Thursday, September 29, 2011


That's the title of my new YA.

I somehow got the idea-- what would happen if a young woman became a paparazzi, a celebrity photographer.  So, very excited, I emailed my pal and gave him the one-liner.  He thought it was a great idea and he started imagining all the different things that could happen, all the titles, how hilarious it could be.  I thought "oh, this is good, the whole Bad Apple series is on the heavy side, doing something funny would be like a vacation!"  I hadn't finished the first chapter when I could feel it changing.

There are some light moments and Kip, the main character, manages to press on never feeling sorry for herself, but there are some mature themes and another friend who's a medical professional said "Don't go there."  I went there anyway.

So here's the blurb

Celebrity.  A by-product of talent or the goal.  The crumbs of greatness or the whole cake.

When Kip “I lied about being 18 for so long, it seemed like the truth” Chanin, arrives in Los Angeles with her mother who wants to work in Hollywood, it doesn’t take her long to understand that this is a factory town and the product is an illusion.  To help support her two-person family, Kip grits her teeth, puts aside being a news photographer and becomes a paparazzi.

Kip’s first photo is of Alex Milne, the handsome and volatile young actor.  That one photo changes both their lives.  An evening being detained in the Beverly Hills Police Station expands Kip’s world and opportunities both wanted and unwanted confront her.  To lasting shock and pain, Kip learns the identity of her father and she sets out to solve a murder that’s been gossiped about in Hollywood for the last 80 years, tainting the Milne family to the present day.

One thing Kip learns to her core is that life is real even in a city dedicated to creating illusions.

And here's the cover. 

There'll probably be a sequel but I don't think it'll be a trilogy.

Tonight X-Factor is on and I'm really going to enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kindle Fire

It sounds wonderful.  It's less expensive than the Nook Color by about $50, being priced at $199.  It sounds more powerful and the screen looks designed to be very sturdy.  The Nook Color 2 will be released soon and is built on a newer generation of Android ie Gingerbread and I have no idea what else that offers.

What seems to be going unremarked upon is that there is a $79 Kindle for sale, too.  So while a Kindle Tab is exciting with streaming vid and cloud computing, and dual core whatever, for the general, not techy, public, $80 for a reader coming into the Christmas season?  This is the great news for writers.

They say the battery life is about 8 hours.  I think that's what the NC is too and it probably is but it sure seems like less.  The LED screen is the issue.  It requires a ton of power to run the thing and the more you do--like play Angry Birds--you can see the battery run down to 50% in no time.

I haven't seen the Fire's screen, almost no one has, and it's said to be beautiful, but I have to say the NC screen is gorgeous.

I haven't been reading that much in the past weeks, not since being disappointed by The Magician Kings or whatever the title was, so that also means I haven't taken the time to explore all the functionality of the rooted Nook.  I suspect it does everything I want it to do.

What needs to happen--sorry Mr Bezos--is for Amazon to drop the dopey mobi format and adopt epub.  Let's get a standard, like Beta vs. VHS.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thinking About Cover Design

I created the cover for my new book but while I'm not ready to post it yet I will talk about the road to it.

I decided to get a stock photo of a young model.  Unfortunately that was a lot harder than I expected because all the photos were wholesome young things and I wanted someone edgier.  I finally found this at

I wasn't crazy about it and while I did want a city, I wanted it at night.  I figured I could just lift her off the background and put her someplace night.

No I didn't bother to clean the edges up for these purposes.  I just wanted to see if I could do what I was thinking of.  So I put her on a dark background--I suppose I could have looked for a city at night street scene but I have to admit, finding anything at these stock sites is hard enough for me that it didn't cross my mind.

So I thought that worked pretty well.  The problem I felt was that readers would get the idea that this is the main character and it's not.  Then I finished the book and different search terms came to me.  I found a couple pictures that were close.  Changing sites, I found the same set but with an additional photo that was more accurate.  I went back to the first site and searching through that photographer's gallery found the same photo for less.  Yay me, it's a sin to buy retail etc.

I still think people who look at the second cover will initially (or maybe always) think the woman in the image is the main character.  Of course it's not, the main character is a teen.   I couldn't find an image that specific. So either way I'm a little bit off.

So $2.99 for the image and some of my time with Photoshop or what $600 for a designer.  Um even with my math skills I can see that  making concessions is the financially viable thing to do.  Unless you can take the photo yourself or you can draw, try to make life as simple for yourself as possible.  Don't fall in love with an idea so complicated that it'll drive you nuts trying to make it happen.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ranulph Fiennes, A Life To Big For Words

That makes it sound like he's dead.  He's not, he's very much alive.  Yay!

But apparently the new movie being released this week is based on one of his books.

