Tag Archives: books

Free Downloads

From noon EDT US today through midnight EDT Sunday (10 April 2011), Zumaya Publications is doing a free ebook promotion for Carole Waterhouse’s The Tapestry Baby and Mark Roberts’s Unforced Error.

You can download for free the two books in either PDF, epub or mobi:

For Tapestry Baby:

Tapestry Baby PDF

Tapestry Baby EPUB

Tapestry Baby MOBI

 

For Unforced Error:

Unforced Error PDF

Unforced Error EPUB 

Unforced Error MOBI

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Book Review: La Isla Bajo el Mar

La isla bajo el marLa isla bajo el mar by Isabel Allende

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The poignant story of Zarité, a black slave in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) and later in New Orleans in the 18th Century.

I have read this book in the original language (Spanish), and Allende’s prose is simple and elegant, yet extremely vivid. The book is a mix of fairly detailed historical fiction and the slave Zarité’s voice, which brings an element of immediacy to the events. When she speaks for Zarité, Allende can shock us with the casual way the slave speaks of her treatment (e.g., her master extinguishing his cigar on her), and so gives us the utter helplessness of the slave.

But Allende shows us also the cost of becoming free–a fact that Haiti, in a way, has never recovered from–and, despite the inescapable disgust of slavery she creates in the reader, she also succeeds in making us see the slave owners’ point of view, in all its callousness, insensitivity, greed, and ignorance.

If I have one criticism it’s the slow pace of the book, maybe due to the detailed historical events she uses as parentheses to the story. It was sometimes a bit plodding, although it opened my eyes to the plight of the slaves at the inception of the slave trade.

Well worth the read.

View all my reviews

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Official cover for Catalyst

The end–or the beginning– is in sight! This is the official cover of my new SF Thriller, Catalyst.

The year is 2046.

Mutations and MIDS ravage the planet, and the need for body parts and organ transplants escalate. Corbin has created GenOrg, a farm that speed-grows in coffin-like pods thousands of human clones from stolen DNA. One problem: the clones are sentient—their genetic memory has even given them the ability to communicate between themselves.

Ashar, a self-named clone, escapes GenOrg, promising to return to free the others. Running for his life, he is joined by Sara Logan, a geneticist with a guilty secret, and Pietr Ludov, a reporter seeking the ultimate story. They hatch out a plan to bring down Corbin, but it’s not enough for Ashar: he wants the clones free. Struggling with his own genetic identity, Ashar devises his own plan, which will unleash a series of events that will have repercussions for decades.

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Proofreading Catalyst

A rough sample of the Catalyst Cover

The final edits are done. The picture cover has been designed by Bob Hobbs. All that’s left to do is the cover setup (the font will hopefully change), the formatting of the book itself, and the final proofreading.

The proofreading is tough. Even though I’m pleased with the story and believe it’s well crafted, by now I’ve read the darn thing at least five times in the space of a few months and, frankly, I’m a bit sick of it.

Soon I’ll have to read it again, and this time it’s a different way of reading. This type of reading is at the same time mindless and extremely focused.

It’s mindless because you can’t afford to read the story. Reading for the story is a different mode of reading. If you’re a moderately fast reader, like I am, you read ahead and anticipate the words. Even though you read the words, your brain doesn’t “see” them; it sees the story, the characters, the action, the setting. The words –if the story is well written– weave a picture, a mental movie of what’s going on. Even in a literary work, this vision building is the goal of writing.

With proofreading, you must focus on every word. Forget the computer’s spell checker. You are the spell checker. You must look at every word and make sure each is spelled and used correctly. It becomes a witch hunt for any spelling mistakes and false friends like “it’s” and “its”, “they’re” and “their” and “there”, “who’s” and “whose”, etc. Every word is scrutinized. If you fall into the trap of beginning to read the story, you have to back up and start over.

Granted, at this point there shouldn’t be too many spelling mistakes, which makes it even more arduous because, let’s face it, reading words for the sake of words is tedious.

And as a writer, when I get to that point, I must fight the compulsion to fiddle with the words one last time before it’s too late. This is a bad idea for two reasons: first, because major changes at that point can greatly delay the publication of the book and second, because there are chances that I’ll make things worse. The story is completed. Let it be.

And very soon, I’ll be holding a copy in my hands. Can’t wait.

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The Espresso Book Machine

Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Increasingly, discussions about thee EBM center around the possibility that this ingenious piece of hardware and software might save the small bookstore.

The Espresso Book Machine (EBM) is a print on demand (POD) machine that prints, collates, covers, and binds a single book (trade paperback) in a few minutes. The quality is surprisingly good–and the machine if fast.

Giants such as amazon and the rise of ebooks are stealing business away from small bookstores, which also cannot sustain the large inventories of larger box bookstores such as Chapters or Barns and Noble. The EBM is a way to cut costs and to have a huge inventory, as large as any electronic database of books can sustain. It also solves the problem of returns and how to supply out-of-print books.

Publishers such as Simon & Schuster and Hachette are setting up to provide all their titles for the EBM. Many other publishers will follow suit. It also brings to the bookstores people who wish to self-publish and have printed copies of their books, and most of the small indie publishers registered with Ingram who cannot afford to ship copies to bookstores.

The EBM has transparent walls so it’s possible to see a book being created from beginning to end, something most people never see.

Although it’s a pricey initial investment ($75-95,000), all university presses and bookstores that bought them fully believe they’ll recoup their investment in a few years.  Marcus Gipps, the Blackwell store manager in London, England, says that his customer base has increased since they brought in the machine; it has been dragging people away from their computers and into the store.

The number of university presses and bookstores that have Espresso Book machines is now up to 86:  http://www.ondemandbooks.com/our_ebm_locations.htm

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