Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

What I’ve Been Reading

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Two books I’ve read recently had quite an impact on me, and so I am sharing them with you.

The Remains of War, Surviving the Other Concentration Camps of World War II
by Pauline Kok-Schurgers
Self-published (iUniverse)

I forget where I read about this book. Someone, somewhere had read it and another iUniverse book and remarked that The Remains of War was well worth reading. The comments were intriguing enough that I bought it and read it. It’s one of the most affecting books I’ve read in a while, and more about that later. I’m sorry indeed that the publisher is iUniverse. It means the author has not made the money she could have or deserves. That said, I’m glad the book is out there to be read.

The story is about a young Dutch girl who, with her family, was interned in a series of Japanese concentration camps in Indonesia. It’s as harrowing and heartbreaking as you’d expect. The family survives, by the way which is what got me through the book, though the power of the words and language would probably have kept me reading. Kok-Schurgers was nine when she and her family were interned and twelve by the time they were liberated. The men, her father included, were sent to a different camp, so she was with her mother, two sisters and a brother.

It’s a powerful story, powerfully told.

At first, the language was just ever so slightly loose, but by the second chapter, Ms. Kok-Schurgers’s story utterly drew me in. Everything was immediate and visceral. It’s not told from a distance, instead we get an astonishing, living, breathing girl on these pages who is both aware of her flaws and learning who she is. The quote below is something said to her by an adult in the camp about a young boy also interned.

“He liked the shadows, which gave him comfort and shelter, because light asked from him more than he was willing to give.”

Voices like that should not be forgotten. I’m glad I read this book. Other reviewers are right. This is an important text.

Kok-Schurgers has a blog here and an uninformative website here. Amazon link (Kindle Version). This is worth the price.

From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme
Maja Kominko, Editor

Open Book Publishers

This work is from the British Library and describes several preservation programs dedicated to, as the title says, endangered archives. The forward is oh so slightly boring until it begins a discussion of the ways in which Western cultures have removed knowledge from indigenous populations, denied them access to their own heritage, and removed the artifacts from the very surroundings and people who gave the information meaning. The descriptions of the collections described in this volume are fascinating. This is wonderful, amazing material. Mind-blown. Myths exploded. Read it. Amazon Link

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The Fork is Out!

Friday, May 1st, 2015
Fork against a blue sky with white clouds

The Fork

The draft for my story in the June anthology Dancing in The Duke’s Arms is DONE! And boy, I wasn’t sure I’d hit the deadline. There was a point, on Wednesday, when I realized I was missing 5 chapters of edits [long explanation omitted] and I had to redo them all. ALL. OF. THEM.

My story is tentatively titled, “An Suitable Woman.”

And now, back to My Immortals 7.

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Writing Progress and News

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

I’ve been making good progress on My Immortals Book 7. It’s coming together well, which is good news. I’ve told my cover artist to consider My Demon Warlord the final title so there you go. I should have a final cover soon.

Shortly though, I’ll be writing a novella for the anthology Dancing in the Duke’s Arms. I’m hoping to have My Demon Warlord to some trusted readers while I’m doing that.

I’ve changed my mind about the project after that. I was going to start on the Dark Elf series but I have decided I should write Sinclair Sisters Series Book 3, THEN start the new series.

Here’s a picture of some of the tulips coming up in the garden. It looks a little better close up but hey! Spring is coming!

Pink tulips one with the sun on some dew. It's an okay picutre. The pink is pretty.

Pink Tulip with dew

 

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Sneak Peek: Cover of My Demon Warlord

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Here you go, gentle readers: A sneak peek at the 97% sure cover for My Demon Warlord, My Immortals Series Book 7. This is not the final cover, as in there are still some tweaks to do.

A draft cover for My Demon Warlord

Draft Cover for My Demoin Warlord

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Help An Author Out: Titles

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

I’m nearing critical mass on My Immortals Book 7, which is awesome. Meanwhile I am mulling over potential titles. I had some great suggestions at my facebook page (Thank you so much!) so I thought I’d throw together a poll with a few titles and see what people think.

