Month: July 2011

UNBALANCED by Kate Douglas; Beyond the Book

As I said in this post, I bought UNBALANCED by Kate Douglas yesterday and read it in one sitting last night.

The main reason I bought the book was because I’d been reading so much about the publisher, Beyond the Book. And a lot of what I was reading was negative. But, as always, the negative posts are always the loudest. And, none of the negative posts I did read were based on anything I thought was solid criticism. Reasonable people, those who act on the information given to them instead of emotion, know and understand that it’s really too soon to tell what’s going to happen with Beyond the Book…or any brand new publisher…especially these days when everything’s so new. The old rules simply do not apply anymore.

For me, all publishing issues aside, it’s always more about the book and the readers who will be buying the book. And I found UNBALANCED to be a nice surprise. And this isn’t even my favorite genre, yet this book kept my interest because the writing is solid, the character development is strong, and the amount of dialogue is just right. And the dialogue was written well. No said bookisms where they didn’t belong…nothing amateur.

And nothing was overwritten. To be honest, I was a little afraid before I bought the book, because so many books nowadays…in all genres…are terribly overwritten. And a lot of them receive great reviews, too. But UNBALANCED had a nice pace and an even rhythm, and the storyline constantly moved forward.

The sex scenes weren’t as detailed as I would have liked in a book like this. But that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. They worked and I didn’t have a problem with them. And even though it’s not easy to capture emotion with a story like this, I think Kate managed to do that as the characters grew to know each other and become more comfortable with their situation. I even liked the little twist between Jett and Locan. No spoilers. But what I was hoping would happen, did happen. Nice touch and well done.

If UNBALANCED is any indication of what Beyond the Book’s other publications are like, it proves they are working hard to put out quality books at a good price. I know how hard we work at ravenous romance to do this, and at Loveyoudivine. And did I mention I only paid .99 for UNBALANCED? And that it was much longer than I’d expected? From a product standpoint, I felt as though I got my money’s worth and then some…including some bonuses at the end.

So I can’t recommend this book enough. I’m glad I took the time to read it, and to find out what kind of books Beyond the Book is publishing. My next purchase from this publisher is going to be a non-fiction book about card games and rules for card games. I can’t think of the title right now, but I saw it on their list and it looked interesting.

The one side note, which has nothing to do with the book or the publisher, is that I do think that UNBALANCED wasn’t described well enough on Kobo. As I said, I was thinking I’d be reading a short story. It is shorter than a full length novel but it was much longer that I expected, which is a good thing (about 13,000 words, and I had to go to ARe to get this info). And I think retail web sites like Kobo need to start giving out better product descriptions so readers know exactly what they are buying. And authors, this is why it’s just as important to get your product details out on your blogs and web sites as it is to get your storylines out.

Beyond the Book Publishing: Unbalanced by Kate Douglas


I’ve been reading bits and pieces all over the web about a new publishing service, Beyond the Book.

And when I read things like this, my initial author instincts kick in and I’m curious, and then my next instinct is to buy one of the books Beyond the Book is publishing and see what it’s like.

So as soon as I finish this blog post, I’m ordering “Unbalanced,” by Kate Douglas over at Kobo. (I still haven’t had time to figure out that “dropbox” thing I posted about earlier this week, and don’t see much free time in the future, so for now it’s push a button and order from Kobo.) Unbalanced is a .99 e-book and you can’t go wrong there. (I love .99 e-books more than I love the new Baccarat lamp I just ordered from my brother…at a discount…because he’s a designer in New York.)And from what I’ve read, Kate Douglas has a long list of excellent publishing credits. I’ve read her thoughts on various comment threads, and she sounds like a nice person, too.

I’ll post more about the book when I finish it. I don’t give actual reviews here on this blog, but I don’t have any problem commenting on whether or not I like a book…in a general sense…or leaving ratings on goodreads and amazon.

And frankly, after reading so much about Beyond the Book and the publishing services it offers, I’m curious to see exactly what kind of book they are putting out.

Do We Agree With Boy George?


