IMO: When to Give Up. And When Not To.

 

Today’s post is about perseverance. When to stick to it. And when to not to.

No, I’m not planning on giving up on anything. But that is not to say that I have never given up on stuff. Once, I dreamed of being an artist. I still have pictures that I drew in the 6th grade, and they are not bad. I stuck it out all through high school, mostly because I already had signed up for the courses. But then something happened after I left high school.

I discovered that it was not my passion.

So, I stopped doing it. Well, not entirely. I still have extensive art supplies and I still occasionally use them. I have a discount card to my local art store. And I keep up my calligraphy skills. But, I no longer actively pursue art as a career or even as a serious hobby.

More difficult to give up was music.

When I was in my 20s, I rediscovered music. I retaught myself how to play piano and I started taking violin lessons. For two years, music overtook my life. I was a very serious violin student. I practiced for hours each week–probably 2 hours a day (in addition to working full-time) and 10 hours over the weekend. I was also still writing my Trunk Novel Epic, so I was also a very serious aspiring writer.

And then I went back to school.

And at the ripe age of 27, I realized that with the demands of a full-time class schedule, I’d have to pick one serious hobby. I asked myself, which hobby do you honestly have a shot at turning into a career? So the violin went into the case.

Why? As a musician, I really did start too late. And I was inspired by an old woman I knew in my community orchestra who had re-taken up the violin at the age of 60. I knew I would not lose my ability to read music–at least not permanently. I may temporarily forget how to tell the difference between E-major and A-major on the musical staff, but I’ll never forget how to play them, and I’ll never forget the theory behind them.

Although I didn’t play for about 15 years, I did take it back up again, and I did brush off my piano skills. (I would have brushed off my violin skills as well, but the danged thing keeps eating my D string.) Still … it’s not a serious hobby. It can’t be, until I can quit my day job.

What about writing? I’ve had some successes, but nothing career-changing. I think it’s the one thing that I won’t ever give up. At least, not for long.

What hobbies or interests have you had, that you eventually lost interest in?

7 Things I Did During My Writing Break

Well, it’s been two weeks since I took my “writing break” and I have one week to go. And what did I discover? I do a lot of writing. When I am not writing, I actually have some free time. Here are some of the things I’ve done over the past two weeks.

  1. Reread Petroleum Sunset Episode 3 – Prince of Hicksville – and contemplated whether or not I want to publish it by itself or bundle it up with the first 2 episodes. I do think I should rewrite the whole series, and keep the voice while eliminating the dialect spelling. On my ToDo list for when I have time. But hey! The cover is already done.
  2. Revealed to my husband a scheme I had been hatching to collaborate on an epic fantasy based on one of his role playing game plots. It really is a terrific plot with this highly claustrophobic setting. Plus, it has paladins. He is intrigued.
  3. Went over to my old Fantasy Debut site and spruced it up, removing the sidebar notices about it having moved to this site. No, I have not restarted that blog. This is in the “thinking about” stage. When I ran Fantasy Debut it was manageable alongside my fiction writing, whereas Debuts & Reviews was not.
  4. Reread my Christian supernatural and made a few edits here and there. If I move forward with this novel, I will self-publish. This plot is probably the most intense one I’ve ever attempted. Only The Sevenfold Spell comes close.
  5. Played a lot fewer video games that I expected. My Morrowind character seems hopeless, and I am daunted at the idea of starting over. Again. I tried Dragon Age, but I can’t get out of that stupid and endless Fade subplot. What were they thinking? And then my Xbox crashed (we have one of the bad power packs, and the replacement we ordered was just as bad) and I lost interest. I’ve played a lot of MineCraft with my daughter. We are building Elsa’s ice castle.
  6. Discovered Star Trek Continues. Watched all 3 episodes. Considering funding the next Kickstarter. Yes. It was that good. Review upcoming.
  7. Started to teach my daughter calligraphy. Bought some fresh marker pens, and a calligraphy ruler.

So what do I do in my spare time when I’m not writing? Well, as it turns out, I’m … mostly writing.

