So you can read my books

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


{“I have heard it said that truth is mighty and will prevail.

There is nothing wrong with this … except that it ain’t so.”
Mark Twain.}

Samuel Clemens here. His ghost really. I can’t rightly call myself the ghost of Mark Twain.

Mark Twain was my pen-name. And isn’t a pen-name a ghost of sorts? Whoever heard of a ghost of a ghost?

When a ghost gets to the ripe old age of 176, he gets to thinking back on some firsts -- and human nature being contrary ... to thinking back on some lasts!

In the terrible heat of memory, I look at these teeny tiny keys of Roland's laptop (the names you modern folks give things!)

then, like some misty rose, I see the face of my brother, Henry,

whose seared hand I held for the last time as he died from those terrible burns from that steamboat explosion.

The damnable explosion that I had dreamt in detail a whole month earlier.

It was then I realized that life was more than I had supposed.

No, I realized that the night when I first met Roland and Marlene Dietrich in my nightmare at the age of twelve … in the Shadowlands.

For you see, time is fluid and strange in that dark place.

Shadowlands you ask? You’ve seen them, too. Yes, you have.

That flicker of movement out of the corner of your eye. You turn cat-quick to catch it clear, saying it couldn’t possibly be what you thought.

And it wasn’t. It was worse. Worse than you could possibly imagine.

The Shadowlands are not Dreamtime, though they are connected, usually by the bridge of nightmare.

Roland’s mother could walk them, as could her Lakota grandmother. But only Roland is called a Name in them :


He who sings to life dreams … and nightmares.

It was in a nightmare that I first met Roland. I was alive then, for the dead do not dream. I was twelve years old and caught up in the hunt. I was not hunting. I was being hunted … by the spirits of my vengeful and dead sister and brother.

What to write of those times? They burn in me, and they keep me up at night. But now they can never be said. Besides, they would require a library and a pen warmed up in Hell.

As with most dreams, I will start this one in the middle :

It was night. It was Missouri. But not Hannibal.

It was the almost invisible village of Florida. It was a scrawny pup of a place. Only two streets, each but a hundred yards long. The rest of the pathways would be paved with tough black mud in winter, rain or thick dust in summer. I had been born there.

The skies were blood. The clouds rolling billows of fire.

Those sermons my mother had dragged me to were surely making an impression on my nightmare. I almost expected the chariot with the struggling figure of Elijah to come streaking across such a night’s sky.

The rumble of summer thunder echoed overhead. A wolf’s howl pierced the shadows with its mournful wail.

I tried to bolster my wavering courage. “N-Now, Sammy, that there’s just an hungry old wolf. That ain’t no omen of death. No, it surely --”

An unseen owl hooted. “Oh, Lord! I didn’t mean no harm to Bennie. I surely didn’t.”

And then behind me, I heard a deep voice like a happy stream. “These woods sure are a little scary, huh?”

I whipped about. And that was the first time I saw Roland. Lord, his eyes. The memory of them haunts me still.

They seemed to have seen all the pain in the world and felt most of it personal and close-up. Dressed in a strange black shirt I later learned was called “T,” jeans, and boots, he winked at me.

I winked back. “Little? Why these woods are humongous scary.”

And I relaxed just like that. He was a friend. I could just tell. And with the foolish trust of a twelve year old, I stuck out my hand. “Name’s Sammy. What’s yours?”

“Why, it's Roland. Good to meet you, Sammy. Are those spooks over there friends of yours?”


I whipped around so fast I left my smile in the air behind my head. And there they were : my dead sister and brother.

Their wispy figures of black mist flowed to my right. I felt my face go tight. They were apparitions from the spirit world.

No, not the spirit world you might be thinking of, but the spirit world each of us carries deep within the dark of our souls, the prison for our mistakes and those regrets they give birth to.

They were giggling, a hungry, soulless sound, and I made my throat work,

“Benjamin. Margaret. You leave me be.”

“What he said,” laughed Roland.

I turned to him. Why in tarnation was he laughing? Couldn’t he see they was about to make a meal of me?

He pulled out a battered pad of paper from his jeans pocket and looked over to me.
“There is power in words, Sammy.” (And that sentence of his changed my whole life. Although at the time, I did not realize their impact.)

Margaret and Benjamin both bent in unnatural ways as they turned and glided towards Roland, but only my sister spoke, revealing tiny, needled teeth. “Lakota, you have no hold on us.”

Roland just chuckled, bending towards me so that I could see what he was writing :

“And Margaret and Benjamin were caught up in the winds of forgiveness never to bother Sammy ever again.”

A keening moan hollowed from my right. I looked to where my sister and brother had been. They were gone. I turned to Roland like I had been whalloped in the head by a mule’s hooves.

“H-How did you do that?”

“I think it has something to do with my Lakota blood.”

“What blood?”

“Lakota Sioux Indian.”

“You’re an Injun medicine man?”

“Sort of. What I write sometimes comes to pass in dreams.”

“Only sometimes? Then, why was you laughing just now?”

“I always laugh when I’m scared spitless.”

“Now, you tell me!”

I edged closer to him. “You mean you could write anything down there and it might happen right now?”

He nodded. “Oh, sure. I could write : the most beautiful woman in the world flows out of the night mist and falls in love with Roland. But I won’t.”

“Why in tarnation not?”

“Being selfish with your gifts always turns out bad somehow.”

“Really?,” husked a woman from out of the fog that flowed in billows to our left.

We both jumped a foot up in the air, and the most beautiful apparition of beauty I had ever seen glided up to us. A long gown of gleaming satin, as alabaster as the moon’s face, clung to her so that even the twelve year old boy I was started to come to attention in certain places.

“I – I didn’t write anything down,” stammered Roland.

“What a strange dream this is,” she smiled, sending tingles all through me.

She looked down at the shaking page in Roland’s hand and lightly tapped them. “Does this mean you see me as the most beautiful woman in the world? I, who you have never before seen?”

And Roland said, “All men have seen you in the lonely corner of their hearts. Only a very few are lucky enough to ever meet you – even in dreams.”

Years later, when we were both ghosts, Marlene Dietrich confided in me that was the very moment she fell in love with Roland. But right then, her eyes just got deeper. Then, she faded away with the night mist.

I looked up at him. “Does this sort of stuff happen to you a lot?”

He smiled a sad, crooked grin . “All the time.”

And that is the face which comes to me whenever I think of Roland.

It was Roland who inspired me with the thought that words have power. So if any of you have found laughter in my works, you have Roland to thank.

And if you haven't found laughter in my works ...



{"If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."
— Ernest Hemingway.}

Raymond Chandler, ghost, here.

I don't know if I totally agree with those words of Hemingway.

But they occur to me as I think of the star-crossed love of Alice Wentworth, the Victorian ghoul, and Victor Standish.

The pair remind me of a young Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in my BLUE DAHLIA.

You, who visit Roland's blog, think their love affair is fiction. Alas, it is not. Fiction, unlike truth, must be logical.

And as Alice Wentworth keeps saying : Their love breaks the chain of reason.

Reason you say? Yes, and good fiction must obey the RULES.


Rules. Most struggling writers think there are mysterious magic rules out there that if followed will insure success.

There aren't. But I'll give them to you, anyway.

Rule #1 :
The most durable thing in writing is style. I had mine. Hemingway had his. We're both imitated.

