Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Yippee!

I've finished the 80,000 word rough draft to my novel MIND THIEF. Click here for some of my thoughts about it.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Teacher's Unions

The GOP has declared war on what they say is the cause of all the nations problems Teacher's Unions. They claim that states with strong union membership don't show better results than states with low union membership. So I tested this claim looking at Standardized Test Scores by State vs. Union Membership here is what I found.

Best on Standardized Tests:

#1 Massachusetts.............99.3% Union Membership
#2 Vermont......................90.8% Union Membership
#3 New Jersey...................100% Union Membership
#4 New Hampshire...........100% Union Membership
#5 Minnesota....................99.3% Union Membership

Worst on Standardized Tests:

#50 Mississippi.................02.2% Union Membership
#49 West Virgina..............10.5% Union Membership
#48 New Mexico...............36.8% Union Membership
#47 Louisiana.....................11.6% Union Membership
#46 Oklahoma......................33% Union Membership

Now correlation does not mean causation, but this is pretty striking. The top states on standardized test results all had strong union membership and the ones on the bottom had weak union membership.

So to answer George W. Bush's famous question, “Is they learning?” it appears that only in states that have high union membership “is” the students learning.

So to anyone who says that union membership doesn't make for better schools, I say, “Shut-up Stupid and look at the side by side comparison.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Finding my Muse

Click here for this week's Writing Wednesday.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ebook Formating: Thermonuclear Option

I've been a little busy this week working with my free Ebook I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE. I had a little problem with the formating. A few months ago a virus took out my Windows, rather than spend hours getting rid of it I just installed Ubuntu and have been using Open Office instead of Word. The switch was remarkably easy, the only two things I found different in the applications is Open Offices dictionary gives the strangest words for replacement of misspelled words, a few years ago that would have killed me but at this point it is just annoying, and sometimes amusing. The second problem with Open Office is every time I open it either the phone rings or my wife comes into my office needing me to do something. I've searched the options and can't seem to find a way to turn this feature off. If someone knows please tell me.

It wasn't until I needed to turn my book into a Word Doc that I ran into trouble. I sent it over to my Mac and opened it in Word 2001 and found I had a problem. Smashwords wants the document in “Normal” and I wasn't given that option. I could only get it formated in “Body Text Indent” which I know from experience is almost the same thing.

Smashwords suggests copying the text to notepad (or text edit for Mac) then copying it back into word. They call this the “Nuclear Option”. I tried that but got the same results, I still didn't have the option to make it “Normal”.

I uploaded it and previewed it as a PDF, as a PDF it looked okay, not great but okay. It was both indented and it had a 6 point space at the end of each paragraph. It wasn't prefect but it was readable. After a week they had the Sony Ereader preview up and I eagerly looked at it, it was absolutely horrible.

The 6 point space turned into a double carriage return, the 5 indent turned into a 10 space. There was more blank space than there was text. This would not do. I re-read all the instructions and they didn't deal with this problem so I had to come up with my own.

Smashwords offers the books in RTF (Rich Text Format) I downloaded it and found it had been converted into “Normal”, so that was a good start.

From that “Normal” text I was able to strip all the formating and start clean. I could then go into the paragraph settings and set them properly, but in my bookmarks and do all the cool formating stuff. Somehow in doing all this I accidentally hit the tab in one spot, and that kicked it out of the premium distribution channels but that was an easy fix and the latest version is being uploaded now, and should be ready this evening.

I also found a cool program that lets me preview the (lrf) Sony eReader files so I don't have to wait a week for the preview. Calibre, it lets me read the different types of eBooks on my Mac. The new eReader version looks good, and the Kindle version is okay, it put everything in single line instead of 1.5 and the Kindle doesn't have page breaks so there isn't a space between stories, and it tries to justify everything. I assume that is just the limitations of the Kindle.

If you are wanting to put your books up on Smashwords but Words formating is fighting you here is a method I'm going to call the “Thermonuclear Option” as it is a step above the “Nuclear Option”. If I come up with a stronger one I'll have to get into quantum physics to name it.

