Monday, September 28, 2015

Where Did I Get the Idea for Half A Mind?

A friend, when he saw I had published my first book, emailed me, “Half A Mind…….Autobiography?    J

Although those who know me might expect that, no, my life was not the inspiration for the book.  It was actually another friend who recommended a novel, saying, ‘You’ll like it.  It is about brain plasticity gone wrong.’ 

If you are thinking, brain plasticity sounds vaguely familiar, but completely uninteresting, I can address the first issue. 

Unless you are employed in an academic or professional field that studies the human nervous system, you have most likely heard of brain plasticity in a news story.  Plasticity is the cure when a 2-year old falls from his bike, sustains a head injury that causes, for example, the loss of speech, but then develops speech again using a different part of the brain.  It is the nervous system re-wiring itself in order to replace a lost function.  And it has been credited with some remarkable recoveries.

I was intrigued.  How could the brain’s natural curative capabilities go wrong?  What events or technology would be needed to produce re-wiring?  What form would the maladaptation take?  I thought I had some promising hypotheses about the novel.

Then, I got a copy of the book and read it.  None of my guesses about it was correct…because the book was not about plasticity.  It did mention it, but the suspense was not from it.

As the book did not satisfy my curiosity, and perhaps increased it, I dug further into the research on neural re-wiring, only to find many of my hypotheses were much more than that.  They were techniques and technologies, in the labs and in the headlines.  To my surprise and my apprehension, our capabilities brought us closer to this neural demise than I had ever thought.  And the kernel for Half A Mind had taken form.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Goodbye Yogi

St. Louis native and baseball great Yogi Berra died on Tuesday, September 22, at the age of 90. 

His plaque in the St. Louis Walk of Fame.  Thanks for the memories,


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Walking for Words

I thought I would keep this blog going while I worked on books 2, 3… wherever I end up.  But that means I’ll be talking about things other than writing, per se.  After all, it will get a bit boring if each week, I report X words written, making up about Y% of the total.

Besides, I have the countdown clock for that purpose.

So, today, I thought I would mention a contributing pastime – hiking.  I say ‘hiking’, but to be more accurate, what I do ranges from my early morning strolls (where I go for my caffeine quota for the day) to some more rigorous outings (the south rim of the Grand Canyon to the bottom and back…in a snowstorm). 

I am also a bit of a math geek and an electronic toy enthusiast.  So, to relieve me of the task of recording my steps from these caffeine runs and 4770 foot climbs, I got a Fitbit.  In fact, I celebrated my 2-year anniversary with my Fitbit, a Zip, on September 8.  And what have I done in those 2 years (and 2 weeks)?  How about 9,483,596 steps, earning my “Great Wall” badge for walking more than 5,500 miles (the length of the Great Wall of China).

So, what does any of this have to do with writing (and I am sure you all are thinking, ‘it has nothing to do with it’).  But it does.  At least, it does for me.  Because, I would guess that half or more of everything that went into Half A Mind was not created at the computer keyboard.  No, it came from strolls for morning coffee, or hikes around Forest Park or Hawn State Park, or on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. 

I have no idea how anyone else writes, but many of the conversations that I pen come when there is little else on my mind other than the sound of my footsteps. 

Happy writing,

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Countdown for Book 2 Now Running

With my first book, Half A Mind, now published, it is time to start working toward book 2.  Based on no information and no experience, I guessed that it would take me a year to finish book 1; it took 8 months.  Based on that experience, I set my countdown clock at 6 months for book 2.  We’ll see how it goes.

Friday, September 11, 2015


With the note below from Amazon, on September 10 at 11:12 PM, I joined the ranks of published authors!

Congratulations, your book "Half A Mind" is live in the Kindle Store and is available* for readers to purchase here.

Most likely because I had a pre-existing relationship with Amazon, the book appeared here first, but Nook and Kobo variants should be out in a day or two.

Half A Mind is a techno-thriller, with a focus on psychology and human behavior.  Importantly to me, it is not about a futuristic capability or, as I call it, Voila Science.  It is, with very few exceptions, about technology that is here and now, in the labs and in the news.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Works for Kobo eBooks Too

Previously, I asked the question if I could find a single Microsoft Word format for the source manuscript so that it would require the fewest, most straightforward conversion steps to get it into the Nook and Kindle editors, while maintaining the original formatting, table of contents, etc.  Basically, I was wasting too much time tweaking different MS documents (following different Amazon and B&N guidelines) and still producing inconsistent results when they went to the different editing applications.

I came up with a process that worked well with my content for both the Kindle and Nook editors (see Coordinating Nook and Kindle eBook Publishing).   I suspected that the same ePub I created for the Nook editor would also work for Kobo, and today, I verified that it does.  However, it only worked if I created all the content, including the upfront material, in MS Word and the ePub, and avoided any editing in the Kobo editor.

Happy ePublishing,