Tag Archives: Kindle

My Favourite Bits…Nabatea

Due to the difficulty of finding excerpts that don’t give too much away, I’m only going to post one favourite bit from Nabatea, and this is it:

The control room of the Innerscape facility was hushed as all eyes watched the numbers counting down on the wrap-around wall monitors.

“Any second now,” the duty tech said softly.

Standing right behind the tech, Phil Jacobs could see for himself that Alex Tang, murdered two days before by Kenneth Wu, was finally breathing his last.

The AI and specialist medical teams had done their best, but the outcome had never really been in doubt. It had simply been a matter of time. Now, all the monitors focused on Alex Tang’s vital statistics told the same story – he had put up a heroic fight, but the battle was almost over.

Relief and sadness jostled for position in Phil’s mind as he stared at the heart monitor.

“Flatline,” the duty tech said, his voice almost drowned out by the bleep of the alarm.

The heart monitor was joined a moment later by the Brain Interface Monitor.

Patting the tech on the shoulder, Phil signalled for the alarms to be turned off. In the sudden silence, the voice of the AI seemed unnecessarily loud as it confirmed brain death at 1:46 pm, Sunday the 25th of December, 2101.

Merry Christmas, Phil thought as he affixed his biometric signature to the death certificate.

“Inform the police forensic team that death is confirmed.”

“Yes, sir.”

Glancing up at the wraparound screen, Phil watched as the yellow-clad technicians waiting in the Catacombs sprang into action. They, too, had been waiting for Alex Tang to die, and now that he was gone, they were free to take possession of his containment unit…with him still in it.

Once the unit was disconnected, the forensic team would put it inside one of their huge Hospice trucks and take it away for examination.

“I don’t get it,” the duty tech said as he watched the frenzied activity on the central monitor. “Why all the portable batteries? It’s not as if they need to keep him alive during transit. And why take his AI as well?”

“They probably don’t want to miss anything,” Phil replied, his tone bleak.

“But we already know how he died.”

“No one’s ever been murdered by the common cold before,” Phil replied, his eyes never leaving the monitor. “So this is all new territory. And they don’t trust our systems.”

In fact, the police had found a great deal not to trust, from Innerscape’s reliance on the AI to Phil’s own handling of security.

Dr Jacobs, can you explain why you didn’t revoke Dr Wu’s permissions when he left Innerscape?”

Just thinking of that interview made Phil’s ears burn hot. He had been forced to explain that, as Kenneth had not, technically, been fired, he could not, technically, have his permissions revoked. It had even, technically, been true as the AI did assign security permissions automatically, based on the employee’s position in the company.

What Phil had left unsaid was that those permissions could have been changed manually, using the CEO’s executive override, had anyone foreseen the need to do so. But no one had.

Least of all me, he thought as he forced his eyes away from the monitors. If he had, Alex Tang might still be alive. But then again, who could have guessed that Kenneth Wu would turn rogue?

For those who have never read any of Innerscape, each patient’s body is kept in a containment unit, about the size of a large coffin. Each containment unit has its own AI whose job it is to keep the body alive and functioning. Once the patient is in the containment unit, nothing is allowed to enter the sealed internal environment because even a breath of outside air could introduce a virus or bacteria. Nothing deadly. Just the common cold. Opening the door to the containment unit is a death sentence.

Why did I choose this short excerpt from the very start of book 3? Because every time I read it, I’m surprised that I wrote it.

Since publishing Vokhtah in 2013, I’ve become a lot more comfortable calling myself a writer, but there are times when I still feel like a bit of a fraud. Me? A writer? Yeah, right. But when I read this bit I feel as if yes, maybe I do deserve that title after all.

I really like the epilogue as well, but I can’t tell you about that, or about Kenneth’s grandmother, or the scent of lemon, or sensory deprivation, or a host of other things. All I can do is hope that you take a chance and read Nabatea for yourselves on February 16th when it begins its five days of free on Amazon.

cheers
Meeks


My Favourite Bits…The Godsend [3]

To be quite blunt, I believe that digital innovation will be driven by three things: porn, gaming and medicine. Internet porn is already a huge industry, and so are MMO’s – massively multiplayer online games. Medicine will be the last of the triumvirate to arrive, but it will come because escaping from the real world has been a part of our DNA since early humans painted their hopes and dreams on the walls of caves.

