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Augmented Reality about Augmented Reality

I thought it would be interesting to revisit some of the Augmented Reality tools that have Unity3d packages for them. The first I headed for was Vuforia, now owned by PTC. I am using the free version. It all worked straight from the install, though there are a lot of features to tinker with.
I wanted to use an image marker of my own, so naturally I used the book cover. There is a lot of AR and VR in the story so it all makes sense.
For the 3d models I used the current trial of Fuse/Mixamo now part of the Adobe. It lets you build a model and export it in a nice friendly Unity3d fix format. You would be suprised how these various formats for models and animations hide so much complexity and weird tech problems though. Eventually I found a couple of animations that fitted the mood. This is not a full action sequence from the book, but it could be. I have some more vignettes in mind to experiment with. I am just upgrading my windows machine so I can use the Kinect 2.0 for some of my own motion capture again. Finding the right animation, and then trying to edit it is really hard work. The addition of motion, especially in humans, hits a different part of the brain I think. It makes lots of things look not quite right.
Augmented Reality on Augmented Reality
So here is the video of augmented reality on a cover of a physical copy of an ebook novel telling the story with lots of augmented reality in it, if thats not too meta. Roisin rather sassily taps her for while the Commander lays down the law to her.

Reconfigure and Cont3xt are available right now to enjoy, and if at all possible, PLEASE write a review on Amazon, it makes a massive difference to the take up of the books.

A successful freebie promotion? Some numbers.

How did the freebie week do then? A week of just putting both Reconfigure and Cont3xt out there for download for nothing. Firstly thank you to everyone who downloaded the book(s) around the World, I had figures from lots of countries not just the .com and .co.uk Amazon sites.
SafariScreenSnapz104
In total there were 373 downloads in those 5 days. It put the book up in the free charts and made for a very exciting few days watching the graph rise. I felt I was surfing a wave of interest in the story.
The cost of that free promo, if i had charged the normal Amazon price where I get 35% of the 0.99p it equates to £130.55. You can see you have to shift a lot of books, or charge a lot more and still shift them to make any sort of money for a novel. The 0.99 price point was.is an attempt at volume.
The free download though is way more effective, in my experience, than regular advertising. With that you pay if someone clicks on your advert, not if they buy you product. It is easy to spend hundreds trying to target the right audience. I even paid Facebook to boost my Reconfigure is free post for the week. That was £11 just to do that one post. It reached 1,018 people and there were 171 actions on it. It is hard to tell if those 171 actions were downloads of the book or not though. The systems are not so joined up as to be able to tell you that sort of intelligence.
Another interesting statistic is that 278 of the downloads were of Reconfigure, but only 95 for the follow up Cont3xt. Both were equally free, though I can understand in a series only grabbing the first. It may be that some of those 278 downloads might get read, and enjoyed and then come back for the sequel.
The World, characters and experiences I created didn’t exist before September 2015, and only started to be available for anyone else to experience in October 2015. Books take a long time to read, it is not a quick 1/2 hour TV series or a 5 minute YouTube. I now know there are lots of copies out there, ready to be taken to the next stage of discovery and enjoyment. That I count as a success. There are books that will ship 800+ a day, but that is a different league. My books can ship that many if need be, it is ultimately an on demand product and does not require me to do anything else to it. They are written, and I love what I have done.
With the excitement and the highs there is always a follow on low. As Amazon switches you from paid to free and back again the book ranking takes a bit of a hit. Obviously when you are free you are racking up free sales, when you go back again you are dropped back in having missed out on any sales, so it starts to tank. Unless lots of people rally and hear about the book and start buying it.As you can see below, the free book was getting right up onto the top line of the rankings in the top 1,000 of all books online, and top 50 of science fiction. Now the rank plummets, ready to start climbing again slowly.
Author rank
I was asked if this was a good way to make a living? Having a good quality product, as the books seem to be really enjoyed by people who get to read them, is only part of it. It is an essential part of course. The rest though requires a lot of luck. I am already very active of social media, and have been for years, and I am I willing to try a share things in an unusual way. I feel for those indie authors that have worked hard on their books and are now faced with trying to establish a social media presence in order to get the books noticed by people. It is why there is a huge industry of people charging money to do the advertising for you. I have explored some of those, the auto tweeting to hundreds of thousands of people. It’s effectiveness is debatable. However, you want to buy the lottery ticket, just in case.
Which convinces someone to download a book more, an advert or something mad like the Marmite jars.
#scifi Marmite
The answer may be neither, but I am having way more creative an intellectual fun trying these things out than the apparent mugging that occurs on regular online advertising. Well it was ONLY 373 and it was FREE so of course people would download it. That may be a though going through someone’s head. However, it is 373 downloads and everyone of them counts. Every potential reader, with it sat on their device, might get an fantastic kick out of reading it. Even one person loving it is a great result. If the book was not there, that would not happen. It is, they are, and it can.
I am still seriously considering how to tell the story in a way that fits the 21st century though. Game, machinima, Augmented Reality experience etc. That is because Roisin and her adventures are just freaking awesome 😉 Enjoy!