Be inspired by your favorite authors but leave them be. Keep the original. Lose the copy. Be yourself. But a self that grows each day.

Rule #2 :
Unlike the age of Jane Austin, this age is not remote. It is as intimate as a lonely heart and as intense as the bill collector over your phone.

Do not cliche your words. Brutality is not strength. Flipness is not wit. Do not mistake cool for character, attitude for competence.

It is not funny that a man is killed. But it is sometimes funny that he should be killed for so little, and that his death should be the coin of what we call civilization.

Rule #3 :
It's the journey, the struggles of the hero that grab the reader and keep him turning the pages. Make the hero sweat. But let him get the girl. Even Victor will get -- no, I won't go there. I can't.

Rule #4 :
Pull your nose from the computer keyboard and live life -- don't just write about it. Tasting each drink, feeling each breeze, touching the soft skin of the woman who loves you and only you.

God, I hope Victor does that with Alice ...

if only for a moment.

Sorry, you don't need to read an old ghost's keening.

Rule #5 :
Remember that human nature has learned nothing over the centuries, yet has forgotten nothing either. Men do things for reasons.

Your characters, if they are to be believed, must do so, too. You cannot shove them into actions that your prior words would not imply they would take.

Yet human nature is fickle : a man who is steel in the fires of adversity will melt at the glance of a pair of ice blue eyes. Eyes like Alice has ....

Sorry ... that ... that is all I have the heart for.

I will sit out on Roland's terrace now and look out as the night fog slips away from the bordering bayou.

The rains are over. The fields are still green.

And with my ghost eyes I will look out over the vastness of America to the Hollywood Hills and see snow on the high mountains.

The fur stores will be advertising their annual sales. The call houses that specialize in sixteen year-old virgins will be doing a land-office business. In Beverly Hills the jacaranda trees will be beginning to bloom.

And none of that will matter ... for I know how it must end for Victor and Alice.

The French have a saying that to say good-bye is to die a little. They are right. I am a ghost, and I thought I was past feeling dead inside. I was wrong.

I think I will always see Victor walking down lonely streets, leaning against the grimy bricks of shadowy dead-end alleys, saddened but never quite defeated.

Down those mean streets Victor went who was not himself mean, who was neither tarnished nor afraid ... only mortal -- who loved too well ... and not at all wisely.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Victor Standish here.

Alice Wentworth, my ghoul friend, and I got this peach of a deal

at this Caribbean resort. It's because the place

has this little pest problem.

So there I was looking at SUPER 8 on Alice's Kindle Fire ...

Alice hissed, "What are you doing? Those Predators are almost on top of us!"

Sheltered by the over-turned terrace table, I pointed to the screen.

"Doesn't Elle Fanning look like you all gussied up as a zombie in this scene?"

Alice's fingers writhed like snakes. "Victor, you drive me crazy! Those predators are about to swarm over us."

"There were only three. Two now that that Arnold Schwarzenegger want-to-be took out one. And you really can't be swarmed by only two."

"Aaaargh!" (Which in her British accent sounded really cute.

But I digress. I wanted to tell you


The Kindle Fire worked beautifully on this vacation. Take the SILK BROWSER ...

I suggest you try using a Kindle Fire’s browser versus the iPad or a Honeycomb tablet on an aircraft using Gogo or in that Caribbean airport lounge

where all the C.I.A., NSA, and Black Ops types were competing for the same free connection.

If you have to Wi-Fi tether the Kindle Fire on a 3G or 4G connection from your cell phone, I also find Silk to be extremely responsive and as smooth as its namesake.

And that resort hotel Wi-Fi broadband connection that’s blazing fast during the fire fight when everyone’s at the pool and blazing away with their Uzi's?

Try it on an iPad when the Predators start rolling in and everyone wants to check out like yesterday with a frantic airlift. Kindle Fire doesn’t skip a beat.

2.) SIZE

It’s a much more comfortable device to use while lying in bed than a full-sized device

(particularly when you are sharing a sleeping… uh, surface area with Alice who growled what many parts of my anatomy I would lose if I happened to let a hand stray)

and I found it to be ideal for watching SUPER 8 while firing off a shot from one of Captain Sam's Colts at a pesky Predator behind the turned over table on that beautiful shaded patio.

With a larger device, in the same usage scenario, you’d need to use some sort of a case/stand combo, such as one of the newer generation OtterBox cases.

With a 7″ device like the Kindle Fire, you don’t.


It’s also worth stating that the Kindle Fire is durable enough

that you really don’t need a carrying case for it for added protection, I could pretty much toss it in Alice’s purse

(or my own “murse”) without fear of it getting damaged.

As I did when Alice and I scurried down the fire escape when both Predators decided we would look good mounted on their wall.

4.) GPS

About the only thing I would really like to see in the next-generation Kindle Fire is GPS with integrated mapping services.

Case in point being Urbanspoon, which is our go-to application for finding the Army's air lift point when we were on that vacation.


As Alice flowed beside me as we darted among the corpses of the government Black Ops killers, one Predator broke out of the shadows, slashing a gash across Alice fluttering left sleeve.

She wasn't hurt, just frightened mightily.

Me? They had tried to hurt Alice!

I hugged her and raised my head, screaming, "Drop deaaaaad!"


A corpse-green circle of energy burst in ever-increasing ripples of death out from around us. I saw the sputter of electricity as the two remaining Predators reeled lifeless on either side of the swimming pool.

Alice's neon eyes flared. "Y-You could have done that this whole time?!"

"Hey, I may be the son of the Angel of Death, but something like this takes a lot out of me. Besides up until a moment ago there were living humans that hadn't been killed yet."

Alice spoke much too softly, "May I have my Kindle Fire back, Victor? I want to see if it fits into a certain bodily orifice."

Alice and I spent the rest of the day running along the beach. But trust me. It was NOT romantic!


Monday, November 28, 2011


Do you think Elle Fanning could play Alice Wentworth

when they make a movie of THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH?

Hey, I can dream, right?

Do you think of your characters with faces of movie stars? Tom Selleck in QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER is who I think of when I write Samuel McCord.

We write of love. But do we do it so it touches the heart?

Neil Gaiman wrote :

“Have you ever been in love?

Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable.

It opens your chest, and it opens up your heart, and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.”

Being in love and writing of being in love. It's something they don't teach you in school. And Neil, being the genius he is, also wrote of that :

“I've been making a list of the things they don't teach you at school.

They don't teach you how to love somebody.

They don't teach you how to be famous. They don't teach you how to be rich or how to be poor.

They don't teach you how to walk away from someone you don't love any longer. They don't teach you how to know what's going on in someone else's mind. They don't teach you what to say to someone who's dying.

They don't teach you anything worth knowing.”

Oh, and with the New Year coming, I will let Neil Gaiman give my benediction for it :

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness.

I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art --

write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.

And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”


Sunday, November 27, 2011



Join the club.

During this month of NaNoWriMo, I have been playing usually to an empty house --

my contest with its great prizes largely ignored.

And I've lost another follower.

Then, the ghost of Li Yaotang (pen name : Ba Jin) rapped on top of my head as if it were a door.

"I was born on this day in 1904, Roland. Learn from me. Learn from the Bamboo Tree."

And with that, he was gone.

When he died in 2005, Ba Jin was praised as one of China’s most important novelists, and as the embodiment of a tumultuous century.

