Beta readers wanted for Okteveos

the 8 fates of okteveos

A call has been put out for beta readers for the upcoming The 8 Fates of Okteveos.

Author J. Tordsen is looking for beta readers for his upcoming novel, The 8 Fates of Okteveos, a supernatural fiction novel written as a series of short stories with an overall story arch connecting them all.  Readers will be invited to read some or all of the sections and provide feedback to the author. Those who complete one section of the beta reader project will be given an ebook copy of the finished product. Those who beta read for the entire novel will be given a special paperback copy of the novel signed by the author. 

This announcement coincides with the new Beta reader program hosted by Gigabooks Press. As stated on the Beta reader application page:

Beta readers are an important part of the publishing process at Gigabooks Press. Beta readers get early access to some or all parts of an unpublished work to critique it and provide the author with useful feedback.

There are no prerequisites for being a beta reader apart from a willingness to read and provide the requested feedback. As long as you provide the appropriate details, acceptance into the program is a given.

How it works: An author will invite you to beta read their manuscript based on the information provided in your application. Beta readers can then accept or reject any assignments they are invited to. The author may provide incentives to complete their particular beta read. Gigabooks Press facilitates the program but does not have any bearing on who is invited for a particular beta reading assignment or what incentives are provided that is entirely up to the author.

Interested readers can signup for an invitation at the Beta Reader Application page.

Additional Guides Now Available

Gigabooks Press has expanded its selection of available guidebooks thanks to a licensing deal with a private label distributor.

The new guides cover a variety of topics from using blockchain for business to information on vitamin D. Gigabooks Press has edited and updated these for a modern audience and are offering them exclusively in the Gigabooks Press online store. More guides are on their way with about one being edited and published each week.

The currently published  guides include:

Each guide is offered in both paperback and ebook form. Currently, one ebook of choice can be had for free by signing up for the Gigabooks newsletter

Guide to Writing Second Edition Now Shipping

The Gigabytes Guide to Writing is now shipping copies of its second edition on Gigabooks Press. It is a revised and expanded version of the popular guide and includes a highly anticipated section on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Ebook versions will follow in the next few days.

The Gigabytes Guide to Writing is author J. Tordsen’s first published work and is unique in the fact that it was written, edited, designed, and published in 7 days without the use of AI or chat bots. It has been highly regarded by peers and new writers alike.

J. Tordsen has appeared on various podcasts and talk shows to talk about the book with the most recent invite being a guest blogger on the site Author’s Lounge. More appearances are pending.

The Gigabytes Guide to Writing has been described as a sort of “pocket atlas” to self-publishing. It gives aspiring authors an overview of the process and pitfalls of self publishing. It includes helpful tips on how to avoid writer’s block, using AI tools, and effective world building techniques among others. It is written in a casual and humorous way that makes it a light and easy read.

The Gigabytes Guide to Writing can be found here:

Guide to Writing Second Edition

Gigabooks press has just released The Gigabytes Guide to Writing second edition in both paperback and ebook. 

The guide has received several updates and expansions as well as a paperback size update using the new guide size formatting unique to Gigabooks publishing. 

The paperback edition has 50% larger font as well as a size upgrade from 18 x 13.5 cm (approximately 7″ x 5.25″) to 19 x 14 cm (approximately 7.5″ x 5.5″).

Both ebook and paperback editions have an expanded section on AI as well as slightly expanded sections on other topics.

You can get the second edition paperback here. The deluxe ebook is available here. Amazon and Google links will be announced later.

Gigabytes Guide To Writing Featured on Author’s Lounge

Author J. Tordsen tells the story behind the making of The Gigabytes Guide to Writing in a new and unique blog article on the Reader’s Magnet / Author’s Lounge.

The Gigabytes Guide to Writing has certainly opened doors for author J. Tordsen. The guide, written and published in 7 days without the use of so called AI tools, is a unique and compelling story of a writer that decided to sit down and get to work in order to help other authors that might have questions about their own self-publishing journey.

Much like the guide, the article breaks with convention. The article was written by J. Tordsen himself in a first person perspective. In this way it is the author telling the story in a way that is a bit out of the box.

