Wednesday, March 31, 2010

REVIEW: Allies Forever

Title: Allies Forever: The Life and Times of An American Prisoner of War
Author: Karen A. Patterson
Genre: biography
Price: $19.95
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 978-1432730307
Point of Sale: Amazon / Author's Site
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

On Christmas Day, 1944, Frederick “Red” Killmeyer, Jr. flew his 25th mission of the war as a co-pilot on a B-24 Liberator. Their target was a rail yard, picked in an attempt to stop the German offensive we now call the Battle of the Bulge. The plane never made it to the target, instead being hit by flak over German-held territory. Red, wounded in the foot, bailed out and was captured by the Germans. After an interrogation that included several beatings, Red ended up in Stalag Luft1, a German POW camp in Barth, Germany, hard by the Baltic Sea.

Although his daughter, Karen Patterson, knew her dad had been in WWII and a POW, she didn’t know the details of what happened until the early 1990s, when her dad, dying from cancer, opened up to her. Working on that information and extensive research, Ms. Patterson tells Red’s story in her new book Allies Forever. She starts at the beginning, detailing Red’s birth and the trials of his Depression-era family, and works in the story of how Red met and married Gladys Steinhardt, Karen’s mother. Gladys had her own story, which Ms. Patterson also tells.

After covering the war years, Ms. Patterson then covers the war and the post-war era, including Red’s struggles with what was clearly undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Also addressed in this section is what it meant to be a Catholic in Pittsburgh of the 1950s, as well as a brief look at “special education” (or the lack thereof) in that era.

I found these stories of ordinary people in extraordinary times fascinating. Gladys, for example, was largely abandoned as a child and spent a good deal of time in foster homes. Red’s POW experiences scarred him for life, physically and mentally, yet he became a successful businessman. Ms. Patterson’s attention to detail brought to light such fascinating trivia as the fact that servicemen’s pay was suspended when they were POWs, and the US Government ended up owing (and not paying!) Red for back pay.

It becomes clear that the “allies” in Allies Forever were Red and Gladys, who had each other’s back even across an ocean. This is a well-written and researched story, something that brings to life people of a great era in American history. I really enjoyed Allies Forever, and I am glad that Ms. Patterson sent me a copy to review.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Smashwords Signs Deal with Apple iBookstore

Breaking news: Smashwords to Distribute Ebooks to new Apple iPad iBookstore

Smashwords has signed a distribution agreement that will make qualifying Smashwords books available on the iPad. We're notifying you of this exciting development in advance because we want your books in the catalog. You must take steps now to ensure your books make it in time for inclusion in the Apple iPad's iBookstore's big launch April 3.

We've been working on this ever since the iPad was announced. Apple wants your books, and they appreciate the value that a distributor such as Smashwords can provide them.

What does it take to qualify? Please read carefully:

1. Your ebook must be accepted into the Premium Catalog by March 31. If you're not yet in the Premium Catalog, learn more at We can probably squeeze some stragglers in at the last minute, though please give yourself time to wrap things up early. If you miss the deadline, we get in you right after, because we'll probably do frequent ships to them.

2. Your book must be available in the EPUB format, and the book must pass the industry-standard EPUBCHECK quality check (this is why we have been upgrading our converters lately, and creating "scrubbers" to clean your files. The vast majority of Smashwords books now comply 100% with EPUBCHECK. If your book doesn't, we will let you know.).

3. Your book cover image must have a minimum height of 600 pixels. If you do not comply, we will let you know. We will soon make this a default requirement for inclusion in the Premium Catalog. To check your pixel dimensions, go to your book page, click on your book cover image (which blows it up to full size), and then right-mouse-click on the image and click "properties." If your image is too small, talk to your designer, obtain a larger image, and then upload it at Dashboard: Settings. Whatever you do, don't try to re-scale a small image by making it larger, because that will make it blurry.

4. You must *manually* opt-in to the Apple channel. The opt-in, when it's available (probably by March 31), will appear in your Dashboard's Channel Manager. While you wait for us to finish coding the opt-in in the next couple days, please complete the following steps below, all of which are required before you can opt-in.

5. Before you can opt in to the Apple channel, your Smashwords ebook must have a unique ISBN assigned to it. By "unique," I mean it must be different from the ISBN of any other book, including your print book if you have one.

6. Effective immediately, you can attach ISBNs to your books by visiting your Dashboard and clicking on the ISBN Manager -

This is exciting news. Now, I already have my own ISBNs assigned through Bowkers to my epub ebook formats; actually, Bowkers allows to to assign one ISBN to the ebook format and select the "multi-format" option, so you, as of right now, do not have to have a seperate ISBN for each ebook format. If you do not have ISBNs for your ebooks, Smashwords has an affordable option. There was more to this email, so please, visit the Smashwords site and read all their updated information about the changes to their Premium Distribution Channel.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Free Book Friday Winner

The Free Book Friday winner this month is LKnott.

Your book is on the way. Enjoy.

Thank you everyone who participated. Come back and visit us again. Our next Free Book Friday is April 30, 2010.

New Free Public Forum for Self-Publishing & Internet Marketing

From: WEBWIRE – Saturday, March 27, 2010

A free new self-publishing forum has been created for anyone interested in creating their own digital or physical information products and how to market them. These include e-books, book publishing, electronic and paper newsletters, digital audio recording, CDs, web video, DVDs, on and offline marketing, copywriting, re-sale rights, blogs and social media.

