Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thanks, Mr. Harris

E Lynn Harris passed away last week. He lived a fascinating life that included deciding to self-publish a book about a married man who was involved in a homosexual affair, selling the books out of the trunk of his car at times, before, in a fairy tale manner being picked up by a publisher and going on to publish a number of other books, bestsellers even, that featured black gay and/or bisexual men.
Karen E. QuiƱones Miller has a lovely tribute here.
(Yes, I sure do seem to be talking about dead people a lot. Maybe for August we could make a rule about no dead people. Or something.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More on E-books

I keep meaning to do some sort of comprehensive post on e-books. And then other people keep doing such a great job of it.
JA Konrath talks about why he prefers to borrow his son's Ipod Touch to buying a Kindle right now. (He also has a number of posts about the success of ebooks and pricing.)
Sasha White talks about how her e-books outsold her print books by a lot.
Lynn Viehl has a great post talking about how e-books are often the cheapest marketing an author can get.
Even Jennifer Blake (who was one of the first authors I was aware of putting her backlist in e-format) also talked a little about it.
Smart Bitches have some discussions (including a response from a publisher) about the timing of releasing the e-format. The response from one publisher is an interesting point, since they feel that the comparison to music is unfair since Publishing has traditionally used a Hardback to paperback transition and they feel selling the e-book at the same time is akin to releasing the paperback at the same time as the hardback.
Now, I don't entirely agree since, as commenters there pointed out, and as was brought up over here in Dear Author, when you buy an e-book you do not have the same rights (if you will) as a hard copy - wither hardback or paperback. You are buying the right to view the content. In many cases you can even view the content in a few places - multiple readers, your laptop, and so on. (I believe mobi-pocket limits it to four. I'm sure they are not the only ones.) However, if you change readers and your content is not readable on your new reader, you have to buy a new copy. (Much like trying to play a tape in a CD player, sometimes it just can't be done.) Now some formats span multiple readers, but none are currently workable on all readers. (I point you here to Fictionwise's site for a sampling.)
Also, if I read something want to give it to a friend, sell it on ebay, or mail it to my aunt - I can only do that with a hard copy. I cannot transfer my e-books to someone else. (This is one reason I'm not surprised publishing hasn't jumped on this more. Considering the number of authors I heard complain about people buying their series from a used book store only to be surprised that the publisher didn't renew the contract. Well, e-books solve that.)
And, if they decide that oops, we gave you that for free by accident, the company can sneak into your device and take it back.
So, why would anyone ever buy an e-book then. Well, I for one, love having, say, seventy books in one tiny compact device that fits in my purse. It helps with some of my storage issues. I love buying a book on the day of release even when my day does not really allow me to get to the bookstore.
I love having backups of my shelves online. (Yes, that hardly matters if I change readers, but I still like it.) It means my e-books, while locked into the format I purchased them in, are available to me even if I destroy my device or lose it. (Ask me how I know.)
I haven't stopped getting actual books. And I don't know that I ever entirely will. Certainly it's fun getting books signed and you can't really do that with e-books. But I never was one to lug my entire backlist to get it signed anyway. I was always happy with a few.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ipod + Water + Rice

