a few statistics

I’ve written two books. So I got thinking, which is dangerous for me. Why not a few statistics to chew on? Just for the paperback versions, though. Here goes.

Curveballs: Sweet & Smokey Down the Barbeque Trail

  • 5.25 x 8 inches
  • Nonfiction – travel memoir
  • 233 pages
  • 21 Chapters
  • 65,380 words
  • 362,40 characters
  • 1st word of Chapter 1 is : As
  • Last word of Chapter 21 is: Operation
  • The book covers a series of trips from the Midwest to California in my search for the perfect barbeque
  • There is a Trailer and it is 687 words or 3,635 characters
  • The Fever is my Senior-Editor-In-Chief
  • The Reference section has 9 references
  • 8 people are listed in the Acknowledgments
  • The cover was designed by eBookLaunch.com
  • The cover art concept was sketched on a napkin by the art teacher at school
  • I originally billed the book as the 1st in a Trilogy, but have since canceled the Trilogy idea, so it is a stand alone book
  • Milo the dog is listed in the Author Bio, but has since departed this earth
  • I have yet to taste Mr. McCoy’s ribs

Note to Self: Stream of Consciousness

  • 5.25 x 8 inches
  • Nonfiction – travel memoir
  • 181 pages
  • 15 chapters
  • 52,439 words
  • 286,512 characters
  • 1st word of Chapter 1 is: All
  • Last word of Chapter 15 is: tell
  • The book covers a 2 week period of time I spent in Atlanta
  • Before this trip, I had last been to Atlanta in 1996
  • There is no Trailer
  • There is no Senior-Editor-In-Chief
  • There is no Reference section
  • 7 people are listed in the Acknowledgements
  • The cover was designed by Sorin Radulescu, a freelancer from Romania
  • I bought the caveman drawing from a Canadian artist via Shutterstock
  • This is also a stand alone book
  • I got the idea for using Stream of Consciousness as the subtitle from a lawyer who headed the writers group in Cypress, Texas, a Northwest suburb 35 miles from Downtown Houston
  • The writers group meeting I attended was held at Lone Star College
  • I read out loud the 1st 7 pages of my book to this group, along with a printed copy for each, and they gave me feedback
  • That was my 3rd time in Texas within the last year
  • I left Texas 2 weeks before Hurricane Harvey hit
  • On that trip to Texas I played doubles in Tennis 20 out of 21 days
  • I improved my one-handed backhand there thanks to lessons by J.R.
  • I bought a Solumbra UV protection hat there thanks to Todd of Lost Forest
  • I still hate the freeway system in Houston – Mad Max everyday
  • Chloe the cat is listed in the Author Bio, but has since departed this earth
  • While brainstorming cover concepts with Ms. Wiener we devoured 2 personal pan pizza’s from Davanni’s…Italian sausage, green peppers, onions, and pineapple…yum
  • I have yet to taste Mr. McCoy’s ribs

 

 

 

 

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Am I smart or What: Amazon

noteToSelfSmallCoverDpurpleAs you know, I’m self-publishing my upcoming book, Note to Self: Stream of Consciousness. Make no mistake, it’s a lot of work. Painstaking, detailed work. Did I ever tell you I’m not so much a left brain kind of guy? I’m better at creativity than I am at the details.

And so it was that I missed a little detail when uploading my book to Amazon Kindle. One of the questions asked is if I want DRM rights attached to my book. I accidentally clicked yes instead of no. Digital Rights Management (DRM), give me the author, more control of my book. A bigger copyright punch if you will. This is both a pro and a con.

On one hand, I prevent someone from buying my eBook and just giving a copy to someone else. Kind of like preventing someone from making digital copies on a copy machine. As you can imagine this can cause consternation, were this to happen. Someone buys a single copy of my book and then gives a copy to all of their friends. Boo hiss!