Random Thoughts on Trivial Things

I hate it when I say I’ll do something, and then I forget to do it. A while back, I said I’d post about our experience with squatters living next door, and I never did. So I’ll work on that.

~*~

I have 3 drafts in my Posts folder. One is an unfinished review of the entire Prospero’s Daughter series–which I loved. I started that damned post in 2012. This is inexcusable.

Another is about ditching Gmail–which I never did manage to do, so I never finished it. The third is about stick-to-it-iveness, which I almost finished when it started sounding familiar. I searched my blog and sure enough, I already wrote about the subject once at length. So now I want to retool it as stick-to-it-tivness, part 2.

I’ve been blogging a longtime. Repetitiveness is a constant danger.

~*~

I met six nuns the other night. And the amazing thing is they were all under 30 (or so they looked it), they were all in floor-length habits and veils, and they were all thin and pretty.

Why amazing? When I was a kid, young nuns were scarce, they were usually chubby, and they had ditched their habits.

~*~

I’ve been sewing! My daughter has had a persistent interest in sewing, so I broke down and got us a sewing machine. So far, I’ve been sewing an apron to match one I made for her a few years ago, but I think our next project will be veteran’s vests for my husband and me. We can set all out patches on it, and pin on all the pins and ribbons. Including the ones I got from RomVets.

~*~

I have six email accounts. I really think that’s too many. Here’s what I use them for:

  • Personal Gmail account
  • Old personal account at Yahoo, which now accumulates junk. So much junk it is impractical to use the account for anything else. I need to just delete it.
  • Blogging Gmail account
  • tianevitt.com account
  • work account
  • Outlook.com account, which I tried to move into from my personal Gmail account, but which is just not good enough.

Help!

~*~

Still here? You get a cookie. I did say this would be trivial. Therefore …

~*~

… I shall leave you with a profound thought. According to BrainyQuote, today’s Quote of the Day is “Be intent of the perfection of the present day” said by William Law. Although I am writing this tonight, on Monday, I shall schedule it for tomorrow, which is Tuesday, your today, and which, indeed, will have the fresh potential to be perfect. If you click the link, bear in mind that it will take you to today’s Quote of the Day, which will be my present tomorrow. So scroll down for yesterday’s (today’s) quote and be sure to enjoy today’s (tomorrow’s) quote while you are there.

Divorcing B&N – Reclaiming my Nook Classic

I was an early adopter of the nook. That’s what they used to call it. nook with no capitals. Now it’s known as Nook Classic. But about a year ago, I gave up on it and got a Kindle Touch.

I actually think the nook is a better e-reading device. The page for the Kindle is blueish, whereas the nook is a nice off-white. The Kindle complete refreshes the page ever 3 or so page turns, resulting in visual noise, and the nook refreshes it every time (although this can be adjusted to do so on the Kindle).

Clearly, the nook is still a worthy device.

But using it often feels dated. There has not been an update since 1.7 and my nook was no longer getting an updated issue of The Daily. I felt cheated. After all, I was an early adopter of the nook and they abandoned me. Felt that my investment wasn’t worth their effort in keeping it up-to-date.

So I decided to declare a divorce between my nook and Barnes and Noble, and then refurbish it for use by my daughter. Here’s how I did it.

Step 1: Root your Nook

If you have a Nook Classic, you are never going to get another B&N update again. So you may as well get the extra features that the folks at NookDevs provide. And they even keep their stuff updated. Imagine that.

To root your Nook Classic, go to nookdevs.com and find the section on softrooting your nook. Before you even get started, read through the instructions thoroughly and gather everything you’ll need (which includes a microSD card). Then follow the instructions for your serial number (found in the nook settings) step by step.

What you get once you root is a handful of extra features, most importantly an easier-to-use version of My Library, and the ability to hide features. Since I was intending to give the nook to my daughter, I wanted these extra features so I could turn off the WiFi and then hide it, and then hide the settings and a bunch of other stuff. More on that in a few.