So, I have been using my Ipod Touch for a while now. It has become one of my primary reading sources, as well as a great way to keep track of my calendar (have it syncs with gcal) and my emails, and various other things. Sure, it relies on free wi-fi being available, which isn't always terribly reliable when traveling, but I have to tell you the instantaneousness of buying a book* and having it appear in your hands is pretty cool.
You can imagine my dismay as last week the Ipod went for a little swim. In some not so clean (or clear) liquid. I fished it out quickly and wiped it down with a towel but was still concerned. Some googling led me to this site that suggested leaving it in rice (similar principle to the rice in the salt shaker) and this site which suggested that rice would not do the trick. Being impatient, I figured I'd try rice first. It was the cheapest option. If not I could send it off for possible repair and/or decide this was a sign I should upgrade to second generation. (I bought my Touch in the sales right before they released the second generation version and I was a little sad that I missed out on the external speaker that they added.)
After the first 24 hours of rice, I had nada. Tried charging, nada. I put it back in the rice, this time upright, rather than supine to see if gravity would assist since two of the most vulnerable to water intrusion places are the charging port and the headphone port, which are on the bottom.
(One of the ironies is that I actually own a case that is waterproof. Had I known the Ipod was feeling suicidal, I could have taken steps.)
In the meantime I did do a little pricing research. Just in case. I may have even gone to a store that turned out to be out of the specific storage size I wanted.
So, back to the rice. Whether it was the extra time or the positional shift, I don't know, but I did get the Ipod back on. Which was good, because I was behind on the backing up. However, the wireless didn't work. I had read in my googling that that could be an issue. I had also read the some that appeared to be okay, usually died again later. So, I planned ahead and backed up. Which was good, because later that day it died again.
So, I went for plan upgrade. Partly because I was impatient and didn't want to wait to ship it out (I could not find any local repair places that handle water damage. Battery issues, cracked screens, yes. Water, no.) and see if it could be repaired and then sent back. Especially since the water (if that's the issue and not a short) had now been there for two days. Plus, I was in the middle of a really good book. Actually, I had one chapter and an epilogue left.
So, final verdict on the rice, helped a little, but not a total save. Certainly a low risk method. It did allow me a new backup so that I got all my current stuff saved to transfer to my new Touch.

*While e-books are technically books, the reader provider contract is a little different. We'll talk about that later.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When the RWA Comes to Town

I guess the best sign of the great time I had is how brain numbingly tired I am now. Wednesday the yarn loving fiction lovers gathered and we went yarn shopping (after a lovely lunch) at two of the local yarn stores. (And I found some yarn I needed too. It was green and/or wool/silk - I'm not sure that I can be held responsible.) I also got to check out some of the Rock Creek Yarn in person, and it is everything those pictures promise. Wow.
The signing was a freaking madhouse. All those people who said the San Francisco one was calm, are totally right. There were authors whose book had sold out in minutes (one tag stated that the author had left to go drinking - hee.) And the line to get out, wrapped along the long side of the huge room and down around the corner.
I had my fangirly moment when I finally located Samantha Graves and then stood in front of her silent. I did recover the power of speech and manage to tell her I was a Wiffer. And that I adored Out of Time.
I ran into some Cherries. (Surprisingly.) I also got Anne Stuart to sign her re-release for me (and stopped and said supportive things to various authors from my chapter or from the Cherries whose stuff I already had). When I told Anne how much I loved Dogs and Goddesses she asked if I had seen Jenny. I had been by, but others were there and since I knew I'd see her later at the Cherry dinner, so I was trying to let others have their time with her. And when I circled back she had left. Anne was kind enough to tell me that's because she was standing right behind me. Talking to Samantha Graves. Oh.
Thursday I helped set up for the luncheon which meant putting books on chairs. (Pretty fun actually.) Linda Howard was a great speaker. The workshop I had planned on attending was packed solid (forgot to get there early) so I went to a signing instead. (So sad. I bought the recordings, so I'll catch up later.)
I lugged the books home and then returned for the Cherry dinner which was yummy, loud and crazy.
Friday I was up and out with the joggers. (Grrr.) The emerging (any minute now) Young Adult chapter met for breakfast. Then I went to Suzanne Brockmann's workshop about breaking the rules. Eloisa James made us all a little teary at the luncheon, then I went to the workshop on Wit, Wisdom and Food in Jennifer Crusie's work - moderated by IASPR President Sarah Frantz. A fellow cherry and I adopted a lovely lady in the lobby, and we all went to dinner together. Also yummy.
Saturday, I made it to the signings, and also to Jenny's workshop on turning points. The fire alarm went off while I was in the bathroom. I have to say I have grown immune and figured I probably had time to finish safely and since the hotel employee came in to use the bathroom while my friend finished din't seem pressed I figured it was okay. Never did find out what set it off. Had lunch and dinner on that side of town before racing back to throw on the party dress and head back for the award ceremony. I was slightly less of a jinx this year, and Anne was fabulous as the emcee. The chocolate after was also good.
Can't wait for Nashville.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Goodbye, Katie