At the other end of the spectrum is a small group of writers who conscientiously object to living as shut-ins. First among them is Sir Ranulph Fiennes, whose 1991 novel served as the basis for “Killer Elite,” the Jason Statham-Clive Owen-Robert De Niro testosterone-doused action thriller opening in theaters today. Fiennes (who is the third cousin of actors Ralph and Joseph), has spent his life testing the limits of his mental endurance, flinging himself into the kind of extreme natural environments that might send Bear Grylls running to the nearest Holiday Inn.

It’s not for nothing that the Guinness Book of World Records recently named Fiennes the world’s greatest living explorer. Perhaps it had something to do with his service in the British Special Forces as a demolitions expert. Or for having been a member of the only team to ever travel around the world by land on its polar axis. Then there was his aborted attempt to traverse the North Pole by foot, which was cut short when he lost the tips of his fingers to frostbite. That didn’t stop him three years later, at age 59, from running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. And that’s not all: Two years ago, Fiennes became the oldest British person ever to summit Mount Everest. Throughout it all, Fiennes has managed to find time to write some nineteen books, fiction and non. Fiennes is first among very few writers daring enough to lead a life less ordinary than the books they write.

This leaves out the fact he found the lost city of Ubar in the desert of Oman.

I 've been a big fan of Ranulph's for years.  When he had the frostbite thing to his fingers and the doctors wouldn't amputate them soon enough for his tastes, he went into the shed at his farm and cut them off himself.
God, I love this guy.

As a young man, he was so handsome he was beautiful.  He had a transcendent relationship with his first wife, Ginny, who tragically died of cancer.

Remember the little ditty "ride a fine horse to Banbury Cross"?"  It's not fine, it's Fiennes and their ancestral home is near Banbury.  In another couple weeks I'll be a complete authority on his ancient family history since I'm reading his book Mad Dogs And Englishmen which is an absolutely fascinating account of one family marching through the top of British society for the last 1000 years.

He makes his cousins look like slackers.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Something Decidedly Wonderful

Embed alert  (I joke now but wait until I'm doing time, it won't be so funny then)

and then something not clever at all.  In that I'm finishing a book and that's why I haven't been around for a few days and likely will not have anything clever to say for a few more. 

For the trolls who think I don't do any post production I'm going to go through it now for story, make sure it all tracks, pick up anything I dropped, fill in where I wrote "blah blah blah" because I didn't want to go there then.  Then I will reformat it and go through it at least twice more.  This is for Amazon, too, who thinks I can't spell worth a tinker's damn and am blind to all the flashing lights and huge arrows Microsoft throws at you when they think you should say server instead of waitress, man instead of guy and so on and so forth.

I need a troll filter.

Friday, September 23, 2011

All My Children

After 40 whatever years today is the last day it will run on network television.  Bye-Bye.

Quite a number a years ago, I lived in a most fortunate town and my neighbor was a "famous" songwriter/composer.  He introduced me to his managers.  They signed me.  Why not, I already had a book sold as a TV movie, I was hardly a beginner.  Since I already liked daytime serials, they sent me to ABC where I was given a chance to do a test script for General Hospital.  They didn't like it and I didn't get a job.  But since I still liked soaps, I decided to write a novel where the girl became the star of a soap.  In Real Life I'm Just Kate.  My managers asked around and All My Children was the only show which would allow me to come to the studio, hang around, ask all the stupid questions I had, and learn how soaps were made.  Then I went home and wrote the Kate book which got the attention of P&G and NBC and that's the short version of how I got into television.  Kate then went on to be optioned as a TV movie and had a paperback edition.  (That's for all you bloody drunk trolls who accuse me of throwing the book Just Kate together and not knowing how to write.  Maybe you don't know how to f'ing read.  I fail to see why I should be more polite to you than you are to me.)  (And PS.  The background image of the cover of Just Kate is the image of a real cover sheet to a script I wrote for The Doctors when I was the headwriter there.)

So thank you AMC for helping me do the research.  Your last weeks have literally been unbelievable.  I was very nostalgic when Ryan's Hope was cancelled.  I was really upset when The Doctors was cancelled because that meant I was out of work!  But this isn't the end of AMC as it's going to the internet because of Prospect Park, the company that produces Royal Pains, so it's just adios for a time.

And much like ebooks have circumvented tradpub, so will the internet put a stake into the heart of network television which has demeaned its audience for decades.

I Deserve SO Much More Respect Than I Get

Who among you can have their $9.99 paperback priced at


1-2 of 2 offers
Price + Shipping Condition Seller Information Buying Options
+ $3.99shipping
  • Seller Rating:94% positive over the past 12 months. (1,049,992 total ratings)
  • In Stock. Ships from MD, United States.
    Domestic shipping rates and return policy.
  • Book is brand new, and has never been opened. Thousands of satisfied customers!

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.

