Monday, 19 January 2015

The Dangers of Having a Really Long Title for a Short Story.


So now my latest short story e-book is out for the consumption of the masses! Don't everybody rush to the bookstores all at once! There's enough for everyone! Because they're e-books dammit!

Here's a summary of what you're in for:
When Sayyid opted to become an organic Volkswagen farmer, he did not expect the Volkswagens to misbehave and break out of his backyard. Now those crazy air-cooled vehicles are running loose in the neighborhood and only Sayyid can stop them. But the situation gets even more out of hand when they invade the home of cranky old Mrs. Winters and take her hostage. In this action-packed and absurd short story, all bets are off as to whether humans or air-cooled Volkswagens survive to see another day.
The Dangers of Growing Air-cooled Volkswagens in Your Backyard can currently be found at the following outlets:
Soon to follow:
 and Barbra Streisand knows where else.

Every time I push out an e-book I inadvertently learn a lesson. This time, I learned that you must always remember your title. In my previous post, you may have noticed the cover I posted had a slightly different title than the one on the image above.

Yep, I missed out the word "air-cooled". How embarrassing! Lesson learned. Next time, no more ridiculously long titles inspired by the Pet Shop Boys.

I'm sure this story will have the usual all-over-the-place reactions like my previous stories. I've already had one gushing review claiming "it's Ted Mahsun's best story yet!!!" and another basically saying "eh, it's all right, I guess. Ted put it in the wrong category though". I'm sure it won't be long before a hater will come along and say something like, "It falls into every left wing idiot's rant about how repubs, right wing people hate muslims and how muslims are innocent. i actually had to stop reading it because it was not entertaining, but mind numbing."

In the meantime, hey! I have a story out. How nice.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Four Years to Completion.

It only took four years but I've finally finished writing a short story that I never thought I would finish. As I mentioned in the previous post, on the very last page of Zombies Ate My Muslim, I had promised that the next story would be The Dangers of Growing Volkswagens in Your Backyard. I didn't think anybody would be interested in reading it due to its ridiculously silly title, and so I never was motivated to finish writing it.

Yet here I am, basking in the glow of a freshly completed short story. By complete, I mean first draft complete and not rewritten-umpteen-million-times-and-edited-to-hell complete. That process would probably take several more weeks and after that I'll self-publish it on all the major e-book outlets. That's still an achievement though.

I shan't be bothered submitting this one to any pubs; it's way too silly for the likes of them. Like Zombies Ate My Muslim, it doesn't take itself seriously and it doesn't even want to try. Unlike Zombies Ate My Muslim, it doesn't have gratuitous sex. Alhamdullilah.

I'll let you know when it's out. Meanwhile, here's a preliminary version of the cover:


What do you think?

Thursday, 8 January 2015

A New Year and a New Reaffirmation.

You know, I'm feeling inspired again. Inspired again to write.

I'll be the first to admit I've been a little slack in my writing. Writing only a short story per year, for the past five or six years. Most of them aren't even complete. I kept abandoning what I started because I kept second guessing myself. Is this good? Ugh. No, it isn't. I never want to see this piece of crap again. And so I wrote at a glacial pace and only when I felt like it. Until 2014...

2014 was a bit of a strange year for me. Mainly because in a year full of horrible tragedies, so many good things happened to me. Career-wise I was hitting it off. Kids too had finally grown old enough that they stopped trying to commit acts of random suicide every few minutes.

And, in terms of my writing, I had finally gotten round to putting up Zombies Ate My Muslim on Smashwords and Google Play. It was no longer an Amazon exclusive! (Pat on back, Ted.)

Putting it up on Smashwords is a big deal for me because that means it's no longer region exclusive and when a fellow Malaysian asks where one could buy my silly zombie story, I have a place to send them. Plus, Smashwords also pushes the title to other ebook markets such as iTunes, Kobo and B&N so that's great too!

I did not expect Google Play to have any effect though. It was just another place to publish a book and not see any sales. But an odd thing happened. My colleagues, avid Android users that they are, randomly discovered Zombies Ate My Muslim on the Google Play store, and actually left me some good reviews, unsolicited. Naturally, I was psyched! And I knew they had actually read the story because on the very last page I had promised I would deliver another short story. However I never finished writing it. My colleagues asked where the other story was, because that sounded an interesting read too. I had to answer that I never got round to finishing it. Never found the motivation to. They told me they would love to read the next story I wrote.

That got me thinking. Maybe I should start taking writing seriously again.

