Variants on a Theme

I thought I would go ahead and post both of these comics to give some insight into the creative process. Often when I think of an idea to a comic, it starts with the punchline, and I work my way back from there to develop the setup. Occasionally this branches into a couple different comics, but the punch line remains the same. In these instances I usually choose the best setup situation that makes for the biggest twist on the last panel. But on an even rarer instance, I come up with an overall concept, a germinal idea if you will, that branches into two different comics with the same basic premise.

Here are two examples of that last type:

The Lie of Pi

The Life of Pie

covergirlThe story behind these two comics is; I thought of how ridiculous some marketing tie-ins are, i.e. the Ram Truck and CoverGirl Star Wars: The Force Awakens commercials. Now granted, they may use CoverGirl in their makeup department, but is someone really going to dress up like the people in this ad? I guess maybe… okay, probably. And in terms of product placement, I’m 99.9999% sure there are no Ram Trucks in the movie, but it is a J.J. Abrams film after all, and he did work Nokia into the Star Trek reboot.

So, with ridiculous product associations stewing in my brain, I was flipping through our movie library and the Life of Pi flashed by. I thought, “Yum. Pie.” and that’s when the germinal idea hit, a store dedicated to pie, called “The Life of Pie”.

But then I thought, how silly it would be to make a comic about a book I hadn’t even read yet. Boo-yah, second germinal idea. A conversation about a book someone hadn’t read.

From there it was a matter of backing in the setup.

For “The Lie of Pi”, it was pretty easy. I have attended several writing workshops and retreats in the past, and as someone who enjoys and writes in the young adult genera, you are often looked down upon by the more adult crowd. Sometimes, you feel forced to “play along” as it were, with conversations about literature you have no desire to read. And who hasn’t borrowed a book with every intention to read it, only to realize months later you still had it in your possession and should probably get it back to the person you borrowed it from. There you go, setup complete. Next step is to divide the story into four cells, making sure the punchline is on cell four, and you have enough escalating dialogue to carry it to the punchline.

“The Life of Pie” was actually easier, and in my opinion the funnier, of the two comics. However, the germinal idea wasn’t the punchline like the last comic, it was the setup. So how do I take that and make it into something funny? Answer, have an even more ridiculous name for the business.

If you’ve read all the way down this far, do me a favor and let me know which comic you preferred. Also, if you have any additional questions or comments about the writing process, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

Thanks,
Anthony

Legal stuff: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a trademark of The Walt Disney Studios, CoverGirl is a trademark of Procter & Gamble, Ram Trucks is a trademark of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and I guess Nokia is still a thing, so Nokia is a trademark of Microsoft.

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Look What I Found at the Tattered Cover Bookstore

Tattered Cover

I’m pleased to share The Dragon Rustler is now for sale at the Tattered Cover bookstores. Yep, plural, bookstores as in more than one bookstore. And no. I didn’t sneak them in and put them on the shelves myself.

Most of the first draft of this book was written at the Tattered Cover on Colfax, so having it for sale on the same shelves I would often peruse as a distraction is an amazing feeling.

If you live in, or around, the Denver area and love to support local booksellers, swing on by and pick up a copy… or two… or heck, all three so they have to order more.

Here is a list of the locations:
Tattered Cover on Colfax Avenue
2526 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO 80206

Tattered Cover in Historic LoDo
1628 16th Street, Denver, CO 80202

Tattered Cover at Aspen Grove
7301 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton, CO 80120

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The Tell-Tale Elf

tell-tale

Do you ever have the feeling that someone, or something, is watching you?

Every December in the Kerr household, we experience that very feeling and the dread that accompanies it. It goes by many names: “Charley”, “Little Brother”, “Santa’s Special Spy”, and “The Red Informant” to name but a few. However, you may know it simply as, “The Elf on the Shelf”.

Does such a being visit your household every year?

If so, please comment below.

Thanks,
Anthony

P.S. To ensure you are receiving updates from my site, please subscribe here, or go to www.aakerr.com and subscribe on the right hand side of the page.

Posted in Author Blog, Christmas, Comic, Family Related, Holidays | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Santa’s Kickstater Fund

Santa1980

A long time ago, I used to draw comics like this once a week, sending them out to a wide distribution list, to encourage my colleagues to come out to happy hour. But having kids, moving to Denver and working from home, kinda killed the need for them.

However, this morning I had a conversation with my son that inspired me to create this one.

Believe it or not, the first three panels are verbatim for what was said, and the last panel is only a translation into “business speak” for what my son’s response was.

If you enjoy the comic, please “Like” it and “Share” it with your friends and contacts. If I get enough interest I’ll keep the comics coming.

And since Facebook and LinkedIn keep tweaking the way they share out posts, to ensure you are receiving updates from my site, please subscribe here, or go to www.aakerr.com and subscribe on the right hand side of the page.

