Reading

The last two months I’ve read a lot of books. It’s made me quite happy, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

A very short, humorous read about a father trying to get milk for his children. Fortunately the milk is there right when he needs it to deal with time traveling stegosauruses and pirates.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

An amazing narrative about Kvoth, an unassuming bar keep that once had a magnificent life. Or so he says.
I listened to this on audiobook and I liked the narrator. He does great voices for each of the character and really helps you get into the story. Plus there are so many twists and turns to follow, and it’s such a long book, that I was happier listening to it then reading it on my phone.

Tiny Quest Staring Princess Sassafras by Matt Youngmark

Cute little paperback I picked up at Norwescon with nice illustrations. It’s a fun read, and a nice collectible.

Zombocalypse Now by Mat Youngmark

A terrible read in the fact that I KEEP DYING! The zombies just like my brains I guess. Great twist on the “Choose your own adventure” style of writing with 70+ endings, only 5 of which you survive in.

Hidden Shadows by SR Gilmore

A girl with no magical powers has to help a sexy guy from another plane of existence try to figure out why the hell there is a baby dragon dropped on his back step. The world building is great, and the tension between the two main characters is very well done.

Murder of Crows by Annie Belle

This is book two in the 20 sided sorceress series. I really liked the first so I picked up the second. There is romance, but I really enjoyed the gamer (table top and RPG) references.

Shaman Tales 1: South Coast by Nathan Lowell which I actually listened to on Podiobooks. It’s also on amazon.

I loved Nathan Lowell’s clipper ship stories so much that I was thrilled to find out he’d written this one. It’s about a fishing village and how they are trying to bring in enough fish to satisfy the corporate planets quota. Lots about commerce, efficiency, fishing, and just the every day life of traders. And then there is the shaman…

PS. If you like chose your own adventure, or text based games, you should look at this week’s Humble Mobile Bundle. It includes some great interactive stories that I’ve been playing in my spare time. You get to read and hand at the same time! https://www.humblebundle.com/mobile

I’m a book snob!

A few months back I got an email from Amazon reminding me that the book I pre-ordered is now coming out. I was kind of surprised. I don’t generally pre-order anything. But I looked up the book and discovered it was the XKCD hard copy of “What If?“, and thought I probably ordered it for my son (since he’s very sciency) so I kept the order.

I love the book and I’m glad I bought it. Every so often I pick it up and just read a few of the questions for those bite sized chunks of science in a slightly funny tone.

Then there was “Choose Your Own Auto Biography” by Neil Patrick Harris, “You’re Never Weird on the Internet” by Felicia Day, and “ASAP Science; Answers to the Worlds Weirdest Questions” by the guys over at ASAP Science. “The Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer. All of which are books I would love to read. All of which are books I don’t necessarily want to buy. At least not now at their price.

Most of these individuals made their name famous by doing things on their own. Felicia Day made a web series that is highly acclaimed on her own. ASAP Science is a well known youtube channel that they did on their own. Amanda Palmer has a fantastic music career that she became famous for ON HER OWN. And each of them went to a traditional publisher (or they were probably approached by the publisher) to do their book. Each time I heard this I was slightly disappointed. These well known figures who lead the “do it yourself” community … I guess I wouldn’t say they sold out, but they didn’t stick with the indie vibe that got them where they are today.

And I can’t say I fault the various authors for going with traditional publications. They get an advance, they don’t have to deal with editors, illustrators, formatters, etc, they don’t have to pay for everything up front. They just have to write it and hand it over and maybe go on some book tours. I get it, and I might even do it if I got a good enough advance (and liked the contract enough).

Besides the fact of losing their indie feel, there is the price of the books. $18 for print, $13 for ebook, and that’s with amazon’s discounts. “What If?” is a little older so there are used copies, but still… really? $13 for an ebook?

I think I’ve been spoiled having $2.99 to $5.99 ebooks. I look at those prices and think “If I buy that book that means I can’t buy the three other books on my wish list.” So they are sitting on my wishlist till the day they either go on sale, or I convince myself it’s alright to spend that much on a book. (Or maybe someone buys it for me for Christmas.)