And I can even top myself.  The used one is selling for $2000.  All I can say is If Only.  Ten of those used books a year and I'm in really good shape.

This is for Impossible Charlie, (Dream Horse in digital format) the first book I self-published and it was through Lightning Source.  I chose LSI because they had a relationship with Amazon.  The book has always been available at Amazon up until now.

Do I have to end the relationship with LSI now and redo the process at CreateSpace?  Where is the support for this question?  I don't know.  From the beginning of Amazon, they have been very shy about broadcasting how to contact them.

Over this week, I helped someone tweak their cover design for a short story.  He sent me two attempts.  I chose the version without the text over the photo of a person.

This is the original.  Not bad at all.

I made the blue a bit darker, changed the font to something simple and bold and made it the color of the mist instead of white.   Why?  White can be fairly harsh and the photo is "soft".

Vik had done it all to 98% and I'll bet if he had let it sit for a couple days and come at it with fresh eyes, he would have simplified his choices just the way I did.  Now it's clear and crisp and can be read in thumbnail size.  I don't know what Dreamstime charges (which is stupid because I actually sell stock photos with them) but I'm sure it's under $20.

Give it a whirl.  Try to do your own cover.  Then if you're not pleased with the results, you can always pay someone, but at least it's an experience.  Unless of course you're pressed for time, and I understand how you feel you just don't have the time to do it.

I did get a mailing from Adobe and they are having a price decrease of Photoshop Elements which is a simpler and much less expensive version of Photoshop Creative Suite.  So you can download a trial of that and see if you can make it work.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hollywood, n.

I'm signed up with the OED (Oxford-English Dictionary) to receive a word of the day.
Yesterday's word was Hollywood.
The OED offers the history of each word and the first time it appeared in print so I was rather surprised at this

Hollywood, n.
Etymology: < the name of Hollywood, a region near Los Angeles in California, the chief production centre of the U.S. cinema business.
  Generally, the American type of moving picture, its characteristics and background. Also attrib. or as adj. and Comb.
1926  A. Huxley Jesting Pilate ii. 198 What is this famous civilisation of the white man which Hollywood reveals?
1928  H. Crane Let. 27 Apr. (1965) 325 She ought to be a little different than the typical Hollywood hostess.
1929  E. Wallace Red Aces i. 218 A high-class school at Brighton, where girls are taught to‥use lipstick and adore the heroes of Hollywood.
What?  Where's the etymology?


noun, plural et·y·mol·o·gies.
the derivation of a word.  word origin, word source, derivation, origin.
Hollywood was intended to be a housing development by H.J. Whitley in the 1880's.  The name was coined by H.H. Wilcox's wife, Daeida, who got the idea from a friend who lived nearby in Holly Canyon.  Some say she was remembering the holly at their home in Kansas.  You choose which version you prefer.  Hurd ran with the ball and filed a deed and property map.  Hollywoodland was born.  Although the sign was originally at Highland and Vine.
It took well into the 1910's before the streets were paved and people routinely rode horses down the main thoroughfares. 
The sign deteriorated and Peg Entwhistle jumped off the H to her death in 1932.  The LAND section fell off.
And as is normal in Los Angeles where they don't give a hang for history, it took Alice Cooper (yes the rocker)
to encourage the restoration of the sign in 1978 where it now stands in Griffin Park north of Mulholland.

What does this have to do with writing?

Everything.  It's about a word.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two Weeks In Another Town

Consider staying there.

I've never seen this movie before and it was on this morning.  Actually, I still haven't seen it.  It's Kirk Douglas month on TCM and I guess I'm not sophisticated enough for this kind of material.  I was getting all schpilkes and switched to I Love Lucy.

It caused me to reflect on movies made in that era.  Really bad, dreadful, boring, intense, pointless stories with lots of scenery chewing.

Apparently the Kirk Douglas character is mentally deranged...I mean, he's had some kind of emotional upset when the movie begins and he's been in a sanitarium (?).  He's a very disagreeable, bad tempered person and he should have been talking to his rabbi instead of the doctor who obviously didn't help change his ability to deal with other people AT ALL.  He goes to Rome because Edward G. Robinson gives him a 2 week gig dubbing his new movie which seems like a total hash--a spaghetti western without the cowboys--as most of those Cinecitta flicks were in that era.  Kirk isn't grateful for this opportunity, he's still angry. 

Do you need to see Bad and the Beautiful first?  Because I'm lost.

So I don't know what kind of movie this is.  I know there are a couple "beautiful" women and I assume...oh come on, they have essentially anonymous sex and that's the end of that.  You can't convince me this guy is capable of any real relationship, he's too angry and aggrieved.  It's not a romance/love story on any level.  Yes, that's according to me--feel free to disagree.

