Friday, April 2, 2010

Easing into Ebooks (Part 3)

Easing into Ebooks
Part Three

Welcome back for the last part of my series, Easing into Ebooks. As a reader, I hope you are better informed about the new and exciting technologies now available, which combine comfort and convenience for a pleasant reading experience. I also hope that I've been able to ease a few concerns that weigh heavy on the minds of booklovers as they witness the publishing industry incorporate electronic formatting, and promote reading devices in this digital age.
I'd like to devote the last segment in this series to passing on information about where to find ebooks. Obviously, there are the storefronts of individual publishers and online retailers that specialize in the sale of ebooks. But there are also the major retailers, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders – all of these now have an ebook division, and have either developed a device exclusively sold at their store, or teamed up with a tech company to sell that company's product. Such is the case with Borders and Sony.
Barnes and Noble has done both of these things. The Nook, which was developed exclusively for B&N, is sold at brick and mortar stores and on their online storefront -- there you can also find an extensive ebook catalog. Along with this, they have purchased the popular ebook retailer, Fictionwise, which sells the eSlick Reader, a product of Foxit Corporation.
Amazon strictly promotes its Kindle and Amazon Kindle books, but they have developed a wide array of free apps that allow their books to be read on other devices, such as Apple products like the iPhone, iPod Touch, and soon, the iPad. Kindle books can be purchased and read on Blackberry, PC, and Mac. Kindle is in the process of developing apps for the much anticipated tablet computers, once again, including the iPad. And, as I've already mentioned, these apps are absolutely FREE.
B&N is keeping pace by also developing similar apps, and the Sony Reader Store is with the program too. Competition is an excellent motivator.
Now all of this is well and good, but perhaps you're just getting your feet wet in this rapidly changing world of reading, and want to sample ebooks before you commit to buying any. Many retailers allow you to download a sample of one to five chapters, depending on length, so you can see if the book captures your interest before you hit the "buy" button.
Most retailers also offer some ebooks for free. Sometimes this is done as a promotion effort. An author may have a new book in a series coming out, so for a specified time period another book in that series may be offered for free. Either check up top, or scroll down the length of any ebook retailer and I bet you'll see these words, "Free Ebooks." And there ya have it – except in the case of Amazon, but here's a hint. Amazon calculates their bestsellers list through the number of downloads. Nothing motivates a reader to download a book better than offering it for free. Click Amazon's bestseller's list and see how many of them have $0 listed as their price. If a book interests you though, grab it, because some of them are only offered this way for a few days.
Aside from books given away through retailers, there are also public domain sites where many works of literature have been converted through the effort of volunteers and are available at no cost. Project Gutenburg is a prime example, offering over 75,000 titles completely free of charge.
Even libraries are adopting technology that allows readers to access their ebook collection online, and check out books with the aid of a specialized library card. Here's a library doing just that. Click on "Downloadable Library" to see. This is a great service for the homebound.
Retailers have also heard the demands of customers who wish to loan their ebooks to friends. Barnes & Noble has developed the LendMe service for their ebooks, and other retailers are sure to follow suit. Competition's an excellent motivator! Did I already say that?

How to Get and Read EBooks for Free

How to Get and Read Ebooks for Free
****No expensive software to buy****

After I learned to download ebooks to my Blackberry, there was no turning back. The picture to the left is Apple's new ipad set to launch tomorrow. I must have one! It'll be free when I finish because I'll save money by downloading and reading the free books that will be at my disposal. Don't have an ebook reader? Read on to learn how to download and read ebooks without one.

Amazon's Kindle store has hundreds, maybe thousands of free book just waiting for you to download. No Kindle? No problem. You can go to their website and download the Kindle app for PC for free. Once downloaded to your compute or netbook, you can search for all the free books (and there are some great ones!) and read to your heart's content. I downloaded the Kindle app to my netbook and read a lot of ebooks on it.

Want to read ebooks on your Smart phone, but don't know how? The easiest way to do this is to to go and click on their help link at the top right corner. This will take you to a page that lists all the smart phones and what software you'll need to read ebooks on them. The best thing is...the software is free! I downloaded Mobipocket to my Blackberry and that's how I read ebooks from there.

Once you've downloaded the free software, I'd recommend that you choose a free book to make sure everything's working properly before spending your money. My publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing. has several free items. Go to and then click on the "Free!" link to the left and if you'd like to take a look at my new book priced at $5.99, here's the link for it .