Thanks,
Anthony

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How to Give a Digital Book as a Gift

digital-gift

A family friend recently asked me if there was a way to give a Kindle version of my book, The Dragon Rustler, as a gift. I told him, I thought so, but that I wasn’t exactly sure how to do it. Well, as it turns out, Amazon makes it really simple to send an eBook as a gift to anyone.

This is no big surprise really, but having never sent one myself, I didn’t exactly know what was involved. And seeing how the holiday season is rapidly approaching, I figured this would be a good time to share these easy steps.

Step 1: Does the person you are gifting the eBook to have a Tablet or eReader?
Not to be so reductive here, but do they? More than just simply owning one, do they ever read books on the thing? This is actually important to know. I personally know a ton of people who own tablets and refuse to read anything on them. If you’re not sure, I would consider just getting a printed book for now.

Step 2: Select the book you would like to send as a gift
This might actually be the hardest step in the entire process. Does the person like fiction or non-fiction? Realism or fantasy? Romances or war stories? If you’re having trouble deciding, might I suggest a great book called The Dragon Rustler. Just kidding … kinda … okay, not really. But if you are having problems thinking of a good book, looking at the best sellers in a given genre is a great way.

Step 3: Click on “Give as a Gift”
step3The “Give as a Gift” button is located directly below the eBooks price, purchase buttons, and “Send to Device” buttons on the right hand side of the screen. To be honest, I never even noticed this button before I looked for it. The web team at Amazon has done a good job at making the “Buy” buttons stand out enough that my eyes never really wondered down too far below them.

Step 4: Send the eBook as a gift
Once you click on the “Give as a Gift” button you will be presented with two choices: Send the gift directly to the intended persons email, or send it to yourself. I think both choices have merit. Here’s why:

Email the gift directly to my recipient:
If you send the email directly to the person you are buying the gift for, you can also specify the date it will arrive. I think this is pretty cool really. Say, you know someone is getting a new tablet or eReader for Christmas, you can set December 25th as the date, and that morning they will get an email with the book ready for download. Or if you wanted to give a couple of books to someone for Hanukkah, you can specify which nights you would like each book to arrive on.

Email the gift to me:
If you’re like me, and you like to have an actual gift for the person to open, consider this option. You will receive the email with the purchased eBook’s code to download. Now you can print this and either put it in a card, or wrap it like an actual, tangible, present.

And that’s it. Pretty easy really. But since I wasn’t even sure how to do it myself, I thought I would put this out there for anyone who might be wondering how to gift an eBook, or never even knew it was an option.

If you have any other questions, feel free to post them in the comments, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks,
Anthony

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Hugging the 800 Pound Gorilla

Image courtesy of the movie Old Boys
Indie publishing is all about trying new things and adjusting tactics on the fly. That’s one of its greatest aspects, the promise of control. It’s also about trying things that just don’t work the way you expected, and adjusting accordingly.

One of those early decisions I made was to, “go broad”, which simply means to list your book on as many sales sites as possible, in order to hit as broad an audience as possible. In theory this makes sense, a lot of sense. The old adage of not keeping your eggs in one basket is sound advice for almost everything. However, I’m beginning to realize that starting off as an unknown author is more challenging than I had initially thought, and the reality is, I only have one basket.

The main reason to, “go broad”, is simple: If Amazon is only big in the US and the UK, and Kobo is big in Canada and Australia, and iTunes has a presence in other major countries, I would be stupid to limit myself to just Amazon, right? Most of the leaders in Indie publishing, who I listen to their podcasts or read their books, hate the idea of giving Amazon more control than they already have, and at a base fundamental level I agree with them. The second you give all control to one company, is the second you sign up to be a victim of monopoly. That’s just downright non-American.

But to borrow a term from another adage, Amazon is the 800 pound Gorilla, they are the way to make it as an unknown Indie author, and they are number one in the marketplace for many reasons.

So instead of fighting the Gorilla, I decided to change tactics and embrace it. Amazon offers a service called KDP Select. I’ve mentioned this before in posts, but for review, KDP select allows you a better sales percentage in certain countries, and the opportunity to participate in Kindle Unlimited (Amazon’s book lending program for $9.99 a month, or if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can borrow one book for free each month) in exchange for digital book exclusivity. In simple terms, pulling my books from iTunes, and Kobo and going only with Amazon.

This may at first glance seem like a bad deal, after all, there are more iPads in the world than Kindles. However, I’m not seeing that marketshare figure influence the percentage of people buying through Apple’s iTunes store, which leads me to the conclusion that iPad users must still be buying the vast majority of their books through Amazon and reading them on the Kindle App. (Please feel free to comment on this in the section below, I would love to know if this has been your experience)

So, I’m going to give this 800 pound Gorilla a huge hug and see if it makes a difference to my overall sales. And if you have Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime, for goodness sakes, go out there and grab The Dragon Rustler today, it’s now free.