But the drawback is that I’m making it harder for my customers as they are under such tight restrictions, and I don’t know if I want that. I’m not a big name author. I don’t want to make it hard for my customers. I also don’t worry much if someone shares my book with another. After all, if I buy a paperback book at Barnes & Noble and I read it and then I give it to my friend to read there is no illegal activity occurring. No harm no foul.

I meant to click no for DRM. And upon further review I discovered that Amazon says I am stuck with what I clicked for good. I can’t undo it. Boo hiss!

I tried to simply unpublish it. No good. I contacted them and  asked if I could just delete the book from their system outright, start from scratch, and upload the book again. They said no. The kind Amazon customer service rep explained that once it’s in their system and assigned an ID number it’s in their system for good. No going back. What to do? And then, in a streak of thought, an idea hit me!

In our byte based world Amazon doesn’t distinguish between how many times I upload a new book. As long as it has its own unique Amazon ID number they don’t care. Left brain if I ever saw it. But a loophole for me!

So, I began the process of uploading a brand new book, this book, and when I got to that darn little DRM question I clicked NO damn  it. Amazon assigned a new unique Amazon ID number to my book and whala! Problem solved. Not to worry though, I unpublished the first upload so customers would see only one copy of my book for sale, not two.

I gave my self a pat on the back for this simple, winning solution. Had I outsmarted Amazon? I don’t think so. They designed the system. They built it. Get that Amazon ID and your golden. Each “new” book is treated like it’s different from all the others, no matter the number of uploads. Get that Unique Amazon ID. Golden. That’s all it took. Brilliant, don’t you think?

I’m in the 1%

Self-publishing a book has a lot of moving parts. Writing, editing, formatting, designing, and the list goes on. In my case I’m 99.999% done. Translated, I only have .001% left to do, thus I’m in the 1%. Okay, to be picky I’m within 1%, but who’s counting.

All I have left is for the designer to make a couple of small tweaks to the paperback version book cover and whala, done. I can’t wait. I’ve been going strong since mid August. I’ve edited at multiple coffeeshops. I’ve formatted at a whiskey bar during the US Open tennis. Boy did Nadal look good. And I’ve been going back and forth with the cover designer on cover designs and tweaks in the fall. The Amazon Kindle eBook cover is done. But oh so tiny tweaks remain on the paperback version. So close, so close.

An therefore, I’m proud to be a 1%er. Soon I’ll be a zero.

The Back Cover Blurb

Two weeks, that’s all I had. Sent to be a delegate the votes could wait, but Atlanta wouldn’t. I became part prophet, part tourist with a splash of barbeque and Hollywood to boot. Southern hospitality ruled strong, yet tears rolled down my cheeks. I crooned in the life of luxury, but this led to a paradox.

noteToSelfSmallCoverDpurpleBrowsing the streets were a cast of humanity – the Georgia Peach, an officer of the law, and a soccer fanatic. They came to where dreams come true. And they all had one thing in common, they talked to me. It didn’t stop with them; an owner’s daughter speaks, Naughty girl met denial, Duckman swallowed, and Abe Lincoln said let’s make a deal. All in a days work.

Sherman started his famous March to the Sea in Atlanta. Here, in this travel memoir, Mr. Y. makes his own March to Atlanta. It’s where moral conflict broods and serendipity percolates from irrevocable moments. In the here and now Ghandi stands with Martin Luther King. The past becomes the present and the present fades to the past.

Note to Self: Stream of Consciousness

Yes, this is the title of my new upcoming book. But I get questions on how I got the name, so here goes. My book is a travel memoir that centers around a two week period in Atlanta. I was sent there as a delegate to the world’s largest deliberative democratic body. But so much more happened. I connected the dots when my past bumped into the present. Sports, Civil Rights, barbeque, Southern hosp

noteToSelfSuperSmallCoveritality, even traffic jams, all collided at the same time. And don’t forget Coca-Cola.

I knew when I went there I was going to write a book, so I chugged along my laptop. Every night I typed notes to myself about the people and events of the day. Frequently I would add little notes to myself so I’d remember something I’d want to remember (note to self: blah, blah, blah). Thus the title of my book.

