Easter Sunday 2016 – And My Mirror Moment

Mar 27, 2016 by

Hoppy Easter Sunday, 2016. 

May you and your family find the rich blessings of our Lord in your world today.

Having A Kid Away At College During Holidays

I re-learned yesterday, when my twin 16-year-old daughters came over for an early Easter lunch, that holidays can be/are far different when you have your eldest 10 hours away at Auburn University. Empty spots at the table take some getting used to. Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 4.46.21 PM

I dressed up for the twins to come–usually I am dressed in a t-shirt and shorts so I don’t mess up clothes while cooking the proverbial fatted calf. Yesterday, it was a white dress shirt and a seasonally-appropriate green self-tied bow-tie with white polka dots. A picture has been included.

 

So much is in flux in my world as I sit here today sharing a few thoughts.

Sheered Great Pyrenee

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 9.46.23 AMA week and a half ago now I took Maycee, my 20-month-old Great Pyrenees to the groomers and had her winter coat shaved. Whew. No more hair all over the place, but she’s been needier than ever. Has even been sleeping in the bed with
me and she had stopped doing that about a year ago. Now, when I sit here at the desk trying to work, instead of sitting in the floor next to me, she’s rubbing up against me. In many ways, I feel like I have a two-year-old child with separation anxiety. I will be glad when she regains her self-confidence. I had no idea dogs could feel embarrassed, but it’s clear that’s what’s going on. One of my neighbors said, “You should know better than to mess with a woman’s hair. We take that seriously, you know.”  Lesson learned. But I’m not sure how to avoid it next year.

FileMaker Is Challenging My Left-Brain

I have spent hours upon hours the past few months learning the deeper levels necessary for the development of database projects in FileMaker Pro. By nature, God made me a writer, which means I do most of my work out of my proverbial right-brain. Left-brain work is not something I’ve ever been really good at but I am doing everything I can to use the other side of my smarts–heck, I’m 50, it’s about time, right?  Two significant development projects are underway. (And I just got bumped into by Maycee.)

J. Suzanne Frank

One of the smartest people I’ve ever come to know is J. Suzanne Frank, the director of Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path program.

In the past year and a half, I’ve been through all of the early portions of the program and have been under her instruction for at least half of it. Suzanne has written and had published EIGHT books. She knows her stuff and it is reflected by the results of the Writer’s Path program.

Having two completed manuscripts in hand, I’m now taking her special “Gap Year Revising” class where she is encouraging us to put our works through the wringer to get them into shape to be presented to agents and publishing houses in New York in November 2017. (I make mention of the date so as to emphasize to you that writing a book isn’t something one does in the space of a Hollywood movie and it gets sent to the first agent/publishing house, they love it, stop the presses, print it and then it’s on the shelves for everyone in the world to buy at Barnes & Noble in a few weeks.)

Friday, Suzanne circulated a post from another writer on non-rules to follow for budding writers. They’re pretty good and I’ve added the link here.

But last week’s revelation to us was something Suzanne calls “The Mirror Moment,” and her theory, which we’re validating in this week’s homework, is to find the point–typically EXACTLY mid-way through a published work of your choice, where a character is at a point where they can see they must make a change and can see what their life will look like if they don’t make one for the better.

It was a pretty stunning revelation to learn and while I’ve found it hard to find in other works this past week, I am finding it.

Emerging Butterfly

The past few years of my life I’ve been in something of a cocoon. Considerable learning with self-taught programs like Linda.com and several howScreen Shot 2016-03-27 at 9.47.45 AM-to books have vastly improved my skills as a graphic artist, video editor, digital book publisher, and ultimately, has moved me into the field of novel writing.

The agonies of the past few years have been many, but I’m seriously trying to turn a corner–I’m having my own mirror moments–and can see how I don’t want to live the last years of my life.

I won’t go into them now, they’re really still fleshing themselves out. It’d be like taking a butterfly out of its cocoon without letting it do all the exercises necessary for its wings to dry out and strengthen so it can fly on its own. Doing so kills a fledgling butterfly.

