eBook

Writing A Novel: A self-study?

Writing A Novel: A self-study?  Over on DaddyClaxton.com today we’re writing about an unexpected benefit of writing a novel–doing an in-depth personal self-study of oneself in order to be able to write a novel. Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 7.16.57 AM The logic makes perfect sense. If one is going to get into the minds of multiple fictional characters, there are many things that seemingly would need to be straight within the mind of the originating author as well, right? So today, and for several days to come actually, we’re posing a series of questions that we believe all authors, and even those not wanting to write, should ponder and do so seriously. Did you know that almost 95 percent of the population will never do such an exercise? In our mind, we’d rather be in the five percent who does. Life will seemingly make a little more sense. We hope. We encourage you to jump over to DaddyClaxton.com and read the set up and then do today’s exercise and the ones to follow in the days to come.  We think you’ll be glad you did.

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Writing a Novel: The project has initiated on DaddyClaxton.com

Writing a Novel: The project has initiated on DaddyClaxton.com

Today on my companion website, DaddyClaxton.com, I’ve begun with announcement. I’ve been working several months now to begin the process of writing a novel. Actually, it really began sometime last year when I began with a print copy of Robert McKee’s book, Story, and spending untold hours with it and an ink pen making active notes throughout the work.

That has spring boarded from a desire as a publisher of online books to an itch to become an author as well. The Beginning Of Writing A Novel

And an even better discovery has happened along the way. I’ve found that in order to be a good novel writer/play write/novella writers, etc. one has to be in very good touch with himself. That has led to a massive self-study effort that you will find reflected in the posts that are to come on DaddyClaxton.com and here on ClaxtonCreative.com.

This is by no means meant to be a week or two-week series. It’s already survived longer than that pre-announcement.

I encourage you to bookmark this site and check back often for new information. Check out DaddyClaxton.com, too.

My friend, mentor and digital book colleague Ron Rose has cautioned me about the enormity of the effort I’ve begun.  I’ve responded in saying that I get it, but in all likelihood, I can’t possibly “get it” until I have completely weathered the task.

If you have tips and ideas along the way, I encourage you to share them.  I don’t believe for a second I will have all right answers and suggestions from those of you at various places in the process will be most helpful.

So here we go. Onward…..

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iBooks News And Announcements — From Apple

Important information from Apple if you do any publishing on the iBookstore.

We recently added the following new features and updates to iBooks, iTunes Producer, and iTunes Connect:iBooks News and Announcements

  • Textbooks Available in All Territories
  • Interest Age for Children and Teens
  • iTunes Producer 3.0
  • Sizing Images in EPUB
  • Enabling Ticket Notifications

 

Textbooks Available in All Territories
Textbooks are now available in all 51 iBooks Store territories. To offer your textbooks in these new territories, sign the new agreement in Contracts, Tax, and Banking on iTunes Connect.

Interest Age for Children and Teens
Starting in June 2014, interest-age information will be required for all book deliveries in the following categories: Juvenile Fiction (BISAC), Children’s, Young Adult, and Educational (BIC), and Jeunesse (CLIL).

iTunes Producer 3.0
iTunes Producer has been updated to include new features, such as:

  • Redesigned User Interface
  • Streamlined Workflow
  • Built-In Help Center

Download iTunes Producer 3.0 from Deliver Your Content in iTunes Connect.

Sizing Images in EPUB
Recent updates to WebKit may affect the layout of your book if you used percentages to define element heights. For example, .image-container { height: 80%; } will no longer result in an image that is 80 percent of the page height. This WebKit update aligns with the W3C’s specification for the height property.

To define a dynamic height for an element like an image, use the “viewport height unit” instead. A “viewport height unit” is equal to one percent of the height of the initial containing block and is a dynamic sizing element.

For example, to assign a dynamic height to an image, use:

HTML:
<div class=“image-container”>
<img src=“images/bears.jpg” alt=“three bears peer at goldilocks”/>
</div>

CSS:
.image-container { height: 80vh; }
img { height: 100%; }

Enabling Ticket Notifications
In addition to using Ticket History or Ticket Catalog Reports on iTunes Connect, you can choose to be sent email notifications as soon as a ticket is issued against your book. To enable these notifications:

  1. Go to Manage Users on iTunes Connect.
  2. Click Edit Profile.
  3. In the Notifications tab, select Worldwide in the Content column.
  4. Click Save.
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In Fiction Books, How Do You Know If You Can Trust Your Narrator?

