Saturday, November 13, 2010

eBook Benefits

A colleague recently commented his dislike of eBooks, in that your readership was being tracked and quantified by many sources when you download a book. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but then, libraries also track books by who they’re loaned to, and they know where you live (which my computer eBook libraries don’t know). Buying a dtBook at a bookstore doesn’t usually lead to this tracking, unless a credit card is used. Then the info is into the storage banks—if anyone cares to look.

But the disparaging comments about eBooks is all part of the cycle—part of humanity fighting change. I'm sure similar disgruntlement was given when cloth bound books replaced leather bound, or when the first Book Club books came out on their cheap paper, and especially with the production of the smaller paperbacks. "It's not the same," someone would lament. Reactions were even negative when the first public libraries opened.

But that's the whole point: it's not the same; it's change; it's more economically viable; it's progress. All of those I see as benefits.

The dilemma I had with eBooks was the purchase price. Since I don’t usually go the bookstore route but use my public library, I thought it a bit wasteful to buy an eBook (or any book). But I’ve managed to justify this (one can always find ways to justify what you want).

The amount I spend on eBooks each month is 1) less than one cinema visit; 2) less than buying three magazines; 3) less than two video rentals; 4) less than half of one dinner at a decent restaurant; 5) 2/3 the cost of a PPV sporting event...

I partake in none of the above.

So Kindle Nation...Entice me!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Reader's Block

It's happening again. I pick up a book, get going for a page or two, then put it down, frustrated that I only sense jumble. Either that or I'm bothered by the size of the page margins or the font style; the content seems inane or overdrawn, or filled with too much angst; I can't get a handle on any of the characters. It's reader's block, all right. I'm in the throes of it--constantly finding fault with word choice and pacing.

I noticed this tendency on my last visit to the library where I scanned the new book shelf, looking for titles to perk my interest. I pulled out several, but since three of the books I had previously borrowed had been returned unread, I was cautious. I sat at a table and read the cover blurbs, the praise from other readers, then started on the first chapters to see if I was with it. Of eight books, only three came home with me, and of those, I've already set aside one, I'm dallying with another, and avoiding the third. I also have four eBook samples in my reader that I haven’t even attempted, and two complete downloads I started last month that I can’t seem to finish.

I'll bet professional reviewers go through this a lot and force out their comments through clenched teeth. They probably don't know their afflicted. I think I've read some of those reviews: books I found enchanting that someone panned, reviews where the acerbic comments make you bleed with the author, or where the review language is so trite and off base you wonder whether the person read the book at all.

If I have a writing deadline, I can force myself through writer's block and get something down. I pull it off. I can also defeat writer's block with exercise, a change of scenery, or having a luscious lunch at a pricey restaurant. When all else fails, I usually read.

Hmm. Could it be that a cure for my reader's block is writing? My current work-in-progress has been languishing a bit. I'll give that a try.

1 comment on original post:

C.Farrell said...
This has happened to me quite a few times this year. It's so frustrating, I seem to waste a lot of time trying to get into books only to give up and move on to something else.

Maybe subconsciously your mind is telling you it's time to write. :)

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nashville Trip - Art


Okay. Dale Chihuly has branded himself (maybe he didn't do it, but the results are the same) to the point where it's almost obscene. (Ha! I should have this type of visibility.) But it couldn't happen if his art work--he is a primo maestro in working with glass--wasn't so fantastic. (Would that I could be so revered as a writer!).

There are books about and by him, art kits for kids, the usual assortment of gift cards and posters found in gift shops, and on and on.
In Seattle (his home base) people can attend his facility and see the work created. If you're familiar with his work, you know it's a BIG operation.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nashville Trip - Writers Group

Last week I flew to Nashville, Tennessee where, among other things, I attended the Southern Festival of Books (SFB) and touched base with long-time friends from the Nashville Writers Alliance (NWA)--a group of which I was a founding member back in 1978.