He began agitating for change as a teenager, joining the Chinese anarchist group “Company of Equals."

When the Cultural Revolution arrived, Ba Jin became a symbol of anti-social thinking and a primary target,

his public humiliation at the People’s Stadium of Shanghai televised in 1968.

The nation watched the sixty-three-year-old author, kneeling on broken glass, endure the jeers and threats with a bowed head; then they heard him speak:

"You have your thoughts and I have mine. This is the fact and you can't change it even if you kill me."

Years of rehabilitation followed, his new work monitored, his old books and articles revised to suit the authorities.

When once again allowed to speak his mind in a public forum — the following is excerpted from a 1980 speech in Kyoto — Jin had emerged from the crucible true to himself :

"I do not write to earn a living or to build a reputation.

I write to battle enemies. Who are they?

Every outdated traditional notion, every irrational system that stands in the way of social progress and human development,

and every instance of cruelty in the face of love.

My pen is alight and my body aflame. Until both burn down to ash, my love and my hate will remain here in the world."

Feel unappreciated now? Live your own light. Fight the darkness as long as breath and light remain to you.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


The art of driving in the pouring rain is much like writing a query.


There are similarities between the two.

For instance, the question :


The truth? No. No, she doesn't.

In her mind's eye, she sees the face of her friend as she's talking into her Bluetooth headset. By the dashboard clock, she sees that she's 10 minutes late. In the rearview mirror, she sees the bouncing image of her lips as she tries to apply lipstick without ending up looking like Bozo the Clown.

But you? You she doesn't see.

Not to worry. Just drive as if everyone around you is going to do the stupidest thing imaginable, and you'll be just fine.


She sees the precious sleep she's missing by reading query after query into the wee hours of the morning.

She sees the worst pieces of prose from past queries that stick like cockle burrs in her mind.

She sees the long list of things she has to do the next day on less sleep that she wanted.

She sees the sad face of that editor saying "No" to her earlier in the day when she was so sure he was going to say "yes."

She sees the mounting bills she has to pay ... BUT SHE DOESN'T SEE YOUR QUERY ... at least not clearly.

What do you do?

With a driver, you honk the horn. With a weary agent, you reach out and shake her awake to truly see your query for what it hopefully is : engaging and intriguing.

How? However you do it, you have to do it in 10 seconds. That's how long you have before her routine of "Wax on; wax off" is finished. Actually, it's read, yawn, reject.

For you to get through to her, it has to be a one - two punch. Hook of a title. Then, wham! A fascinating one paragraph summation:

PROJECT POPE : Robot priests construct their own Pope in their search for God. Then, the unimaginable happens. They find Him. {The classic by Clifford D. Simak.}

2nd Way Querying is like driving in the pouring rain :


Hundreds of thousands of drivers die needlessly each year by insisting on driving the speed limit in blinding rain.

In writing a query, you have fantastic leeway. You can write in any voice you choose. Frivolous. Condescending. Antagonistic. Suicidal, oh I repeat myself.

Your query is a business interview. Treat it as such and treat the agent as the potential employer. Be professional. Follow her website's guidelines. And show respect.

3rd Way Querying is like driving in the pouring rain :


In driving that is looking past the hood to at least 200 feet ahead of you. Flick your eyes from side to side to prevent nasty surprises. Keep looking at the rearview mirror to see what may be charging right at you.

In Querying :
Keep in mind the ultimate goal : intriguing the agent enough for her to want to read more.

You don't have to cram 500 pages of story into one page. In essence, you're writing a movie trailer. Remember the latest movie trailer you saw. Did it give the whole story? No. It teased, giving you the hero, the antagonist, and a glimpse of humor and danger.

Now, get to teasing those agents.

Then, there's this song, an echo of yesterday's post :

Friday, November 25, 2011


The simplest way to sum up Barnes & Noble's new Nook Tablet is this:

It costs more than's rival Kindle Fire, but you get less.

You'll find far fewer apps in the Nook application store.

It's not as easy to get music or videos on the Nook Tablet as it is on the Fire.

And while the Barnes & Noble device has more storage space than the Fire, less is available for storing things like movies and songs.

And for all that underwhelming service, you pay $50 more!

The Nook Tablet lacks Amazon's integration with digital movies and music.

Barnes & Noble doesn't sell digital music or movies, so you can't just get such content from the company like Fire users can from Amazon.

That shortcoming wouldn't be as big a deal if Barnes & Noble offered an extensive selection of applications from other vendors.

But it doesn't.

Instead, it offers only a few thousand apps for the Tablet, which is a small fraction of what you'll find in Amazon's App Store.

Another shortcoming is that many games and other popular Android programs just aren't available for the Tablet.

You can get "Angry Birds,"

but you won't find "Cut the Rope," "Plants vs. Zombies" or "Tetris," among other popular games that are available for the Fire.

The Tablet just doesn't measure up to the Fire.




This is normally $379, so it's a $120 savings.

It's a favorite of some who use it for PDFs and books with complex illustrations with small print.

It uses the same Pearl screen as the Kindle 3 and Kindle Touch but an entire Kindle 3 fits into the screen area of the DX,

so it's easier on the eyes, though obviously it'll weigh more.

It has NO WiFi capability and uses only 3G (Cellular network access), with which you can download books

just about anywhere without looking for a WiFi spot --

and the experimental web browser through that 3G capability is still usable, free, for U.S. citizens and customers in about 61 countries, which Amazon UK lists

The Lakota knew :

to the seeing eye, magic was everywhere.

Each person is Legion : made of many people, all struggling for dominance. We writers even more so than most.

Can you see the hero, Don Quixote, or Cervantes in that legendary tale? It all depends how you look.

Life. Death. We can see both, depending if we squint or not.

Do we swallow camels, while choking on gnats?

Is the obvious truly that? Or is life more complex than we believe?

I think Angelina is beautiful, you all know that. Her humanitarian efforts on behalf of the world's children touches my Lakota spirit.

Then, I discovered Angelina Jolie hates Thanksgiving

and wants no part in rewriting history like so many other Americans.

A friend of hers says, “To celebrate what the white settlers did to the native Indians, the domination of one culture over another, just isn’t her style.

She definitely doesn’t want to teach her multi-cultural family how to celebrate a story of murder.”

According to some sources, Angelina Jolie is so disgusted by "Thanksgiving", she takes her kids out of the country so they are not around the madness that is embodied in the holiday.

Does Angelina Jolie have a point, or has she completely missed the point of having a holiday just to remind ourselves to be grateful for the blessings in our lives? What do you think?

Oh, and check to see if you are still listed as my follower. Blogger has been taking you off my Followers over and over. Sigh.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Victor Standish here.

I am slowly trying to draaaaag Alice, my Victorian ghoul friend, into the 21st century.

I stole, ah, I mean, I appropriated one of Ada Byron's Kindle Fires. Hey, I left her an autographed book by her father, Lord Byron,

that I stole, ah, appropriated from the New Orleans library in return!

Alice took one look at the KINDLE FIRE, smiled demurely, then paid no attention to it for three whole days!

I showed her the simple UI controls, and I mentioned that the web browser was pretty good too.


Alice turned to me in surprise and said “so I can use web sites other than Amazon?”

