Sunday, January 30, 2011

Newspaper interview

That's right. I've been interviewed for a newspaper as an e-book author.

Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal reporter Jami Kinton interviewed me over the phone a week or so ago while she was working on a feature story about e-books. Check out the story here if you'd like to see a few things I said. I almost sound like I know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 6 - Firearms Curiosa

Firearms Curiosaby Lewis Winant

Started: January 24
Finished: February 2

Notes: I've read my share of non-fiction books about firearms over the years, but this one slipped past me somehow. It first came to my attention a couple of years ago when famed author Neil Gamain mentioned online this was a book he had recently (as of then) been reading. His description of it told me I needed to check this book out. I've seen the hardback version, which is what I own, going for as much as a hundred bucks on eBay, but I got lucky a while back and found a copy in a used book store and it only cost me $15. My particular copy is from 1955. As to exactly what this book is about, I'll over some of the blurb from inside the jacket cover: "The many strange and freakish gun fabrications that are show in this book are a tribute to man's inventive energy as applied to the development of arms. From days just past and from days long gone, Lewis Winant has selected over 300 pieces as representative of the oddities that have been constructed to utilize the propelling force of gunpowder." From what I've seen of the cover and some of the inside images, several of these unusual and rare firearms are ones with which I am already casually familiar, but I also noticed several things which were new to me. If anyone is interested, Winant also wrote several other books on firearms, to my knowledge all of them having to do with historic arms.

Mini review: I did not enjoy this one as much as I had hoped. Frankly, the writing was pretty boring, and there really wasn't much information here. There were lots of photos, but the book's text was just basic descriptions of what where in the photos. I was hoping for more in-depth historical information about these unusual firearms, but that wasn't present here. Still, though I was already familiar with about half the odd firearms in this book, the other half was new to me and that was nice information to have.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 5 - The Enemies of Books

The Enemies of Booksby William Blades

Started: January 22
Finished: January 25

Notes: This short book was originally published in 1881, though the e-book version I'm reading is a second, expanded edition from 1888. I first heard about this book through a post on the Making Light blog, and it drew my attention as something worth reading. Having already flipped through the table of contents and part of the first chapter, this book entails the history (up to 1881) of book destruction of the centuries. The author has broken his chapters down into different ways that books have been destroyed, such as by fire, by water, by ignorance, by carelessness, etc. And yes, this was another freebie available for the Kindle.

Mini review: Quite interesting, but not required reading except for the extreme book collector. There's not so much history here as there are letters and other personal correspondences with the author about various recent (as of 1881) events that included the damaging or destruction of books, though there are some historical events and personages mentioned. The author is a fair writer himself, though not a great writer. From the text I could tell there were meant to be at least a few drawings to go along with the text, but as with many digital reprints of older books, the drawings were not available; still, it didn't seem there were to be many illustrations, and I didn't feel I missed anything.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 4 - The Art of Money-Getting

Art of Money Getting Or, Golden Rules for Making Moneyby P.T. Barnum

Started: January 22
Finished: January 22

Notes: I've been feeling like I've ignored by Kindle of late, so I thought it time to pick it up again, at least for something short. And this is something short. I found this freebie a while back when looking through the hundreds of free e-books available from Amazon. This one is from the 19th Century and is supposed to be P.T. Barnum's take on finances. From what little I know of the man, he was not quite the swindler his reputation has suggested, but was a shrewd businessman. This one could be interesting. I'll find out.

Mini review: This little book can mostly be summed up in one sentence: Work hard and bring in more money than you have going out and you will have a rich life, and with some skill and luck possibly a life of financial freedom or even of financial wealth. Barnum makes no promises here, and it was refreshing to see this famous character as a straight-forward businessman and not some humbug. This is no overly technical treatise on finances, but quite the basic talk about how a business person should conduct themselves to have success. This was also an easy read, though not overly simplistic. Barnum was a good writer.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The next writing project

I'm about halfway through the first draft of the final novella in my Sword of Bayne trilogy, so I've been pondering lately what my next project will be.

The truth is I probably won't decide for sure until I sit down and start typing.

A while back on this blog I mentioned I had something truly experimental in the possible works, and that still might be my next project. But I've also had a few e-mails and Facebook messages asking me if or when I would get back to writing about my Kron Darkbow character from my Kobalos trilogy, and I've always said I would definitely be writing more about Kron.

All that in mind, a few other things have occurred to me of late.

One, though I consider each part of my Sword of Bayne trilogy a novella, I've had more than a few other writers tell me they are not novellas but short novels because each weighs in at 40,000 words. To my way of thinking, and maybe I'm a bit old school or neurotic on this, anything less than 60,000 words is a novella, but I'm willing to re-think this considering the current/modern/recent technological changes that have come about due to digital publishing.

Here's how I traditionally thing of story lengths:

Flash fiction: 25 to 1,000 words
Short story: 1,100 to 10,000 words
Long short story: 10,100 to 20,000 words
Novella: 20,100 to 59,000 words
Novel: 60,000 words and up, with most anything longer than 150,000 words possibly needing to be broken up into a series

I left out such things as the novelette because I consider them sort of silly and not common enough in the readers' minds to be worth discussing.

