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Welcome! Books, movies, music, original stories, interviews, writing, libraries, literacy, humor –all with the YA reader in mind, are just a few of the topics you’ll find here. New to the blog? Say hi! Like it? Follow away! Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Post: Follow-up story Digital Libraries and the future of digital publishing

On November 25th, Guest poster Roger Greer from stones and words and words and stones wrote: Digital Libraries and the future of digital publishing 

Penguin subsequently took a 180 as reported by David Brooks (article below)

Penguin e-books are back at the library – for now

 Roger's response to the Penguin change of heart via his blog:

Last week I wrote a post for an authors blog, J.R. Wagner about Penguin pulling e-books from libraries.

I didn't even know that e-books were available in libraries till I saw the article, but I did some quick searching and found out that Penguin was concerned about piracy. It seems that since then, the older books are back in the libraries but the new Penguin releases are not. This whole kerfuffle seems to have started when the service Penguin uses (OverDrive) added a  Kindle availability, which is an Amazon product, and Amazon is hurting the publishing industry by continuing to sell real books at a loss to get customers. I stand by my original agreement with Penguin on this matter, if they are concerned, I am concerned (which is why I do not post more poems on FaceBook, I have read the terms of service), and I understand that Penguin is in the business to make money, not to give away free books.

With the re-evaluation Penguin is not giving in, but conceding that the abrupt pull out hurt readers. According to the linked article, the lack of fire-wall protection in the Kindle could allow the books loaned to be copied and sent to anyone, anywhere. Again, Penguin is not in business to give away books. The company will continue to donate books to libraries for regular loans, but is sticking to the security concern.

How true that is remains to be seen, however, as the fight between Amazon and Penguin (Amazon now wants to be a publisher as well as a retailer, stealing authors from...hold on...Penguin) continues to rage. Could this all be a simple case of one publisher not wanting to donate product to another publisher? I imagine that is part of it, but, the piracy angle can not be overlooked.

I'll try to keep an eye on this, maybe more posts in the future about the whole publishing mess, including SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act winding its way through Congress.



Thank you, Roger for allowing me to post your follow-up story!

You can follow his blog HERE

Will Amazon get their way?  Are they becoming too big for their own good Or is this another music industry V.S. iTunes?  Thoughts?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Author interview: Willow Cross

 Willow Cross is the author of Inheritance, Oceans of Red volume one and Birthright.  She resides in Arkansas, The United States. 

o you've written and published Birthright and Inheritance (which, for the record, published before Christopher Paolini's version) and are working on the third, Legacy. How goes it?
Legacy is slow moving. I’m in the process of finishing Oceans of Red volume two. After it is published I plan on throwing myself into Legacy.

When did you first start writing? Do you recall your first writing project?

I don’t recall. The first big one was Birthright.

When did you finish your first book?

January of 09. I will remember that day for as long as I live. I wrote the last paragraph realized the book was finished, typed “And so it began...” Then cried for several minutes. It was amazing!!

Do you ever experience writer’s block (be honest, I see you posting about some online game all the time!)? 

 Absolutely!!! My muse seems to take great pleasure in vacationing. Usually to places I have no interest in going. LOL

Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I just write. I’ve tried working with an outline and it never works. My stories have their own ideas of where they want to go.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult (other than The Hobbit)? 

Hmmmm. Well that’s not a tough one, but there’s no short answer. Robert Hienlein: THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS. Madeline L’engle: A WRINKLE IN TIME. Richard Bach: JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL. I still have the copy I was given in 7th grade. And Anne McCaffrey: Dragons series. I’ve read them all repeatedly. Each of these books (among many others) have not only taught me something about life and love, but they opened my mind and imagination to infinite possibilities and destinations. Before learning to create my own worlds, I learned to live in theirs.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Many of the characters in my books are based on people I know. All of the places exist. You can find the actual houses, buildings, etc. on a map. Everything else is imagination.

What was your favorite chapter in Inheritance (or part) to write and why?

I really can’t say I had a favorite part of the book. I enjoyed writing every word of it. ;)

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Oh my. Another long answer. LOL I have at least 15 starts of different book ideas in files waiting for me to get to them. (And there may be more than that, I haven’t counted.) I’m enjoying working on both The Dark Gifts series and Oceans of Red series. I’m very attached to those characters. However, there’s another book I’ve been working on here and there that I’d really like to spend more time with. It has nothing to do with either series. And I’ve been thinking lately of doing a straight on Horror story. A particular plot has been floating around in my head for a couple weeks now. (Hasn’t made it to the files yet, but I’m sure it will.)

Tell me about your writing environment. Do they use a pen and paper, laptop? Quiet room, music or what? Dog at their feet? Cat on the desk? Just whatever makes it comfortable to be productive.

Absolute silence. If the dog is making too much noise he’s invited to go outside. LOL I always use my computer to write. Desktop not laptop. (I hate laptops. There’s just not enough room to type comfortably.) And I have to have a lit candle. It doesn’t matter which scent it is, I just need to see it flickering out of the corner of my eye.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Both!!! But if I have to pick one, then Star Trek!!!!

