Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to everyone out there! Hope you have a great day/night and that you stay safe. And please remember, don't feed the zombies.

Friday, October 29, 2010

October Blues

October has always been my favorite month. I can remember as a child waiting for the calendar to flip from September to October. That signaled when it was okay for me to start decorating my front yard with graves, ghouls, and headless bodies. Yeah, I’ve always had a fascination with the macabre and dark things. As I grew older and reached high school and college age, my “traditions” changed from decorating the yard to having multiple horror-movie marathons throughout the month of October. But, still, it was like some switch went on inside me when the calendar flipped from September to October.

But in the last few years, that excitement I’ve had for the month of October has waned. Sure, I still enjoy the weather (for the most part) and the changing of the leaves, but I don’t seem to have any “traditions” that I hold on to anymore. And it feels as if I’ve missed the entire month of October this year. This bums me out.

I have two young children and I really want to instill in them the excitement I once had for this month. I’m not talking about a love for gory zombies and rotting arms sticking out of the ground—although, I’d happily take that. I’m talking about enjoying a time of year when it’s okay, and even encouraged, to allow your imagination to run wild. A time of year when we can find beauty in death and decay.

I’m going to make sure that next year we slow down just a little bit so when can enjoy this enchanting season. Sure, maybe the kids will decide they want to decorate the yard with unicorns and fairies. But that’s okay. As long as they’re excited and their imagination is flying free, I’m fine with it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

For Sale, For Sale, e-Reader For Sale

I've come to the conclusion that I don't need two e-readers. I know, I know, I had said that I was not going to do copyediting on my Kindle, but it's turned out to be much easier than I expected and it's become too much effort to bounce back and forth between e-readers. So after some consideration, I'm putting my Sony Reader Touch Edition (PRS-600) on the market. This reader is less than three months old and is in practically new condition. No damage at all to the unit. Included with the e-reader: leather cover, USB cable, A/C adapter, and padded slip-cover. Also included, original boxes and documentation for the e-reader and cover.

Asking price is $80 (includes shipping in the continental U.S.). Preferred payment method is PayPal. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have or with your best offer.

Thank you to everyone for their interest. My Sony Reader is now sold and on its way to a new home!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

DISINTEGRATION by Scott Nicholson

Scott Nicholson has a reputation of being a horror author. But if you've read Scott's recent works, you will know that he is more than just a horror author. I honestly believe Scott's thrillers are just as good, if not better, than his horror titles. And his latest release, Disintegration, simply solidifies my opinion, as I believe this is one of his best books yet.

Jacob is no stranger to pain and loss. It has happened in his past, and tragedy is about to strike again. Nicholson explores the depths to which one may fall when nearly everything is taken from him/her. Throw in a shady family history and the pressure to succeed and live up to a father's high standards, and you have a recipe for personal disaster.

This book is an emotional roller coaster and explores the downfall of a man who once seemed to have everything. Nicholson holds nothing back and it's obvious he poured himself into this work. Reminiscent of Tom Piccirilli's emotional style of writing, this book demonstrates that Nicholson is one of the most versatile authors out there. Lacking none of Nicholson's powerful prose, this is a must-read for any Nicholson fan, as well as anyone who wants an emotion-grabbing, powerful read.

The official launch date for this book is November 1st, but it is currently available for download at Amazon.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Advice I'm Not Qualified to Give

I love this new digital age. I get to read some awesome books I would have otherwise probably never had a chance to read. Discover new talented authors. Don’t have to worry if my local bookstore has a copy of a new book I want. Maybe even save a little money, at least in the long run.

I’m also excited for authors. Now, more get to find an audience for their work, without having to fight just to get shelf space at the big bookstores. They get to have more control over the direction of their work, rather than be at the mercy of a publishing company. Authors get to interact with their readers via social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. And they don’t have to embark on grueling publicity tours to drum up sales; instead, they can do crazy things like Scott Nicholson’s 90 Day Blog Tour.

However, I would offer one small caveat to self-publishing authors: make sure you take the time to put out a quality product. Don’t be in such a hurry to get your book out there in front of readers that you skip basic steps in the “publishing” process.

You may be thinking, who does this guy think he is? What gives him any right to say anything to me about the publishing process? And you’d be correct; I don’t have any special qualifications that allow me to dish out advice to others about the publishing process.

