Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cool new word (well, new to me)

As a writer, I'm a collector of interesting phrases and words. I recently came across an awesome word, in William Gibson's book Spook Country.

The word is psychogeographically. As in, "We didn't travel far physically, but the neighborhood I found myself in was psychogeographically in another country."

As far as I can tell, it has to do with the atmosphere, the ambiance, the feeling of the place. It's about differentiating one area from another, not on the basis of physical geography or distance, but on the human response to an area. So, an affluent neighborhood might be physically close to a run-down part of town, but psychogeographically quite distant.

Not sure if I'll have a chance to actually use that word anywhere, but I think it's a cool concept...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kiva Update

I haven't posted any updates on my Kiva loan recently - but wanted to mention that Mrs. Margaret Adedeyinbo has once again made her loan payment on time and in full. Two more months, and the loan will be completely paid off!

Did you know that the average annual income in Nigeria is $1,188? The $950 that my fellow micro-loaners and I put together (in $25 increments) is a hefty chunk of change in that part of the world.

I think Kiva is such a cool and fascinating thing. If you haven't checked them out already, I hope you will...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Slugging & Reading

When I do the "slug-line" commute (i.e. catch a ride in a stranger's car), I find it difficult to read. Not because I get car sick - it just feels rude.

Now, slug etiquette says you're not supposed to talk. You're supposed to allow the driver to concentrate on driving, and let everyone in the car have a little bit of quiet time. Still, I couldn't bring myself to sit down in the front seat and crack open a book. I did it in the backseat once, but even then it felt a bit rude.

At the same time, it seems a waste of the quiet moments to just sit there, staring out the window. I guess I'll get over it as I get more experience, right? We'll see...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Skyler Update (plus more)

I'm about a third of the way through typing up the manuscript, and I'm estimating about 30,000 words (about the same length as the 3rd Boomer Sisters book). It's fun to relive the story again, re-encountering the early scenes and seeing the usual inadvertent foreshadowing.

I was hoping to write a longer book, but this seems to be how long it took to tell this particular story.

And the craziest thing is, while the ink is barely dry on this one, I've got an idea for a future book - a grown-up book this time - about a guy who inadvertently deletes the internet. Actually, it's more than an idea. I've started writing some of it down. I didn't plan to make the jump to grownup books just yet, particularly with this Skyler book still in progress. But Deleted (as I'm calling it) is sort of taking over, and I'm going to run with it as much as I'm able. It's emerging as a geek comedy, with some adventure and even a love interest for the dude. It'll be interesting to see what develops here...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Simplicity Cycle Downloads

My Simplicity Cycle book has been downloaded over 1400 times. The most recent 200 or so are largely sparked by my little Google AdWords advertisement, as far as I can tell.

It's a free download, so I'm not making any money off this at this point. I really should read Chris Anderson's book Free and find out more about this business model, but his book costs $26, so I'll have to check the library.

Anyway, I'm giving it away for free on purpose. Even charging one dollar would establish a significant barrier to downloading the thing, and I suspect the download count would be closer to 14 than 1400. So, I'm basically giving up $14 in order to get my idea seen by 1400 people.

As I learned from Exposure, the value of an idea increases with familiarity. So, the more people are familiar with the concepts in the Simplicity Cycle, the more valuable the idea is (and the greater the possibility of someone eventually hiring me to do stuff because I'm the Simplicity Cycle guy). Plus it's just fun to think that 1400 people have clicked download and (hopefully) read through the thing. I think that's cool.

Friday, September 18, 2009

License Fail

Another photo from Colorado. I snapped this one at a red light, as this big black hearse pulled up along side me. The thing about the hearse that caught my eye was the license plate. It says "Happy Harry's"

Um, really? "Hey folks, come on down to Happy Harry's Hearses! We've got what you need for hauling around corpses!"

It turns out, Happy Harry's is an auto dealer in Colorado Springs. But if I was them, and I sold a hearse, I think I'd pass on the opportunity to do a little advertising on the back of the thing. But that's just me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I commuted in to work yesterday via "slug line." This is a form of commuting that is unique to the DC area, as far as I can tell.

Slugging is basically structured hitch hiking. There are specific locations where riders wait for drivers to pull up and take you to certain destinations. Some suburban slug lots feed in to multiple destinations in the District, while others only go to one. Riders get free rides, and drivers get enough passengers to qualify to drive on the MUCH faster HOV-3 lanes.

The spot I picked is not far from my house and goes exclusively to the Pentagon. My plan was to catch a shuttle from the Pentagon to my actual office, which is in Rosslyn. It turns out the driver I picked was ultimately heading to Georgetown, which is right near Rosslyn, so she brought me straight there.

And while I said riders wait for drivers, sometimes it's the other way around. When I showed up, two cars were waiting there. The car at the front of the line already had one passenger, and they were just waiting for a third person (me) to show up. So I climbed in and off we went.

Worked out great for me. Much more comfortable than the bus, and faster too. I'm heading out now to do it again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Qtrs 4517a

During my recent trip to Colorado, I had an opportunity to do something that I hardly ever get to do - visit a house I used to live in.

Specifically, I took a little trip onto the Air Force Academy grounds, and stopped by the place we affectionatelly called Quarters 4517a. No kidding - that was our address. It looked a lot like I remember. Smaller, of course. And it's vacant & under construction, so the grass was dead. The fence we put up for our dog was gone. But there it is - Qtrs 4517a, a place I lived for four years.

The other big change is that two or three of the other houses in this cluster (4517 C through D or E) are gone. Not sure why they knocked down some and added an extension to others (it's not that big of an extension). But, there you go.

Monday, September 7, 2009

AdWords Update

On Aug 26th, I created a little advertising campaign using Google's AdWords. My total budget was $100 because Google offered me a $100 credit to try it out.

I ended up creating two different campaigns on the same budget: one for the Boomer Sisters books, focused on the Champy book and the Pirates book, and one for The Simplicity Cycle.

So far, my advertisements have been posted almost 400,000 times. I've received a total of 255 clicks (94 for the Boomer Sisters books and 161 for the Simplicity Cycle), and used up $48.50 of my $100 credit. So, what's the payout?

Since the Simplicity Cycle is a free download, it's hard to tell exactly what the impact has been there. Lulu tells me it's been downloaded 1328 times, and before starting this campaign, that number was around 1250. So, obviously not everybody who clicks on the ad actually downloads the book, but some of them probably did. So far, nobody's bought the printed copy (not that I expect them to).

As for the Boomer Sisters books, Lulu isn't showing a single sale over this timeframe. Of course, it's possible people have put the book on their wishlist for Christmas or birthday, but none of the 94 clicks have actually ordered the book (yet). That would probably bother me more if I'd actually spent the $48.50, instead of just using the credit.

Still, it's fun to see the number of clicks increase. It's cool to think that people are looking at the books. But once I use up the rest of the credit, I'm probably not going to continue doing this AdWords thing unless there's some correlation between the clicks and actual sales.