Using the Real World – IoT, WebGL, MQTT, Marmite, Unity3d and CKD

All the technology and projects I have worked on in my career take what we currently have at the moment and create or push something further. Development projects of any kind will enhance or replace existing systems or create brand new ones. A regular systems update will tweak and fix older code and operations and make them fresher and new. This happens even in legacy systems. In both studying and living some of the history of our current wave of technology, powered by the presence of the Internet, I find it interesting to reflect of certain technology trajectories. Not least to try and find a way to help and grow this industries, and with a bit of luck actually get paid to do that. I find that things finding out about other things is fascinating. With Predlet 2.0 birthday party we took them all Karting. There was a spare seat going so I joined in. The Karts are all instrumented enough that the lap times are automatically grabbed as you pass the line. Just that one piece of data for each Kart is then formulated and aggregated. Not just with your group, but with the “ProSkill” ongoing tracking of your performance. The track knows who I am now I have registered. So if I turn up and rice again it will show me more metrics and information about my performance, just from that single tag crossing the end of lap sensor. Yes that IoT in action, and we have had that for a while.
Great fun karting. Yay for being faster than 9 year olds :)
The area of Web services is an interesting one to look at. Back in 1997, whilst working on very early website for a car manufacturer, we had a process to get to some data about skiing conditions. It required a regular CRON job to be scheduled and perform a secure FTP to grab the current text file containing all the ski resorts snowfall, so that we could parse it and push it into a form that could be viewed on the Web. i.e. it had a nice set of graphics around it. That is nearly 20 years ago, and it was a pioneering application. It was not really a service or an API to talk to. It used the available automation we had, but it started as a manual process. Pulling the file and running a few scripts to try and parse the comma delimited data. The data, of course, came from both human observation and sensors. It was collated into one place for us to use. It was a real World set of measurements, pulled together and then adjusted and presented in a different form over the Internet via the Web. I think we can legitimately call that an Internet of Things (IoT) application?
We had a lot of fancy and interesting projects then, well before their time, but that are templates for what we do today. Hence I am heavily influenced by those, and having absorbed what may seem new today, a few years ago, I like to look to the next steps.
Another element of technology that features in my work is the ways we write code and deploy it. In particular the richer, dynamic game style environments that I build for training people in. I use Unity3d mostly. It has stood the test of time and moved on with the underlying technology. In the development environment I can place 3D objects and interact with them, sometimes stand alone, sometimes as networked objects. I tend to write in C# rather than Javascript, but it can cope with both. Any object can have code associated with it. It understands the virtual environment, where something is, what it is made of etc. A common piece of code I use picks one of the objects in the view and then using the mouse, the virtual camera view can orbit that object. It is an interesting feeling still to be able to spin around something that initial looks flat and 2D. It is like a drones eye view. Hovering or passing over objects.
Increasingly I have had to get the Unity applications to talk to the rest of the Web. They need to integrate with existing services, or with databases and API’s that I create. User logons, question data sets, training logs etc. In many ways it is the same as back in 1997. The pattern is the same, yet we have a lot more technology to help us as programmers. We have self defining data sets now. XML used to be the one everyone raved about. Basically web like take around data to start and stop a particular data element. It was always a little to heavy on payload though. When I interacted with the XML dat from the tennis ball locations for Wimbledon the XML was too big for Second Life to cope with at the time. The data had to be mashed down a little, removing the long descriptions of each field. Now we have JSON a much tighter description of data. It is all pretty much the same of course. An implied comma delimited file, such as the ski resort weather worked really well, if the export didn’t corrupt it. XML version would be able to be tightly controlled and parsed in a more formal language style way, JSON is between the two. In JSON the data is just name:value, as opposed to XML value. It is the sort of data format that I used to end up creating anyway, before we had the formality off this as a standard.
Unity3d copes well with JSON natively now. It used to need a few extra bits of code, but as I found out recently it is very easy to parse a web based API using code and extra those pieces of information and adjust the contents of the 3d Environment accordingly. By easy, I mean easy if you are a techie. I am sure I could help most people get to the point of understanding how to do this. I appreciate too that having done this sort of thing for years there is a different definition of easy.
It is this grounding in real World pulling info data and manipulating it, from the Internet and serving it to the Web that seems to be a constant pattern. It is the pattern of IoT and of Big Data.
As part of the ongoing promotion of the science fiction books I have written I created a version of the view Roisin has of the World in the first novel Reconfigure. In that she discovers and API that can transcribed and described the World around her.
This video shows a simulation of the FMM v1.0 (Roisin’s application) working as it would for her. A live WebGL version that just lets you move the camera around to get a feel for it is here.

