Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wake up and smell the circuitry

I've agonized about it for years. I've considered my options, weighed the pros and cons. Tried to ignore the issue, hoped it would go away. But I finally had to face my demons head-on. I decided to buy an e-book reader -- an Amazon Kindle.

For as long as I can remember, I've been enamored with new books: the sleekness of the dust jacket; the wisp of turning pages; the intoxicating scent of the binding glue. There's nothing like cracking the spine of a new tome and flipping through it, getting a peak of what's to come. And, as a new writer, I dream of the day when I can hold my own published book -- a paper book -- in my hands. I still want to see it on my bookshelf, on display at a bookstore, or hidden in the corner of the local library.

Now I'm fairly certain the print book will not die in my lifetime. But it will go the way of the compact disc. At some point in the not-too-distant future, the majority of books sold will be in electronic format. Ignoring that fact is like the music execs ignoring electronic music files. According to this article from the Wall Street Journal, e-books will change not only the way books are read, but the way they are written.

If I hope to take advantage of this new medium, I need to understand it; I need to experience it first hand. Plus, the Kindle is pretty damn cool. The most important feature of the Kindle (and the Sony Reader) is that it uses electronic-ink technology so the screen looks like a printed page. It's not backlit like a cellphone or computer screen, so it's easy on the eyes and can be read in bright sunlight just like a paper book. See a word you don't know? Just click on it and it gives you the definition. Want to know more about a topic in the book? Kindle will look it up on Wikipedia.

I think the uptake of e-books will actually help new writers. E-books are cheap, and they will only get cheaper. It's also easy to give them away for free. With a lower (or nonexistent) price point, a reader is more likely to take a chance on a new author, and this exposure will sell books -- including print books.

So I'm getting on the train. And I can only hope that someday people will be reading Double-blind on a Kindle.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Finished! And the winners are...

I finished my book! I sent it off to the editor who was interested. It felt so good to hit SEND! The next step is to start researching agents who also might be interested in DOUBLE-BLIND. I'm sure I'll keep tinkering with the manuscript in the future, but for now I’m happy to spend some time away from it.

And now, what you've all been waiting for... the results from last week’s contest. I decided to give away six books, since I own a copy. The winners are:

Emilie: That is scary—especially forgetting who the babysitter was. But Daniel was a smart kid; I’m sure he would’ve found a way to contact you.

Recess: Human trafficking is scary indeed, but it was the flattery that clenched it for you.

Moeller: Hilarious! And true for you—until recently. You earned your book.

Amy: That is funny because I know it’s a genuine concern for you. So far, Chester and Jersey have avoided suffocation.

E: I agree about being eaten alive by insects. When I was growing up, one of my biggest fears was that I’d be buried neck-deep in an ant hole, with my mouth propped open and honey spread on tongue. I was a strange kid.

Kim: Terrifying. You wake up and see a dim figure at the foot of your bed, just casually sitting there. You’re not sure if he’s real. Then he moves.

(Anonymous: I agree that “true” stories are always the scariest. Amityville Horror is still one of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read. I had to disqualify you because you didn’t leave your name. Also, I think you might be my mom, which disqualifies you from the contest anyway)

Winners, please email me your address and I’ll send you your copy of Afraid.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Read a free book, win a free book!

I'm still putting the finishing touches on DOUBLE-BLIND... by the end of the week, my manuscript will be done!

Speaking of manuscripts, today I am offering The Leaf Blower readers an online exclusive: a free eBook by Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch. If you recall, Jack Kilborn (aka J.A. Konrath) visited my blog in March to talk about rejection.

The eBook is a horror novella called SERIAL, a tale of hitchhiking gone terribly wrong. Like a deeply twisted version of an “After School Special,” it is the single most persuasive public service announcement on the hazards of free car rides. The eBook also contains a Q&A with Kilborn and Crouch, author bibliographies, and excerpts from their most recent and forthcoming works.

Here's the link to SERIAL; the eBook is located under "Book Extras" in the bottom right-hand corner. You can download it either as a PDF file or ePub version (the Sony eBook Reader format).

But wait, constant reader (as Stephen King would say), there's more: I'm also offering you the chance to win your very own copy of Kilborn's book, AFRAID. The publisher has given me 5 copies to give away.

Here's the contest: I want to hear about what makes you afraid. You can write one word (e.g. "clowns"), or one hundred words; it's up to you. I'll pick the top five scariest entries and send each winner a copy of AFRAID (US and Canada residents only). I've read the book... if you get a copy, be sure to keep your lights on!

I'll be accepting entries (posted in the comments section) until Sunday, May 17th. Enjoy the free eBook and the contest!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

One-Minute Writing is All I Have Time For This Week

Continue to stay tuned... I'm still frantically polishing my manuscript so I can send it off to the editor. Thanks for the encouraging comments. I hope to be back online next week. In the meantime, check out this fun site, and the prestigious One Minute Writer Award I won!