Paginations

Could I have written 3 additional novels last year instead of tweeting?

This morning, I noticed that I sent my 19,000th tweet, which is honestly an absurd number when I think about it. Nineteen thousand tweets, in just over a year on Twitter? Seriously? What the hell have I been blabbering (and probably annoying people) about?

How much time have I spent “writing” on Twitter that perhaps could have been used more wisely? Let’s break it down (for my own rationalization, of course).

• I first became “active” on Twitter in January 2011; call it 14 months ago.

• According to the Oxford University Press, the average tweet is 14.98 words (call it 15).

• According to Publisher’s Weekly, the average (median, actually) length of a novel is around 65,000 words.

• I’ll estimate that 20% of my tweets are RTs, not original content.

Math: 

19,000 tweets x 80% (original tweets) = 15,200 tweets

15,200 x 15 (average word count of tweet) = 228,000 words

228,000 / 65,000 (median novel length) = 3.5 novels

Therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion* that I could have written three and a half additional novels in the 14 months I’ve been tweeting, by simply replacing tweets with sentences in a story.

I’ll never tweet again. Right after this one. Oh, and this one. And of course the kitteh one. And…

 

* OK, it’s not really a conclusion…just a bizarre comparison I thought of before my coffee hit.

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Excerpt from Gabriel’s Revenge – Shuttle Launch to Mars

Gabriel had just cinched his straps when the Marcinko’s engines ignited, pressing each of them back into their seats in the shuttle. He heard Olszewski mutter a curse from next to him. He looked over at the private with a raised eyebrow.

“Sorry, sir. I’m a ground pounder. I hate this shit. Necessary evil to get me where I need to go I guess, but doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

Gabriel turned back to the front of the shuttle. He stared past the pilot’s helmet and out the viewport, where he could see a sliver of starry space. The ventral bay doors had begun to open.

He closed his eyes and linked his neuretics in to the Marcinko’s battlecomp feed. He saw with some satisfaction the other five in his team all did the same. He knew some did it for the thrill of watching the battle unfold, some for the situational awareness. Whatever their reasons, he didn’t blame them. It wasn’t just a learning experience for him either. He wanted to see the enemy. And see them destroyed.

The specialist that had loaded them and their gear, Allen, was also their pilot. His hand flew over the switches mounted in front of him as he prepared the shuttle for launch.

“Sirs and ma’am, hold on,” Allen called out. “The captain’s got some rapid maneuvers planned, and we’re getting spit out in the middle of them. Hope no one ate lunch yet.”

“Keven?” It was Sowers’s voice.

“Zip it,” said Brevik. “Watch.”

Gabriel kept his eyes closed and let his Mindseye show him the situation.

The Marcinko went to full power and arced down towards Mars. Gabriel felt his chest squeezed by the G-forces and tried to control his breathing as he saw multicolored stars behind his eyelids. After a few seconds the heavy acceleration eased and the stars cleared, leaving him more able to focus on the Mindseye feed.

The battlecomp tagged the blockade fighter with a red icon. The projected path of the Marcinko was just outside of its orbit, but Gabriel saw the flight path of the shuttle, once launched, went almost directly through the red icon. He remembered McTiernan’s order to the tac officer to ‘remove it from the equation’, so he was not surprised when he heard the clank of the internal missile launcher falling into place in front of their shuttle.

The rotating launcher spat two Jayhawk missiles, then immediately swung back up to the ceiling of the docking bay. Another clank sounded throughout the cabin as the launch arm grabbed the shuttle and set it into position above the open ventral doors. The Marcinko began its release maneuver and Gabriel was pressed into his seat. With a loud hiss of hydraulics that could be heard even within the pressurized cabin, the shuttle fell from the docking bay, and he went weightless.

Gabriel’s Mindseye painted a vivid image of the scene around them: the Marcinko peeling away from their position, the two Jayhawks going hypersonic in front of them, and the dusty orange globe below them. The serene image lasted only a split second before Allen fired the shuttle engines and initiated the descent.