I first met Katie Tyson at a UU youth conference. She was bubbly, kind and wonderful. We worked together on the district youth steering committee and she maintained a great attitude through both long meetings (our meetings usually started at 8 pm and went until midnight or so) and long weekends - the cons themselves also involve little sleep - especially for committee members who stay up in shifts to make sure all is going well).
Sadly, Katie was killed in a car accident earlier this month. She had just attended General Assembly of Unitarian Universalists. As this article captures wonderfully, she had great plans for the future.
But Katie had already helped and supported and touched a lot of people. A memorial fund has been established to help develop and train other UU youth and young adult leaders.
In the words of the Libby Roderick song we often sing at cons:
How could anyone ever tell you
You were anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you
You were less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice
That your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you're connected to my soul?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Books and Authors

I recognize everyone's right to deal with criticism in their own way (as long as "their own way" doesn't involve things that are illegal, mmkay?). But, the flip side of this is if your way is doing something in public, or say on a social networking site, than I get to snark about it.
Now I understand that the author - reader relationship can be contentious. I can't tell you the number of authors I heard talk or write a collective, "Yes, exactly!" in response to Neil Gaiman's explanation of what exactly an author owes you book-wise.
And certainly I have seen rumblings in bloglandia when a book disappoints. However, if you essentially ask an author hey, how come that book sucked so much, I think expecting anything beyond, "I'm sorry that didn't work for you" is insanity. Even if you frame your question as, "Why is it, do you think, that so many of us think that your main character was stupid?" You haven't really changed the question. You've just disguised it as a literary question. You are of course, welcome to dislike a book or a main character. But I don't think the author has to apologize to you if you don't like something. Call me crazy.
But I can only imagine how difficult it would be to hear that a book critic dislike your book. I can even understand twitting* about your unhappiness. However twitting the book critic's email and phone number is a bit far. First, I am unaware of a critic's version of corrections. I have never heard of a scenario where a critic said, oh, hey, well, now that I know you guys like it, clearly I'm wrong. Certainly opinions can change over time. Certainly I've read books that I had an immediate reaction to that altered over time, sometimes even a few weeks.
However, that was due to my having more time to process, or possibly even discuss rationally with others. It was never because folks pestered me and told me I was stupid to have said what I said. (In fact, that's a sure way to keep me from revisiting my opinions.)
And the irony. The review wasn't even that bad in the first place.

*Yes, I know the prefered verb is tweeting. Twitting makes me chuckle, okay?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Linky Roundup

Meg Cabot sums up an important life message: I mean, seriously. If we stop breeding with these type of guys, they’ll go away. Spencer Pratt? Brody Jenner? They’ll disappear. We can do it, ladies, if we stick together and just stop rewarding them for their stupid behavior.

Linda Holmes notes that if your imaginary friends are giving business tips to your dad, it's time for new imaginary friends.

John Crace notes that really, it's not embarrassing that the wonders of social networking have revealed the head of MI6's love if Speedos. No, the problem is that he did not look like Daniel Craig in them. Will the UK recover from the shame?

Proof that missed connections is, well, centuries older than Craigslist. (Hat Tip to Argh Ink for that link.)

And speaking of people looking for love, I will send you here, for a lovely synopsis of one guy's wishlist.

Speaking of crazy, Dominic West thinks that good British characters should go to British actors. (For those of you wondering where the crazy in that is, the answer is that Dominic West is best known for playing a Baltimore, MD cop. Apparently good American roles can go to Brits.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

More Swappage

The theme of the latest Rubberswap is local stuff, although I personally took a broad interpretation of that. Fortunately I sent mine off just before receiving mine, because, wow, what a package. The lovely Spirals aka Obsessed with Knitting sent me this package of goodies.
Package 2
All beautifully wrapped.
swap gift
And inside...
Swap Package

Stitch markers
Contents:
Noro pattern book
Gorgeous bamboo silk wool blend yarn - Argosy's Bonsai Bamboo in Vineyard
Cat treats (which my cat will adore!)
Card Case
Stitch markers (they got their own photo - so cute!)
Cupcake mix (must try!)
Card - that's also a scarf pattern
Flamingo Pen
Lovely Charm
So, thanks so much!