Load your book up on to Smashwords. When it is loaded, download the RTF version and unpublish it. Use the downloaded version to redo all your formating. Upload the new version and download all the formats. View them on Calibre to see how they look, make any changes necessary.

This is a long about way to clean up your formating but the results are worth it.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Friday, March 18, 2011

Going Nuclear II

Back in January I wrote post, badly, about a problem with Nuclear Power Plants that no one seemed to be addressing which was that the huge amount of water needed for a Nuclear Power Plant to operate limits where they should be placed to the coastlines of the Oceans and Great Lakes. Going Nuclear

The nuclear crisis in Japan underscores this problem in a way I hadn't even thought of.

As of today it looks like the Japanese reactors will be brought back under control thanks to first of all 50 engineers who volunteered their lives (they've taken lethal amounts of radiation in order to keep the plant from melting down). Second to the huge amount of sea water that the fire departments and army were able to pour onto the reactors.

Because the reactors were built right on the coastline the Japanese were able to flood the reactors keeping them cool enough not to meltdown while power could be restored to the cooling pumps. Because of this action it looks like the high level radioactive fallout will be contained to an 18 mile radius. (This is all subject to change as the reports from there change hourly).

Looking at the Japanese Nuclear Crisis, it seems obvious that any new reactor built in the US (or anywhere really) should take the knowledge learned from this crisis and apply it to the design.

Unfortunately, from what I am hearing, this is not the case. They are looking at what happens if an Earthquake of historic size hits a reactor but that doesn't address the two basic problems.

First, the current reactors have active pumping systems to cool the core, so if something goes wrong and electricity can't power the pumps you get a situation like you have in Japan. It doesn't take a historic earthquake to make the pumps lose power. The HB Robinson plant in South Carolina was shut down twice in six months because the contractor used the wrong size electrical wire when upgrading the pumps.

Any new reactor needs to have a passive control system to cool the core in case of an emergency, or we will get another crisis like Japan.

Second, there needs to be a system in place to cool the entire plant in case of disaster. In Japan they came up with the plan to flood the reactor with seawater on the spot. They should have had the equipment in place for last ditch effort when the plant was built.

I am fairly pro-nuclear power, it has a lot to offer, but in order for it to be a viable alternative to fossil fuels these are seem fundamental engineering problems that need to be addressed.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ebook Review: No Such Thing Exists

by E. M. Jenkinson

This is an interesting little story, it straddles the line between poetry and prose. At 792 words the author could only focus on one element and in this case Jenkinson concentrated on the imagery, and did it very, very well. She makes you feel that one moment in time.

In her bio she mentions that she is wondering if she should get back into writing. I hope she does, she can certainly do imagery and I would love to see a longer piece from her with more elements, character development, plot pacing, ect. If she brings the passion for those things that she brought to the imagery in NO SUCH THING EXISTS she will be a great writer.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Daylight Saving Time

I set aside 45 minutes to do my Shut-up Stupid Sunday and forgot about DST. So I have -15 minutes to write this.

So I say to George Vernon Hudson, the guy who came up with the idea, "Shut-up Stupid, you completely ruined my day."

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fantastic Future Friday: Fictional Science

For today's Fantastic Future Friday, I wrote about Science in Science Fiction. This is more about writing than anything else so I posted it on my writing blog.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Big News

Regular readers of this blog probably noticed I've cut down heavily on my blogging. That is because I've been working on a special treat for all my loyal readers. I've published a free eBook: I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

This eBook has 4 of my short stories that are similar in theme, they blend science fiction and horror in an entertaining way. I'm really proud of these 4 short stories and by making them free I hope that everyone can enjoy them.

The eBook is available in all the major eReader formats as well as PDF and RTF for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu.

I decided to give these stories away free for two reasons. First, the reason I edited them and rewrote them countless times is because I wanted other people to enjoy them. Second, I realized that I simply have never bought a book from an author I haven't read other books from, I always either read one of their books in the library or in a magazine first. By releasing this book for free I can reach readers like me who have never bought a book from an unknown author.

