Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Updates from The Keegan Zone

At last -- my long neglected website has had a facelift and a minor rebuild. If you've been trying to find the "Keegan on your phone" type ebooks (those formatted for smartphones, Blackberries and so forth), and have been wondering where in the vaults of Hades they've been hidden -- you'll be relieved to know, my bookstore is now loaded for bear with the salient icons. Also, you can find the new titles right there on the homepage, rather than having to excavate for them...

(Click on the above to see it at 1:1 size ... new titles are up, and you can access the Kindles and smartphone files right there on the first screen you get when you click on a book cover to choose a title.)

So here's the 2009 "look" for the site, with 90 days left in 2009! Brilliant. I know I've neglected the site big time during this year, but seriously -- look at what's been happening with GLBT Bookshelf. Something had to go on the back burner, and my own website was tagged as "can be left till later." In fact, I think I left it a little too long. I'm sure the neglect cost me sales after mid-year, what with titles not being listed and so forth.

So, to make up some ground I'm investing in a small ad campaign .. laying down a few dollars and tracking stats. Doing very nicely so far. I love the Project Wonderful ad server. Targeted visitors for 5c a head, many of whom are turning into customers ...?! It's made in heaven, and I have to take my hat off to these guys. They nailed it. This is how advertising should work.

News re: GLBT Bookshelf is all good: the wiki appears to be virtually running itself right now. No major cockups to repair, everyone making pages and having a great time ... book sales happening, advertising chugging along nicely. Traffic is a constant average of about 5,000 pageloads per day -- double that at a time when we're advertising.

And Keegan is presently content enough with all projects to be starting to look at a new short novel, *and* a Christmas campaign of my own, *and* the imminent reissue of the 20th Anniversary special edition of ICE, WIND AND FIRE --

Speaking of which, I expect to get the cover proof later today. I might even post a second time, if I'm as blown away as I expect to be...



Monday, September 28, 2009

Ground Zero: five stars!

Lovely news to start off the day: GROUND ZERO has just been given a five-star review at Rainbow Reviews ... am "tickled pink" as you'd expect. Hence the blog post! So --

Here's the review;
Here's the book itself (which is available in about 20 ebook formats, and is due in paperback next month, via Amazon, Target OnLine and so forth).

In other news, ICE, WIND AND FIRE is virtually through the OCR process, and (this is where it gets exciting) the cover is being designed at this moment.

I'm also "in talks" with DreamCraft to become an editor with them in 2010. They're slowly, sloooooowly, making the changeover from multimedia studio to publisher -- apparently there's more money and less gray hair and stomach ulcers in online publishing than in multimedia (big "duh" factor there). Stay tuned for developments ...!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Adventures in OCR

As you know, ICE, WIND AND FIRE is going through the scanner at this time (see my previous post about why, and how), and the book will be back out in paperback and ebook form, in time for its own Twentieth Anniversary...

So, the IWF experience is all about OCR.

Now, the OCR process is actually easy; and the software today is virtually foolproof, so long as you scan an a high-enough dpi for the system to know what it's looking at...

The problem is in the hardware.

Hands up, all those people who paid $300 for a scanner in 2002, and having paid that much, don't really want to consign it to the bin?

Now, hands up, all those people who were running Win98 back in those days; and since then they've wandered through XP Home, XP Pro, Service Packs 1, 2, 3, Vista, Service Packs 1 and ... the dreaded SP2.

I have a computer that NASA would have drooled over. This Quad Core, with is 4x 2.4G processors and its 6G of Ram, and its unlimited storage space, would have run Project Apollo and sent Voyager to the planets -- at the same time.

And all it took to knock this paragon of cybernetics flat on its can was --

Vista, Service Pack 2. God alone knows what happened, but as soon as the "update" went through the system forced a re-start for the third time in a row, the computer went haywire. Wouldn't stay online. Wouldn't run the big, complex applications properly. The browser would lock up, and kill the whole thing. Restart (which takes 15 minutes or more). Over and over.

To top it off, Microsoft's security system had, in its infinite wisdom, decided that Lenovo's automatic update facility was a spam generator, and demanded that it be shut off ... so Leonovo was not even able to fix the problem on the fly.

After a week of cussing, bitching and getting very little done, I yelled from Dave from DreamCraft, who went into the system and worked magic on it. Turns out, Vista Service Pack 2 is so bad, Lenovo had to issue a patch to put right the damage; but with the auto-updates turned off at Microsquash's insistence, you had to go to Lenovo and *get* the patch...