In Fiction Books, How Do You Know If You Can Trust Your Narrator?The Fiction Writer's Handbook

I picked up Shelly Lowenkopf‘s eBook, The Fiction Writer’s Handbook yesterday off BookBub for $.99 and have been glancing through it as it’s designed to be used. It’s not a straight read. But in the “Revision” section a question jumped out at me I have never pondered before and I don’t recall an episode in fiction where it’s been used against those reading the book but the stark question or concept is this:  In a work of fiction, how do you know if you can trust the voice who is narrating the work? 

I’ve done my share of writing over the years, and I consider myself moderately well-read. I don’t read enough, at least in fiction, because mostly my work focuses on non-fiction, educational content, growing businesses, technical writing, etc.  But I do enjoy a good story and stories are at the central point of what I feel is my purpose in life.

So I come to you now with this simple question. When you’re reading a work of fiction, how do you know that the voice/person telling the story actually has it all together?  Do you have it all together?  I don’t.

So if I began telling you a story, what do I have to do to establish to you that I know what I’m talking about?  Even in a work of non-fiction, I assume this still would hold. Yes, I could roll out a litany of my past accomplishments and tell briefly my life story, but what if the author decided to jade them a little, unbeknownst to the narrator?  What if the character, in what wasn’t said in the narration, purposely left off some of the details or skewed them?

Is that a compelling enough of a hook to keep the work going? But if the narrator isn’t able to say “hey, I’m messing with your head here and skewing some of this, so don’t believe everything I tell you,” then where are you as a reader? If you keep reading and then find out later, would that make you angry with the author or is that one of the special dynamics of the work that would make a better story and better experience for you?

It is an interesting literary situation.

So what do you say?

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Things We’re Hoping For In iBooks Author 3.0

Things We’re Hoping For In iBooks Author 3.0

On Oct. 22, Tuesday of next week, fellow Auburn graduate Tim Cook is slated to take the stage to reveal all that’s new with Apple and as usual, that is primarily going to focus on new iPads, MacBook Pros, the Mac Pro and the new OS X version called Mavericks. What he also likely will do is include a reference to books for iPad and iBooks Author, but those announcements and presentations often seem like he’s either got to get to the rest room or his car is double parked out on the street and he has to leave.  Sadly, we truly wish Apple was going to place more of a priority on books for iPad as they truly are the way of the future and the best digital learning tool available for kids of all ages in existence.

So in Tuesday’s announcement, we’re hoping for some announcements about improvements to the free software that can be used to make books for iPad.  Ultimately, we’d like to see these three things in iBooks Author 3.0.

1. Ability to change the background color in images v. galleries-Presently, when one loads a photo image into a book for iPad and sets it so that it can be tapped and expanded to the 2048 x 1536 pixel range of the screen, depending on how large the image is, it is going to display on a white background. Apple has said over the phone that this is largely done because images can be .pdfs and they think those display better against a white background, but in a world where not everything is that simple, we really wish they’d add one more button or tick box to change this presentation feature. We have a client right now who is insistent that images in his work should appear on a black background and the only way to try to trick iBooks Author into doing that is to make all images one-image galleries, and well, that’s not working out real well because the software also names the images as galleries when there’s really only one image.

2. Ability to leave social note thread discussions within a book-Social discussions within a group project are the way of the future. Already Apple has added “share” functionality within books for iPad, but we think it should be expanded so that teachers, authors, and classmates can all leave live notes right there in a group discussion in context to the pages where they’re happening. This would open an entirely wider array of functionality and effectiveness in discussions.

3. Ability to read books for iPad on any mobile device, not just on Mavericks Macs and iPads-Think Quicktime here. It works on any computer platform. That’s what’s needed for books for iPad that presently only work on the iPad or iPad mini. At the announcement, Apple is going to say that these books for iPad now will work in the new desktop operating system Mavericks, but what is really needed is a common platform that will make them available on a Kindle, Nook, Nexus 7, Surface, PC, ANYTHING.  The 3D imagery, the interactive widgets, all of the stuff that sets books for iPad apart from the horrifically limited functionality of EPUB 2.0.1 and EPUB 3.0 need to be made available in a Quicktime-type of widget/app that can be loaded onto these other platforms. Apple would significantly expand its revenue base for the sale of these books and capture a greater share of the book market.  It makes absolutely no sense at all to keep this as an Apple-limited product.

Will any of this come about Tuesday? We can only hope.  And Tim Cook, when you talk about books for iPad and iBooks Author, please, slow down a bit. All the other stuff is cool, but there are those of us out here in the wilderness who are forging a path to the future with these great tools and we think they deserve a lot more time and attention.

EDITORS NOTE: Last Friday in San Antonio, I gave a presentation about books for iPad that you can download for free and see some of the cool 3D images, puzzles, interactive timelines, and tools I reference above. If you need these made for your own classes, schools, or companies, please give me a call today at 214-364-7240.  A copy of my presentation is available for download from a public link on Dropbox.