I was skipping around the web and found this below. I personally don’t agree. I was around in the eighties and I don’t remember any huge “sense that things were changing, and becoming more open-minded,” as Boy George points out. I was in my teens and although things were changing, most of what I remember had to do with being terrified of AIDS because there wasn’t much information out back then.

I love Boy George, but I honestly just think gay men are like everyone else. They are all individuals and they want to do their own thing. If that means putting on a pink feather boa, lipstick, and earrings, they should feel free to do so. But if they want to put on a Hawaiian shirt, drink beer, and spit on the sidewalk like Linda Warnke pointed out on a comment thread here last week, they should be able to do that, too.

Do Most Gay Men Just Want To Fit In These Days? Boy George Thinks So.
Written by Jonathan Higbee | Monday, 11 April 2011
Tags: what’s your instinct, boy george, gay culture, individuality, quotes, interviews, philip sallon, hate crimes, attacks, heterosexist

A week after the tragic beating (and suspected hate crime) of his good friend and activist Philip Sallon, Boy George has given an interview to claim that gay men no longer want to live outwardly-fabulous lives.

“These things go in circles,” Boy George said to the Guardian.

“In the early 80s there was this sense that things were changing, and becoming more open-minded. But we don’t have that sort of gorgeous youth culture any more, the glam rockers, the New Romantics. People aren’t so individual any more. There is this sense of why would you want to stand out and make a show of yourself?”

“You can find that sort of attitude in the gay community too. That if you are an exhibitionist you are somehow spoiling the big assimilation. Most gay men go out of their way to look normal and fit in, but Philip is not of that breed.”

Do you agree with Boy George? Is the current trend in gay culture that of “blending in” with heteronormative society and rejecting individuality?

In Case You’re Wondering About the Poor Grammar in Some Books…

Frankly, I have been wondering about grammatical errors in books for a while now. On this blog, I’m not all that careful about grammar. This is a relaxed place to come, and I don’t think all blog posts have to be written with a red pen. I write these posts fast, hoping I get it right. And some of my favorite personal blogs are so far off when it comes to grammar it makes them special.

But I do feel differently about the grammar published books. I don’t want to read “myself,” when it should be “me.” And I don’t want to read “Me and my sister went to the store,” instead of “My sister and I went to the store.” I can get that just by watching the people on Judge Judy.

But if you’ve been wondering why a lot of books these days have grammatical errors, check out this comment, where a guy actually defends not only his lack of knowledge with regard to grammar, but also his disregard for grammar in a general sense. He thinks creativity is more important than “grammer,” and he’s proud of himself.

Seems typical of the way things are going these days. Why should grammar matter anymore in published books? But then why the hell am I paying ten grand a year in property taxes? Grammar shouldn’t be learned on a college level. It should be nailed in Grammar School.

For Those Who Don’t Have E-Readers Yet

One of the things I’ve learned in publishing is to never assume anything. I check out blogs and comment threads all over the web to see what’s happening and to see what readers think and what they want.

From what I’m gathering, even though so many on the web already know about and own e-readers, there are still many who don’t. Not only don’t they own them, they are intimidated by them. I understand this because I was just as intimidated for a long time. I started reading e-books by downloading them to my computer. I got that. I knew how to do it. But e-readers really freaked me out.

And let’s face it, a lot of the blog posts on the web about e-readers are written by techies and experts who take for granted everyone knows what they are talking about. I’m still learning about DRM…I think that’s what it’s called…and I’m still learning how to download digital books to my kobo e-readers without going through the Kobo store.

So you’re not alone out there. Not everyone is a digital expert, including authors who write digital books. And I think it’s important when it comes to things like this to think about what your needs are when it comes to reading e-books, and make it as simple as possible. In my case, I love my Kobo e-readers. For me, the process is basic and all I have to do is push a few buttons and I have a book. As I said, I’m still learning. But for now I’m so happy with my e-readers and my e-books, I can’t imagine ever going back to print books.

Here’s a blog post I think is helpful about e-readers if you in the market to buy one.

