Welcome to my Blogger page, thank you for visiting. This is where I will share my reviews of books, movies and other things I enjoy. If you would like to see my ramblings, fanfiction and other general posts, please visit my Livejournal: beren_writes. Visit my pages to learn about me and my books.
Top set of links above are external links, second set are pages local to the blog.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Forgotten Soul is now free on Amazon UK


"Forgotten Soul" has been price matched to free on Amazon UK and so it is now in line with Amazon US. It may be downloaded for nothing.

Hopefully this will help with sales as much as it did when it went free on Amazon US.

John knows that at best he can be described as a male escort and at worst as a whore, but it's what he does and he's good at it. He sells his body and his clients come with fangs so it's more about blood than sex. Hiding behind a false smile and his acting skills is the only way he survives, but when he meets one of his latest clients, Michael, his professional detachment is severely threatened, leading him into very dangerous territory.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Amazon is not the only Option

I think that some of us who have been in the world of eBooks for a while forget how confusing it can be to newcomers. After some of the response I received to yesterday's post about buying and reading books from Amazon: The Ease and Pitfalls of Buying eBooks from Amazon, I thought of another useful post for newbies to eBooks.

Hence

Amazon Is Not the Only Option even if you have a Kindle

Depending on what eBook reader you have chosen there are other eBook sites out there where you may purchase to your heart's desire. Most eReaders are not geared to one site only, for example, if a site says it has .mobi format, this means you can read it on a Kindle.

If you want to know what format your eReader can take then check out this Wikipedia post which has a lovely table at the bottom showing you what can read what. Comparison of e-book formats

If you're reading on PC, Mac or Smartphone you also have various software options. Some eBook stores offer their own readers, but there are also:

  • Calibre - does just about every format and as long as the book is DRM free it can read it. Also has convert and organise options.
  • Adobe Digital Editions - supports various formats and can do DRM books
  • eReader.com - not actually quite sure about this one


In fact there are so many that check out this page for more info: E-book software from Mobileread

Once you have your device or software there is the question of where to buy your books.

Here are a list of all the major eBook stores Wittegen Press books are uploaded to (I'm talking about these because these are the ones I know about, it is not an exhaustive list):

  • Amazon: UK | US | DE | FR | ES | IT
  • Smashwords - books here come in just about every format available. They are DRM free.
  • Barnes & Noble - Nook book fromat (and I believe only available in the US - please correct me if I am wrong)
  • Kobo - ePub and have a Kobo reading ap for many devices if you want to download and use it.
  • Diesel - ePub
  • iTunes (Apple) - iBook (iBook FAQ at Apple)
  • Goodreads - some people offer their books via Goodreads as well as using it as a review site. ePub again

Then there are other more specialist sites:

  • All Romance - you get one guess what they specialise in and they offer various formats depending on what the publisher has uploaded. Each book entry will tell you what formats are available for that book. The only drawback I have seen is that you can only download one format of the book, so if you pick the wrong one you're stuffed.
  • OmniLit - this is All Romance's sister site that does all genres.
  • Ebook-Eros - Erotic books linked to Diesel.

Then some publishers have their own sites, big names and Indie.


And that's just half of the first page of Google when I search for Romance eBooks. Everyone is at it, from all genres, and all you have to do is check to see what formats the sites are offering.

What you have to watch out for with the big providers like Amazon and Apple is DRM. Some books purchased through their sites may only be read on their devices/applications. Other than that, the world is your oyster.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask, I'll do my best to answer them. I'm not an expert, but I'm happy to try and help.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Ease and Pitfalls of Buying eBooks from Amazon

I've been meaning to do this post for a while and something that happened jogged my memory :). There seems to be much confusion around Amazon eBooks, so I thought I'd make a post about it to clear things up.

Firstly let me say this: YOU DO NOT NEED TO OWN A KINDLE to buy and read eBooks from Amazon.