Step 2. Divorce Barnes & Noble

Before you do this, you’ll want to do a few other things. First, make sure all the books that you purchased from Barnes and Noble are backed up onto your computer and installed on your Nook. Of if, like me, you intend to give your nook away, delete the books from the nook. Look in all the nook folders and make sure they have the books you want there.

Then, I unregistered my Nook. This involved resetting my B&N password and other unfun tasks, but I got it done. Last step was selecting the option to deregister from my nook Settings panel.

Once the divorce was final, I went to Project Gutenberg and installed a bunch of free ebooks from there, especially public domain young adult book series that I had never heard of, such as Grace Harlowe. I spent hours doing this.

Step 3: Set Up Adobe Digital Editions

Much as I hate DRM, it is a reality of life until all publishers finally abandon it for good. Yay to Harlequin and Tor for paving the way!

Once you divorce B&N, you’ll still be able to get to your B&N books, but you’ll need some way to unlock all those other ebooks you’ll be buying from great online bookstores like Diesel Ebooks and All Romance/Omni Lit. Many of these will have DRM.

(You could also download software to hack your DRM’d ebooks, but I don’t know anything like that because I don’t trust any hack software not to install viruses on my computer. Yes, I admit I looked into this. I have DRM’d copies of The Millennium Trilogy that I no longer have an ereading device to read it on because I have given my nook to my daughter. Since I really don’t feel compelled to read the second two books, I can live without them.)

So to get set up, first download Adobe Digital Editions. When you set it up, you’ll have to join the dark side activate the software using an email address. Then you’ll have to authorize your computer. Finally, plug in your nook and authorize it. Afterward, you will be able to transfer your books to your nook.

I just tested this, and ADE didn’t seem to care that I was authorizing a rooted nook. Mega-cool!

Optional Step 1: Turn Off Wifi

Once you are divorced from B&N, you no longer need WiFi except for the occasional update from the tireless folks at NookDevs. It’s just draining your battery, and the browser isn’t worth using. Turn it off.

Once I turned it off, I used the NookDevs supercharged menu to hide the WiFi on/off settings. I also hid the Settings panel while I was at it. In fact, the only apps that now show up on the color screen are My Library (the nookdevs version), Reading Now, Chess, Sudoko and View Notes. I really only wanted My Library and Reading Now, but had to have five on the screen so I selected applications that were harmless and that didn’t need the web. My daughter can get destructive when she can finds a Setting menu!

Optional Step 2: Install Calibre

Calibre is an ebook library program that can perform flawless (as far as I can tell) conversions from ebub to mobi and back again. This is useful for getting DRM-free Kindle books at a bargain, converting them to epub, and zapping them over to your nook.

The Drawbacks (Few!)

This method requires that I remain divorced from B&N, so when I buy more ebooks I have to buy from somewhere else. I can even buy them from Amazon and convert the mobi files to epub, as long as they have no DRM. My options aren’t limited. There are a lot of ebookstores out there, and your converted nook is now fully versatile.

The only one who loses out is Barnes & Noble, who lost a customer through their abandonment of the customers who were dedicated enough to take a chance on the ebook reader. Too bad for them.

Question: which ebook reader do you use? Or do you eschew them altogether?

The Terrible Fail of Ebookstores

Recently, I wanted to read an epic fantasy. I eventually found one (Nicole Lukien’s Gate to Kandrith), but I didn’t find it by browsing.

When I went to Amazon to browse for an epic fantasy, I was presented with a list of bestselling authors. As you guys know, I very rarely read bestselling authors. Some of us just don’t follow the popular crowd.

I decided to start looking around at other sites to see who had the best book browsing experience. I won’t get into the specifics of what I saw. What I want to talk about is what I want to see.

I want a shelf-browsing experience. Except at some experimental sites, I mostly saw lots of lists. Sometimes they were arranged in rows, which was nice. But the sort order was frustrating. Sometimes you could sort by price, sometimes by bestselling, sometimes by release date. But almost never could you sort alphabetically.

