Friday, December 11, 2015

The Last Radio Show

Ah, creativity. It comes in many forms. We specialize in making creative fiction, non-fiction, and even playing cards (All or Nothing, or a Napier's Bones deck) available to a welcoming world. But there are also more transitory forms, in this case, a play called The Last Radio Show.

This play is being produced by the head of our local Drama Lab, Todd Wallinger, and he also wrote it and is directing it. Todd's previous productions include KILL THE CRITIC! and THE BUTLER DID IT! Where do we fit in? We will be helping behind the scenes. Believe me, you don't want to see us on stage.

The Last Radio Show tells the story of KUKU, a foundering radio station in the 1940's that had better come up with a great show or it will be shut down for good. This brand new, zany, fast-paced farce promises audience members an enjoyable afternoon or evening.

It is being performed at the Black Box Theatre in Colorado Springs from January 14-16, 2016. Tickets are available from Brown Paper Tickets. Come join us for an old-timey good time!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Holiday Savings!

There's no doubt that books make great holiday presents and, through November 30, 2015, Amazon is offering a 30% discount of any of their printed books, including titles from our authors. This means you can get Napier's Bones, Radical Equations, A Fresh Look at God, or The Garden Varieties Greens Cookbook at a big discount. Use coupon code HOLIDAY30 to get something nice for a friend or family member or yourself!

And, speaking of gifts, a good one for an aging family member is That Cat Game, newly available from The Game Crafter. It is a great way to spend quality time with a loved one.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Party Up!

Two book launches for the price of onethat's free to you! Mark your calendars and join us Saturday, November 21, 2015 from 1:30-4:00PM at the Venue at Library 21C. There will be refreshments, book signings, give-aways, and maybe a few surprises.

Bob Spiller is proud to give his fourth book, Radical Equations, a proper sendoff. And Chuck Cabell will be doing the same with his thoughtful A Fresh Look at God. They will be signing copies of all their books, along with ranch writer Tom Stephenson.

Bob's titles include The Witch of Agnesi, A Calculated Demise, Irrational Numbers, Napier's Bones and the aforementioned Radical Equations.

Chuck will be signing his books, A Man of Intelligence, Quartermaster General: A Conflict of Loyalties, Chordially Yours, Continuing the Tradition, What a Ride!, along with A Fresh Look at God.

Tom will offer Cow Tracks of the Southern Rockies, volumes I and II, The Heart of a Cowboy, and Down the Road a Piece.

1:30-4:00PM, Saturday, November 21, 2015
Venue is upstairs in Library 21C
1175 Chapel Hills Dr.
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Welcome Charles P. Cabell Jr.!

Another non-fiction writer has joined our midst: Charles P. Cabell Jr. Chuck has authored and co-authored several non-fiction titles on varied subjects including music, theology, and biographies.  He has self-published these on a local basis. We are helping him bring some of these works to the masses via Kindle ebooks, and print, starting with his theology book, A Fresh Look at God, available now on Amazon and CreateSpace.

Chuck has enjoyed an illustrious career in the Air Force topping out at Brigadier General, before moving to the private sector. He is now retired and spends his time bringing his words to the world through his non-fiction books and play-writing. In fact, there will be staged readings of a couple of his plays in February 2016.

Read more about Chuck and A Fresh Look at God on this page.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cover Me!

Or at least cover your book. It doesn't have to be hard or expensive. But it should at least look professional, and more to the point, stop people in their tracks.

I came across an interesting study about what kind of pictures people like the best on Instagram. What does this have to do with book covers? Possibly everything. I think the study's results provide insight into creating covers that are eye-catchingand that is what you want, right? You want to grab people's attention. Make them pause and look at your book. As an example, take a  look at this chart from the article:

Far more people prefer brighter photos to darker ones by a huge margin. Maybe your novel is really dark and perhaps you want your cover to reflect that. Or maybe what you really want is to make people stop and consider your book. Brighter could be better. Of course you shouldn't get too carried away with color as this chart shows:

Their next graph talks to the complexity of the cover, as exemplified by the number of edges in a picture:

This tells me that a cover that is too simple will not attract as much attention as a more complex one. Check out the source for more ideas that could improve your covers.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Signing at MALCon

Our author, Robert Spiller (and Damon Alan, if you must know) will be signing books and speaking at MALCon in Denver this weekend. What is a "MALCon" you might ask (I know I would)? It is the Myths and Legends Convention and it celebrates our modern myths and legends, for 2015 focusing on Firefly, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Supernatural, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones. It is held at the Ramada Plaza Denver North. Heck, just go to their web site for all the details!