Having a Kindle just makes it ridiculously easy.

There are many other ways to read Kindle books because there are reading aps for the following devices:
  • iPhone/iPod Touch
  • Windows PC
  • Mac
  • Blackberry (US only, god knows why)
  • iPad
  • Android
  • Windows Phone 7
You can download all of them here: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Pitfalls

There is only one problem with some Amazon books and that is DRM. This stands for Digital Rights Management and means that some books bought from Amazon can only be read on a Kindle or a Kindle ap. There are ways round this (which is what makes it so ridiculous in the first place), but they are technical and involve scripts and things, so if you really want to know I suggest you Google it.

Of course Amazon aren't going to stick it up there in neon that a book has DRM because they know it annoys people.

How to tell if an Amazon book is infested DRM or not.
Go to the "Product details" section. If you find this line:
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
it means the book is DRM FREE. If it doesn't have this line, the book has DRM.

Of course that is the major advantage of buying indie, most of us indie publishers want nothing to do with DRM because it just pisses off our customers. For the record all of my books and the other books from http://www.wittegenpress.com are DRM free (and if you find one that isn't please tell me because it means someone cocked up somewhere along the way).

If the book is DRM free, you are then free to convert the book to any device you like. Calibre is a fabulous free piece of software that allows you to manage your eBooks and convert them to whatever format you wish for whatever device you wish.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Rec: Fun. "We Are Young" ft Janelle MonĂ¡e

I was pointed to this song by someone in my circles on G+ and I am so glad I saw the link. It's a truly superb song and the band Fun. have an album coming out in Feb. The song is called "We Are Young" and it's brilliant. Nate (the singer) has an amazing voice and the way the chorus soars is amazing.


I like the normal version of this, but the acoustic is simply superb! I have been singing it since the first time I watched it and I may have had the vid on repeat for a while. When Fun.'s album comes out I am so buying it.

Direct link: On Youtube
This is the non-acousic version as well. Odd vid, but cool :)

Direct link: On Youtube

Their website is here: http://www.ournameisfun.com/home/
They have a couple of their other songs on there too as well as some behind the scene's stuff.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Review: The Ghost Inside Me by Katie Cramer

The Ghost Inside Me
by Katie Cramer
Title: The Ghost Inside Me
Author: Katie Cramer
Publisher: Addictive Press
Genre: paranormal romance
Conclusion: Good 4/5

Okay, so I read this yesterday morning while pedalling on my exercise bike and gave myself a day to digest it before I reviewed it. Over on Amazon I gave it four stars, because I like it.

This is a good read, it's just not long enough. Everything there is in the book is great. The prose is well written, the plot holds together, but there's not really enough of it to get the whole story in.

Let me say that the sex is beautifully done and it's sexy, and I love the overall story. It's well thought out and nicely set up. The characters are good and it's very easy to relate to them. So well worth a read.

My only problem is that it feels like there are bits missing. I know it's only a short story, but it was begging for more in depth emotional reactions and there is a point near the end where it jumps from one scene right to the last one and I would have liked to have seen a bit of what happened in between.

So, definitely a great quick read to pick up, just no five stars because, for me, it needed a couple more thousand words.
TGIM on Amazon UK | TGIM on Amazon US

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Style and Substance


My husband and I watched a film last night called "The Storm Warriors". It's a Chinese epic martial arts movie and it is beautifully made. The sets are stunning, the fight scenes amazing and the special effects are superb, however, it's not a very good film.

  • Firstly, it's a sequel and totally fails to reintroduce the characters.
  • Secondly the plot is so thin it's virtually non-existent.
  • Thirdly, what plot there is doesn't actually make any sense; not even a little bit.

The whole film is a triumph of style over substance and hence falls flat as far as I am concerned. We watched half of the final fight scenes in fast forward because, by then, we were that bored of them. They were beautiful, but we just wanted to know what the hell was going to happen.

A little more talking and less fighting and it might have been a film worth watching a second time.