If you have a suggestion, let me know in the comments, too. Once I have the title, I can finalize the cover…

Best Title for My Immortals Book 7?

View Results

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Writing, Will Write, Have Been Writing. Also: Reading

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Reading

My RITA reading is all done. Now I’m back to reading Judith Ivory. It’s a slice of reading bliss…

Writing

I attended a writing function last night where someone else paid for dinner and I got to chat with lots of Romance authors and persons in the business. But I had to drive to San Francisco and … Hey! I did find parking on the street, there’s that! My car, bought used, and now paid for, is getting cranky in its old age. I never know which key (I have two, no, no fob…never never buy a car without a fob….) will actually open the door. Any door. And now I’m never sure which key will actually start the car. One of these days the answer will be “None of them!” Sigh. Anyway, I was glad to find parking because that meant I wouldn’t have to give the valet 10 minutes of instructions about what to do if the door(s) won’t open and how to voodoo the ignition. But I didn’t get home until midnight and I had to be up at 5:15AM — I was at least smart enough to not even try for the 4:00AM workout — and so my point is I’m really tired right now.

I’ve been working on My Immortals 7 and things are going pretty well. I’m liking the story a lot and am almost at the point where the story is really essentially done and there’s not much plot left to deal with.

What the title will be, I don’t know yet. I have a few ideas, but nothing I want to commit to yet, and that is why I cannot show you the cover for Book 7 — because the cover is all done except for a place holder title from Book 5. But I love, love, love the cover.

I’m going to be writing another historical novella for a second anthology with Grace Burrowes, Miranda Neville, and Shana Galen. The anthology title should be Dancing in the Duke’s Arms. We were able to arrange a custom photo shoot and so provide some very specific requests for poses and emotions to be conveyed for our cover image. We’ve selected the image we want to use, but there is nothing to show you yet.

Also, I know the story I want to write for the anthology, and it’s an idea that keeps nagging at me.

Arithmetic

Six weeks into 2015 already! I should be doing my taxes but I’m not. Yet. ::Shrug::

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I think I have a problem with this: American Sniper

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

I read the book American Sniper shortly after it came out. I have also read several other memoirs of Navy SEALS. Chris Kyle, the author of American Sniper, as you probably know, retired from active service and was later killed by a mentally disturbed man at a shooting range Kyle owned. Now there’s a movie about the book.

FYI: I have now added a paragraph at the bottom to address yet another controversy about this movie.

The controversy I’ve heard around the movie goes like this: Kyle killed people and talked about it. He was callous and unfeeling, and possibly not a very nice person. I have seen comparisons between success of the movie with things that are unrelated that imply that Americans of the sort who would see American Sniper are terrible people. Example, juxtaposing the movie’s successful opening with people who gave Bill Cosby a standing ovation.

Today, after writing a draft of this post, I went to see the movie because, one, I wanted to see it anyway, and two, since I was so bothered by some of the conversation, not seeing the movie would leave my opinions and thoughts less informed than they should be.

The Review Portion

Clint Eastwood is a very good director. There’s no doubt about it. Great material to work with, and yet I often felt that if I’d not read the book, I couldn’t have followed the movie as well. In fact, several times, I thought, oh, right, that’s [some character] from the book, because those roles were not clear to me. Alas, and probably no surprise, Kyle’s wife was sadly one-dimensional. I don’t mean the actress, I mean the screenplay and the directorial decisions. More than once I whispered “eff you.” Because of course the woman is shown as unable to understand the man she married. So, you know, the eff.

More important, I did not see this movie as a glorification of killing or an endorsement of the war in Iraq; at times quite the opposite. One of the strengths of the movie was showing moments of internal conflict and Kyle’s (as he was shown to us on the screen) refusal to acknowledge that even his brothers-in-arms had times of profound doubt.

Frankly, though I enjoyed the movie, and though it made me as sad as ever about war in general, and Iraq in particular, it’s not Eastwood’s best work. It’s a bit uneven and might have been better served by spending slightly less time on shooting and explosions and more on demonstrating the brotherhood of the soldiers. Thus ends the review portion of this post.

