Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: A Prince of Mars by Frank Chadwick

A Prince of Mars (Space: 1889 & Beyond #5)A Prince of Mars by Frank Chadwick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is Steampunk in the world of 'Space 1889.' Outwardly an adventure, the story has surprising depth and enough twists to satisfy a thriller addict. The hero isn't unrelentingly heroic, except when he absolutely needs to be. The heroine spends much of the time recovering from a gunshot wound, but nevertheless emerges as the real leader. We learn she spent much of her childhood as a captive of the Apaches, and that affects her world view.

The story takes place on Mars (of course) in 1889, but a Mars with canals, natives, flying beasts and a fully developed social and cultural mileu. The British and the Russians are there, sometimes competing, sometimes cooperating, all complicated by native city-states, tribesmen, bandits and hill dwellers. The characters, the setting, the plot, are never quite what you expect, but always deep and satisfying.

Full disclosure: I helped critique the story and am mentioned in the end credits.

Get it anyway, you'll be addicted in no time.

The only reason this did not get 5 stars is that the formatting needs to be fixed.
View all my reviews

Friday, November 12, 2010

E-Wars: The New York Times and the 'E List'

Well, by now you've heard. It's official; the New York Times will begin rating eBooks starting in January '11. An 'E' best seller list, (henceforth known as the 'E List') similar to the present one for print books, will now appear in the NYT. Left unanswered is whether they plan to aggregate E and print book sales to determine an overall best seller. Given the mad growth in eBook sales, and the flat performance of print books, an E List seems almost inevitable. But it was only a year or so ago the whole topic of eBooks was highly controversial.

What does this development mean? I think the answer lies in one word. Legitimacy.

Of course the publishing industry will now be watching the Times E List along with the print book list. Perhaps that will draw the more reluctant publishers into the eBook arena. But more important for the marketplace, readers who may have dismissed the idea of a 'real' book not being in print will be drawn to eBooks and eReaders. People on the verge of accepting eBooks will now have the cover they need to take the plunge. Look to the other 'Best Seller' lists, like the LA Times and USA Today, to quickly follow suit with their own version of the 'E List.' As a result eBook sales will surge in 2011.

The Big Dog has spoken: eBooks have gone legit.

The Digital Revolution rolls on.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

E-Wars: The Digital Revolution Rolls On

US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT will discontinue its print edition for subscribers as of December 2010. Apparently the print version will still be available in news stands. The announcement is another indication that everything print is going digital, that is 'e.' Print is losing ground for so many reasons they are difficult to list, but here are a few: loss of advertisers, increased cost of print and distribution, shrinking subscriber base, preference for more dynamic eEditions. How long the whole concept of a general news magazine, or newspaper, even 'e' versions, will last is anyone's guess, but my gut tells me not very long in historical terms.

Print editions of everything are suffering for all of the above reasons, and because people are discovering how nice eReaders are. How many times have you heard someone say recently: "I love books, the feel of the paper and turning the page, then I got a (kindle, nook, kobo, fill in your favorite) as a gift and I love it!" Even die hard book fanatics are embracing the eReaders.

So now you can get USN&WR for your iPad, but unfortunately it will not be available in doctor's waiting rooms. There, and in similar venues, you will only be able to access six to twelve month old issues.

Tradition wins out.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

E-Wars: The Opening Gun

Amazon has raised its kindle prices from certain publishers (henceforth known as 'offending publishers.') to where the ebook may actually be more expensive than the print book.  It's not Amazon's fault, here's an excerpt that explains the heart of the difficulty:

"Earlier this week, was forced to accept new commercial terms from big publishers Penguin, Hachette and HarperCollins, who have switched to the "agency model" for their ebooks. On this model it is publishers, not retailers, who set the selling price."

Why would an offending publisher make the electronic edition as, or more, expensive than the print, when it obviously costs less to produce?  Answer: To drive buyers to the print edition.  I see this as a last ditch effort by the offending publishers to  retain the marketplace that they currently dominate and understand.  It will fail.

What will this cause readers to do, especially modern e-savvy readers?  Two things I think.

1. Not buy either edition of the book from the offending publisher.  (See the below protests.)
2. Discover other writers, from other ebook publishers, that they may like just as much or better than the writers they now buy from the offending publishers.


The offending publishers lose.
Writers with the offending publishers lose.
Other publishers gain.
Writers with other publishers gain.
The reading public ultimately gains.
Offending publishers eventually abandon the practice or lose big, maybe close their doors.

