Showing posts with label Leonard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leonard. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 1, 2022


Think it's all noble deeds and stuffy politeness over at Camelot? Wrong! Things are really bad right now. #Arthur's in jail, #Merlin's missing, and there's a demon in charge. Seriously! #YA #fantasy #dragons #wizard #monsters #swordandsorcery 🐲🧙‍♂️⚔️🛡️

Also available as an audiobook!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Proofers Activate!

Proofer in Action
As of today, all the proof copies for Dragonfriend have either been mailed out or hand delivered to shadowy figures across the land. Known to me as "Proofers," I await their feedback with bated breath. They are my last, best hope for an error free read.

After their changes are made, it'll be time for final tweaks on the interior and cover design, another "final" proof copy and then, Then, THEN...a vigorous smackdown on the "Approve" button! In the meantime, I'm working toward completing the first draft of the second book in the series (so expect to see some movement on the long-neglected progress bar to the right).

Elsewhere in the news, I have an irresistible urge to list my top three favorite Pixar films:

1. The Incredibles: One of the best animated films of all time and the top of my Pixar list due to superb animation, voice casting, and a top notch script. (Side note to Brad Bird: Please come up with a story idea you like and do the sequel. NOW!)

2. Monsters, Inc.: Hilarious, full of heart without being schmaltzy, a completely original setting. Works on every level and like all of the top Pixar films is infinitely re-watchable. I'm very happy they're doing a prequel to this one.

3. Up: Great characters, fun story, and heart -- the magical mixture that Pixar seems to be the best at doing (notable exception: Dreamworks' Kung Fu Panda -- so good I have to keep reminding myself it's not a Pixar project).

So there you have it. How does my Pixar list compare to yours?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Good Grief, I'm a Font Nerd

I came to that (possibly sad) conclusion yesterday after spending most of the day trying to decide which font I'll use for my novel, Leonard the Great: Dragonfriend. As I've mentioned before, when you self-publish, you have to do everything -- including formatting and choosing the font for the interior pages of your book. There are very talented professionals in traditional publishing whose only job is to do just that so you know the importance the big guys attach to this part of the publishing process. They're called Book Designers and they (the good ones, anyway) live for their craft, delighting in choosing just the right font for a particular book. Check out this cool little collection of video shorts from Penguin to get an idea of what I'm talking about. These folks are passionate!

While I'm not as energized by the subtle differences between Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia, I did totally key in to the importance of font choice. A lot of the pros use pricey custom fonts with names like Minion, Bembo, and Gotham that are purchased from font or type "foundries." These days custom fonts are largely designed at corporate entities like Adobe or Apple, but a surprising number are still created by much smaller companies and individuals. To give an idea of the costs involved, Adobe currently lists their "Font Folio 11" (with over 2300 fonts) for $2599.00. An individual font like "Adobe Caslon Pro" currently costs $169.00. Why so expensive? I'm guessing it's because the designers not only had to create individual numbers and letters for each font in its "regular" form, they also had to do their complete alphabet in italics, bold, bold italics, and so forth. That's a lot of design work.

A large publishing company can justify dropping that kind of cash to make their books look "just right," but that's definitely out of my league. The good thing is that even the lowly Microsoft Word foundry has a fairly impressive array of fonts to choose from -- for free (well, not technically, but you know what I mean).

Conventional wisdom holds that large blocks of printed text are easier to read when in "serif" form. With a serif font (Times New Roman, Bookman Old Style, etc.) you get letters with little flourishes or "semi-structural details," a letter with "feet," for example. Sans serif fonts (like the aforementioned Helvetica), on the other hand, have none of these embellishments and are considered easier to read on your computer screen because of their simplicity. Side Note: This blog's composition font (what I see when I'm writing it) is serif but its display font (what you see when reading it) is sans serif. I have no idea why Google does it this way.

Since I was choosing the text font for a printed book (which includes the Kindle edition with its "virtual ink" technology that, even though it's digital, is seen by your eyes as a regular printed page and not a "screen"), I stuck with the numerous serif fonts available. I formatted my novel in a 6x9 configuration (the eventual "trim" or final size), single spaced, and "justified" on both sides. I have to say that it was no small thrill to see my little manuscript properly formatted for print -- it looked just like a "real" book! Next I did "select all" and applied the serif fonts to the manuscript pages, one at a time. Wow! Talk about cool. Yes, it was about this time that the "font nerd" term came to mind.

