I’ve been blessed

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with kids who enjoy reading… mostly. It’s taken me 9 years to find a book that will draw in my middle child, will interest her enough that she will curl up and read without being forced to. The key? Ramona. I swear, this kid could be Ramona. Seeing her curl up with a book and discover the world that unfolds at your fingertips as you become engrossed in a good tale thrills me.

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A month of single parenting… day 9

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My days are starting to blur together. The kids have been home and I’ve had no escape for only 4 days, it’s really not that bad, it’s been kind of cool, and they’ve been playing in the mud. It’s the lack of sleep that’s getting to me. It always does.

Revision and rewrites have stalled. I’m just kind of burnt out on them so I’ve started a new project. A smaller, more easily manageable one. I’m writing a short erotic story. Set in the same world as the books, with different characters, in a different location. (I really like the world I’ve built, but I needed a break from the project I’ve been concentrating on for almost 9 months straight.)

Three days into the project I’m 45% of the way to my goal. Once it’s finished, I plan on submitting it to publishers… And hopefully I’ll be able to get back to (and finish) the book so it can be submitted as well.

On a side note, Laurell K  Hamilton released her new Anita Blake book  Hit List today. Yes, I’ve already read it. I enjoyed it but with a few caveats

  • it was too short. They are all too short for me, but at only 330 pages, it was short for an Anita book and I missed it.
  • I missed interaction (at all) with some of the major characters from the series, most were at least named, but no call, no interaction with them at all. There were a couple not even named. BOOO
  • The ending felt off. Yes, I am one of those freaks who ‘feels’ their way through a book. It seemed rushed and awkward. And there was on particular tidbit that was thrown out there and then the book ended and your like WHAT!??!

Will I read the next one? of course, Will I eagerly await it? of course.

I still want my own spine sheath and badge. I’m still an Anita diehard, despite the disappointment.

“Who made you judge jury and…executioner?

“The state and federal government. Now get out of my way and let me do my job.”

Brain Break

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After working on re-writes for almost three months straight I realized that I needed a break. I closed the file holding my book in progress and I picked up a book to read, when that one was finished, I picked up another… and another… and another.. ok, to make a long story short, in the last week I have finished 13 books. I have a couple more I would really really like to read, but I just don’t have them yet.

But I am refreshed, and ready to get back to the task at hand. Finishing what I think of in my mind as Book One, not because it is my first book, it isn’t, but because it is the first book in a series that I have planned out in my head. I need to finish this one so I can move on to Book Two.

3 year Blogoversary

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This is kind of a blow my own horn post. I’m looking back at how much things have changed for me over the last three years since I started the blog.

Let’s see… where was I in my life 3 years ago?

  • I‘d moved to the Third Circle of Hell only 6 weeks earlier, while the winters were nice and warm, I missed real cold weather. Shorts in January is nice but not when you have heat so hot you step out into it and your brain bakes instantly and that heat lasts from April through October.
  • I owned and was managing a women’s message board, it was very very stressful and I was not easy to get along with.
  • I had one child in second grade, one in kindergarten and one still in diapers.
  • I was totally obsessed with knitting.
  • I was still trying to get my house unpacked from the move.
  • I was renting my home.
  • I was still putting up with my sister treating me like the mud she didn’t want to track inside her life.
  • I knew no one other than my in laws in my new town.
  • I was reading at a rate of about 200 books a year.

 

How is my life now?

  • I’ve been living in the Third Circle of Hell for over 3 years now, I still dislike it, but don’t totally hate it, except when it’s too hot to think. Having solar panels on the house helps, it means I can afford to set the air conditioner at a temperature low enough that I don’t get heat migraines. (but still not low enough to actually be comfortable.)
  • I gave up the message board and not only don’t I own one, I don’t frequent them either. I’m far less stressed and in general, a happier person.
  • I have one child in fifth grade, one in third and one who will start Kindergarten in the fall. I’m completely through with diapers, can I tell you how happy I am about that? But I’m also –><- this close to hormonal girl stage. Wish me luck.
  • I am still a big knitter, but I’m not totally obsessed, I do other things too. I’ve also designed and sell a couple of my patterns. It’s not much but it is rewarding.
  • I still have a few boxes in the garage, but it’s storage, not waiting to be unpacked. And it’s not the same garage.
  • I’ve bought a house (ok, so Hubster and I bought a house, on his salary, so what?)
  • I actually have pictures on the walls, and my own curtains hung (I have refused to hang things up just to pull them down a year later when we moved, so most of my stuff got put away until we bought the house.)
  • I’ve cut communications with my sister for the most part. If she calls me for some reason I’ll speak to her, I’ll even be nice, I don’t snub her. But I also don’t put up with her talking down to me or treating me badly. I like who I am and my life and I don’t need her approval to be happy.
  • I’ve written two books. One that has been submitted to publishers, and though not accepted I did get some very helpful feedback. The second (which has nothing to do with the first) is still being edited and will be submitted to publishers this year. Book 3 (sequel to Book 2 ) is in the planning stages.
  • I have good friends, both in town and through out the country.
  • This year I plan on reading far less, editing and writing take up much of the time I was spending reading, I‘m ok with the trade off.