The forum also gives a chance for members to trade services and equipment, offer and request re-sale rights to information products and publish events that members might be interested in.

The forum is open to individuals and companies alike to learn from each other, form joint ventures and trade products and services.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Free Book Friday

This Month’s Book Giveaway is:

Title: The Light The Dark and Ember Between
Author: J.W. Nicklaus
Genre: Literature/Fiction/Short Story/Inspirational
Price: $15.00
Publisher: American Book Publishing Group
ISBN: 978-1589825055
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner

The cover detail: This book is a collection of uplifting images that delve into the reflections of the human condition. These stories will cause you to think, laugh, and even cry at the beauty of emotional memories. You will smile at the thought of love lost and found again in "Paper Doll." You will think about your life's choices in "10:18." You will cry tears of joy while reading about the hidden gift in "Winter Rose." This is a must-have collection of thought-provoking reflections perfect for your bedside or the beach.

This giveaway is an Advanced Reader Copy and it states that right across the cover. The book is also signed by the author.

To enter the contest, leave a comment -- with a valid email address -- by Midnight Sunday March 28th, 2010. A Winner will be drawn on Monday March 29th. Good Luck to all and happy reading.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thoughts on Reading in the Digital Age: Don't Panic!!! c.anne.gardner

"The advent of ebooks is no more going to kill the pleasure of reading, than the introduction of the internal combustion engine made horses extinct. What that did do was to change transportation forever. Ebooks will and are changing publishing in ways that terrify publishers and will turn out to be better for authors and readers than ever could have been imagined. And we won't have to murder trees to print up the really bad books―we'll just download, read as much as we can, and hit DELETE." -- Michael Stackpole
The Huffington Post

"Going forward, I speculate that if we make a successful transition to ebooks — that is: if ebooks become a major sales channel and authors are still writing professional quality work for money, and readers are finding some way to pay them — we may see a revival of other formats: novellas for one (they're undergoing a renaissance in SF publishing among the smaller publishers), the Dickensian serial for another, and the gigantic shoebox-sized monster for a third. The corsetting of the modern novel to fit between the tight constraints of binding costs and price elasticity of demand will be unstrung, or replaced by bras, or some other over-stressed metaphorical construct." -- Charles Stross

I’ll admit, I am not generally an early adopter, and frankly, I have been a book hoarder all my life, so the thought of reading from a machine puts kind of a taint on the over-romanticised experience most of us booklovers equate with reading. However, when I became a reviewer, things changed dramatically for me. It’s much easier for me to read on screen and type notes for a review at the same time. This wasn’t a difficult transition for me since my work-a-day life is mostly multi-screen reading/editing anyway. So, do that often enough and you become accustomed to it, and after a time, you actually come to appreciate it. First and foremost, I am a reader and a word nerd. It’s the words I am after. The story, even in the case of poetry, drives the experience for me, not the cover art, the fancy drop caps and embellishments, the page flipping, the smell of the paper, the typography, or any of the “other” packaging. I feel the same about book packaging as I do about food packaging. I am interested in the nutritious content, and I am certainly not going to eat the cardboard box or the cling film. I, being an artist myself, can appreciate the packaging on an artistic level, but that’s not the primary reason I buy a book for shit sake.

So, since my reading habits have been affected by the digital book revolution, does this mean that I am no longer a “Book” appreciator? No, it doesn’t. It just means that I am more discerning about the books I wish to keep for posterity. Deciding to stay my hand when it comes to paperback purchases will increase the budget available for the books that warrant library status such as leather-bound collector’s edition classics and non-fiction books on writing and philosophy or whatever I happen to be interested in at the moment. Books I will return to over and over again for research or inspiration.

Speaking of budget, this by no means equates to me buying less or *fewer* books either. (See etymology notation on Fewer vs. Less in the comments section) In actuality, over the past couple of months -- since my Sony ereader purchase -- I have bought more books, and with that I have taken a chance on more genres, more formats, and certainly more authors. I downloaded Twenty-five ebooks this year so far, and only 3 of them were free. My monthly book buying has increased from an average of 3-5 paperbacks per month to 8 ebooks and maybe one paperback. Hell, I am addicted to Kobo Books. They always have coupons, which means my risk taking threshold has gotten much lower than what it used to be with physical books. I picked up “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” last night for $4.00. There has been some controversy over it, but after reading a blurb over on Galleycat and that coupled with the $4.00 price tag compelled me to give it a try when otherwise I would not have.

As a reader, this newfound liberation is very exciting, and as a writer, well, I am out of my head thinking about the possibilities. For authors, this is the biggest thing since the eraser. More authors will be read, more authors will get paid, niche genres will have a chance at mainstream exposure, and forms the publishing industry has long ignored because of profit margins like short stories, novellas, serialized fiction, and poetry can enjoy a resurgence in popularity.

All this freedom to read and write is staggering when you think about it. I just wish the Traditional Publishing Industry would think about it and stop focusing on the triviality of pricing and DRM. The consumer wants content. The free market demands it. Focus on the content and distribution and the other shit will work itself out to the benefit of everyone, especially the authors, who will make more money and thus be happy. The hardware industry already understands this. There will eventually be a wide variety of ebook readers at a wide variety of price points offering a wide variety of functionality depending on the reader's needs. I am a dedicated no-frills reader, but other readers might want a multi-purpose device. It’s all about choice. And that is all a reader wants: choice. We want to buy the books we want, at the price we want, at the store we want, and in the format we want, and we want to be able to read it how we want and where we want. This year from Jan-Mar I spent $92.75 on just ebooks. Last year I spent $79.74 for the same time-frame for print books. Publishing Industry, is this making sense to you yet????