One recent night, I reopened one of my abandoned crappy stories that I had kept on my computer for years. Despite initially cringing, I was drawn to reading the story till the last word. I had almost forgotten I had even started writing the story at all. But what surprised me was that I liked it. I liked that crappy story. It wasn't so bad after all. I guess I'm not such a bad writer after all?

It was a reaffirmation for myself, that perhaps I can do this writing business after all. That perhaps I don't suck too hard. So now I'm making 2015 the year I take writing seriously once again.

I'm going to write -- and complete -- my short stories. I'm going to write a novel. And I'm going to start resubmitting them to publications again. This is exciting.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Kindle Touch: Two Years Later

You may remember (well, okay, you may not) that I bought a Kindle Touch almost two years ago. I was absolutely smitten with it. I loved the the e-ink screen, the touch capabilities, the ability to buy a book and immediately start reading it without ever having to leave the device. It was heaven for a book lover.

But now it's time for me to say goodbye to my beloved Kindle Touch. It was a trusty companion these past couple of years and kept me company for many long work commutes. The e-ink screen was, and still is, a marvelous piece of tech.

But time brings new advancements and now that I own an iPhone 6 Plus, I don't see the point of using a Kindle Touch to read books anymore. You see, paired with the Kindle app the iPhone 6 Plus is the perfect device for reading e-books (well, at least from Amazon).

When I first bought a the Kindle Touch, people claimed that e-ink screens caused less strain for the eyes while reading when compared to LCD screens. While that may be true back when LCD screens had low DPI (or pre-Retina, if we're using Apple's marketing spiel), we now live in an age where ridiculously sharp, high resolution screens make eye strain a trivial matter. The iPhone 6 Plus offers a really great Retina display which makes text display beautifully. And this helps while reading e-books on the Kindle app.

Another problem with the Kindle Touch that I had was lighting. It did not come with a backlight, so I bought the overpriced leather cover that included an LED light. It worked well and lit the e-ink screen adequately, however the bright white light eventually gave me eye strain and if I was reading in complete darkness, I would also get headaches. I know the more recent Kindle Paperwhite solves the problem with a built-in sidelight but... well, that just brings me to my next problem.

And that would be the problem of... colour!

This is what my Kindle Touch home screen looks like:



Now compare that to the Kindle for iOS app on my iPhone 6 Plus:


Some of you will be saying, "So what? Text isn't in colour and that's where we'll be spending most of our time anyway!"

And you would be right. But I like vibrant exciting screens. It makes it more fun to scroll through my library of awesome books.

When the Kindle Touch first launched it had more features that the iOS app, one of which was the really useful Kindle X-Ray. Nowadays even the iOS app has it, so there's not really much going for the Kindle Touch for me anymore. About the only thing the Kindle Touch has over the iOS app is a built-in book store and browser that allows instant book buying from within the Kindle Touch itself. But on an iPhone 6 Plus, I don't really need it since I can just swap over to Safari and go to the Amazon site myself.

With that, I bid to you, my beloved and trustworthy Kindle Touch, adieu and farewell. Thanks for all the fish.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Starship Aprilis: Time is Fleeting.

Dr. Irina managed to save the Poseidonite by forcing him to breathe through his gills. Her aides dumped him into a tub of water and his gills activated. Then it was just a matter of using a pair of tongs to extract the offending piece of bone.

Mission accomplished. The Poseidonite was saved.

Now it was my turn to make a move. As the Qastas had advised me:

Tempus fugit. Carpe diem.

Time is fleeting so seize the day.

Act now before it is too late.

When the matter of the Poseidonite was saved and I saw him and his Qastas friend out, I turned back into the sickbay and made my move.

I asked her out.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Starship Aprilis: A Situation in Sickbay

Unfortunately, as I and the Qastas were engaged in deep conversation (and what a lovely conversation it was to have the chance to dip your toes in an immense ocean of knowledge and wisdom), the Poseidonite began choking, of all things, a fish bone.

I had invited them for dinner at the lounge on the aft deck. It had a magnificent view and an amazing array of ocean culinary delights which as I suspected, delighted the Poseidonite and allowed me the time to talk with the Qastas.

The Qastas immediately took charge of the situation. He rammed his finger across the poor Poseidonite’s neck, and massaged it. In an instant, he turned to me and said, “He’s choking and I cannot do anything about it. We’ll have to rush him to the sickbay.”

I nodded. A crowd was already gathering around us, curious to see the commotion. I pushed some of the people aside and told them to make way, as the Qastas carried the Poseidonite on to his back.

We ran as fast as we could to the nearest sickbay. When we got there, a familiar face greeted us.

It was Dr. Irina. I smiled at her. She hardly noticed. She was more concerned about the poor choking Poseidonite.