I think you can sometimes have this problem in books as well. It tends to be more difficult to analyse in a book, but sometimes you find a novel where the characters just go through the motions. There is everything you expect, a beginning, a middle and an end, but no substance. Sometimes it can be lack of plot, or a plot that doesn't make sense, but in a book world sometimes you can still have that and not be engaged. I tend to find this is when the characters lack emotional depth.

I was reading a book the other day (no I'm not going to say which one) and it should have been great. The first chapter was; dragged me right in and made me want to read more, but then the humans arrived in the book and it lost me. Something about the writing meant I made no connection with the characters at all and, hence, I really couldn't be bothered to read the rest. I didn't finish the book.

The book had all of the style. The world building was there, the technical skill was there, but there was nothing to make me connect to it. It was beautifully put together, I'll give it that, but it lacked something.
Of course all of this is very subjective. Someone else might have thought it was a superb book. I think that's what makes writing so hard. It's also what makes reviews not the be all and end all. Some people will like a book or film, some people won't. If it's good some people will think it is the most wonderful thing ever, some people may not be moved by it in the slightest.

There is style and there is substance and I think, when it comes to style, it's easier to tell if something is good. A badly made film or a badly written book is quite obvious when it comes to cinematography or spelling. If you're making a sci-fi movie you don't want to film it in soft focus. If you're writing a romance novel you don't want huge swathes of space opera type prose. Style has much easier rules and as long as you have taken the time to find out what they are, you're pretty much set.

Substance on the other hand, that is much more subjective. I don't like most of the movies that win OSCARs. There are exceptions, but, mostly, I find them long winded and boring. That's me not gelling with the substance even if I can appreciate how beautiful the cinematography might be. I also don't enjoy literary fiction; mostly it bores me senseless. However, I am well aware, that is simply a matter of personal preference.

This does not mean I will enjoy every film or book that does fulfil my type of substance criteria, or that I will dislike every single one outside what I usually watch or read. The substance also has to be done well.
In a movie I can forgive a few plot holes, as long as most of it fits together. In a book I usually can't get over a huge gaping illogical step. This is a double standard, but I expect the writing in a book to be better. I suspect this is because in the book there are only words and the plot is in my head, in a block buster movie there is usually the pretty to distract me. Shallow, I know, but it happens to be the truth.

I think is all comes down to this in both films and books: things have to happen in something like a logical order and I have to care about why they are happening.

I was watching "Hereafter", the Clint Eastwood directed movie with Matt Damon. I watched the whole film and, after it was finished, I think I had enjoyed it, but I will never watch it again. It came over to me as the literary fiction of the film world. It is a beautifully put together plot, beautifully filmed, but it went nowhere and did nothing very much and didn't actually finish properly. We almost switched it off in the middle, which was not a good sign. However, at the end it all did make sense and it kind of left me with a nice feeling, so I didn't hugely dislike it, I'll just never bother to sit through it again. It had style and substance, just not my cup of tea.

A movie and a book both require substance in my opinion, but both are on a sliding scale. The best have both in huge amounts, but, depending on the level of one you can get away with reducing the other. However, if you have too little of one, even if you have epic amounts of the other, like "The Storm Warriors", it's still not going to be enough.

Of course, the reason we have so much diversity out there is that everyone's limits and sliding scales are different and, I believe, this is a very good thing.

Monday, 23 January 2012

New Book: Forbidden Soul (Soul Reader #2)

I have a new book out today. It's called Forbidden Soul and it is full of vampires and action and hot gay sex.

John's life used to be on the risky side, but it had been simple. Allowing vampires to suck his blood had never been safe, but now there is Michael and having a vampire who actually cares about him is complicated. It's even more complicated because Michael is urging him to reconnect with the family he hasn't seen in over five years. The fact his recent past also doesn't want to die quietly is making his life less than easy and it's about to become deadly.