WebGL is a new target that Unity3d can publish too. Unity used to be really good because it had a web plugin that let us deploy applications, rich 3d ones, to any web browser not just build for PC, mac and tablets. Every application I have done over the past 7 years has generally had the web plugin version at its core to make life easier for the users. Plugins are dying and no longer supported on many browsers. Instead the browser has functions to draw things, move things about on screen etc. So Unity3d now generates the same thing as the plugin, which was common code, but creates a mini version for each application that is published. It is still very early days for WebGl, but it is interesting to be using it for this purpose as a test and for some other API interactions with sensors across the Web.
In the story, the interaction Roisin starts as a basic command line ( but over Twitter DM), almost like the skiing FTP of 1997. She interrogates the API and figures out the syntax, which she then builds a user interface for. Using Unity3d of course. The API only provides names and positions of objects, hence the cube view of the World. Roisin is able to move virtual objects and the API then, using some Quantum theory, is able to move the real World objects. In the follow up, this basic interface gets massively enhanced, with more IoT style ways of interacting with the data, such as with MQTT for messaging instead of Twitter DM’s as in the first book. All real World stuff, except the moving things around. All evolved through long experience in the industry to explain it in relatively simple terms and then let the adventure fly.
I hope you can see the lineage of the technology in the books. I think the story and the twists and turns are the key though. The base tech makes it real enough to start to accept the storyline on top. When I wrote the tech parts, and built the storyboard they were the easy bits. How to weave some intrigue danger and peril in was something else. From what I have been told, and what I feel, this has worked. I would love to know what more people think about it though. It may work as a teaching aid for how the internet works, what IoT is etc for any age group, from schools to boardroom? The history and the feelings of awe and anger at the technology are something we all feel at some point with some element of out lives too.
Whilst I am on real World though. One of the biggest constants in Roisin’s life is the like it or love it taste of Marmite. It has become, through the course of the stories, almost a muse like character. When writing you have to be careful with real life brands. I believe I have used the ones I have in these books as proper grounding with the real World. I try to be positive about everyone else products, brands and efforts.
In Cont3xt I also added in some martial arts, from my own personal experience again, but adjusted a little her and there. The initial use of it in Cont3xt is not what you might think when you hear martial art. I am a practitioner of Choi Kwang Do, though I do not specially call any of the arts used in the book by that name as there are times it is used aggressively, not purely for defence. The element of self improvement is in there, but with a twist.
Without the background in technology over the years and the seeing it evolve and without my own personal gradual journey in Choi Kwang Do, I would not have had the base material to draw upon, to evolve the story on top of.
I hope you get a chance to read them, it’s just a quick download. Please let me know what you think, if you have not already. Thank you 🙂

It’s alive – Cont3xt – The follow up to Reconfigure

On Friday I pressed the publish button on Cont3xt. It whisked its way onto Amazon and the KDP select processes. The text box suggested it might be 72 hours before it was life, in reality it was only about 2 hours, followed by a few hours of links getting sorted across the stores. I was really planning to release it today, but, well, it’s there and live.
I did of course have to mention it in a few tweets, but I am not intending to go overboard. I recorded a new promo video, and played around with some of the card features on YouTube now to provide links. I am just pushing a directors cut version. The version here is a 3 minute promo. The other version is 10 minutes explaining the current state of VR and AR activity in the real industry.


