Pull up a log by the campfire and enjoy some original creations by Stuart J. Whitmore, including photos, fiction, software, technical solutions, video, and more.

It's Not a Lottery


Photo credit: Penywise from morguefile.com

Imagine if you had the opportunity to play a lottery where the odds of winning were very low (as usual), but instead of paying for each ticket, you were paid for each ticket. Would you play? Would you be crazy to not play?

While it's not a lottery, I have an opportunity that is a little similar to that paid-per-ticket lottery scenario. The odds are very low, and the payoff — while not in the millions — is nothing to sneeze at. A key difference between this opportunity and a lottery is that luck, by itself, is not the deciding factor. Of course, as with anything in life, randomness can play a significant role.

This particular opportunity is more like a popularity contest. The more effort I put into it, and the more others help me, the greater my odds are of "winning." Read on to see how this relates to my books and how you might help.

Three Ways to Get Free Kindle Books


Photo credit: pippalou from morguefile.com

I have written before about not needing a Kindle to read Kindle books. In this blog post I want to share something similar. I will describe three (legal!) ways you can read Kindle books without paying for them, and I don't mean free books either. There are plenty of those, of course, some of which are "perma-free" and some, like Two Boys, Two Planets today, are only free for limited times. However, there are also plenty of non-free books that you can read without paying for them. Read on for details!

Keywords vs The Key to Book Marketing


Photo credit: nionx from morguefile.com

I noticed some interesting things as I was participating in a recent conversation about keywords. This conversation was (and perhaps still is) taking place in an online forum frequented by indie authors. The question at hand was how to best keyword books to help people find them on Amazon. As different methods of choosing keywords were discussed, and as I learned from what others are doing, I realized that similar conversations take place in other creative communities where I participate, such as Shutterstock (where I earn money from photos) and freesound.org (where I give away audio recordings). What do people really search for? What's the right approach to choosing keywords? I also noticed, though, that this makes sense for photos and audio files, but it's much less sensible for books. It's not bad to set up proper keywords for a book, to help it be found amid the vast amounts available on Amazon or any other online retailer, but asking "what search strings do readers use" is, in my opinion, the wrong question. There's a more lucrative angle to book marketing than making sure your keywords are the best possible.

10 Trees from a Dream

[Trees are important!]
Photo credit: FidlerJan from morguefile.com

There's a dryad (a.k.a., wood nymph) who wants you to plant some trees. Or so goes the tale that I weave in Peasant's Dream, a fantasy novel that I started while I was stationed in England with the US Air Force, "way back when" in the mid-1980s. The dryad and her desire to have you plant trees is actually a minor part of the tale, but it's relevant to something I always planned to include in the back of the novel if it was published. Of course, when I wrote it I had no idea what digital self-publishing would look like today.

Decades later, I have recently decided to take an unusual (for me) route to publishing Peasant's Dream, and in conjunction with that I'm going to make you a special offer, right here in this blog post. The inspiration for this goes even further back in time, to my being introduced to Esperanto by the Stainless Steel Rat books of Harry Harrison. Read on for the details!

Learn How You Can Make a Free Book Cover

[Sample Cover]

In this blog post I will show you how to create a basic and no-cost cover for your e-book. Originally I planned to do this blog post a few weeks ago, but other things kept coming up and pushing this lower on the priority list. It didn't help that after a week or so I forgot where I'd put the image files. I could have started over but I knew I had most of the work done already and I didn't want to waste all of that earlier effort. Luckily I remembered this week where those files were.

I should point out that what I describe here is technical, not artistic, in nature. You will learn how to do it, but not what it should look like. There are some good reasons for this, and the top of that list of reasons is that I'm not much of a cover designer. Perhaps one glance at the covers of my own books would tell you that! Another important reason is that your cover should match your story, your style, the genre, etc., and there is no one-size-fits-all look for book covers. However, style issues side, the same free resources can be used across the full spectrum of design concepts.

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