Tag Archives: eBooks

Here’s what I’ve been working on…

When people start a blog they go at it with great vigor, posting daily. Usually they taper off after a while and then they post every now and then. I’m a good, or perhaps poor, example of that kind of blogger. But that doesn’t mean I’m not writing. I am, it’s just not for the blog.

So, what is it I’ve been doing lately? I’ve been re-writing a century-old tale of the sea written by a master, Harry Collingwood. Harry Collingwood is the pen name of William Joseph Cosens Lancaster (1851-1922), the son of a Royal Navy captain and educated at the Naval College, Greenwich. He was at sea from the age of 15 but had to abandon his Royal Navy career because of severe myopia. Between 1886 and 1913, whilst working as a marine engineer specializing in harbor design, he wrote 23 nautically based novels as “Harry Collingwood” which honoured his hero Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, Nelson’s second in command at Trafalgar. (Source: Historical Naval Fiction).

Collingwoods STORIES are excellent, but the style is old and turgid compared to today’s standards. I think it’s a shame that such good stories are left to wither and die of old age. I find stories like “The Log of a Privateersman” at Project Gutenberg. The copyright has long since expired, and this story is over 100 years old. There are a lot of people who download Public Domain books, slap a preface on them while leaving the old text intact, and then offer them for sale online for as much as they possibly can.

What I do is try and make the book read as though it was written in the 21st century, not the 19th. There is hardly a paragraph that I’ve left intact. And it’s not a fast, slash and burn edit, either. This book, which I’m now going through for the final edit, is well over 400 pages long. Collingwood, while writing vividly about action at sea, rarely gets into descriptions of the characters in his books. Almost never. I try to overcome that deficiency.

What follows are the first couple of paragraphs from the book…Collingwood’s original text and my rewrite.

CHAPTER ONE.

THE CAPTURE OF THE WEYMOUTH–AND WHAT IT LED TO.

The French probably never did a more audacious thing than when, on the

night of October 26th, 1804, a party of forty odd of them left the

lugger _Belle Marie_ hove-to in Weymouth Roads and pulled, with muffled

oars, in three boats, into the harbour; from whence they succeeded in

carrying out to sea the newly-arrived West Indian trader _Weymouth_,

loaded with a full cargo of rum, sugar, and tobacco.  The expedition was

admirably planned, the night chosen being that upon which the new moon

occurred; it was a dismal, rainy, and exceptionally dark night, with a

strong breeze blowing from the south-west; the hour was about two

o’clock a.m.; there was an ebb tide running; and the ship–which had

only arrived late in the afternoon of the previous day–was the outside

vessel in a tier of three; the Frenchman had, therefore, nothing

whatever to do but to cut the craft adrift and allow her to glide,

silent as a ghost, down the harbour with bare poles, under the combined

influence of the strong wind and the ebb tide.  There was not a soul

stirring about the quays at that hour; nobody, therefore, saw the ship

go out; and the two custom-house officers and the watchman–the only

Englishmen aboard her–were fast asleep, and were secured before they

had time or opportunity to raise an alarm.  So neatly, indeed, was the

trick done that the first intimation poor old Peter White–the owner of

the ship and cargo–had of his loss was when, at the first streak of

dawn, he slipped out of bed and went to the window to gloat over the

sight of the safely-arrived ship, moored immediately opposite his house

but on the other side of the harbour, where she had been berthed upon

her arrival on the previous afternoon.  The poor old gentleman could

scarcely credit his eyes when those organs informed him that the berth,

occupied but a few hours previously, was now vacant.  He looked, and

looked, and looked again; and finally he caught sight of the ropes by

which the _Weymouth_ had been moored, dangling in the water from the

bows and quarters of the ships to which she had been made fast.  Then an

inkling of the truth burst upon him, and, hastily donning his clothes,

he rushed downstairs, let himself out of the house, and sped like a

madman down the High Street, across Hope Square, and so on to the Nothe,

in the forlorn hope that the ship, which, with her cargo, represented

the bulk of the savings of a lifetime, might still be in sight.  And to

his inexpressible joy she was; not only so, she was scarcely two miles

off the port, under sail, and heading for the harbour in company with a

British sloop-of-war.  She had been recaptured, and ere the news of her

audacious seizure had reached the ears of more than a few of the

townspeople she was back again in her former berth, and safely moored by

chains to the quay.

