What I’m Reading

I often read more than one book at a time, but I think I’ve gotten a little out of hand at the moment. Problem is, I’m completely loving everything I’m reading at the moment so I can’t bring myself to set anything aside and focus more. Part of the reason this happened was that I put myself on the waitlist for books at the library fairly often. Sometimes those waitlists are long. A waitlist 100 people long may take months to get to me, or weeks – depending on how many copies the library has to go around. From time to time, several things I’ve waitlisted will arrive close together. The reason this is a problem is that if there was a waitlist for the item, I was usually not the last person on it. Others are waiting behind me for their turn as well, and if there’s a pending hold on a book, you’re not allowed to renew it. So I have to read those right away. Unless I’ve reserved too many. Then I have a problem. Like now.

Another thing that is happening is that I’m reading books along with my kids. Things I’ve assigned them to read that I haven’t read myself, or I read so long ago that I need a refresher before we have discussions. This type of reading is also time sensitive since I have to keep up with them.
That’s how I end up here. Reading:
Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb (it has been waiting for me on my Kindle for awhile, and darnit, I just needed this one for my heart.)
Obelisk Gate by N K Jemisin (audiobook from the library that I had to wait for)
Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher (library reserve. Really wanted to read some of her fiction, but still waiting for that to come in) 
Eragon by Christopher Paloini (audiobook from library. I remember this one fine, but the kids both needed to read it for book club, and we thought it would be easier to all listen together)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J K Rowling (bedtime family read-aloud)
The Once and Future King by T S White (audiobook for 8th grader’s assignment. She’s reading the physical book. I flunked this one. Didn’t keep up. She’s finished – I’m on Chap 10. Luckily I remember enough to talk about it still.)
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (new assigned book for the 8th grader. I promise to do better this time!)
A couple nonfiction books about homeschooling high school (note 8th grader mentioned above – trying to prepare) that I have checked out from library but have to admit I haven’t gone far in because of above list. 
Also, I have Ghost Talker’s I just picked up on hold, but haven’t gotten to start on because of above list. This is the one I’m worried about since it was a long wait for it. I guess if I have to return it before I get to read it, I can just get back in line. 
Having too many wonderful things to read hardly seems like something to complain about. I just need to learn to pace myself better.

I’m Looking for Book Reviewers

I posted a little while back about my single Goodreads rating, and how nice it was to see a stranger enjoyed my stories. Over at Smashwords I also had this nice four star review:

What a terrific tale. A lovely sense of mystery, awe and a little humour. My only suggestion is to change the title of the story, it gave away a little too much. Thanks for a great read.”

I’ve since removed my books from Smashwords to use other distributors, so I can’t link to that one. The wisdom in the self-publishing world seems to be that reviews are important, and these are all I’ve got so far. To remedy that, I’m asking anyone who has enjoyed my stories to consider posting a review somewhere. (Amazon would be great, but if you like another site, that’s great too.)

If you haven’t read my stories, but like the sound of them, and would like a free review copy, I’d like to make that happen. Leave a comment with some contact information, and what format you’d prefer your ebook in, and I’ll get one to you. For now, this is an open ended offer – if you stumble on this post months (or years?) from now and want to take me up on this. Go for it. 

For the curious here are the books in question:

An astrobiology team discovers a planet with disturbingly familiar aliens. 
A middle manager finds out who has been stealing office supplies but knows no one will believe him.
A cleaning robot is much too efficient.
A little boy is desperate to acquire superpowers.
A military robot fights to deliver vital information before time runs out.
A translator under pressure makes a fatal mistake.

Love Thy Enemy: In a post-apocalyptic America where various factions are vying for control of what’s left, Jose finds himself in love with a girl from the wrong camp. How much can they really trust each other?

The Way Home: Margaret learns a secret about her new husband’s past that is difficult to understand. 


Paper Books vs. Ebooks

I had a moment of epiphany today. I was reading a book on my Kindle, but I sadly had to stop to do other things. As I put book down, I thought to myself, “I love my Kindle.” 
That thought stopped me. Literally. I stood still for a moment. I was one of those people who thought, sure, an e-reader might be convenient, but it will never be like reading a REAL book. I like the way real books smell and feel. How I know how far along I am in the story by how thick the stacks of pages are in each hand. I love all that stuff. 
So this sudden spontaneous thought about loving my e-reader took me off guard somewhat. Do I really love it that much? What do I love about it? I like it. It’s light and has great battery life. It’s easy to use, but it doesn’t smell like old paper or anything cool like that. 
Then the epiphany. I’m really enjoying the story I’m reading. (Redshirts by John Scalzi if you’re curious). That’s what I love. That’s what I suspect everyone who says they love real books means. What I really love is a good story. 
For so long, all the stories we loved came with that certain feel of a book in your hands. The smell. The pages flipping. It created a whole bunch of positive associations that are powerful. The go back to childhood for most of us. I remember hiding in the bushes on the side of my house, or under my bed to read a book in peace when I was a kid. Good memories. For so long now I thought I loved books as a physical thing. Turns out, I just love the stories. I love the stories enough that the physical thing they’re attached to became loved right along with the stories.
There are a lot of people who don’t think they could ever enjoy reading on an e-reader. I even fell into that thinking myself. I’m so happy to realize that the format isn’t all that important after all. I think it’s very good news for stories, because technology doesn’t go backward.