After only 15 months in our own house…

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I finially have all my books unpacked. What took so long? I didn’t have anywhere to put them. When we moved in I reserved a spot in my living room for bookcases… and that spot has remained empty for 15 months. Every time someone would suggest that I put something there, I would tell them, “No, that is where my bookcases will go.” to which they always asked if I was getting them soon, my answer was always that I had no plans to, but I couldn’t put something in the spot or the bookcases would never happen.

That spot on my wall would still be empty if something hadn’t drawn me to craigslist this morning. I almost never go to the local craigslist page, I find lots of things that I don’t need that I really want… or things I need but the price is just too high at the moment…

And then I found the listing… 4 bookcases, $15 each or $55 for all 4. It was a couple days old, so I wasn’t sure if they would still be available, but I sent the email asking about them anyway. They were still there.. I made an appointment to go look at them, figuring even if they looked like shit, but were structurally sound, I could paint them to something I liked and still come out on top… When I first saw them, the first thing I noticed is that they were pristine. Like new. I immediately said I would take them. I talked with the lady selling them, told her I was going to use them for the hard cover books I collect, and dvd’s in the main room of my house. We talked about ereaders and our individual desire to write, and what we like to write.. and she sold them to me for $50.. I was so thrilled.

I brought them home, set them up and started to fill them..

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Not the greatest picture, because it was taken with my phone..and yes, that is my smallest monkey there in the corner.

I  moved all the books I had stashed in every corner of the house, I unpacked the last of the books from the garage, I had the small monkey moving all the extra layers (sometimes 3 layers deep) from the shelving unit that holds the dvd player… and an hour later we had this….

IMAG0108

That still isn’t done, I have added quite a bit more as the day progressed. And I have been told by friends that I am more than a little bit obsessed. Why? Because the books are sorted by author and series. I would say that these are collectors bits to us, and so we have them sorted to be such… but it would be a lie. Before I got rid of all my paperback (most of them, there are still a few there…) They were kept sorted by author too…but I have to admit, my ebooks are sorted by author as well… when a person reads as much as I do, you have to have some method of sorting…

ok… I will also admit that I sort movies… by actor. I group movies with the same actor together. And I group series together too. Most of the movies in this picture aren’t done… yet. But give me time, I am sure one day my obsession will attack and I will be forced to do it again.

I want one…

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I want one bad… So I am saving my pennies. What is that I want so bad, you may ask?  

Pocket-PRO-Maroon

An Astak EzReader Pocket Pro. In a few words, it is an ebook reader. What is an ebook reader?  It is a small electronic gadget, about the size of a paper back book, but only 1/2” thick, that you can load electronic copies of books on to, and read easily anywhere. As I have mentioned this gadget to several people I know, I get lots of questions about them. So I am going to do my best to answer them all here.

What is an ebook?

In short, it is an electronic book. A file, in any of several formats, that is a copy of a book you can find in a store.

I have been asked by many people why bother switching to ebooks? Why not just stick with traditional paper books?

Several reasons. I read a lot.. I mean a LOT and paper books take up a lot of space, they are heavy, they are expensive, especially if you want something that is newly released or not out in paperback yet. And, in the push to go green and do what you can to help the earth, ebooks go a long way.

Are ebooks a passing fad?

I really don’t think so, I have been reading ebooks for the last 7 years, and in that time, I have only seen them become more and more popular. They have come out with several devices designed to do exactly what this one does. I think that ebooks, like MP3’s are to music, are the future in reading.