But I am a reader; a consumer, if you will. I pay money to buy a product, and I hope that some care and concern were put into the creation of that product. And I am not talking about the story itself, or even the writing style. I know that what may appeal to others may not appeal to me, or vice versa.

However, there is one thing that I think should be fairly standard across the board. Typos, spelling errors, and consistency are things that should be addressed before a book is published. There is nothing that turns me off from a book faster than to find a bunch of errors, especially in just the first few pages.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect every error and inconsistency to be fixed before a book is published. That’s unrealistic, and there probably wouldn’t be very many books that would see the light of day if that was expected. However, in this new indie period, while I applaud the empowerment of the author, there is one major thing that most publishers offered the author that’s not there now: copyediting.

There are some simple things authors can do to help address this issue: have Beta readers read your book before publishing, get a copy editor or two look over your work, or get honest relatives or friends to read your book. But the key is having other people review your work. I’ve had the honor to copyedit some books in recent months, and based on my experience, it’s extremely difficult to spot all the errors in your own work. When you read over your own work, you tend to read over some errors because you know what you are trying to say in your own head. Heck, I’ll probably be fixing typos and errors in this blog post all week.

But if you take that little bit of extra time to get feedback about your work, I’ll pretty much guarantee that it will help you sell more books, whether it’s digital or print books. This is an exciting time for authors and readers alike. It would do everyone well to not get caught up in the excitement and rush to get books out there in front of readers, but instead take a little extra time, a couple of weeks or month, and make sure high-quality books are being published, at least from a technical standpoint.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Amazon's Leather Cover with Built-in Light

I’ve had my Kindle for a week now, and I’m still loving it every bit as much as the first day I received it, if not more. I haven’t come across anything that’s given me pause or concern with it. I had vowed to myself to not use it for copyediting, but that went out the window a couple of days later. But it’s actually pretty easy to use for copyediting; much easier than I anticipated. However, I think I’m going to try to keep using it for copyediting to a minimum, using it instead for pleasure reading. In my mind, I need that type of delineation.

I want to take a moment to discuss the cover I bought for my Kindle. I know this might not interest many folks, but I spent a good amount of time researching my options because the covers are pretty pricey. I went with the leather cover with built-in light from Amazon. It sells for $59.99, and before I spent that amount of money on a cover, I wanted to dig up as much information about it as I could.

The cover is very sturdy and offers great protection to the Kindle. The inside of the cover is a felt-type material that is gentle on the screen of the Kindle and is nice to hold while you read. One of biggest pluses of this cover is that it is a fold-around, allowing the reader to hold the Kindle with one hand while reading. Without this capability, this cover would lose much of its appeal. There is also an elastic band on the outside of the cover to ensure the cover remains closed at all times, which is nice because it offers added protection to the Kindle.

The really sweet perk of this cover is the built-in light that comes with it. No batteries are needed since the Kindle itself powers the light. This is nice because one of the problems I always seemed to run into was batteries dying in my reading light, especially when I travel. Now I don’t have to worry about that. The light is very bright and directed to fall across the screen. I have no “blind” or “dark” spots at all, as the entire screen is well lit. The upper-right corner, where the light is fixed to the cover, is a bit brighter than the rest of the screen. The battery drain is not excessive; in fact, it’s much less than I expected, and I use the light thirty minutes to an hour each night.

The only gripe I have with this cover—if it can even be called a gripe—is that the light is a bit difficult to pull out from the cover. But this is getting easier the more I use it, so it is—or was—a minor inconvenience. Another concern I had before getting this cover was the weight it would add to the Kindle, but it’s not bad. The weight roughly doubled when the cover was attached, but I can still comfortably hold the Kindle with one hand. I will gladly take the extra weight for the added protection this cover offers.

In the end, I would happily recommend this high-quality cover to those who are serious about protecting their Kindle and want the convenience of always having a light available for reading. Especially if you do a lot of reading at night and/or in bed. It is pricey, but when you figure the cover itself goes for $34.99, $25 for a good quality reading light specifically designed for the Kindle is not outrageous. I saw separate clip-on lights for the Kindle selling for $19.99 and $24.99. If you want protection for your Kindle but are not concerned about the light, Amazon offers the same cover without the light for $34.99. Both cover options come in a variety of colors, so you should be able to find one you like.

