Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I've got a few things going on right now, so unfortunately my blog is what gets neglected. But never fear, I have a few topics I want to explore in the upcoming weeks. For right now, here's a quick update of what's happening:

1. I'm almost finished proofing a novel. This is one reason I'm a bit behind, albeit because of my self-imposed "deadline." I traveled over the weekend and really didn't get anything done with this, so I'm in catch-up mode right now.

2. Just started reading my review copy of Brian James Freeman's The Painted Darkness. So be expecting a review of it sometime in the next week. So far, it's a really good little book.

3. There will be another giveaway this week. I'm still deciding on which book I'll giveaway, but rest assured, it will be another easy contest. Just stay tuned.

4. I've got my next copy-edit project lined up.

5. I still plan on trying to update the look and feel of this blog. I just need to find a little "extra" (yeah, I know, real funny) time and a halfway reliable internet connection. Hopefully, by next week I'll be able to work on it.

That's about it for now. Please be patient while I adjust to my new work schedule and try to work out some sort of a "regular" (again, I know, real funny) routine.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


At last, here is my promised review of Scott Nicholson's Speed Dating with the Dead:

Scott Nicholson's Speed Dating with the Dead will always have a special place in my heart. It has the distinction of being the first e-book I ever read using an e-reader, thus igniting a growing passion for e-books in my heart.

If you have followed me for any amount of time, you will know that Mr. Nicholson is one of my favorite authors. I haven't read anything by him that I haven't enjoyed on some level. That said, I must admit that I didn't know what to expect from this book based on the title. It evoked images of a bunch of 40-somethings jumping from table to table in a hotel lobby trying to meet a future companion. And in my mind they were all zombies. Go figure. I probably read more zombie books than is healthy.

Set in Mr. Nicholson's familiar Appalachian mountains, Speed Dating with the Dead is about a paranormal conference at an old hotel. There is a wide array of characters attending this conference, including your die-hard ghost hunters, clairvoyants, groupies, and skeptics. Probably not much different than real life. As the conference goes on, strange things begin to happen. Before long, Mr. Nicholson has you moving at break-neck speed as an ancient, malignant force makes its presence known at the conference.

Like all things Nicholson, I wasn't disappointed by this offering. I would actually say this book was a little bit edgier than some of his mass-market paper backs, which I liked. Mr. Nicholson weaves a wonderful story with a diverse cast of interesting characters. The book is paced very well, with the last half of the book flying by. Even with all the action, the book stays focused on the story and moving it along. And as with all of Mr. Nicholson's books, this one is atmospheric, making you feel like you're attending the conference with the other guests.

You won't be disappointed by this book. Even if you aren't into the whole ghost-hunting scene, there is plenty in here for you to enjoy. Mr. Nicholson is a story-driven author, and words in his hands turn into a very enjoyable story.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Digital, Not Paper, Please

As we drove away from Books-A-Million for the last time, I turned to my wife and said, "I don't know how many more paper books I'll be buying in the future." My wife and I had a good chuckle at my comment and I didn't give it much more thought for the rest of that day. But in the following days, I reflected on that comment and began to wonder just how true it was.

There are pros and cons for both sides of the argument about digital versus paper. But I'm going to look at this from a purely selfish standpoint right now. I'm not looking at what I can collect, even though I have a collector's heart. I'm not thinking about how impressive my book collection appears, even though I love it when people visit my home and say, "Wow! That's a lot of books." And I'm not going to focus on being able to pass something down to my children, although I want my kids to enjoy the wonderful books I've discovered (I still can do this electronically, I guess).

I'm looking at the pure economics of this. I don't see why I should pay $7.99, $9.99, $12.99, or $15.99 for a physical copy of a book, when I can by the e-book version for anywhere from $2.99 to $5.99. It just doesn't make any sense to me. I'm interested in the story. That's it. Not collecting, not displaying, and not passing on. I just want to read the story. And you might say, "Wait, you have to buy the e-reader first." Yes, I do. But I can pay around $150 for an e-reader or I can spend an extra $300 or more on buying the paper versions. (This is based on an average $3 in savings per e-book for 100 e-books. I've seen some only $1.00 cheaper and I've seen some $10 cheaper.)