This is the second book in The Soul Reader Series which is going to be a series of free short stories interspersed with bargain price novella length books. The first book Forgotten Soul is one of the short stories and may be downloaded free from Amazon and Smashwords (check the link above to see options).

Forbidden Soul picks up where Forgotten Soul finishes and takes the reader on the next stage of John and Michael's confusing journey. It is novella length at 22.5K wds and is available for the bargain price of 99c/77p. There is plenty of plot, romance and sex to satisfy all readers.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Naked men!

I'm coming to an inescapable conclusion - naked men on covers sell books. I wonder if I could get away with a naked man on Cat's Call ... I mean they do get naked ... for entirely non-sexual reasons of course ... ;)

I'm joking, but I am going to redo the cover for "Chip Off the Old Block?" so that it has at least semi-naked men on it. It did it in cont. fantasy style, but I think it should definitely be in paranormal romance style instead.

I can do it at the same time I do the cover for the sequel to Forgotten Soul

Monday, 2 January 2012

Ways to help promote a book without, necessarily writing a whole review.

Reviews are wonderful things and undoubtedly help a book sell, but the modern world is a very busy one and sometimes readers just don't have time to sit down and put sensible words together to write a full review. Hence here is a list of other things readers can do that will help a up a book's profile that take seconds to do.
Quick promotion options
  • Agree with all the tags on Amazon.

    Just under the Product details section on an Amazon UK page for a book, or just above the Customer Discusions section on Amazon US page, is the tags section. These tags help a book appear in search results and the more people agree with a tag the higher the book should come in the listing. It looks like this:


    Most authors will have already tagged their book with the tags they believe it should have and there is a link next to the tags which says Agree with these tags?. Click that and you will up the tag count for each of those tags and hence help the book be found by those searching Amazon.

    Apparently "Agree with all these tags" does not actually help the book, you have to click the tick boxes next to the actual tags. Trust Amazon to make it difficult. However, this still only takes a couple of seconds. Thanks.

    If you have time, please do this for all Amazon country sites because tags are country dependent (yep, silly I know).
  • Add your own tags on Amazon.

    If you think that the book should have a tag it does not yet have to reach a wider audience, add a new one. Just, please, make sure the tags apply or Amazon gets upset.
  • Like the book on Amazon.

    At the top of each book entry, just under the title and author there is a little like button. Click it to let the world know you liked the book. This is what it looks like when you have clicked the button.


    If you have time, please do this for all Amazon country sites because likes are also country dependent (yep, silly I know).
  • If you know a book is being given away on other sites for free (long term - i.e. it is a free title by the author), encourage Amazon to price match. Amazon only allow authors to put up books for a min of 99c, not give them away like other sites, so the only way to have a free title is for Amazon to price match, which they won't do without prompting.

    There is a link in the Product Details section which is called "tell us about a lower price". It will cause a window like this to come up:

    As you can see you will need the URL of the site where you saw it for free, for example Barnes and Nobel, and the price you saw it for.
  • If the book has a G+ page, circle it and share it with your friends.
  • If the book has a Facebook page, like it and share it with your friends.
  • Tweet about the book with a link to where it can be bought.
  • Rate it on Goodreads - you can add a star rating without adding a full review and you can always come back later and add the review when you have time.
  • Just mention the book to your friends. :)
Big name publishers really don't need a lot of help promoting their books, they have huge marketing machines behind each title, but when it comes to Indie Publishers and Indie Authors a minute of your time can mean so much. Upping a book's profile can mean the difference between ten sales and thousands; price matching on Amazon can mean the difference between twenty downloads and two thousand all of which will up the profile of the author and help them sell their other books.
We live in a world of social networking and the independent book producers rely on these networks. The truth is good titles deserve to rise to the top, but the world has to hear about them first. Indies are fighting against the huge corporate machines that promote books like Harry Potter and Twilight, so please, if you have a minute or two to spare, help out the little guys.