Friday, July 24, 2015

It's a Twister, Auntie Em!

The second edition of Robert Spiller's mystery, Radical Equations, is now available in both Print on Demand and eBook versions. And no, we didn't change the ending. We did change the cover a bit. This previous post shows it front and back in all its glory.

Radical Equations is the fourth book in the Bonnie Pinkwater Mysteries series and includes a twister as a major player. It also includes the usual dead bodies, along with the quick-witted math teacher heroine. The complete Bonnie Pinkwater series is available at

A book launch party and book signings will be forthcoming. Watch our Events square for the dates and locations.

You can order the print version of Radical Equations from CreateSpace and the Kindle version from Amazon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Publisher's Nightmare

The previous blog post, Tools of the Trade, showed our keypad with shortcuts to aid in book editing. You may (or may not) have noticed a couple of keys with odd characters on them.

The key near the middle shows what looks like a long dash and the one on the lower left has three dots. The long dash is called an em dash. It is about three times as long as a hyphen and has special applications in writing. It can be used for emphasis in place of a comma, colon or parenthesis. In fiction writing, parenthesis and, to some measure, colons aren't generally used. The em dash can be used in their place. Microsoft Word has a shortcut key combination for inserting an em dash (Alt+Ctl+Num-, easy to remember, huh? That's why we include it on our shortcut keypad.) The Punctuation Guide has more details on the em dash's applications.

The three dots are called an ellipsis and are used to represent missing text, for example from a partial quote or dialog trailing off or… It is worth noting that the ellipsis is a single character in Word (inserted by Alt+Ctl+.) and not three separate periods. Once again, The Punctuation Guide gives you more complete usage info for the ellipsis.

The nightmare? Writers have a tendency to use the em dash and the ellipsis interchangeably rather than correctly. It ends up being the editor's or publisher's task to correct them before publication. They also may get overused with writers trailing off sentences with ellipses when a period is called for, or using an em dash when a simple comma is best.

Free bonus characterthe en dash. It is a single character about two hyphens wide and is used to separate numbers, e.g. twentythree.

Writersplease help end this nightmare…

Updatefree bonus video:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Tools of the Trade

or, Computers Make the Man.

The "goto" tool in this biz is Microsoft Word. While there are other ways to get text into a computer, massage it into shape and send it off to the world, Word is the de facto standard for such machinations. We also rely heavily on the Adobe tools, including Photoshop and Acrobat.

I have started experimenting with a new toya piece of hardware.

Yup, that's a USB keypad. "But, wait," you say. "Don't you have one of those on your keyboard already?" Very perceptive. If the picture showed more, you would see it at the other end of my keyboard.

This new keypad does more than meets the eye (mostly cause I haven't labelled it, yet). It does not duplicate the function of the keyboard keypad, but instead adds shortcuts to many of the most-used editing functions like copy, paste and so forth. How it does this magic is via an HID macro program. What in the world is that?

Not that you need to know to make it work, but HID is the protocol that USB keypads (and mice and) use to communicate. Macros, for this purpose, allow key substitution. On my keypad, when you press "-", you actually get a cut command. When you press "+", you get paste. Here is my current key map:

Most of the document editing around here can be done with my right hand on the mouse and my left hand on the keypad. There are no awkward control keys to press. Of course you can use the HID macro program to make the keys anything you like. It was actually developed for gaming use.

You can label the keys to suit. This instructables article explains how to make key labels and where to find the HID macro software. (One note about thatI just discovered that if the software isn't running, the new key functions don't work. I will be adding it to my startup folder.)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Success! Now What?

Our first launch party is in the books. It was moderately successful with a good turnout but lots of leftover cookies. Bob personalized copies of all his books and had his picture taken with many fans.

But now what? We can't just sit on our successes. There must be more! For Bob there a more book signings (see Events to the right). There is also another book.

We will be re-releasing the fourth book of Robert Spiller's Bonnie Pinkwater Mysteries series: Radical Equations. Proof copies are on their way to us. As soon as we're sure the book is perfect (that's possible, right?),  we'll get it to Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace. You know we'll let you know when that happens. In the meantime, here's a look at the updated cover.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

To The Moon!

Well, maybe not that far yet. But there will be a launch on Saturday!

