That Book is a Monster

Image licensed from Shutter Stock.

MONSTER BOOK PROJECTS

There is one book that I’m wrapping up now that has grown and grown and grown… turning into a monster.

In a good way. But it has been very time consuming.

It’s a good thing that I really love to write.

That’s why, in 2017, I didn’t blog nearly as much as in previous years. I’ve been busy with a seemingly never-ending project.

Actually, a few very large book projects.

One, which I’m in the process of completing, is Kindle Formatting Magic.

The other is a series of physics workbooks/study guides.

Both projects wound up growing much, much larger than I had originally envisioned.

It has taken much more work than I had planned, but it has been worth it.

If you’re a writer, have you become involved in any monstrous book projects?

Or perhaps as a reader there is a monstrous book or series that you appreciate.

KINDLE FORMATTING MAGIC

You may have noticed that my Kindle Formatting Magic book has been “coming soon” for several months now.

When I first added that note to my blog, the book was nearly complete and I was expecting to publish it in a matter of weeks.

But I realized that I wasn’t happy with the organization of the book.

So I reorganized it and completely rewrote it.

That took a long time, but then I reorganized it and completely rewrote it yet again.

Third time’s a charm.

Now it really is “coming soon,” though by that I mean it’s still a matter of weeks. But this time it will be a few weeks or more, certainly not a year.

The book feels “right” now. It hadn’t before.

Once I finally got it to feel “right” to me, it continued to grow.

I realized that I needed to add a few more chapters beyond what I had intended.

And I have spent a great deal of time putting together over 100 pictures to visually demonstrate important problems and solutions with Kindle formatting.

On top of that, I’ve been editing, revising, re-editing…

Speaking of which, over the course of this project, there have been numerous changes to Kindle Direct Publishing, including the nature of the previewer and Kindle conversion, the steps and organization of the publishing process, and the organization and content of the KDP help pages.

Which has added several revisions to my revisions.

This book has grown into a monster, but I’m taking my time. Having already put so many additional months into this book, I want it to feel as “right” as possible before it hits the market.

Almost done.

It’s a good feeling to be almost done. I’m enjoying it.

Being completely done will be a nice feeling too.

This will be far and above my best formatting book ever.

PHYSICS WORKBOOKS

If I had only been working on my formatting book, I would have finished months ago.

But I also spent much of 2017 completing my series of physics workbooks/study guides.

There are three volumes, each 300 to 500 pages. (This includes space for students to work out the solutions to problems.)

Originally, I planned for my physics workbooks to include problems for students to solve along with answers.

But they grew into so much more.

I added material to each chapter to help students understand the main concepts. I added definitions. I added full step-by-step examples for how to solve similar problems. I added tables to explain the symbols and units relevant to each chapter.

This took much time, but I believe it has made my physics workbooks much more useful.

Many of my physics students have remarked that I can make difficult concepts seem clear, and that I can make the math seem easy.

So I worked hard to try to incorporate this into my physics workbooks.

On top of this, I decided to do more than simply tabulate the answers to the problems at the back of the book.

First, I put the final answer to each problem on the same page as the problem. This way, students don’t have to hunt for answers in the back. They can check if their solution is right or wrong immediately. I want students to gain confidence by solving problems correctly, but if their solution is wrong, I want them to know it so they can seek help.

In the back of the book, I typed up numerous hints to every part of every problem, and give intermediate answers to help students see where they went wrong.

The “hints and intermediate answers” section practically walks the student through the entire solution.

Again, it was much more work than I had originally planned, but I believe it has made my workbooks much better.

Just in case that wasn’t enough, I also typed up full solutions to every problem with explanations, creating three new books.

They aren’t really intended to be solutions manuals, even though they are. These are presented as fully solved examples.

Some students prefer to have fully solved examples to read, while other students prefer to have a workbook to help them practice solving problems.

Then I have two versions of every book, one that includes calculus and one that doesn’t (I call those trig-based).

I finally completed the physics series a few months back, and now I’m finishing up my formatting book.

Sometime early in 2018, I will be able to pursue something new.

It won’t be a book monster. I need a little break from mammoth book projects. I’m looking forward to working on a project that’s more focused.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online BooksellersVolume 1 on formatting and publishing

  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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Too Much Knowledge Should Be Punished, Right?

Too much knowledge

My daughter is 5 years old. She’s in kindergarten. Today she received her first report card.

One of the categories was shapes. The teacher assessed her knowledge of shapes for the past 9 weeks with a single 9-question test.

My daughter got 7 of the questions right, but somehow managed to earn a score of 2 out of 4.

Anyway, the two questions that she got wrong were box and can.

My daughter called the box a cube and she called the can a cylinder.

So instead of 4 out of 4, she has a score of 2 out of 4. Definitely, my daughter needs to improve her geometry skills.

It would be a shame if our students were to learn the precise terminology. How awful the world would be then.

The better thing, education seems to advocate, is for everyone to know just the material that will be taught on standardized exams. Let’s dare not learn something more or better, which may result in selecting incorrect answers on those precious multiple choice exams.

(It’s not a point I will debate with the teacher. It might make matters worse for my daughter in other ways. You have to be reasonable to be reasoned with. By the way, I am myself a teacher.)

* * *

This reminds me of another story. At the time, I was coach of a high school quiz bowl team at a math & science school for gifted juniors and seniors.

The team was competing in the state finals at the local university. The event was open to the public, and many parents and friends were in attendance.

One of the questions was a physics question. In case you don’t know, I have a Ph.D. in physics and I’ve been teaching physics for a dozen years. (I presently teach at the university.)

One of the students on the team was among the best students in my class. He answered the question promptly.

The question asked for the direction of centripetal acceleration.

My student answered, “Inward,” with a big smile, knowing that his answer was correct.

The judge said it was incorrect. The correct answer was “toward the center,” not “inward.” A little piece of paper with the words “toward the center” printed on it proved her point.

To complicate matters, the scorekeeper spoke up. It turns out that the scorekeeper was a math teacher. The scorekeeper indicated that she felt that inward and toward the center may both be correct answers.

But the judge decided that nothing was better than going by the exact answer printed on her sheet of paper, so inward was, in fact, incorrect.

What’s really funny is what happened immediately after the student said, “Inward.”

The judge stalled for a moment. After this silence, the student added to his answer, saying, “Negative r-hat.”

I just about slapped my forehead when I heard that. He was in the calculus-based physics class, where I had derived the equation for centripetal acceleration using polar coordinates and polar unit vectors. The mathematical way of expressing the acceleration vector in uniform circular motion is with “negative r-hat.”

He was right, but it probably didn’t help his cause.

(I kept my mouth shut the whole time because nothing good will come from complaining to a person who is in charge and showing signs of stubbornness. The last thing you want is to get disqualified, dismissed, not invited back, or to build a bad reputation for the school.)

* * *

Now for my peace of mind I shall have to read one of those treasured classics that foretell of a world that nearly succeeds in eliminating creative free thought, but, fortunately, doesn’t quite.

Please forgive my rant. If you’re familiar with my blog, you know that I prefer to write something that may be helpful and usually don’t rant. But tonight I could think of nothing else, so rant I did. 🙂

Chris McMullen

ac c e l e r a t e

Accelerate

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sofastbutnoacceleration

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I truly enjoy Helen Valentina’s poetry. Occasionally, her poems feature a little math or physics. This inspired me to see if I can make a little “physetry” or “poemath.”

Copyright (c) 2013 Chris McMullen