As you can see I am continuing the 0.99 price point. I hope that encourages a few more readers to take a punt and then get immersed in Roisin’s world.
Cont3xt is full of VR, AR and her new Blended Reality kit. It has some new locations and even some martial arts fight scenes. Peril, excitement and adventure, with a load of real World and future technology. Whats not to like?
I hope you give it a download and get to enjoy it as much as everyone else who has read it seems to.
This next stage in the journey has been incredibly interesting and I will share some of that later. For now I just cast the book out there to see whether people will be interested now there is the start of a series 🙂

Price, value, 0.99 and ego for authors

I originally posted this on Linkedin, but felt I should have it here too. Working out the best place to put things often includes some re-use/re-posting.

Http://reconfigurebook.co.uk stands ready
Ready to face the World on its own, growing up and leaving the nest.

It has been a steep learning curve, since September 2015, of writing, publishing and selling, this first novel Reconfigure. My initial surprise at managing to write it in a way that came out almost exactly as I had pictured it, was then met with the confusion of how to design, price and share it as a product. Each of the steps in that process I took decisions, some where more clear cut than others.

The price, of my precious creation, was the hardest. I thought that going in too cheap would make the work seem as if it was a throw away piece, published solely for reasons of ego. I thought if it was too expensive, it would of course not reach anyone, and how could I dare charge for something by an unknown writer. That was balanced a little by my own internal hype, that I felt I was not totally unknown. In reality in the sea of internet presences and products, we are all pretty much unknown, unless you count as a global multi-award winning superstar or win the viral lottery and have something to ride that wave with. They were not generally born with that popularity though. We are all just people.

People, many closer to me than not, seem to enjoy Roisin’s story. I have no idea what people from a wider more diverse circle feel about it, yet. I sit and worry about reviews, what if I get lots and they say it’s terrible. Equally I worry about people not reviewing because it is just not worth the bother to review. The book is not me though. Looking at it from it’s perspective, it is happy to be out there ready to be discovered. I have done what I needed to release the story. Now it is the books job to win people over. That way I can park this ego, or personal validation need, for downloads and sales and just try and help it along without it defining me.

That is all a bit deep, and potentially odd to hear. However, having written a second book I find my attitudes to its acceptance as part of the series to be different. I am going to send it out there, and whatever happens, happens. I can engineer serendipity a little, with mentioning its very existence, but I can’t make people want to read, or read it. If they want to they will. I do not have a corporate marketing budget to make it part of every waking moment in everyones lives. That would be horrible though!

Having run the free promotion days and seeing such a big difference in downloads, from the $2.99 book sales, it is clear that $2.99 is too much. That price point was slightly enforced by the structure Amazon sets. If you want to get 70% as a royalty you can only start pricing at $2.99, which becomes £1.99 in the UK, as a minimum rather than an exchange rate difference. As a new author, and doing all the work, my brain thought, “hey, 70% is a decent amount.” The other rate is 35%. For an ebook that seems woefully low. Yes there is storage of the data, the shop front etc., but Amazon are getting 65% at that low rate. My ego, not my business brain, felt that was wrong. So I couldn’t price any lower than $2.99. I think that may have been incorrect, and my heart leading my head. Getting the book out there is about volume, not individual profits. Whilst Amazon may be taking too much, IMHO, that is what they are taking, that is the playing field, the rules of the game. Amazon, of course, don’t actually care as a transport mechanism for my book or anyone’s. They thrive of volume, one product sold lots or lots sold of individual items. So self publishing might cut out a certain part of the middle man process, but it is not generally the creators of anything who gain the most financially.