Posted in Author Blog, Indie Publishing, Self Publishing | 3 Comments

The Reason I Write

The nine year old daughter of a good friend of mine started reading The Dragon Rustler a couple of days ago. I’ve been getting updates on her progress and know she is reading a chapter or two every night before bed. But as the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. And it wasn’t until I was sent this image of her school reading log that my heart truly soared.

School Reading Log

Thank you so much Rachel. This is the reason I write.

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What You May Not Have Known About, “The Martian”.

If you are one of the vast populous who has either read or watched the movie version of The Martian, by Andy Weir, you already know it’s a very entertaining story. But what you may not have known is that it started off as an Indie book that was self-published by the author.

The Martian

Andy, like a lot of us, wanted to be an author more than anything, so he saved up his money, quit his job, and wrote full time. He gave himself two years to get something moving, and after two years of going the traditional route of sending out query letters and trying to land a book deal with a publisher, he was forced to give up and go back to work.

But Andy didn’t give up and kept writing. He was passionate about space, specifically how to get someone to the planet Mars, and how to survive once you got there. He had a successful blog, so he decided to write a story one chapter at a time and post it on his site. His readers loved it, and asked him to convert the chapters to an eBook to make it easier to read. So he did, and posted it on his site for free. But it was still hard for the average person to figure out how to put the eBook onto an eReader, so they asked him to load it onto Amazon to simplify the experience. He wanted to make it free, but Amazon only allows you to set the price as low as $.99 (This was before KDP Select which allows you to do that now, if you’re willing to go exclusive with Amazon). Before he knew it, The Martian was a runaway success. So much so, that he was offered a publishing deal with Random House for hard cover rights, and a movie deal with Ridley Scott in the same week.

If you have not read or seen The Martian yet, I highly recommend it. It’s one of my favorite books. But more than that, it’s a testament to perseverance, and a prime example to the incredible shift occurring in the publishing industry.

I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see The Martian showing up as required reading in schools soon. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the movie nominated for an Oscar or two.

That would be something huh? An Indie author’s book as a Best Seller and a Best Picture. I think it could happen.

What do you think?

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It’s Alive!

The Dragon Rustler is available for purchase!

eBook versions are available on: Amazon for (Kindle), and on iTunes (for iPad and iPhone). You can get the Print version on Amazon. The links are also available on the right-hand side of the screen. (I am in the process of adding both Kobo and Nook as well, but that might take a couple of days)

I just want to thank everyone who has been so supportive of me as I went through this journey. Your interest, encouragement and enthusiasm carried this book to completion as much, if not more, than my own stubbornness.

But this was more than just about writing a book, it was about conquering a demon that has hovered over me my entire life. As some of you may know, I have dyslexia. Just learning to read and write was very challenging. So much so that the first book I was able to read all the way through was in the seventh grade, and that took an entire year. I can’t even begin to explain what having a learning disability does to one’s self-confidence, but take my word for it when I tell you there is always a part of you that feels less than everyone else. Writing a book was the line in the sand that I drew, the seemingly impossible goal at the time, to show I had beaten my disability.

And here it is.

The Dragon Rustler Book Image

I love stories. I love to read. I love to create worlds and characters. And I love to entertain. But what I hope more than anything else, is that there is someone out there that picks this book up, someone that may not think they will ever be able to overcome a disability or hardship, and it inspires them to keep on fighting.

I hope you enjoy the story. There is a lot more where this comes from, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

– Anthony

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Day Twenty Nine – Thirty: Read, Writing, and (getting into a) Rhythm

Okay, so the title is a stretch. It’s hard to be clever sometimes.

While reading through the book, I found a couple of weird punctuation errors I need to correct, and since I need to change something anyhow, I decided to make a couple of small formatting changes as well. Hopefully this won’t take more than a couple of days and I’ll be back in the submission queue.

If you are reading this, you also know I have been posting a ton of updates today. I’ve been so slammed with just getting things done, I didn’t have time to update the blog as much as I had hoped. Luckily, I was keeping notes of major events in a draft email so I could later go back and fill in the blank spots for the past couple of weeks. Sorry about the barrage.

All this writing though has a great effect on both my confidence and mood. I needed a day just to put things down, collect my thoughts, do some reflecting, and get mentally ready for the next phase of the journey… writing the next book. Yepper, book two, The Dragon Riders. If I have any hope of hitting my goal of a Spring release, I need to start rolling on this starting tomorrow. Writing all the blog posts has helped me get back in the swing of writing, akin to stretching before lifting weights.

So, while I continue to make corrections to the interior and exterior of The Dragon Rustler, I’ll also be keeping you guys abreast of the writing process.

Wish me luck.

And please sign up on the right or click here in order to learn about major updates in the book release schedule.

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