The paradigm shift is not that difficult to understand. Random House is the only one holding back on the agency pricing model, and it gives me hope that at least someone in the industry is seeing the bigger picture here besides the millions of readers in the world. The industry cannot ignore the reader. After all, without us, there wouldn't be a publishing industry in the first place.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Short Is Sweet ... c.anne.gardner

"Short is sweet when it comes to fiction. Novels don't have to be long to say something — just look at A Clockwork Orange, The Great Gatsby and The Outsider, all of which barely break the 100-page barrier and fit nicely in your back pocket. That's the thing with diminutive novels: they're not born of a lack of something to say. Rather, they come when novelists feel confident enough to say their thing in as few words as possible." -- Robert Collins The Guardian

I have to say that I agree with Mr. Collins here, and it’s not because I write novellas, which is my form of choice, but because, while I love the sweeping epic doorstop with hundreds of characters and sub-plots, I also like psycho-dramas that have a much tighter focus, dramas where ambiguity is a technique used for effect and not a flaw in the writer’s command of the craft. Alesandro Baricco’s novella “Silk” which I reviewed yesterday aptly proves my point.

As a writer, working with the short form suits my writing style and is of great benefit to me during the editing/revision process. I find that I write spare, subjectively, and extremely hyper focused on the thesis I am exploring. The benefit to me during the revision stage is that I rarely have to cut anything because I haven’t over-written.

The only thing I disagree with is that often what is wrongly labelled as a short novel is in fact a novella, written to the very stringent specifications that the genre demands. See my earlier piece on the novella. In any case, it’s nice to see some appreciation of the short form being bandied about by the likes of the Guardian. My hope with the ebook revolution is that the novella will enjoy renewed popularity. The Romance and Sci-Fi genres are already embracing it, and literary fiction over the ages would have been at a loss without the likes of Camus’ "The Stranger" among others.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

If You Write Prose Like This ...

Then I WANT to read your BOOK!!!

From Suttree by Cormac McCarthy:

Dear friend now in the dusty clockless hours of the town when the streets lie black and steaming in the wake of the watertrucks and now when the drunk and the homeless have washed up in the lee of walls in alleys or abandoned lots and cats go forth highshouldered and lean in the grim perimeters about, now in these sootblacked brick or cobbled corridors where lightwire shadows make a gothic harp of cellar doors no soul shall walk save you.
Could use a few well placed commas for ease of reading, but the subjective nature sets the tone with poetic perfection. I know nothing about this book, but based on this, I am certain I would love it even if I hated the story.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Idle Thoughts and Some Fun -- c.anne.gardner

Last week, I saw an author interview over at the Guardian Book Blog with this list of questions, and I thought it would be fun to play along. You know, get to know an Indie writer. I am looking for interview subjects, so if you would like to play along too, send your answers to podpeep at gmail dot com with the subject: Guardian Questionnaire. Please include a short bio and a pic. You may use a book cover instead of a head-shot if you prefer.

Cheryl Anne Gardner is a writer of dark, often disturbing literary novellas. She is an advocate for independent film, music, and books, and when at all possible prefers to read and review out-of-the-mainstream indie published works, foreign translations, and a bit of philosophy. Her love of literature began at an early age with Bram Stoker's Dracula. Captivated by the Gothic and Dark Romantic stylings of Poe, Lovecraft, Kafka, and de Sade, her passion for the macabre manifests itself throughout her own work to this day. She lives with her husband and ferrets on the east coast USA, is an enthusiastic gardener, and her weekly blog column titled "Thoughts on The Craft" can be found at The Pod People Indie Book Review and Commentary site: PodPeep.Blogspot
When were you happiest?
Were? That’s kind of defeatist, isn’t it? I am always happy, because I try to find a little something every day that makes me smile. If I can smile, then I can be happy. I usually have no trouble in the smiling or the happiness department.

What is your greatest fear?
That I will have missed something to smile about.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
I try not to idolize people: it’s bad for my own ego, but when it comes to admiring qualities, I find anyone who deviates from the norm, thinks independently, is focused on their artistic vision, and is rarely led astray to be most admirable. People who don’t just accept the status quo but live to challenge it. Not break the rules necessarily, just challenge the logic behind them, and then if necessary, break them.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
When I discovered that I had used the word “wenches” instead of “winches” in my Novella The Splendor of Antiquity after it had gone to print. The vision of 14th century buxom women of ill-repute, nipples pointing skyward, lugging modern day camera and lighting equipment up a mountainside was quite hilarious. What was less hilarious was having to stop the presses so I could make the correction. POD is awesome.

Property aside, what's the most ­expensive thing you've bought?
A very pricey series of tattoos and the piece isn’t finished yet.

What is your most treasured possession?
My father’s book collection. After he passed, I managed to rescue what I could from a very damp and musty garage. I donated some to the local library and kept as many of the classics as I had space for. If it wasn’t for his appreciation of the written word, I would have never set any to paper.