The differences were subtle yet impressive. MS Word's default font is "Times New Roman" and using this one, the manuscript came out to 248 pages. Because of seemingly insignificant attributes like letter size and spacing between characters, other fonts dropped it down to as low as 234 or pushed it all the way up to 309! I had done a little internet hunting to see what fonts professional book designers and other self-pubbed authors were using and if those fonts were listed in Word, I gave them a shot.

I chose eight serif finalists that seemed to offer visual appeal and that elusive "readability" factor. If you think I'm making too big a deal about this, think about the times you may have had difficulty getting through a book even though you were enjoying the content. This usually happens to me with sci fi paperbacks from low-end publishers who end up reducing their fonts to the smallest readable size possible with minimal spacing between characters, sentences, and paragraphs. They do this to save money as more pages means higher production costs, but the end result is a high degree of unreadability that sometimes makes it seem like I'm looking at a solid page of side by side letters rather than words and sentences. That's what readability is all about -- a pleasant-to-look-at font on a properly formatted page.

The finalists included Book Antigua, Goudy Old Style, Bookman Old Style, Georgia, Century Schoolbook, Baskerville Old Face, and Palatino, but, ultimately, I went with Garamond (created by sixteenth century type designer, Claude Garamond), 12 pt with 1.15 spacing between lines. Here's a sample:
"Leonard felt that he had truly lost his mind when he found himself jumping over the bridge wall and sliding down the muddy banks of the Smellet River toward a very large dragon that he really didn’t know at all."
As you can see, it's a "friendly" font with good spacing between individual letters/words and a high degree of readability. I really like it.

Should this post be taken as an expert treatise on font selection? Heck no! I basically stumbled around until I found something that worked for me. But if you're an independent author who's having to design your own book's interior, I do hope that you'll give font selection the attention it's due.

By the way, after all that exploration and experimentation I decided to see what font was used in the Harry Potter books since they have the same target readership as Leonard. 12pt. Adobe Garamond! I'm not sure how Adobe's Garamond differs from Microsoft's (enough to be proprietary, obviously), but I couldn't tell the difference and as far as I'm concerned, what's good enough for Ms. Rowling's little trifle is good enough for mine!

Got any font or formatting love to share? Leave your thoughts and tips in the comments.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Behold my Super-Awesome Backers!

A Few of My Backers
I am a very fortunate man. During my recent (and hopefully not too annoying) fundraising effort on Kickstarter, these folks stepped up to the plate and made a contribution to Leonard's cause. Because of them, the book went from "Gonna publish it someday." to "Gonna publish it this summer." Some are family, some are friends, and some are complete strangers -- all are SUPER-AWESOME!!!

Here they are in all their alphabetically-ordered, super-awesome glory...

Jim Allen
Ed Brown
Anne Chivetta
Chris Chivetta
Chris Cusack
Peggy Etra
Patricia Eschbacher
Roger Eschbacher, Sr.
Rick Fiedler
Coleen Forward
James Giannini
Toni Gilbert
Paul Gross
Cyndi Ruprecht Hunt
James Judd
Chris Landes
Traci Newman
Brian Palermo
Adam Pava
Keith Robinson
Japke Rosink
Lisa Tucker-Ruprecht
Stephen J. Ruprecht
Andrew Thomas
Jeff Zimmer

Look upon their names and feel awe because they are true giants and giantesses of SUPER-AWESOMENESS!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

To the Editor!

Just a quick update to let you know I sent the manuscript for Leonard off to the editing service, yesterday. Hooray! I opted for their full-service treatment which not only includes a proofread (punctuation, grammar, etc.), but also a more detailed edit and overview. A professional edit is the main reason I launched the Kickstarter project so it's truly a thrill to finally get the ball rolling in that department.

My editor told me I could expect to get it back in around three weeks, possibly sooner. Once that happens, I'll make the suggested changes, then start cranking on getting Leonard the Great: Dragonfriend listed on Amazon, both in Kindle form and as a physical book.

In other news, steady progress is being made toward completion of the first draft of the sequel to this book. On Friday, Leonard was swallowed by a monster. Hope he survives. ;c)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ten and Counting

Almost there! Only ten days away from the completion of this project and I'm getting more excited by the moment! I've been slowly lining up what needs to be done and what needs to be ordered (software, postcards, etc.). The plan is to go through the manuscript one last time before shipping it off for editing and proofing.