There was a big thank you to the AMPAS for using the image of the Oscar.  Should I mention that AMPAS wouldn't exist but for movies/Hollywood so who should be thanking who.  What a load of hokum that award is anyway.

So Kirk's character 6 years ago was famous but now he's a has-been (no, I didn't go to Wikipedia and waste 5 minutes of my life reading up about this movie).  Then Eddie holds up the Oscar (named after Bette Davis' uncle, so a story goes) and says "We made some great movies."

That would be in the mid 50's and the only good movie made in that timeframe I can think of is Forbidden Planet.
Such dreary movies. 

Hollywood inflicted those on us for about 15 years.  Then we got the spate of ridiculous movies made by people stoned out of their skulls.  And now we have movies essentially made for people who have reached their majority in age only.  So almost everything is a cartoon either with animation or with live "actors".


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where Do You Get Images For Covers

I have a novelette I'm in the processing of finishing and knew what I wanted for a cover but thought it would be very difficult to find.

Actually, it turned out to be quite easy.  I found a very simple cartoon figure at a stock image site and it cost all of $2.99.  I could have stopped there but I decided to change the colors and add  a background so there was quite a bit of time investing in Photoshopping to get it where it needed to be.

But I could have stopped there.  So that's the advice of the day.  Go to the stock photo sites and look around.  If you find something that's close, you can look for something similar.  Read the tags for the photos and see what words are used by the photographer or illustrator to describe the image.  It'll give you hints as to what search terms to use.

There are hundreds of thousands of images out there and it can be tricky to find something usable but tags can be your friend.  Try to be specific but broad when you search.  Think of what are the qualities of the image and how you would describe it to someone else. 

A Google or Bing search will give you a long list of sites like Shutterstock, Fotolia, Dreamstime, istockphoto.  Getty is going to be too expensive but most of them charge under $20 for a single image.

It's always good to have a image with a sizable area of negative space.  That means where there's not much going on.  You can put your text there.  I'm not against putting text on the image but there's the chance it won't show up very well.

This works pretty well.  Of course it's the wrong orientation, you need an image that's vertical not horizontal, but it shows how you can put the text in a blank space and how it balances the heavy foreground image on the right side.

If you keep these points in mind, choosing an image will become much easier and will require less work on your part to get a nice cover for your book.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Opening by the end of the year.

Amazon Spain

Anyone know a good Spanish translator?

There Are No Old, Bold Pilots

As the saying goes in aviation.  In the back of your mind, every time you get into your plane, you know you might not walk away.  But it's so wonderful, so freeing, so perspective changing, that you keep doing it.  And yesterday Jimmy Leeward, both old and bold, didn't walk away.  A tragedy for many people who lost loved ones in the accident in Reno.

But still flying.  It's wonderful.  And I loved the old biplane image I found so I turned it into a cover.

What surprised me as I was working with this image--and it's so old it's on glass not film, was how beautifully sharp it is.  You can't see the details in the small size but once it's 100 % you can see the pilot's facial features.  I would assume the plane is flying well under 50 mph.  It's all old technology but still it's a moving object and it was caught in time.

I'm in the homestretch of the new book.  I don't know if that means 50 pages or exactly what.  I don't write long books, I don't fill up the pages with a lot of nonsense people skip over anyway.  Some readers feel cheated and let me know that they didn't get their 99 cents worth.  Gee.  Sorry!  Not.  What I find actually funny is that with I think Dream Horse I got a review that it was too short.  It's a middle reader book.  It was published by Atheneum.  It's absolutely the correct length, thank you very much.

You don't buy books by the pound.  Or I guess by the byte now.  Dickens wrote being paid by the word.  So if a ...wait, I'll go to the here's the math on it.  For a 40,000 word book priced at 99 cents, of which the writer receives 35 cents, that prices out to $0.00000875 per word.  For longer books, lol, you guys make even less per word.  I think that's the math of it but I do have dyscalcula so even with a calculator it's a gamble.

Friday, September 16, 2011

EBook As Stepchild

"But today, if you’re a publisher who knows his company’s work is going to be mostly discovered via an online review or a search engine, does that create an incentive to dial back the expense of book cover design to the point of being almost an afterthought? And is relying on software such as Photoshop and Illustrator to design covers for e-books a throwback to the late ’60s and early 1970s, when every book cover seemed to look almost the same? (Those days certainly made life easy for a designer: set type in Helvetica, add abstract graphic image, move on to next project. Rinse and repeat.)"

This is from an article that seems to be positive about the digital reading experience and yet ...let me Fisk that one glaring sentence.


"does that create an incentive to dial back the expense of book cover design to the point of being almost an afterthought?"

My translation:

Ebooks are thrown together and cover design is an afterthought.

Not when they can cost $600, cover art is not an afterthought.  It's a bloody marketing tool, pal.