What would your super power be?
To be multi-orgasmic no matter how shite the other person is in bed. Translation: Self-satisfied

Who would play you in the film of your life?
If it’s comedy then Meg Ryan; if it’s serious then Cate Blanchett

What is your most unappealing habit?
Used to be smoking, or so I always told myself, but in reality, I have an annoying habit of wanting to know it all and then subsequently foisting it on everyone else.

What is your favourite word?
At the moment: Man-rod, but for a while it was: Lick. Translation: Man-rod, Lick it. Hey if Kirstie Alley can have a motto, so can I.

Is it better to give or to receive?
Give. Isn’t that what makes an artist happy in the first place? Creativity is a form of giving; otherwise, we wouldn’t show our art to anyone.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Porn, liquor, and dark chocolate ... not necessarily in that order.

What do you owe your parents?
I would rather not go there.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
All the creatures great and small know who they are, but my muse is my greatest love and also my greatest nemesis.

What does love feel like?

What is the worst job you've done?
Waiting on Elitist assholes.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn’t have let life stop me from living my art.

How do you relax?
See Guilty Pleasure; then afterwards, to read for about 4 hours undisturbed. It would have been smoke, but I am trying to quit.

How often do you have sex?
At least once per story, and I keep the lights dimmed so I don't frighten people.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The fact that I am able to like my work enough to stop revising it.

What keeps you awake at night?
The skunks having sex under my bedroom window.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
I don’t believe in funerals, but it really wouldn’t be my decision, and because of that, everyone should have to stay and listen to my entire music collection, even the Barry Manilow.

How would you like to be remembered?
As a seriously flawed yet accepting person: trustworthy and loyal to a fault. Or the ferret lady ... I am good with that too.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
That a person is defined by what they do and what they don’t do, and there is always time to make amends for the stupid shit.

Where would you most like to be right now?
Retired and living in Wales with nothing to do but write, garden, and tickle ferrets.

Tell us a joke.
Writing is the joke. It amazes me that anyone, including myself, manages to write anything remotely comprehensible with the way we are constantly butchering the language.

Tell us a secret.
There are no secrets in Fiction.

The Art this week is Bunny Dressing by Michael Sowa from the Book Esterhazy: The Rabbit Prince

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jane Smith Applauds the Clever, Creative, and Determined Self-Published Author

"When I consider the huge orchestrated efforts that commercial publishers make to promote and sell their titles, and compare their sales figures to those of most self-published books, I am surprised: not by the gulf between the two different levels of sales, but by the fact that so many self-published books, none of which have anything like the same level of support that commercially-published titles receive, manage to sell more than five or ten books each. Such sales figures are a testament to the cleverness, creativity and determination of those self-publishers, and should be applauded." -- Jane Smith

Read the rest of this informative Blog Post here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What Does a Pod Peep Read -- c.anne.gardner

I recently read Johannes Cabal Necromancer, which is the debut novel from British writer Jonathan L. Howard. The premise for the plotline is that Cabal had long ago lost his soul to the Devil in order to receive bountiful necromantic knowledge. At the start of the book, we find Cabal in a sorry and aggravated state, having discovered his study of necromancy cannot continue without it -- it being his soul. So he strikes a bargain, or rather a wager, with the Devil in affect declaring his intention to procure for the Devil 100 souls in one year, and the Devil gives him a carnival of sorts to do it with. Sure, the evil carnival is a staple, we’ve seen it in Matheson’s work, in Lovecraft’s, and in Bradbury’s, and I loved the HBO show, which sadly got cancelled for reasons unknown. Even so, I was due for some evil carnival and a protagonist that could rub me in all the wrong ways. I also love very dry sarcastic British humour, of which, this book has plenty, and I love a Faustian story, especially when what appears on the surface is not the true essence of the story.

In my wanderings, I saw a lot of negative reviews of the book, mostly of the wanting mainstream styled writing, wanting endless back story, and wanting character motivation explored ad nausea. Sure Cabal was a snobby self-centred asshole who couldn’t give a damn about anything but what he wanted ... and the Devil came off foolish. Many questioned how could the Devil fall for such trickery? I’ll explain how I saw that later. And yes, the other characters in the book seemed trivial and one dimensional, but that’s because they were and were meant to be it seemed to me. I felt the real essence of the story centred around Cabal trapped by his own design in a carnival house of mirrors, forced to look at his own reflection by proxy, and when his real motivations are revealed in the end -- by the end I mean the very last page -- it’s so subtle that many readers might find it to be anti-climactic. Do we really always need fire and brimstone in the end? Sure, I had my issues with the book: I personally would have liked the carnival itself to have been fleshed out a little more, but since the focus was truly on Cabal, it wasn’t necessary, even if it would have been enjoyable to read. To me, the author was exploring Cabal himself, so a plot driven action packed story wasn’t really needed in my opinion. But that’s just me. I loved HBO’s Carnivale, and that got cancelled too, which means, maybe my opinion on such things is way off base. In any event, I will be looking for the next instalment of Johannes because by the last page of the book, when the subterfuge and self-preservation tactics fell away from him, I actually truly appreciated him as a character. Pitch-black as he was, he was very charismatic. And the book is just so damn funny. The mockery Howard makes of Hell is hilarious. It’s dark comedy written with an absurdist’s sense of style. Sure, it’s a bit different than the normal redemption story, and I liked it because of that. As for everyone whining about how the Devil could be so easily fooled, well, the fact that Devil interfered with Cabal’s quest was really a matter of principle. We would expect the Devil to play dirty, but he didn’t play as dirty as he could have, which lead me to believe that he was not trying to thwart Cabal but to test his mettle. Cabal just had one of those souls that even the Devil couldn’t keep in good conscience.