On War And the Warrior Trope

Here’s a fact, there are branches of the military, the SEALs being one, that have achieved a mystical standing. By definition, these men are extraordinary. They embody everything we glorify about warriors. I find it odd not to acknowledge the power of that trope and the reality behind it. Spartans. Athenians. Amazons. Roman Gladiators. Alexander The Great. Picts. Scots. The history of humans includes the history of war and warfare. Setting aside issues of the elision of women and minorities from history and warfare, this is us. As humans. We can recognize and admit the power of the warrior trope without also elevating war to heroic status.

Story vs. Truth

The movie represents Kyle at three removes. Kyle, the person, is gone and unable to speak for himself. His memoir is a writing and all writing is a remove from the person who is the writer. More, when there is a co-writer, there is yet another remove. What’s on the page are the words that convey words spoken, not the actual experience.

Writers are tricky people. They understand how and when to manipulate with words. It behooves us all, when we are reading a text, to remember that fact. It’s even more important when the writer of a memoir isn’t the subject of the memoir. And even so we cannot represent or assume the words on the page are equivalent to Kyle. They are a representation of him. And now we have a movie of the book; a representation of a representation.

The Thing that Bothers Me

It bothers me that there seems to be a conflation of Kyle, the movie, and its viewers that suggests that because Kyle killed people for a living that all the viewers of the movie are ascribed bloodthirsty motivations for seeing the movie. Further, suggesting there is some relation between a SEAL sniper doing his job and the alleged actions of Bill Cosby is offensive. How is a soldier doing what his country pays him to do anything like Cosby?

Whatever you may feel about the role the US is playing in the world, we should not be denigrating the men and women who serve in our military nor should we be making sly or not so sly insinuations about the moral worth of members of the military because we might disagree with US politics or decisions to send our military into war. Kyle, personally, did not set US policy. He did not commit crimes.

It is entirely possible for someone to read and see American Sniper while maintaining an ability to separate the actions and culpability of a White House Administration that put our country at war in Iraq under less than truthful circumstances with the actions of the soldiers who were sent to fight.

Bill Cosby is alleged to have committed several crimes. Assaults against women whom he allegedly drugged so that they could not object or consent. It is offensive to me that anyone would conflate the part-of-the-job actions of a member of the US military with actions that are a crime and suggest that viewers of the movie must also support Cosby.

Further, I have read American Sniper and seen the movie. I have not become a bloodthirsty, jackbooted conservative. Nor would I have given Bill Cosby a standing ovation. But then, I would also never have gone to see Cosby, knowing the allegations against him. I can deplore that the US went to war in Iraq at the same time that I support the women and men who are sent to fight on our behalves.

Idiots are Not an Excuse

Just now I saw tweets about the movie in which someone screen-capped several tweets in which people who saw the movie said they now hated Iraqis and want to kill “them” where “them” was a racial epithet. That tweet said with full ironic sarcasm: “It’s just a movie.”

Kyle was killed by an American, after his service was over. Not an Iraqi. Should the movie not have been made because there are idiots out there incapable of seeing the tragic irony of that? What should we do, give a test before the movie and refuse to admit people who we feel lack critical thinking abilities?

It is equally possible to see this movie and think, as I did, no wonder they hate us. Yes. That’s right. It’s not just a movie. The problem isn’t the movie. The problem lies in the hearts of minds of the people who see the movie.

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Books Prices in the EU…Continued

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

France and Germany . . .

This is a continuation of my previous post on this issue.