Just this last summer I visited my friend, Lisa Ocone, down in Houston, Texas. She dragged me to a writers group that met at Lone Star College in Cypress, Texas, a northwest subdivision of Houston. At this group I gave each member a copy of the first 7 pages of my book and read those out loud and they each gave me their feedback.

Dan, a lawyer who headed the group, commented, “I’m down with your stream of consciousness writing method.” Well, he seemed to like my style and what he read. That stuck in my mind. So when it came time to create a subtitle this fit the nature of it better than anything I could think of. Thus the subtitle. So there you have it.

Amazon Smashwords Createspace

What these three have in common is that I have to create a book format for each of these platforms. Amazon, of course, is for the ebook Kindle version. Smashwords has ebook distribution deals with something like thirty retailers such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, etc. And Createspace, owned by Amazon, is for the paperback version.

I went through the grueling process before, and each platform is unique to itself. For Amazon I have to convert my book to an html file. Fortunately for me I know html code. So I’m able to create the CSS stylesheet, plug in my html tags like <p> and <i> and such. But doing this is a grueling process. Thank you Lord for Regular Expressions. Now mind you, I know very little about using Regular Expressions, but I was able to garner enough off the internet to put this feature to use. In simple terms, I used Regular Expressions to search for the start of every paragraph and to automatically plop a <p> there. <p> is html code for start a paragraph. Using the code isn’t too hard in an of itself, but having scour a 250 page document and get all those little tags in the right place is time-consuming. Except Regular Expressions make this soooo much easier.

So having been through the fire once before with my first nonfiction book Curveballs: Sweet & Smokey Down The Barbeque Trail, which took weeks, the process this time around for my 2nd nonfiction book, Note To Self: The Story of My Atlanta Scream, Holler, and Stomp, is much, much easier. To the tune of days rather than weeks.

For Smashwords they want a Microsoft Word document. Not too hard in and of itself, except they have a stringent set of rules that must be adhered to. Don’t follow the rules to a tee and their MeatGrinder program spits you out like bad spinach. And the the error codes are cryptic at best. Fortunately they provide lots of documentation and examples of how to do it. But the documentation can be overwhelming. But when all is said is done what the require isn’t that much, but it takes a lot to get to the point of figuring out that what they want isn’t that much.  But once my document makes through their Meatgrinder they do the rest, converting it into ebook formats for each retailer and then distributing those ebooks to them. No fuss, no muss. And the beauty is that if I have to make an editing change I simple make the changes I want to my single document, resubmit to Smashwords, and they take it from there. So in that regard it is truly one stop shopping.

And finally, for Createspace, I have to create a PDF document formatted to their specifications. Again, I have to follow their rules, which aren’t overwhelming, and they provide lots of templates to just plug and play. But again, the first time through the process is painstaking for even though they do their best to make it simple, it is still a process. But the end result looks spiffy. And making changes are easy, although their process is a bit on the clunky side, but that’s the way it goes.

As I said before, I’ve been through this process before with my first book. From that I have access to templates and tricks and shortcuts that has cut my time down from a head scratching weeks to a more than bearable days. Not bad.

My 2nd book, when?

Now that I’ve revealed the name of my 2nd nonfiction book, Note To Self: The Story of My Atlanta Scream, Holler, and Stomp, I’ve started the arduous formatting process. Since I self-publish my own books I do everything, and that includes formatting.

The bad news is that it is a precise, painstaking process. The good news is that since I’ve already gone through the process with my first book, Curveballs: Sweet & Smokey Down The Barbeque Trail, it isn’t as arduous as if I’d never gone through it before.

But here’s the kicker. I’ve edited and proofread my book a bazillion times…and I still find little errors here and there. Arrggghh! But the show must go on. So I’ll continue to format my book until I have it just right, and then go through and proof read it again.

Believe it or not I’ve made good progress. And just the other day the neighbor lady yelled, “When is your book coming out on Amazon?” I couldn’t answer her because I don’t know. I’m supposed to have a precise date to tell everyone, that’s what the big boys do. But I don’t.