Like a digital music player, an e-reader is useless unless you can easily get e-books onto it.

Let’s get one misconception out of the way: e-book formats are superfluous because Kindle, Nook and Kobo e-readers are closed systems.

In other words, if you decide a few years from now to switch from, say, Nook to Kobo, or from Kobo to Kindle, or from Kindle to Nook, or whatever, books you’ve already purchased will be stuck on your old device. They cannot be transformed to your new, different e-reader, regardless of format.

Hence the reason to choose wisely, hence these thorough examinations.

Amazon v. the world

I raise the format issue because one of the knocks on the Kindle is that Amazon uses a proprietary e-book format called AZW (indicated by the file name suffix .azw; for free books, Kindles use a format called Mobipocket, .mobi).

The rest of the industry uses the open EPUB (short for Electronic PUBlication), which includes the more than 11,000 libraries that lend e-books.

This mean that Kindle can’t be used to borrow EPUB books from public libraries, just from other Kindle owners.

However, three months ago Amazon announced Kindles will be able to borrow EPUB library books sometime this fall.

Kindle’s pending library compatibility removes any real difference between Amazon’s proprietary e-book format and EPUB, at least as far as purchased e-books are concerned.

Both Barnes & Noble and Kobo use EPUB as their e-book formats, but then add their own copy protection scheme (referred to as DRM, digital rights management) to stop you from sending that file to someone else on a different e-reader for free, and makes these e-books incompatible with any other e-reader. (All three let you “lend” a limited number of e-books to other Nook or Kobo users.)

Therefore, e-book formats, open or not, are an insignificant consideration. You’ll be trapped regardless of whether you choose Kindle, Nook or Kobo.

Free books, however, are DRM-free and are usually available in both .mobi and EPUB formats. (For more information on how to get free e-books, see my “How To Get Free E-Books.”)

Actual shopping

To make a long-story short, for the moment Kindle presents the best buying experience for one reason: Amazon let’s you skip a sync step. A second minor Kindle superiority: longer free samples. All three e-readers let you download free samples, but with Kindle you usually get more to read before you buy.

But first let’s quickly address the varying differences between Amazon, Nook and Kobo e-book selection and prices before we get to the skipped sync step.

In practical terms, there aren’t any differences in selection and price in the competing e-book catalogs. All three have all the best sellers and popular older books from the so-called Big Six publishers, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House and Simon & Schuster and a mix of smaller houses as well as periodicals. Each e-book store offers around 2 million e-book titles, which means you’ll usually be able to find what you’re looking for as far as new e-books are concerned.

And the publishers don’t exactly encourage e-book price competition, so pricing differences among the three e-book stores are minimal, if non-existent where best sellers are concerned.

From store to e-reader

Kindle, Nook and Kobo e-readers let you buy e-books right from the device, as long as your e-reader is connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi.

The differences in how each online e-reader store is set up don’t make one superior to the other. You can search for a title, browse categories, check out best-seller lists, and download samples (which we’ll get to in a second) on all three.

The speed at which whole books and samples get downloaded to your e-reader once purchased depend on the speed of your Internet connection, but figure around a minute from clicking the “buy” button to actually reading your new e-book.

You also can shop for e-books from the Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo Web sites from a PC, smart phone or tablet (although, as I mentioned in Monday’s Part I, you can no longer shop for e-books from within the updated iPhone Kindle, Nook or Kobo apps; if you want to continue ordering e-books from within these apps, don’t update them), as well as from Kobo’s standalone Mac or PC application.

But if you buy an e-book from the Web or a smart phone/tablet app, you now have to get it to your e-reader, which means syncing via Wi-Fi.

Nook and Kobo syncing is simple. Go to the Kobo’s home screen or the Library screen on the Nook, and simply tap the sync icon (a pair of arced arrows completing a circle). You purchases will then be transferred to your e-reader lickety-split.

Easy – but Kindle let’s you skip this step entirely. When you are ready to buy an e-book from the Amazon Web site or smart phone app, you can choose to transmit it directly to your Kindle. No syncing step necessary.

