So You Want To Write A Book? Let’s Be Real.

I just released my latest book this past week. Yay. But it could also be my last book. I don’t know if I will write another novel but focus more on short stories and shift to more emphasis on my blog. I really don’t know what direction I will follow next. I am very unpredictable – even to myself.

Writing a book is a lot of work. If you think you can just write a book, have it published and make money from it – think again.

Don’t quit your day job.

For me, writing the first draft is the easiest part of writing a novel. The hardest part is editing and formatting it. It is torture. Slow, mind numbing torture. By the time I have finished the editing and formatting process, the story is very old to me.

As I stated above, this past week I released my latest book. This was my third self-published novel. Yes, I hope you caught that when I wrote SELF published. After finishing my novels, I take a significant amount of time – over a year on my recent novel – attempting to have it published with a traditional publisher. I have a cabinet full of rejection responses from publishers and agents. In fact, now you can’t even query publishers without agent representation. It has been no better with querying agents either. They are so swamped with submissions that you don’t stand a chance if they don’t know you.

Fortunately, there are self-publishing options out there to help writers to get their work published. That is the route I have taken. With my first novel, I naively assumed that if I just put my book out there that people would buy it. Let me give you a dose of reality here – not even your own family will buy your book. Just having it out there on Apple or Amazon or Barnes and Noble is not enough. You really have to go into it with being content that you have published a book. Writer’s hitting it big like this only happens in Hallmark movies.

For my second book, I amped up marketing by sending out promotional items to friends and acquaintances who could promote the book. I even paid for advertising. This resulted in disappointment as well. Aside for one of my favorite radio broadcasters, I have no proof that anyone followed through with promoting my book. When you promote your own book, you have to face the reality that you will be disappointed in the support. I won’t lie. It hurts when that happens but you also learn to manage your expectations. Book promotion is definitely a gamble when you are self-published.

When I finished my manuscript of Lovers Dead Mother, I had a contact who loved it and pitched it to a Hollywood Agent. My contact felt like it would make a good story for a movie. After sending it to the agent, following up a few times, I received no response. Zero. My initial excitement over the idea that a Hollywood agent was going to read my manuscript was soon doused with a cold water of reality.

You have to really love writing to do this. You can’t assume anything. I am getting to the place that I am learning to simply be content with what my writing is. It is nothing more than a hobby. Sure, there will always be a dream that I will “hit it big” but that is less anticipated that it was when I started. You just have to love writing. Period. Nothing more.

I started this writing journey when a sports editor gave me a chance to write my first article. I was hooked. That opportunity opened the door for me. Of course, had I known this earlier in my life, I might have pursued a degree in some type of writing or journalism. Unfortunately life doesn’t always roll out in an expected way. I’m not an expert in writing or grammar. More than likely you will find mistakes or some grammatical errors if you are that anal about stuff like that.

That’s another part of writing a novel. Everybody is an editor. It doesn’t matter how many times you edit your writing I can promise you than someone will find a mistake which violates someone’s rules for writing. That is another dose of reality that will hit you right between the eyes. If you are excited about your book and share it with others, some asshole will find something wrong with it instead of reading the story. Trust me on this. On my second book I decided to ask people to be my test readers. I only wanted them to read the story to make sure it flowed. I specifically stated I only wanted them to read it and not edit the book. You can guess what happened. There was wrong tense here or comma missing there. Except for my wife, I don’t ask for test readers anymore.

The best thing I have done to help me with me edit a book was to install a read aloud app which reads the text to me. You would be amazed how many things you can find to correct when the text is read back to you.

It’s still not easy. Is it rewarding? That’s hard to answer. You can’t really be motivated by rewards because you might not get it in the form of book sales or 5-star reviews. It does feel good when you finally hold a printed copy of your book. It is then that you feel like your book is complete.

Some athletes say they play for the love of the game, as a writer you have to do it for the love of writing. Anything else is gravy.

