Monday, November 24, 2008

How Apropos!

A few years back, my client John de Lancie called to tell me that he'd run into best-selling Star Trek author Peter David at a convention and started chatting about writing a novel I'd been bugging John for some time to write: a first-person novel from the POV of Q, John's terrific character that he played on three different Star Trek series.  The novel I, Q was the result and I started working with Peter from that point out on a few different things.

One of those was a trilogy of novels featuring Sir Apropos of Nothing, a knight of an unusual order, to say the least.  The first novel, called Sir Apropos of Nothing, of course, got a starred review in Publishers Weekly.  The second, The Woad to Wuin, also go a starred review in PW.  The third, Tong Lashing never got sent in for a review!  Go figure.

All three books remain in print, though, and you can pick them up using the links below:



The series ended there when the publisher, Pocket Books, got out of the original fantasy business (they've since gone back into the original fantasy business and we're hopeful they will buy some new Apropos novels soon), but readers looking for a fresh dose of Sir Apropos have a new outlet:  comic books.  Yes, comic books.  IDW Publishing has just released issue #1 of a new Sir Apropos series.  Now, I wish I could link to some site that sells the comic, but I can't say I'm affliliated with any.  So all I can do is show you the cool covers.  Yes, covers.  There are two versions.  Buy them both for your collection.

Sir Apropos of Nothing (2008) 1A Sir Apropos of Nothing (2008) 1B

Enjoy!

Z

Monday, November 10, 2008

Why QuickBooks 2009 sucks. Let me count the ways....

As a small-business owner, I have used QuickBooks for many years.  And I can't say I've ever really been in love with it, but now I may officially hate it.  Let's go over the reasons why:
  1. To get it to work, you must now call in and be on hold.  There is no registration online apparently;
  2. They send you a PIN that you did not choose and apparently are supposed to keep around for future use;
  3. The program would not install and I wasted numerous hours installing and uninstalling and screaming at customer support and the Office of the President.  Then I got a call back from Robert in QuickBooks Technical Support.  His phone number is 520-901-3059.  He is American, apparently, and in the home office.  He will hate me for putting his name and number up.  Tough.  If QuickBooks didn't ship all of its technical support off to India and a bunch of guys with indecipherable accents, Robert wouldn't be getting his number published.  But they did.
  4. I was always pissed about the payroll and tax table charges.  It used to be you got free tax table updates for a year when you bought the program.  Then you got ONE.  Give me a freakin' break.  Then they had different levels of payroll service, ranging from just tax tables and being able to print a few federal forms, up to doing it all for you.  But the pricing has always been far, far too high.  Now the lower-priced stuff is all gone, apparently, and you have to spend hundreds more per year to get basic functionality that used to be built-in to the price of the original purchase or a very cheap add-on.
  5. Intuit seems determined to lose the small-business owner as a customer and, frankly, I'd be glad to go but there's no competitor out there worth going to.  Sure, Microsoft has their own accounting package, but it seems to be an orphan child, frankly.  I see no commercials or effort to actually sell it to small-business owners.
  6. Everything about the 2009 version seems worse than the 2006 version.  Downloading and adding transactions for a bank account or credit card will take you at least twice as long and I wouldn't be surprised if it could take ten times as long.  I would rip that module out and start over.  You can't look up account alphabetically it seems.  I have "show account numbers" checked off and apparently it only works if you know the account number.  When I started to type a payee, nothing came up, but when I used the drop-down box it was right there.  Over the years, I have played around with various database programs and website-building programs.  I feel like QuickBooks 2009 has the feel of something built a guy in the back of his garage who just learned Java.
  7. Speaking of Java, I have no idea if that's what QuickBooks is using, but I think so and I have to say that I'm so sick of companies turning to Java to make their programs look and feel more like websites.  I have yet to see a program that was IMPROVED by turning to Java.  Certainly Plaxo was ruined by it and I will not be using Plaxo any longer.  The downloaded transactions screen in  QuickBooks 2009 has a Java look and feel and if that's what they used, it was a huge mistake.
  8. I have always wondered why QuickBooks seemed so unbelievably ignorant of the way most small-business owners work.  I probably know a dozen people using the program in their small businesses and none of them loves it.  They all think it could work better and yet all I ever see in QuickBooks is that the price goes up and the features stay the same or get worse.  More and more bugs seem to show up and I wonder if they have outsourced the programming to India along with their tech support.
  9. I think what QuickBooks needs is hate mail and an attitude change.  For years, QuickBooks has had an attitude that users should do things the way it wants users to do them, because that's easier for QuickBooks.  They seem to pay NO ATTENTION WHATSOEVER to their users, other than to determine what they need to do to sell more copies of QB and more products, like checks.  Yet their prices tend to be exactly twice the cost of ordering the same items online from Costco.  Yes, the QuickBooks products are perhaps a bit better in quality, but the checks I've gotten from third-parties have always worked with the program and my bank without any problems, so why overpay and buy from Intuit?
  10. QuickBooks charges what I believe is a very large sum for its programs and services, yet getting support is impossible and if you do get through, you'll be talking to India or Manila.   Its attitude is that you have to do it its way; they don't seem to ask customers how they think the program should work and then make it work that way.  Its supplies are overpriced.  Won't SOMEBODY out there please build a better mousetrap?
Z

