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.

Custom Book Covers for Free

What do the covers of Wolf Block, Take Five! for Better Photos, and Journey to Yandol, and other stories have in common? Despite looking very different and not all being in the same genre, they have one important design element in common. Like the fake Rudy's Revenge cover illustrating this blog post, all of them were created using 3D modeling software. This relates to the topic of this blog post, because 3D modeling software can give indie authors something that many want: A custom book cover, unlike any other, for free. Read on for more about this approach to making a cover, including details for how the Rudy's Revenge cover was created.

There's More to Fantasy

There's more to fantasy than an unlikely backwoods hero seeking to defeat the evil overlord, and in Khaiblan Rewound (a working title only), I intentionally decided to depart from that common plot to make my first foray into the sword-and-sorcery subgenre. NaNoWriMo is a good opportunity to experiment with new things, since it's only a one-month commitment, and I started Khaiblan Rewound for NaNoWriMo in 2011. If you click the link above leading to the story, you'll see it goes to Wattpad rather than a place to buy it, because I still have not completed the story. Inspired by the creative openness of Ksenia Anske, I decided to begin posting first-draft chapters of Khaiblan Rewound on Wattpad to see if I could get any input from readers. To date, I've posted two chapters. Reader input? Well, not yet.

What Do You Measure?

One of the common ideas you will find in discussions about entrepreneurial activity and business development is that you should pay close attention to what you measure, because what you choose to measure also defines where you focus your attention. In turn, this often (but not always) leads to improvements in the area(s) being measured. This is applicable to indie writers. Unless you are writing only for enjoyment, with zero interest in sharing your work with others, your writing goals will be best served by treating your writing as a business. This is true whether you are cranking out a new novel every month or you only plan to publish one book in your life.

They Sure Gave Me Their 2 Cents Worth

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I wanted people to give me the worst-possible feedback about my books, because that will help me focus my attention where it is needed most. (It's not about being a masochist, really—I'd be happy if everyone thought my books were flawless!) All things considered, it's not surprising that my blog post asking for feedback did not actually generate any. That's OK, I didn't expect a rush of critiques.

However, I came up with a rather unusual idea. After pondering it for a good long time (30 seconds? maybe it was 45), I moved forward with it. I'm really glad I did. It turned out much better than I expected. Read on if you'd like to know what secret magical incantation... er, never mind. Read on to see how I used Amazon Mechanical Turk to get inexpensive and useful results.

Don't Bite Your Tongue, Hit Me With Your Worst

Creating something without feedback is a good way to get bad results. If your creation is good but you assume it's bad, the bad results will be failing to share something that others would appreciate. If your creation is bad but you assume it's good, the bad results will be sharing something that is not (yet) something that other people will enjoy. Creators are poor critics of their own work. Without feedback from other people, it's up to luck to correctly identify good or bad work and act accordingly. This should be obvious, right? Unfortunately, many people seem to not understand it. I've seen creators unwilling to accept thoughtful critiques from others, and I know that people can be hesitant to give negative feedback on a creative work, especially if the creator is a family member or close friend.


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