The article is like yeah, ebooks are great for reading the classics and de Tocqueville (which, yes, Mr Elitist, I also have on my Nook Color) but...well there's not that great Book Smell (trademark pending) and carrying a book around makes you look so...bookish.  So in with the In-Crowd.

If you have a Kindle, which someone gave this guy he couldn't even manage to make himself buy a reader, your reading world is in black and white.  That's the past.  The future is tablets.  Color, streaming video, music, games, and every version of Angry Birds available.

I do not love it when people analyze and criticize something they know so little about.

And you just found the Internet Wayback Machine???  Sheesh.
PS it's for websites, not books.

About the Wayback Machine

Browse through over 150 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

At Speed

It's all happening rather quickly, isn't it?  I wasn't aware of ebooks 3 years ago and now there are millions of them out there.

I have been virtually grilled relentlessly about epublishing this past week by 2 different people.  They want information and I look like a central repository of knowledge.  Disclaimer: I know less than some, more than others.  It's interesting to me how these people are approaching it--cautious enthusiasm.  Is it a gamble or is it a blessing?  Both.  Everything is both.

What will the Kindle Tab do to the marketplace?  What will Christmas bring?  We still need that under $100 reader.  The No-Frills reader could be free if books were more expensive.  How much does a comic book cost?  Shouldn't a novel cost as much as a comic book?  What's should got to do with it.  Readers should respect books more but they don't.  Some don't.  Some do.

Music.  Books.  They seem like the same thing but they're not.  Music on the internet became something without price.  If you can go to youtube and hear just about anything, why pay for it.  Just hit replay again and again until you're sick of it and then move on.  But musicians, theoretically, like to perform and people will pay to see them perform.  No one will pay to see an author read a book.  That's dumb, we all know it's dumb.  So it seems that the only way to get away from the 99 cent price point is if almost everyone moves away from it.  That's not going to happen.

I'd be good with the first month free or 99 cents.  And then go up to $1.99.  I know that's less than the sweet price at Amazon.  But $2.99 when people see prices on everything rise--food, gas, heat, electricity--seems mean.  Netflix raised their prices and a million people left and I was one of them.  What does the entertainment budget for people look like now?  I wonder.  The days of people having a couple hundred books in their TBR library may be over.

Russian Peasants Pose for Camera Photo

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reykjavik Reaction

This is what happens when instead of defending the victim you blame them.  I made that syndrome title up. But it's still a true thing.

I've noticed that it seems very easy to wonder where Kiana Davenport went wrong in order to cause Riverhead to blow up at her and then that's followed by quite a lengthy dissertation on how they never do that or something similar and everything is always so peachy keen between them and their slave master.  It starts out like this "Of course I haven't read the contract and I've actually not read a word she's written and the novel in question isn't even published yet BUT..." 

All of this leads us to believe that Kiana was wrong, even if she didn't realize it when she committed the grievous infraction, and if we don't do that, we're safe.  This reminds me of a Winston Churchill quote "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."

So Kiana, for $20,000 was supposed to sit and do nothing for 3 years until her book came out.  That's not living wages.  That advance means you have to have a real job and write part time in order to survive.  I don't know why anyone thinks Riverhead could conceivably be in the moral right on this one.

Is it so great to be published in paper under these conditions?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sweeping Up

Maybe not the right title for this post but better than the ice cream thing which continues to bring people here looking for I have no idea what.

So Sweeps.  People ask what I do to promote my books and I do nothing.  I would love to have a platform and reach a wide audience, of course.  But I don't.  Anything I would write an article on would be published somewhere no one would be interested in Sweeps or NLM.  I didn't mention my books in the food photography article.  I hate it when people do that.  I really hate it because it seems desperate.  It's not for me, if you're okay with it, go do it full out.  I can't do it.  I'm probably wrong.

Over the weekend at BN there was an increase in interest in Sweeps (actually for all my adult books which have never sold well there, only the middle reader books have an audience at BN),  Sweeps was ranked in the 24,000s.  Which is good.  Summer Horse and Dream Horse are above 10,000 which for a kid's book I think is great.

Then sales of Sweeps yesterday had me writing to my pal, Chris, "WHAT???"  Everytime I looked, it had sold more.

Today the ranking is such a jump from yesterday's 24,000 whatever, that I want to share it with you.

  • Pub. Date: November 2010
  • Publisher: DashingBooks
  • Sold By: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: NOOK Book (eBook)
  • Sales Rank: 1,486
Sales ranks move substantially when you have a lot of sales in a short amount of time.  So it must be on a list somewhere.
Thanks, Ariel.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Amazon Tab News

Well.  There we go.  I better put my Nook up for sale while people will still buy it!  We're talking "free" here, people.  You get streaming vid, free 2 day shipping and now free reading with Amazon Prime.  When it first came out, a  couple years ago, I thought "This is dumb.  You can't wait a couple days for a book?"  $80 for the 2 day free shipping?  Sheesh.  But guess what.  If you can buy 1 thing for $10 and have it shipped free 2 day, it starts looking better.  Add in the video thing, now you don't need Netflix at $10 a month.  Add in free older books (whatever older means) and suddenly Amazon is the place to be.