Crunch Berries are not a Fruit

Now, I am poking a little fun, although in this constant discussion about whether potato chips are a potato snack or is a burrito is a sandwich, perhaps the question of whether or not a Crunch berry is a fruit is a tiny bit more understandable.
There are several things that fascinate me. Did the woman think that there was a thing called a crunch berry that happened to come in multicolored cereal balls? Did she think crunch berry was a generic cereal term for a crunchy cereal made with some kind of berry? Did she think the fact that such berry was never named anywhere in the ingredients was so that the secret berry concoction would not fall into the hands of competitors? Did the fact that the box states that it is a sweetened corn and oat cereal again speak to the secretive nature of the berries? And how did she find out there were no crunch berries if the information contained on the box was not enough to convince her? Was she at a cocktail party wondering why there were never signs to go crunch berry picking? And, since she apparently also tried to sue Froot loops for also not being made of fruit - did she discover these two thing simultaneously? Or did she switch from Froot Loops after someone wised her up and think well, they spelled berries right, they must be in there somewhere?
(Answer - judge says no, Crunch berries do not exist.)
(H/T to Faster than Kudzu for the link.)
Edited for spelling.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

7 Things: Social Networking Sites

1. The internet is a public place. Some corners of it appear a little more private, but that privacy is generally very limited.
2. This means that if you change your Facebook status to engaged*, people will notice. Your mother may not be on Facebook, but I promise you will discover the how six degrees of separation theory doesn't just apply to Kevin Bacon so fast your head will spin.
3. The same applies to tweeting about your pregnancy or otherwise disseminating information. If you put it on the net, it's kinda fair game at that point.
4. Oh, and it also applies to talking smack about someone. A great (yet hard) rule is that never say anything you wouldn't want to own if it made it out farther into the world than the one person you whispered it to. I know I personally do not live up to that standard, but the deal is, you still have to. Because stuff you say, to anyone other than your cat (can't trust dogs - don't you watch those beans ads?) is going to get out. It may take a while, but it will. And thinking that being on the internet shields you is generally crap. It doesn't. You may think your friends all hate widget making and never hang out on the widget sites, but you will likely end up surprised. I used to read one blogger that in his early blogging days referred to relatives by full name. Well, it took a few years but one day they googled themselves.
5. Using fake names only helps if you have disguised the details so much that they no longer resemble reality. You can use filters and stuff to try and help.
6. Now this doesn't mean you can't ever complain about anyone ever. (It certainly hasn't stopped me.) It just means you have to be ready to face up to whatever you put out there.
7. And the final rule - if your spouse is head of a secret organization, maybe Facebook isn't the right place for you.
*I realize there are people who change their status for "fun", and that is all well and good, but again, you should probably tell your parents. Or wait and see. It's up to you.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Patriotic Stuff

One year I panted my fingernails red and my toenails blue and was chastised for
leaving out the white. (The whites of my eyes were white, okay?)
For this year I worked on consumption (although I did sport some patriotic colors
over the weekend).
Red: Wine (from Maryland even), red peppers, strawberries, tomatoes (which, by the way are from North America, so Spain and Italy - you're welcome*)
White: Sugar, Flour, potatoes, chicken, goat cheese, milk, and ginger ice cream
Blue: Blueberries and blue yarn (I did not switch out my knitting projects to
incorporate more patriotic colors, it just happened like that).

Also, if you have not read the if the founder fathers had email over at ALOTT5MA - I
suggest you head there now.

*Yes, I know other countries use them too.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

This is my Butt

Okay, a fellow raveler pointed me to these cat butt towel holders. (They may be funnier if you are well acquainted with cats.) In a moment of daring I did a search on Amazon and discovered that you can also, should you wish to, purchase cat but magnets and coasters. But my favorite has to be cat butt gum. The box declares that it contains eight pieces of kiss my ass attitude. I'm not sure if I could chew gum that came out of a box with a cat butt, but I do know what I'm getting my mother for her birthday.