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

THE SWORD NEVER SLEEPS...and neither does my son




Oy.  Sleep deprivation is a bitch.  My son is now four-months-old and still not sleeping through the night.  One of my clients, a former marine, says "forget waterboarding; let's just put terrorists in a nursery!"  And I remember living back in New York and I had this neighbor who played the piano and sang opera—both very, very badly—and my client Ed Greenwood suggested that I lower a boombox out the window down to their apartment and play a tape of a baby crying all night long.  At the time, I didn't give the idea the consideration it clearly deserved.

Speaking of Ed, he has a new book out....

For those readers who have been anxiously and perhaps impatiently awaiting the last book in this Forgotten Realms trilogy…wait no longer.  The Knights of Myth Drannor are back!  After being chartered by the king and queen, the knights stumble onto plot after plot against the Crown, and earn the ire of the Royal Magician.  The question becomes do the knights have what it takes to become heroes who are brave, honorable, and relentless?  Will they do anything to conquer evil?  Or will Florin Falconhand face the greatest challenge of his life?

This is the final book in the Knights of Myth Drannor trilogy by Ed Greenwood.  The trilogy began in 2007 with SWORDS OF EVENINGSTAR.  After saving the king’s life, Florin and his friends are granted the right to adventure in the kingdom.  But the knights take on more than they bargained for, as evil follows them everywhere and they struggle to stay alive.  Greenwood concludes this trilogy about the celebrated adventurers that began in SWORDS OF EVENINGSTAR and was continued in SWORDS OF DRAGONFIRE.  Here, Florin and the knights must save the kingdom and themselves from a web of lies or it will be destroyed forever.

Ed Greenwood is the creator of the Forgotten Realms setting.  He is also the best-selling author of hundreds of novels, game products, and articles in that same setting.

If you love adventure and a world of fantasy, then this trilogy is definitely for you!  The Forgotten Realms setting is one of magic, treachery, and true heroism.  Become one of the many readers who have become immersed in the exhilarating journey from teenager to swashbuckling hero of Florin Falconhand and his friends.



Z

Monday, November 03, 2008

The October Monthly Wrap-Up

Happy November greetings from, Lisa, Andy’s newest intern!  Andy is currently on his fifth cup of coffee for the morning, and greatly in need of a nap and a long vacation.  If anyone knows any tricks or techniques to get a baby to sleep through the night, he would greatly appreciate it.  I think he might be a bit envious of my nightly eight hours of undisturbed and blissful sleep.  That said, here are the totals for the month of October for those of you keeping track at home. 

In October, we… 

  • Received 28 queries and rejected 27;
  • Received 22 requested sample chapters and rejected 2;
  • Received 2 proposals and rejected 0;
  • Received 5 manuscripts and rejected 2.

 We currently have the following on-hand to read: 

  • 7 full manuscripts (with only one intern)
  • 4 proposals
  • 47 sample chapters

 We are currently awaiting: 

  • 3 proposals
  • 7 sample chapters

Please be aware that we have quite a bit of material to read, but we WILL get to you.  It is impossible for us to confirm that we have received your material, so make sure you use delivery confirmation if you are concerned the Post Office might lose it.  Also, do not forget that SASE; it makes our lives a lot simpler! 

Thanks. 

Lisa