Amazon's coming tablet could feature an annual library subscription model that would let readers access older books, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Citing unnamed sources, the report said the library content would be available to Amazon's Prime customers, who currently pay $79 a year for unlimited two-day shipping for products purchased on as well as access to digital movies and TV shows on the site.

According to the Journal's unnamed sources, Amazon would offer book publishers a fee for participating in the subscription program. The company would also limit the number of books an Amazon Prime customer could read without charge every month. 

Amazon Subscription Plan

I think I'm practically an authority by now on solar chargers for ereaders.  As we learned with the Chevy Volt this whole arena is sort of scammy.
The sellers lie.  They say their units will charge your reader but the reality is far different.  As far as I can tell nothing charges a Nook Color so that you could actually read it.  Maybe if you wanted to throw $500 at it you could get something.  There's nothing under $200 powerful enough.  Yes, I spoke directly to the companies.

Update: I got an email from the Powermonkey people and they say their range will charge a reader.  They don't day how long this will take.  They have the Extreme which sells for $190.  That probably will do it in an incredibly slow fashion--and I mean it might take 2 days--but that's still twice as fast as a smaller unit.  Don't forget this isn't set it and forget it.  You put the thing outside in full sun and you have to keep rushing out to track the sun.  When they say direct sunlight, they mean DIRECT.

If Bezos was smart, you could access the Kindle Tab battery so it is easy to change/replace.  It's very difficult, I've read, to get into the Nook.

You're better off having a spare and using that when we are going through TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It).  After the batteries are dead, you ain't reading no more.  Deal with it.  You're probably better off spending $200 on freeze dried food.

I have no idea about the whole cell phone thing; apparently they're so small a solar panel over hours in the sun (provided it doesn't melt which seems to happen with frightening regularity) will charge it.  I don't know who you'll call when civilization collapses.  Maybe you want to say goodbye to someone.  If the EMP hasn't (it will) wiped out all the towers.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kiana Davenport

I just read what happened to this woman.  Go there and read for yourself how nutso legacy publishing has become.

Davenport Dialogs

The basics are she signed with Riverhead (she doesn't say that but someone scoped it out) and got $20,000 advance for her new novel.  When the publisher (where is the freaking agent thru all this, huh????) found out she had self-published 2 collections of short stories they had already rejected and had nothing to do with her novel, they brought out the lawyers and demanded the advance back.  After screaming abuse at her on the phone.

I wonder if it's the same editor at Riverhead who told me no one wanted to read romantic comedy novels about 15 years ago.  Wouldn't that be a coincidence.

More evidence of the genius at work in tradpub.  I don't know what else to say.  People who are losing their prestige and power go cuckoo.  This isn't a political blog so I won't show you the many instances from this month alone of that happening in other arenas.  Again we see the elites believing they can treat people they perceive to be beneath them with contempt and legal maneuvers.

Fire that agent.  The agent is...this is the f'ing real world, we're not talking about the agent fairy and the fielding the deals nonsense.  The agent is there to protect the writers' interests.  How is it in Kiana's interests that she's being legally harassed and verbally abused by a multinational corporation?  The agent should have been screaming right back at the editor. The editor, in the first place, has no business speaking directly to the writer in anything pertaining to the contract and fees.

Someone drive a stake through its heart before it gets up and bothers us again.  Like I keep saying "Just die already."

Amazon Kindle Tablet

Based on this article, we know quite a bit more what to expect.  And I expect, sadly, I suppose, that it will blow the doors off the Nook Color.

Amazon Kindle Tablet

Why do I say that?  The size will be the same, touch screen, running an Android OS that Amazon has its way with.  The price will be the same $250.  So what's the big deal?  Amazon is going to promote it like mad and offer a year's subscription to Amazon Prime which is about $80 for the year.  I've done Prime and I was very positive about it.  You get free streaming video.  Hello,  if I got that on my Nook I'd be thrilled.  So that's essentially $100 off.

What Amazon does well they do very well.  You purchase something and they get it right to you.  Last week during the hurricane, I bought an emergency radio and it came 2 days later.  A month ago I bought a can of chestnut puree.  Why buy that from a bookstore?  Because the price was less.  The can was more expensive, but the shipping--because of the Amazon Prime Trial--was free.  I bought the macro lens and returned it with no emotional upset.

To have access to shopping from your reader, streaming video, music and I'm sure other things not yet revealed will make me consider selling the Nook and buying a Kindle Tab.

What will this do to Christmas book sales, kiddies?

Online retail giant Amazon has hinted that it plans to offer its own tablet computer running Google's Android operating system, perhaps as early as October. The research firm Forrester said recently that it expects Amazon to sell 3 million to 5 million tablets in the fourth quarter this year if it can keep up with the demand.

The tablet seems smartly designed to enhance Amazon’s “razor and blades” strategy, which creates a virtuous, reinforcing link between Amazon’s reading device and content. It should be attractive to e-reader buyers. It might well recapture the e-reader device leadership position from the Nook, and perhaps lessen the lost of e-reader-focused buyers to the iPad.  And the bundled Amazon Prime membership should enhance Amazon’s larger retail relationship with its tablet owners.
All in all, the Kindle tablet seems well-positioned to strengthen Amazon’s market position.

Everything Amazon does is to strengthen their position so we know this is going to create waves.

AFAIC, it's expensive.  We need a great reader for under $100.  We need a reader a kid can forget on the bus and no one loses sleep over it.  After all, this economy is not great.  People are in financial difficulty even when there are still people employed at great salaries not realizing millions of people are unable to find a job.

Also AFAIC I'm rather have a Samsung Galaxy but that really is too expensive.  I can shop at Amazon with my Nook.

But I think Santa's elves are building and designing these gadgets.  My fingers are too big for the little pretend buttons.  So someone should consider humans are using these things and they don't have a stylus in hand.  That would be an interesting thing though, a retractable stylus built in...

Friday, September 9, 2011


My most popular post, traffic wise on this blog, is one from months ago and I used the analogy of a certain kind of layered frozen dessert when discussing publishing.  Apparently people are really interested in this dessert and flock here in droves to find out more, only to be disappointed by finding all these ramblings about writing.

How you make it--you freeze the layers separately.  Okay?  Freeze one.  Add the next.  Freeze it.  Add the third.  Freeze it.  Look up terrines for more details.

Unlike other novelists, I find myself strangely uncompelled by all the books out there I can spend my time with.
Not that I have ever been a huge reader of fiction.  Most of my books are either history or cooking.  When I got the Nook, I read a lot of fiction.  Since I like Chinese food and I've never gotten the whole bit about you eat it and an hour later you're still hungry quip, I won't say it's all been like Chinese food but I will say it's been unsatisfying.  It's like when you are invited to a party at dinnertime and they only serve appetizers but no dinner.
You waste hours and then you still have to forage for sustenance.

I think some current books are like tapas.  You go to the tapas bar and you eat all appetizers and that is the meal.  And unlike me, this does satisfy a lot of people.

My pal in England sent me a novel a couple weeks ago--the sort that couldn't be published here because it's not formulaic enough.   Do we give readers what they want or do they come to want what we give them?

I just realized something.  I don't think I've been to the library since I got the Nook.  Worse, I don't foresee going back to the library.  The library is so inconvenient.  You have to go there.  If you don't have anything else to do and it's not a 30 mile round trip with gas at $4 a gallon, then the library is a deal.  Otherwise not so much.  Then they punish you if you can't drive because of a snowstorm or something.  Ten cents a day.  Oh keep the darn books.  I think I'll just read my way through the classics I missed earlier.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Didn't Know My Own Worth!


Dream Horse continues to surprise.  For the low low price, you can have a paperback of it

+ $3.99shipping
Used - Like New
  • Seller: gb_book
  • Seller Rating:96% positive over the past 12 months. (1,835 total ratings)
  • In Stock. Ships from CA, United States. Expedited shipping available.
    Domestic shipping rates and return policy.
  • In very fine condition, like new

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.

For approx. $70, this book you can order new for about $10 can be all yours!  Or you can get an original Impossible Charlie for 21 cents.  It is used and if you feel funny about having books that other people have done who knows what with, then you probably should get the paperback.  Or get a kindle copy which no one has ever touched.  That's 99 cents.

Onto that fan mail.  I'm having an interesting exchange with this woman who loves the Bad Apple series  and she is an adult, a young woman in college.  She says she loves YAs because the characters are so complex and the stories are so interesting.

This has been my long held belief-- that you can write much more significant material in a YA, you can get away with more, than an adult book.  Sure some adult material is way out there, but let's try to keep the discussion in the mid-range.

If you write an adult book about 2 people "falling in love" or arranging a lifelong relationship in a realistic way, you'll have a very hard time with it.  Real life is messy, it can be funny and tragic and unexpected and heartbreaking all at the same time.

That's not a "romance".  A romance is the girl likes shoes and the guy is a beast she has to tame or housebreak.  She talks him down to all her friends which indicates pretty much where the relationship is headed.  Divorce court.