In the meantime, I'm pushing forward to complete the first draft of the book's sequel,  Leonard the Great: Giant Killer. At this point, I'm at just under 50k words (around two hundred MS Word pages). My goal is to average between 500 and 1000 words a day until completion -- hopefully by the end of May. My word count "sweet spot" for the sequel will be around 60k.

I'll be keeping track of my first draft progress with a word count widget I ran across (over on the right of this page). I know it sounds kind of silly, but little things like that are a great motivator for me and the ability to update my word count provides a feeling of accomplishment. Hey, I guess we authors all have our little mind tricks, eh?

This is so cool. Thanks again, everyone!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The Half-Castle?
As of last night, and to my utter amazement, the Leonard the Great: Dragon Friend project on Kickstarter became fully funded! To say that I am blown away would be epic understatement. I am so very grateful that you cared enough about my project to want to help. Thanks to you, a dream many years in the making will actually come true! Thank you! I am thrilled beyond measure.

What's next, you ask?

Well, the project can continue to receive donations (any additional funds will be applied to the next book), as Kickstarter rules require that I keep it open for the amount of time originally designated. In other words, there is no option to end the project early. I'll have to wait to get busy with the fun stuff (pro editing, etc.) until May 1st at 11:59p,  at which point they'll release the funds to my account.

However, I can use the remaining time to plan the fun stuff (which can be fun in and of itself) and I'll be doing just that. I'll keep you all posted on any interesting developments and, of course, when the rewards are ready to be shipped.

Again, thank you so very much for your support. I feel truly blessed!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ABNA Update

Well, it's a good thing I was "realistic about the odds" because Leonard didn't make it into the quarter finals. Naturally, it would've been nice if it had, but that's okay. There's always next year and if my Kickstarter project is successful, the manuscript will be in even better shape than it is now (and published!).

A nice thing about getting as far as I did is that I'll be receiving feedback from the two Vine reviewers who read my manuscript. Last year's Vine reviews (one snarky, the other gushing) were very helpful and I took them to heart during a subsequent rewrite.

Congrats to all who moved on to the next round -- a very impressive accomplishment.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Leonard on Kickstarter

I just launched Leonard on Kickstarter, a site dedicated to helping authors and other artists get patrons (they call them backers) for their projects. I'm obsessed with having my literary baby properly edited before publishing it on Amazon and this seemed like the perfect way to make that happen. Go on over and check out the PROJECT PAGE and, if so inclined, please consider giving a donation.

BTW, that's the progress widget for the project on the right and my "pitch video" up above. I don't look too dorky, do I? (please say no)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Go Leonard!

I'm happy to report that my novel, "Leonard the Great: Dragon Friend," made it through to the second round of the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The next tier of winners will be announced on 3/22.

For the first level, roughly 10000 authors (5000 general fiction, 5000 YA fiction) were judged on the quality of their novel's 300 word "pitch" -- a short summation authors might use to generate interest in their manuscript from agents or publishers. Out of those, 1000 per category were chosen to move on to the second round.

For the next round, our 3k-5k word excerpts will be judged by a mysterious group known as Vine Reviewers. After that, the full manuscripts are critiqued by assorted experts all the way through to the finals. The Grand Prize includes cash and a publishing contract with Penguin. (cue drooling)

Is it a long shot? Ohhhhh yes! But I'm realistic about the odds and, all in all, it's a very cool thing to get this far. I'm thrilled my pitch was judged worthy of advancement and hope my little novel continues on to the upper levels of the contest.

Positive thoughts, prayers, and finger-crossing will be cheerfully accepted.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Still Working It

I feel obligated to report that I've not been posting due to overall busy-ness. As in...