With this in mind, I just made a chance and hit the button, not to go totally free and never get any financial recognition for the work, but instead to the enticing $0.99 or 99p in the UK and other regions. This may make a difference to volumes downloaded. With a second book, yet to be priced, it may entice two sales? Yes I have written twice as much, but 2 x 0.99 is better than 0 x $2.99 and I want people to just read it.

Will that make any difference? I have no idea. As with all these things there is an element of luck and timing, combined with anything related to the quality and the value of the work. It means I feel much more relaxed about Cont3xt now though. The first book, was as if I was buying a lottery ticket for the very first time. Excitement and nerves, hoping for a massive win. That could happen, and sometimes does, but most things require time and effort, presence and demonstration of ability in the field. I may have a long track record in emerging technology, social media, blogging, a bit of TV presenting etc. That does not entitle me to immediately burst onto the scene and expect critical and financial success.

With that new attitude, I can move forward and explore interesting story lines and ways to share them. The work is there if anyone needs it. It does not require my constant presence, it is a product, hosted and available 24/7. It is still my baby, as is Cont3xt, but they are growing up and leaving home. They still need my support, and they are very welcome of the support from everyone they have had so far too, as am I.

Reconfigure is available on Amazon in all regions as an ebook and paperback. Go and give it a try, and maybe write a review too?

Cont3xt, the follow up is out soon.

Happy 2016 – The Future is here – Just Cause 3

We have arrived at 2016, it seems only yesterday that it was the turn of the millennium. 2000AD used to seem like the far flung future when I was about 10 years old. 1977 sat in a cinema watching the Star Wars universe explode on screen. As someone who lives and works on future and emerging technologies and trends the new year is always a time to take stock and see where the World is going. In 2015, after a few contracts and good paying work disappeared I was faced with a rather bleak future and no pipeline. It seems that every project, however clever, interesting or potentially lucrative that I have worked on in the past few years have all reached some sort of impasse. Rather than dwell on that our Family holiday in August gave me a flash of inspiration to try something a little different. Many of you who read this blog, or follow me on Twitter and Facebook will have been deluged with the results of that inspiration. That was of course writing and publishing Reconfigure. This near future science fiction is of course an adventure in ideas and concepts, but it is based on a lot of real tech and the real trajectory that it can take. It is also based in how it feels, the short comings of the tech experience, the human errors we make and the fragility of human experience. A struggle to stay on the right path. Roisin also uses a lot of game brain to solve things with a bit of flare and style. I have been reminded of her spirit this holiday by playing my xmas gift Just Cause 3. This is a prime example of free roam fun. You can explore so many ways to deal with situations, or you can just float around enjoying the amazing terrain.
The main character Rico, is dealing with a tyrant and having to pick away at the various bases, gaining them back under his control. Jets, helicopters, parachutes, wing suits, boats, guns, grenades, and the all important tether that he can fire to pull things around, all feature.
Just Cause 3
As I play it, it has can be frantic and tense at key moments, but it can also be relaxing and just virtual tourism really. Ascending a mountain monastery just to wing suit down the mountain, because you can is as much a part of it as the scripted missions. There is a world, but you can do anything, within certain limits. It is my enjoyment of this style of game that has led to even trying to write a book. There are no rules, apart from the rules that need to be set to make it make sense. Those rules are there to be subverted by some interesting twists and actions.

The book has yet to solve my problem of not having any serious pieces of work bringing in any money yet, and it may never do that, but it is there, very real and something I am very proud of. It has generated a spark of inspiration for me, a rejuvenation and belief in what can be achieved. That spark ignited into the writing of the follow up Cont3xt which is due very shortly out there. I have pushed even deeper in the the real technology of virtual and augmented reality but taken it further, but in a way that makes sense. So these books, and another one after that will act as my prediction for the future. Whether they provide anything else for my personal future I will just have to leave to luck, advertising and good friends sharing their existence.

So personally I have gone from a pretty depressing state of affairs, not seeing a future, to trying to create one for everyone else to immerse and enjoy. It has been a whirlwind and I will keep on riding this one. I will of course stay on the look out for some more ‘normal’ ways to make a living. It all adds to the richness of the experience though.