Despite its perceived flaws, I really enjoyed the book, and I see a promising future for Howard and Johannes Cabal.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Very Interesting Read, if for no other reason than Perspective

The American Book Review's lovely piece on The Top 40 Bad Books.

This has Got to be a Joke, right?

Read this article titled: 5 Common Self-Publishing Mistakes that Stamp Unprofessional on Your Book and How to Correct Them.

Funny how the article's author didn't seem to follow Number 3: Book Control. I take that to mean editing and proofreading, so let's play: How illiterate is this article? And yes, in case you are wondering, this came over my news feed; I shit you not.

Sometimes I think this stuff is deliberately posted to perpetuate the stigma and reinforce the belief that all self-published books are illiterate crap. Yes, if I was a conspiracy theorist, I might believe that, because nobody could be this stupid.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

REVIEW Tarkington Wolf by Di Roach

Title: Tarkington Wolf
Author: Di Roach
Genre: horror/gothic
Price: $9.51
Publisher: Lulu
Point of Sale: Lulu
Reviewed by: Veinglory

Tarkington Wolf is written in the tradition of a Victorian (or possibly even earlier) gothic melodrama. Ben Cathmore is the younger son of a Steel baron who lords over his manor, his family and the town. The only other great power in Tarkington is a hideous wolf that emerges from the forest in the dark of night to terrify and even murder the unfortunate villagers. Ben is a rather morose young man and the only bright spot in his life is the daughter of a neighbor, beautiful but spoiled Hazel--who is being courted by his older brother.

From this atmospheric starting point, the plot takes many twists as Ben first flees from and finally turns and confronts the curse carried by his family. This story works as an adventure, a tragic romance and a werewolf tale. The thematic links between the wolf and the plight of the mill worker early in the industrial revolution is apt and not at all heavy-handed. I feel there are a few deus ex machina twists, but also some genuinely tragic moments. The character of Ben does not develop greatly over the more than ten years between the opening and closing scenes, but to some extent this could be seen as a result with his inability to break free from his destined "place" in his family and wider society.

In fact, writing within a classic gothic framework brings out the strengths in this story, greatly excuses its few weaknesses, and might help remind a few readers that paranormal stories have a long and important tradition that many recent released novels have deserted (much to their detriment). As a Lulu book Tarkington Wolf is well-formatted and offered at a very reasonable price. Other than a recurring habit of capitalising dialogue tags it would be difficult to distinguish this novel from a commercially released book.

RATING: 8.5/10

Sunday Picture

Friday, March 12, 2010

Read an Ebook Week: March 7-13, 2010

Well, we are in the final days of Read an Ebook Week and I hope that everyone has been enjoying themselves. I know I have. My download count for the week so far is 6, and I might pick up a few stragglers over the weekend. My choices have been pretty diverse: some traditionally published authors, some epress authors, and a bunch of Indies, but all authors I have not read. I also picked up some genre stuff. I am mainly a literary reader with a penchant for horror, but this week I decided to try a cyber-punk novel -- also by an Indie author. So we shall see. It might become a new favorite. Who knows.

Here is the Podpeople updated list as of 3/12/2010. We would like the thank our Indie followers who have offered their books at a discount this week, and we would also like to thank all our readers who took a chance on them.

Journey's End by Emily Veinglory -- Free PDF download from her site.
The Mars Run by Chris Gerrib -- Free to read HTML from his site.
The Kissing Room by Cheryl Anne Gardner -- Various ereader formats, pay what you want/free, at Smashwords and Scribd.

Free or Discounted Titles by some of our Indie followers:

Ether by Kristine Williams -- Free at Smashwords
Carol's Aquarium and Homefront by Kristen Tsetsi -- Free at Smashwords
Waiting for Spring by R.J. Keller -- Free at Smashwords
Broken Bulbs by Eddie Wright -- Free at Smashwords
Various Titles by Holly Christine -- Free at Smashwords and her Website
Heart of Hauden by P.A. Seasholtz -- Free at Smashwords and Feedbooks
Various Titles by Henry Baum -- Free at Smashwords
The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility by Brent Robison -- Set your own Price at Smashwords

For More information Visit the Main Read an E-Book Week Website

p.s. I am about 350 pages into Dan Simmons Drood, which was my first selection for the week. Let's just say that it is dense, very literary, very macabre, and not what you might expect to find in the traditional horror section of your book store.

Cheryl Anne Gardner, whose books are being offered free or at a discount this week at Smashwords.

Publish America vs Lightning Source

Note: I am not a lawyer so if you are interested I suggest reading the original documents as linked. But the gist of it seems to be that Publish America made a deal with Lightning Source that including authorising Lightning Source to accept returns for books sold wholesale via their service. The doubted the accuracy of returns and so asked for these returns to be shipped to them so they could account for returns accurately. The book received, they claim, were presented as the returns but were actually new books. LSI presented a defence and counterclaim for unpaid fees.

Publish America vs Lightning Source
"LSI was only authorised to charge PA for returns of Wholesale orders ... Nevertheless, LSI charged PA for returns of books sold by PA ... LSI breached the contract by destroy .. returns and reprinting substitute copies."