Are you working on any other creative projects at the moment?

Oodles and gobs. Seriously can’t name them all. LOL (because some don’t have names yet.)

Will you tell me about these ghosts you've seen in your house?

LOL!!! I have told you about the ghosts. Some of the stories are in Haunted. ;) I am ghost free at the moment. (Knock on wood) But with my luck, I don’t expect to stay that way forever.

What do you think of what's happening with the publishing industry right now? Any speculation as to where it is heading?

In all seriousness, I don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the publishing industry. I think ebooks are the wave of the future. I think print books will always be around. (There’s no way I’m giving up my JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL for an e-copy.) As far as which publishing company is buying out or going under, I don’t keep up with it. My focus is on my readers and my writing. If they’re happy, I’m not going to worry.

Do you have any funny stories involving a creative project you've worked on?

Tons, but I don’t have time to write them all. I will say that it’s amazing what you can miss after doing revisions. One of my beta readers for Birthright found that I’d changed Michael’s hair color 3 times in the first two chapters. And that I had Minerva run into a room and help Liz with something 2 full pages before she was introduced. LOL Gotta love those beta readers!!!! :D

Best show on TV? 

Supernatural!!! (And no I’m not kidding!!! LOL)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Guest Post: Digital Libraries and the future of digital publishing

Guest Post by the author of the blog: stones and words and words and stones, Roger Greer


From the article: Penguin books hop off digital libraries

"Penguin has been a long-time supporter of libraries with both physical and digital editions of our books. We have always placed a high value on the role that libraries can play in connecting our authors with our readers. However, due to new concerns about the security of our digital editions, we find it necessary to delay the availability of our new titles in the digital format while we resolve these concerns with our business partners," it said.
This move sparked discussion between myself and the owner of this blog, resulting in this, my very first guest post!

I agree with Penguin on this move, and I freely admit that the conclusion is based on feelings, on the overall understanding of the human desire to get things for free.

umans need entertainment; from the first cave drawings to the digital art of today, from the first drums to the iPod, and from the papaya scrolls to the digital books…no…wait a minute. Books are different, are they not?

Artwork can be similar to books in the singularity of the piece, but that did not stop people from forging those pieces. The invention of the printing press meant that art work could be mass-produced and sold to more people, and, following that came more sophisticated means of reproduction. This still deals with a single piece though, one sheet of poster paper per pirated print, easily produced at you local Staples©.

Music has soothed the masses since the beginning of time and every innovation in recording and storing has caused problems for the artists and sellers of music. The cassette tape, ubiquitous in the 1970’s was supposed to kill the music business due to the ease of dubbing from your friends vinyl collection. When music went digital, the same argument was made, and yet, the business still thrives. It has adapted, for the most part, and will continue to do so.

Books, however, have never really had this pirating problem. Sure, plagiarism has always been around, but as the world shrunk, that even began to become difficult. No longer could someone translate a book from Russian and sell it in America as their own work. Forget photocopying an entire book, too time consuming. So free libraries thrived, collections of the written word, allowing everyone to enjoy books without having to buy everything one wanted to read. There was little fear that the borrower was going to copy the book and sell it. Now, with the advent of e-books, this is a legitimate fear, and one that must be addressed.

Writers write because they have no choice; and some make money doing it. Still others make money providing the results of the writer’s struggles, many others (printers, sellers, editors). But it isn’t about the money, not completely, it is about the work of the author belonging to the author. If an e-book can be easily copied, repackaged, and sold as being the product of someone else, the original author is hurt deeper than financially.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being consistent with your writing -a 'how to' journey.

A friend of mine asked me how he could be more consistent with his writing. He's struggled with this problem as long as I've known him as I imagine most writers do.

I'm speculating that the information I'm about to provide is different for everyone but, if someone can take away a piece of it and implement it into their routine -I'll call it a success.


I understand SOME of you don't have the luxury of scheduling the same time every day because, for example, you may work different shifts on different weeks, which really screws things up.  For those folks my advise is this: Determine how long you are going to write.  Block off that time BEFORE your shift.  By the time you get home you'll be too tired, disoriented and distracted to bother sitting down and trying to write.  There is ALWAYS an excuse at the end of the day for not writing.  Tackle it before the day starts. I get up at 4:30 to make time to write before work -it wasn't easy at first but it's become a habit (21 days in a row make a habit) and I look forward to that time -I'm usually up before my alarm clock ready to go! (really)

So, like all things that require consistency in order to succeed, a scheduled time will give you the best shot.

Step 2: Create the optimal environment.

This doesn't mean you have to drive up to your cabin in Maine every time you want to write.  Deal with what you have.  You need to be alone! No TV, no kids, no spouses or other miscreants wandering hither and tither while you're trying to create.  Find your space. Close the door.  Lock if necessary. Since my doors and walls are not soundproof, I wear noise canceling headphones.  Check THESE bad boys out.