I explained it was a full browser and she could go anywhere on the web she wanted. The lights clicked on in her pretty neon blue eyes

and I asked if that’s why she hadn’t been using it. Her reply was

"Yes, I am in the middle of a paper book so I don’t want to start a book on the Kindle.

I would have used it for browsing if I knew it could do the whole web.”


This drives home a problem new buyers may have with the Kindle Fire. It’s not a given they will know everything the tablet can be used for.

This is particularly pertinent for those, LIKE ALICE, who receive the Kindle Fire as stolen goods, ah, I mean as a gift.

Better show them all it can do, especially if the recipient is the type of person who gets frustrated quickly.


The more Alice used the Kindle Fire the more she took to the browser.

She would tilt the tablet to landscape and portrait, depending on how a particular web site looked better.

Alice likes the on-screen keyboard, and finds entering text to be natural.

She was a bit put off by the Amazon Appstore,

particularly the need to search for apps she might like given the lack of good organization.

She doesn’t realize how much worse that is in the huge Android Market on other tablets.

Apps aren't really well organized on any tablet including the iPad!

Overall she likes the interface and how easy it is to use,

although she has complained about the intermittent lag in the operation.

She also finds that far too often taps on the screen are not registered, (I gentlemanly refrained from telling her a ghoul's fingers are very, very cold -- 'cause her teeth are very, very sharp)

requiring hitting controls again. She says this makes using the Kindle Fire frustrating at times, just like living with me ...

in the same haunted jazz club, guys

(don't get the wrong idea -- leave that to me!).

Don't let Alice let you know I told you, but she LIKES THE CHILDREN SECTION OF THE KINDLE FIRE :

Amazon’s level 8 format allows design and picture to be clearer and more vibrant;

two features that attract a child’s (AND ALICE'S) interest and attention when it comes to electronic devices.

The Kindle Fire comes equipped with a specific Children’s Books selection and a layout system

so kids can design their own backgrounds. How neat is that?


Amazon’s Kindle Fire also introduces a new set of dynamic adventure books where children will be able to interact in their stories.

A flawless touch screen means ghoul fingers can play imaginary pianos when Humpty Dumpty sings,

or they can drag & drop shapes into their designated spaces. Amazon hopes the most thrilling new development for the Kindle Fire will be a doll-oriented game,

where children can name and dress their virtual companions. I just dread what she will dress her virtual "Victor" up as!

Alice will be diving deeper into the Kindle Fire, and I will be paying close attention to see how that goes.

I'll be reporting more on a ghoul's eye view of the Kindle Fire!





To enter : write a review on Amazon and get five entries.

When either of my Victor Standish books hit #100 in AMAZON SALES RANKING,

someone will win a KINDLE FIRE.



When 20 more copies of either THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH or UNDER A VOODOO MOON are bought ... just 20, a drawing will be held of the current entrants, few now.

And the lucky winner will win a MICHAEL WHELAN (artist of all the Stephen King's DARK TOWER book covers) AUTOGRAPHED, ALREADY MATTED LITHOGRAPH OF DRAGONFIRE!



Anne McCaffrey, whose vision of an interstellar alliance between humans and dragons spawned two dozen Dragonriders of Pern novels, has died in Ireland aged 85, her publisher and family announced Wednesday.


Now, back to my own contest :



Is that neat, or what?



Tuesday, November 22, 2011



The drawing for that will be held when my AMAZON SALES RANKING for THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH or UNDER A VOODOO MOON reaches #100.

But until then LET'S HAVE SOME FUN!!

When the number of positive reviews for either THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH or UNDER A VOODOO MOON reaches 16,

I will have a separate drawing for

THE CLINT EASTWOOD AUTOGRAPHED movie program (given only to the press) for


Aren't those great odds? 1 out of 16 people will be sure to win the CLINT EASTWOOD AUTOGRAPH!

It gets better :

Through December, THE SALVATION ARMY gets 100% of the profits for both books!

So not only do you have a great chance to win a valuable autograph


What do I get out of it?

This holiday season people will be giving thousands of the 3 affordable Kindles, including the Kindle Fire.

People will want content to read on their new devises.

The favorite authors will be gobbled up first. But at $14.99 each, 3 of those Kindle books will amount to $45!

They will be hungry for more. But at a more affordable cost. If they hear of me,

look up my Victor books and see 20 positive reviews each, they will think : "Hey, why not give Victor Standish a try?"

If they like his world, they may realize they could buy all four Sam McCord (who is Victor's mentor) books for under $10!!


Monday, November 21, 2011


Anne R. Allen wrote :

Kindle Fire it is! (Also, Nooks don't work outside the US, for anybody traveling abroad. Amazon is international.)

On her blog, she has a great post on why the "LIKE" button at the top of the Amazon page is important

and why 4 to 5 star reviews are even more important (and if you're reviewing THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH or UNDER A VOODOO MOON, they can win you a Kindle Fire!)

Just a brief flurry of ideas of why AMAZON KINDLE FIRE edges past THE NOOK :

1.) Gorilla Glass -

Kindle Fire has it. The Nook doesn't.

Gorilla Glass, manufactured by
Corning, is

an alkali-aluminosilicate thin sheet glass engineered specifically to be thinner,

lighter and more damage-resistant for portable electronic devices with screens.


Kindle Fire has STEREO SPEAKERS on top edge of the devise.

The Nook has only speaker POORLY PLACED ON THE BACK of the devise.

No matter how you hold it, the sound is muffled. If you put it in a cover ... sigh ... man, is it muffled.


The more exposed they are -- the more likely they are to be punched ... at the wrong time.

Kindle Fire has its power button on the bottom. Always hitting it -- unless you use a cover for it which is only smart to protect your investment.


This depends on if you have ready access to Wireless. If you do, then the UNLIMITED CLOUD SERVER beats 16GB. If not, then The Nook seems to have the advantage -- until you realize you have only ONE GB FOR NON- B&N content!

And B&N has the gall to say the Fire wants you to use AMAZON mostly. Say again? That is what B&N is doing with only one GB for non-B&N content.

5.) Music & Movies

With the Nook, you need secondary app's for them. Itunes sells their music a bit higher than Amazon. Netflix too. Amazon Prime costs you approximately $6.60 a month which is a lot less than Netflix, and it gives you more than movies for that price, too.

Until now, iTunes has been pretty much the only option offering a true end-to-end experience where you can find content you like, buy content, and access that content on a device, instantly," said Jeremy Toeman, chief product officer for Dijit, a digital media company.

"With the Kindle Fire, Amazon is now the first viable alternative to that. It's a place where you can buy a device and easily access all the content you want to consume as well."

Amazon has chosen to compete with Apple on content, betting that people will settle for a tablet that does less, and costs less, if accessing music and movies is simple and cheap. Experts say it's a savvy play.

"Consumers are not buying a device because it has a dual core processor or it has 16GB of RAM or an AMOLED display," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Gartner, a research firm. "They're buying it because they want to watch movies, listen to songs and play Angry Birds."

"Where Amazon separates itself from the Barnes and Noble Nook and even other Android devices is that it has content and services," Gartenberg added.

"For the purposes of content consumption, the Kindle Fire will be the ideal device," Gartenberg said. "Before Amazon went into the business of building a tablet, they built out an ecosystem of books and music, they put up an app store...and they launched streaming services. That really sets them apart."