I introduced gaming with Jaimie Watson, and the idea of gaming+porn with Leon in book 1 [Miira], but the focus remained on the purely digital world of Innerscape. In The Godsend, the gaming world of the Shogunate becomes the focus because that is where pure digital and real world escapism intersect for Miira and Jaimie.

The following is a scene that most gamers will recognize. In deference to non-gamers, I’ve kept it very short. lol

Feral Cat Whiskers And Other Junk

“I still don’t see why we have to kill all this low level junk,” Miira grumbled as she despatched her ninth wild dog. “I mean, did they even have wild dogs back then?”

“Yes, they did. Now stop complaining and hurry up,” Jaimie said. “I’m up to fifteen already.”

Miira glared at her partner but kept her mouth shut as she turned and shot an arrow at the next wild dog. Ten.

She and Jaimie had been killing low level vermin for hours, and she was bored to tears. Jaimie, however, was adamant, insisting that building their reputations with the villagers was more important than anything else.

When Miira asked why, Jaimie had simply said that a high reputation would stand them in good stead later, when they went up against bands of enemy players. Just exactly how this was supposed to work, though, he did not say.

fifteen

Given Jaimie’s knowledge of the game, Miira could not argue with his strategy, but that did not stop her from wishing she was elsewhere, doing something a bit more interesting.

Watching grass grow would be more interesting, she thought as she dispatched yet another wild dog.

“Twenty!” Jaimie announced with satisfaction. “You almost done?”

“Four more to go,” Miira said with a sigh. So far, the day’s total of useless quest items included 46 wild dog pelts, 90 rodent tails and 20 feral cat whiskers…

I’ve included this short scene amongst my Favourite Bits because ‘the grind’ – the time consuming, mindless repetition of pointless actions – has been a part of every single game* I have ever played, and I suspect it will be part of every game I play in the future. The grind also features in every LitRPG story I have ever read, so this scene is a nod to both.

For those who have never stumbled across the category of LitRPG on Amazon, it’s a subgenre of fiction based on the idea of a gamer, or a whole group of gamers, suddenly finding themselves ‘living’ in the game world. This always involves full sensory immersion – i.e. the game suddenly feels completely real – and the plot revolves around a) surviving in a game that can now kill you, and b) discovering how and why the game has become real. 

Some LitRPG is really awful because the grind is described in excruciating detail, as is the process of ranking up. At the other end of the scale, however, I’ve read LitRPG that made me want to live in that world. [see Forever Fantasy Online by Rachel Aaron or Ready Player One by Ernest Cline].

Innerscape is not LitRPG, but as a gamer, know what it feels like to become so immersed in a game that it starts to feel real…even in 2D. That feeling led me to ask ‘what would it take to make a digital world feel real?’ The answer became Innerscape.

And now, because this is supposed to be a marketing post, here’s the punchline:

The Godsend, book 2 of Innerscape, will be free on Amazon when the clock ticks around to February 2, 2021 in the US. For those of us in Australia, that’s at about 5pm today [Melbourne time]. The Godsend will remain free for five days, and then it will revert to the special promotion price of $1 until the last book comes off free on April 3, 2021. At that time all six books will revert to their pre-promotion pricing.

My aim with this long promotion is to force myself to do some marketing, give you some freebies, and help Miira and Vokhtah reach the magic 20 review mark [both are on 19 at the moment]. If you know anyone who enjoys scifi and wants some free books, please point them towards mine! Reviews are not necessary, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want some! Of course I do, but only if my stories have managed to help people escape the mundane for a little while.

Okay, that’s it. -breathes a sigh of relief-

Thanks for sticking with me,

cheers
Meeks

…*… If anyone is interested in the gaming side of things, you can find my gaming posts on the sidebar, under the category ‘Games for big kids’.