It was clear to me, and to the rest of the _Weymouth’s_ crew, when we

mustered that same morning to be paid off, that the incident had

inflicted a terribly severe shock upon Mr White’s nerves.  The poor old

boy looked a good ten years older than when he had boarded us in the

roads on the previous afternoon and had shaken hands with Captain Winter

as he welcomed him home and congratulated him upon having successfully

eluded the enemy’s cruisers and privateers; but there was a fierce

glitter in his eyes and a firm, determined look about his mouth which I,

for one, took as an indication that the fright, severe as it undoubtedly

was, had not quelled the old man’s courage.

It was a miserably rainy night in late October, 1804, when the French lugger Belle Mere hove-to in Weymouth Roads. Silently, three boats were lowered over the side and about forty men, manning muffled oars, snuck into the harbor and boarded the West Indian trader Weymouth loaded with a full cargo of rum, sugar and tobacco that had just arrived the previous afternoon.

The Weymouth was the outside vessel in a tier of three at the dock waiting to be unloaded, so the boarders had nothing more to do when they boarded her then cut her adrift and allow her to glide quietly down the harbor with bare poles influenced by the strong wind and ebb tide.

Because the weather was so foul there wasn’t a soul stirring on the quays at that hour so no one saw the ship leaving. The two customs-house officers and the watchman, the only Englishmen aboard, were fast asleep when the boarding party swarmed over the side of the ship and they were trussed up and gagged before they had a chance to raise an alarm.

The whole operation had been pulled off so smoothly that poor, portly Peter White, the ship’s owner, didn’t know his ship was missing when he got out of bed at the first hint of dawn. He slipped his feet into a pair of slippers and shuffled to his bedroom window to gloat over the sight of his new ship, moored opposite his house on the other side of the harbor. He stared out the window; his mouth opening and closing like a fish’s while his brain tried to process the fact that his pretty ship was missing. He looked, looked again and it finally registered that the ropes that had tethered the Weymouth to the bows and quarters of the ship she’d been tied to the night before were dangling limply into the gray water of Weymouth harbor.

When he finally accepted that his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him he struggled to get into his clothes, hopping first on one foot and then the other as he battled to pull his pants over his heavy, stubby legs and he didn’t bother wasting time trying to don any hose. Huffing and puffing he had little success buttoning his great coat over his massive stomach as he rumbled down High Street, and across Hope Square, scattering fishwives and draymen in his path while leaving a string of oaths distinctly heard above the sound of horse’s hooves and iron-bound wheels rumbling over the cobble stones. Little flecks of white spittle gathered at the corners of his tiny, oddly-shaped mouth as he prayed aloud that the ship, along with her cargo, which represented the bulk of his lifetime savings might, against all hope, still be where she had been when he’d gone to bed the night before. She wasn’t.

Miraculously, though, about two miles off shore, under sail, and headed for the harbor in the company of a British sloop-of-war, was the Weymouth! An hour later she was back in her former berth and made fast to the quay with chains this time, rather than rope.

I had been about 3/4 of the way through this when my old Hewlitt-Packard notebook computer died. I hadn’t been good about backing my work up and lost about 2/3rds of what I’d done. Now I’ve finished the first go-round, backing up to an external drive at the end of each chapter. I’ll run through it once more, adding here, snipping there, and probably around the first of April I’ll put it up for sale.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Now In Paperback!

A lot of people don’t think a book is a “book” unless it’s made out of dead trees. I can understand that until I bought my Kindle and started publishing my Christopher Columbus books electronically. I say “books” because there are three different versions.

One is simply the original, all-English version that is only available as an e-book. http://www.amazon.com/Tacking-Through-Adversitys-Wake-ebook/dp/B007X8F278/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337002969&sr=1-3  It is priced at $2.99.

Then there are the two dual-language editions. Stephany Peñaloza and Deyreth García, students at La Universidad Latina here in David, Panama, translated the book into Spanish as their thesis for their degrees in English translation. I combined the original English book with their translation and published them as e-books priced at $4.99.

http://www.amazon.com/Virada-Estela-Adversidad-Desafortunado-ebook/dp/B007XU7Y7M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337002969&sr=1-1 Is for English-speakers studying Spanish. The Spanish text is presented first in BOLD face followed immediately by the English text in ITALICS. This formatting, which I haven’t seen used anywhere else, allows the reader’s eye to follow the story as they would reading normally, yet they can easily check the italics to confirm their comprehension.

I also converted the book for Spanish-speakers studying English with the English version in bold text and the Spanish in italics. http://www.amazon.com/Adversitys-Wake-Calamitous-Christopher-ebook/dp/B007XTYMXW/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337002969&sr=1-2

While Amazon has reported that e-books are actually outselling paperbacks, a lot of people don’t have an e-book reader. I know that’s true of several people who follow this blog. Also, in an effort to supplement my income, I decided to publish the books through CreateSpace, the Print on Demand branch of Amazon.com. to reach a wider audience.

