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Archive for September, 2011

This from a friend, Amanda Green:

Whether Amazon’s new Fire tablet will be the iPad killer some have predicted remains to be seen.  But Jeff Bezos has struck another nail into the coffins of those publishers who continue to believe e-books are a craze that will one day just fade away.  Bezos is betting those naysayers are wrong, just as he has bet that all those who say reading for pleasure is a dying art are wrong.

This morning, Bezos fired multiple shots across the bow of not only Apple, but Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Sony, among others.  His first shot was the announcement of the new Kindle Touch.  With the “most advanced” E-ink display and an extra-long battery life, the Kindle Touch will sell for $99.  That’s right, Bezos has broken what many have long felt to be the magic price point for e-readers, the price most people will be willing to spend.

There’s more.  This Kindle Touch is the wifi version.  For $149, you get a Kindle Touch with free 3G service that will work in 100 countries.  There will be no 3G contract required, no monthly fees, no nothing except for price of the books you download.

But that wasn’t the end of the surprises from Bezos.  If a $99 Kindle Touch isn’t enough to tempt those who have been holding off buying an e-book reader, Bezos announced that the Kindle will now have a $79 model.  This version will have buttons, faster page turns and will weigh in at under six ounces.

The mad genius of Amazon wasn’t done yet.  After discussing some of the latest acquisitions to the Prime video program, he rolled out the device everyone has been talking about and waiting for – the Kindle Fire. The Fire has a 7 inch IPS display, a dual core processor and weighs in at 14.6 ounces.  With the Fire, you have access to 100,000 movies and TV shows, 17 million songs, as well as access to the Android Appstore and Kindle Books.  Whispersync will work on the Fire much as it does on the current generations of the Kindle. Not only will you be able to sync your books and magazines between devices, but also your music and videos.

The price for the Kindle Fire — $199.  That sound you hear is the sound of thousands of virtual feet pounding their way to the virtual line to place their pre-orders for the Fire.  Whether the Fire will come out in a 10-inch version and prove to be a true challenger for the iPad remains to be seen.  In the meantime, however, Bezos has just delivered new devices that will not only have dedicated Kindle customers ordering them but that will, because of their lower prices, have those who have never tried an e-book reader buying one. And why not, when the new Kindle costs less than a night out on the town now?

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Thanks to Charlie Martin for posting this at PJ Lifestyle!

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Ten Years Later. . .

. . .is my post over at Mad Genius Club today.  A few thoughts about how 9/11 changed my life and my writing.

May we never forget those who died, their friends and families and may none of us ever have to suffer through such a tragedy again.

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When you read the Amazon kindle boards, you’ll quickly figure out there are a couple of topics that seem to come up every week.  Hell, sometimes they come up every day.  It doesn’t matter that the topics have been discussed into the ground.  It doesn’t matter that the kindle boards actually have a pretty good search engine.  No, it’s the case of “gee, I have a question and I’m just going to ask it without checking to see if anyone else has asked it before.”

The latest is to ask why Amazon doesn’t give free digital versions of a title when the hard cover version is purchased.  Now, I’ll admit this sounds like a great idea — from a reader’s point of view.  There are a a couple of authors I still buy hard covers of.  Dave Weber, Sarah Hoyt, Dave Freer, to name a couple of them.  But I also like the convenience of having the e-book so I don’t have to tote that heavy hard cover around.  So I tend to buy both the hard cover and the e-book versions of anything these authors put out.

Now, I do it for a couple of reasons.  The first, as I said, is convenience.  I choose to collect the hard covers but I want the convenience of being able to read the books on my kindle or on my tablet.  The second reason is I sure don’t mind putting a bit more money in my favorite author’s pockets. It is my small way of showing how much I appreciate their work.

What folks who want the free e-book included with the hard cover version don’t realize is that this isn’t a decision Amazon or any other retailer can make.  This is especially true for those publishers who have adopted the agency model of pricing.  In other words, Amazon is only the conduit for e-books, making it easier for publishers (or authors) to reach the buying public.  Amazon doesn’t first purchase the e-titles and then resell them.

But there’s something else that needs to be taken into account here.  What these folks want takes money out of the authors’ pockets.  Yes, I know you can buy a blue ray disc and get the regular dvd as well.  But that’s apples to oranges.  Authors, especially those who have contracts with legacy publishers, are paid based on net proceeds.  So, giving away one format is cutting into their livelihood.

Maybe if legacy publishers would be fair in their contracts with authors and pay them a reasonable royalty, especially on e-books, this request might not be something that always leaves me shaking my head.  C’mon, let’s face it.  We’d be laughed out of the dealership if we went in and expected the Lincoln-Mercury dealer to throw in the Ford version of the car you just bought.  After all, it’s basically the same car, just has a different name on it.  An ebook is the same as the hard cover version, just has a different “wrapper” on it.

Instead of asking for freebies, how about finding ways to let the publishers know that you’d be glad to put more money into their pockets if they’d just start putting more into their authors’ pockets?

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I have been busy the last few months trying to balance my work with Naked Reader Press and my writing and family and, well, life.  All too often, the writing has had to take a backseat to it all.  However, that’s changing, mainly because I have deadlines of my own looming large and I have to put butt in chair and get serious about writing again.

So, what’s coming up?  First, my very first short story ever accepted, Bump in the Night, is now available for purchase from NRP and will soon be available from Amazon, B&N and other e-tailers.  Bump first came out in 2008 as part of the anthology Better Off Undead.