The picket fighter never stood a chance. It was only using station-keeping thrusters and apparently not expecting an attack, especially one that came from a hole in space. The Jayhawks were on it before it even had an opportunity to light its engine.

“Hold on!” yelled Allen. Gabriel opened his eyes to look out past the pilot. The explosion of the fighter loomed ahead and grew quickly in size as the shuttle accelerated towards Mars. A sound like nails on metal decking rattled through the cabin as the debris from the explosion peppered the hull of the shuttle.

“We’re clear!” The pilot turned to look over his shoulder. “Everyone A-OK?”

Gabriel saw Olszewski raise a thumb next to him, then heard a retching from Takahashi behind him. He ignored it — at this point he was used to it — and stared out of the pilot’s viewport.

Ahead of them lay Mars. And Renay.

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Gabriel Trilogy Week at Daily Kindle Bargains (no, that’s not an oxymoron)

If you’ve been holding off on e-book purchases, and are jonesin’ for some science fiction adventure, this might be a good week to skip the McDonald’s large coffee and grab one (or more) of the Gabriel trilogy. In conjunction with the respected Jeremy Shipp and his site Daily Kindle Bargains, each of the four books in the trilogy (no, that’s not an oxymoron either – there’s a compilation volume…) are at reduced promotional rates for Kindle this week.

Starting today, Gabriel’s Redemption has dropped to the absurd price of $.99*. Gabriel’s Return and Gabriel’s Revenge, books 2 & 3, dropped to $2.99, and the complete collection (Gabriel’s Journey) dropped to $6.99. Gabriel’s Redemption is featured at the Daily Kindle Bargains site Sunday & Monday; Gabriel’s Return Tuesday & Wednesday; Gabriel’s Revenge Thursday & Friday; and Gabriel’s Journey Saturday.

* Many of you may remember my pricing rant a while back about cheap ebooks, and I still stand firmly behind it. Books, even electronic ones, have a value associated with them, and under a buck is simply too low and cheapens the author’s work. However, pricing at $2.99 and up as I always do allows for limited time promotions…which is what this little foray  is. Limited time. And with $.99 books priced that way all the time, how can an author possibly put one “on sale?”

Actually it’s not just the $.99 that’s absurd…even the $2.99 ones stray into that “hey, that’s lower than a Burger King value meal!” territory, and the complete trilogy at seven bucks is over 230,000 words of scifi enjoyment for less than what it costs to drive into NYC through the Holland Tunnel.

Yes, I’m stretching for comparisons today…coffee hasn’t kicked in yet…

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Excerpt from Gabriel’s Revenge, Finale of Scifi Trilogy – Ambush on Mars

Gabriel could hear the thin Mars atmosphere whipping past his combat helmet’s visor. Visibility from a thousand yards altitude was excellent, enhanced by his helmet’s optics, but no matter how hard he stared, there was simply nothing to see. Even the approaching dust storm barely visible in the distance held no interest for him.

Ordinarily, a typical first-time visitor to Mars would gawk at the wide open plain and the terraced steppes of the northern rim of Valles Marineris, or marvel at the flashes of dirty gray water ice in the shade of some of the peaks, or point excitedly at the ancient dust-covered Russian and Japanese landers. But today, like yesterday, his mind was elsewhere.

The last time he had set foot on Mars was over a week ago, kissing Renay goodbye in the skyhook terminal. There was a young boy who had been hesitant to approach him, and he had won him over with a tiny gift of a patch. The image of Renay’s smile at that small action flashed across his mind, and he closed his eyes to the outside world.

The ache in his chest returned, a similar type of ache he had felt many years ago when he learned of his father’s death during the Dark Days. But there was something else there, something different from that feeling of despair he had borne for years. He knew Renay wasn’t dead. And he was going to find her.

The secure call he had just received from Major Andon had surprised him, but not completely. Now that he had specific information in hand, information he hoped he would have prior to arriving at Eos Chasma, he was feeling more confident in the plan he was formulating.