But the Mirror Moment is my life epiphany for the week, I suppose. Brought on by the teachings of again, one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. What changes MUST you make in your life to set it off in a better course than you’re heading on now? Words to ponder.

Hoppy Easter to one and all.

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The Print To eBook Conversion–A New Way To Look At ‘Books’

May 7, 2013 by

The Print To eBook Conversion–A New Way To Look At ‘Books’

At Claxton Creative here in Dallas, we’ve done a number of print to e-Book and iBooks Author-generated conversions and one thing becomes immediately clear throughout this process–the print to e-Book conversion process shouldn’t be a matter of just replacing the print copy into digitized form.  No, it should be much, much more.

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

eBook v. iBooks Author

On top of that, we take things a step further than most competitors we’ve seen online.  Yes, the EPUB formatted book can be read on many more devices than those built with iBooks Author, which only work on iPad and iPad mini.  However, the functionality of a book made with iBooks Author versus one in an EPUB 2.0.1 or even the “new” EPUB 3 format leave a world of difference in between.

We’d like to bang someone in the marketing department at Apple over the head for their lack in marketing the difference between the two. In the video below even, we’ve shown you the contrast between 3D imagery in an EPUB 3 book and that of Dr. Mark Van Stone’s 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya.  As we like to say, a book for iPad made with iBooks Author is like being in a museum where you’re supposed to touch everything.  Using 3D in an EPUB is like trying to play ping pong on a 1970s Atari on a black and white TV.  (Sorry Atari, but that’s pretty accurate. For clarification purposes, Atari was ahead of the time then.  EPUB 3 isn’t.)

Working With Print Authors

We often are approached by print authors who are ready to make a digital book and our first question to them is how much video do you want to add to your book?  We ask that knowing that our recommendation to them truly is going to be to make a book for iPad because the functionality, the file size, just the look is so much more alive and vivid than anything we have yet to see on a Kindle or Nook.  We have a potential client we’re trying to help understand this concept as she wants to do a series of YouTube videos and put them on a website for free. It’s our recommendation that instead they be added to a book for iPad because it will help make the book even more spectacular than what we already are talking about.

Besides, why give something away for free when there’s going to be high production costs and, more importantly, you can include it in your book for iPad and make some money back from it?!?!

Are You Wanting To Convert From Print to Digital?

If you’re ready to convert your book there are a series of questions you should be asking yourself.

  • What visuals can I add to my book to make it come alive?  This means video and still, hi-res pics.
  • Your book (for iPad) should include video. What videos could we shoot for your book to add a dimension that is presently missing?
  • What interactive charts or graphs would you like to include in your book that your printer said would cost too much to print and they didn’t want to expend the extra pages to include? We can do that on one page now, at a high resolution and they can be very cool.
  • What website pages would you like to have embedded in your book and let your readers visit without ever leaving your book?
  • If you could add digital magic to your book, what would you like to add?

If you know the answers to some or all of those questions, then we’d like to talk to you about making a book for iPad, and of course, doing an EPUB version.  Yes, more people will be able to get your book from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but the one they get off Apple’s iBookstore will be the one that will make most people’s mouth’s drop and want to know what you can do next.

Let’s talk.

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Apple iPad Mini Big Deal For Educational Publishers

Oct 18, 2012 by

As a publisher of multi-touch books for the iPad, the prospective release next week of the Apple iPad Mini is a big deal; particularly for those of us who see the potential for this incredible technology having a positive impact on education in America and around the world.  The iPad Mini, as it’s being unofficially called until it’s supposed announcement by Apple on Oct. 23, has the potential to expand the market reach into the educational arena.

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

And while some pundits are seeing this as a move by Apple to take on Amazon and it’s line of Kindles, such a viewpoint is really missing the bigger picture.

Essentially, this is a very strategic move to change how students of all ages learn around the world by making the platform to do it much more affordable. And while this may give Amazon a run, what it’s really going to do is make it easier to bring this technology to classrooms, which is where it trumps all the capabilities of the Kindle, Nook, Surface and  traditional textbook, and so much more.