[via AbsoluteWrite]

Thursday, March 11, 2010

REVIEW: With Hearts Courageous

Title: With Hearts Courageous
Author: Jon Steven Nappa
Genre: fiction
Price: $16.95
Publisher: Storm Warriors International
ISBN: 978-0615323954
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

Jon Steven Nappa’s second novel, With Hearts Courageous, is the story of Sir William Hillary, founder of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The RNLI is one of the most beloved charities in Great Britain and Ireland, and it is unique in that, of all the world’s maritime rescue services, it is a private organization, funded entirely by private donations.

So, it was with great hope that I asked Mr. Nappa to send me a copy of the novel. Alas, my hopes were only partially fulfilled. Nappa starts the novel just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, which is when Sir Hillary moved to the Isle of Man. It’s not until chapter 4, after some frankly boring discussions of Sir Hillary’s personal life and allusions to his finances, that we come to what is portrayed as his personal turning point – the wrecking of the local fishing fleet in a winter gale. Even then, the pace of the novel doesn’t pick up much.

In fairness to Mr. Nappa, the author, some of my disappointment is due to my expectations. I expected something a bit more focused on the actual rescue service, not, as is this novel, focused on the life and finances of the service’s founder. I did, however, learn something, namely the need to provide pensions to the dependents of lifeboat sailors – a critical factor to enabling the creation of the Institution.

If, then, one enters With Hearts Courageous expecting more of a character study of early Victorian life, I suspect that they will be happier than I was. Although even under that light, I found Nappa’s prose serviceable at best. His dialog in particular is creaky, even given the high degree of formality seen in all classes of that era. I also ended up learning rather more than I cared to of Sir Hillary’s finances. The man was always on the knife edge of financial ruin, and finally in the late 1830s he went completely broke.

With Hearts Courageous is an attempt to provide some insight into a complex man, who founded a lasting institution with a great record of success. However, I feel that the book would have benefited greatly from a more focused and tighter narrative.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Review: Do The Math A Novel of The Inevitable

Title: Do The Math
Author: Philip Persinger
Genre: Lit Romance
Price: $16.15
Paperback: 266 pages
Publisher: IUniverse (April 14, 2008)
ISBN: 978-0595469888
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner

Book Description: What could be worse than losing the love of your life? Getting her back! William Teale is a brilliant professor of mathematics. His theory of inevitability posits that any human action, no matter how insignificant, might result in a disproportionately huge calamity. His wife, Virginia "Faye" Warner, is a world-famous romance novelist who specializes in reuniting soul mates after a tragic and prolonged separation. According to her math, "one past and two hearts plus one love equals four-ever." The Teale-Warner marriage is a thing of geometric and artistic perfection, a melding of the heart and the brain-amour and algebra. But when Faye's ghostwriter suffers a nervous breakdown and shakes all the arrows out of Cupid's quiver, Faye reintroduces her husband to love. Unfortunately, it's not with herself, but with the woman William had loved and lost years ago. Love is about to clash with inevitability, and it's unclear which will emerge victorious. Told in the off-beat voice of William's graduate intern, Roger, Do the Math reveals the curious relationship between logic and love and the delightful consequences of taking a chance.

It’s 1978 and enter Roger ... college student, aspiring mathematician, and like most kids his age, he is lost. Yes, Roger would agree that he went very wrong in probability and statistics, so wrong that the active living of his life consists of eavesdropping on a world he has no real stake in. Our narrator is more or less a voyeur. Like most romance readers, they sit back and watch the tragic-comedy that is love unfold before their very eyes, only in this instance, like in The Great Gatsby, our voyeur actually narrates the story and becomes an unwitting participant in the events as they unfold. To begin, at the suggestion of his college advisor, Roger attempts to procure and intern position with a Mr. William Teale, said advisor’s old college roommate and a professor of mathematics at Hudson Polytechnic who is known to be rather eccentric, having not yet come to grips with his tragic failure in front of the Comstock review board earlier in his career. Teale, after the failure of his paper, had lost all will to dream and live big, settling instead for teaching the same curriculum for twenty years. But all that comes to an enlightening end when Roger rather deftly uses Teal’s theory of “Significant Inconsequentiality” to exact a meeting with the Professor at the Philadelphia airport. The meeting doesn’t end quite as Roger would have wanted. Actually, Roger wasn’t even aware that the meeting had ended until he had been sitting on a bench for a while. But happenstance happens, whether you are aware of it or not. Times passes briefly with Roger making an attempt at thoughts for the future when out of the blue he receives a mysterious letter extending an offer for the intern position with the subsequently written-off Professor Teal. So off Roger goes to New Coventry, where he is tasked with being a spy for a romance novel fan club, a frazzled professor’s intern, and a nurse-maid to Teal’s wife: the most famous American Romance Novelist Virginia “Faye” Warner, who reminded me of Joan Wilder with a severe case of agoraphobia, a rather abrasive self-centred personality disorder , and a dash of egomania thrown in for good measure. Yes, she isn’t the most polite and easy-going person, nor is she even remotely likable. We find out how unlikable she is when her ghost writer, Ambrose, after years of dealing with her, suffers a breakdown and can no longer write romance. Well, he refuses to write romance in general, but specifically for her. Teal attempts to assist his wife in her moment of crisis, but makes a terrible hiring decision and suffers the degradation and the emotional devastation that comes along with it.