I admit, I didn't want to go. I'm not big on reunions and flashbacks. I'm in touch with most of these people by way of eMail and FaceBook. I use the phone sometimes, too. :-)

My good friend here in Montana really pushed me to do it, and once in Tennessee, my daughter continued the push. I don't think they conspired, but their insistence got me down to Legislative Plaza on Saturday. It was filled with tents of book publishers, writing organizations and many many visitors. Two NWA members, Michael Sims and Martha Whitmore Hickman, had presentations at the Festival, and SFB scheduled panel time for NWA, where past and present members told about how the group was formed, what we've done then and now. A lot of reminiscing.

 That evening we had an NWA reunion party at the house of one of the founding members. The group continues yet today--getting together every Tuesday night to critique each others' work. I enjoyed meeting the people who had joined since I moved away from TN in 1998. I also miss that type of honest professionalism and the camaraderie. NWA was--IS--a special part of my life.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tactical Switch in Kindle Book Promo?

I’m seeing a trend!

Actually, I'm more than a little slow, because the trend has been around for a decade or two. What most readers are reading! Anything fantasy and noir, from horror, to thrillers, to vampires (noir fantasy). Since the Ann Rice explosion in the 1990s, this seems to be what readers clamor for. My friend and prolific author Michael Sims did a successful tour earlier this year for his new book Dracula’s Guest (He’s always in on the cutting edge). Another friend, Sallie Bissell has had good success with her thrillers.

The advent of eBooks has made the abundance of these genres even greater. I know these are the subjects most of the authors on Kindle boards and other forums are writing and promoting. These are what the best-selling eBook authors offer. Romances are always in the mix, of course, although I’m seeing more Paranormal (think vampire) Romance titles. That puts those of us who don't write these genres in the same boat we were in before the electronic "revolution"—up the promo creek without a sales paddle.

I think I'll try a tactical switch and rework the tags and the promo on a couple of books to include words like haunt, ghostly, dark reality or disembodied, and the expected paranormal. How's this for a new Blood and Bond description?
Eddie CloudRunner has been living a relatively normal life, until the dark specter of a dead relative begins dogging his every step. He experiences paranormal knowledge about the lives of several new arrivals in his community of Lamp Creek. Add to this the dark reality of deadly environmental changes in the valley, and Eddie is compelled to venture into spiritual depths he has avoided for decades....
Of course, now the cover isn't creepy enough. Or maybe this for Child of the Mist:
After the death of her father, Juilan Pranss lands employment that takes her off planet—for the first time. She immediately begins having strange dreams that continue, even after Rodrig Ferstan kidnaps her. She is fearful she has been possessed; she can't stop the visions, even when awake. And some are terrifying. Once she is rescued from Ferstan, her benefactor, Trenner Cerambac, promises to help her with these mental anomalies. But Juilan also learns that a economically-powerful, sadistic psychopath is stalking her every move, waiting to capture her so he can become omnipotent ruler of the culture.

Ach! This is so beyond the way I think! But every word I've written is a crucial element of each of these stories. Maybe I'll try these out on the Kindle edition descriptions—see what happens.

Ah, the writer’s life. (sigh)

1 comment on original post:

D. Nathan Hilliard said...
I hate promotion. The hardest thing in the whole writing business for me is writing that little blurb that people read on Amazon.com when checking out my book.

I want to write the book...not sell it. Well, I want it to sell, but I just don't want to be that involved in the process. But that ain't the way this game works.

So it's literally like changing hats, and changing thought processes.And getting into the groove of one takes you out of the groove of the other.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blood and Bond - Interviews and Interaction


I've taken advantage of several online promotion sites with Interviews. The book I tabbed for promotion is Blood and Bond, my only contemporary novel.

At Hello Kruel, Kruel World my short Q&A was put up on 28 July. I keep a watch on this blog, and have followed up on some interesting titles. Same is true with The Indie Spotlight, which ran a longer Blood and Bond interview today.

There are many different sites around for reviews, interviews and interaction. Most are free, but the key (as with most promotional efforts) is finding the right one and making contact. They don't invite you; you have to ask to be invited.

