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11 posts from April 2010

04/30/2010

What I Like to Read: Lisa Black, Elizabeth Becka

and Forensic Scientist Lisa Black knows how to make you keep turning pages. Her thrillers are suspenseful and exciting. Don't miss out on these great books.

04/26/2010

Do You Kindle?

What do you think of e-readers? Love them? Hate them? No opinion?

Me, I have a Kindle and I love it. I also read Kindle books on my iPhone. Yes, they have an app for that. I travel a lot. Back in the old days, you know, way  back last year. I had to pack a suitcase full of books when I left town, and usually before I made it home, I had to find a trade-a-book store, so I could replenish my supply. Now, I don't have to do that. I can leave home with my Kindle in my purse, and have weeks, even months worth of books at my fingertips, and more available any time I want to press the order button. For me, it's the greatest invention of the century so far. Yes, I still read paper books. Yes I love the smell, feel and look of paper books. No, I'll never have a house completely empty of books. There will always be more books than shelves in my home, but I do love electronic books.

So, tell me what you think. Do you Kindle, or Nook or use any of the multiplying number of e-readers out there? If you're an author, how do your electronic sales match up to your hard copy sales? Are e-readers the wave of the future or just a speed bump on the publishing highway?

04/23/2010

What I Like to Read: Lee Goldberg

I discovered Lee Goldberg's blog, before I discovered his books. He's currently the author of the Monk series tie in novels. If you are a monk fan, you don't want to miss these books. Lee does a perfect job of bringing Monk alive on the page. If you're looking for an amazing story, scour the used book stores, or order a kindle copy of Lee's book The Walk. It is amazing, and I'm not sure why it hasn't been optioned for a movie. And, if you're looking for a way to kill a little time, check out lee's blog, A Writer's Life

04/19/2010

Is it Nature or Nurture?

My son is my webmaster, computer guru and all round geek in residence. I also bounce ideas off of him from time to time, or discuss methods of committing crime. For the books, you know. Not for real. I promise.  

Even though he doesn't still reside under my roof. He and his wife do still come over for dinner sometimes. So we can still get that dinner time family dynamic going from time to time. The other night as we were eating, the conversation turned to a short story I was working on, then moved on to an idea I had, then switched over to ways to kill people, how and where to hide bodies, and finished off with how you could commit a murder and get away with it. The conversations wound down and in the quiet my son looked up and said, we have some really sick dinner conversations. That made us all laugh.

I started writing mysteries when my kids were in middle school. They've read, proofread and approved or disapproved my writing since they were too young to understand the juicy parts. They grew up discussing murder and mayhem over dinner. My daughter-in-law did not. She's fitting in pretty well, though. Bless her heart. She's even joined in the family business by dropping in a suggestion of her own from time to time. At home these conversations aren't a problem, at a restaurant, they can get you some funny looks. I just pray if anyone I know or am related to is ever the victim of a crime, the police don't confiscate my computer. If they went back over my web searches, I'd be tried and found guilty on the spot. Hey, I write books where the good guys always come out on top, but in real life, I wouldn't want to count on it. 

So what do you think, is this passion for crime I now share with my children a case of nature or nurture. I used to think it was all genetic. I mean, we do share other traits as well, but lately, with the addition of my son's sweet wife, I'm beginning to think anyone can be pushed into a life of crime. Even if it's virtual.

04/16/2010

What I Like to Read: Dana Stabenow

I love both of Dana Stabenow's series. I love Kate Shugak. I like her strong will, her independence and I've enjoyed watching her grow as the series has progressed. I love the Alaskan setting. Dana does such a beautiful job setting the scene I feel like I've been to Alaska. Her second series, featuring Liam Campbell is a little lighter than the Kate Shugak stories, but I love the characters and the Alaskan setting is every bit as amazing. If you want to take a trip to Americas last frontier and you can't afford a plane ticket, pick up a Dana Stabenow novel.