Which got the computer back up on its four processors, so I could start to look at the OCR job.

Which brings me back to the point where I started ... if you can remember that far back.

My scanner is a few years old. It worked perfectly under XP Service Pack 1, and even 2. SP3? Nope. Vista? Wellll ... it's sudden death up to a point. To get scans, you have to reinitialize the scanner after every scan.

So here's the routine for the OCR work on ICE, WIND AND FIRE:

Place Page 1 on the scanner
Acquire ... scan ...
20 seconds to get the page into text...
select all and copy;
paste into the open Word document...
UNPLUG the USB cable to the scanner!
Plug it back in.
Twiddle thumbs for 30 seconds...
Place Page 2 on the scanner
Acquire ... scan ...

And by far the most critical part of the process is not the scanning or remembering to turn the page. It's UNPLUG the USB cable, then plug it back in, give it half a minute to reinitialize the scanner, and *then* start the software and acquire the scanner.

Because if you don't, the scanner crashes; it crashes the software; and sometimes the whole thing won't come back up without a reboot on the computer.

Repeat process 242 times.

But it beats the hell out of typing! And I have nothing bit good things to say about a little program called TOP OCR, which is free, and phenomenally accurate. I'm absolutely delighted to give them a plug here. ... they do a range of software, too. Imagine being able to capture text with your digital camera, or your phone --! What won't they think of next?

So ... ICE, WIND AND FIRE is going through the scanner, and the process is simple. It's just a little bizarre.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

ICE, WIND AND FIRE heads for the scanner!

It's been out of print for eons, and it was published 20 years ago, in October. Its Twentieth Anniversary is coming up in a matter of weeks, and as you'd expect, it's been on my mind for a long time, to do a special edition. Especially as most people (2 out of 3) these days prefer an ebook over paper.

So ... I put the word around in my last newsletter: does anyone have an old copy of IWF that they would like to trade?? The deal was, you give us your old one ... we give you the brand new one, with a glorious new cover that you won't be embarrassed reading on the bus ... plus, we'd send the ebook version of it, which will be out virtually as soon as it's scanned and corrected ... plus, pick three other ebooks to receive right now.

Six people responded, and the first to reach us with an offer was a reader from Aus. The book has been received --

I took it over to DreamCraft, and they put it through the big paper cutter to whack the spine off it in one chop. Next: it goes onto the scanner, gets OCR'd, corrected, repackaged, rejacketed, and sent off to the ebook hosts, and Amazon itself.

The process is underway ... I'll keep you posted!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

GROUND ZERO - Launching now!

2048: the city of Adelaide – the capital of South Australia – has grown, developed, changed. The population has doubled, and the city’s livelihood is high technology. A new university has grown up since the Twenties – Franklin University, in the hills above the city. It’s the home to Doctor Robert Strachan’s Paranormal Studies department, where Lee Ronson and Brendan Scott head the data analysis team.

They’re the best in a difficult business, and they’ll be tested to their limits in an assignment handed to Strachan by Metro’s most senior criminologist, DCS Maggie Jarmin.

It’s winter when the city suffers a series of bizarre murders, robberies at high-tech labs – and a virus which sprang from nowhere. Every two days, a fresh body is discovered … entirely drained of blood. Every two days, a weapons research or energy technologies facility is robbed of a seemingly bizarre list of oddments. Meanwhile, the virus known only by a codename – 2048-3a – is so new, no part of the community is immune and the city is crippled.

Murders, robberies and virus are intimately connected in a mystery that will astonish. Lee Ronson and Brendan Scott find themselves taking point in an investigation filled with unexpected hazard – and equally unforeseen reward.

Sexy very-near-future gay action/adventure from the pen of the maestro.

Read the first 10% of the novel, free!
(Caveat: material in this free sample is not suitable for juniors. Consider youreself warned!)

Novel length: 103,000 words
Rated: R (18+; sex, violence, language)
ISBN: 978-0-9807092-0-9
Publication date: September, 2009
Publisher: DreamCraft.
Price: $9.99 - ebook; $19.95 - paper (due)
Cover: Jade

Current availability: eBook, in many formats. Paperback: due at Amazon in October 2009

eBook as PDF for iLiad, BeBook; PDB for Sony reader and iPhone; MOB for Mobipocket reader and Kindle; LRF for Sony Reader.

 For iPhone, smartphone, Sony, Palm, Mobi, Blackberry...

 Kindle ebook: $9.99

eBook for PC/Mac -- $9.99:  Add to Cart

eBook for Screenreaders -- $9.99:  Add to Cart