Tag Archives: Kindle

How I learned to love my Kindle Fire again.

I’m well aware that this entire post could be filed under “First World Problems”. There are more important, tragic and sinister things happening in the world than my struggles with my tablet. For more news on that and, more importantly, how you can HELP, visit The Red Cross Website

My Fire was featured on the cover of my first e-book, "Coffee Time Tales" (Now re-covered)

My Fire was featured on the cover of my first e-book, “Coffee Time Tales” (Now re-covered)

I’m not usually an Early Adopter. My family has a bad history with technology, and it’s not safe for me to get the latest gadget until it’s become the household staple for everyone else. However, a couple of years ago, I asked for a Kindle Fire for Christmas.

I didn’t have much need for a tablet (I’m still not sure there is a NEED for tablets at all – they’re essentially fun devices, not work tools) but I had recently added the Kindle app to my phone and was enjoying it. How much better would it be on a bigger screen? The Fire came with the ability to play videos and music too, and access the web, plus there were all the apps and games it promised. This would be better than a regular Kindle, and cheaper than an iPad.

But at that time, you couldn’t buy one in Canada. Lucky for me, my Sister-in-Law lives in the US, and I got my Fire for Christmas. It had all my kindle books waiting for me, and it did access the internet and play videos and movies… But there were some things it couldn’t do. Or rather, it WOULDN’T.

A small selection of the movies and shows I can't purchase...

A small selection of the movies and shows I can’t purchase…

Because I wasn’t in the US, and didn’t have a US billing address, I couldn’t access the “Purchase tv shows and films” part of the Kindle. I couldn’t buy music from the online store. I couldn’t buy apps from the Amazon appstore. I could access third-party apps, but the sites offering these seemed dodgy, and more than one arrived along with a virus warning or something equally shady. I couldn’t go to the Google Play store, because you need to install the Play App, and that comes from the Amazon appstore which I couldn’t use…

"Tribute" looks nice on the Kindle bookshelf, and you can just see "The Great Canadian Adventure" behind it.

“Tribute” looks nice on the Kindle bookshelf, and you can just see “The Great Canadian Adventure” behind it.

None of this stopped my buying new ebooks (including my own!). I used the web on the kindle and took it on holidays as an additional entertainment centre with the pre-loaded movies and songs. I had audio books on it. But time and again I tried to find solutions to the locked areas of the Kindle – could I root it? No, I’m not tech-savvy enough. Could I get a US credit card billing address? No, that sounds too much like fraud. All I could do was wait for the day when Amazon decided Canada warranted an appstore of its own.

When that day came, I eagerly visited the appstore and purchased a few things I had been missing. Angry Birds, Netflix, the important things in life…. But although I got confirmation that I had bought them, and it said they were delivered, they did not appear on my Kindle Fire. I had no idea why.

Eventually, I had enough and risked hitting the “Factory reset” button. I wasn’t sure if this would help, but my various attempts to delete and re-install the Amazon Appstore app had caused all kinds of trouble. Miraculously, it DID work. When I rebooted the Fire after the reset, all the apps I had purchased were available for me to install. I still couldn’t use the appstore app, nor could I buy music or video from the dedicated stores (They’re still the US ones, still require a US billing address, and I can’t find a way to change that), but I could visit the appstore online using the web browser and purchase anything I liked.

It feels like my Fire has got a new lease of life. Though I haven’t gone nuts in the appstore, I’m sure I’ll find some apps that will add to my experience and help me in my work – maybe something for adding notes to pdfs for my script reading. I don’t regret the years without the extra access – I read many, many great books on the Fire, and enjoyed the movies, music and audio books I put on there. It’s been a useful addition to the household tech – but I’m glad it can do more now.

You can download the Kindle app for your PC or phone from HERE and you can find my Amazon author page with all my e-books HERE

Book Launch: Tribute

Tribute cover version

I’m launching my latest e-book this week and I’ve run into a little snag. To really do good promotion work, you need to point the advertising at your target audience, and you do that by deciding what genre your book is.

And I have no clue.

I know what it isn’t. I know it’s not Sci-Fi, and it’s not Horror or Suspense, or Mystery or Erotica, or Adventures among the Bedouin… It might be YA, but I don’t know for sure what that really means anymore.

Tribute tells the story of Lisa, a teenage girl whose mother runs a management agency for musicians and whose father was Stone, the legendary lead guitarist of Zen Assassin. Lisa loves writing music and lyrics of her own, but could never win Stone’s approval. Now he’s dead, and she’s adrift, out of school and wondering where to go next.

Out of the blue, she encounters Pitch Blend, the one-time lead singer of the same band. He’s charming, and almost dissolute, but she learns that it was really him – and not Stone – who wrote the band’s big hits. Can she get him to help her with her own songwriting career? Can she re-ignite his love of music? Before she can find out, Pitch becomes embroiled in a local tribute band competition…as himself. Lisa explains to him why this is a bad idea, but he sees it as easy money, the adulation and reward without the hard work of touring.

Things get more complicated when Pitch meets Lisa’s mother and they discover some truths about their own brief affair a few years before. Not to mention the fact that one of Lisa’s mum’s clients is ALSO in the tribute competition as Pitch Blend…But a younger Pitch Blend. A less hung-over Pitch Blend.

There’s comedy, there’s beer, there’s Rock n’ Roll, but what there isn’t is a label on the cover saying “Suitable for….”

Any suggestions welcome in the comments below – you can download the book for free from Amazon during the 29th and 30th October.

FREE BOOK! On October 29th and 30th (Counting time in a Canadian, West-coast kinda way.)

You can find it on Amazon.com :http://amzn.to/1dk39AL
or Amazon.ca : http://amzn.to/HskCeR

Question an author – Joy Daniels

Meet Joy Daniels

Meet Joy Daniels

I met a great group of writers on Kristen Lamb’s “We Are Not Alone” blog-boosting course. As a group we come and go, but have an email connection that we all use from time to time. When Joy Daniels had her latest two projects coming to fruition, she lets us know about them, and I asked her if she wouldn’t mind answering a couple of questions for me. She was kind enough to agree, and I asked about her contribution to “Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey” and her own new book “Revving her up“.

What’s the idea behind “Fifty Writers on Fifty shades of Grey”? And how did you get to be involved?

“Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades” explores the novels and pop culture phenomenon of E. L. James’ trilogy from, not surprisingly, fifty difference angles. It includes authors, a psychologist, a publisher, a matrimonial lawyer, BDSM practitioners, and a sex educator, as well as two fictional parodies. As Publisher’s Weekly said in their (stared) review: “Love Fifty Shades or hate it, this engaging eclectic read has something for everyone.”

Lori Perkins, the editor of “Fifty Writers” and the head of the literary agency that represents me (L. Perkins Agency), invited me to write an essay on the sexual arc of the first novel after I subjected her my theory of the role of sex scenes in erotic romance. (No, they’re not just there for titillation, although that is one of their functions).

Why do you think the original trilogy made such an impact, despite the legions of bad reviews and negative opinions online?

Fifty Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fan fiction. Since Meyer’s books are among the most popular in history (amazingly enough) James’ take-off started out with a built-in audience. After the first million or so readers, are the rest really so hard to get? Seriously, once it became the “must-read” book, women bought it just to find out what the hell everyone else was going on about.

I enjoyed “Fifty Shades of Grey.” No, it’s not brilliantly written and the heroine is whiny and annoying, but the sex scenes are incredibly hot! Just as no one buys Playboy for the articles (yes, there are articles), no one cares whether E. L. James used proper grammar when describing the Red Room of Pain.

Some folks have criticized the books because of the relationship between Ana and Christian, saying that it’s sexist and demeaning to women. Feminism means honoring women’s sexual desires and choices, whether we’re comfortable with them or not. Besides, is it all that surprising that in our patriarchal world, so many women have patriarchal fantasies? As for how it will “affect” women, that’s just a lot of paternalistic BS. I don’t recall legions of op-eds predicting that kids would start leaping off buildings with brooms between their legs after reading Harry Potter – perhaps we can credit adult women with a comparable ability to distinguish between fact and fantasy?

As for the bad reviews: from what I’ve heard, Meyers’ books aren’t that great (haven’t read them myself) but that didn’t stop her from becoming insanely popular either. Clearly, the average reader couldn’t care less about what literary critics think – she’s going to read what she likes.

Is the success of Fifty Shades something that can be emulated by other writers?

Not quite at the same level – we haven’t seen another mid-grade success like Harry Potter – but many erotica authors are benefitting from James’ success, so bless her!

By eliminating Point of Sale shame, e-publishing has caused an explosion of erotica, or so it seems. Do you think other genres are catching up, or is my assumption the result of biased reporting?

Romance has always been the #1 bestselling genre, and it was the only one with sales that grew during the recession. Happy endings and all that. Romance readers are voracious, buying fifty or more books a year. And that was when they had to endure disparaging looks at the bookstore and on the metro. Now that e-readers have eliminated that “shame”, as you put it, and it’s become so incredibly easy to buy books from your Kindle or Nook, those numbers are only going to climb. Can I get a “Hallelujah”?

Many people think that, by removing the Gatekeepers of traditional publishing, e-publishing has allowed everyone and their dog to become authors. Peer review ought to separate the wheat from the chaff, but responses to books of questionable quality don’t seem enough to keep sales down. Will things ever shake down, or are we always going to struggle to find the good, new writers by wading through oceans of dross?

True peer review only exists where objective truth is a possible, i.e. in the hard sciences. Everything else is subjective. A book review is one man/woman’s personal opinion no matter how erudite, lettered, or snobbish the source.

The idea that publishers and agents were the only legitimate gatekeepers is ridiculous. I’ve read plenty of published books that sucked, as I’m sure you have, as well as stories that were rejected dozens of times by the so-called “gatekeepers” before they went on to sell millions. Publishing folks have their own biases and personal tastes, and are no more objective than you or I.

There are no gatekeepers for restaurants – so how do you find somewhere worth eating? Google reviews, Yelp and the like, right? Same thing for books – you can check out reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, book review blogs. Why trust a single editor or the group-think of the New York publishing scene when I can get multiple viewpoints and reviews? I tend to follow reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, and recommendations from friends. Finally, I rely on trial and error, i.e. taking chances on books that just sound good.  Amazon lets you return e-books for a refund up to seven days after purchase, so I can read a few chapters and send the book back if I don’t like it.

Tell us more about your new novel “Revving Her Up.”


“Revving Her Up” is an erotic novella about a New York lawyer who finds a surprising solution for her troubles when her car breaks down in a small Virginia town. It’s my debut novella and my first attempt at writing erotic romance.

I’ve lived in the Washington, DC area on and off for almost ten years.  While I won’t claim that it’s truly “The South”, it’s a lot closer to it than my native New York City.

Many thanks to Joy for answering my questions, and I wish her all the best with both books (which are available NOW! Follow the embedded links to Amazon and make your purchase! Then don’t forget to write your review and help your fellow readers make THEIR decision.) Joining a group like WANA can help with more than just your writing. As a group we send each other regular messages of support and pleas for help and encouragement. Writing can be a lonesome and frustrating business, and it can really help to have friends who understand the stresses and strains.

What’s on your e-reader?

It's soooooo pretty. My precious.....

Everyone knows that the revolution has begun. E-readers have broken through and they’re here to stay. Every day I see promos on G+ and Facebook, telling me to download a free e-book. It’s a new idea in the publishing world, giving away the whole product free for a limited time in the hopes of generating future sales. But does it work?

I got my Kindle Fire for Christmas, and despite some initial hiccups, I love it. Wouldn’t be parted from it. It came with nothing loaded except the user manual, and that was NOT going to hold my attention for long.

I had already installed the Kindle app on my PC and phone, so I had a couple of books to transfer. One was a Social Media Marketing  guide, which hasn’t been worth the paper it wasn’t printed on.* The other was Blake Snyder’s  “Save the Cat!” about which I have raved elsewhere.

“Save the Cat!” is great, but it’s not something I want to curl up with at night. I wanted to read “The Hunger Games” to see what all the fuss was about, and my wife wanted to read it too. I bought a paperback and downloaded the e-book. The fun part was reading on my kindle and then continuing to read the book on my phone on breaks at work, or waiting for the weasels after school. The kindle and the kindle app make notes of how far you’ve read, so if all works out well, you should be reading seamlessly no matter the platform.

The first free e-book was a big disappointment. It was from a reputable source, but the writing was cliched and hackneyed, it has spelling and grammatical errors and the storyline was slow, unbelievable and unengaging. I still have not reached the end of the book, and will probably delete it.

I bought “Ender’s Game” having picked up one of the sequels from the library. The library couldn’t get hold of the original for a while, and the ebook was cheap. Plus it wouldn’t be taking up any space on my bookshelves, so I clicked the button. I was delighted to hear they’re making a movie, because that should being the book back to the forefront of the public consciousness for a while. I highly recommend it, and the shadow series that go with it. I didn’t get on with the direct sequels, “Xenocide” and “Children of the Mind” because of their more philosophical nature, but “Ender’s Game”, “Ender’s Shadow”, “Shadow of the Giant” and the other shadow novels were excellent.

So, up to this point, the only free promotion had been a negative experience. I was downloading e-boook versions of books I may have found elsewhere, or bought in physical form at a later date. The same was true of my purchase of the excellent “Old Man’s War” by John Scalzi, but there is something worth noting here. I had not read a review of “Old Man’s War”, nor seen a promotion, or word-of-mouth recommendation. I knew about it only through reading Scalzi’s blog, which I found through an arcane search-engine string. Once I found it, I became a regular visitor, and added Scalzi to my circles on G+ (which, naturally, lead me back to his blog more frequently.) I really, really enjoyed “Old Man’s War”, which directly lead to my purchase of the sequel , “Ghost Brigades“. Here’s the internet phenomenon in action – a personal connection to the author via his blog has prompted book sales.

The same is true of Chuck Wendig. He’s been flagged up to me by various encounters in comments sections, and I found him on G+ too. I follow his blog, and took a fly on his book “Double Dead“. It’s grim but good (Vampire and zombie apocalypse…what are you expecting here?) and as a bonus, he gave away copies of his novella “Shotgun Gravy”. I enjoyed that one so much that I’ll be buying the three follow-up stories. A free giveaway that has prompted sales. Ok, so maybe that’s just the intention to buy, but I did also buy his book “500 ways to be a better writer” in order to capitalise on his offer of a free copy of “”250 things you should know about writing.” Wendig now has a healthy chunk of my Kindle real estate.

Two successes, one failure. The last free ebook deal I went for was another disappointment. I didn’t read up about it, just clicked the link and knew within two pages that this was not a novel for me. It might have been well-written and excellently plotted, but…Well, imagine you think rabbits are stupid and pointless (ie, you have a good grasp on reality. Rabbits are a waste of grass….). Now someone hands you “Watership Down” and says “Hey, here’s a book about rabbits…” Are you going to be interested? Not very likely. So it was with this book. Not about rabbits, true, but not interesting to me.

I’m going to be more cautious about free downloads from here on. What matters is the book, not the price, and building a link with the author helps me know in advance how likely it is their book will be a good fit. I’ll be downloading “Redshirts” from Mr Scalzi, as well as the next adventure of Atlanta Burns from Mr Wendig. What are YOU e-reading?

*My policy here is to praise and name the e-books that have impressed me, but not to name specifically the authors or books that were a disappointment. Sometimes these things are so subjective, it’s not fair to damn someone on one opinion.