The article is live now and can be found here:

Guide to Writing Featured on Talk Show

J. Tordsen was featured on Our Thing Detroit with Gunner Lindbloom to talk about The Gigabytes Guide to Writing.

The episode aired on May 19, 2023. While the episode was partially pre-empted by PGA Golf, the segment was front and center immediately following the conclusion of the sports coverage.

The book – that was written, edited, designed, and published in 7 days – gives a lighthearted overview of the self publishing process.

Among the topics covered was the surreal circumstances of writing, editing, and self publishing a book about the process of writing, editing, and self-publishing a book.

J. Tordsen also explained that one of the hurdles he had to overcome when writing this book was the “ubiquity of chat bots” writing in a human sounding voice. He talked about writing the book in his own voice with a little humor because if he wrote it in a purely informative way, it might be indistinguishable from what a chat bot might write.

You can catch the replay of the Facebook live stream here:

You can purchase The Gigabytes Guide to Writing on Google, Amazon, and right here:

The Gigabytes Guide to Writing now available on Google Play Books

Not a fan of Amazon? The Gigabytes Guide to Writing e-book is now available on Google Play Books.

The Gigabytes Guide to Writing is a lighthearted road map to your book writing journey

A writer with over 25 years of professional writing experience, J. Tordsen escorts you down the path less traveled by other guides as he takes this book from concept to published work – without the use of chat bots – in only 7 days.

Covering everything from the first draft to effective marketing strategy, this book mixes both wisdom and wisecracks as it takes you through an overview of the entire self-publishing process – all told from the author’s unique perspective.

With an emphasis on writing technology, literary world building, and effectively combating writer’s block, this guide can help you avoid the pitfalls on the writer’s journey.

An easy and enjoyable read, The Gigabytes Guide to Writing can show you how to enjoy the ride to becoming a self-published author.

Get it on Google Play Books:

More Gigabytes Guides Coming Soon

The Gigabytes Guide to Writing was an impressive feat for a new author. Written, edited, and published in just 7 days without the use of chat bots or AI, the small guide shows what is possible in a short span of time.

Now, more guides are coming on a variety of topics. Some will focus on expanding on the topics of the Gigabytes Guide to Writing while others will be more technology oriented.

The guides themselves will be announced soon with e-books available on Kindle and other platforms and paperback copies available right here in the Gigabooks Press store.

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon.

How Far Are You Willing To Go For Distraction Free Writing?

Freewrite Alpha

This guide available in video:

A distraction-free technology guide for modern writers.
I suppose we need to start by defining what distraction free writing is because we are often sold on the idea that “distraction free” is the most basic of basics. A pen and paper in the park; a typewriter in a cabin by lamplight; or a computer with all of the computer-y bits stripped out of it and sold for such a premium price it would make Ernest Hemingway blush.

Writing style is a a major determining factor in how we define distraction free on an individual basis. What you need for distraction free writing is not what I or someone else needs for distraction free writing and your technological needs will differ based on where, what, and how you write.

Let’s run down the various options available to writers today as well as the pros and cons of each solution. Let’s start with the obvious.



If you are the type of writer that needs to capture a stream of consciousness in the moment, then getting back to basics is likely what you need. When it comes to this type of distraction free writing technology, Astrohaus practically has the the market cornered with their well-built, well designed Freewrite machines. It has a clickey keyboard that is comfortable and enjoyable with an E-ink display that is easy to see in bright light and is excellent for battery life. With the simplest, most rudimentary interface, almost no editing functions, and such primitive WiFi Fred Flintstone could operate it, this has been the answer for many writers and certainly an upgrade to lugging around a typewriter. At $649, however, this is an expensive proposition for many. Not expensive enough? Not to worry, Astrohaus sells an Ernest Hemingway signature edition in chrome and green for $999.

Freewrite Traveler

Freewrite Traveler
Freewrite Traveler

A sleeker, more portable version of the Freewrite is available in a familiar laptop format called the Traveler. It loses the clickey keyboard for a well-engineered full-size laptop style keyboard. It looks small but is about as wide as a standard laptop but half the height. Same e-ink display, same WiFi functions to sync to cloud storage, and same limited editing capabilities make the lower $499 price tag only slightly easier to swallow.

Freewrite Alpha

Freewrite Alpha
Freewrite Alpha

Almost as though Astrohaus reads the comment section of their Twitter account, they are crowdfunding a more budget-friendly Freewrite device. It has a simple LCD display that can display up to 6 lines of text while barely sipping power from a 4200mAH battery. Made from what appears to be white ABS plastic and most likely a high end membrane keyboard, the Freewrite Alpha seems to be courting a market at around the $350 price range. What a bargain!