Saturday, June 13, 2015 from 1:00 to 4:00PM will be the launch party for Robert Spiller's latest book, Napier's Bones, at the Manitou Art Center in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Along with signed copies of all Bob's books, there will be giveaways, music, juggling lessons(!), and treats. Come help us kick off his latest title!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Designer Logos

A business should have a logo. Should that statement end with a question mark? Please discuss in the comment section.

In the meantime, we decided some kind of logo might be nice to add to our new business cards. But logos can cost large dollars and take many parsecs to develop. And you also should have some idea of what you want. The idea seemed like a good place to start. What would represent Jmars Ink, a very (very, very) small publishing company? We create books and custom merchandise (we started with a mug for the book Napier's Bones) so how about a pencil and a mug? Why not? There was no one to stop us.

Here is the first concept sketch:

We sent this off to one of our graphic arts friends, Craig at Veggie Graphics, and he returned his stylized takes on the drawing:

I then asked, "Is it possible to get a simple outline as well?" His response was "Why yes!", along with this:

As you can see above in our header, this white version of the mug and pencil logo represents. Did we make the right choice? Should we keep trying? Should we just get back to work? Let us know in the comments.

Friday, May 1, 2015

I Have Nothing to Wear

The 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference and book signing was a success. Our books showed up with no time to spare. Now it's on to other amusements.

Not only does Jmars Ink help writers publish their writings, we also capture some of the art and text and plaster it onto T-shirts, mugs and whatever else we can get our hands on. Merchandising is one way movies make bank so why shouldn't we get in on it?

The cover art for Napier's Bones adorns large and small mugs on our online store. That art was created by Becki Davis at Davis Creative. It is a beautiful representation of some of the key story elements of the novel.

Becki also created the motivational BICHOK logo appearing on T-shirts and mugs on the store. She points out that the best way to get writing is to get your "Butt in Chair - Hands on Keyboard".

Other items will be added to the store as inspiration tickles us. If you have your own art or ideas that you would like to see expressed in the real world, don't hesitate to get in touch.

And as for having nothing to wear, order a T-shirt!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Signing at PPWC

The Pikes Peak Writers Conference kicks off Thursday, April 23, 2015. It is a fabulous three to four day experience that combines beginner to expert level class sessions, read and critiques, and query reviews, and has faculty including agents, editors and authors.

It also features a book signing that showcases our newest author, Robert Spiller, and a bookstore that is open to the public. The Saturday banquet keynote and book signor of note is R.L. Stine, the author of the Goosebumps series.

Speaking of bumps, there is one in the road of our latest published work, Napier's Bones, in relation to the book signing. It seems that the printer, after a production delay of unknown nature, has deemed to ship our order of Napier's Bones by the most unfortunate routing. The latest tracking shows the package has gone from Denver (so close) to Greensboro NC - that's right, it was almost here and then diverted to North Carolina.

I did implement a backup plan and will have a very small number of copies available to a lucky few for purchase. Of course there is a chance the package will arrive in time for the actual signing. Robert Spiller will also have several of his previous titles available at the signing and in the bookstore.

The book signing is from 5:00-6:00PM on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at the Marriott in north Colorado Springs. You can find more information about the conference and the signing at Pikes Peak Writers.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Napier's Bones Rattle to Life

Please help me welcome our latest author to the Jmars Ink imprint: Mr. Robert Spiller. We have just published the fifth book in his Bonnie Pinkwater Mystery series, Napier's Bones. It tells the story of Bonnie Pinkwater, a math teacher at a high school east of Colorado Springs, Colorado. It seems she is the Jessica Fletcher of her small community as every time she turns around, a dead body pops up. Unfortunately for her, this time around one of the deaths is very close to her heart. Will she be able to solve the murders? I know one way to find out. Napier's Bones is available as an ebook and in print.

Want to learn to do math using Napier's Bones? Chris Sangwin's article gives a great explanation.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Gone Fishin'

It sure might look that way as it's been a long time since our last post. But that doesn't mean lots o' stuff hasn't been happening (and no, we haven't been fishing).

Speaking of fish, though, we have been working behind the scenes of non-fiction author and entrepreneur Laurren Schmoyer. While his books don't appear under our imprint, many of them have been endowed with some of our handiwork. You can find his blog, books and products at Aquatic Experts. The fish tie-in? If you clicked the link then you already know.

Next time there will bones (not fish bones).