04/13/2010

Tuesdays with Friends Introduces Howard Sherman

This week's Tuesdays with Friends guest is Howard Sherman. Howard runs a business, an IT consulting company and manages to write and donate a blog post to KdBlog. I feel like a total underachiever, but his post is about something I'm really interested in. I love my Kindle, but I wish it had a touch screen and I'm a total Apple geek. I own an iMac, macbook, macbook air, and waaaay to many iPods. I need an iPad. No really, I need one. Okay, Okay, I really, really want one. Let's check out what Howard thinks about the new iPad. Maybe it will change my mind, but I doubt it. 


Is the iPad Any Good? I guess.

Will the eBook market bear a $499 "Super iPod"?

 

by Howard A. Sherman, Interactive Fiction author and eBook maven from Malinche Entertainment.  Visit them on the web at http://www.malinche.net

 

The public launch of the iPad is just a few days away and with all the hype and hoopla it's high time we take a hard look under the hood of Apple's next market-morphing product.  As a writer and publisher of interactive fiction I'm one part author . one part technologist and one part entrepreneur.   The writer in me is thrilled with Apple's adoption of ePub making it a snap for publishers who have an existing ePub catalog to publish their entire catalog to the iPad.  Ditto for authors who want to side-step the middle man and take their published works directly to the public.  The geek in me is stopped cold in his tracks by the "not newness" of the iPad.  If we turn down the volume on the hyperbole (e.g. "It's hard to believe we could fit so many great ideas into something so thin" - taken directly from the iPad section of Apple's website)  and look at the iPad offering objectively it's really nothing more than a "Super iPod".  Seriously.

The iPad doesn't bring any new technology to the table that you won't find in an iPhone or an iPod Touch.  And with pricing coming in at $499 for the entry-level model with just 8GB of storage and WiFi access going up to a heady $829 PLUS monthly (optional) data plan fee for the 64GB model with 3G capability, I just don't see the iPad being a game changer. Please don't think I'm slamming the iPad.  I'm not.  It's a sweet-looking piece of technology but I'm not entirely sold.  But I want to be.  That's because I'm an Apple fanboy of the highest order.  How high? I'm proud to say that an iMac sits next to my Windows 7 PC on my desk while under said desk are two laptop bags - one holds a Windows Vista laptop and the other a MacBook Pro.  My iPhone is linked to my Me.Com (formally known as Mac.Com) account syncing my email, contacts. iDisk storage and calendar with my iPhone and I happily pay $99 per year for the privilege.  My company, Malinche Entertainment, is licensed to display the Universal Apple Logo on every interactive fiction title we sell and we were also early entrants in the Apple iPhone developer's program.  I'm all-in when it comes to believing in the Apple.

As a businessman I must admire Apple's strategy; the entry-level iPad at $499 is just $10 more than Amazon's Kindle DX.  Brilliant.  In a side by side comparison the basic iPad model blows the Kindle DX clear out of the water and several miles inland.  However, as iPad storage capacity and wireless capabilities increase so does the the price tag.  Let me play devil's advocate here; if I'm an Apple consumer looking at an $829 Apple iPad why shouldn't I take things just one step further and spend $999 on a full-blown Apple MacBook computer?  Getting back to my Windows roots I'm obligated to point out that a very respectable Acer laptop with Windows 7 and mighty fine system specs (like 500% more storage than the top of the line iPad) can be had for just $499.

And, again, it's not just a super-sized iPod - it's a full-fledged computer capable of doing everything an iPad can do and so much more.  Bring the new breed of netbooks into the picture and the price comparisons get reallyinteresting.

Melding together my three split personalities  as a geek, a writer and an entrepreneur into a cohesive whole, let me say that the iBook application on the iPad is a very impressive piece of software.  It fully leverages the technological capabilities of the iPad delivering a reading experience that's going to be hard to beat.  What's easy to beat about the iPad? The price vs. performance comparison. 