Tandy TRS-80 Model 100

Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100
Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100

The design of the Alpha reminds me of the Tandy TRS-80 Model 100. During its time, it was a favorite among writers and journalists because of its portability and the ability to run off of 4 AA batteries. After all, if you are going to spend $300+ on a stripped down computer, why not just get one with some basic functions and a bit of nostalgia?

Well, there are several reasons. First, the Freewrite can store millions of words / pages (depending on the model). With the the Tandy Model 100’s 32k of memory, prolific writers will quickly fill that up. Add to that no internet or WiFi connectivity, rarity of replacement parts, and lack of compatible ports, even a bargain working Model 100 at $300 is far less than ideal for modern writers.

Vintage PC or laptop
That’s pretty much going to be the case for any other vintage PC or laptop. Components will degrade, break and be difficult to find replacements. Even early internet machines are not suitable to handle modern internet. Best to just move on.

Tablets are cheap and plentiful. You can even get a new one for less than $100. Add a Bluetooth clickey keyboard for another $50 – $100 and you will feel like you have just put one over on the man. Yay you! However, tablets are not terribly battery efficient as they are essentially a big screen. No problem, get an e-ink tablet. Unfortunately, those are priced at $150 or more currently. Now, you are approaching the price of the Freewrite Alpha. Not to mention, tablets (and phones) are the exact opposite of distraction free. Even if you manage to keep from signing in with your e-mail account, the capabilities of the tablet make it all too tempting to install other apps that will endlessly pop up notifications, wasting time you want to spend on writing.

New Chromebook


Ok, as long as we are talking about cheap computing devices that you can buy new, why not a nice, portable Chromebook? Many have decent battery life as they are designed with the student in mind and it really needs to last all day. Plus, used ones are dead cheap – sometimes costing less than $50.

Well, you don’t want one for the exact same reason you don’t want a tablet. Chromebooks require you to sign in with your account and, once you do, forget about being distraction free.

Raspberry Pi Devices

raspberry pi dart case laptop
Raspberry Pi dart case laptop

Well, we’re getting warmer. If you are not opposed to assembling the parts for a little raspberry pi laptop, these devices come in a variety of capabilities. There is plenty of support for those that need it and the operating systems are simple and do not require your e-mail sign in order to work. Plus, they are as distraction free as you need them to be. You can remove the graphical interface and use a basic text editor from the command line if you really want to go hard core. Let’s face it, though, your average user is not going to build their own rig. However, if you do, my best advice is to use a Raspberry Pi 3, Zero 2w or better. Anything older isn’t really worth your time.

Video on how to build a Raspberry Pi laptop:

Nerfing” Computers
If you are a writer like me, you need a few more capabilities than just basic writing. You may need to do some research or fact-checking as you go and that also means more than just some stone-age editing features.

So let’s talk about computers you can nerf yourself. The term “nerf” or “nerfed” refers to the dumbing-down of capabilities or features in a game – we’re just applying the term to a computer.

This is really easy to do with any Windows PC as it mainly entails simply not installing or uninstalling applications. Avoid things like games or anything that requires a login like e-mail or social media.

If you want to go even further, you will want to get rid of Windows outright and install a lightweight Linux distribution like Lubuntu or Xubuntu. This will keep distracting software to a minimum and still provide the basics like LibreOffice and a mouse-driven interface. You can then install the software you prefer. You will still want to avoid installing games or signing into accounts like Gmail or social media.

GPD Ultra Portable

GPD Ultra Portable
GPD Ultra Portable

This leaves a lot of options – including new PCs. As long as we don’t need a ton of horsepower, let’s go ultra portable and GPD makes some of the smallest laptops on the planet.

Cool. We have a tiny, ultra-portable PC that fits into your front pocket. Problem is, the keyboard is cramped and unpleasant. Bonus, it cost us even more than the Freewrite.

Old Laptop

Old Laptop

So, let’s get cheap. Like, free cheap. You may have an old PC moldering in the back of a closet somewhere that you could fix up and use for this basic purpose. As a bonus, re-purposing electronics is much greener than throwing it away.