Why would I want to sort alphabetically? Two reasons. One, is that it gives me the closest thing to a random arrangement of authors on a shelf (other than a “random” option). Sometimes I want random when I am browsing. It’s a great way to discover books. And book discovery at online bookstores is unnecessarily difficult. Hence my difficulty in finding a decent epic fantasy to read. (In the end, I decided to see what Carina Press had to offer lately, which is how I discovered Nicole Lukien. My next stop would have been Tor; more on that below.)

Another reason is to be able to find that elusive author who’s name I can’t recall, but I THINK it starts with a G. Give me a page with nothing but Gs and let me scan ’em all.

Therefore, I would love a “shelf” webpage that shows me nothing but book covers. For years, publishers have had to pay for the privilege of having their books face out on the shelves. Well now they can all be face out … but hardly any bookstore arranges them that way. Just in neat rows from left to right, one row on top of the other, and with as little text as possible.

I want publisher sections. You just can’t beat Tor Books for epic fantasy. When I want an epic fantasy, I’m looking at Tor. If I can’t find their books at Amazon, I actually go to their website and start browsing around. I would love for bookstores to have publisher sections to browse. And they could probably make lots of money off of publishers by having such sections.

And why the heck have they not done this? At the bookstore, you can actually go to the Harlequin section and see row upon row of nothing but this month’s Harlequin Romances. Why can you not do that at online booksellers? It makes no sense. Did they try it and it just didn’t work? If so, how did I miss it?

AmazonFailDon’t try to sell me dresses. Why in the heck Amazon would think I would want to buy a dress from them is a complete mystery. If I want a dress, I go to Penny’s or Belk. I don’t go to Amazon. So why oh why is the top page on Amazon trying to sell me dresses? Amazon knows who I am. I am a Prime member and I have been shopping from them for years. They have, to quote the Terminator, “detailed files” on me. And yet they try to sell me dresses.

I realize that this is probably a placement paid for by some retailer. But they have just wasted their customer’s advertising dollars on me, completely and utterly. And they have ignored the needs of me, one of their valued Prime customers.

The very first thing it should be doing is trying to sell me the sequel to the book I read last week. Which it does, but you have to scroll down to find it. I should be grateful that they finally stopped trying to sell me a Kindle. Maybe they figured out from my recent purchases that I already have one. Nope, the Kindles are back.

At least they FINALLY got on board with gifting ebooks. Because giving ebooks as a gift is a wonderful thing.

What about you? What would you like to see at online booksellers, that you are not seeing? Got any bookseller recommendations?

Social Networking and Me

What I’m reading: Stellarnet Rebel by J. L. Hilton and Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

For many years, I thought it would be so cool to have an online place where you could invite your friends and hang out and relax. Kind of like in Tad William’s Otherland. Now that these places exist (kinda), I find myself struggling with them. Here are some social networking sites and why they did or did not work for me.

Twitter. I like this because it is easy. Very little to set up. Follow a few people and they usually follow you back. It is like a stream of chat going by you, and you can participate as much or as little as you like. Works for me.

Goodreads. In my opinion, Goodreads has emerged as the best library social networking site. It is author friendly and reader friendly. I am fairly active there, in that I check it almost daily. Once a month or so I’ll update my shelves. Drawbacks: I find the groups clunky.

I have token accounts at LibraryThing and Shelfari and one other site, but I rarely visit.

Facebook Pages, Profiles and Groups. For me, Facebook is a mixed bag. I find it too cluttered with options. It is suffering from the same growing pangs that MySpace had until it imploded.

Pages have not worked for me at all. With a page, everything is one-sided. You can’t “friend” anyone; you can only pester people you already know to “Like” your page. They deliberately make it difficult to attract people or to even be visible unless you buy ads. And I am not at all sure it would be worth the money.

After months of neglecting my profile in a fruitless attempt to get the page to work for me, I have decided to use the page for major announcements only and concentrate on my profile. Yes I know, I can only have 5000 friends. I am not anywhere near that threshold. Besides, maybe those first 5000 friends can become my secret cabal of founding fans. Or something like that.

The benefit of a profile is even once I am beyond 5000 friends, I can still have subscribers. But most important, I can create groups of people who aren’t necessarily in my friend list. I am experimenting with groups now, and I think it is the most promising thing I have found about Facebook so far.