So from a purely selfish standpoint, I think I will say, "Digital, not paper, please." Now don't get me wrong, I'll still probably stop by the used bookstore from time to time, and if a paper copy of a new book is cheaper than the e-book, I'll buy it. But for me, right now, it just doesn't make economic sense to choose paper.

Just a quick note about my first "real" book giveaway. If I get 100 followers on Twitter, I'll randomly pick one of my followers and send them a new copy of Jeff Strand's Dweller. See? I told you it would be simple for you to have a chance to win a "real" book. And if you haven't read this one, you're in for a treat.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Real" Book Goodness

I just got home from the wake, er, closing sale of Books-A-Million in Raleigh, NC. Bought all kinds of goodies for cheap. It was a little weird pulling away from the store and knowing it would be the last time that I did that. I wasn't sad, really, but I did feel kind of strange. I'm excited about my new-found love for e-books, but I will miss the days that I lounged around in the cafe of BAM spending time reading, drinking coffee and lattes, and surfing the web. Hopefully, there will be some indie places that pop-up around here to serve as a social gathering place for people to share their love and passion for literature.

But something good will come from all this for you. Yes, I said you. I picked up a bunch of books that I'm going to share with you in the upcoming days and weeks, through contests and giveaways. Not sure exactly what I'm going to do yet, but it'll be easy and fairly effortless for you. Just make sure you stayed tuned for your chance to win stuff from authors such as Keene, Ketchum, Smith, Nicholson, Follett, Rand, and others!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Digital Experience, So Far

I've got a few ideas for blog topics rattling around my head, but first I want to update this blog's design. And to do that, I need to figure out how to make the changes I want to the design. And that may take a while, because my internet service out here in the sticks is spotty, at best. So, I'm going to save those topics for a later time.

In the meantime, I'll give you a quick update of how my digital experience is faring so far. In case you didn't know, I bought an e-reader a little over a month ago. I purchased a Sony Reader Touch because I got it for fairly cheap. I had been waffling for a number of months between the Sony and Amazon's Kindle. The deal I got on the Sony, and its accompanying accessories, sealed the deal for me. At least, it did at the time.

My biggest gripe with the Kindle was that you could only read Kindle files on it. I guess I'm still a bit wary about that. But, in just the last month, it seems the Kindle train has been gaining speed, and it isn't any longer a matter of "if" the Kindle wins out, it's a matter of "when." There's a number of factors that make me believe this, but that's for another post. Needless to say, you would think I'd be ticked about buying a Sony. But I'm not.

Sure, my Sony has its quirks, but for the price I got it at and the content that's available for it, I'm pretty happy. Some of the file types don't do so great on it, and the one I'm most disappointed about is .pdf. They look fine when you load them, but most of the time the font size is too small to read. And when I zoom in, things get really strange. Indents and line breaks disappear, and the text becomes jumbled together. So now, I avoid .pdf files like the plague. I prefer using .epub, .lrf, and .doc files.

Yes, I did say .doc files. The Sony converts the .doc file to a compatible format when it's downloaded to the reader. And honestly, .doc files have performed the best on the reader. Which is a good thing for me, because the manuscripts I've been copyediting have been .doc files.

And the reason I most enjoy my Sony e-reader is the touch screen. It took me a little while to get used to using it for notes, but now I LOVE using the touch screen. It's made working on copyediting projects much easier, because I don't like reading on a regular computer screen for too long. The reader is easy on the eyes and taking notes is a breeze with the touch screen.

I know I'll end up with a Kindle at some point. Probably in the not-too-distant future. And my wife has decided she wants one too. In the meantime, I've downloaded the Kindle for PC and use it to open the few .mobi files I have. Plus, it gives us a chance to try out the Kindle interface for free.

But I'm not disappointed in the least about my investment in my Sony Reader Touch. It's proved to be a useful tool so far, and as long as it holds up, it should continue to be useful in the future. But unless you plan on doing a lot of note-taking or reading of MS Word documents on your reader, I'd recommend the Kindle to everyone. Eventually, it will win the e-reader "war," just like Blu-Ray beat out HD DVD's.