Here’s the thing… I don’t even spend $15 on my video games very often. With Humble Bundles and Steam sales there really just isn’t a reason to pay more then $5 for most games. The few that I do get that are over $5 I wait till they’ve been out a while so I can see some game play, and hear some honest reviews about what the game is really like. I want to KNOW I will like the game before I ever spend the money on it. And the few AAA titles that were close to $60 when I bought them I had some hands on game time with before I ever purchased them. (Thank Star Wars Old Republic for that one. Bought it, hated it, and wasted $60 better spent elsewhere. Not doing that again.)

In an age where people increasingly have less and less money to spend on entertainment it makes no sense to keep pricing things at a premium all the time. (Especially things that are sometimes broken in the case of video games.) But as long as there are people willing to buy them at that price I guess it’s going to keep happening. I guess if I had more disposable income I would to.

Apps are where it’s at!

Not long ago Humble Bundle updated their Android app.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with Humble Bundle it is an online marketplace that bundles games together and let’s you pay what you want for the games. A portion of the proceeds goes to charity. They also expanded to ebooks, digital comics, and often add sound tracks in with their games.

The app use to allow you to download the Android games you bought through their bundles,  now it allows you to download the ebooks,  comics and music as well.

This is amazing news! It is a pain in the neck trying to side load ebooks on my phone or tablet. Now I just open up the Humble Bundle app and download the comics and books I want to read, or the music I want to listen to, and it’s all right there. All accessible and regale right in the app.

This is the future. Eventually someone is going to put an app together that will go around all the side load bs and just let me read the content I bought. It isn’t here yet, but I can see enough people asking for it that it is coming. Eventually. Maybe some authors child will be really into programming and will set it up for them.

Not only that, but if there are apps out there that provide this service then amazon will be forced to add an auto install for ebooks as well, something they haven’t done yet probably because they want it to be hard on you so you buy direct from them.

Truth is I don’t mind buying stuff from amazon  I do it a lot. But I don’t buy EVERYTHING from amazon so I don’t want to be stuck side loading things all over the place. Plus I’d really like to see all my media in one spot so I can just search for books, games, or music I own and download from one app instead of all of them.

It’s interesting times we live in. Things are changing rapidly and in ten years this will probably seen like a minor irritation along the way to progress.

Abandoned books.

The other day reddit had a thread suggesting that Goodreads should have an “abandoned” category for book lists.

This got me thinking. I’ve actually abandoned a lot of books the last couple years.  More than ever before. Not always because they were bad books. Sometimes it was time management issues, or just not quite captivating enough. Every now and then I’d get involved in other things and just forget I was reading that particular book.

The are so many wonderful books out there and not enough time to read them. If there was a heaven it might be eternity in a library with every book ever written. (As long as it comes with a Starbucks.) But this isn’t heaven, it’s just Washington. We don’t have eternity, just 80 years or so. So picking and choosing which books to read is sometimes a bit important. I’m going to spend hours or days with this book, I want to enjoy the experience.

I don’t know if an abandoned book tag is a good idea, especially since people won’t be telling you why they abandoned it, but it would be interesting. You might learn some interesting things about a book, or people’s taste, or what keeps them turning the page.

There is a man who documents his abandoned books. In the The Immerse or Die report Jefferson Smith reads until the book has three ‘fatal flaws,’  and then he tells you what they are. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the book was unreadable or that he didn’t finish it, just that it had some major issues that pulled him out of the story enough for it to be a ‘fatal flaw.’

I know some of the things that pull me out of a story are too much foreshadowing, LOTS of grammar/spelling mistakes, inconsistency, and a style or plot so convoluted that I can’t follow it. There are more reasons, but those are the ones that come to mind right off the top of my head.

Why might you abandon a book? Would you want to share that with others? Would you want to know why others abandoned your book?

That last question… I think I’m a little too chicken to put my sorry up for speculation on Immerse or Die. At least for now.

How do YOU find new books to read?

I stopped by the library today to drop off old books, and pick up a couple of new ones. Because I just watched this Neil Gaiman video yesterday about how we find our books, and what piracy really means, it got me thinking…. How do I really find new books and authors?