 


Recommend an Indie…PLEASE!

desperate-reader-in-need

I’ve reached a point in my writing where I’m stuck. It happens. So what do you do when your writing is stuck? You read, of course. But who in hell can afford $10 USD for an ebook?

I read 99.9% Indie only and noticed a price hike from $3.99 to around $5.99 USD a while ago, but suddenly this morning, I discovered that a great long list of Indie authors are pricing their books around the $10 mark. Given that I’d already bought most of their books at the ‘normal’ Indie price, I was shocked at the sudden leap.

After rejecting book after book because it was simply too expensive, I finally thought to look at the book details and…doh. Without fail, these previously Indie authors are now ‘published’ by a company.

Indie to traditionally published… I understand. No matter how much we may extol the virtues of being an Indie – creative freedom, product control, more money – a part of every author wants to be traditionally published. Why? Because of the validation.

We still think that traditional publishers are the doyens of good taste and literary value, the way they used to be before publishing became a big business like any other. Even those who know that’s not true succumb to the siren song of validation.

I get that. What makes me furious is that these publishers are reaping the benefits of ebook sales without having done any of the work. And it’s loyal readers like me who suffer because we cannot afford to spend that much money on ebooks. Or any books for that matter. Not when we often read two books a week.

I’m also angry at the fact that it’s the pandemic that’s brought about this price grab by publishers. They can’t get their ‘normal’ books out there because most bookshops and retail outlets are closed, so they hoover up ebooks that cost them next to nothing, and suddenly they have a cash flow again.

The third thing that makes me spitting mad is that these previously Indie authors who had it all – money coming in, fans by the thousand, control of their art and their future – have probably signed away their copyright for ‘life plus 70 years’.

What happens when this pandemic finally ends, and most of them become the equivalent of midlist authors? Will the publishing companies be grateful that these authors gave them a cashflow for next to nothing? Or will they consign them to publishing limbo as they did with a previous generation of midlist authors?

Okay, I tell a lie. I do not care what happens to these authors. I care about me and readers like me. So…having struck a heap of authors off my to-be-read list, I’m asking you guys for recommendations, but true Indies only, please!

I love scifi, first and foremost, then fantasy, then thrillers, and murder mysteries. Can you recommend a good Indie for me to read? Someone who doesn’t charge $10 for an ebook?

As a reader, I’m loyal, and if I like the author, I will read everything he or she has ever written. My Kindle is testament to that.

Thanks to recommendations and reviews by D.Wallace Peach and Indies Unlimited I have two Indie books to keep me going. They are:

  • Voyage of the Lanternfish, by C.S. Boyack
  • A Woman Misunderstood, by Melinda Clayton

I read one of Melinda Clayton’s book some time ago [psychological thriller ], and I read C.S. Boyack’s, ‘Serang’ just recently, so I know both writers are great value. But I need more, so please tell me about your favourite Indies in the comments.

Signed:

desperate-reader-in-need


Faces, then and now

My how time flies…

Back in May, 2015, I wrote a post about faces which included photos of real people who reminded me of Miira Tahn and Kenneth Wu, two of the main characters of the story I was writing. Then, late last year [2019] I discovered Plotagon and learned how to create animated cartoon characters for a different kind of storytelling.

These are some of the faces from Innerscape, then and now:

At the top, Miira as she might have been in real life. Below, Miira in Innerscape.
On the left, Kenneth Wu as he would have appeared in the real world. On the right, his avatar in Innerscape.

I haven’t found photos for the rest of the characters in the trilogy, but here are some Plotagon versions:

Emily Watson and her son, Jaimie.
Alex Tang and the Woman in Red

And last, but not least, Charles McGragh and Peter McAlister, both of whom work for the Innerscape corporation:

If any of you come across a real face that you think might suit one of these Plotagon cartoons, please let me know!

And now a reminder – the Innerscape Omnibus is still free and will remain so until midnight April 24, in the northern hemisphere.

If you’re as timezone challenged as me, you can look up the time conversion here: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html?iso=20200425T065900&p1=234&p2=152

To start, type in the name of the first city. I chose Seattle because that’s where Amazon is located.