I read enough that if I take a trip of more than an hour or two in the car, and unless I take a brand new book, I usually have to take two books, just to have enough to read, which takes up space and adds weight and things to haul on the trip. And if it is a trip of several days, I end up packing several books. This just multiplies. With ebooks, and a device like this one, I can have several hundred to several thousand books in the same small package. smaller than a single paper back book, it doesn’t get heavier because I have loaded more books into it. It is still easy to carry, slip into a pocket or purse, whether it has 1 book or 1000 books in it.

How are ebooks cheaper?

A paper back book, new runs anywhere from $5-10, and a hard cover book runs any where from $18-25 for most fiction books. Ebooks on the other hand don’t have to be printed, or shipped and run anywhere from free, to around $12. I have seen lots free, a lot for 99 cents, up to $3-5 for an older release, usually one available in paper back. As for new releases, the ebook is often, though not always, released the same day as the hard back, for and for $10-12

How are ebooks better for the environment?

Well… in a lot of ways.. Yes, you use electricity to charge your reader, a single charge lasts approx. 2 weeks or 8000 page turns. Compare that to the amount of trees cut, and the energy used to turn those trees into paper. Plus, the energy used to actually print the books, then to ship them to the dealer, whether you buy online or from a brick and mortar store. They don’t have to be warehoused, which is another building that uses electricity for lighting and cooling. On top of that, you have to get the book, either by driving to the store and picking it up or by having it delivered.

On top of the fact that you have to wait for the store to open if you are eagerly awaiting a new release, or it to be delivered if you ordered a new release in the mail, with ebooks, they are downloaded instantly. And selection, just like you can carry hundreds of books in the small reader, your ebook store can carry a much larger variety of books, because they don’t have to worry about shelf space and warehousing.

Not convinced yet?

My grandfather always has one question about new gadgets… How can it make you money. Well, while it doesn’t EXACTLY make you money, but it can in a round about way. In addition to saving money in reading for pleasure, it can save you  money in school too. A lot of college text books are now available in ebook format, much cheaper than the paper copies. I also know a home school mom who has been able to get some of her kids text books in ebook, and her kids can take their books on road trips, and study while moving, much much easier. So while it doesn’t directly make you money, it can save you money while you are getting your education, which in the long run, will make you money. 

Why this particular reader? Aren’t there lots out there? And several more popular, more commonly known?

My choice of this particular reader has been for several reasons. First I evaluated what *I* want in a reader and what I don’t.  Features that are important to me, I really want and can make me decide against a reader if it doesn’t have enough of them.

For me, and my family, I wanted these:

  • a large variety of file formats. I don’t want to be restricted to a single site to download my books, I want the freedom to be able to check out ebooks from my local library’s web site, I want to be able to shop around and find the cheapest copy of the book I want, no matter what format it comes in.
  • a slot for expandable memory. Most readers only have 512mb of internal memory, while a couple have 2gb, and given the amount that I read, I wanted to be able to use a memory card, or several to have a much much larger book selection. I wanted to be able to put my books on one card, and the kids books on another, then I can easily switch between them without giving the kids access to the not really kid appropriate things I often read.
  • good battery length. This seems to be pretty universal, with the exception of those with wi-fi capabilities, when the wi-fi is turned on, it dramatically shortens charge life.

Then I looked at features I would like but didn’t feel I *needed*:

  • Text to talk. This one is hard to find, in all my research I found only 2 ereaders that had this feature, but since I often knit and read or want to listen to the book I am in the middle of while doing house work, this is something that would come in really handy for me.
  • Mp3 capability. Lots of ereaders will also play mp3’s but most will not do so while you are reading. If you like to listen to music while you read to block out background noise, this is nice. Plus, my local library, in addition to loaning ebooks online also loans audio books online, the ability to play them on the ereader is nice.
  • The option to back light. Not something that is on all the time, but something that could be turned on when you are reading in the dark.
  • Color options. While this is really no big deal, it would be very handy if we have more than one in the house (we are a house of readers, and I would hate to not be able to read because someone else was using my reader.) Each person could have their own color.

Then there were several things that I decided that given the option, I would remove, things I felt no need for or just didn’t want on my device.