This is what I would call a True Romance: sharp, witty, and filled with an irony only True Love can claim as its own. I can’t reveal too much about the plot-line for fear of ruining the story, but we have some essential elements: the brilliant academic who has lost his self-esteem and his faith; the shrew of a wife who overcompensates for her handicaps by bashing the shit out of everyone around her; the innocent narrator caught in the middle who tries desperately NOT to put two and two together; and the fan club members -- headed by a Mrs. Slocum, fan-fic writer extraordinaire -- who are doing the wrong things for the right reason, even if they have no idea that their platform is a farce. The fact that the Fan club is petitioning for their favourite woman romance writer to be included in the literary curriculum at New York College, Poughkeepsie is hilarious considering that the author hasn’t written her own books since the first one and that her ghost writer is a man. Even she declares rather adamantly that the genre isn’t about Love, it’s about romance and there is a script. With that notion firmly planted in his head, Teal is convinced he can discover the mathematical formula, so he sets off to log in time at the campus’s computer while his wife opts for cutting and pasting from her backlist. Now this is 1978, so the computer takes up a huge basement room, and cutting and pasting takes scissors and tape. But they plod on, and Teal eventually proves his own premise, which he calls The Deferred Premise Principle [...] “You must have a premise by the end of the whole mess or it makes no sense at all.” Of course he doesn’t know he has literally proved it yet when he makes that statement.

Now I didn’t “get” a lot of the math humour, but it really didn’t matter or take away from the enjoyment of the story. I was told by the author that the “math” was 95% made up, so after hearing that, I didn’t feel as if I was left out of an inside joke. As for the characters, aside from Warner, they are all just lovable victims of happenstance to some degree or another, so they all compliment and repel each other at the same time. Life is known for its irksome set of variables, and so the characters just roll with it, clumsily so, but they do. Real life -- true love -- is not ruled by convention, even if we would like it to be sometimes. That said, the story did not run roughshod over the romance genre. Sure it plays with the conventions of 1978 romance writing a bit, but it isn’t extravagant in its absurdist view. Its premise is subtle, and the approach gently hints at the outcome throughout the story without coming off as predictable or overly exposed. There was no chop, not in the storyline, in the character development, or in the actual writing. The approach was minimalist, the humour was academically dry, and in some cases, our narrator is just witnessing a scene from afar, and so disconnected from the conversation, we have to make all the assumptions on our own. I really thought the technical use of distance was well-played and intriguing, as was the remarkably clean edit.

I suppose what I loved most about the book, besides its satirical look at the romance genre, was the mathematical juxtaposition we were presented with: The Predictability of Romance versus the Unpredictability and the Inevitability or rather The Significant Inconsequentiality of Love. That, to me, was the essence of the story. Happily ever after doesn’t necessarily come easy, and it certainly doesn’t come as expected. This story had real heart and soul, and while the ending may not have been Happily Ever After in the traditional fairytale sense of the phrase, it mirrored real life to perfection by showing that even if you get slightly derailed in life, there is always an opportunity to fix the mistakes and find happiness, even if the opportunity might seem inconsequential at first glance.


This book was purchased by the reviewer in Epub format from the Sony Reader Store.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thoughts on The Craft -- c.anne.gardner

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

For authors, this quote should ring true, and for Indie authors, the bell’s toll should be nothing less than bludgeoning on the ears.

When we are writing, we live for our own opinion. After all, that is what the work is about ... our fictionalized and thematically treated opinion. However, when we send the work out into the world it’s amazing how much we shift gears, particularly those chasing the traditional publishing dream. In that case, the author lives by the opinion of the agent, the editor, the critic, and the reader much more so than an Indie writer.

The concern that this quote brings to the forefront of my rather twisted mind is: What happens when art lives too much for the world’s opinion? I’ll tell you what happens: the artist becomes self-conscious, insecure; the work becomes formulaic, cliché even. We, the author, loose the lustrous adverbs; we, the author, forsake the compelling narrative summary; we, the author, become fearful of experimentation ... and in the end, the language is reduced to inconsequential streams of words that can only hit the page in a finite number of ways. We, the reader, wind up with nothing but sympathetic relatable characters and no one to challenge or contradict us. Plot lines become predictable; the morals of the stories become trite; and the philosophical and theological conundrums all but disappear. The entire creative collective consciousness suffers from writer’s block. That is what happens, and art becomes nothing more than a simple mathematical equation. The unpredictable like love and passion are rendered impotent.

That would be the angry gnashing of my teeth this week.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

The Art this week is Nuremberg Chronicles, Suns and Book Burning, Plate XCIIV courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

When a Creative Commons License becomes a Pain in The Ass, or Worse, A Pain in Your Bottom Line...

Last week I entered into an unfortunate discussion regarding Creative Commons licensing, free content, and intellectual property theft to the tune of Copyright Hijacking. See the discussion over on Tele-read with author Piotr Kowolcyzk titled: I have a Ghost Publisher at Amazon ... Please Help!

In light of this, I wanted to talk about Creative Commons licensing because, frankly, this can happen anywhere in any country when authors use file sharing sites like Scribd and Wattpad among others to publish their work for free. Let me clarify a bit, giving away free content and file-sharing are two completely different things. CC Licensing and Free Content are not mutually exclusive. You can allow free downloads of your work and still maintain your standard copyright “all rights reserved.” However, some file share sites like Scribd automatically default to a Creative Commons License, and if the author is not aware of this, they may find themselves in a bit of a pickle. Yes, that share button means “share.”

Readers who frequent file sharing sites often get confused between standard Copyright and Creative Commons Licensing. They assume that because the title is a free to read that it was posted intentionally by the author using a Creative Commons license, which grants the end user license to post and re-distribute the work without permission from the author. But there are many different types of CC licenses and they are also used to allow the creation of derivative works as well allow the sale of the work by third parties not affiliated with the copyright holder. Unfortunately, this is the gamble an author takes when they choose to use file share sites and CC licensing. You have to read the fine print about licensing before you post your work. You also need to know how CC licensing works. The worst case scenario with CC licensing is that, on occasion, the end user assumes they are free to do what they will with the content.

In the case of Mr. Kowolcyzk’s work, the end-user listed the title for sale on Kindle alongside the author’s original. The listing appeared under the Sugar Land Press name and even went so far as to slap a standard copyright notice “all rights reserved” on the work, which is illegal, since creative commons work can only be re-distributed and used under the same license it was originally obtained.

So is it illegal for the end user to sell someone else’s content? Well, it depends on the creative commons license that was used when the material was published on the file share site. Authors should be sure that the same licenses are being used consistently no matter the publication location. Unless the license specifically was an: Attribution/Non Commercial (By-NC) then the end user can turn around and sell it — legally. However, they have to attribute you as the author, and while they can sell it, they cannot claim themselves as the copyright holder, as the nature of a CC license is that it is non-exclusive and irrevocable.


Work licensed under a Creative Commons License is protected by applicable copyright law. This allows Creative Commons licenses to be applied to all work protected by copyright law, including: books, plays, movies, music, articles, photographs, blogs, and websites. However, the license may not modify the rights allowed by fair use or fair dealing or exert restrictions which violate copyright exceptions. Furthermore, Creative Commons Licenses are non-exclusive and non-revocable. Any work or copies of the work obtained under a Creative Commons license may continue to be used under that license. In the case of works protected by multiple Creative Common Licenses, the user may choose either.

There are six major licenses of the Creative Commons:
Attribution (CC-BY)
Attribution Share Alike (CC-BY-SA)
Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
Attribution Non-Commercial (CC-BY-NC)
Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA)
Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)

There are four major conditions of the Creative Commons: Attribution (BY), requiring attribution to the original author; Share Alike (SA), allowing derivative works under the same or a similar license (later or jurisdiction version); Non-Commercial (NC), requiring the work is not used for commercial purposes; and No Derivative Works (ND), allowing only the original work, without derivatives.[12]

As of the current versions, all Creative Commons licenses allow the "core right" to redistribute a work for non-commercial purposes without modification. The NC and ND options will make a work non-free.

As of 2010, all current licenses require attribution of the original author. The attribution must be given to "the best of [one's] ability using the information available". Generally this implies the following:

Include any copyright notices (if applicable). If the work itself contains any copyright notices placed there by the copyright holder, those notices must be left intact, or reproduced them in a way that is reasonable to the medium in which the work is being re-published.

Cite the author's name, screen name, or user ID, etc. If the work is being published on the Internet, it is nice to link that name to the person's profile page, if such a page exists.

Cite the work's title or name (if applicable), if such a thing exists. If the work is being published on the Internet, it is nice to link the name or title directly to the original work.

Cite the specific CC license the work is under (optional). If the work is being published on the Internet, it is nice if the license citation links to the license on the CC website.

Mention if the work is a derivative work or adaptation, in addition to the above, one needs to identify that their work is a derivative work i.e., “This is a Finnish translation of the [original work] by [author].” or “Screenplay based on [original work] by [author].”

So to recap, once you CC a work, you cannot take it back. This is why I strongly advise authors against a CC-BY or a CC-BY-SA license if they plan to sell the work commercially at a later time. Actually, you can use a standard copyright license and still give your work away for free. It eliminates this problem entirely. But watch those file share sites, some of them default to a CC license only and once you are in, you cannot revoke it.

Walt Gordon Jones explains everything nicely on his site in simple terms, and he has some suggestions for attacking the issue of license violations. The author will always remain the legal copyright owner. CC doesn’t replace Copyright. The author does lose the “all rights reserved” clause, but the end user does not gain them.

On a final note: I remember researching for a blog post last year when I was deciding myself if I was going to ebook my work, if my memory serves me, and in the end I had decided not to list my work with them because of a oddly worded clause in their terms of service, which states:

4. Intellectual Property Rights
FeedBooks being registered in France, the content of the Website is subject to the French legislation on copyrights and other intellectual property rights. However, the electronic books offered for reading are free from copyrights as, in accordance with the legislation of France, the said books fall in the public domain.

The wording here gives the impression that any/all the electronic books listed on their site are in the public domain. This can be very confusing and lead to issues with copyright infringement. So always check your file share site for ambiguous language.

I think the Creative Commons has its place in the world. Some authors have had a lot of success getting the word out by allowing file-sharing and derivative works. I just think authors need to be careful with CC licensing and make sure they choose the right license for the right work. Not to mention most readers are just as uneducated about CC licensing, and the ones that understand it know exactly what they can get away with and how to exploit it. If an end user violates your license, they lose it, and you can pursue for infringement. That’s the bottom line. So don’t let your work get away from you.

Zoe Winters shares her frustration with CC licensing as well.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Monday, March 01, 2010

Free Book Friday Winner

We have heard from our winner. Congrats to Barb. We hope you enjoy this book.

Stay Tuned for this month's Free Book Friday on March 26th 2010.

Happy Reading.