  • Finished another big edit on LTG: Dragonfriend. Cut out close to 6k words, caught more punctuation/grammatical/typographical errors. Lots of fat was tossed. Glow of overall positiveness now envelops me with regard to this manuscript. SIDE NOTE: Recommend using MS Word's "read text aloud" feature. It helped me catch many errors such as repeated/dropped words and clunky (poorly constructed) sentences.
  • Prepping above manuscript and support materials for 2011 ABNA.
  • Finished the first draft of a live-action spec pilot for kids, ala Wizards of Waverly Place. My reader's taking a look at it and I hope to be able to send it to my agents soon. I think it's a unique premise and is funny. We'll see.
  • Added some animation and kid's book FAQ's at the top of this page. Stuff I've been asked over the years which I hope you'll find of interest.
  • Minor revamp of this and my other blog.
Still chugging along toward the eventual publishing of Leonard on Amazon (via Createspace) but, as mentioned in a previous post, I'm going to shut up about my progress in that arena until  I'm close to pulling the trigger.

That is all.

UPDATE: I knew there was something else. Wrote an episode of a popular animated half-hour and just got another assignment for the same show. The pickup hasn't been announced yet so I can't reveal the name at this time. Yay, work!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dude, Still there?

I haven't posted in quite some time because I've been working on whipping Leonard the Great into publishable shape -- deciding that I should just get the darned thing done rather than posting about getting the darned thing done. It's been frustrating and a little embarrassing for me to consistently zoom past posted deadlines, so I'm just going to shut up and write (or, in this case, rewrite).

I will say I'm closer than ever and hope to publish Leonard by -- oops, almost did it again. Further updates will come when I get much closer to pushing the "publish" button. Whenever that is.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leonard the Great's Revised Cover

Here's the new and much improved front cover for the book. I'm quite pleased with it. Thanks to thoughtful feedback from you guys and some inspired design work by Mike Wykowski, it looks much more like a middle-grade fantasy novel and much less like a historical biography.

One of the cool things that Mike came up with was the addition of images from medieval tapestries as a background layer in the black areas. It's a subtle add that features knights and mythological creatures doing battle -- and it looks really cool!

Thanks to Keith, Tom, Steve and everyone else (except the guy who suggested I add Lindsay Lohan in a bikini) for your extremely helpful notes. I asked for feedback and you delivered -- big time.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Leonard the Great's Cover

Uncomplicated, uncluttered; just the way I like it. I think this cover gives a pretty good idea of what the book is about, too -- a kid doing knightly things.

 I'm very pleased with how it's looking so far, but I'm also (just) smart enough to be open to feedback. Let me know what you think.

Thanks to graphic designer Mike Wykowski for his help in getting it "just right".

Monday, June 28, 2010

So Far, So Good

Began the rewrite on Caden Brave, my new (2009 NaNo) middle grade novel. To quote the great Mel Brooks, I'm finding it to be "surprisingly not bad". I'm only a few chapters in, so hopefully that trend will continue.

Back at the end of the first draft, I'd had just about enough of Caden, and pretty much hated it. But I also know how these things go for me -- I get really sick of the manuscript, set it aside for a month or so, and then breathe a sigh of relief upon discovering that (amazingly) there's something I can work with. It's my novelling circle of life -- and yes, I know "novelling" is not a real word but I like it so there! (sticks out tongue)

In other news, thanks to some help from a graphic designer friend of mine, I've got an "almost final" book cover for Leonard the Great. While not ready to go public yet (I'll share it when I get closer to publishing it on Createspace), I will say that I'm extremely pleased with how it's turned out. I'm waiting for one more set of notes from an author friend of mine and then, it's go time!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Novel News

Got a nice bit of good news the other day. My novel "Leonard the Great" has moved to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award thanks to this pitch:

"If you think it was all good deeds and fancy ideals back in the days of Camelot, think again. Most people don’t know this, but for a time things went seriously bad; Arthur was imprisoned, Merlin had vanished, and a vile demon had taken over the throne.
Young Leonard Albacore would have been shocked to learn any of this but right now all that concerned him was where his next meal was coming from. As page to Sir Ronald, a poor but kind knight, events at the castle took a back seat to a rumbling stomach.

Oh sure, he held a secret dream that one day Sir Ronald would take a seat at the Round Table, but seriously, that was about as likely as Maid Glennys seeing him as anyone other than the dirty page of a low-ranking nobleman. Not gonna happen.

Everything changes when Leonard meets Mantooth, a seriously depressed dragon who’s looking for a knight to end his misery with a swing of a broadsword.

Wait a minute. If the dragon will allow Sir Ronald to slay him, his misery would be over, Sir Ronald would surely get a Round Table invite for such a brave deed, and Leonard might even climb a notch or two in the eyes of Glennys! Everybody wins, right?