First, the three books I picked out:

harrisKim Harrison’s, “Into the Woods”. This is a collection of short stories from the Hallows series, and I absolutely LOVE the Hallows series. I’ve read every single book I’ve found, tracked down the graphic novels, and even own a couple. While I describe it as “A female Harry Dresden” that only scratches the surface. But, like Jim Butcher, Harrison is a FANTASTIC author who adds lots of sub plots, lots of emotion, and great twists that keep you coming back for more. So of course I got it.

briggsPatricia Briggs’, “Frost Burns”. This is another series that I’ve read all of. At least I’ve read all of the Mercy Thompson novels. I haven’t gotten into the Omega or Alpha series because really I just love Mercy Thompson. While not my favorite, Briggs is a great writer, and I really enjoy her books.

The third book is by a new author. New to me, anyway. Diana Rowland writes the “White Trash Zombie” novels. I happened upon her by browsing the “new” section at the library, and the cover looked really interesting so I picked it up. From the title I really didn’t expect anything but fluff, but I was nicely surprised. Angel, the zombie, struggles with everything a normal girl struggles with, plus her natural desire to eat brains as well.

rowlandThey didn’t have another zombie book at the library, so this time I picked up “Sins of the Demon“. The cover looked interesting, and I like her style of writing, so I thought I’d try it out.

So, the question… how did I find these writers?

I found Kim Harrison when a friend of mine suggested her book. She owned ALL of them, so I borrowed the first in the series and I was hooked. I even went to facebook and followed Harrison. She’s a really awesome person, likable, witty, and smart. She loves getting direct feedback from her readers on cover art, and other things. Win-win all over the place.

A Patricia Briggs happened to be on a shelf one day when I was sitting in a library between classes at the college. I was bored, and it was there, just sitting on a “suggested reading” shelf. It talked about werewolves, and the girl on the cover had a very no nonsense look about her… so I picked it up and started reading. I ended up checking it out and taking it home for the week. Came back for more, too.

The third one I found while browsing the “new arrivals”. I do this a lot, looking for new books with interesting covers and descriptions, and seeing if I can find anything to strike my fancy. This is one of my favorite ways to find new books since the new arrivals shelf is a miss match of every genre, including non fic, and I love all of it.

I do buy books, often ebooks, but I usually only buy new books from authors I already like. I only by print books from authors I LOVE, or from used book stores where I can find little known, or forgotten books for less then a dollar.

I have to agree with Gaiman. Free books are POWERFUL. Pirated versions are just more opportunities for people to find your books. I know the majority of new authors that I’ve taken a chance on were because of free, or really cheep books.

I’d love to be able to buy, or even read, all of the books by all of the authors I love, but that would take a LOT of money. So when I publish my own books I keep this in mind. I want more people to read my books, and maybe they will buy a few. Maybe they’ll get print copies and then give them away. Every new set of eyes on my books, every person who tells someone else how great this particular book is, that’s one more potential person who might look into my books.

So, in that spirit, if you haven’t read one of my books and you’d like to just send me a message and I will be happy to send you a PDF, or mobi file of one of them for free. Just look at my book shelf here, and send a message to crissymoss AT gmail DOT com, and I’ll get it to you shortly.

Writer FAQ: Where Do You Get Ideas?

One of the most commonly asked questions out there, “Where do you get ideas?”

The simple answer: Live…

It sounds simple, but really, that’s it. Sometimes I will think all my ideas have dried up, then my boyfriend will say his mechanic has some sort of black magic touch, and I’m off and running on a new idea.

Live. Read. Watch documentaries. Read some more. Take a class. Watch people. Play games. Read even more. Experience life. Draw on those experiences.

And the next step is learning to recognize those bits and pieces, and having some form of notebook with you always so that you can jot them down. (I use a notepad on my cell).

The only real difference between a writer with lots of ideas, and everyone else, is that the author knows when a great idea will make a good story, and he takes the time to write it down.

So many people around us, with so many fantastic ideas. They tweet them, make funny gifs, talk about them. But a writer takes the time to develop it into something more. Then the writer seeks out new information, so that he can boldly incorporate it into his writing like no other author has done before.

Now THAT is where ideas come from.