Kindle First Impressions

I got my Kindle Keyboard at Christmas, so I’ve been using it for around 9 weeks now. So, it’s time to share my impressions as a new Kindle user. I think most of the things I like about my Kindle are probably true of most other brands or e-readers as well, but I only have experience with the Kindle.
What I like about it so far:
1. I love the size and weight of it. It’s easy to hold in one hand if I want. The screen is a perfect size for reading in my opinion, probably because it is close to paperback book sized. I have both the Kindle and Nook aps on my Android phone and I almost never use either of them to read with because the screen is so tiny, I’m almost constantly scrolling. How easy it is to hold is the major feature that surpasses paper books in my opinion. Especially if you like long-ish books like I do. Have you tried to lay on your side and read a big honking book? There’s no comfortable way to do it. The size also makes taking it everywhere with you much easier than a paper book most of the time.
2. The e-ink screen. Speaking of screens, I also like the e-ink screen much better than the bright screen on my phone, or trying to read on my computer. Again, it is much closer to the experience of reading a paper book, and is much easier on my eyes. I have almost no eye strain reading ebooks this way. I suppose it might be nice to be able to read in bed without another light on, but I think I’d rather have to add a night reading light than to be forced into a backlit screen all the time. I can also read outdoor in the sun with no problems at all. 
3. The battery lasts forever. Since I’m famous in my household for letting my phone die because I forget to charge it, I find it very handy to almost never need to charge up my Kindle. My understanding is that if I leave the WiFi turned off, the battery lasts even longer, but I know I’ve forgotten to turn it off more than once and still, I’ve never had the battery die on me. I’m usually ready to plug in to add a new title well before I need to plug in just for charging.
4. I can add my own files. Amanda over at A Fortnight ofMustard turned me on to this great usage. I can add my own drafts to read over as I edit. I can add notes as I read, and having the document on a different screen lets me see mistakes that I may not otherwise catch. I do usually have to convert my files to a .mobi format since most pdf files I have are a little harder to read on the Kindle, but it hasn’t been hard to do the conversion so far, and I’m a tech dummy. Reading pieces for my writer critique groups is one of the main things I use my Kindle for.
5. The note making feature. See above. It’s very handy for my own pieces, and those I’m critiquing for others. I almost never make notes in novels I’m reading for pleasure, but I know some folks like that kind of thing. In fact, there is a feature that lets you highlight text, and see what lines have most often been highlighted by other Kindle users. I had to figure out how to turn that off, since I found other people’s highlights to be distracting and annoying as I read.
Things I don’t like:
1. The buttons on the side. I have to be very careful when I want to hold the Kindle in one hand, because I’ve pushed the side buttons many times when I didn’t mean to. Then I have to try to figure out if I accidentally moved forward or backward in my text, and how far I went. Also, the buttons were slightly unintuitive for me. For quite awhile I would hit the button on the right to go forward a page, and the one on the left to go back a page. That isn’t how it works though. There is a large and small button on each side. The large one goes forward, the small one goes back, no matter what side it’s on. Now that I’ve used it more I’ve gotten the hang of it and almost never mess it up anymore. In fact, being able to go forward or back without changing my hold is starting to grow on me. But it was a learning curve.
2. I can’t give a book to a friend when I’m done. This is a big hot button topic in the ebook world in general I think.  I know I’ve seen it mentioned many times as one of the reasons some people feel ebooks should cost less than paper books. My solution for the moment is not to by the ebook version of a title I know I’m going to want to hand off to my husband or my mother when I’m done with it. For example, my husband and I are both reading the Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett. When ‘The Daylight War’ comes out, no matter how tempted I am to download and read it right away, I will buy a physical book to share with Robert. 
So those are my early impressions. I also feel like I’m actually reading more since I got my Kindle than I did before, even though I still mainly read paper books. After all, I still have a bookcase full of titles I haven’t gotten to yet. Maybe this is the excitement of having a new gadget to play with; maybe it’s all the pieces I’m reading for critique (I very rarely did this before since I didn’t like to read on my computer screen). I think it’s too early to tell for sure. I keep a reading journal, so later on, maybe after 6 months or a year, I’ll be better able to compare my total reading volume.