Next, choose your own city. For me that was Melbourne, Australia.

The converter will now show you the current time in both cities. To work out what the time will be when the free period ends, click on the date in Seattle and change it to April 24. Next, click on the time and change that to 23:59 – i.e. one minute to midnight.

The timezone converter will now show you precisely when the promotion will end in your part of the world. For Australians along the east coast it will be at… :

…4.59 pm, Saturday April the 25th, 2020.

lol – you’re welcome. 🙂

Meeks


The Omnibus is FREE!

I’m pleased to announce that the Innerscape Omnibus is now live on Amazon and free for the next five days. The last free day will be the 24th of April, 2020.

To download your free copy of the Omnibus, click the link below:

Or click ‘Amazon’, on the sidebar to the right ….>>>>>
Both links will take you to the Omnibus page on Amazon.com.

I hope you enjoy the story and escape the real world for a while. 🙂

Stay well,

Meeks


Five Free Days on the Kindle

Starting Monday the 20th of April, the Innerscape Omnibus will be free on Amazon. The free period ends on April the 24th, so expect to be annoyed with constant reminders until them. 🙂

Please share with anyone who’s stuck at home and likes sci-fi. And reading, of course! At almost 1000 pages, the Omnibus should keep all but the fastest readers occupied for quite a while.

At this point, I’m thinking of unpublishing the Omnibus once the 90 day KDP exclusive period is over, so please grab a free copy on Monday! Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday…

cheers
Meeks


The Taming of the Blurb!

In my last post I sent out a call for help, and my wonderful online friends answered.

This is the ‘before’ blurb:

‘Innerscape is marketed as a digital paradise where the terminally ill live out their lives in young, pain free bodies indistinguishable from the real thing. But Miira Tahn, last Lady of Dhurai, soon discovers that all is not well in paradise; an assassin is stalking the Burning Man, and nothing is what it seems. Together with friends, Kenneth Wu and Jaimie Watson, Miira becomes embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse where losing means death. Only by fighting back can she save herself, and those she loves.’

This is the ‘after’ blurb that will accompany the Omnibus onto the Kindle:

Innerscape: a virtual paradise where the terminally ill live out their lives in young, pain free bodies.
But Miira Tahn discovers paradise is an illusion.
An assassin stalks the Burning Man.
Lies masquerade as truth.
Together with her friends, Miira plunges into a deadly game of cat and mouse.
If she loses, she loses everything.
Her life – Those she loves – All of Innerscape.

So much better. 😀

My thanks to Yorgos, Dawn, Carol, Audrey, Cage, Elizabeth, Chris J and Chris G. You turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse. I love you all. 🙂

Meeks


Poor sleep is NOT inevitable [with ageing]

I’ve been a night owl for most of my life, but once asleep, I’d sleep for a solid eight hours and wake refreshed. In recent years, however, my sleep has become progressively worse, with eight hours becoming six and much of that ‘broken’.

Me…without the spots

I thought, “Well, I am in my sixties…”

That resigned thought joined a host of others as more physical niggles set in. Arthritis in my big toes? Check. The beginnings of arthritis in my right thumb? Check. Deteriorating eyesight? Check. Reduced energy? Check. Reduced ability to think? Kinda. I can still do mental gymnastics first thing in the morning, but by late afternoon my mind and body cries out for a nana nap… -sigh-

I solved the problem of the arthritis [at least for now] by eating a bowl of Morello cherries with plain yoghurt for breakfast every day. The Morello cherries [also called ‘black cherries’] contain ‘…anthocyanins – plant pigments that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The Morello cherries don’t cure the arthritis, they simply reduce the inflammation. And they do it without destroying the lining of your stomach like most chemical anti-inflammatories. Most importantly, they will keep you pain free if you keep eating them. Plus they are delicious.

I owe the late Bob Hawke for the tip about the Morello cherries. And no, I’ve never had a direct line to Bob Hawke. 🙂 Like many others, I  watched an interview in which he mentions that he controls his arthritis with Black Cherries. I did my research and discovered that Black Cherries = Morello Cherries and they really do work.