It's best to read the site a few times before you decide to solicit their interest. I found many that are genre specific, and not my genre (if I have one). Even if they had been willing to post an interview, their readers would have wondered why.

I'll watch the stats to see if interest in Blood and Bond increases.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Proofing Page Proofs of the Fortune Book

The page proofs for The Adventures of Elizabeth Fortune came in this week. Here, the moment of truth. Was the editing really topnotch? Did the layout go the way it was planned?

This is the second printing of this book, the first done more than 10 years ago by a company long out of business. I utilized the original print copy files and did a bit of tweaking—such as putting in the several paragraphs of dialogue and other text that had become "lost" in the first printing. No, not edited out; lost. The editor even called me to ask if I had made some changes in the text (didn't tell me what they might be). Editor didn't have sense enough to look at the original and plug in the "lost" text.

You might be wondering why I didn't I see this when previewing the first edition. I didn't get to preview the first edition! The publisher was pushing for a deadline, and assured me all was in order. "No time to send blue lines. Don't worry."

Humpf! That'll teach me.

Hence, when these second-printing page proofs arrived, I decided to scrutinize them. I began with the lost sections I had put in place. Everything fine. Then I started from the bottom of the last page and painstakingly worked my way to the front, not just of the text, but the front matter and the title page. I've found that By perusing the manuscript back to front, there are fewer chances of seeing what you know should be there when it isn’t. You are looking at groups of words and punctuation, not really reading. I found misspells and other things wrong, and verified, by looking in a copy of the book, that these errors had, indeed, gone out in the first printing.

Again, the importance of proofing is confirmed.

The proofs have been corrected and sent off. The Kindle edition of this book had been from the same text copy, so I made the corrections and republished that. I must say, however, that I have no belief that the book is error-free. Someone will surely see what they consider a misplaced comma, a bad transition, a goofy word choice. But without my proofread, I couldn't say I tried my very best.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Full Moon Meant Sleepless Night

When living at more than 4500 feet during vernal equinox, and a week or so before and after, the sunlight doesn't truly disappear until nearly an hour after official sunset. Last night, the full moon was rising at the same time. Before the moon set this AM, the sun was already up. No true darkness last night.

I wouldn't have minded so much, except that we're do for hot weather today thru Tuesday (in the 90s) and w/o AC I like to get my house cool at night. The house is passive solar; adjusting the windows and blinds works well. But that meant opening the windows. When I hit the sack, sunlight still marked the western horizon; the temp was falling into the upper 40s; moonlight streamed in the open window. I pulled on an eye pad. Annoying; it seemed that my eyeballs were sweating; I took it off. Drifted fitfully in and out of sleep, always aware of the outside light.

Around 3:30, when my body relented toward true sleep, there was moon and predawn light; that was enough to rouse one of my resident Meadowlarks. He didn't just twitter on occasion, but began energetic singing! I closed the bedroom window and pressed my best-hearing ear into the pillow. The next glance at the clock showed 5:15, and more birds had joined the chorus. I gave up. I got up. 

Wow, am I tired! 

Of course, a full moon doesn't just disappear after one night. Maybe tonight I'll be too tired to notice.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Front cover, Back cover: Both are Difficult

I finally finished the layout and design of the back cover for The Adventures of Elizabeth Fortune. I had made a new front cover when I published the book through Kindle and developing the concept art was difficult. Relief when I finished.

     This is one of my out-of-print titles I'm putting back into circulation. New ISBN; new barcode. I used the opportunity to correct goofs the original publisher had made, such as "losing" several paragraphs of text in several different places. The cover art had to be new, and that meant a new back cover to go with it. How to arrange everything? How much text? Which colors to use? Does it blend with the front?

       These aren't complaints, because I enjoy this kind of work maybe even more than writing. Once I completed it, I checked the printer specs and, lo, not quite right, so I redid it all, added the required crop marks, et cetera. It all went off to the printer today. (Yea!) I hope I don't get a message that something wasn't done correctly. (Booo!)