So, should I keep calling my Bayne sections novellas, or jump to calling them novels at 40,000 words? I'm interested in opinions, because it would affect my covers, marketing and even prices.

Next, another thing I've been thinking about lately is serial characters.

Of course most readers of the fantastic are familiar with the likes of Conan the Cimmerian, Batman, etc.

But my thinking is leaning more toward the men's action series characters that grew to popularity in the 1970s, from such titles as The Executioner and The Destroyer. Those two are likely the best known of such fiction, but there were tons of other characters and series. Today, they're not around so much, though The Executioner books keep chugging along, a few coming out every month, and every once in a while a new The Destroyer novel comes out.

Most of those men's series contained short novels, roughly about 60,000 words, with a special, longer-length novel as an aside to the series released a few times a year.

One of the ideas I've had is to start my own such series, though I'm afraid it might tie me down too much to one character and one series, and I do have plenty of other things I'd like to write. And I'd hate to start a series and it goes nowhere with readers. Would I continue at that point? Would I give up and start a new series or something else altogether?

More than likely my next project is going to be a Kron Darkbow novel, mainly because the Kobalos trilogy is by far the best-selling of all my e-books and the ones I hear the most comments about. But again, I'll have a hundred ideas plopping around in my head, but I probably won't know what the new project will actually be until I sit down and at the keyboard.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 3 - Wicked

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years)by Gregory Maguire

Started: January 12
Finished: January 22

Amazon link: Wicked

Notes: My other half picked up this book a couple of years ago, and I've been meaning to read it as it's supposed to be a sort of re-telling of the first Oz story from the Wicked Witch's point of view. I often find fascinating classic tale re-told from another perspective, so I'm thinking this one should be interesting. Also, the author has grown in popularity over the last 15 or so years, and I always enjoy reading and studying the works of authors with whom I'm unfamiliar.

Mini review: A good book, but not a great one. I was somewhat disappointed because with all the fanfare that's been made of this novel and it's author, I expected something more. Still, not a bad book. I thought the ending was a bit rushed. Also, for those with interests in Oz literature, this is quite the adult novel, so don't expect the sweet little Oz from the movie and earlier literature. Here there's sex (though not explicit), politics, theology, philosophy, civil rights, etc. I was actually hoping for the more simple, childlike Oz, but that's not to be found here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 2 - True Grit

True Gritby Charles Portis

Started: January 10
Finished: January 12

Notes: This was a nice Christmas present, the novel upon which now two rather famous movies have been based. I have yet to see the newest movie version starring Jeff Bridges, but I am a long-time fan of the original film starring John Wayne. I expect this novel to be a treasure.

Mini review: This novel is a true American classic. It is one of the few novels with which I'm familiar that combines genre and literary writing and does so quite well. I feel the movies have overshadowed this piece of literature, which is a shame. The novel is as good as anything Cormac McCarthy has written, or any other modern writers who blend literary styles with genre trappings. If you only know the movies, do yourself a favor and read the book. You'll get a slightly different perspective, especially if you are only familiar with the John Wayne movie, which is still a good movie but focuses more on the Rooster character as the main character than does the novel, which has Mattie as the main character.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Part II of The Sword of Bayne

A Thousand Wounds: Part II of The Sword of BayneThe second part of The Sword of Bayne trilogy of novellas, A Thousand Wounds, is now available in all major e-book formats.

This time, warrior Bayne kul Kanon finds himself transported to a world unusual to him populated with people of odd dress and odd beliefs. But can the secrets to his past to be found here?

For the Kindle:

For the Nook:

For other e-readers, at Smashwords:

Friday, January 07, 2011

Why I'm not blogging more often

It's been more than a week since my last blog post, which is unusual for me, at least of late (the last 6 months or so).

There's a reason for this. I'm busy writing, fiction and non-fiction. Something had to give, so I've backed off from my blogging. Just letting folks know so no one thinks I've died or --


Just kidding.

Anyway, I'm busy with other projects, projects that pay the bills. But don't worry. I'll be back.

For one thing, I'm still considering another blog series this year, though that takes up a fair amount of time. I might not do it for that very reason, and because I'm busy with other stuff.

Bayne's Climb: Part I of The Sword of BayneBut don't worry. I'll soon (as in sometime before this month is out) have another novella available in e-book format. It'll be the second part in my Sword of Bayne series.

After that, I'll be working on the third and final part to that series.

I'd thought about doing a year-end post for 2010 and/or a new-year post for 2011, which I normally do every year. But this year, I've simply got too much to do. Expect my next novella soon, then another novella probably by Spring or maybe Summer. After that, who knows? I've got several ideas, so we'll have to see what happens. Right now I'm leaning towards another Kron Darkbow novel. I'll have to wait and see how I'm feeling about that once I finish with the Bayne trilogy.