Freewrite Traveler: Fact or Fiction?

I am a sucker for new gadgets so when I saw an advertisement a new word processing device called the Freewrite Traveler from Astrohaus, it was one of those things I HAD to have. Astrohaus had developed the first Freewrite machine, which was a larger version of the Traveler and had a price tag of $549. It wasn’t very portable either. When the company offered to pre-order the Freewrite Traveler at a much lower cost, I signed up and placed my pre-ordered.

That was October 2018. I still don’t have it. I’m beginning to wonder if it will ever become reality.

So what exactly is the Freewrite Traveler?

The device is like a laptop but without email or Internet access. It is solely made for writers and synchronizes documents to the cloud. It claims to be the ultimate distraction-free writing tool. It comes with a 4-week battery life, e-ink screen, full-size keyboard and weighs less than 2lbs. Having owned an AlphaSmart NEO for years, this was going to be an upgrade.

It isn’t here and I have a feeling it is never going to come.

At the time of pre-order, we were told it would be here by the Summer of 2019. Then it was the fall of 2019 and the latest update moved the timeline to beginning of 2020.

Are they messing with us and our investment here? I’m really beginning to wonder. It is almost to the point of informing some law enforcement agency about this. It has scam written all over it.

A company called “Indiegogo” is managing the pre-orders. According to their website, they have raised approximately $714,510 from 2.493 people. The issues appears to involve something called the Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) and they claim it is the most important electrical component in the Traveler device. Another problem was with their power management controller vendor – Dialog Semiconductor. They claim that in October 2018, Apple signed a gigantic $600 million deal with Dialog for their power management systems which they didn’t know about until six months later and were no longer able to offer a custom variant of the chip they had promised.

BS? I’m beginning to think so.

So will the Freewrite Traveler ever be a real, usable device? If they do push it out I’m seriously doubtful of what kind of quality device it will be and will it live up to the claims they show on their website?

I’m seriously doubting it and considering pulling my pre-order from this fictional machine. My AlphaSmart NEO is still working well and I can also use my iPAD to do any writing I need to do without distraction – especially if I put it in Airplane Mode. I was just excited about a new gadget to use for my writing. I liked the fact that it would automatically synch my writing projects to the cloud. I wasn’t too fond of the e-ink screen which means it wouldn’t work in low light conditions but it would help with eye strain.

I’m disappointed with Astrohaus and Indiegogo. I will never pre-order from them again.

Even if they do manage to produce a real world device, will it be worth it? There are already some things I’m not too fond of such as the white keyboard. Who makes a white keyboard anyway (besides Apple)? That’s really not too smart for a device that is made to be on the go.

P.T. Barnum once said “There’s a sucker born every minute”. I guess I’m one of the suckers here.

I’m beginning to think that there is no Freewrite Traveler and it isn’t coming.

Freewrite Traveler or Bust

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Okay, I did it.  I took the risk and pre-ordered the Freewrite Traveler from Astrohaus.  I paid the $275 dollars for a tech device that hasn’t even been built yet and not expected to ship until June 2019.

I hope I’m not the sucker here.   People that know me know how I like gadgets and new/unique tech stuff.   Over the years I have fallen for the Pocket PC, Palmtop PC, Google Nexus 7, iPad Air, iPad Mini and just about any techie device.  I even had a digital Bible at some point in the past that I carried to church.  (Not to mention the various keyboards and other accessories I have collected over the years.)

The Freewrite Traveler is a distraction-free e-ink word processor which is billed to be the ultimate writer’s tool.  You can take the device anywhere and write when inspiration strikes and upload to the cloud.   Traveler removes the ability to get distracted. There isn’t a web browser, email client, or even any notifications which means all that energy required to resist temptation is now freed for a more useful purpose, your writing.