Let me tell you, there’s a HUGE difference in formatting a book for print than it is setting one up for digital publishing, and the learning curve for doing it was STEEP! I spent more than a week tearing my hair out (and at 70 I still have a full head of hair) trying to figure out such things as inserting headers and footers and page numbering. The digital editions of the book are approximately 288 pages. The reason I say approximately is that with a digital book the reader can change the size of the type and when that happens the page count changes. In a printed volume the page count can’t be changed. It is what it is. Sort of.

The first paperback edition of the English to Spanish book is 316 pages. I’m working on the Spanish to English version now and it’s interesting. Even though the type face and type size is the same when the Spanish text is put into boldface and the English into italics the page count jumps to 319 pages.

Well, folks, here it is: https://www.createspace.com/3862699 Because of printing costs I had to price the book at $9.99. Odd thing is that while it’s a bit double the price of the electronic version my royalty works is only 1/3 of what I make from the e-book. Actually I make about a nickel more from the electronic version than I do from the paperback.

Comments Off

Filed under Uncategorized

My Dual-Language Books at Amazon.com

I have combined my book about Christopher Columbus’s last voyage with the Spanish translation.

For English-speaking students studying Spanish there is this volume:

http://www.amazon.com/Virada-Estella-Adversidad-Desafortunado-ebook/dp/B007XU7Y7M/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335616803&sr=1-3

For Spanish-speaking students studying English there is this version:

http://www.amazon.com/Adversitys-Wake-Calamitous-Christopher-ebook/dp/B007XTYMXW/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335616803&sr=1-5

To See ALL my books available at Amazon.com go here:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=richard+philbrick

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

My Dual-Language Books At Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Adversitys-Wake-Calamitous-Christopher-ebook/dp/B007XTYMXW/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335616803&sr=1-5

http://www.amazon.com/Virada-Estella-Adversidad-Desafortunado-ebook/dp/B007XU7Y7M/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335616803&sr=1-3

 

Comments Off

Filed under Uncategorized

Reader Feedback Request

One of the big advantages for writers, especially independent authors, has been the digital revolution. No longer is an author’s work dependent on literary agents (Literary agents, in my opinion, are like lawyers, low-life bottom-feeders who can’t write themselves so they make a living skimming 15% off the top from people who can write. They simply didn’t have the grades in college that would get them admitted to law school so they could spend their lives chasing ambulances.) and the Big 6 publishing houses who are more interested in churning out re-hashed versions of the same, slightly modified stories by the likes of James Patterson, John Grishom, Clive Cussler and the like. Those with a vested interest in perpetuating the Big 6 domination of the literary world clamor that independent authors clutter the world with trashy writing…yeah? Look above and tell me about their value to the printed word.

Ever since Gutenberg figured out moveable type until just a couple of years ago once an author gave his work a title and a cover was affixed to it that was it. . forever. You were stuck with it. Now, though, with just a few clicks of the mouse (and a new ISBN number) an author whose work is in electronic form whether as an e-book or Print on Demand (POD) can change the title and/or the cover at will.

I’ve never been completely happy with either the title of my book about Christopher Columbus’s horrible fourth voyage. His fleet was denied entrance into Santo Domingo to ride out an approaching hurricane. It took them a month to sail the northern coast of what is now Honduras and when they turned the corner he named it “Cabo de Gracias a Dios” which is still on charts to this day, 510 years later. They constantly battled contrary winds and currents. Their attempt at establishing a colony in Panama was a disaster. The Indians didn’t take kindly to the thought of sharing their land with these interlopers and in a bloody battle literally drove the white men into the sea. With his ship’s hulls leaking like sieves because of shipworms he was forced to abandon two of the four in Panama. Trying to return to Santo Domingo the two remaining ships were so close to sinking that besides manning the pumps 24 hours a day the men were literally bailing with their cooking utensils to the point where they had to be run ashore on the bleak coast of Jamaica to save their lives. They remained there for over a year and Columbus faced starvation, a mutiny and a pitched battle between the mutineers and those loyal to their leader.

The original title of the book was “Despair!” and the cover was an old painting of the “Admiral of the Ocean Sea.” It was okay, I guess, but not really what I wanted. Now, with the book translated into Spanish and being worked on to be offered as a dual-language book, I’ve decided on a new title and cover art. I’d like to get some honest feedback from my readers as to what they think of the new title and cover.