04/12/2010

What Makes You Say No Thanks?

I love mysteries. Hard boiled, traditional, police procedurals, amateur sleuths, series or stand alone, but I hate psychological thrillers. I can't stand that nagging tension that won't go away. The twisted mind of the killer gets inside me and makes me uncomfortable. I can't sit still, I don't want to read, and I feel like if I put the book down it will keep chasing after me. I feel the same way about Psycho thriller movies. I don't like the dark cinematography, the quick scene flashes, all those things designed to heighten the tension. I hate it, I won't watch it and I won't read it. It just creeps me out. 

There you now know what makes me say no thanks, well most of it. I don't like it when they kill or torture the dog, cat, bunny, child. And I don't like gratuitous violence, or graphic sex in books or movies. Hey, my imagination can take care of the violence, and well, the sex to as far as that goes. I know where tab A and slot B fit together, I can supply the pieces, just get me in the place.

Now, tell me what turns you off, stops you cold, makes you toss the book into the trash. Come on, I told mine, don't leave me here hanging all by myself. Tell you what, you share, and I'll see that one lucky commenter gets a KdBlog prize pack just for keeping me from hanging out here all by my lonesome.

04/09/2010

What I Like to Read: Stephen J Cannell

I fell in love with Stephen J Cannell before he branched out from the TV world. In fact, I've been in love since the A-Team. Maybe even before that. I don't think I've ever seen his name on a series I didn't enjoy. Silk Stalkings was one of my favorites, then I discovered his books. I love his main character Shane Scully. I like the LA Setting, and the story telling is awesome. Stephen J Cannell can write for any medium and I'll be one of the first in line to purchase what he writes. Check out one of Stephen's books and meet Shane Scully, I think you'll like him.

04/06/2010

Tuesdays with Friends Introduces Jenny Milchman

The Mysterious Journey of a Mystery Novel

or,

What Happens AFTER You Write the Book

 This blog post should start, as many stories do, with “Once upon a time.”

 Once upon a time, I wrote a mystery/suspense novel.

 Wait. Actually it should start with “Once upon a time, a long, long time ago.”

 I didn’t know it would be this long between finishing said book and having it actually land in a reader’s hand—which it hasn’t yet—but as every fan of mysteries and suspense knows, a good story depends on lots of twists and turns.

 My story—and I don’t just mean the fictional one—has its fair share of them.

 Writers will tell you that the middle of a book is rife with opportunities to get bogged down. And when that happens one of the things to do is ask, What happens next?

 After I finished my novel, I asked that very question. And the answer I got was, find an agent.

 So I did. It took me about eight months to receive my first (and second) offers of representation. I knew that wasn’t a terribly long time in the scheme of this industry, and so I was feeling pretty good.

 You remember the “long, long time ago” part, though, right?

 Once I decided on an agent—which, after the writing, was the best part yet; getting to talk to these wonderful people, and hearing their plans and ideas—I thought the next plot twist would be simple.

 So predictable, in fact, that if it appeared in a book, you’d have to edit it out.

 Sign with agent, book sells. Right?

 Not right.

 I had chosen a wonderful agent. I will always have very fond feelings for this early believer in my work, and have read with excitement the news of her many sales since we came to an amicable parting of the ways.

 A good suspense novel depends on surprise. The reader should be surprised by the ending and also by events along the way.

 This business has continually surprised me. I’m surprised by the level of subjectivity, how one editor’s “languid and literary” is another’s “fast-paced.” Or even, “too fast-paced.” I’m surprised by how incisive those editors’ eyes can be, how they can completely turn around a manuscript I thought was in great shape.

 That’s what happened with my novel. It needed to be completely turned around, which I think most writers would agree can take quite some time. It’s taken me a long time anyway. Luckily, I went on to sign with another terrific agent who has helped with it all.

 And so maybe, just maybe, I’ll soon be in for a surprise myself.

