Monday, November 14, 2011

Shameless Plug--Goodreads Choice Awards

Hey everyone. I just found out GRAVE DANCE is in the semifinals of the 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards in the Paranormal Fantasy section! This is apparently the second round of the competition, so everyone who voted in the first--you totally rock! Thank you!

The selection in this category is awesome--many of my top favorite authors/books from this year are in there. I can't believe I'm grouped in with such awesome writers! To check out all the nominees and cast your vote, click HERE. (I'm not begging for votes because let's face it, there are lots of really awesome books on the list, but if you read and enjoyed Grave Dance, I'd definitely appreciate the vote!)


Vote now for your favorite books!

In other news, I saw the cover for Grave Memory today. So pretty. I can't wait until I can share it with you. (Yes, I'm a tease ^_^)

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-11 is World Hoop Day

Every year hoopers celebrate world hoop day by going out to spread the joy of hoop dance to others. While I plan to attend local outreach events in my community, I decided that this year I'd also attempt to reach all of you out in cyber land. So I recorded a  quick video about WHD, why I love hoop dance, and some very basic starting steps for those interested in picking up the best dance partner you'll ever have--a hoop! And, of course, I jam out a little at the end.

I hope you enjoy:

Happy World Hoop Day everyone!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Changing times--A look at ebooks and the evolution of digital media

Things are changing quickly these days. Some of these changes inspire wonder as new technology entertains us or makes our lives easier. Some inspire dread and fear as many of these same changing technologies seem to be the harbinger of destruction for traditions and institutions we've come to know and love.

And yet, things have always changed. Perhaps not so quickly as they do now where most high-end tech is outdated within six months of hitting the shelves, but they've always changed. In visual entertainment, reels gave way to Beta to VHS to DVD to Blueray/HD and digital. In music, records gave way to cassette tapes, to CDs, and now to digital. Movies/television and music are two popular de-stressing pastimes most people partake in. Reading is another. Should we be surprised that traditional printed books are also moving toward digital in the form of e-books?

The transition between technologies seems to grow ever shorter. I'll admit that though I still have some favorite VHS tapes from childhood, I haven't owned a VCR since highschool, and even my DVD's I find to be a less preferred format to digital which with home sharing and apple tv I can watch anything in my library from any tv (or ipad) in my house with just a couple clicks of a button. I don't have a CD player in my house, and only purchase CDs when I'm at a concert and want to get them signed. Of course, once I get home I import them to itunes and permanently shelf the CD. Movements toward such digital dependence never would have occurred without MP3 players and streaming devices like the apple TV. Now that dedicated e-reading devices are easily accessible and reasonably priced  (the new kindle is cheaper than an ipod nano) will they become the preferred vehicle for reading?

The benefits are much the same with all media moving toward digital. A definite plus is the drastic reduction of physical space needed for storing a collection, which means not only more room in your house, but one can carry a plethora of choices in a small handbag with minimal added weight. The ability to buy digital copies at any time  day or night from nearly any location is also a bonus (though can lead to dangerously impulsive splurges). As a whole one doesn't have to worry about damages associated with previous formats such as scratched cds/dvds or torn/smudged pages.

But there are frightening negatives as well. File corruption is always a fear, though that one is decreasing now that most companies offer offsite backups of purchases, but I acutely remember several friends who lost hundreds of dollars in music when their hard drives gave up the ghost, taking all their digital purchases with them. Some had backups of most of the music. At least two did not. As stated earlier, this is becoming less of an issue as most media providers allow you to redownload previous purchases, but what happens if their company goes under? Or if something happens to their servers? A physical book could get destroyed in fire or flood, but you will never pull a book off your shelf, open it, and suddenly find the book has glitched and is now filled with a jumble of indecipherable code (unless you spontaneously lose the ability to read the language it is written in, I suppose. LOL). Then there are compatibility issues. I'm sure this will eventually be resolved, but most e-stores sell e-books in proprietary formats which other e-readers will not open. If you switch devices (because let's face it, how long do most people hold onto tech these days before upgrading, 3-4 years? maybe less?) you have a possibility of losing access to your previously purchased library. Digital music has become much more standardized, so I imagine other media will be eventually, but when it does, will you be able to upgrade your library or are your purchases lost and stuck in a time vortex?

All of that said, books are different than other entertainment media in a very important way. Music and movies have always required special hardware to be enjoyed and once those formats became outdated not only were the formats hard to find but the hardware needed to play them eventually broke down and replacements became scarce and/or expensive. A physical book is and always has been self contained.  Barring disaster, any book you own will always 'work' when you go to read it, its format will not become outdated, and it will never need to be recharged. The movement toward digital changes that, putting it on the same level as other media. How many of you have found yourself once again buying an old favorite movie because the previous format(s) no longer play with your current setup?

I don't think anyone makes VHS or Cassette tapes anymore. I can't even remember the last time I saw these formats on a shelf. DVD and CD formats can be found, but walk into any store that sells them and you'll probably notice that the sections devoted to them are much smaller. Of course, almost all stores carry less physical product on the shelves than they used to, and bookstores are certainly not immune. The midlist authors are all but gone. New titles have less time than ever to make their mark, and even titles which sell are restocked at smaller numbers.

Hard economic times, increased online shopping, e-books, or any combination of the above could very well be to blame. And yet, studies show that more people are reading more books than ever, and that is being contributed to the rise of e-books and the ease e-readers enable people to impulse buy books. Of course, at the same time, e-readers all but eliminate browsing so while more books are selling, they tend to be only those that make a big enough splash to show up on e-reader charts or under recommendations. With a glut e-books hitting the market every day, breaking in and finding an audience is actually getting harder.

So what will happen to the paperback? Is it to go the way of the Betamax and VHS? Or does its physicality and simple, self contained usefulness guarantee its continued existence? Or, will paperbacks fall somewhere in between, like vinyl records which are feverishly collected and cherished by some but largely forgotten by many?

It's hard to say. I guess only time--and consumers voting with their dollars--will tell.

It has been a little over a year since the last time I discussed ebooks on the blog. A lot of people weighed in on previous print vs ebook discussions, but as it has been a while so I'd like to ask again--get a temperature of the changing situation, if you will. What are your thoughts? E-books: love them? Hate them? Haven't tried them yet? What about print? Are you done with dead trees or will someone have to pry your beloved tomes from your fingers before you give them up? Anyone want to make predictions on the market? I'd love to hear from you, so chime in!