One thing I'm sure of, though, is that I'm sold on e-books. I didn't know what it would be like reading books on an electronic device, but it's become an absolute pleasure to me. I actually prefer to read my books in e-book format now. There is none of the eye strain that you get from computer screens. Heck, I don't notice any additional eye strain when I read on my e-reader.

I didn't think it would happen so quick, but it has. I'm a born-again e-book believer.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Figured I'd go ahead and blog this morning before I get too tired and the kids get up and I remember I need to wash the dishes. I had some ideas yesterday that I wanted to blog about but didn't get around to it, and then I thought about these ideas throughout the night at work. But for some reason, as I'm sitting down to write this post, I'm having a difficult time expressing my thoughts in words. Who knows, maybe I've been working third shift for too long and it's catching up to me. Please bear with me as I try to hash it all out.

I've had a desire to write a book since I was in college. That was about 14 years ago. Now this desire didn't come from some grand epiphany I had. Rather, it grew over the years to a point that last year I started writing short stories. I tried to establish a routine for my writing, but alas, I came up with a million different excuses as to why I couldn't write for that day. I'm tired. The kids kept me busy. I've got too much to do around the house. This movie looks really good. And on and on my excuses went. If any of you need an excuse, let me know and I'll let you have one of mine.

Needless to say, I began to get very frustrated and reached the point that I just stopped writing. It wasn't a conscious decision, it just happened. After a while, I figured I just didn't have the fire inside me to follow through with it. My frustration level grew.

At the time I started writing, my reading increased. After all, I'd read advice from numerous authors saying a good writer reads a lot. In the past, I maybe read five to ten books a year. Last year I read 46 books. This year I've read 58 books, so far. Reading became my passion (or obsession, if you ask my wife). I now almost always have a book within arm's reach of me. And the thing is, I'm a fairly slow reader. Sure, I've improved some over the last couple of years, but it still takes me a while to get through a book. So that number of books I've read indicates a significant amount of time invested on my part. It seems that I'd found my passion, my fire inside. Right?

Well, not exactly. I still had some discontent inside me, a feeling of being unfulfilled somehow. I wanted to do more than just read a book. I wanted to be a part of creating one. The creation of something is important to me. It gives me that warm fuzzy feeling all over. But with my passion for consuming books and my lack of drive for writing them, it didn't seem creating would be in my future. So I resigned myself to being a consumer.

Then one day I came across a blog post by one* of my favorite authors. He was looking for some pre-readers to give some of his books a whirl before he releases them, to help get the bugs out. I jumped on this opportunity because, come on, I would get to read books by a great author before others do. What was not to like? So I sent him an email and he promptly sent me a book he was going to release shortly. He ended his email response by saying, "Be tough."

Be tough? Really? Did he really know what he was telling me? He probably should've talked to my wife before he typed that command to me. See, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I'm my own worst critic. I could probably be described as anal at times. Did he really want me to be tough? Did I have it in me to point out errors in this author's work? After all, he is one of my favorites and I didn't want him hating me. Seemed I had a dilemma.

I didn't know know exactly how I would handle this dilemma, so I did what I do best. I read. As I read, I found a typo here; a misspelling there; a minor inconsistency over yonder. My dilemma became a little tougher. But after a little thinking, I decided to shoot the author an email with the things I found. Besides, he asked for it. After clicking the send button, I anxiously awaited his response. Figured it'd be something along the lines of "Get a life, dude."

But he didn't say that. Instead, he thanked me and said he'd take a look at the suggestions I'd sent him. That wasn't so bad. So as I continued reading, I sent him any other suggestions I had. I guessed that he would tire quickly of me. But one of his emails said something along the lines of "Hey, you're pretty good at this." Hmm. I know he meant it as one, but I didn't know if that was a compliment or not. The ability to find flaws in something is not normally an endearing quality. Most folks can't stand people like that. Heck, I can't stand people like that.