 

 

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Donny Claxton Speaks At Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit

Donny Claxton Speaks At Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit 

Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, I had the privilege of presenting during the Austin and San Antonio Chapter ASTD conference entitled the Central Texas Learning and Technology Summit.

The focus was on mobile learning and the technologies that make it all work.

My presentation, after more than 20 months of use of iBooks Author and building eBooks as well, was about eBooks and Books For iPad: what one can do with them and how to make them.

A copy of my presentation is available for download from a public link on Dropbox. If you have an iPad, you’ll need to download the file first to your computer and then load it into iTunes before syncing it to your iPad.  (And of course, you must be running at least iOS 5.1 and have iBooks 3.)

Donny Claxton speaking in San Antonio during an ASTD conference on mobile learning.

Donny Claxton speaking in San Antonio during an ASTD conference on mobile learning.

Even I was amazed at some of the presentations and developments taking place in the world of mobile apps and technologies. It’s inspiring to see some things that we only could have dreamed about a few years ago are quickly coming to fruition and even are already behind the curve, even though they’re likely still very much ahead of most.

George Saltsman from Abilene Christian University, who helped lead us into the development of books for iPad also spoke about changes that are coming in the pedagogy of education, while Dr. Robbie Melton from the University of Tennessee’s Board Regents showed off some amazing new gadgets and apps that are changing the workforce around the world.

FROM MY PRESENTATION, you will see a discussion about many of the amazing widgets and products we’ve built for books for iPad and a healthy discussion about whether or not we should even continue to call these products “books.” Also discussed are some of the variations and differences in this emerging field of technology, like the difference between EPUB 2.0.1 and EPUB 3.0 and what those two things mean to someone trying to decide on an eReader or an author trying to figure out which platform they should be publishing their materials on.

After my presentation, I was flooded with requests for more information, business cards and LinkedIn requests.

If you have any questions about how to make an eBook in EPUB or an interactive book for the iPad using 3D animations, movies, interactive timelines, puzzles and more, please reach out and let me know.

 

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When God Redefines The Possible Book for iPad on iBookstore

When God Redefines The Possible Book for iPad on iBookstore

JOHN ED MATHISON MINISTRY PUBLISHES INNOVATIVE, INTERACTIVE BOOK FOR IPAD DESIGNED TO EXPAND MINISTRY WORK WORLDWIDE

 ‘When God Redefines The Possible’ Now Available AT WGRTP.com

MONTGOMERY, AL—Former Senior Minister of Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church in Montgomery, John Ed Mathison, is making history again. This time, he’s teamed up with a former Alabama governor’s press secretary to release an innovative, interactive book exclusively for the iPad that will change how people around the world follow a daily devotional or use social media to hold “Sunday School classes worldwide.”

When God Redefines The Possible

When God Redefines The Possible, John Ed Mathison’s book for iPad.

Mathison recently released When God Redefines The Possible on Apple’s iBookstore, a title he published in paperback in November. The new work, complete with 22 videos, interactive puzzles, quizzes and Bible references can be used on the more than 100 million iPad and iPad mini devices in use around the world.

The book can be downloaded from the iBookstore by visiting WGRTP.com.

Production began in January with Claxton Creative, LLC of Dallas, led by Donald J. Claxton, former the former press secretary of Gov. Fob James and assistant press secretary to former Gov. Guy Hunt.

“We have taken a book printed in black and white and brought it to life with short video clips in multiple chapters that are designed to help readers prepare their minds for the text that follows by asking some important questions or giving some insight about what they’re about to read,” Mathison said. “With the rapid adoption of iPads in schools all across Montgomery and around the world, this is the new type of curriculum tool that readers young and old are finding more and more engaging and enriching in their study.

“It only makes sense to apply this same technology to something like a daily devotional where people can use these technological advances to draw closer to God and use social media to draw closer to other believers and non-believers around the world,” Mathison said.

Mathison’s book, which is 109-pages in print, expanded to 192 pages on the iPad and contains more than 50 chapters of colorful and important ministry lessons and encourages readers to see that God is still doing miracles, even in today’s turbulent times.

The videos, produced by another former aide to Gov. Hunt, Stacey Rimer Stakely, and shot at Frazer by Matthew Gamble, feature Mathison talking about healthy eating, God doing things in people’s lives they could not have anticipated, and even references to his late father, Si Mathison.

“John Ed Mathison has been a leader in ministry for almost 50 years and the exciting thing about this book for iPad is that it proves he’s still a leader in ministry even though he’s been retired from Frazer for a couple of years now,” Claxton said. “We have worked with him to produce a new tool that uses the latest in technology to help spread the word of God. That, in and of itself, is an example of God redefining the possible, as the technology for this didn’t even exist 17 months ago.”