I've enjoyed reading ebooks so much that I'm writing them. My first book, Queen of Hearts, released from Desert Breeze on April 1. Here's some info and links

Daphne Dean is proud to be serving her country stateside during WWII as a reporter and an Office of Strategic Services operative. When the photograph she takes of the crowd at a murder scene places her on the mob's hit list, she's forced into hiding in a vacant mental asylum in the middle of nowhere with terrifying secrets of its own.

Daphne believed herself to still be in love with her ex-fiancée, Kenneth, until she spends several days locked away in the asylum with Vito, the mob boss' son. Can she put the terrifying events that occurred there behind her and allow herself to pursue a relationship with Vito? Or, will she return to Kenneth who has turned his back on his country by becoming a draft dodger and a black market racketeer? One thing's for sure, it won't matter if she can't escape the mental institution alive.

Click on one of these links for more info or read the excerpt below.


Daphne opened her eyes and then closed them quickly as her head pounded and a wave of nausea threatened to consume her. She breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly. Once she felt stronger, she attempted to pull herself up to a seating position, but was unable to move her arms.

Stay calm, she told herself. Daphne peered through the slits in her eyes and then squeezed them shut when the dim overhead light increased the blurred vision and the pounding in her head. She tried again, keeping her eyes open long enough to realize that she was in an unfamiliar place. She shivered in the frigid air.

Daphne tugged on the restraints, exhausted. The band on her left arm gave slightly. She worked her arm back and forth, her heart pounding wildly as she took deep, even breaths in an attempt to decrease the terror racing through her. What kind of sick person would strap her down to a table? And, where was Vito? He knew how much she hated the place, how terrified she was of being alone. Why would he leave her?

The thought that maybe he had done this to her sickened her. Vito had said he loved her. Was this how he treated someone he loved? Maybe Vito was a sick man. Maybe he needed psychiatric help. Her left hand broke free with a snap that rocked the stillness like a shotgun blast. She tugged on the other restraint with her free hand and once she was free, Daphne rose to a sitting position, raising her hands to cover her eyes as a wave of dizziness overcame her.

The realization that she was alone brought a mixture of relief and fear. After several minutes her legs were free, but she didn't dare move because movement brought on a fresh wave of sickness. Nausea washed over her once again and she leaned over and vomited. It was coming back to her. She'd been drugged.

Daphne glanced over her shoulder. The eight steel drawers behind her mocked her, enticing her to enter the black depths that had undoubtedly held numerous corpses in the past. An icy shiver traced its way up her spine as realization exploded in her brain. The basement was terrifying enough, but the morgue almost sent her over the edge into the slim line that seemed to separate her from sanity and madness.

She stood on rubbery legs and then collapsed, crawling to an old chair in the corner. It was an antique wheelchair, dusty and abandoned long ago. She slumped onto it, removing her feet from the frigid floor, wondering how long it would support her weight.

To her horror, Daphne realized that she had been strapped to the embalming table. Rust stains splashed across the basin gave the appearance of dried blood. She gritted her teeth to hold back the scream that hung in her throat.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Register to win a book from Nicole O'Dell...

Register to win a book from Nicole O'Dell.

We're happy to have Nicole O'Dell with us today talking about her books Magna and Making Waves. Nicole has been kind enough to give a free book to a lucky blog reader. To register, place your e-mail address in the feedburner box at the top right if you haven't done so and leave a comment at the end of Nicole's interview. Be sure to include your e-mail address with your comment. To learn more about Nicole read on.

Your titles: Magna and Making Waves
These books, Magna and Making Waves, are numbers three and four in my Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series. In each book, the reader arrives at a moral dilemma and must make the choice for the main character. The alternate endings let her live out her own choices.

1) How did this story come to you?
Both stories come from experiences I had as a teen. In Magna, Molly Jacobs gets a job at a trendy clothing store—I had very similar experiences when I was fifteen and got a job at the mall. In Making Waves, Kate Walker joins the swim team. While I didn’t have any encounters with performance-enhancement drugs like Kate did, I had similar feelings about being a part of my high-school swim team and loved being in the water—still do.
2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
It’s been a fun journey and the steps to publication were relatively simple compared to many stories I’ve heard. The first two books in the series came out in August of 2009. The fifth and sixth books release in 2011.
3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I have six kids, the oldest is 18 and the youngest are toddler triplets.
I started college at fifteen. Why am I STILL in classes, though?
I’m a member of Mensa.
4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I’m working on a three-book YA series called Diamond Estates--a girl’s group home in a converted monastery in the Colorado Rockies.
High Stakes and Essence of Lilly are the next two books releasing in the Scenarios Series. Look for them in Spring, 2011.
5) Parting comments?
Thanks so much for checking out my books. Stop by my blog if you get a chance—On, Mondays I post to parents. Tuesday’s I post my Girl Talk column in which my two daughters and I answer reader’s questions. You can see the rest of the schedule here:
6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
You can sign up for my newsletter here:

Easing into Ebooks (Part 2)

Easing into Ebooks (Part 2)

by Shawna Williams
Part Two

Before I discuss the top three questions about ebooks, let me address this all encompassing question.
Is an ebook even a book?
According to a book is:1) a written or printed work of fiction or nonfiction, usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers. From the same source, an ebook is: "a book in digital form." So, I guess the best way to put it is that an ebook is a book, (a written or printed work of fiction or nonfiction) in digital form.
What does this mean for the "usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers" part? Well, that brings me to the first question in our top three. What does the proliferation of ebooks mean for print? This question seems to raise a lot of fears amongst booklovers. I've read a full gamut of comments blaming ebooks for everything from the demise of brick and mortar stores, to being responsible for the rampant forest fires in California. (Go figure?) What it all boils down to is fear of change; specifically, that ebooks will be the end to the tried and true, comfy paper book.
Rest assured, they will not.
The paper book has tangible qualities that go beyond the content of its pages. How many of us hold a book to our heart, or stare lovingly at its cover when we feel a connection to the story inside. The story may be the object of our affection, but the physical book enhances those feelings by giving us a memento to remind us of our experience.
For this reason, we're always going to want paper books.
So here's a question: do you want this representation for every book you read?
I don't. As a Matter-of-fact, my paper books are more cherished than ever because they have been carefully selected as stories that have truly touched my heart. That doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed the hoards of ebooks on my Kindle, only that like print books, they have spanned a wide range in appeal. There have been those that made me roll my eyes, and those that failed to hold my interest. Ones I thought were good. Some I thought were great; and on occasion, I've found a book that is uniquely special – leaving me a changed person inside. And because of the ease and economy of ebooks, I've had more opportunity to find those rare gems, and they're resting in a place of honor upon my bookshelf. So, ebooks may have an impact on the number of books going into print production, but they will not replace them.
Next question: What happens if my computer or reading device breaks? Do I lose all of my books?
Nope! When you buy an ebook you are purchasing the content, not a one-time download. Amazon, Fictionwise, Books on Board, Reader Store at Borders, even publisher storefronts, keep what's known as a virtual bookshelf for every customer. Your ebooks are stored there, and if by chance you lose them through mechanical mishap, or delete a book, and later decide you want it back, all you have to do is log into your account, go to your shelf and download it at no extra charge. You can also have the same book on multiple devices. About a third of what's on my Kindle is also on my computer through Kindle for PC. This is a big bonus since my twelve year old is entranced by a fantasy series and has been hogging my Kindle for over a month now.
And this brings me to the last question on the top three. It's a doozy. Are ebooks inferior to print books? By this, I'm referring to story, editing, and cover -- not the format.
The answer to this is, some are and some aren't. And likewise, some print books are inferior to some ebooks.
This depends on the publisher's standards. I've come across my fair share of print books -- put out by traditional publishers – with weak or implausible storylines, spelling errors, continuity errors, bad research, and characters who fall into the whole array of writing pitfalls – flat, cliché, Mary Sue, inconsistent, or just plain stupid. Some print books are fraught with corny analogies. I've seen some covers where the models' expressions seem to indicate they might be concealing a bad case of constipation. And to detract from this, the artist conveniently sprinkled the page with colorful clipart.
You can find every one of these things in ebooks put out by publishers with low quality standards too. Bad books have been, and always will be part of the industry.
But there are a number of epublishers with high standards for story, editing and cover art. These publishers, as a whole, are more inclined to take a risk on an experimental genre or new author, but that doesn't mean they've compromised they're standards. Only that a door has been opened for a talented person to share their work, and an opportunity has been given to a curious reader to enjoy it.
Now, if you're wondering where you might be able to investigate ebooks at no expense, check back next week for the third installment of this article, and I'll tell you.
Happy reading!

April Contests

April Contests

All contests are now located under the contest page on the blog. Please check there for upcoming writing contests.