The question is, how MUCH repair is this thing going to need? If the screen is OK, you may need to have the laptop itself cleaned out. Is the hard drive in decent shape? Even if it is, you will want to replace it anyway. That will give it a performance boost and you don’t really need to spend more than $35 on a small SSD drive (64Gb is more than enough for this purpose). Oh, and let’s not forget the battery. That’s probably gone the way of the ghost as well. If you haven’t used it since the Bush administration, it may need a few extra things to make it compatible with today’s technology.

It may seem like a lot, but it’s not that it can’t be done. It’s just going to get expensive fast if you can’t do all the repairs yourself. Then you could end up with a giant laptop with a dim screen and limited battery life at the end of it all. The reality is that it might not be worth it.

Low Spec Used and Refurbished Laptops / Netbooks

Low Spec Refurbished Aspire One
Low Spec Refurbished Aspire One

Ok, ok. So you aren’t going dump a whole bunch of time, money, and parts into a computer that might not last the day. Now what? Time to hit up Ebay! But what exactly are you looking for and where do you start?

The first thing you want to consider is a recent, low-spec machine. Why low spec? You won’t need or want the performance of a full laptop because you just want to write, edit, and maybe upload your work. Let’s take a look at some prime examples of machines that not just work for this purpose, but are very inexpensive.

EDU Spec Windows 7-10 machine
Let’s start with Lenovo. You are looking for old school laptops. The screens are about 11.6 inches so if you search Ebay for 11.6 Lenovo laptop, they are all less than $100 for a good one. Some have even been refurbished with Solid State Drives (SSD), but stick to ones that either have Linux or Windows on them. If they are Chromebooks, there is a chance that they are incompatible with other software.

With these Lenovo laptops, you are looking at school notebook computers – particularly the ones with the ‘e’ suffix (11e, x131e, etc.). They are semi-rugged PCs that were bought by the hundreds or thousands by schools and rotated out after a few years of service. As a result, there are some truly decent systems to be had for CHEAP. Parts are really easy to get as well. In my opinion, Lenovo keyboards – especially the more rugged EDU keyboards – are also some of the nicest laptop keyboards to type on.

Acer Aspire One

Acer Aspire One Laptop
Acer Aspire One Laptop

If you are looking for something a little more portable, you can hardly go wrong with an Acer Aspire One Netbook. They are slightly more compact but still have a 10.1” LED backlit screen and excellent battery life. The later ones (with the 10.1” screens) had much improved performance, but when considering the limited purpose this PC will be used for, processing power is the least of the considerations. The keyboard is a little flat but the keys are large and it is decent to type on. You can always plug in a small mechanical keyboard if you wish as well (which is what I do when using it at home).

These netbooks have been largely panned by critics since they were introduced but that just means they can be picked up for a song. $30 can get you a decent used one. $60 can get you a refurbished one with more RAM and an SSD.

Two of my favorite features on the Aspire One is the ability to disable the touchpad with a Fn+F7 keypress and the ejectable SD card slot. The entire SD card is contained entirely inside the laptop rather than part of it sticking out to get caught on things and is a standard feature on the D270 series netbooks. I save all my writing to the SD card rather than the main drive and just leave it there.

Detailed Video on the Aspire One build:

Both the Lenovo and the Aspire One were built with serviceability in mind. In other words, if you have to change a hard drive or pop in an extra memory stick, even if you are a gym teacher in rural Saskatchewan, you’ll have little difficulty in doing so.

So, there you have it. A distraction free writing device guide for every budget. Happy writing.

This guide available in video:

Bonus Writing Software Guide:

Book Announcement: The 8 Fates of Okteveos

the 8 fates of okteveos

the 8 fates of okteveos

Who holds the gods to account when a comedy of errors turns into a life of tragedy?

Okteveos was a strange case. His ability to sense the emotions of others with almost telepathic insight left him unable to feel his own. As a result, a series of mishaps, accidents, and death surround him throughout his life. One day, the powers that be had enough and destroy him and the island he inhabited in a fiery volcanic explosion over 3600 years ago.

Now, he faces judgement and punishment from the very architects of his entire existence. Is Okteveos the master of his misdeeds and deserving of damnation or is he the victim of the fates that caused the tragedies that befell him? The answer to that question will take Okteveos on a journey through time he’s never known and lives he could never imagine.

Artwork by