  • Wi-fi access. I have no need to get online with my reader, I have a phone that will do that.
  • Instant download of books. While the idea is great, if I were to get one for my kids (which I already have one asking for a reader, and suspect at least one other will be asking for one in the next few years) I don’t want the kids to have the ability to go online and buy and download books without my knowledge, for several reasons.
  • Speakers. again, especially if the kids have them, headphones are a must. Just like their computers, no speaker option, just headphones.

All theses things being considered I went hunting. I looked at a large variety of readers from several makers.The ones I have discussed here are not all that I looked at, but they are the ones that stuck in my mind.

Amazon’s Kindle is very restrictive in it’s formats. It will open some, but not all PDF files, it will open TXT, and their own proprietary format. They claim to open several more, but the people I know with Kindles cannot get the other formats to work, at least not with out paying an extra fee per book to have them put on the kindle for them. They will not open epub or ereader files, which is what most libraries use for eloaning. The Kindle is out.

I did find several that met my primary requirements.

Most have the slot for expandable memory, only Sony’s Pocket model does not. The Nook has a Micro SD slot while the others have SD, considering I already own some where in the neighborhood of 10-15 SD cards, I was leaning towards one of those models.

The Astak models (both the pocket pro 5 and the 6 model) open in the neighborhood of 20 different file formats, the most I found anywhere, including several I couldn’t find anywhere else.

I went to my next list of features.

The only two models with Text to talk are the Ezreader pocket pro, and the Kindle, since the Kindle had already been eliminated, the Ezreader is leading the pack.

Audio files

  • Sony pocket reader, at $199 does not support any audio files.
  • The Touch does, but it is $299. 
  • The Nook supports mp3 files.
  • Both ezreader models support mp3 files.

back lighting… nothing has it. Apparently it is my private pipe dream. I will just have to resign myself to picking up a reading light for night time reading.

Color options. 

  • The Sony touch reader, comes in black, red and silver.
  • The Nook only comes in White, but you can buy colored back plates for it, at, of course, and additional price.
  • The EzReader Pocket Pro comes in Black, Blue, Maroon, White, Pink and Purple.
  • The EzReader 6 comes in Black.

As for the last list of features, a lot of this also figures in with what of the previous features it has, along with price.

  • Nook is $259, it has a decent file support selection, if not ideal. Has a memory card, but only SD micro, which would require an extra purchase. Replaceable battery. If I want colors, it requires an extra purchase. Supports music files. No text to talk, and has wi-fi/instant book download, not ideal for my kids.
  • Sony Pocket Pro is $199 Again, decent file support but not ideal, and no mp3. Has no memory slot. would be ok for kids, but my kids also like to listen to music while reading.
  • Sony Touch is $299 Has the same features as the pocket pro, with mp3 support, and memory card slot, also has a touch screen.
  • Sony Daily Reader is $399 has same features/file support as the Touch, this model has wi/fi, and larger internal memory. None of this is something we need, this model is out.
  • Astak Pocket Pro is $199. Supports every document format that I could think of, with the exception of the proprietary Kindle format. Takes SD HD memory cards, comes in several colors, supports music files, has text to talk. Requires headphones or external speakers for audio to work.
  • Astak 6 is $239 Supports same documents as the pocket pro, only accepts SD cards, not SD HD (up to 4gb only) only comes in black. Does not have text to talk.

As I review this list the first thing I notice is that Sony, in order to get audio support, you have to pay more than the Nook, which has wi/fi too. Because I, and my kids, download audio books from our library, the Sony models are out.

Comparing the remaining 3, the Nook and the two Astak models leaves little doubt in my mind. Between the features I don’t really want, and don’t want to have to pay for, and the ones I do (more file format support and text to talk) the only option left is the Pocket Pro.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt things that in the box with the Pocket Pro is a leather case and ear buds,  and while ear buds may not be my favorite , they are functional.

I hope this has helped you, even if just a little, understand what an ereader is and what some of the advantages can be to them. And maybe even help you select one of your own.

*I do not work for and of these companies, they are not paying me to promote them, they have no clue who I am.

I have realized

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that I will not be able to publish my book here.. unless I want the blog to be labeled for adult material, as the book I am in the middle of almost done writing is an erotic romance. But… what I CAN do is open another blog and mark it as containing adult content, and then link to it from here.

As of right now I have less than 3000 words to go!!

Is anyone actually interested in reading it? Should I go to the hassle of opening another blog?

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