I wish everyone a happy, productive, fun and futuristic 2016. If in doubt just wing it, with style 🙂

More STEMnet talks – With added IoT

Tomorrow I am heading to predlet 1.0 secondary school to talk to the year eight class (including predict 1.0) about programming, tech and interesting stuff like Internet of Things and what it is relevant to them. I am putting most of the same, but updated things in there to garner interest. The extra labelling of IoT to make things more relevant doesn’t alter the vector the the future I discuss is heading towards.
It is also a talk about how my career, or whatever this is called has flowed alongside new developments and of course I do also mention the book. It is relevant in several ways. The subject matter and being able to share and explain how a programmer’s mind or a gamer’s mind works is the obvious one. The ongoing story keeping up with and accelerating past the current technology, yet keeping it just possible is pretty much where I live as a technical evangelist. You have to know how things work, you have to be able to build things in order to help push things forward. Also the feedback loop of 3d printing creating objects that become inputs for IoT is still an incredible one to consider and share.
I also found that it became a relevant IoT(ish) example.
The book started as an idea, which became a digital product. Designed, published and sold from anywhere in the World. However, it became a physical object too. I was not planning that originally. The printed object takes up space and has a presence. A pile of them become things, not internet of things but things generated from the internet. They and the intangible ebook generate digital sales figures. Data that tuned for just me and my sales becomes the intelligence I act upon for the follow up book, for digital adverts etc. It also is part of the global sales figures, the charts the overall big picture from the big data on what is being read and sold. Products always have had this of course, but the figures are now instant. The ebook is able to be borrowed in a digital library and I get figures of how many pages have been read. The printed book can’t do that, yet. However, it could with the right devices as part of it. That would be useful for me, have people read it, where are they stopping, thinking time, heart rate for excitement, stress for complexity etc. The ebook is part way there, the physical is as far away as ever from that. The question then becomes, if we related that use case to something else would it be desirable and make sense to push the instrumentation further in the product.
Another gadget I may take with me is the Emotiv headset to show them. Oh! Look! it measures brain engagement, relaxation, stress etc. for the current activity. If it just knew which book, film, game I was reading, watching, playing then it could quite happily correlate and send this brain wave data to Amazon, on to the individual author, regardless of ebook or physical version. It could then also aggregate that all up into the big data picture.
Measuring engagement with emotiv and physical book
I generated a word cloud of the first chapter to. Everyone knows what a word cloud is now I think, but it can be a relevant example of making sense or trying to make sense of massive amounts of data.
Word Cloud - Chapter 1 Reconfigure
The instrumentation loop is here, the parts of it may not flow totally without friction but we can experiment with what might work, prototype then maybe build the proper versions.
I am also going to go a bit fractal thinking on them. Reminding them everything in computing is just adding up two numbers. The half adder circuit of an Xor and an And gate is the basis of it all. The number of times you it add up is what the computer leverages. From that spawns great complexity, and also great simplicity.
Then it’s Minecraft and python demo. Virtual world, code mixed maybe with a hololens video on the end, of Minecraft of course.

How to describe free in pictures

This past weekend my experiment into a free promotion of the book certainly did something. The increase in downloads was huge. A month of promoting, sharing, persuading and asking people to please take a look had built quite a base of awareness. It may have even caused some fatigue. I was feeling a little odd only talking about the book. However, needs must.
using the Amazon free promotion for four days, but on the substrate of this previous sharing and shouting about it I believe made a difference. People who were holding off, or just not got around to it now had a deadline, and something free.
There are no strings with just downloading something, even non-readers could offer some support without engaging in any payment. I do not think it is the sum of money, which is small. Payment is a barrier to entry at any price and also to an unknown, even if you know them, author.
This is what free looked like. There is no scale, deliberately so.
Figures
The launch was the first spike, followed by a constant drip feed of activity. The free period was immense in relation to the rest. Hence the scale is un important.
Amazon tracks all sorts of things in Free and paid and this, and the fantastic support spreading the message form everyone led to some great stats.

A UK Number 1 download in its genre and Number 14 in UK general science fiction.
It has reached the US top 100, as high as 52 in general science fiction, and also number 2 in its sci-fi genre on Amazon

My author rank also hit 399 in the UK, which is pretty amazing. It was in the top 4,000 books overall in the free chart in the US.

