3 Strategies for Writing a Book

Here are three strategies for writing a book. My favorite approach? I’ve used and like all three methods, but one might work better than the others, depending on the project.
Of course there’s the traditional method of just writing a book with your derrière in a chair and your hands on the keyboard, for 120 hours or more. If you like to blog, you might prefer the second method: blog first, compile later. If you are in a hurry, you could try the third method: dictate it and get the whole story down in audio form, in about 10 percent the time it takes to write a draft the traditional way (but spend more time editing).
Take your pick or try all three, but most importantly, believe in yourself and never give up.


They Came Today: Ruby Pocket Reference, 2nd Edition

Ruby Pocket Reference, 2nd EditionThey came today. Ten copies of Ruby Pocket Reference, 2nd Edition. O’Reilly sent them to me. My wife and I got back from a camping trip and there they were, patiently waiting in front of our door.

This book was a long time coming and is overdue. The first edition came out in July 2007 and was based on 1.8.6. This edition is focused on 2.2.2. A lot happened between those versions, particularly in 1.9, which was a tectonic release. At 216 pages, this book is almost 50 pages longer that the original.

Honestly, there should have been several updates to this book along the way. But here it is, ready for business. And I am very happy. This is my eleventh technical book and I am negotiating with my publisher for number 12.

I am so happy that I am going to make you an offer. The first person to contact me here will receive a free, signed copy of the paperback book. Just leave me your mailing address and it’s yours.

P.S. Doug Learner was the winner of this drawing. Nice to meet you, Doug.

Ruby Pocket Reference, 2nd Edition

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I am excited to announce, finally, that the Ruby Pocket Reference, 2nd Edition is coming out next month (August 2015). It is in the final stages of production right now.

The first edition was released in July 2007, when the stable version of Ruby was 1.8.6. This new edition includes changes from 1.9 and since—it’s based on 2.2.2.

Some of the changes in the book include:

• Up-to-date method documentation for the most commonly used built-in classes and modules, such as BasicObject, Object, Kernel, String, Array, and Hash
• More extensive documentation on regular expressions
• New literal lambda syntax
• New encoding features
• Many deprecations since 1.8.7 noted
• And much more

I hope you enjoy this new edition. I like Ruby. It’s a clever language. It’s fun to learn and fun to use.

Song of Falling Leaves Published

cowgirl cover kindle 20141018I’m happy to announce the publication of a New Young Adult fantasy, Song of Falling Leaves (Book 1 of the Wanderer Series). It is available on Kindle and in paperback (publication date September 27, 2014). You can read a sample chapter by clicking here.

Note: The Kindle edition is free to read if you have Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited. It is also free if you buy the paperback edition.

The earliest scene for this book first came to me in April 2008. Here’s the storyline:

When a pair of falcons, sent from thousand miles away by a Shoshone medicine man, come calling for fourteen-year-old Andi McCall, her world is suddenly turned upside down. A death threat sends her to her grandfather’s ranch in northern Nevada. There she meets her match, an unbreakable stallion named King’s Jubilation. Together with Jubi she discovers that she is more gifted than she ever dreamed, with a secret past beyond her imagination.

I deeply appreciate the young readers who reviewed early versions of the manuscript. Their enthusiasm encouraged for me to finish the book. Thank you Kaela Stevens, Victoria Rimington, Callan Franklin, Savannah Clyde, and Kate Baron. I am also very grateful for several others who gave me invaluable feedback and advice as I developed the story, including Mary Stevens, Dawn Norton, Heather Bullough, Celesta Rimington, and Linda Clyde. Thanks are also owed to my darling wife Cristi, and our children and their spouses: Melissa and Joey, Amy and Caleb, and Aubrey. Thank you for your love and support during a project that took a lot longer than I every thought it would.

The New Young Adult genre is targeted for ages 10–14, but older readers will enjoy it as well. Published by Overdue Books. Questions? Contact me here. Thank you for your support.

Twitter Made Simple

If Facebook is about connecting with friends and family, Twitter is about connecting with like-minded people you don’t know.

I spend about 10 minutes a day on Twitter. If you do a few things there each day, you will build a following over time. My advice: (1) share what interests you with hashtags (for example, #writing), (2) support others with the same interests by retweeting and favoriting their tweets, and (3) don’t get too salesy.

If you are new to the platform, here are a few slides that can help you get started. If you have questions, please contact me. I am happy to help.

Three Reasons Why I’m Going Indie

I have been working on a novel for several years and, in the process, I’ve learned a lot about writing and myself. Strange, isn’t it? The more you pay attention to a story, the more it pays attention to you and shows up for you.

That kind of learning has a lot to do with hanging in and hanging on. For any big undertaking, you have to believe in yourself, believe in the outcome, and persevere.

I really like something the novelist James Lee Burke once said:

I’ve never seen anyone who has—once he’s determined to become a writer—not achieved his goal. I’ve never seen anyone fail who’s actually persevered and never given up.

What he’s telling me, I think, is that if I persevere, I won’t ultimately fail, and if I don’t give up, I’ll eventually succeed.

I’ll publish my novel independently next month, as I have several other books. I know I’m taking a risk, but it’s calculated. By going indie I’ll miss out on 1-2-3—

  1. A publisher’s marketing reach
  2. Their high production values
  3. Prestige and royalties

Ten of my books, nearly half, have been published by traditional publishers. John Wiley & Sons published my first two, and O’Reilly the rest. I’ve been with O’Reilly since 2002 and have had a very positive experience with them, largely due to my bright, patient, and kind editor, Simon St.Laurent.

But alas, O’Reilly doesn’t publish pre-apocalyptic, YA fantasies set in the contemporary West, nor fiction of any kind.

So how will I deal with 1-2-3?

  1. I’ll have to rely on the reach of folks in my social media circles—3,016 as of today—to share my story. Emphasis on share. I won’t get overtly salesy there. I’ll just share it and ask others to do so.
  2. I had the cover designed by a professional, as well as the book interior. I’ve also hired an editor to review the book one last time. These kinds of investments are the kinds of investments a traditional publisher makes in a book anyway so why shouldn’t I? You can’t judge a book by its cover but you can sell one by it. And if I discover an error or flaw along the way, I can correct the trouble quickly and upload my changes.
  3. I’ll have to depend on acceptance by readers for any prestige. I’m just not worried about that. If the book is any good, and I sincerely believe it is, readers will lend the book all the prestige it needs.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it goes.