Old cover and title:

 

What do you think about this?

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

My Latest Project

As a lot of you know, my book, Despair! (http://www.amazon.com/Despair-ebook/dp/B004LLIXT4/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1334499453&sr=1-3) has been translated into Spanish by two young students at the Universidad Latina here in David, Stephany Peñaloza and Deyreth Garcia.

Stephany (L) Deyreth (R)

Stephany translated the first half of the book and Deyreth the other half. I had them send me their MSWord files of their translation and combined the two for a project I’ve had in mind. I spent several days going through the two files and formatting them so they’d work as an electronic book. Stephany had LOTS of extra spaces between words that had to be eliminated and she also used the “TAB” key a lot which throws off the formatting. And Deyreth’s version didn’t use quotation marks correctly so I had to painstakingly go through her version and insert them as needed. One thing I found in going through their versions was that I’d missed punctuation here and there in spite of having read it so many times I was sick of the story.

One of the requirements of their course was that they give me a bound copy of their work. I’d received Stephany’s several months ago and Deyreth wrote to me a couple of weeks ago saying her bound copy was ready and we needed to get together so she could give it to me. Another of the requirements of the course was that they could receive no financial remuneration for their work. My big brainstorm for a project needed their permission to publish their work side by side with mine and I needed to get them to sign away any rights they might have to their translation.

Yesterday I met the two of them at a fine Italian restaurant in David for dinner and explained what I had in mind and got them to sign my agreement to publish their translation. It could very well help them in the future, though, when they go looking for translation work. When asked if they can show any work they’ve done they can say, “Well, sure, here, I translated a BOOK!”

So, here’s what I’ve been working on. 1) I plan on offering the translation simply as a Spanish version of the book. 2) I am combining my original version of the book with their translation so English-speaking students who are studying Spanish can read the Spanish version followed immediately by the original. Like this:

No recuerdo cómo el viejo, Juan, vino a vivir con mi madre y conmigo. Parecía que siempre había estado allí. Él no tenía ningún parentesco con nosotros. No que yo supiera, de todos modos. Él simplemente estaba ‘allí. I don’t remember how the old man, Juan, came to live with my mother and me. It seemed he had always been there. He was no blood relation of ours. Not that I knew of, anyway. He was simply ‘there.’

De niño él me asustaba. No era nada por lo que él hiciese. Era sólo él. Corto de estatura, casi diminuto, su piel quemada por el sol estaba arrugada como una pieza de fruta seca. Siempre estaba encorvado. Aún de pie y apoyado en el viejo pedazo de rama de árbol que llevaba consigo a todas partes, él nunca estuvo erguido. Su espalda siempre estuvo doblada como si hubiera visto algo en el suelo y se había detenido por un segundo para obtener una mejor visión de ella. Cuando él había estado bebiendo no solamente se inclinaba ligeramente hacia adelante también se inclinaba de un lado al otro. Viendo sus brazos podrías decir, que alguna vez él había sido muy fuerte. Todavía se veían los músculos fornidos debajo de los diseños de tinta permanente en su piel. As a young child he scared me. It wasn’t anything he did. It was just him. Short of stature, tiny almost, his sun-weathered skin was wrinkled like a piece of dried up discarded fruit. He was forever hunched over. Even standing and leaning on the old piece of tree limb he carried with him everywhere he was never straight. His back was always bent as if he’d just spotted something on the ground and had stopped for a second to get a better look at it. When he’d been drinking he wasn’t just bent forward, he leaned to one side or the other, too.  You could tell, looking at his arms, that he had once been very strong. The muscles still rippled under the faded designs permanently inked into his skin.

Él nunca peinó su cabello. Era un blanco cegador y lo poco que quedaba de él creció en lugares aislados en la cabeza. Estaba como ligero y fino, cual la pelusa, como la flor de la planta del diente de león y que ni la más leve brisa lo haría agitarse. He never combed or brushed his hair.  It was blindingly white and what little there was of it grew in isolated spots on his head. It was as light and fine as dandelion fuzz and the slightest suggestion of a breeze would cause it to flutter nervously.