All this is with 4 five star reviews (thank you so much for those) posted. Many of the other books have hundreds of reviews. Now I am hoping the free copies maybe get read and definitely get enjoyed by lots of people. If that turned into reviews and stars it would generate another spike in paid sales I am sure. If not, well, it’s still a No.1 book and the follow up, which is taking longer because of marketing this one, will be able to be branded with the success of the promotion.
The paperback book is print on demand so it can’t be discounted in the same way. Though it would make a lovely christmas present for someone 😉
Thank you all for the ongoing support. This has been a blast so far.
reconfigurebook.co.uk
cont3xtbook.co.uk

The second one takes longer, but is easier.

It has been a month since I let Reconfigure loose on the world in digital form. It started in September as a two week blast of writing, then four weeks of editing and fixing, plus some kindle layout. The follow up, Cont3xt, is taking a few more weeks to write. There is not the same fear of it suddenly losing steam that I had with the first book. Having not written an entire one before, plus the unknowns of packaging it, it was a rather manic time. My warp speed obviously doesn’t match that of any market out there for it. However, it is there and available and it has spawned the new one.
My initial seed idea offered a world and a set of near future based science adventures. They were underpinned in the merging tech I know and love and the processes I go through in developing solutions. i.e. a real base to work from. In Cont3xt that real base is able to go a further with some upgrades. The main one, and this is not a spoiler really as Roisin hints at the desire for this in book 1, is to use a fully immersive VR/AR headset.
In Reconfigure I use services like Twitter, in a realistic way and of course iPhones, android, Macs, and developing in Unity3d. Full blended reality headsets are on the horizon with Magic Leap and Microsoft Hololens. Having not built for those I chose to invent a new brand and company. I needed to take those near horizon pieces of tech and push them a bit further combining them with some other elements. So the EyeBlend was born. A fictional privately funded device that everyone wants. Roisin gets to do some cool things with it. The logo features on the current designs I have for the front page of the book. A pupil that is a globe in an eye, with arrows dashing out in radiant directions instead of lashes.
For the new cover I wanted to get across the multiple layering of quantum physics that appears in the words too. Currently I am at about 40k words. So I am well into the core of the story. Several scrapes and builds have been done, plus dealing with the end of Reconfigure.
I scouted new locations using Google Earth too. Flying around the new area really helped to get a feel for what it was like. It is a real place, but of course embellished.
This is all very meta of course as Roisin gets to see and travel using her tech. I also use the same tech to build the cover art. The basic structures are created in a stage in Unity3d game engine.
My current three I am deciding between are in the same style as in book 1 but have a bit more going on.
This has white cutouts of Roisin.
Book Cover choices #cont3xt
This has neon versions for a bit for detail
Book Cover choices #cont3xt
This has non just the EyeBlend logo on top of the multiple universes
Book Cover choices #cont3xt
It was good to be able to manage 5k words today and tinker with the artwork. It means there is one less thing to worry about formatting once I get to the proof reading stage.
I am hoping a few more friends and colleagues will take a punt on my £1.99/$2.99 story with Reconfigure, it would certainly help spur me on to make Cont3xt even better. However, I am learning to not worry about that and to just write. If it sells it sells, if not, it is still a great piece of work and a long term achievement.

Virtual becomes physical part ii

Today the paperback version of Reconfigure (my sci-fi novel I may have mentioned a few times!) went live. I was really happy with the proof that came from Createspace.

The amazon.com version is also there
I am setting up matchbook so it should mean that the digital copy is available to anyone who buys the physical copy. I am not sure how that pans out or works out, but it works retrospectively is someone buys the physical book and then would like the digital one once the scheme kicks in.
I got predlet 2.0 to help out with an advert for the book. It is a little easter egg, there are a few of them out there, based on the contents so readers or would be readers get a little in the know payoff.

I have been bouncing around the various advert platforms. I am still not sure which works, but I know which ones cost way too much 🙂
Anyway, this new solid paper version might make a good christmas present for someone ? Plus is is something I can wander around and show people, just in case they don’t believe me.
The plans that tomorrow is day 1 of storyboarding book 2. I have a rough idea what that is, there are plenty of hooks on the first book to work with and mesh into, though I don’t want to make each book mandatory. That may be asking a little too much, but it’s an aim.