Recommendations

As noted, Amazon’s skipped sync step is convenient, especially for the tech-phobic, and the longer sample chapters also are nice. So, right now, Kindle gets the edge in e-book shopping.

Two things, though.

First, nothing stops Barnes & Noble or Nook from upgrading their shopping to accomplish the same direct-to-e-reader capability at some point.

Second, Nook has a singular shopping advantage over both Kindle and Kobo: the 40,000 Barnes & Noble real-world retail locations.

Not only can you get Nook hardware help from living, breathing sales people, but your Nook will automatically connect to the store’s Wi-Fi, and you can download and read any e-book in Barnes & Noble’s catalog for up to an hour a day.

If you live near a Barnes & Noble bookstore – and with 40,000 stores, who doesn’t? – you may find being that close to flesh-and-blood help and access to free e-reading a real shopping advantage.

Chav Culture: A New Trend in Gay Culture?


Until I read the article below, I knew nothing of “Chav” culture. I didn’t even know what a “Chav” was.

According to urban dictionary: There are people in the world who think that the label “Chav” is classist, and refers to those who are working class. However, once and for all, it does not. “Chav” in fact refers to those who have absolutely no respect for anything at all, though in fact demand to be respected all the same. They can be found spitting on the streets; they can be found sitting in bus shelters cadging a smoke off other people; they can be found in courtrooms everywhere for street crimes. They will happily attack anyone who so much as looks at them

Here’s the link to read examples.

And here’s a post about the new trend. Remember, I didn’t write this one. I’m only relaying the message.

Study examines fascination with ‘chav’ culture among middle-class gay men

New research at the University of Leicester is investigating a growing fascination with ‘chav’ culture among middle-class gay men in Britain.

Professor Joanna Brewis, from the University of Leicester School of Management, UK, will conduct primary empirical research into gay class tourism following publication of findings reported last year in the journal Sociology.

Research she carried out with her former colleague Professor Gavin Jack, now at La Trobe University in Australia, revealed the complex consumer patterns of middle-class homosexual men who go ‘slumming’ at chav nights in clubs, typically dressed in tracksuits, baseball caps and flaunting showy diamond and gold bling.

Professors Brewis’s and Jack’s findings overturn the traditional stereotypes of gay men as cultured, bourgeois consumers, suggesting instead an interest in the lower-class values of ‘chavs’ encapsulated in certain types of pornographic material, sex lines and night clubs.

Professor Brewis commented: “Our research opens up some interesting questions, including whether the fascination with chavs opens up the gay space for working class homosexual men, or just reinforces the view of the ‘unselective male libido’.”

Professor Joanna Brewis has been a member of the University of Leicester School of Management since 2004. Her research interests are in the intersections between the body, identity, sexuality, consumption, culture and processes of organizing. As well as the project described above, other recent research work includes exploring intimacy, motherhood and life-work ‘balance’; and discourses of Same and Other around culture and professionalism in Aotearoa New Zealand social work.

Professor Gavin Jack joined the La Trobe Graduate School of Management in 2009. His research interests include international management issues, consumption and postcolonial organizational analysis.

Questions About E-publishing and Self-Publishing E-books…

I’m not trying to step on any toes here. But I wrote a post about the difference between self-publishing and e-publishing, and I’ve had a lot of e-mails because people didn’t feel secure leaving comments on the thread.

I’ve answered them all. I don’t know much about self-publishing because I’ve never done it. But I do know the process for e-publishing very well because I’ve been doing it for seven years now. And the I know the basic difference between the two, at least enough to help steer a new author in the right direction.

So please feel free to use this open comment thread to ask questions anonymously and I will answer them the best I can. I hate to see authors and readers confused, especially when it involves money out of their own pockets. And if I can help with some of the misinformation out there, I will. And If I don’t know, I’ll admit it and try to point you in the right direction to someone who does know.

All comments will be treated with absolute discretion and you can comment a year from now if you’d like.