Sounds like yet another INDIANA JONES sequel, doesn't it?

It's more than a title. It's the truth ... despite many doomsayers.

Nobody seems to think the Amazon Kindle Fire has a chance of succeeding in business.

InformationWeek thinks the Kindle’s Android OS is both insecure, and un-securable via Mobile Device Management (MDM) software.

CIO Insight dismissed the Kindle tablet’s reliance on the cloud,

while eWeek calls the Amazon brand too fundamentally consumer-y. Meanwhile, CIO magazine said the iPad’s just got too commanding of a lead within enterprises.


I had the strongest feeling of deja vu wash over me. It’s as if I read and heard these same exact opinions 22 months ago, except it was about the iPad vis-a-vis laptops.
here are five arguments for why the Kindle Fire will surprise enterprise skeptics:

1) Developers are coming!

Like moths to a Fire, Android developers are being attracted to the Amazon tablet and making it their highest priority.

49% of North American developers are very interested in building for the Fire, according to an Appcelerator survey, ahead of second-place Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Some developers are no doubt attracted by things such as the Kindle Fire code becoming open-source.

But most developers simply go where they think customers will be. That was the feedback loop that boosted the iPad. And it should boost the Fire and Android overall.

2) So are consumers. According to a recent survey, 77% of tablets used in the enterprise are purchased and paid for by employees via Bring Your Own Device plans.

Consumers, in other words. Who by and large remain extremely price-sensitive.

For the cost of equipping mom and dad with $499 iPads, one could equip the parents, two kids and even the family cat, too, with five $199 Kindle Fires.

This is why there are studies like Retrevo’s that show more people planning to to buy a Kindle Fire than an iPad this Christmas. Or why DisplaySearch expects 6 million Fires to be shipped (versus 9-11 million iPads).

Expect millions of workers to start nagging their IT administrators in the New Year about when they can connect their Kindle Fires to the corporate network.

3) And so is IT.

In an IBM-sponsored survey of 4,000 IT pros worldwide released last week, 70% said they plan to deploy apps for Android devices, versus 49% for iPhone and iPad, 35% for Windows 7, and 25% for BlackBerry.

There are two CIOs who have already started testing the Kindle Fire for internal use:

SAP‘s Oliver Bussmann and Sybase’s Jim Swartz. I have to believe that plenty of other CIOs are investigating Kindle Fires.

The reason is simple:

consumer tablets are so inexpensive that they are the enterprise IT equivalent of a “disposable razor,” according to Yankee Group analyst Eugene Signorini. And no mainstream tablet is less expensive than the Fire.

(Interested in seeing some Android enterprise tablet deployments today? Check out my list here)

4) Also, corporate e-mail support is here.

Microsoft’s Exchange email server dominates businesses, hands-down. And e-mail along with Web browsing remain core business uses for tablets.

Android may not offer native support –

it’s a Google product, remember? – but there are capable and secure third-party Exchange-friendly apps already available.

NitroDesk, for instance, announced earlier this month that its TouchDown e-mail client app for the Kindle Fire was available.

5) The Zen of Less Is More.

For IT managers, less can definitely be more when it comes to technology.

How do you think on-board graphics became near-ubiquitous in desktop PCs?

Because companies wanted anemic graphics so as not to encourage their employees to while away hours watching Netflix or playing Halo.

So the perverse upside of the Kindle Fire’s 8 GB of storage and 512 MB of RAM – half of what the BlackBerry PlayBook has –

means less data stored (and potentially lost), and fewer movies and games to be watched and played by procrastinating employees.

Similarly, the Kindle Fire’s lack of 3G/4G connectivity means one less headache for IT administrators worried about exorbitant data roaming charges from salesguys streaming movies in their overseas hotel room.

The same goes for the inability of Kindle Fire owners to access the Android Market. Fewer apps, sure, but also much less exposure to malware.


Sunday, November 20, 2011


I am donationg 100% of the profits of THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH and UNDER A VOODOO MOON

for the months of September, October, November, and December to the New Orleans sector of The Salvation Army


The two urban fantasies take place in New Orleans right before and during Hurricane Katrina. The times I was there to witness first hand the horrors that descended on that city.

I saw then that The Salvation Army does more than ring bells.

A Piggly Wiggly grocery store hardly seemed like the ideal location for a disaster response headquarters.

But when Salvation Army Captain Joe Burton walked through its doors in Long Beach, Mississippi,

two days after Hurricane Katrina barreled through the town in 2005,

it was the best he could find.

Amid the mess of groceries and food strewn about by 120-mph winds,

Captain Burton immediately began to set up one small corner of what would turn out to be The Salvation Army’s largest disaster response operation in its 143-year history.

The Salvation Army is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the world,

founded in 1865 as part of the universal Christian church in London’s East End by former Methodist Minister William Booth.

The Mission of the Army—both then and now—is to share the gospel and serve suffering humanity around the world without discrimination.

Its massive response to Hurricane Katrina was hardly the first time the organization had mobilized after a weather-related event.

The Salvation Army was on the ground in Galveston, Texas, in 1900, when a hurricane killed tens of thousands of people.

Six years later, the Army was in San Francisco when the Great Earthquake hit and the city burned to the ground.

When heroes are needed ... The Salvation Army is there.

As it was in Katrina.

Nearly $400 million dollars was raised for the Katrina relief effort, and those funds are still being put to use to help rebuild and renovate homes, provide job training, build community capacity, and perform other operations.

Three years later, the hurricane is still affecting the local population, as well as evacuees who left the region for good, and The Salvation Army is still serving.

Major New of The Salvation Army says,

"The Salvation Army doesn’t have to wait for something to be declared a disaster or wait to be asked to come in. We’re already there,” referring to the Army’s continual presence in almost every community in the country.

At the peak of the Katrina relief effort,

The Salvation Army had 178 canteens and 3 53-foot field kitchens deployed.

The relief vehicles came from as far away as the Dakotas and New Mexico, and the disaster workers hailed from all 50 U.S. states and countries including Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico.

After Katrina, the Army provided thousands of short-term financial grants to individuals and families who were unable to purchase food, clothing, shelter, and other essentials.

A network of trained Salvation Army caseworkers assessed claims and worked with each individual or family.

Because so many homes were damaged or completely destroyed during Katrina, The Salvation Army allocated more than $90 million of the $382 million it collected in public and corporate donations toward construction,

including significant money to support Habitat for Humanity’s reconstruction efforts. Notably,

in May 2008, the Army gave $7.4 million to Habitat during the 25th Annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, which erected 400 homes in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Katrina still haunts New Orleans with its still struggling victims. But in those grim shadows, when heroes are needed ...

you will still find The Salvation Army.

VOODOO MOON on piano :

Saturday, November 19, 2011


In keeping with my jaunticed view of publishing post of yesterday, here is my FILM NOIR take on the matter :


New York City. My very first agent. The biggest in publishing, mind you.

And here I was -- in his elegant, spacious ... and much too dark office.

At night.

What was up with that?

Actually, I knew. Courtesy of Raymond Chandler. His ghost really.

He had hated agents in life. Now, in undeath, he hated them even more. Bloodsuckers he called them.


Now, was that type casting or what?

Aaron Bael smiled at me. His charm was colder than his eyes, and they were glitttering chips of dry ice.

