When I first downloaded Goodreads on my (long lost and lamented) iPhone years ago, I thought it was the best app ever. The bar code scanner almost made my head explode. It is a great resource for a lot of people, but I’ve never used it consistently, and it turns out it wasn’t right for me at the time. As I said in my last post, I’m not a big reviewer, and I wasn’t looking for a community. I just wanted something to help me track what books I’d already read and which ones I wanted to read. But if I’d noted that I was reading a book, Goodreads would follow up—where are you on the book? Did you finish the book? What did you think of the book? This is (or was) my own dysfunction, but it felt like someone looking over my shoulder, a Guilt … [Read more...] about Book Reviews and Ratings Part II: A Code of Conduct?
As a reader, I rarely review books, unless they are very good (Ben Winters’ The Last Policeman, anyone?) or very bad (an unnamed author whose female characters are less realistic than blow-up dolls, but he’s mega-popular so my review doesn’t matter anyway). There are two reasons. First, the practical: I live in a place where internet isn’t easily accessible, and even getting a cell phone signal involves Cirque du Soleil-esque contortions perched on the highest object in your line of sight. I think of advanced communications on a triage basis: these are the 7 things that must be done in the 18 minutes that the wind is blowing in the right direction or the satellite gods are smiling on us. Then, and only then, can I move on to things that … [Read more...] about Book Reviews and Ratings: Grade Inflation or the Teacher you Just Can’t Please? Part I
Just a quick update for those of you (all three) who have been watching and waiting--my mystery novel Back to Lazarus is now live on Amazon for Kindle. Yay! (In my best Dancing Kermit voice.) I have to say, the technology hasn't been as painful as I feared it would be.The novel was originally written in Microsoft Word, but when I decided to self-publish, I imported it into Scrivener. I cannot say enough good things about Scrivener, although I did have a few heart-stopping moments when I was afraid my Bad Tech Vibes had managed to overcome even its resilient functionality. The conversion to .mobi wasn't awful either. I had Ed Ditto's How to Format Your Novel by my side, so that helped. There was only one little thing I could never quite … [Read more...] about Back to Lazarus is now available on Amazon for Kindle
I’m about to wrap up the rough draft of a novella, so of course I’m writing a blog entry instead. But, as I like to preface many of the things I tell my closest friends, “This [blog entry] is not a total non sequitur.” (Which implies that it is at least a partial one.) I was prompted to try a novella that follows my private investigator Sydney Brennan by two things: resistance in writing the second Sydney Brennan novel, and the Black Orchid novella award, a contest put on by the Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine for unpublished novellas that fall within the loosely defined tradition of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series.It sounded like fun, but things came up. I missed the deadline, overshot the word count, and let myself go … [Read more...] about Book Chi: Is there an EReader App for that?
I’m old enough that web design was not part of my primary education. I did some basic programming as a kid. You know, the kind of thing where you spend a couple of hours writing a “program” to do something that takes four seconds on a calculator. We had a computer class in high school using some now-defunct word processing program, but we also had a mandatory typing class. It was taught by a large elderly woman with a broken arm who meandered around the room yelling “KEY!!” whenever someone goofed off. Somehow I landed in the “bad boy” section with all the guys who liked high school so much they decided to stick around an extra year. Every day, they’d try to provoke her off just enough to make her yell “KEY!” but not have a heart attack. It … [Read more...] about Web Design and Writing: When a Little Knowledge can be Dangerous