My reasons center on all the little things that crop up when self-publishing, and I haven’t even talked to my graphic designer about a cover yet. Yikes! So my plan is to get everything in order, and then and only then will I have an idea about a firm release date. Besides, once I get it ready I gotta tell the world, right?

And so it is.

the inside scoop on Old Southern BBQ and Famous Dave’s

I recently chowed down on a half slab of ribs at Old Southern BBQ at 44th and France in Edina, Minnesota with my friend Tom, A.K.A. Talking Tom. As usual we chatted about many things while slugging down those ribs. From work to tennis to Simon Greenleaf (the famous Harvard Law Professor) to ribs to Famous Dave’s.

I had visited here about 2 weeks ago and learned that Dave Anderson, of Famous Dave’s fame had a hand in this, that this restaurant was the 4th to open and was a subset of Famous Dave’s. Or so I thought.

It had been my understanding that Famous Dave wanted to try some new recipes and along with a desire to offer fast casual restaurant service, as that is today’s trend. So under the Famous Dave’s umbrella the Famous Dave’s chain opened up their first Old Southern BBQ restaurant in Hayward, Wisconsin in 2015 (it says so on the wall). And added two more in the Wisconsin area before opening up their fourth in Edina, Minnesota, the one myself and Talking Tom were eating at. It should be noted that the original Famous Dave’s restaurant also opened up in Hayward, Wisconsin, those years.

I noted to Tom how the ribs I had a week earlier were a more brown muddy color and fall off the bone, as in fall off the bone. At that time, internally, sprouting from my own internal thought process I had declared them to be on par to Mark’s Feed Store in Louisville, Kentucky. And if you’ve read my posts or my book, Curveballs: Sweet & Smokey Down The Barbeque Trail, you know they are at the top of my list.

The ribs today were a little different, and closer to what I might get at Famous Dave’s, which made sense since this was an offshoot of them. So I thought. Tom and I talked about this, the differences between Famous Dave’s and Old Southern BBQ. We dissected the ribs, muffins, beans, mashed potatoes, potato salad, and rice too!

Here at Old Southern BBQ the muffins are muffin tops, i.e., just the tops of the muffins. Interesting, I thought, and rather ingenious, and soooo good. Tom didn’t like the rice, and he gave a slight edge to Famous Dave’s because he like their sides a little better. That’s one consistent feature of Famous Dave’s. Their sides rock! Those muffins the serve are beyond delicious, and their beans and corn and potato salad and coleslaw, oh my goodness.

But here at Old Southern BBQ those sides were of the utmost quality, but a bit different than at Famous Dave’s, which made sense given the goals of Old Southern BBQ to be different than Famous Dave’s. All of this led Talking Tom and myself to ask the waitress in curiosity about the history of Old Southern BBQ and the differences between them and Famous Dave’s.

Her words jumped and contained great enthusiasm. And this is what we learned. Famous Dave, as in Dave Anderson, has nothing to do with Famous Dave’s anymore. He owned just one Famous Dave’s Restaurant, and that burned down. He wanted to get skin in the game so decided to open up a restaurant based on his own childhood recipes. And thus, Old Southern BBQ was born. It’s there goal to experiment, why may explain why the ribs I tasted a week ago were a bit different than now, and I love the idea of trying new ideas and recipes.

Tell me that ain’t the greatest muffin ever. Look at ’em. We dove into the finer details of those muffin tops and agreed that a lot of people only really eat the top, that’s the best tasting, gooey, bendable, crunchy part of the muffin. I routinely eat only the tops of muffins, and cake and cupcakes too. I rip off the part with the frosting and gulp them down. Same with muffins. This got to the heart of the thinking of Old Southern BBQ.

I love that at Old Southern BBQ they are experimenting, and that Famous Dave himself is getting skin back in the game, and he’s coming with all 8 cylinders firing. It’s a win Talking Tom and Me, and you too…for all of us. Go get ’em tiger!