 

04/05/2010

Reading As A Writer

I read. I am a reader. Most writers are readers. There's no better way to learn the nuts and bolts of your craft than reading. Immerse yourself in the genre that you write in. Read voraciously. I've been doing this since I learned to read. I've read a lot of books and I've especially read a lot of mysteries. I am a reader.

I am a writer. I write. I write blog posts, I write short stories and I write novels. So what? What does that have to do with reading? Well, everything. You can't really have one without the other. But once you are a writer, you read a little differently. I read books because they fuel my imagination. No movie producer ever made a picture that is as good as the ones I make in my head. But now days, because I write, I also notice little things that wouldn't have bothered me before. Like echos.

An echo is a word that's used too often or too close together. Twice in the same scene, or on the same page, or if it's a very distinctive word, more than once in the same book. An echo can also be a phrase used over and over. Another thing I notice, is cliché's.

"It was as dark as midnight." Maybe it was, but isn't there a better way to say that? The best one I ever read, and I can't remember now what book it was in, but it was a hardboiled classic. The writer said, "It was a dark as a sack full of assholes." It made me laugh, and I had no doubt that character was in a seriously dark place.

Poor sentence structure jumps out at me now. If a sentence reads awkward, it bounces me write out of the story as I try to reword it so it flows more smoothly. It knocks the reader out of the way and brings out my inner editor.

Adverbs. According to popular belief in writing circles. Adverbs are the devil's spawn. I don't believe they should be banned from use, but they need to be used with care. 

Overused words. Really, back, walked, shrugged, leaned. If overused, they become meaningless. That's another thing that brings out my inner editor.

Dancing eyeballs. I'm guilty of using these myself, but rolling eyes, or dropped eyes, are bad and painful to the characters I would imagine.

There are a million and one little things that I catch when I read now. Not all of them bad. Sometimes a beautiful phrase, or a perfect scene will make me stop and long to write so well. An amazing first sentence can make me a fan forever, but now I deconstruct and try to figure out how I could write something that would draw the reader into my story so quickly.

I still enjoy reading. I still read more than a book a week. I can still lose myself in a story, so becoming a writer with a busy inner editor hasn't reduced my love of the written word, but it has made me less inclined to finish every book I start. If an author hasn't grabbed my by the end of the first chapter, I'm not going to keep reading. If the writing is awkward, I'm not going to keep reading. I'm pickier about what I read, and less tolerant of poor writing, but now when a writer makes me smile, or cry, or laugh out loud, I feel like I've been given a gift. And sometimes, I feel like I should just pack up my keyboard and give it up, because I can never write that well. But instead of giving in to that urge, I work harder on my craft. In the end, it makes me a better writer.

Writer's write, but they also read.

If you're a reader, tell me what writer moves you the most. If you are a writer, who is it that makes you want to pack up your keyboard and just give up. I'll start. Julia Spencer-Fleming. I love her books. Love them. Can't wait for the next one to be released. I read them and reread them, and every time I read her work, I sigh in despair, because if I write until I'm 90, I don't think I'll ever be able to write and beautifully or as well.

Share your favorite writer, I'll send one lucky commenter a KdBlog trinket or two. And if I'm lucky, I'll find a bunch of new authors to add to my TBR pile.

04/02/2010

What I Like to Read: Elizabeth Peters

If you've wandered among the old posts on KdBlog, you've probably noticed that I've mentioned Elizabeth Peters before. I won't apologize for the repeat. I just finished re-reading the entire Amelia Peabody series. I enjoyed it as much the second go round as I did the first. If they were all available on Kindle, I'd purchase the whole series in ebook format so I'd always have something good to read close at hand. If you haven't met Amelia Peabody, her husband Emerson and their son Ramses, you are missing out on a rollicking good time. And, you might just learn a little bit about Egyptology while you're at it. If you are an historical mystery buff, don't miss this series. If you're just discovering Amelia for the first time, I'm envious. You have many many fun hours of reading ahead of you.