Google+. I think this is a fail on the part of Google. It seems to be a great way for people to spam me. I never look at it.

Pinterest. I joined Pinterest because I was hoping to be able to share research sites there, but I have found that it does not work anything like I expected. Apparently it is for photos only. I don’t spend a lot of time surfing photos unless I am doing a Cover Art Sheet, so my Pinterest account is neglected. I may have even deleted it.

I heard that del.ic.ious (or however they break it up) might be more suitable for my research sharing idea, but I still need to look into it.

Blogging. As you probably guessed, blogging has worked best for me. Blogs are clubby but welcoming, and anyone can come by and take a peek without signing up for anything.

You can check out all my social networking links here.

Which is your favorite social networking site? Know of any new ones the rest of us may not have heard of yet?

Random Thoughts and Updates

What I’m reading – Stellarnet Rebel by J. L. Hilton, and I just finished Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer. Meh.

I received the final copy of The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf, so I promptly posted an excerpt! The book page is here, and has all the info that I know so far about it. It has a link to the excerpt as well. Feel free to leave a comment.

The last time I did this, I was still running Debuts & Reviews, so now when I make my new bookmarks, I will order a new batch of business cards as well, and finally replace those old D&R cards. Please send me your addresses so I can mail you some (tia at tianevitt dot com). I always send enough so you can pass them out. I also have some postcards with a coupon code that is good at Carina Press.

~*~

I have a book here that is highly recommended by my sister. It is by Jim Butcher and is called Furies of Calderon. She loves the series so much she has read it multiple times. The only reason I have not started it yet is because it features a 15 year old boy. Sigh. Years ago, I reflected that I was tired of coming-of-age fantasies, and I guess that has not changed. Has any of you read it?

~*~

I fired up my Nook today after not touching it for months. It was still almost fully charged! I want to give it to my daughter. But a while back I hacked it, and so before I give it to her I want to hack it back. NookDevs–the place where I got the instructions to hack it–had been offline for a while, but now it’s back.

Drawback–I purchased the Millennium Trilogy in Nook format and I never finished reading the last two books. I got them from Diesel Ebooks, so I might be able to download it in a different format. If not, I guess it will be time to experiment with converting one format to another. Which might require me to hack the DRM…

~*~

Speaking of DRM, did you know that many publishers are now selling DRM-free books? Tor has removed DRM, and Carina has never encumbered their books with DRM. It is a growing trend.

~*~

Up this week is Not Much. My employer is hosting a convention, and I’ll be there for the next three days. Thankfully, it is in town, but those days are still likely to be exhilarating but exhausting. Time to load up on the vitamins!

What’s up with you?

Lots of Reading – Upcoming Reviews – Musings

I’ve been reading a lot of books, and I hope to get some reviews written in the next few weeks. Here are the books I’ve completed lately:

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall

The Wet Nurse’s Tale by Erica Eisdorfer

Eon by Alison Goodman

Plus I have Spellwright by Blake Charlton on my iPod/Kindle app (sorry Katie–I couldn’t resist!) and I was just sent a copy of Prospero Regained by L. Jagi Lamplighter (thanks, Tor), which just shot up to the very top of my reading list. It’s the third book in the series, yanno. I’m hoping it’s also the conclusion, but I think I’d tolerate a book 4, if this one proves to be as good as the other ones.

~*~

So why am I reading books on my iPod/Kindle when I have a Nook? Because I FINALLY, after being an Amazon Associate since 2007, made enough money to earn a gift certificate. I intended to buy Eon (because the publisher sent me Eona), but I didn’t have the gift card set up properly and Amazon charged my credit card. After turning off the default purchase option, I properly credited my gift card and used it to buy Spellwright (because Tor sent me the sequel–thanks again, Tor). And I used the spare change that was left to buy The Sevenfold Spell, because I thought I’d be able to use the Kindle Notes to make publicly visible author notes, but apparently it doesn’t work like I thought it did and oh, well, I guess I’ll get 15% of it back as royalties. Anyone know how to make Kindle notes publicly available?