However, the little hamster in my head jumped on its wheel and started running. I'm pretty good at this. I'm helping a person I esteem to make his creation better. Hey, wait a minute. Creation. Create. Hmm.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm creating anything for this author. But I am helping him with his creation, to make it better. I liked that and it gave me a sense of fulfillment. The author mentioned copyediting and told me that with a little practice I might be able to do something with it. Hmm.

Well, I've taken his advice and I am getting some practice. I've proofed three books so far and am working on my fourth. And the crazy thing is, I'm enjoying the heck out of this. Don't know what that says about me, that I enjoy finding flaws. But I don't see it that way; I see it as helping someone make their creation better.

I still would like to try my hand at writing a book one day. One day, just not today. And I don't know how things will work out with copyediting. Who knows, I may tire of being nit-picky after the fifth book I proof. But I don't think so. It seems I'm onto something here. It definitely has kindled something inside me. Time shall tell.

If you've made it this far, I thank you for putting up with my rambling, incoherent thoughts. I know I probably wouldn't have made it this far. I would have probably thought, what is wrong with this guy? He needs to get a life! But this post has been quite helpful to me, so that makes it worthwhile in my mind. And that's all that counts. Right?

*I didn't name the author because I haven't asked his permission to talk about our correspondence.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The First Domino Falls

I planned on having a relaxing day today, to work on some copyediting projects and spend some time reading. So I decided to go to Borders and hang out in the cafe and work there. I went just after lunchtime, and I was able to find a $30 A/C adapter for my Sony Reader for just $7.50. Needless to say, I was a happy camper and settled down in the cafe to get some work done.

Later in the afternoon, my stomach started grumbling, telling me it was ready for some food. The first inkling of a headache had started, so I figured it was time to grab a bite to eat. After I hit McDonalds, I had an urge to stop at Books-A-Million (BAM) in Raleigh because I hadn't been by in a while. When I pulled up, I found the store windows decorated with bright yellow signs proclaiming "50% off already marked price." I thought, well, that's one heck of a Labor day sale. Glad I stopped today!

After browsing the store for a bit, I reasoned that there was no way everything is 50% off. I stopped a sales clerk that was passing by and asked her if everything was on sale. She assured me that it was, and immediately my mind started calculating ways to "free" up some money so I could score some books. I went after ones that I knew would be cheaper to buy in paper form than ebook form. After all, now that I have and e-reader, I'm all about saving as much money as possible.

I lugged my armful of books to the checkout counter and grinned as the sales clerk rang up my goodies. I asked how long the sale was going to last, sure it was just a one day deal. The clerk looked at me stone-faced and said, "Till the 18th, when we close." I thought I had misheard, so I asked again. Nope, I hadn't misheard. The only Books-A-Million in Raleigh, NC, is closing on September 18th.

At first, I was shocked by this news. BAM was my preferred bookstore to go to until about six months ago. I've always had a BAM near me to go to. Soon, my faithful standby will be gone. Needless to say, I scrambled and grabbed another armful of books to buy.

But after I got a coffee and settled down in the cafe, I thought about the whole situation some more. The shock began to wear off after a little while and I came to realize that stuff Scott Nicholson and J. A. Konrath have been talking about is finally coming to fruition. Heck, I had even told my wife when I bought my Sony Reader that I thought traditional bookstores would start closing down in a couple of years. I guess, if anything, the thing that shocks me most about BAM closing is how soon it's occurring, not the fact that it's happening.

I won't be surprised to see other chains start doing the same thing around here. We have three Barnes & Nobles and two Borders here in Raleigh. I think it's just a matter of when, not if, for them. The nostalgic part of me is going to miss them. Especially BAM, since it was always my "go-to" store. But another part of me is excited. And not just because I scored some cheap books today. This is an exciting and turbulent time we are in, and I can't wait to see what changes are coming. I suggest you hold on tight. The winds of change are blowing strong.

Speaking of winds blowing, I'll leave you with a quote, or maybe more of a paraphrase, from the comedian Ron White: "It's not that the wind is blowing, it's what the wind is blowing."