[Note: you can find Morello Cherries in glass jars at most Coles, Woolworths and IGA supermarkets. The cost is about $4 per jar.]

The eyesight is still a problem as I need three hands and a strong magnifying glass to thread a needle…BUT, I think I’ve solved the sleep, energy and brain power problems. And they all boil down to one thing – avoiding ‘blue light’ for a couple of hours before bed!

“Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.”

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

If you go to the Harvard Health website [see link above] you’ll see a picture of someone lying in bed, reading from an electronic device. That used to be me. I’d hop into bed, get comfy, turn on my Kindle Fire and read for half an hour or so.

Reading in bed is a habit I’ve followed since I was about eight years old. It never occurred to me that changing my reading material from books to the Fire would have any negative effects. After all, I’d spent years reading my ordinary Kindle without any ill effects. Trouble is, I didn’t realise that the Kindle Fire screen is back lit with blue light while the ordinary Kindle has no back lighting.

I’d still be struggling with poor sleep, and all the ills that flow from it if not for Navigator, an online friend with life long sleep problems. His problems are slowly disappearing thanks to a simple change of routine and some Melatonin tablets. I figured if the ‘cure’ works for him, it might work for me too. I don’t take the Melatonin [yet], but I have been turning off the pc, a bit earlier and reading an old fashioned book for the last couple of weeks. And it’s working. Honest!

My next step will be to get a special filter for my pc. Apparently you can set it to change the backlighting from blue to a kind of sepia at sundown. You can also get prescription glasses made up with an inbuilt blue light filter, but as you’d expect, they’re kind of expensive.

Anyway, if poor sleep is something you’ve been living with for a while, try to reduce the amount of blue light from electronic devices, especially in the evening. You may find that poor sleep is not a function of your age at all.

Cheers

Meeks


2 free days for the KDP how-to books

I should probably stretch these promotions out but…meh, let’s have some fun. 🙂

Okay, from October 23 to 24 [2 days], the ebook version of How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing and How to Print Non-Fiction with Kindle Direct Publishing will be free on Amazon:

The difference between the two books is that the How to…Novel is pitched at absolute beginners while the How to Non-Fiction is for self-publishers who have to deal with lots of graphics. Oh and the How to Non-Fiction has a new Index of Links at the very back. You can find it by looking at the bottom of the Table of Contents.

If you’re just interested in the KDP side of the equation, both books cover the same information. This includes three appendices that contain information specifically for Aussie authors.

Both how-to books are in colour and fixed layout:

Although you can pinch-and-zoom with fixed format ebooks, you can’t change the font size to suit your comfort zone. That’s why I made the font size 24. On my Kindle Fire, that size is like a normal size 12 font in a paperback. I also made the pictures as ‘visible’ as possible so you wouldn’t have to keep zooming in and out all the time. I haven’t tried either book on a phone so if anyone gives it a try I’d love to know how well [or badly] it works.

Fixed format ebooks can only be read on one of the Kindle Fires or via the free Kindle app.  You can get the app. for a variety of devices at this web address:

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/fd/kcp

The free promotion should start at midnight tomorrow for the Northern hemisphere. For us Aussies, it will begin at about 6 pm tomorrow.  I genuinely hope lots of people download the books, and I would really, really appreciate the odd review. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Any Kindle Fire 7, 8 or 10 owners out there?

I would like to gift a copy of How to Print your Novel with CreateSpace [Kindle version] in exchange for a photo of :

a) What the Table of Contents looks like, and

b) What any page looks like on the larger Kindle screens.

One reason for this odd request is that I’ve tweaked the Table of Contents, but I can’t see if the indents worked because Amazon won’t let me buy another for myself [it knows I’ve already bought the pre-tweaked version]. I know it’s just being ‘helpful’ but….grrr.

The other reason is that I’ve only just realised that what looks perfect on the Fire 6 may look anything but perfect on different sized Kindle Fires.

So…would some kind soul with a Kindle Fire 7, 8, and/or 10 help me out?

Absolutely no obligation to read it. Just take a couple of photos….

 

cheers

Meeks


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