Next up is Nocturnal Serenade, the sequel to Nocturnal Origins.  I’ve snippeted Serenade before, but in case you’ve missed it, I’ll add short snippet below.  This series is close to my heart.  It’s one of those where the characters are almost a part of me.  Other writers will understand what I mean.  These books aren’t ones that I have to struggle to write.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I have to fight to keep from writing only in this “universe”.  There is at least one more book in the series after Serenade.  Of course, that also depends on how well the series continues to sell.

There are also a couple of other projects on the fire, with deadlines also coming up.  I’ll let you know more about them in the near future.  In the meantime, Nocturnal Origins is available in both print and digital versions.  You can find it through the Naked Reader Press storefront or through Amazon, B&N, etc.  The great thing about NRP is that there is no DRM added to their e-books.

So, without further ado, here’s a brief snippet from Nocturnal Serenade, coming out in November from Naked Reader Press.

*     *     *     *

Elizabeth Santos Wheeler dropped her head into her hands and closed her eyes, fighting back a sob as she did.  This was all just a bad dream and she would soon awaken.  It had to be.  No other explanation, reasonable or not, made sense.  But what if it wasn’t?  What if it was real?  Then what was she supposed to do?

Damn it, why was this happening?  It had nothing to do with her, not really.  So why was she the one forced to deal with it?

Because you’re the one with the most money as well as with the most to lose.  That’s why.

Resentment warred with fear, anger with the maternal instinct to protect.  For the first time in so very long, she didn’t know what to do.  It was as though her worst fears had suddenly sprung to life and she simply didn’t know how to react, didn’t know if there was anything she could do to protect herself and those she loved.

Damn it!

She shoved back from her desk and climbed to her feet.  As she did, she glanced outside.  Beyond the window, darkness swathed the yard.  Only the light cast from her window and the pale lights surrounding the swimming pool broke the darkness.  The leaves of the ornamental fruit trees on the opposite side of the pool rustled gently in the light breeze.  The oak trees shielding the yard from the golf course formed a dark curtain against the night sky.  In the distance, a neighbor’s dog barked one, twice, as if calling for someone or something to answer.  Everything looked so normal.  Yet it wasn’t and it might never be again.

Her lips pressed together in a thin, angry line.  She moved from behind her antique Georgian desk and began to pace.  Her steps were muffled, almost silenced, by the thick carpet.  She no longer heard the soft strains of the music she’d put on earlier in the evening when she’d come upstairs to work.  Instead, the sounds of her teeth grinding and her heart pounding filled her ears.  She didn’t have time for this.  She should be focusing on the Allingham case, not this – this stuff of nightmares.

As she turned back, her sea green eyes fell on the photos scattered across the top of her desk.  No one else looking at them would be this upset.  They would know with a certainty that the pictures had been faked.  After all, the images showed the unbelievable, the unreal.

But she knew better.  No matter how badly she wanted to dismiss the photos as a simple prank, she couldn’t.  She knew the images captured by some unknown photographer could be all too real, no matter how unbelievable they were.  After all, she’d lived with this particular nightmare all her life, waiting, fearing for the moment it would manifest itself in either her or one of her children.  Now it had and she didn’t know what to do.

Her fingers trembled as she reached for the nearest photo.  Her chest felt as though an iron band had tightened around it, making it almost impossible to breathe. Instantly she was transported back to that terrible moment she she’d first seen the picture.  Despite the fading light caught by the image, she’d immediately recognized the subject of the photo.  In that moment, she’d died just a little.  Even as her brain tried to close down, to deny what her eyes saw, she knew the truth and she damned herself for it.

Sharp pain and the bitter taste of blood brought her thoughts back to the present.  Absently, she dabbed at the lower lips she’d been gnawing without realizing it.  But her eyes remained glued to the photograph she held in her right hand and a soft moan escaped her lips.

Why?  Dear Lord, why?

A young woman knelt on the ground, her head thrown back, her expression filled with agony as her hands ripped at her tee shirt.  Her green eyes, just a shade darker than Elizabeth’s, reflected terror at what was happening to her.  Even then, the change was obvious, if you knew what to look for – and, much to her regret, Elizabeth did.

The young woman’s hands were altering, her fingernails lengthening even as the features of her face blurred.  Muscles rippled and bunched as her body was reshaped.  Hair seemed to sprout from every pore, short hair that was more fur than hair.  All of this was documented in the other photos strewn across the desktop.

A soft sob caught in Elizabeth’s throat as the photo fluttered down to the floor.  No, the image was all too real and her nightmare had finally come to life.  What was she going to do?

Not even the note included with the photos helped her decide what her next step should be.  A single sheet of ordinary white paper with just a few lines printed on it mocked her, revealing nothing about the unknown sender or what he wanted from her.

Mrs. Wheeler:

I thought you might want to see what your eldest daughter is up to these days.  Being a parent is such a trial at times, isn’t it?  I wonder if your other children will show the same bad habits as their sister.  But don’t worry.  I’ll be in touch soon to discuss what needs to be done.

That was all.

Mackenzie, what happened?

Unable to stand it any longer, Elizabeth abruptly turned on her heel and started out of the room.  Then reality once more intruded and she hurried back to her desk.  She couldn’t leave the photos where they might be found.

Without really thinking about what she was doing, she scooped up the photo she’d dropped and then those scattered across the desk top and shoved them back into the envelop they’d arrived in.  Once she had, she locked them in the top drawer of her desk and pocketed the key.  At least they were safely hidden from view, for a while at least.  But how long would it be before the photographer made them public?

And what would she do when that happened?

Her left hand slammed against the light switch on the wall by the door as she passed, throwing the room into darkness.  She had to do something, anything to find out who had sent the photos.  The envelope had been delivered to her office.  Hopefully, the receptionist had made an entry as to who brought in the innocent looking brown envelope.  She’d check the log and then decide what her next move should be.

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