Sus ojos eran del azul más oscuro, como el color del mar, donde la línea recta del horizonte reúne el azul claro del cielo y que a menudo parecía que él estaba mirando fijamente a esa línea lejana donde todo lo que un marinero busca aparecerá en primer lugar. Y su nariz grande, como la de un halcón, hendida en el mar de su cara como la aleta de un tiburón surcando las tranquilas aguas dentro de un arrecife. His eyes were the darkest blue; like the color of the sea where the straight line of the horizon meets the lighter blue of the sky and it often seemed that he was staring intently at that distant line where whatever a seaman is looking for will first appear. And his large, hawk-like nose cleaved the sea of his face like a shark’s fin slicing through the calm waters inside a reef.

Él me dio miedo, el viejo Juan lo hizo, pero eso era cuando yo era joven. A medida que fui creciendo y poco a poco él reveló su historia, yo crecí con el amor del hombre y la maravilla de la aventura de su vida. He scared me, old Juan did, but that was when I was young. As I got older and he slowly revealed his story to me I grew to love the man and marveled at the adventure of his life.

For Spanish-speaking students the book will be presented in reverse with the English first followed by the Spanish translation. So far I’ve gotten the Spanish to English version finished and it wasn’t easy. It took me three complete working days to do it. I’ve got the first two chapters of the English to Spanish version done so far. When that’s done I’ll have to create a cover for the book that is different than the original so it won’t be confusing to people searching on line. I’ll let you all know when they are published.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Twenty Percent of Nothing

As I’ve mentioned, I love my Kindle. Currently I have 120 “books” waiting to be read. Well, 119 because I’m reading one of them now. I can’t tell you how many I’ve already read but I go through two or three a week.

Almost all of the books I’ve downloaded have been free. If you go to the Kindle site you’ll find a list of the 100 Best Sellers on Kindle. The hundred best that can run from 99¢ to $12.99 for the latest Jonathan Kellerman and John Grisham offerings. Sorry, but I’m not going to pay $12.99 for any of their books even if they were in the dead tree format.

One of the big rips going around in the literary field is that with the advent of such services as Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing making it possible for anybody to “publish” is that the markets are being flooded with crap that’s not worth reading. Well, that’s certainly true to some extent, but there’s a lot of crap that’s being foisted upon the reading public by the established publishing houses, too. And most of it is horribly overpriced.

The majority of the free books on the Kindle Best Seller list come from independent and first-time authors, though I’ve found quite a few mid-list writers whose books are offered for free and have enjoyed them. I’m a sucker for mysteries and have enjoyed Paul Levine’s Jake Lassiter series having read four so far, as well as H. Terrel Griffin’s Matt Royal series. Both authors books are based in Florida where I lived for nearly half of my life. But I’ve also found some wonderful first-timers, too. Bubba and the Dead Woman by C.L. Blevill and Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise by Joyce Magnin were two of many.

I check out the Best Sellers list every morning since a lot of the books only stay there for a day or two and if you don’t download them when you see them they’ll be gone and if you weren’t fast enough downloading them you’d have to pay. That’s why there’s a 120 books in my active list. The one thing about these free books is that if they don’t capture me in the first couple of chapters I can toss them and I’ve lost nothing but an hour or two.

This morning, coming in at #23 is, Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out by Pandora Poikilos.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Excuse-Brains-Have-Stepped-ebook/dp/B006FOTWUO/ref=zg_bs_digital-text_23

The title intrigued me so I clicked on it to find out what it was about. This is the product description:

“Anya Michaels is having the time of her life. She has the man of her dreams by her side. She has graduated at the top of her class. She has the job others were lining up for. Between late night drinks at her favourite bar and fancy dinners at the most expensive restaurants, she has a string of adoring friends. Everything changes when she hears the dreaded words, “You are sick.”

“Being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder, her world starts to fall apart, one piece at a time. Now dumped, her four year relationship is nothing but a memory filled with pictures, thoughts and a very broken heart. Her job becomes an even further challenge as she tries to hide her condition. Her friends suddenly have more important things to do, what is a party without a party girl? Perfect could not crumble any faster.

“Soon, caught between situations, people and pieces of life that she never dreamed of planning for herself, Anya begins to wonder if her brain condition is all that bad. As she absorbs the changes in her life and realization sets in, she begins to wonder if she is the only one saying: Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out.”

The book received 12 five-star reviews and 6 single-stars. Thirteen other readers gave it 2, 3 and 4 stars.

What I found really interesting was the last line of the product review: “20% of royalties will be donated to the National Organization of Rare Disorders.” Since it’s a FREE book, 20% of nothing is NOTHING!

Okay, I admit I’m being sarcastic here. These free books only stay free for a couple of days, as I said, and it will soon cost $2.99 to buy it when it’s back on the regular lists. And yes, there IS a National Organization for rare diseases: http://www.rarediseases.org/

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized