Thursday, March 29, 2012

Auctions are emotional rollercoasters

In February I did some bidding in a live auction for the first time. I won one item and had to back down and lose on another item. All of it was great fun and I can understand why auctions enjoy an underground popularity.

People go to auctions for many reasons. They want to get a bargain. They want to shop for antiques. They want to watch other people bid way too high on junk. (This is quite entertaining.) They want to buy stock for their second hand shops. They also might be looking to enjoy the serendipity of running across an oddity and buying it.

In my observations, most people appear to enjoy attending auctions even if they don't bid on anything. But bidding is the most enjoyable part. Now that I've experienced live bidding, I can share that it is instantly addictive. When an item I was interested in started working its way up to the front, my heart rate jumped. My anticipation was very intense. My time to actually place a bid was at hand. I admonished myself to stick to my budget while my inner voice blathered, "I want it! I'm going to win! I want it!"

Once I placed a bid, another person outbid me, and things happened fast. The auctioneer egged us on with his fast talk that fed the competition between bidders. A simple nod of my head driven seemingly by the autonomatic nerve centers in my upper spine doubled my bid. Then the other man bid again and the auctioneer looked at me. He beckoned me with the promise of winning if I would just keep bidding.
I backed down, but I had never felt so good about losing. I got to indulge in the fun of bidding and now on the backside of the excitement I could congratulate myself for not letting my emotions sweep me away.

I won the next item I bid on. It was a rather weathered fairy tales book from the 1930s. Despite its outer damage I was able to salvage many pages of lovely vintage color illustrations from Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Puss In Boots, Tom Thumb, and Goldilocks. I adore fairy tales and I'm hoping that artisans will be able to breathe fresh life into these darling vintage illustrations.

Please visit my listings at Etsy if you'd like to see them.

Little Red Riding Hood vintage illustrations
Vintage Cinderella illustrations
Goldilocks, Puss In Boots, and Tom Thumb vintage illustrations

I've also been an ebay seller for years. I shop on ebay sometimes too. Although bidding on ebay auctions is not nearly as exciting as bidding in a live auction, you can still find nice deals on my books here. Please look at my listings at ebay if you're interested in The Rys Chronicles in paperback or my how to play craps guide Get Dicey.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Religion in hardcover and paperback

New Religion: Rys Rising Book III now available as a print-on-demand book at Lulu
I recently completed building the hardcover and paperback versions of my newest fantasy novel New Religion. I have added the files to the system at Lulu. As I've mentioned before, my books are long and most of the price on the printed books comes from the production costs, which are high with print-on-demand services. Like the other novels in the series, I have priced the hardcover at $24 and the paperback at $15. I only make a dollar and some change off of each purchase.

Because selling ebooks is vastly easier for all involved and allows for better pricepoints, I only set up these POD versions for a couple reasons. I have some books printed for myself, specifically the hardcovers. The casewrap style hardcovers come out beautifully if I say so myself. I also need TWO copies of the novel for completing my copyright registration with the U.S. Government. Why the copyright registration office needs two copies I can't imagine. The office says it sends one to the Library of Congress for possible cataloging, but who cares about that? I believe that there is a huge incinerator at this temple of bureaucracy and they burn all the hundreds of thousands of books streaming in every year to heat and power the building. Oh, scratch that, they probably just burn the books and don't even harvest the energy. That would be properly wasteful.

Although readers generally consume and enjoy my ebook versions, if you personally want a print copy of any book in the Rys Rising series, please visit my page at Lulu. They run coupon sales sometimes so I'll try to remember to post those codes here when they come up if any readers want to obtain hardcovers or paperbacks.

Please note that Lulu will be the only source at this time for Rys Rising novels in print. I have not bothered with print distribution to retail channels because I would just have to raise the price to give a retailer a cut and I do not believe that would allow me to maintain anything approaching a reasonable pricepoint.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I love vintage TV shows: Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie

When I was a little girl in the 1970s two of my favorite shows were reruns of popular 1960s shows: Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. Even as a mere child who knew nothing, I was fascinated by the messages these shows were broadcasting. I also simply enjoyed their humor and the fact that the female leads in both shows had magic powers. My grandmother and I would try to wiggle our noses and cast spells just like Samantha in Bewitched.

In case you have not had the pleasure of watching these vintage 1960s classics, I'll briefly explain what the shows were about.


Suburban housewife Samantha is a witch from a family of witches. She has significant powers, but she has fallen in love with a lowly powerless human male named Darrin and married him, much to the dismay of her mother Esmeralda. When Darrin marries Samantha, he gains her promise to not use her magic. They are going to get by just as two normal people. Of course, in every episode Samantha ends up using her magic, usually to help smooth over problems with clients of her advertising executive husband or save him from the hexes of his permanently disapproving mother-in-law.

I Dream of Jeannie

As her name implies, Jeannie is a genie, as in she is magic and trapped in a bottle. Major Tony Nelson is an astronaut in the U.S. Air Force. He returns from orbit and washes up on a remote island beach where he finds a strange bottle. He opens it and Jeannie emerges. She has been imprisoned in the bottle for a long time. She is most grateful and informs Major Nelson that he is now her master and she can grant wishes for him. He takes her home to Florida and she starts living with him in secret. She still sleeps in her bottle because 1960s network executives refused to broadcast the reality that people slept with each other.

Major Nelson tries to hide Jeannie's existence from his superior officers and, once again, makes her promise to never interfere in his life with her magic. Of course, the story of every episode is driven by her powerful meddling. Although she can grant wishes upon Major Nelson's command, she also can work magic on her own and does so often, usually just to be nice but always inadvertently causing trouble. Jeannie by the way was played by Barbara Eden, who was dreamily gorgeous in the show. She wore harem pants, a halter top, and a headdress. There's even a famous scandal in which the network executives required her costume to cover her belly button because showing the navel was too provocative. I guess belly buttons were just too much on top of the premise of an Air Force officer cohabiting secretly with a compliant and adoring slave girl who always addressed him as "Master."

As a bright-eyed grade schooler I absorbed these wonderful shows, but even my young mind was troubled by the message in both shows that said the women must not use their powers. I was baffled as to why the men in both shows would not want their wonderful women to use their powers and make their lives fantastic. Why did they want to hide them and keep them in powerless obscurity? OK, Major Nelson had some reasons. Can you imagine what nefarious experiments the Cold War crazy U.S. Government would have tried to inflict on Jeannie? Of course, she would have blinked away the goons and gone out to lunch in Paris, but Major Nelson was still motivated by a good heart.

In Bewitched, Darrin was basically just stupid to try and contain Samantha's powers. He was always struggling at his demanding job and his life would have been much less stressful if he had only let Samantha use her power. Everyone who watched Bewitched thought Darrin was stupid, but it was the premise of the show, so that was OK because it was funny.

My takeaway from both of these shows was that society wanted to suppress female power so that men could run the world and take all the credit. (Why they want credit for war, poverty, and pollution I don't know.) Although this was a disturbing message for a young girl, I also saw the companion message in both comedies. It was that women have great power and they are constantly using it to save their bumbling men, but it was best if they helped without their men realizing it. Another sad message but still kind of funny. The most brilliant humor is dark.

It's no surprise to me that these shows emerged during the 1960s when reliable birth control was spreading throughout society and women were doing anything they wanted to do, including having sex with no intention of getting married or becoming a mother. (Awesome!) I don't think that either of these comedies can be characterized as backlash against female empowerment. They appear to be satirical commentaries on the pointless oppression of women that created a world in which men labored stressfully in demanding occupations while the talents of women are forever ignored.

Of the two shows, I liked I Dream of Jeannie best because Major Nelson was more sympathetic and I really liked him. The pressures society placed on him to hide Jeannie's powers were visible. In the show he feared being declared insane if he came forward with the news that he lived with a magic genie. Then he would lose his chance to fly space ships, which was understandably important to him. In Bewitched, however, Darrin was just a self-centered dick who wanted to be the sole source of success while Samantha sat home running the vacuum cleaner. I have to agree with Esmeralda and wonder what Samantha ever saw in him.

It's a pity there aren't shows made like this anymore. The 1960s seemed to have been a golden age of television when writers and producers were willing to be dopey and frivolous. All those reruns of 1960s shows that I got to watch while growing up are precious memories to me now. I still wish I could blink away my problems like Jeannie, but my powers are not so easy to wield.

I've found some clips from both shows on YouTube. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mr. Spock from Star Trek inspired me

A couple weeks ago I was invited by fellow author J.M. Tresaugue to write something for his blog. Knowing that I was a Trekkie, he suggested that I write a post about Star Trek. I selected Mr. Spock as my subject.

Please visit his blog and comment on:

Mr. Spock is the best role model a kid could have

Video Tutorial on loading ebooks, pictures, and music from your computer to Nook

If you are interested in learning how to add ebooks, pictures, and music from your computer onto your Nook device, watch this video tutorial. Knowing how to place content on your Nook from all kinds of sources and not just the Barnes & Noble website will help you enjoy the versatility of your Nook even more.

Many of my readers access my ebooks at Barnes & Noble or choose to support me directly and buy at my websites. If you'd like to practice adding ebooks to your Nook from your computer, download one or both of my free fantasy ebooks. Save them to your computer and add them to your Nook. Select the epub or PDF format.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Free today on Smashwords: Two Moons of Sera Volume 2 by Pavarti Tyler

Today I received an announcement from Pavarti K. Tyler, author of Two Moons of Sera, which I reviewed in November. She is offering the second volume of the story as a free download at Smashwords today. I found the introductory story to be emotional and creative, and I welcome the publication of the next part. I downloaded an epub copy and hope to get a chance to read it some time soon. It's a novella of 27,000 words, so even someone like me who is the slowest reader in the world should be able to get to it.

Thank you Pavarti for letting me know about the free preview, and I wish you success with your writing.

She is planning for a widespread release of Two Moons of Sera Volume 2 tomorrow.

Friday, March 9, 2012

From the animal files - I witnessed a ground hog waking up

Yesterday afternoon I was working on writing my next novel Love Lost. I have a comfy little haven in my basement where my home office is. I was lounging on my futon with my cat, typing away. (Is that not shamelessly stereotypical?) Suddenly I heard a thump in the window directly in front of me. My basement windows are below ground with concrete wells around them outside. Looking up at the thump, I was startled to see a bewildered critter pressed against the glass. He floundered a bit in the deep layers of leaves and then hopped out on the edge of the window well.

I got up and looked at him. He was definitely a ground hog. Neither cute nor inspiring, just a dull shaggy varmint, blinking at the daylight in confusion. I enjoyed the few seconds of viewing of him from a mere few feet away through the glass. Seeing a wild animal that up close is quite rare. I did not have time to take a picture because he soon shuffled off.

I went outside to investigate the place of his emergence. I did not find a tunnel, but we had an extraordinarily mild winter this year and he might have snoozed away the season in that window well insulated by about 12 inches of dried leaves. I also found in the leaf pile a mummified frog. I'm not so sure that he will come back to life.

It appears that spring has definitely sprung!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Maps, maps, maps!

I apologize for being so slow about publishing maps of my fantasy world in The Rys Chronicles and Rys Rising series. I've never been happy with the maps I made, but here they are. Maybe someday I will find a way to produce some prettier ones.

The print versions of The Rys Chronicles include their maps, and I am halfway through the process of adding the images to all the ebook versions.

Maps for The Rys Chronicles

The eastern world of Ektren including Atrophane, its imperial possessions, and the Wilderness
The western world of Gyhwen, including the tribal kingdoms and the Jingten Valley
Nufal as presented in the novels Judgment Rising and The Borderlands of Power
Maps for the Rys Rising series

Ancient Nufal when the tabre ruled

The western world of ancient Gyhwen and the tribal kingdoms
I have also added these maps to the Brave Luck Books website. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Good ratings at iTunes starting to come in for fantasy podcast

I visited the page at iTunes today where people can listen to and subscribe to the podcast of the Union of Renegades audiobook. Every chapter of my novel is an audio chapter that is being serialized through Podiobooks. I noticed that the podcast had finally gotten some ratings and comments. Thankfully they were positive.

GetKat rated it 4 stars and commented:  
"Wonderful storyline and well drawn's nice to see a strong female character as well!"

(I'm pleased to finally get a piece of positive feedback about my poor beleaguered character Miranda who often irks readers. I think this reflects real life because strong females tend to be misunderstood and given no sympathy.)

Chic Chester rated the podcast 5 stars and really enjoyed the narrator Chris Snelgrove.
"I love this story so far!! I'm sucked in and don't want it to end!! Keep up the great stories and I love Chris's voice acting it rocks!!"

To listen and subscribe to the Union of Renegades podcast, visit iTunes. Twenty five chapters are up so far, and there's 15 more to go.

If you would like to purchase the complete Union of Renegades audiobook in mp3 format for $8.95 please visit Brave Luck Books.