The Traveler also has:

  • 4-week battery life
  • E ink screen
  • Less than 2 lbs
  • Full-size keyboard
  • Folding design for maximum portability
  • Syncs to Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive

For a writer like myself, this looks like a good investment.  I just hope it lives up to the expectations.  Although I can work on a laptop, ipad or other devices and ignore distractions I like the idea of having a device that is only dedicated to my writing.  No apps and no other things cluttering up the device.  Just a keyboard and screen.

I also like the idea of synching to a cloud drive.  I want to be able to access my projects wherever I go and not have to keep them on a hard drive or flash drive device.

The folks at Astrohaus say that studies have shown it takes 25 minutes on average to refocus on the original task after a single interruption.  I think anyone who writes or reads can identify with this.  Getting in the “flow” is so important to a writer.  You don’t want anything to stop you.

Right now the Traveler is in the crowdfunding stage and the last update stated that in less than a day, the Traveler has been 333% funded by 525 people.  That should be a good sign that this product will actually become reality.  That’s a good sign and, for me, that I won’t end up being a sucker for another tech gadget.

So now I wait until June.  I’m not good at waiting.

Tech For Writers: Freewrite Traveler

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Freewrite Traveler:  New Tech for Writers

A new tech gadget appeared in my Facebook feed that caught my attention which, if done right, could be a great new thing for writers.  I am excited about it and hope it meets the expectations.

The Freewrite Traveler is a project from the people who created the Astrohaus Freewrite device. I wasn’t onboard with that device because it has been way too overpriced and more of a high tech typewriter but this new model is something different.   It would appear to be something writers would actually use to get “unplugged” from everything.

The Freewrite Traveler is a much better concept that I think could be a better device.

So what is this Freewrite Traveler? It is a high tech word processing device without internet, email, games or other distractions. There is Wifi capability where documents can be saved or backed up into cloud storage. This is a distraction-free device which is ideal for writers or students.

Okay, I know the critic out there who would say:  “Just use a laptop or tablet and turn off your email and stay off of the Internet, Facebook, etc.”  You would have a point but this is more than just a device to force self-discipline. This is an ideal writer’s tool.  Distraction is such a huge obstacle for writers.

Inspiration hits in many ways and having an effective tool to capture those moments would be amazing.

The last truly effective similar device was the Alphasmart devices. I still have one that I will throw into a bag when going outdoors because it is the perfect device to use in outdoor lighting and more comfortable to type on. Text is uploaded to a PC via USB cable. The Traveler promises to be a new and improved model.

Here are some of the details that are planned for this device:

  • E Ink Screen – This should help with eye strain you get from laptops and tablets.
  • Less than 2 lbs – ideal for travel
  • Full-size scissor switch keyboard – a real keyboard
  • Document cloud synch through WiFi – Never lose a document
  • Millions of pages of memory
  • Four weeks of battery life

These are some pretty nifty features for this device but here are some things I would want for this device:

  • Instant on – I want a device that doesn’t  have to “boot up”.  It needs to instantly turn on.
  • Backlit keys – No a deal breaker but it would be a nice option if inspiration hits at night and you don’t want to disturb others.
  • Look – I have to be honest.  The prototype looks wonky.  I don’t like all the white plus can’t the screen be bigger and not look like a 60s television?
  • Feel – The keys are the most important part of this device.  It must be easy to type and not feel cramped.  It doesn’t have to be a full-size keyboard but it needs to be the right size.
  • USB or SD Slot – I know it plans to have documents synching to the cloud but it would be nice to have this option when you don’t have WiFi access.

I like the idea for this and I hope the final design is something that will help us to finally forget the AlphaSmart.  The Traveler is not available yet and there is no indication on when it will be available.  The website states that it will be “crowdsourcing soon”.   There is no estimate on what the price will be for the Traveler but most are hoping for no more than $250.00.  (The original Freewrite Smart Typewriter currently sells for $499 which is the main reason I never jumped on it.)  If you would like more information on the Freewrite Traveler and signup for updates, you can go to their website here.