Wrong. Leonard’s plan backfires horribly when, on the day of the battle, Sir Ronald is arrested for “bravery without a license” and he and Mantooth are dragged off to Camelot’s dungeons. Now Leonard must do whatever it takes to free his master even if that means doing battle with dangerous monsters, trying to outwit Camelot’s dark overlord, or even taking a bath!"
Next, the judges will read manuscript excerpts from all those who made the cut and choose some to move on to the Quarterfinals. It's a huge long shot, but hopefully they'll like mine.

Prayers, positive vibes, and finger crossings on Leonard's behalf are more than welcome. Thanks!

Update: Leonard didn't make it to the third round of ABNA, but he did get farther than he did last year so I can't complain.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oh, So This is What He Looks Like!

I asked my very talented resident artist Molly to come up with a visualization for the title character of "Leonard the Great". Happily, she agreed. Pretty cool, huh?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Query Letter

Okay, so you finally get your novel to the point where you think it's ready to be seen by a publishing professional. That usually means sending it off to an editor or literary agent. But as every aspiring author should know, nothing sours the disposition of one of these hardworking book folk more quickly than a big ol' unsolicited manuscript. They don't want them, they get mad at people who send them, and they immediately flush any that show up in their virtual or physical mailboxes.

So what do you do? Write a query letter, of course.

The purpose of a query letter is to briefly describe your manuscript (c.300 words or less) and ask if it's okay to send them the first chapter or two. Most sources that I've found seem to think that writing a good query is nearly as important as your actual novel and great care should be taken when crafting it. That makes sense to me. Since you can't just dump the whole manuscript on an editor's desk, that one page letter has to be pretty darned good.

The ideal query letter intrigues the editor or agent just enough so that they want to read more.

After Leonard was rejected at the query stage by the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, sniff, I began to suspect that I needed some help on my own query (genius that I am). Fortunately, I had somewhere to turn for help, running it past Evil Editor and his trusty minions. They offered some very helpful suggestions about how to make it better. I highly recommend putting your query to the test over on his site. They can be a little rough (tough love), but if you check your ego and go there to be educated, you'll benefit immensely from the feedback. I know I did. Oh, and another cool thing is that it's all for free.

Here's how my query letter turned out:

Dear (Editor),

Leonard the Great is a middle-grade fantasy novel (77,000 words) set in the days of King Arthur. It's the story of Leonard Albacore, a young page who dreams of getting Sir Ronald the Mediocre, his kind but incompetent master, a seat at the Round Table. After a chance encounter with a suicidal dragon, he cooks up a plan that will get both of them what they want -- death for the dragon and a sure-fire invite to Camelot for Sir Ronald.

But the plan backfires horribly when the snooty Knights of the Round Table show up and arrest Sir Ronald for "attempted bravery without a license", dragging him off to Camelot's dungeons.

Wracked with guilt, Leonard vows to do whatever it takes to free his master. But it won’t be easy. An ancient evil has taken over Camelot, and unless Leonard can figure out how to defeat it, both Sir Ronald and Arthur’s dream are doomed.

Full of rough and tumble action, this boy-centric novel is also rich with irreverent asides and unique characters.

I would be happy to send a sample chapter at your request.

Roger Eschbacher

So there you go. Short, to the point, and (hopefully) effective. Bring on the multi book deals!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hey, Why Not?

Submitted Leonard for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. It's an annual contest sponsored by CreateSpace, Penguin Group, Publisher's Weekly, and of course,

The Grand Prize is a publishing contract with Penguin that includes a $25k advance. Not too shabby!

They're only accepting a maximum of 10k manuscripts so the way I look at it, my odds of being chosen are much better than winning the lottery!

3/17 Update: Didn't make it past the first round. Rats!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

In Play

Quick update. A submission-worthy draft of "Leonard" was placed in Agent S' hands shortly before Christmas meaning that the game is afoot. I think the manuscript's pretty darned tight and a good read. Hopefully publishers will agree. Finger crossings, prayers, and happy vibe thoughts are all welcome and appreciated.

Eater of the Dead: A Dragon Friend Excerpt

Just in time for Halloween! Check out a featured Dragon Friend excerpt on the BestSelling Reads blog: "The spooky season is upon us! H...