I can’t find any confirmation that the fixed book pricing laws in place in France only apply to books in French. What I find is this explanation of the French law as of 2011:

lesechos.fr

C’est fait : la loi sur le prix unique des e-books a été définitivement adoptée par le Parlement français. Après le Sénat, l’Assemblée nationale a entériné mardi soir, par un vote quasi unanime, la proposition de loi UMP qui autorise un éditeur français à fixer le prix des ouvrages sous format numérique, comme c’est le cas pour le papier. Et cette règle s’appliquera aux libraires en ligne installés en France comme aux revendeurs installés à l’étranger comme Apple, Amazon ou Google. Sur le papier, le dispositif devrait donc réjouir les éditeurs, les libraires et aussi les distributeurs de produits culturels établis en France comme la FNAC qui redoutaient les distorsions de concurrence.

What this says according to my French with a confirmative (sort of) assist from Google translate, is that French PUBLISHERS set the price of their books and that all French booksellers and resellers must abide by that price. It also says that online sellers “settled in France” such as Amazon, Apple, and Google, are also subject to that law. So…. Assume for the moment that I am the publisher of my book on sale in France. I set my price and Apple, Amazon, and Google must comply with that price. Therefore (and I’m not a lawyer anywhere in the world) Apple should not be rounding up my prices in France.

Does this mean that I must give all vendors in France the same price? I see ambiguity on that point. The assumption of the law appears to be that publishers do not want their books discounted ever. There’s some indication that you could discount by no more than 5%.

When I look at Amazon.fr, I can see that the publisher for the French translation of Scandal is listed as J’ai Lu which is, indeed, the company that contracted for French rights to Scandal. My self-published books on Amazon.fr show the publisher as “cJewel Books” which is the imprint name I assigned to the ISBN and gave to Amazon as the publisher.

So…. I would seem to be a publisher in France for the purposes of the price law, which also suggests that I have been thinking about this in a slightly inaccurate way. In France, it’s not that all books must be the same price. It’s that publishers get to set the price and distributors and resellers, including Amazon, must sell the book for that price without discounts.

The law appears to be silent on whether I, as a publisher, can give different prices to different French vendors, because, I speculate, that state of affairs was not the point of the law. The law was intended to prevent discounts on the publisher-set price.

I have to wonder if this means Kobo is out of compliance with French law because it does not permit me, the publisher, to set the French price. I can only set the EU price.

Germany….

Germany has a law that is similar to France’s but also more than a century older. It, too, applies to publishers setting prices. According to this 2004 document from the Legal department of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association German Book Prices – PDF Publishers must provide the same price to all German vendors. From the document (which is in English):

The law is relatively short, as it consists of only 10 articles.
§ 1 reemphasizes that it is the overall intention of this law to protect books as a cultural good.

According to Art. 2 the law applies to all sorts of books, i.e. printed works. This includes not only printed books, but also music notes, cartography products like maps and globes as well as substitutions or reproductions of books.

According to Art. 5 the publisher or importer of a book shall determine the retail price of such book for the German territory. Foreign language books which are almost exclusively sold outside of Germany are not included in the law’s scope of application. (emphasis added)

Art. 3 obliges the vendor of the book to keep this determined price. Any retailer is forced by law to keep the fixed price. Consequently also the publisher himself has to keep its own fixed prices if he sells a book directly to customers. However, the law does not prevent the publisher to change such fixed prices at his discretion. He is free to adjust the applicable fixed prices according to market conditions or any other considerations he may have. (emphasis added)


According to Art. 8 publishers may cancel the fixed price if the edition of one particular book has been published for more than 18 months.

Note the two things I bolded there. Assuming the rules set out in this 2004 document have not changed, my English language version of, say, Scandal, would not be subject to this law. Maybe. Depends how you interpret “almost exclusively sold outside of Germany.” However, my German translations would be subject to this law.

Interesting. But none of this resolves the ambiguity. Nor does any of this solve the Nook problem, or, the Kobo one, or Apple rounding up.

 

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New Cover for Free Fall!

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

I have a new cover for Free Fall, my My Immortals novella. I spiffied up the inside, too. Here’s the new cover:

Cover of Free Fall featuring a hot Asian demon

Cover of Free Fall

About Free Fall

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Dead Drop Print Book Giveaway at Goodreads!

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dead Drop by Carolyn Jewel

Dead Drop

by Carolyn Jewel

Giveaway ends January 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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