He gritted his teeth as for the first time, he regretted bringing his team. He opened his eyes and looked around at the battlesuited soldiers arranged around the perimeter of the hopper’s platform. They stared back, though he knew they weren’t seeing him, that it was just an illusion brought on by his regret. He was sure they were looking at their HUDs, or going through their individual battle preps, or in the case of Brevik, maybe napping. They put their full trust in him, as they had for months now, and they followed him unquestioningly. Even now, with an unspoken plan of attack many outsiders would consider seat-of-the-pants, they were here.

He pushed down the regret. He brought up the schematic Andon had sent him, and he felt his lips tighten into a grim smile. Now we have a target.

The engines’ scream changed pitch as Ky delicately balanced the hopper on four tongues of flame and began their descent. Gabriel closed his eyes again, thinking back to some of Tomas Katoa’s final words on Eden. “Joining my friends in the SAR,” he had said. “They’ve got larger plans.” He clenched his armored fist hard enough that it crumpled the hopper’s safety railing he leaned against. They were behind all of this, he thought.

“Commander I’ve got… I don’t really know what I’ve got.”

Takahashi’s voice over the team net snapped Gabriel’s eyes open. He immediately linked into Takahashi’s sensors and put the image on his helmet’s HUD. The marker showing the research outpost was circled in blue, and a tiny red icon had just popped up adjacent to it. His neuretics instantly tagged it as a threat and his linked Otero systems spun up to full readiness.

“Hang on, we’ve got…” His voice was cut off in a roar of high explosive.

***

GABRIEL’S REVENGE is Book 3 of the top-rated science fiction/adventure Gabriel trilogy. Enjoy the scene, like the genre? All three are available for all major ebook platforms, and now paperback: http://steveumstead.com/my-books/

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My thoughts on a lost era: Encyclopedia Britannica to stop printing books

Wow. I read this headline yesterday while taking my daily CNN.com cruise (I do have to see just how the silly GOP primary season is going, after all – it’s like a slow-moving train wreck, and I just can’t look away…) and stopped short. As crazy as it sounds, I had this massive flashback. Me, sitting in the closet of my mother’s dressing room, around the age of six or seven, reading our set of Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover for weeks on end.

My parents were one of those hundreds of thousands who purchased the full set – the type of set many of you may remember, where a volume arrived very few weeks or so until the A to Z collection was complete. I read them like a fat kid ate cake. Couldn’t get enough of them. When I got to the end of the Z volume, I went back to A. Still to this day, I attribute a lot of where I am today to reading those voraciously as a young child. As a parent myself, I knew that THE most important thing I could teach my children was to read, and to constantly encourage them to read.

It’s a different world now, obviously. I’m totally on board with digital editions of books – have been for quite some time. I’m not one of those married to the “feel” or “smell” of books, and I would definitely rather read ebook than paper, but…man, this hit me. The knowledge of the world is available in seconds online, yet there’s just something about that memory, me holding a flashlight a cracking open the next exciting letter volume, that made me stop and think.

In all likelihood, that’s an era that will never be experienced again – a 244 year history of printed encyclopedias has come to an end. Kids won’t wait anxiously for the encyclopedia salesman to drop off the next five pound book that they will crack (literally, as that crisp new spine cracks for the first time) and hide in the closet to read.

Kids today have access to infinitely more knowledge than at any time in human history, and even though I don’t pine for the days of horse & buggy, or telegraphs, or oil lamps, I have to look upon this news with just a touch of sadness.

Last night I ordered the hardcover versions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy for my 11 year old son. I have the electronic versions for his Kobo, but something just made me want to give him that crack of the spine.

Love to hear your thoughts or memories…

 

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Gabriel covers getting a tweak – take a peek (hey look, my first foray into poetry!)

UPDATE 3/11: Yep, that didn’t last long. Made a couple extra tweaks: changed the font, gave it a slight inset as opposed to an emboss, moved the subtext up. So now I have before, after, and after-after. Hopefully I’m done…

I spent a few hours yesterday doing some tweaks to the Gabriel scifi series covers. Nothing with the images – I’d never touch the incredible original artwork from Josh Powers, but I wanted to clean up the font size/style/color a bit, perhaps give it more of a pop. I’m not usually a fan of serif fonts (especially for science fiction), but I used one in the original covers because I thought it looked decent…but my pseudo-ADHD kicked in recently and I wanted to modify it.