I think Darwin wins.

What do you think?

Read the full article here:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pirates, Gatekeepers and Darwinian Publishing Part III

One of the supposed dangers of the Internet is the possibility that a few search engines or providers will dominate the net and therefore will be able to surreptitiously direct us to their preferred customers or supress sites they don't agree with. As of this writing Google accounts for 66% of Internet searches. Unless you include non-traditional (isn't that delicious) search 'engines' like Facebook, which accounts for about half of all searches in the US. Add the dozens of watchdog/reporting/marketing services like Search Engine Watch, and the hundreds of industry specific search services, eGroups devoted to one thing or another, blogs, etc and you realize there is no chance of a monopoly taking over the Internet.

Unless it's the Feds of course. That would be 'snowball earth' scenario in our little Darwinian world. But I digress.

For writers there is no better time and there is no worse time. All the known, comfortable ways of publishing seem to be changing, morphing before our eyes. Each week we learn some new thing that opens up possibilities, yet confuses our path even more. Query letters? Agents? ePub? Self ePub? Start our own publishing house? (It's easier than you think, they're springing up like weeds.)

Kindle, Smashwords, Pubit, and the like offer unprecedented access to world markets. Oh, yeah, you need a killer cover, and marketing blog/website/twitter/facebook pages that establish your platform, or as Kathryn Craft put it, your 'street cred' for whatever you're writing. And you better get your branding right.

Confusing, mind numbing, head-spinning changes and terms, yet more and more authors are choosing to epub their own works. Established mid-list authors are reissuing their back-lists to establish revenue streams from otherwise unavailable novels. New authors are publishing their first books. Services exist that will get you an ISBN number and push your book through the process that puts it on Kindle, Nook, and other eBook outlets. New services are springing up to design covers, web sites, blogs to develop the branding and platform for eAuthors.

Oops, I think I just coined a term, eAuthor.

So lets assume anyone can do this (and if you're smart and persistent enough to write a novel you can do this) what are the consequences? What happens when anyone who wants to publish a book can do so at little or no cost except personal effort?

First off, virtually all novels are written on spec, that is you write it, then shop it around and try to sell it. That means there are a lot of unpubed novels sitting on hard drives. I suspect a flood will hit Amazon, Pubit, Nook, etc. over the next two years as ebooks become more 'legit' and people become savvy about how to publish them. Many of them will be trash, of course, and will sink without a trace.

But among them will be dozens, or even hundreds, of runaway best sellers. And thousands of mid-list books, none of which would have seen the light of day without self-epublishing. Thousands more will find a large enough 'niche' market to make decent money for their authors without ever reaching the mid-list.

Successful authors will write and publish more eBooks, the unsuccessful will get better or disappear. Sites like Goodreads will help us tell each other about the good ones.

Remember the market is word-wide and the information is free.

When main stream reviewers see this, some of them anyway, will turn to the eList (Oops, coined another term) for books to review. That may take a while, especially for the self-pubd. Eventually main stream publishers will also recognize the value to be found in the eList, and contracts will be offered to top selling authors.

This means that we, the writers, will increasingly choose what to offer the public, and the public will increasingly choose what is successful. There are few gatekeepers in this ePub world to tell us what we can or can't have.

In essence self-epublishing for novels will become a world sized Helium, brutally Darwinian in its selection process and brilliant in its ultimate output.

It's what real competition is about.

I can't wait.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mass Format Changes in MS WORD

This is a mini tutorial on how to make mass format changes in MS Word.  In this case it is changing underline to italics without affecting any other parameter.  But this technique can be used for any format including paragraph, color, tabs, language, frame, style or highlighting.

Go to Find/Replace

Click 'More' button.  Cursor should be in 'Find what:' 

Press Format Font 

Pick underline style straight line. Click OK

Move cursor to 'Replace with:'
Note 'Format: Underline' under the 'Find what:' field

Go to Format Font 

Pick 'Underline style:' none and 'Font style:' Italic. 
Click OK

Press 'Replace All'
Note 'Format:  Font: Italic, No underline' under the 'Replace with:' field

And the magic happens.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lily - Not a Book Review

I don't do book reviews.

I just finished Lily by Laura Monteverde DeWalt.
It's a vampire story.
I hate vampire stories.
I loved this story.
I loved this character.
Go buy the book.
BTW, it's published in English and Spanish simultaneously.
(You think YOU have an editing problem!)