I’m not exaggerating when I say this cover has completed my Kindle experience. I can read anywhere, anytime. And I have the protection for my Kindle that I’ve been looking for. Not to mention, it is a very nice looking cover.

For another review of this cover, check out this review.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Little Kindle Gushing

If you're a die-hard paper book, a.k.a. "real" book, lover, then you might not enjoy this post much. So you may want to stop reading right now.

I had gone back and forth for more than six months about which e-reader to purchase. I had narrowed it down to two in particular, the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle. A couple of months ago I got a great deal on a Sony Reader Touch, so I went with that one. And I was pleased with it at the time. And then some events happened recently, and I ended up purchasing an Amazon Kindle.

To say that I was "blown away" when I opened up the packaging and turned on my new Kindle would be an understatment. And today Misty Baker, a.k.a. KindleObsessed, reminded me via Twitter: "Now you are going to have to write an article about your kindle since you were praising your Sony eReader." So here is my obligatory post to renounce any allegiance I may have had to my Sony Reader.

Now I'm not going to toss my Sony Reader into the garbage or donate it to Goodwill, but it will pretty much be relegated to copyediting duties. I don't really see me using it for pleasure reading any longer. Heck, I'm having a difficult time seeing my paper books being used for pleasure reading in the near future.

Every concern I had about the Amazon Kindle has been shattered in the last 24 hours. I literally felt bowled over when I pulled it out of its packaging and turned it on. The e-ink is absolutely amazing. I don't know how they did it, but it is actually easier to read than paper books. Yes, it is much more eye-friendly to me. And anywhere you can read a paper book, you can read the Kindle. Direct sunlight? No problem. Low light? Got it covered.

And Amazon knows what they are doing from a marketing standpoint. It is super-easy to search the Kindle Store and to buy books. And I get them delivered directly to my Kindle in less than 60 seconds. I push a button to buy a book, and bang!, it's there in a minute. May I remind you that I live out in the sticks, in a very rural part of North Carolina. I can sit on my back porch and get books in a very short time. My wife will probably be writing to the folks at Amazon condemning them and wishing them very painful deaths.

I could go on and on about everything I love about my new Kindle. About how I'm going to be reading tons of great indie authors. About how I'll probably increase my reading output. About how I'm going to save a lot of space in our house. But I'll keep it simple. You know how some folks talk about love at first sight? Well, for me, all it took was one look.

The Amazon Kindle is superior to the Sony Reader Touch in every aspect, in my opinion. Other than the Sony has a touch-screen, which is good at times, but can be a hinderance too. Amazon has put out a tremendous product and has streamlined the shopping/delivery process for getting content to the Kindle. I've been intrigued by e-books since I began looking into them a year or so ago, but now I'm totally sold on them, and I'm sold on the Kindle. It's no competition in my book; I wholeheartedly recommend the Kindle as THE e-reader if you're thinking of getting one. And even if you're not thinking of getting one, you should.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Brian James Freeman's THE PAINTED DARKNESS

I was lucky enough to snag an early review copy of Brian James Freeman’s The Painted Darkness through LibraryThing. I’ve never read anything by Mr. Freeman, but I had heard a buzz about this book and looked forward to digging into it.

The book is not intimidating, the advance review copy weighing in at a mere 173 pages. And Freeman’s writing is very smooth and the story immediately intrigued me. I’m a fairly slow reader, but I made quick work of this enjoyable tale.

Henry is an artist. He paints, not for enjoyment, but more from compulsion. He has had an active and vivid imagination from early childhood. However, Henry’s painting has become a problem in his marriage. But even during this turmoil, Henry must paint. Problem is, right at this moment, he can’t. But eventually, Henry must paint against the darkness.

Throughout the book, Freeman alternates between the present time and the time when the Henry the artist was “born.” I’m usually not a fan of this approach to storytelling, but Freeman makes it work. By the time I finished the book, I had the distinct impression that I had just read a Stephen King work. And I mean that as a compliment to Mr. Freeman.

I’d recommend this atmospheric novel for a good, quick read. Mr. Freeman definitely has a knack for telling an interesting story. He doesn’t get bogged down in unneeded information or mundane details. This is a creepy story that will keep you turning the page to find out what happens.

4 out of 5 stars.