  Yep they're expensive but I'm sitting here typing away while my daughter is watching Billy The Exterminator not fifteen feet away (we have guests so I've been booted from my office) and I can't hear anything but the soundtrack from Lost. I always listen to instrumental scores while I'm writing -no distracting lyrics!

I bet this guy doesn't get bothered!

Step 3: Set a goal!

Any goal that is attainable, trackable and makes sense for the project you're working on.  If you're writing a novel, 1000 words a sitting is a good place to start.  Keep a log tracking your progress.  Look at it EVERY DAY. Feel good about yourself when you hit your goals every day for a week.  Consider handcuffing yourself to your desk chair if you don't.

Hold yourself accountable.  Tell others what you're doing so they can provide the necessary support -an 'atta boy' or a swift kick in the behind. Post your progress on facebook, twitter, your refrigerator, wherever just don't hide what you're trying to accomplish or you won't get the reinforcement you need.

Step 4: Do it EVERY DAY

It's thanksgiving.  Am I writing?  Yes I am.  I've already spent over an hour editing my manuscript as well.  Am I a bit too hard-core? Perhaps.  Regardless, when you first start out, you MUST write EVERY DAY for at least 21 days in a row -remember that whole 21 days to make a habit thing?


Sorry about the negativity, but it's true.  There will come a day where you will get sick, someone will run over your mother-in-law or you simply sleep in and miss your writing time.  Don't get upset, think it's the end of your writing career or fall into a state of depression.  It happens to EVERYONE.  Dust your butt off and get back in the chair the following day.  The key is, keep writing.

On that note, I've got ten minutes to dress, dress my daughters and get them to the Turkey Trot.  Best of luck!  I'd love to hear the tools/tricks you use to stay consistent (That means comment!)

keep writing!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thank you, Harry Potter

I watched the final movie of the Harry Potter series this weekend.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -adapted from the amazing Novel by J.K. Rowling.

Well...that's it.  No more DVD's to wait for, books to swoon over or new characters to anticipate.  Done. 

The movies were a shadowy reflection of the books in terms of content and quality however I still looked forward to them as did all Potter fans.  My biggest gripe with the films happened to be something completely out of their control. (sort of) The death of Richard Harris. He embodied what I though Dumbledore should be and for most of us, he was Albus Dumbledore. With the casting of Michael Gambon came a different Dumbledore.  Less like Rowling's character and more like the edgy, brash wizards Hollywood seems to cast.  Personally, I adore that character above all others in the series.  Seeing an actor push away from the Dumbledore of Rowling's design was and continues to be insulting.  It changed everything.  It changed Harry's relationship with Dumbledore.  It made the moments in the movie when Potter claimed to be 'Dumbledore's man' less endearing and it was painful to watch this new Dumbledore stomp across the room and literally push Harry up against a cabinet, impatient and angry. Albus Dumbledore does not stomp, isn't impatient or angry and would NEVER lay hands on any student let alone Harry Potter.

I am sure this has been said many times by many fans...but this is my time.  Now, at the end of all things Harry Potter.

If I could read the series again (all seven books!) I would. Over and over.  They're that good.  Unfortunately, time will not provide that luxury. 

So...is this really the end? J. K. Rowling just launched Pottermore, which is still in its beta phase but could that usher a new era for Harry Potter? A new book, perhaps?  Time will tell.  There are lots of great websites out there for fans.  Mugglenet, The leaky cauldron,  but soon, their content supply will dry up, won't it?

We can all wish and hope...but all things must end -and most wait until they've fallen to ruin rather than checking out on top.  I just hope, if something new gets published, that it hasn't fallen prey to the whisperings of industry 'experts' who usually screw things up.

Until then...or, if this is the end, Thank you Harry Potter.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Jedi's Lament...part I

I've been meaning to get this off my chest for....well, a long time.

There I was, sitting in the movie theater with my family, tears rolling down my cheeks as his body burned on the funeral pyre. The greatest villain of my generation had been struck down and destroyed by his own son. For a five-year-old, that was quite a bit to digest.

We left the theater and I realized, my world had ended. Since I was old enough to understand what I was seeing, George Lucas' Star Wars series had consumed my every thought. Now that world I had escaped to so often as a child was gone.

And yet, as time passed, a whispering began. It ebbed and flowed as time passed. Articles in the paper here, a spot on the local news there yet nothing firm. No release date and most importantly, no confirmation from the man himself that another film was to be released.

I passed the time making stop-motion films with my heavily used Star Wars toys

 writing scripts for sequels and even filming shorts with my parent's VHS recorder. Then the Phantom Menace trailer hit theaters across the US on Friday 12th March 1999 (yes I was already an adult...but not by much).

I was giddy as a schoolgirl...until I saw the trailer.

I immediately had my doubts.  What was this long eared thing with the most annoying accent imaginable?  Who was this kid that couldn't act himself out of a cardboard box? On the plus side was the lineup of A list actors.  Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson!  How could you go wrong with that lineup?

Two lines of text I should have known could only end in tragedy: Writer: George Lucas, Director: George Lucas

If only I knew then what I know now...sigh.

Next time...the reaction.