I hope everyone checks out my free eBook and lets me know what they think.
It is available for download here:

The second big announcement I have is that I am setting up a second blog: Darrell B Nelson's Writing

With 82 posts here on Project Savior about writing I believe I have enough to say about that to host a separate blog on the subject. I will at least do my normal “Writing Wednesday” post over there and possibly a few others. It will also separate my writing life from my rantings about the world around me.

I will still do my normal (if that's the right word for it) Shut-up Stupid Sunday post as people seem to like that, Sundays and Mondays I get hundreds of hits compared to my normal 50 or so. I'll also keep writing the random posts about anything outside of writing that crosses my mind.

I hope everyone likes my free eBook and new blog.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Repeal the Law of Gravity

There are a few bills moving through different states that attempt to put legal restrictions on physics and medical science. In Georgia there is a bill proposed by State Representative Bobby Franklin that would make miscarriages illegal and punishable by death. Full Story Here. This law would put an end to the medical fact that 50% of the time a fertilized egg doesn't attach to the uterine wall, or kill any woman who has unprotected sex (I'm not sure what the end goal is). In Montana there is a bill to declare that Global Warming is natural and beneficial. Full Story Here. Basically the point is if you don't like reality you can just pass a law to change it.

I think we can take these ideas one step farther and give our Space Program a boost. The biggest obstacle in space operations is getting the space craft out of Earth's gravity well. Florida could pass a law repealing the Law of Gravity on the launch pad's at Kennedy Space Center. That way we wouldn't need to build huge rocket boosters just wheel the spacecraft out to the launch pad where we've repealed the law of gravity and let them float off.

To anyone who thinks any of these bills are a good idea, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, the laws of Physics trump any man-made law. If you can't see that you shouldn't be allowed out of your house.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Writing Styles

Every Agent and publisher likes to tell writers that they should try to cultivate a certain writing style and stick with it or get pseudonyms for their different styles. This makes great business sense as the writers fans will know what to expect when they pick up a book.

Unfortunately it is something that I don't seem to be able to do.

I have a hard time staying in a genre, so sticking to a certain style is out of the question for me. So I guess the traditional publishers won't be knocking down my door with multi-book deals.

As far as the styles of my books they are going to be all over the place, which is a slight problem as I decided to write a series which will have wildly different styles and cross a few genres as well.

The series spans 250 years and uses quite a few styles.

MIND THIEF is the chronologically the first in the series. It is a present day thriller with some technological elements. As far as the style it is full of action and the sex scenes border on the pornographic, it's a very dark piece with the protagonists doing anything to find the answers they seek, even torture. That is balanced out by the bad guy being even more ruthless. I'm 60,000 words in and wrapping up the conclusion.

ASK NOT is Dystopian Science Fiction that shows how the heroes of MIND THIEF have created a society where comprehensive thinking is discouraged leaving most of the population happy little automatons. It's style has a clash of ideals without much physical action, the sex scenes are all behind closed doors. All the characters believe in helping mankind just have different visions. I'm 30,000 words in so I have a real feel for the book.

THE SETTING EARTH is classic golden age Sci-Fi. All the concepts within the book are technically feasible, and have had small scale experiments done. Naturally just because something is possible doesn't mean it's economical. The overall tone is that mankind can use science to overcome any obstacle. The book is finished and just needs a couple little revisions.

EARTHSTRIKE a psychological thriller set alternately in 2011 and 2250. The science in the book relies heavily on a few quantum physic hypothesis that are completely untested and in dispute, It will take decades of running the Large Hadron Supercollider to even start testing these ideas. The style is very mixed as the main character will do anything for revenge including plotting to kill directly over a billion people and leaving 5 billion people to die of starvation while condemning the survivors to a pre-industrail living. It is very dark but at the same time reinforces the idea that good can overcome evil.

I really like the idea of this series, but I know that no publisher will buy it as not only is science fiction but the styles change heavily in each book. I plan on releasing them as ebooks but I'm worried that fans will be confused as some are dark action thrillers and some are non-action Science Fiction. The only author I know of that changes styles so wildly is Harry Harrison and even he didn't do it within a series of books.

But I'm wondering, does anyone out there know of an author who switches the styles of their novels wildly and is successful at it? If so let me know so I can try and figure out the secret.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts