Smashwords and Indie publishing

This is a topic I don’t think I have ever mentioned in this blog and that is publishing, tradional or self publishing. A bit of background, after I got my Nook I spent a lot of time reading the free books, usually they were self published on Smashwords and the first book of a series. There were quite a few gems, JD Nixon and both of her series, Heller and Little Big Town. And then there were some books that were good, however I didn’t continue the series. Then there was one book that I loved and I bought the second book and the author started strong like the first book, but then character names and other important details started getting tangled up. This book wasn’t ready for public consumption, it needed a thorough editing and proofreading. I never finished the book much less the series. It wasn’t the only time I got burned by an author trying to push a book too fast, but it was one of the more disappointing. I felt a strong connection to the story and the characters. 

So the question becomes when do you know your baby is ready to be published? I rarely think this far since my own writing is still firmly in the first draft stage. However in my more busy writing times I can feel it whisper in my head. “Now? Is it time yet?” and I have to pull on the reins, not yet. 

In those moments when I do think about my stories the tradional publishing scene doesn’t really appeal to me. Maybe I am more of a control freak than I care to admit, but turning my babies loose in the hands of the major publishers gives me chills. I like the way Smashwords works, as an author have complete control over my books from setting the format to the price. I haven’t thoroughly delved into how they make their money and that is okay for right now. 

I am still working thru about 4 first draft projects. Crazy I know but when the idea hits you strike while the iron is hot. Each project has different strengths and weaknesses. I feel what I learn working on one story applies when I work on the other ones. 
Cheers, james

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Libby the app

My local library offers a library app called Libby. It is connected to libraries around the US. It is both a reading app and an audiobook app. I use an Android phone so I don’t know if there is an Apple version out there. Download from the Google Play store, find you local library or libraries you have library cards for, add your library card and viola. You may now download library ebooks and audiobooks. I haven’t listened to any audiobooks yet, although the two samples I tried were clear and sounded really good. 

I left a review of The Bone Witch, one of the first books I downloaded. Browsing is very easy, you can search directly or by genre, books and or audiobooks. All in all a great little reading app.

Cheers, james

Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

O’night where to start? Nevernight is the title, however it also functions as a phenomon that occurs in this world. There are three suns that never truly set except once ever 3 or so years. Hence it is never night there. Our main character is the oldest child of a well connected family only dear old dad is hung for treason and mom and baby brother are shipped off to a horriffic nightmare of a prison. While Mia is taken on the condition she would be safe except she is to be drowned instead. Doublecrosses, and even triplecrosses are a theme throughout the book.

This where things get really interesting, you have two seperate yet linked together scenes going on when we meet Mia. She is remebering her first time with a lover and her first time killing.  Okay I was torn between huh and wtf. Things then start to smooth out and I stayed with it. We get to live through Mia’s story as she transforms from a scared little girl to a trained badass assassin for the Lady of Blessed Murder.

And I will leave you there in my description, this book is not Young Adult suitable for the sex and the violence. However it is very suitable for someone that enjoys fantasy. Mr. Kristoff is a wordsmith that makes you take another look at language and story telling. It is a deep and chewy filling satisfying read and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. 

Cheers, james

Fire ‘n Ink 

On the 4th of July Americans celebrate the nation’s birthday. Yet without the power of fire and ink we wouldn’t have become an independent nation. The fires of rebellion began with unfair governing practices and coruption, those fires in turn led to the ink used to pen the Declaration of Independence, which gave birth to the fires of the American Revolution. So fire and ink are powerful in their own rights but together they can forge new beginnings. 

Just a few words to ponder this 4th of July week. Cheers, james

Book Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Picked up the Libby app from my library that allows members access to ebooks. One of my first selections was an interesting book called the Bone Witch. The author Rin Chupeco writes a vivid story loosely based around the geisha lifestyle with magic and fighting monsters. 

The main character is the youngest member of her family and her oldest brother is killed in battle. At his burrial she starts screaming that her brother is alive and not to burry him. She then brings him back to life sorta. She is a bone witch, her powers are over death and the dead. After she raises her brother she falls ill and is taken under the wing of another bone witch. Bone witches are needed to destory the monsters that plague the land. They lay the monsters to rest and take something called a beozor stone. These stones are powerful magic and used in potions for everything. The book is told is a double format that is weird but readable. As a first book in a series it ended on the abrupt side. The next book is in planning but hasn’t been released yet. 

All in all a worth while interesting read. Cheers, james

Conan and Writing

Quiz time: Conan, first thought?

Some folks might answer the late night show host or Arnie’s big break out movie or the new Conan movie. A few die hards will think of the comic books or campy books from the ’70s and ’80s. Not sure how many will think of Conan and his creator, Robert E. Howard, the father of the “sword and sorcery” genre. Most us at some point have come in contact with the whole barbarian, sword and spell slinger tall tale and for a while it was a staple in the movie going world. Howard wrote for the “pulp” magazines of his day, some of which are still around. Weird Tales published most of his stories, including the Conan tales, Krull the forerunner of Conan, and Soloman Kane. The Kane stories pit a man’s desire to save his soul and saving the innocents around him. Very strange twist of writing and may expose Howard’s own conflicted emotions. I offer no info or conclusions as I have not yet read the Soloman Kane stories.

Conan offers no such moral dilema, he does as he pleases with little regard for the consquences. He is sure in his right, however rarely do we see him engaged in bad behavior. Howard through Conan alludes to his theivery and murdering yet when we join him on his quests there is method and purpose to his madness. Always portrayed as a barbarian from Cimmeria, he is intellegant yet supersious of magic and the supernatural. His code and honor are unbreakable and he helps the ones that can not help themselves. Only after they have proven themselves to be worthy of our hero’s aid. The old adage of help yourself and help will be given. 

A less kind reader would note and speak at length on the dated language and attitudes presented. In fact many an older writer has fallen into this quagmire Kipling, Hemingway and other distigushed writers. To this reader I would say in 80 or 100 years our own language could be viewed in similar terms. So if you look for bias you will find it. 

So what does this have to do with writing? In one of my writing projects I revisit Conan in the modern world. I use his mythos and strength to teach my heroine that she can be the hero of her own tale. She is contracted to create an illuminated manuscript of the Howard Conan tales in time for the hundred year celebration of his publication. And then the bad things start happening, her shop is broken into, her father disappears and other misadventures. 

Just some thoughts on how Conan is still a valid hero of the modern age. Cheers on the 4th of July week. james