With his much too long fingers, he patted my manuscript. "Odd term you use in here. 'Revenants' not the more popular, enticing 'Vampires.'"

I nervously toyed with the ball bearing in my left hand and kept from chewing my thick toothpick with an effort of will.

"In my novels, there's nothing sexy, sparkly, or warm about the reanimated dead. How could there be? Humans are their meals not their friends."

Bael nodded. "Just so. And your prose is quite good. Too good not to make large sales."

His smile dropped like a lead weight. "We cannot allow that."

A blur to my left. Fangs at my throat. Fetid breath in my face.

His not-so-lovely assistant. My thumb and forefinger shot the ball bearing into her open, snarling mouth. She hunched over choking.

Living or undead, the gag reflex will not be denied.

I whipped the thick toothpick out of my mouth and jabbed it deep into the back of her left hand still on my shoulder.

She squealed in a wet husk, then thumped bonelessly to the thick carpet like a puppet with the strings cut. She didn't move.

She was as dead as something like her could get.

Popping out of my chair, I backed up, keeping my face to Bael. "Research. Gotta love it."

He flicked an uneasy look to my manuscript. "There really is a lost acupuncture point?"

I nodded. It was the chi in the blood that animated the revenants not the oxygen. Dam the flow of chi in their bodies, and they were short-circuited : dead.

"Yes, and thanks to Tommy's Middle East tour of duty I know it."

His eyes became as flat and soulless as a snake's -- but without as much warmth. "Your precious "League of Five" friend. Well, I have a friend, too."

His canines grew longer. "As I recall, you were quite taken with Miss Lupa, my secretary, and her mini-skirt."

His office door burst open. A snarling she-wolf shambled in, her black business suit hanging from her in tatters.

Reaching slowly into my jacket's inside pocket, I forced a smile. "Honey, your legs were prettier without the fur."

Bael sneered at my hand under my jacket. "You're carrying a gun in New York City?"

I shook my head. "Only criminals get to do that."

I brought out the magnesium flare. "Meet my best-est buddy, Mr. Sunshine-in-a-Stick."

I snapped its end off to bring it to blazing life. Its red glare filled the office. And the same ultraviolet light that burns from the Sun seared the flesh from Bael's screaming, writhing body.

The stench filled the spacious room, making acid bile burn up my throat and into my mouth.

Miss Lupa had seen better days, too.

The ultraviolet light had tricked her body into a "false dawn" dress-down to humanity. But she was caught mid-way, her body changing in spurts to the surges in the flare.

She writhed on the carpet in agony. I couldn't leave her like this.

Thanks to Chandler's ghost, I didn't have to.

I walked gingerly around the still-smoldering Bael and his simply still assistant. I went to the back of the agent's desk to the middle drawer. I pulled it out.

"Only criminals get to do that," I whispered, pulling out the automatic.

Silver bullets in the clip Chandler had assured me. I chambered a round into the barrel.

I walked back to stand over Lupa. She snarled at me, spittle flying from her sharp teeth.

"How many screaming humans have you killed that were helpless to fight back?," I sighed.

"N-Not enough," husked Lupa.

"One was too many," I said low and double-tapped her.

(Unlike politicians, movies sometimes told the truth.)

She stopped wiggling. I looked over to Bael and his assistant. How many dreamers
had they shot down,

not because their work wouldn't sell,

but because it would?

A pounding shook the heavy entrance wooden doors. I went quiet and cold inside.

The zombie security guards Chandler had told me about. I smiled bitterly. No problem.

They only ate brains.

And obviously, no one who opened a can of whoop-ass on revenants and ferals simply for being rejected had any of those.



Sounds like another INDIANA JONES MOVIE, doesn't it?

Not quite ... though if Cate Blanchett wanted to show up next to me dressed as a slinky Nazi spy, I wouldn't complain ...

but she might ... to her agent

"Get me a better looking co-star!!"

There are some myths floating around about the AMAZON KINDLE FIRE

that I thought I might shed the light of truth on.

I've read several reviews that seemed a bit unfair ...

1.) One review claimed the battery life was poor without even testing it (most reviews found the battery life was actually better than Amazon quotes.

2.) One review claimed it didn’t have a light sensor for automatic brightness.

That last point might look correct, but a quick inspection of the Fire turns up a light sensor at the upper-left hand corner of the screen.

However, it seems the latest version of the Kindle software does not allow for automatic brightness,

but a demo unit at Best Buy had automatic brightness enabled. So I’m assuming this is a feature that will simply be turned on in a later software upgrade.

3.) One review stated : "What isn't so impressive is the 169 ppi pixel density."

Say again?

The larger iPad has lower pixel density at 132 ppi. The Kindle Fire pixel density is identical to what's on the 7" Nook Tablet,

Both of which have this somewhat heavier density on a smaller device than the iPad, which is a good thing :-)

4.) The same review went on : "...a dual-core 1GHz TI OMAP chip, but here paired with only 512MB of RAM. Perhaps it's the step down from the standard 1GB ..."

Really? Alice Wentworth is starting to growl. Reality check time :

The iPad has only 512MB of RAM also!

A lot of the Kindle Fire’s speed depends on your wireless network, because so much of the backbone of the Fire is on Amazon’s servers.

Now to the fun stuff :

1.) Screen – The screen on the Kindle Fire is really one of the highlights of the device. It’s crystal clear, has good viewing angles, and amazing colors.

It is prone to smudges though, so I would recommend getting some screen protectors if that type of thing really bothers you.

2.) The biggest issue solved by the Kindle Fire is that you no longer have to a book light or leave a light on when you're reading at night.

Coupled this with the fact that I find it easier to hold the Kindle Fire rather than the iPad 2 I borrowed from a friend when I’m reading laying down or propped up on pillows, this is a big win. The bright, backlit screen alleviates the need for a light.

3.) The fact that you can easily check email and do some other Tablet like functionality on this device is a real plus.

It’s not that you would expect to use this as a Tablet. You don’t. But you will like the option available to do other things if they become necessary.

All in all, the Kindle Fire is FUN. It is a gorgeous 7-inch, 16-million color display beaming a custom Amazonian Android build, made specifically for Kindle's essence.

From the minute you turn it on, the device is puzzlingly simple.

You don't have to think about how to use the Fire...

Reading, watching, browsing, and listening on the Fire are all tremendous, easy fun. Books, even very long ones, spring open quickly; page turning is, most of the time, very responsive.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Actually, I have already quit.

Quit what?

I have quit what so many other authors have ...

Seeking traditional publication.

See Nathan Bransford excellent post :

Let's face it : a lot of us are questioning the wisdom of querying agents and trying for traditional publication at all,

whether because of the length of time it takes,

the fear of losing control,

e-book royalties, and many other factors.

1.) Length of time it takes :

A year? Two? John Locke has a point : when the product you have is hot, two years to get a second book into the reader's hands is too long for the interest not to have cooled down to an Ice Age.

A salesman with a hot idea and no merchandise to sell is in agony. With ePublishing, you can have a backlist of seven to eleven books for readers to gobble up in the time it takes a SECOND PRINT BOOK TO COME OUT!

2.) Control :

Let's be real. What prompts you to pick up a book? Usually the title at first. The Publisher can stomp on your beloved, carefully chosen title to shove in theirs.

Case in point :

F. Paul Wilson wrote a book that sold well, THE KEEP. He wrote another with the title of the creature who was the adversary in it. The Publisher shelved that title and named it THE TOMB.

