Saturday, February 25, 2006

Where do you buy books?

Or do you? As a child, growing up in a family with limited financial means, we didn’t buy many books. I did view the ones I owned as special, and I still have a few of them, battered after about forty years of ownership. For the most part, we read books that we checked out of the local library, or the school library. Even when I was in elementary school, my mom was thrilled when one of my teachers described me as “well read.” That still fits, I suppose, even if the source of my reading material has changed.

I still read quite a bit from libraries as I transitioned from a student to a teacher, but with the heavy burden of reading what was assigned by my college professors and what I was teaching to my students, my reading for pleasure was naturally curtailed. Then came two children, and wow, did that make a difference!

The years kept going by and when I was in my early forties, I suppose I had a bit of a mid-life crisis. Instead of buying a motorcycle— which I had given up at 33, when I learned I was pregnant— I began to read exactly what I wanted to read. Not what was on the best seller list, not what was being touted by my friends or family members, not what I could get at the library, but what I wanted to read. I began collecting obscure works that I’d missed. I now have all of Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise books. I read lots of science fiction, like David Weber, Elizabeth Moon, and Lois McMaster Bujold. Futuristic romance was just getting established, and I read all of them I could find. That search led me to eBooks, and book reviewing, and to a certain extent into writing my own books. I can’t remember who said it, but it is true that you write the books you want to read. The Gift Horse is a contemporary suspense story with dark psychological overtones, and Trinity on Tylos is a futuristic with romantic elements, and I love both of those genres, so if you like what I like, try them. Buy them— please!

Which brings me back to the original question. I seldom read library books anymore, but I buy quite bit from, and I buy eBooks from Fictionwise. I buy my rare books via Alibris, which is also on the internet. Locally, I like Books a Million, and I sometimes shop in Barnes & Noble, even though they refuse to carry my books. Borders will order my books, and I like the atmosphere in their stores, but they are perhaps the most expensive bookseller, so I seldom shop there, unless I need good service.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

POD revisited

If you're looking for info on buying my latest book, check out my website and click on the Events button for upcoming booksignings and a link to my publisher's website.

I've been doing a bit of research and I ran across a simply wonderful blog. It's by an anonymous published author who is on a quest to find the very best print on demand (that's POD) books. Since there are many, many such books being printed, and lots of them are really bad, this person has some work ahead. Unfortunately, the low costs associated with producing these books means that almost anyone can get into print, and quite a few of them don't deserve to be there. But there is some buried treasure, and this site has 50 books with detailed reviews to explain why they're great books.

In the opening entry, Pod-dy Mouth explains that the five big New York publishers aren't interested in books which sell in smaller numbers. So what's an author to do if a really good book is rejected by larger publishers or the agents who can get it there? Throw it in the trash? The alternatives fall into three vague categories. First, try a small (maybe really small) publisher. This can take years and years, b/c most of publishers take a few months to respond to a manuscript, and if it isn't accepted, then it has to move on to the next one. Second, try an e-publisher—and some of these also offer paperbacks, so they sort of blend into the first category. Or, third, cut out the middle guy and do POD. More and more folks are tiring of the shop it around for a few years approach and accepting the trade-offs associated with being "self-published."

When I decided to use Booklocker to publish The Gift Horse, it was a little like having a baby and abandoning it on the steps of a church in a basket. I felt that I sentenced it to the stigma of POD and low sales. However, the doggone thing continues to sell after two years in print, and some of the mass market paperbacks from two years ago are selling for .o1 at the used booksellers who list their wares on Amazon. So, as I concluded in my previous post on this topic, I can't say the decision was all bad.

My second novel, Trinity on Tylos, is published by an eBook publisher, but they do offer the paperback option to authors who are willing to pay a small set up fee. I gladly wrote that check in order to have books to sell locally. Since my first novel sold two eBook copies—and one of those was to me!— I'll be curious to see my sales figures. WCP does list their books with Fictionwise, and I've heard that greatly increases sales of eBooks.

Time will tell. In the meantime, do check out the Pod-dy Mouth blog. I've spent some time there this weekend, and I will be returning, because there are reviews, interviews, and the blog entries as well. It's lots of fun for struggling authors and readers looking for something different.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

More Q and A

Trinity on Tylos was officially released on February 1, and already it is on the "hot title" list at WCP. For the locals, it will be a few weeks before I have printed books on hand to do any promotions in this area. While I'm getting those plans together (and I really am working on doing those) I'll fall back on some of my "prepared" questions and answers. Prior to doing my stint as Love Romances Author of the Day, I made a list of common questions and had ready answers. Most of these weren't asked by the moderator or guests, so I'll use them here.

What is your ideal hero/heroine?

I like to write about people who are realistic, but I often place them in surreal situations. I’ve noticed that many other writers do the opposite— that is, they create larger than life characters and have them interact with boring and mundane situations. Either way, conflicts are bound to ensue, and most people read fiction to see how those conflicts are resolved.

What is your perception of romance genre today rather than 10 years ago?

Over the years, I’ve read romance sporadically, but it would seem that ever more sensual characters and situations are the most remarkable trend, and one which continues to change the genre.

Do you prefer writing in 1st person or 3rd person?

I like both. One of my favorite sci-fi novels uses them alternately, but when I tried it in an early effort, my editor said to stick to 3rd person b/c it is easier to write well. By and large, that is true, but I think 1st person is better for creating memorable main characters.

Do any of your characters have any of your personality quirks or other people's quirks?

All fiction writers base their characters on something. Mine are most often composites of people I have known. Most of my characters have flaws, sometimes a lot of them, and that’s because real people are like that. I’ve based characters on people I knew in college and people I have worked with, but so loosely, that I don’t think anyone would recognize them.

Do you find it difficult to write love/sex scenes?

Somewhat, but I do have two children, neither of whom are adopted. I don’t usually write graphic sex scenes, but I don’t have any problem with reading them, or with those who choose to write that way. Actually, I’m glad that with so many books and writers, there is something for every person’s taste.

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