Have I ever bought a NookBook for my Nook? No. I always buy DRM free if I can, direct from the publisher. Not always an option, but I do try. Besides, B&N always seems to sell at the cover price, with only certain books discounted. Love my Nook, hate the Nook store.

~*~

I’ve taken to drinking tea in the evening because my high blood pressure meds puts me out like a light and it really cramps my style as an author. High blood pressure sucks. Meds suck. Better than dying I guess, but in the meantime, I hate being a zombie by 9. So I just had a most delightful cup of Irish Afternoon Tea by Bewley’s Tea of Ireland. And guess what! I’m awake enough to write a blog post.

~*~

Even though I’m not really working on my novel, somehow words keep finding their way into the manuscript and now I’m flirting with 40,000 words. This novel (the time travel historical) is the first one I’ve written that didn’t hit a brick wall at 20,000 words. Maybe because I’m not really trying? I’m also over halfway through with my edits for the Snow White story. So I guess I’ve been pretty productive with all this time that I have not been … er … blogging (wince).

And now, I sign off to not write, not edit, not blog … no, to watch, with my husband, an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise , of which I’ve gotten hopelessly addicted.

Forgettable Books

Every once in a while, I go through my books, making room on the shelves for new books. I don’t like giving away/trading in old books, but one must be practical. I have no doubt that if I had kept all the books I’ve read over the years, I’d have thousands of them, but who has the room?

So I go through the books and decide if I ever want to read them again, or if I see my daughter one day reading them. For this reason, I keep all my classics, even if I never finished them. They are all “unread for now”, with the possible exception of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I got within 30 pages of the end and was unable to go on. I still couldn’t tell you what that book was about. I may well finish Moby Dick one day, and The Red Badge of Courage, and even The Last of the Mohicans, even if Mark Twain hated James Fenimore Cooper’s work.

Anyway.

The biggest criterion for deciding whether to keep a book or not is if I finished it, do I remember what it’s about? If the answer is no, it goes in the “go” pile.

Don’t think my “keep” pile is full of lofty pieces of literature. Among the books I’ve kept over the years is Anne McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer and Killashandra, the Dragonlance Chronicles (of which I have purchased multiple volumes) and other popular works.

Since I’ve started blogging about debuts, there have been a few sequels that I have highly anticipated. One was The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham, and which I reviewed in the fall of 2009. However, I’m having trouble getting through Canticle by Ken Scholes, even though when it arrived in the mail, I shouted “Yay!” and displayed an unseemly amount of glee. I can’t say what’s wrong with it, it’s just not grabbing me like the first one did, (although I’m still dying to find out what that thing is on the moon).

I also haven’t read The Desert Spear by Peter Brett even though I really enjoyed The Warded Man. Part of the reason is frugality; the publisher sent me The Warded Man, but not The Desert Spear. I don’t like asking for review copies unless I’m planning to do an advance review, and I let the release date slip by me for this one. Which means I’ll probably read it when it comes out in paperback.

I”m really looking forward to The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. I’m glad he took his time producing the second book because I know the first book, The Name of the Wind, was the work of years. It’s coming out next March.

But what really surprises me is when I enjoy a first book but turn out to me “meh” on the second book. I’d hate to single any particular book out, but I’m sure you know what I mean. I’m certainly thinking of one book in particular. Sometimes when they end on a cliffhanger, the tension evaporates in the intervening time between the ending of the one book and the beginning of the other. I do better when the author gives me a Satisfying Reading Experience with the first book, because I know I won’t feel cheated by a cliffhanger on the second book.

Do you keep every book you ever enjoyed? Does your library have thousands of books? What are some of your favorites?

What Book Reviews Meant to the Reader

Superwench wrote a thoughtful post on her blog on what book reviews mean to the reader. She’s been following my blog since the beginning, so I found her point of view interesting. She goes into why negative reviews often inspire others to go out and read the book. I’ve seen this in my own reviews, when someone will leave a comment on one of my ho-hum or rare negative reviews, stating that they want to go out and try it for themselves.

I certainly have been motivated to buy after reading negative reviews as well.

Here is her post.