Problem? There's no tomb in THE TOMB! Wilson pointed that out and was told that by the time the reader realized that, he would have bought the book! Aaaaargh!

The cover art :
Again control. You're a newbie. You get the bottom of the barrel in artwork. But with ePublishing, you choose the artist and the artwork. The cover to the first CONAN THE BARBARIAN by Frank Frazetta was the first paperback to sell a million copies in weeks.

Why? That stunning cover.

3.) eBook royalties and shelf life.

You sell your eBook for 99 cents, you get back 35 cents ... 60 days later WITH NO AGENT CUTTING OUT HER 15%.

You sell your eBook for 2.99, you get back 75%.

Yes, you pay for the artwork, the formatting, and the marketing. But do you believe in yourself or don't you?

Shelf Life :

The shelf life of a print book is like unto that of a gnat these days. Your eBook? It's there for as long as you want it.

Distribution :

I've sold books to readers in Germany, France, England, Australia, New Zealand, and of course, the USA. You won't get that kind of worldwide distribution for a newbie print book.

4.) Your book is yours :

Neil Gaiman wrote BOOKS OF MAGIC for DC COMICS before HARRY POTTER -- the two main characters are so similar at the start that it is striking. Why no lawsuits? WARNER BROTHERS owned DC COMICS and THE MOVIE RIGHTS TO HARRY POTTER.

Also DC comics owned the characters of BOOKS OF MAGIC.


You may never sell the movie rights to them, but if you do, the money will come to you alone and not the publisher, agent, etc.

Like most print authors, you will probably never get to make a living off of your novels. But you will have the control and freedom to chart the seas as you choose.

Yes, you will have to hustle to get your book out there. But being an author is a grand, epic adventure, testing your wit, resolve, and passion. Remember ...

Impossible just give birth to legends!



Hush! Can you hear it? The iron tongue of midnight is tolling in the darkness.

It is Friday … time for another glimpse of my heroes dancing with death …

{from BLACK ROSES IN AVALON where Fallen, the Last Fae, and Blake, son of Adam, have interrupted the Sidhe Ball of Boshet.}

The silence in the great ballroom before us was even more a physical force than the earlier darkness. And the stares we were getting should have thrust out of our backs a foot.

Remembering the words of the Cradle of Tears, I said so loud it was almost a shout,

“I know we’re early. But we didn’t want to be late for the Ball of Boshet.”

It was as if I had uttered a spell that had frozen them to the spot. It gave me time to take in the enormous ballroom which seemed to go on and on forever before us.

It was a chamber of twilight with long three-sided stained glass windows hanging impossibly in mid-air as they slowly turned to reveal all three sides.

They depicted scenes from Fallen’s past. Some I recognized from my mind-link with her. Others I didn’t. Those made me blush.

I saw Fallen go pale. I reached out with my will, focusing images of our shared time together onto them.

Her head in my lap as she was bathed in moonlight. Her standing over me on the frozen slab in the river Sambatyon, daring to fight The Wild Hunt alone to defend me.

Fallen crying over the dead body of Dinselle of the Golden Skin. Her astride a racing Epona, Queen of Unicorns, charging in with both guns blazing, a wild look of a lioness protecting her mate hot in her fae eyes, her wheat-gold hair a flying mane.

Her hugging an embarrassed Epona, the tears filling her green fae eyes. Fallen, her head flung back in impish laughter at one of Deirdre’s tall tales.

And my favorite memory of all :

Fallen sitting side-saddle astride Epona and singing the long lost lullaby of her forgotten youth as gossamer wings of faerie dust glowed from her back.

With a sigh of relief, I saw those images take the place of the other lewd ones on the stained glass windows nearest me. I heard a hush of disbelief ripple through the assembled Sidhe.

Fallen squeezed my hand. “When all else fades from my mind, this will I remember : how you defended me in the midst of enemies.”

Angry, outraged muttering began to buzz through the milling Sidhe. I shivered. Not at them but at the chamber itself.

It was eerie. The air of the place was black fire, and electric white mists slowly rose from the intricate black and scarlet tiled floor. And the partiers seemed to float upon the surface of the mists. They were so elegant, so beautiful, --- so deadly.

They were tall, all dressed in elaborate, colorfully designed costumes. All the colors known to man, and many I had never seen before, blazed from their courtly attire.

Long gowns of richest silk flowed from the bodies of the nightfall creatures with ethereal bodies and predator eyes. They had been dancing some complex interweaving pattern when we had barged in. And from the looks in their arrogant eyes, I would say we were as welcome as a muscle cramp.

Fallen’s green, slanted eyes began to sparkle again. A smile slowly spread across her lips.

“What need have we of parents, Blake? Orphans both are we. We need but each other.”

Her eyes grew larger as she stared at me until they seemed to swallow my world. “Beyond life. Beyond death. Beyond oblivion. We are one -- together and always.”

And then, she started to sing her long lost lullaby. This time it started with such sadness it near tore my heart in two. But it didn’t stay that way long. She flowed up to me, and together, we swept across the dance floor, moving graceful as one.

The long days of practicing with Kirika aboard The Bladeless Samurai paid off. Fallen and I danced smooth and certain across the mists, sending trails of it flaying out around our ankles. We didn’t take our eyes from the face of the other.

Her song rose in waves of love triumphant, in lilts of souls intertwined beyond death throughout eternity, connected though severed by death and darkness. Her voice trembled with so much beauty it snatched me up in such rapture nothing existed but the emerald depths of her eyes, the soft feel of her arms around me.

And as we wheeled and spun through the silent Sidhe, the gossamer wings, sparkling with stardust, made of the energy of sheer love, shimmered and grew from her back. They were beautiful, in radiant colors that took my breath away.

“No!,” sobbed Ogygia, Fallen’s once scornful mother. “She is redeemed. Redeemed! Damn DayStar! He knew. He knew! And I am bound to my accursed pact by my unbreakable word.”

Fallen and I stopped dancing to turn to her as Ogygia balled her fists and hunched over in agony. As if released by a steel spring, her head snapped back, and she screamed.


A voice out of my nightmares spoke to my right. “He is delayed, but he sent us to prepare his little rasha.”

I turned.

Nyx. Tall, regal, in a black, skin-tight, breast-revealing leather gown.

And next to her, short, elegant, Maija, looking every inch the Dragon Lady she was.

I forced my throat to work. “W-Well, there goes the neighborhood.”



Thursday, November 17, 2011


First, it's more than the 1G that THE NOOK gives you for non-B&N content.

Second, it's not really 8G.

Thanks to OS content, the Kindle Fire actually offers only 6.54GB of free storage,

with an additional 143MB taken up by a few apps, books, and docs that come installed on the device. That leaves about 6.41GB of space to have your way with.

This kind of memory bait and switch isn't exclusive to the Fire, however. A brand-new 16GB iPad 2 has only 13.6GB of free space to suit your needs.

The Kindle Fire can stream both video and music from's cloud servers. Access to hours of content at a moment's notice (as long as there's a Wi-Fi connection) is one of the reasons why the tablet appeals so strongly to buyers (along with the low price, of course!)