Below are the before & after shots of all four covers, now with sans serif fonts in a bolder, white style & color. They should be making their way downstream to Amazon, BN, et al within the next few days.

 

Thoughts?

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I got snookered…by a “free short story”

I just wrapped up a great read over the weekend (plug: Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell – muy excellente), and was in the mood for a quickie. Stop it…

No, a quick read. Nothing too deep; I’m in the midst of my own writing project, and it’s difficult for me to read and write at the same time (I’m always afraid of someone else’s style/technique/language seeping into my own). I opened up the BN store on my Nook, flipped through the scifi section, and found one by one of my favorite authors. I won’t name names here, since I’m annoyed by what happened, but he shares his first name with the original lead signer of Genesis, and last name with one of the Texas Rangers’ most powerful hitters. (Ready, set, Google!)

I downloaded it (freebie!), and it said 41 pages. Excellent, sounds like 20-30 minutes of relaxation. Starts off well, sounds like an interesting concept, then boom. I hit page 11 in about five minutes, and it’s over. And I’m not talking Nook pages vs. real world page count – this was page 11 out of 41. What happens on page 12? “Read further for sample chapters of [author’s name]’s new book.”

Yep – snookered. Thought I had a 41 page short story, and ended up with 30 pages of “samples” encouraging me to buy the next book. Hey, I totally understand marketing, and I can’t complain (too much) because the short story was free. And I have sample excerpts at the end of my books (though they are a minuscule percentage of the book content). But it just stuck in my craw* that this short story was nothing but a vehicle to sell other books.

* What exactly is a craw anyway?

This wasn’t written to entertain in my opinion, because after 11 pages there just isn’t enough to truly entertain – it did the opposite and annoyed me. It didn’t meet my expectations, and probably turned me off (for now) of buying that other book (I probably will later, because I love that author’s work, but if it were one I wasn’t familiar with? Not so sure).

If it was 11 pages and 1 page of “look what I have for sale”, fine. But for 75% of what I downloaded to be marketing material? Yeah, I feel snookered. I’m in the travel industry, and a lot of the hotels I visit have time share reps disguised as concierges or front desk staff. When I get caught up in a time share discussion when all I wanted was the restaurant opening/closing schedule, I feel snookered – just like I felt when I hit page 12.

Am I looking at this the wrong way? Should I just be happy with 11 pages of a short for free?

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Finally got some serious writing done..thanks to ignoring the Twittah

Very productive weekend on the super secret project. In and around 10k words written, which combined with some previous chicken scratch puts me approximately 15% into my target book length (and based on my outline sketch, that looks about right). It’s been quite a while since I was able to lay down some uninterrupted word count, and the main reason for this is my propensity to get sidetracked. I mean…ooh, squirrel!

via Dabbled.org

I made a conscious decision to NOT go on Twitter from the first seconds at the keyboard Saturday morning, until the first seconds this morning. I sent a tweet Saturday morning:

I think I’ll declare today #SilentSaturday (for me at least). Stepping away from my beloved Twitter and getting some actual *WRITING* done

And another Sunday*:

Yesterday’s no-Twitter #SilentSaturday worked out so well (over 6k written), I’m doing follow up:#SilentSunday. Bye Twitter, see you Monday

*Observant readers may point out that sending a tweet Sunday morning means I used Twitter during that 48 hour span, but I’m not counting that. And since this is my blog, nyah nyah nyah.

Twitter has been a godsend for relationships, help, support, and marketing. But it’s also been a time-suck at many points. I find myself typing a few lines in my WIP, sitting back to think about what comes next, and clicking over to Twitter. Big mistake. Putting it aside for two full days worked out better than I expected. And I didn’t even use my Sunday to its full potential (some family obligations).

Will I give up Twitter, the way I have Facebook? Probably not. That being said, I will most certainly do some non-Twitter days – well worth it.

Have you ever turned your back on Twitter? Could you?

 

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