So you must be very predictable and give people what they expect.  NLM was a big anomaly for me.  None of my other books come close to that interest and even NLM doesn't come close to its old interest.  It just wasnt what people expected, and very kindly I didn't get 900 1 star reviews reflecting their disappointment.

I stopped reading literary fiction long ago.  I know zombies are popular but the characters always seems anesthetized, incapable of genuine emotion.  Then they had a bloodless affair that didn't wake from from their (obviously clinical) depression.  Maybe I was missing something really significant about all these art novels but I doubt it.

I read Book 2 in the series I started last month.  The 1st had so much promise but this one way undershot the mark for me.  I didn't like the main character in the last book and I pretty much hated him by this one.  There was a shallowness to everything.  I don't know much about French history but it seems to be I've heard about a time period when all the royal types were amoral, bored, gossipy, into drugs and drinking, with nary a thought in their heads.  (Wait.  Isn't that the way royals always are?)  That's what this was like.  Everyone had so much they didn't know what to do with themselves and descended into a base state.  Big bore.  Skimmed most of it which was a shame because I kept looking at my battery icon.  It takes a lot of power to turn the page on an LED screen as opposed to the Kindle thing.  So you're skimming 300 pages and it's more actually because 1 page doesn't fit on a screen, total waste of power and an annoyance.

It'll be made into a movie, I'm sure.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cecilia, You're Breaking My Heart

I could have called this fan mail.  But I didn't.

Fling got a 5 star review but a complaint about the font.  I use Courier New.  I always have.  She said that I should change back to the font I used with the other books.  Which are all, of course, in Courier New.  So something is going on for her but I did post a question in the Kindle forum and it was answered.

PubIt wants documents in Times New Roman, Arial or Courier New.  They state this quite clearly.  The whole Kindle formatting thing is a bit more on the mysterious side and I can't tell you where the requirements are laid out clearly and definitively.  Except doc and html is required.  No docx.

The Kindle device apparently makes hash of Courier New and really wants this Cecilia thing which I don't even have in Word.  What???
And, upon research, it's not Cecilia, it's Caecilia.
You can download it here.

How about I just use TNR instead.

The second fan mail was less complicated and came through Good Reads.

subject: Next bad apple book... Please? :)
message: Hi. I'm just wondering when you are going to release the next bad apple book. It is one of my favorite series and I'm dying to know what happens between Neal and Truly! Thanks so much for being a fabulous author.

Having taken time off from the Bad Apple series, I can't tell her when this will happen but I appreciate hearing from her, (of course!) and offered her a copy of the new book as a thank you.  I don't know when that will be done either but I'm in the last act.  I don't write as fast as I used to but I write smarter. Oh well.

I like these old Soviet propaganda posters.  They're crudely creative and impart a  frisson of  threat.  Yes, that's a paraphrase of what the poster said originally.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dream Horse

I haven't looked at rankings all summer being preoccupied with so many other things but when I checked to see if the "revised" Nothing Serious file had gone through Amazon yet (no, BN yes) I decided to check on DH.

So that's very nice for a book legacy publishing insists is outdated.

ALERT ALERT.  Here comes a tip.

Some woman in England was very put out after spending the equivalent of 99 cents for this book, that it was not for adults.  That was a 1 star review. 

Even if you think it is completely obvious by the story that your book is a children's book, or a mystery or a romance or whatever, put it in the description.  Now I have a line saying middle reader book 9-12 year olds.

With Nothing Serious I put a note that this was the newly formatted, revised and simplified version.  You may be totally uninterested in how much revision was required.  Well, it was very labor intensive.  There were 3 instances of someone's handle which the complainer thought should have a space in it but didn't because some forums don't allow spaces in your nickname, so a space was inserted.  The one instance where Paige rightfully said qveen mimicking Zsa Zsa Gabor was respelled queen.  And I italicized objets d'arts so it would be obvious (it won't be to drunk trolls) that it was a foreign language.   Kindle Desktop Publishing claimed there were many spelling errors throughout but Word couldn't find them.  Wait till it happens to you.

The larger the audience the more drunk trolls and the greater the need for being as specific as you can possibly be in your description.  There will, of course, be a percentage of people whose eyes are normally twirling in their heads anyway and you can't do a blasted thing about it but perhaps by being cognizant (ooo, am I allowed to use such a big word or do I have to simplify that, I need to train myself to write down a little) we can avoid some of these misunderstandings and the angry assaults that result from a misspent 99 cents.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Inexplicable Hassles of Software

You get to the point where you're screaming "Why doesn't it work?"
And then without doing anything, it heals itself.
How does that happen?

Now I face a hassle with formatting for Amazon.  And I asked them--why it is so hard to get the formatting for you right when it's so easy for BN?  Why do you have so many requirements and they accept docx?

Of all the kittens born here in the last few weeks, none survived.