The iPad Mini–The MacBook of iPads

Making the iPad Mini is much akin to Apple’s strategy for it’s laptop computers. There’s the MacBook and then there’s the newer, sleaker, faster, MacBook Pro, which constantly is updated, has the top of the line features and is the thing that everyone wants. The MacBook Pro has the retina screen. It has the fastest processors. It’s the newest technology packed into a laptop made by Apple and is supported by a HUGE R&D budget.

The MacBook is basically the technology of a few years ago wrapped in what used to be a white case. It’s not pushed for the latest developments. In a way, you could say it’s technology that’s already been amortized. In other words, it doesn’t cost a lot to produce this version of the product. All the R&D already has been spent on it (when it was in a MacBook Pro a few years before) and because there is no need to spend lots of resources keeping it up-to-date, it’s cheaper to produce and then sell at an ever increasing margin because it costs less and less by the day to manufacture and support it.

Without having seen an iPad Mini, it is assumed this is the same strategy that will be used to develop an iPad Mini. Already rumors abound that support this premise. The rumor mill has clearly been saying that the iPad Mini isn’t going to have a retina screen like the version 3 iPads that came out earlier this year. The screen will be smaller. The processors likely are going to be iPad 2ish in speed because that’s probably what’s going to make up the guts of the unit.

And because of all this, Apple is going to be able to sell them for a price point that starts lower than the iPad generation 3.  In other words, it is believed, and makes perfect sense, that the iPad Mini is about to become the MacBook of iPads.

HOW THIS HELPS PUBLIC EDUCATION

This is what is going to cause a boom in the field of educational technology. An old boss of mine and I were talking in June about what it would take to supply the 4 million public school students grades 3-12 in Texas with an iPad. At the $499 price point in a time of budget woes and the refusal to raise taxes of any form in Texas, that made the price tag almost seem ominous. And for the installation of an iPad into a public school classroom, a school district also has had to consider almost as much in costs for the infrastructure necessary to help them all talk to the Internet. That’s a steep price tag.

But what if the price of the units all of a sudden were significantly less and instead of running iPad 3 technology, there was a smaller unit available using a “MacBook” level of technology?

What if there was the iPad Mini?

This is how Apple makes it easier to expand the number of books, like the ones Claxton Creative, LLC makes with iBooks Author, into classrooms worldwide and do so at a much more cost-efficient rate for strapped school districts, while at the same time, making technology that isn’t available on the Kindle, Nook and one assumes, Microsoft Surface, available for broader use.

This means students will be able to use books that have 3-D images, muti-touch drawings and photos, hours of video files of real-life instructors teaching, in-chapter quizzes, etc., in short, things the competitive products CANNOT do, and they will be able to do it on a unit that doesn’t cost as much to produce, and doesn’t cost as much for school districts and parents to buy.

This means the opportunity exists to change how students learn because books made for the iPad also have the ability to ensure that a student has demonstrated proficiency in an area before being allowed to advance to a new area.  In a traditional school today, the idea is that a student’s knowledge base expands throughout the year and they learn a core competency and then move on to the next one. But what if that core isn’t really learned and understood by every student in the class? Does a teacher wait for those lagging behind to catch up and not keep advancing?

With the technology of the iPad, a student can be compelled to demonstrate their competency and understanding of a concept before being allowed to advance, thereby ensuring that learning has taken place. This can be done at a student’s own pace.  Remember, they can’t go on to the next thing until they’ve shown the iPad, and the teacher, they’re ready.  Now which system would you rather have your children learning with?

PUNDITS

So when you hear the pundits write/talk the next week or so about how this is a move to take on Amazon, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble in the sale of units, it’s only part of the picture.  Apple is after the education market where its competitors simply cannot play, and to us, that’s the most exciting thing about the iPad Mini.

 

 

 

 

 

MacBook v MacBook Pro

iBooks

Reduced Cost to Increase Role in Education

 

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