luck would have it, when the proof came in, one of my daughters was sitting beside me. She is an award-winning artist and has read the novel and the sequel. I called her over to the computer before I opened it. I told her this was a big moment in my writing career. “Just open it, dad.” When I did, we both stared in silence.  Finally, I said, “Holy crap.” She said, “That’s terrible.”

After that, I spent a lot of time on DeviantArt looking for what I wanted, and eventually I found it. I really liked it, so this time I wrote the artist and sent him a contract. We agreed on a price, and I secured the art I wanted.

Going forward, I think I’m just going to keep going back to DA and finding cool stuff from up and coming artists. It means my covers won’t be similar, but it will be fun to get aspiring artists a bit more publicity.

D. T. Nova

As of writing this answer, I haven’t yet, but I really can’t keep putting it off much longer.

Paul B. Spence

I hired an artist whose work I liked.

S. R. Carrillo

Initially, I purchased a pre-made cover that fit the book perfectly. For the sequel, I commissioned the same artist to create a similar cover as the first. This was an artist I found through another writer friend of mine.

For the latest set of covers I’ve commissioned, I found another writer friend whose covers I admired and visited the artist’s website to ask some questions and request a few covers. To make the search a little easier, I compiled a list of resources for writers looking for cover artists.

In the future, I plan to use artists I know personally to draw up my covers and use my own photography as the covers I need. I’m working very hard on that, actually.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

For Nowhere to Hide I created the cover art myself with a bit of Photoshop magic. I took a photo my father had taken of an old apartment building, darkened it, played with the colors to make the moonlit sky appear red, and then I transferred in a picture of a guy in a trench coat that I’d turned into a black silhouette with red eyes. Add the title and author bits and ta-da! Mind you it is far from the most professional-looking cover, but I wasn’t looking to spend any money since I didn’t know if the book would ever sell a single copy, therefore I was determined to create it myself. Overall I’m actually quite pleased with it, although I do know that it doesn’t quite look right in previews and thumbnails. With all that in mind, I’m definitely seriously considering commissioning an artist for The Other World.

H. Anthe Davis

All my covers are produced through cooperation between me (concept) and my friend D. D. Phillips (art).  I provide all the reference material I can find, and recently have begun compositing mock-ups for her to better see what I mean — since we’ve had communication issues before, with me not knowing some terms or having a hard time expressing just what I want.  I’m really nitpicky.  Thankfully she’s in another state so can’t just teleport over here and strangle me!  We’re working on the Book 4 cover now.

Jean Davis

I said to my editor, I want something dark and simple. A week later he sent me an image and I said, yep, that’s it.

Jay Dee Archer

I actually have a cover for my first novel, Knights of Ariadne, even though the first draft isn’t done. It’s a simple story, actually. Another author decided to whip up a cover for me, and what she showed me was great. In fact, it’s pretty much what I was imagining in my mind for the cover. Great minds think alike! She’s also an INTJ, which is how she discovered this blog. Once I’ve written enough, as in finished the first draft and edited it, I’ll probably reveal the cover. Well, we’ll see about the timing. Must write it!

How about you?

If you’ve published a book or are going to publish a book, how did you get your cover done? Let us know in the comments below.

A Storm Was Brewing

You may remember that I love thunderstorms. One thing I love about Edmonton is that there are thunderstorms often in summer. Well, last night, while I was sitting in the living room, a strong wind suddenly came, and dark clouds moved in. I went outside and this is what I saw.

Very dark! The weather news said a thunderstorm was moving along the south side of the city and coming in this direction. I was very interested in seeing some lightning. It didn’t happen. It rained, but no lightning. I was disappointed. The dark clouds came, but they didn’t deliver.

Tonight, there’s a 40% chance of thunderstorms again. Not great odds, and I don’t expect it to happen.

Anyone else like thunderstorms?