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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Books For iPad–Should We Even Be Calling Them “Books”

Nov 19, 2012 by

Books for iPad–Redefining the Word “Book”

Something needs to be done about what we call books for iPad.

Books For iPad--Should we even be calling them "Books?"

Books For iPad–Should we even be calling them “Books?”

Apple says, “iBooks should be used to refer only to the application and is always plural. Do not use the word iBook to refer to a publication or to the general category of ebooks. Instead, say your publication is a book available on the iBookstore.”

According to the Google Keyword Tool, the term “iBook” generates 1.22 million global monthly searches on the Internet. The term “iBooks” generates 1 million global monthly searches. To those who have signed end user licensing agreements, Apple says not to use “iBook” in marketing literature. But Web searchers are using it in their Google searches, so if you don’t use it on your Web pages, you’re reducing your chances for even being found via on-page content.

Not having an Apple-sanctioned, Apple-approved brand name for books for the iPad is hurting business for those in the publishing industry who focus on this type of book.

In my opinion, Apple needs to come up with a brand name we can use, or stop prohibiting publishers who have signed end user agreements with them from using iBook and iBooks without fear of retribution.

This Is Not My Grandma’s Louis L’Amour Type Of Book

This is not a book in the traditional sense. Yes, it’s got words in it and you can take a traditional book and put it into the software and ergo, it’s a book, but when was the last time you read a book with two hours of video in it?

We shouldn’t even be calling these creations “books.”

There should be some new term created for what these actually are because they’re not normal books.

Part of the frustration I have as a publisher and marketer of these books is that I call somebody and say, “Hey, I want to talk to you about the book we’ve made for the iPad.” What comes to their mind is the traditional book. They’re thinking about something you can thumb thru like a magazine.

“When I do interviews, if I can help it, I’m going to that station or I’m going to find that reporter so I can put an iPad in their hands and I’m going to say, ‘Here is my book. Here is what it can do. And here, let me show you the Rio Azul Mask in 3D where you can turn it.  Here, not me, you, turn it.’ And when you do that, their eyeballs pop. And it’s magic and they’re going, ‘Holy Cow!’ Because they’ve never seen anything like it because this isn’t a book. This isn’t like a normal book.”

Apple’s marketing dollars are spent on hardware, not on software and not on the products one can make using their software to use on the hardware.  This is making it harder to exist in this space, but it’s also freeing up the opportunity to share the message of what these books can be, should be and how they can be built.

Simply put, this is not the kind of book my grandmother would have sat and read. This is not a Louis L’Amour western. And given his imagination, I really wonder what he would be doing with this vast accomplishment in technology.

What Do You Think?

So what do you think?  Is there a better term we could be using to describe books for iPad?

 

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Books for iPad and iBooks Author Video

Nov 12, 2012 by

Books for Ipad Now Can Include Video

Another one of the most amazing aspect of books for iPad s the capability brought about by the iBooks Author Video widget.

In our opinion, it’s really hard to decide if 3D animations or videos are the most compelling interactive feature of this new form of book.  Really, at this point, you don’t want to publish a book for iPad without them both.  On one hand you could say leaving out one of these ingredients would be like not putting icing on a cake, but really, it’d be more like trying to make a cake and not using flour or even sugar.

From The Opening Of A Book For Ipad You Know This Is Different

In iBooks Author, a publisher has the option to open a book with a video. The video is actually embedded in the opening trigger mechanism of the book and starts immediately. For Dr. Mark Van Stone’s 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, we even added TA-DA music for when the video cues up just to add to the surprise of someone not expecting it.

To play on iPad, videos within the book are specially formatted. In our 2012 book, that allowed for us to add as much as two hours worth of clips from 15 Maya scholars all adding to the value of the book in ways that words and pictures are not able.

Because of the Retina Screen, videos can be HD, but we found saving them at a lower bit rate makes the file size smaller and even on a Retina Screen, you really can’t tell the difference.

iBooks 3 Update

With the iBooks 3 update from October 2012, in the iBooks 3 app, controls have been added for video navigation for the opening video clip. This was a good update as the only way to get back to the beginning of the opening clip before was to either let it finish playing and start over, or exit the book in iBooks 2, then reopen it.  It was a pain and we heard complaints.

Having video in books for iPad shows that Apple has recognized that in our ever-increasingly visually oriented world, video in books is not only logical but also necessary and preferred.

Done right, readers can get more out of their books if they have video references to use.

Thinking Different

The inclusion of videos in a book for iPad requires a different thinking process in writing a digital book.

Before books for iPad, an author would have to focus on telling their story or providing all their information within the text of a book. Now, it’s necessary to understand a little about video production, visual locations, backdrops, ambient noise, lighting and more. And while an author can do these things on their own, this is why a publishing/production company like ours can save time and money, and ensure the product looks as professional as possible.

Ready To Submit Your Manuscript?

We are a publisher of books for iPad in Dallas, Texas, USA. But we can make these books for anyone in any country on the planet. If you’re ready to submit a manuscript for production, please go to the form link above and submit your book today. Yes, you can try to do this yourself, but we look at it like this.  With changes in software, most people now can get access to software like Photoshop, too, but you know what?  That doesn’t mean what’s going to get produced is going to be expert quality.

That’s what we provide at Claxton Creative.  We’ve done several of these books for iPad now, and we’ve worked with the traditional book publishing world.  Add to that our experience in video and audio production, graphics and now 3D animation.

Working with us frees up the opportunity for you as the author to concentrate on telling your story in a new way, and we work on the nitty gritty details and technical aspects.  Trust us, that’s a lot to figure out.

 

 

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inDesign and Interactive Books for the iPad?

May 14, 2012 by

Anyone out there an expert in inDesign?  I’m hearing conflicting stories about the capabilities of Id in regard to outputting e-pubs.  I know it will do that and it can be used on multiple mobile devices.  But I’ve also seen text saying it can add videos and interactive charts like iBooks Author, but I’ve yet to actually see that it can do that.  Even the CS6 features page is silent to this.  Thoughts?

InDesign CS3 icon

InDesign CS3 icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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