Claxton said versions for readers using Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook are near completion as well.

“John Ed’s use of digital books will make his work available to anyone in the world with a computer, tablet or smartphone,” Claxton said.

John Ed, who served 36 years as Senior Minister of Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church in Montgomery, said he is excited to begin this new phase of his ministry.

“I have said before that ‘it is easy to have a Gutenberg mentality when we live in a Google reality.’ and taking converting my writings and teachings into a digital format so that people around the world can share and interact with each other through the social media tools and interactivity functions within the book is an example of where ministry must grow in order to reach those needing and yearning to hear the word of God,” Mathison said. “I’m excited for the potentials this brings for ministry. God really has redefined the possible.”

Claxton is no stranger to innovation and change. He was dubbed as the “foremost student iconoclast” in Dr. John Fair’s 1990 book about Auburn University at Montgomery’s first 20 years. In July 1994, he made candidate Fob James the first statewide candidate in Alabama to have a published email address. In March of 1995, he began writing the original pages for the state of Alabama’s website, which was launched and featured as the lead story in the Montgomery Advertiser in August 1995.  In 2001 he became the communications director for the Dallas Independent School District, then the 12th largest school district in the nation and helped pass the largest education bond program in Texas history—a $1.37 billion program. In 2012, his company began producing books for the iPad, including Dr. Mark Van Stone’s interactive text 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya and There’s A Zombie In My Treehouse by Ken Plume, John Robinson and Len Peralta of Atlanta. The company also has begun production on a book for Learning Forward, one of the largest professional development organizations in the world for schoolteachers.

Claxton Creative, LLC

Claxton Creative is a Dallas-based full-service public relations firm focused on the development of interactive, multi-touch publications for mobile devices worldwide.

John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

The John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries was formed in 2008, as John Ed reached the mandatory retirement age of the United Methodist Church. The ministry is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. The mission of the ministry is to bring honor and glory to the Kingdom of God by training leaders for Kingdom work. John Ed actively speaks to churches, conferences and leadership training programs on a local, national and global scale. More information is available at www.JohnEdMathison.org.

 

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Oncor Blog Presentation

Oncor Blog Presentation

An Oncor Presentation: Blogging 101

An Oncor Presentation: Blogging 101. This photo is linked to the book for iPad version of the presentation.

Recently I was invited to speak during a panel discussion at Oncor in Dallas.  I began a blog in 2004 using the name of TheDadsCenter.org. Somewhere in 2007 I began using my fabled name, @DaddyClaxton on Twitter and then bought the domain. The original “Daddy Claxton” was mentioned in a song by the late, Roy Claxton Acuff, who apparently changed the name from Carter or something else. As we created our business to build websites and now design and produce books for iPad and books for Kindle and Nook, came the development of this site.

This is the presentation I prepared for my 15 minutes. It includes helpful tips about blogging, including must-have plugins for WordPress and a  little bit about the history of blogging in general.

To download the book for iPad, simply go to this Dropbox address and download. (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2269153/Oncor/ClaxtonCreative%20Blogger.ibooks)

To download the PDF version, here’s the link. (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2269153/Oncor/ClaxtonCreative%20Blogger.pdf)

What Book Did You Read Last? How’d you choose it?

What Book Did You Read Last? How did you choose it?

How did you pick the last book you read?

How did you pick the last book you read?

The last book I read was John Ed Mathison’s When God Redefines the Possible, soon to be released for Kindle, Nook and iPad.  Today I was given a stack of books to read by a potential client. Yeah, that makes me a little different than most people. So how do you go about picking what to read next?

This past weekend I was going through some of the Lynda.com courses on e-Books etc. and stumbled on a reminder to do some connecting of other sites to GoodReads.com.  On their site I noticed a number of surveys they’ve been conducting.  Now these numbers aren’t scientific in nature–there is a huge non respondent biased, not to mention the vast universe of people out there who don’t go to the GoodReads.com website. But of the thousands who have answered the questions, the responses are quite interesting.

So how do most people who use GoodReads.com say they picked the last book they read? Well, actually, just like I did today. A friend said “Here, take a look at these.”  Most often there’s a different dialogue associated with such, I realize. “Hey, have you read…?”

Nearly 14,000 votes fell off to the next answer–they got the tips from GoodReads.com itself.

Seven-thousand more down in responses fell off to the third most popular answer–people found things in their bookstore.  Even fewer found them in a library. Just a few less relied on Amazon.  And then there’s the searing slap on the work of publicists–only 6 percent said they read a book because they saw something about it in the news media. Blogs didn’t do much better. Best seller recommendations were way down on the list, too.

So how do you pick a book to read?

 

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

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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