Not all Kindle Fire owners will use even a small fraction of their device's storage space. They'll stream everything and not notice or care about the extra 6.5GB they have access to

Eric Franklin, senior editor covering monitors and tablets and manager of CNET's San Francisco testing lab, breaks it down this way :

Video Music Books Games Apps
7.25 hours of TV shows (2GB) 13.5 hours (3.1GB) 2 books 8 games 10 apps

All videos were purchased and downloaded from Amazon's video catalog. This total still leaves 1.29GB of available storage on the hard drive.

Not too shabby, right?

If you're a frequent traveler, you'll just need to be more aware of what's on your Kindle Fire's drive at any given time and be more considered and conscientious about what you put on it. Not the worst thing to practice.

To read more:

Unusual Free Android App - works with Kindlefire

Enhanced Email, by Quantum Solutions, 131 customer reviews, 3.3 stars, $0.00 (Link: )

Normally, this costs $9.99 to download, but it's free today. Some like it a lot and some don't, so read some of the reviews.



Sounds like the title of the next Indiana Jones movie, doesn't it?

Just thought some of you would like to learn some of the lesser known facets to the highly touted Amazon Kindle Fire.

Kindle Fire is explicitly a device for enjoying books, periodicals, music, video, and games.

But it can also handle the sort of computer-ish tasks that are often necessary distractions when you spend an hour or two in a coffeeshop reading a book. Things like checking email, looking something up on the Web, or writing your Twitter and Facebook friends.

The carousel is the central hub of the Fire interface. The Fire is emphatically a content-driven device, so it makes sense that when you switch it on,

you’re taken to a screen that presents all of your most actively-used media, like the books and periodicals you keep on the coffee table.

The main carousel is at the top of the screen, and displays a “cover flow”-style horizontal scroll of all of the content you’ve recently touched.

At the bottom of the home screen is a Favorites shelf.

The Kindle Fire comes with Amazon's Appstore app, the Pulse reader app, the IMDb app, and the Facebook app icon pinned there already. Temper your enthusiasm, though: The Facebook “app” merely leads you off to the mobile version of the Facebook site.

The top of the home screen shows the name of your device, the time, the battery status, and the Wi-Fi status.

It also features a "gears" button that calls up a pop-over menu for quick access to various settings like the rotation lock, the volume slider--your only volume control for the tablet--brightness, Wi-Fi, and sync

(for use with Amazon's Whispernet synchronization between Kindle devices). It serves as the jumping-off point for the main settings menu, as well.

I like how the Amazon video player functions. Even if you're watching a video streamed on demand from the Amazon cloud, you can still easily skip ahead a bit. And if you miss a few moments, no problem: Tap the 10-second rewind for a quick fix.

Silk, the Kindle’s browser, is something new. Silk has many tricks up its sleeve.

Silk optimizes browsing by treating the entire community of Silk users as a cloud of data.

If you visit the Sun-Times’ site, spend a minute or two perusing the front page, and then tap the link for Roger Ebert’s blog,

you might find that his page appears at supersonic speed.

That’s because the cloud side of Silk has been watching and analyzing the behavior of all of the people who visited before you.

A huge percentage of them proceeded directly to Roger’s page, so Silk felt it was smart to pre-load all of that content for you while you were reading something else, just in case.

If you're worried about Amazon becoming Big Brother of the novel, 1984 :

Silk deliberately doesn’t intercept or interfere with any secure (https://) webpages. If you’re still worried, the browser has an option to turn off the cloud-based optimization entirely and run as a conventional local browser.

There are multiple ways to sideload additional content, too.

If you connect the Fire to your desktop via USB, it’ll show up on the desktop as a flash drive.

Or, you can email a file to yourself and open it as a file attachment, or email it to the device’s unique Kindle email address to install it automatically,

or download a file linked from a webpage, or install a third-party app that allows you to access and download content from your or other cloud storage account.

Thanks to the Fire’s intimate connection to Amazon’s cloud services, 8 gigs is enough for several books, a few movies, a couple of TV shows, several hundred songs, and a pile of photos.

That might not necessarily be enough to last you a couple of weeks, but it’ll certainly last until you find yourself near a Wi-FI hotspot and can swap out the stuff you’re sick of for some alternatives.

Hey, that's pretty cool for just $199, right?

Then there’s the presence of the Amazon Android App Store, which delivers 10,000 Android apps to the Fire.

Amazon made a great move in choosing to base the whole thing on Android. They made a second great decision in choosing to work exceptionally hard to bury every possible trace of Android from the user.

“Android on Fire” is actually quite lovely.

Swipe down from the top of the screen to pull down a windowshade of system notifications.

But primarily, the shade is how you access almost all of the Fire’s device-level settings, such as WiFi management, volume and screen brightness, System settings, and a manual “sync” button.

The Fire offers a thick portfolio of apps. Sure, it’s not nearly expansive as the iPad’s app library, but does it really have to be? It includes most of the heavy-hitters that have made a big splash on the iPad.

The Fire is not the iPad nor a laptop. It is what it set out to be :

Amazon clearly wanted to define the Fire as a content device with tablet-ish bonus features available to users who wish to seek those functions out.

In that particular sense, the Fire is superior to the iPad.

Switch on the iPad and you’re presented with multiple pages filled with gridded app icons.

Switch on the Fire, and it shows you a direct, appealing interface of all of the content that you’ve been playing with recently, as well as a subset of content that you think highly enough of to always keep handy.
Amazon Kindle Fire apps and comparison with Galaxy Tab, iPad 2, and PlayBook

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


At least that is what gossip columnist, Jo Piazza, asserts in her book :


Stars, starlets, bestselling authors are not human beings she implies.

No, they are BRANDS

"Brand consistency is the hallmark of a successful product. When brands act erratically, consumers become confused and wary. By 2011, Lindsay Lohan had become an untenable brand. She wasn't unbankable or uninsurable; she was inconsistent and that is what caused her value to plummet."

Ms. Piazza dehumanizes to a nauseating degree even for a Hollywood columnist :

"Q scores help to determine an actor and actresses likability so that studios know whether consumers will see a project.

By 2010, 84 percent of those polled were familiar with Lohan. And yet her positive rating reached a new low of 9, her negative rating remaining at 52. More than five times as many people disliked Lohan as liked her.

"Michael Jackson had Qs in that range for a long time," Levitt,of Marketing Evaluations, explained to me. Almost as an afterthought he added, "His stats only went up after he died."

"Executives within the dead celebrity business refer to the high-net-worth deceased as 'delebs,'

and today these executives preside over an industry that is valued at more than $800 million a year and growing.

The attraction of this segment of the celebrity market is obvious: The dead are the easiest clients to manage.

Not only do they not meddle in their business affairs, they won't get caught with their pants down, drunk-driving, or making a racist remark to TMZ.

And in an industry where vast sums are made in merchandise licensing and symbiotic partnerships, dead celebrities have just as much earning power as the living and sometimes more."

"So, at this point," cackles Ms. Piazza, "we get yet another glimpse at Lohan's prematurely aging breasts in PLAYBOY, paying homage to Marilyn Monroe.

It will not reinvigorate Lindsay's sagging brand and career. The only thing that will save brand Lohan from total Kristy McNichol-dom is if she truly channels Monroe and actually leaves us for good."

I grew ill at reading those words.

Is there no humanity in Hollywood anymore? Any decency?

The tragic fact is that Ms. Piazza's book will sell like hotcakes.