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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Goodbye Kindle Select, Hello Bargains on Smashwords

I love Amazon. Really! I buy a lot of stuff from them, including books, of course.

But the restrictions on my setting prices to have a book in the nebulous KDP/KU programs chafed by (fill in anatomical part here). Every book I have is available at Amazon whether or not it's in the Kindle Select program.

All of my books are now available through Smashwords, and are in their distribution circle. Because of the VAT being added to the price of ebooks for European markets, I repriced the books to make up for it. I didn't sit with the VAT percentage per country list and try to figure it out. Can't do that for a single book. Do I deduct the VAT for France or the VAT for the UK?

I could do that at Smashwords because the royalty percentage does not drop from 70% to 35% below $2.99 (USD). I can't adjust my prices to give the Euro market a break without cutting my royalty in half. Yes, some of my books are already less than the $2.99 minimum. You won't find my short stories priced at $2.99. Just can't do it. It'd be like those boxes of cereal only half full because the packaging makes them look like there's more even if there isn't.

If my book is $5.99 at Amazon, it's $5.50 at Smashwords (and all other distributors)
* Witches of Galdorheim Boxed set is only $2.50 at Smashwords until Valentines Day using coupon MX85B at checkout.

If  my book is $2.99 at Amazon, it's $2.50 at Smashwords (and all other distributors)

If my book is $1.99 at Amazon, it's $1.75 at Smashwords (and all other distributors)

$0.99 books are $0.99 everywhere.


I do have two works (they're not full-length books) only at Amazon since they are still under the Select program. They are both story samplers. All stories in these are also available in Mixed Bag and Mixed Bag II. Both are $0.99.

Lemons and Other Kid Tales
Fish Story: A Three Story Sampler




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

WTF?

UPDATE NOTE: If you have bought the Kindle ebook at anytime in the past, you can now buy the audiobook for $1.99. Now, would it kill you to buy the ebook and the audiobook? $2.99 + $1.99 = $4.98. You probably spent that on a latte this morning.

(((((((( grrrr )))))))))

My last post told readers about the special prices on my audio books--$1.99 per book. I posted the same information on a Goodreads forum. A couple of nice folks said they'd love to have the books, but the price shown for the books was full freight--$14.95 per book. What can I say? These are screen shots I took today of the books shown on Audible.com. Note the Special Price: $1.99 on every book. Why, then, were folks charged $14.95 on the book when selected?

I think the answer might be that the $1.99 is the price if a person already owns the ebook. I need somebody with the Kindle ebook of any of these to test it and see what price comes up on their order. You can cancel the order before it goes through. I just want to know.



Sunday, January 18, 2015

Value Priced Audio Books

See all my audio books on audible.com Every one value priced for $1.99

Follow Katrina, the teenage witch, and her half-vampire brother on three adventures. Chasing down an evil shaman, helping an elemental spirit defend against an angry sister. Traveling through the Scottish Otherworld to be attacked by a has-been goddess. You've never read books like these before...guaranteed or your money back.

Bad Spelling - Book 1 of Witches of Galdorheim
Audible  Amazon  

Midnight Oil - Book 2 of Witches of Galdorheim
Audible    Amazon 

Scotch Broom - Book 3 of Witches of Galdorheim.
Audible   Amazon 

Spellslinger on audio - Listen on SoundCloud Free!


Tales of a Texas Boy
How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he'll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones. Take his word for it when he tells you always to bet on the bear. These are things he learned while dreaming of becoming a cowboy in West Texas during the Depression. Through Eddie, the hero of "Tales of a Texas Boy," we find that growing up is less about maturity and more about roping your dreams. Hold on tight. It's a bumpy ride. A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys books like "Little House on the Prairie" or "Tom Sawyer." A great bit of nostalgia for seniors, too.

Missing, Assumed Dead
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.

When Kameron McBride receives notice she's the only living relative of a missing man she's never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs. Her suspicions rise when the probate Judge isn't really a judge and tries too hard to buy the dead man's worthless property. Kam probes deeper into the town's secrets and finds almost no one she can trust. She must find out what really happened to her dead relative before someone in this backward little town sends her to join him.

And she thought Oregon was going to be boring.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Reviews of My Favorite 2014 Books (6)

Only a couple more reviews to go. I hope you enjoyed my reviews enough to consider buying, reading, and reviewing the books I've recommended.

DEAD....If Only (The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries Book 4)DEAD....If Only by Heather Haven
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't hand out five stars lightly. However, I'll make this exception since I've read all the books in the Alvarez mysteries and consistently gave them four stars. This one is my favorite of them all, so five stars it is.

It's been a fun journey following Lea Alvarez and her strange family which make up Discretionary Inquiries. The purpose of the private investigation firm is to solve cyber crime, not chase down murderers. But Lea can't seem to avoid putting herself on the front line especially when members of her family are in danger.

The idea of the wise-cracking Lea in a wetsuit flippering her way to the bad guy's yacht during a hurricane can only come out of the twisted mind of Heather Haven. How she can make murder and mayhem funny is truly a special talent.

Read all the Alvarez mysteries in order. The development of this oddball bunch of crime solvers will leave you in stitches while you bite your nails in suspense.

Highly recommended.

The Revenge of the Dead Enemy (The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head, #6)The Revenge of the Dead Enemy by Lorinda J. Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So you think you can't empathize with a giant termite? We've had many insectoid and arachnid heroes in literature. Consider "Charlotte's Web." If you didn't get teary-eyed when Charlotte died, then you must have a heart of stone. Other stories empathetic toward multi-legged creatures: Ant Bully, It's a Bug's Life, Bee Story. I'm sure there are others. I don't usually seek out books about bugs, but I could come up with these examples in a few seconds.

So, what about the entire epic journey "The Labors of Ki'sh'toba: Volumes 1-6?" I have previously reviewed 1-5, not to mention the 2-volume "Termite Queen" saga. I liked them...a lot. I continually complained about the difficult names, places, and concepts with the conlang (constructed language) of the Termite world. Too many apostrophes and a bunch of other punctuation I have no clue how to pronounce.

I will complain no more. I still can't pronounce 90% of the termite language, but I can visually recognize the names of the main characters. All have become familiar and lovable in their own ways. Di'fa'kro'mi, the Remembrancer (story teller) is quite an adept author considering he had to invent a written language in which to tell the tales. I know, the real Remembrancer is Lorinda Taylor, but she is such a wonderful writer, I was immersed in the stories as if they were really told by Di'fa'kro'mi.

As I did when first reading "Charlotte's Web," I wept over the death of some of my favorites throughout the entire six volumes. I cried for termites? Yes, I did, and I'm not ashamed.

The entire tale of Ki'shto'ba and his labors (modeled on the Greek Hercules myth) is hard to get into, but an epic worthy of the difficulty of the journey.

I completely and thoroughly recommend the entire six volumes. But you might want to start with the Termite Queen books to allow yourself to ease into the idea of termite heroes.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Reviews of My Favorite 2014 Books (5)

Reviews of my favorite 2014 books continued.

Just a Smidgen of Magic: Enchantment at the Edge of MundaneJust a Smidgen of Magic: Enchantment at the Edge of Mundane by Charlotte Henley Babb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wish this book was longer. Compiled from a few short stories dealing with magic, it reads like a set of beautiful long poems.

If this was a novel, I wouldn't have liked the "flowery" language. I always say, "get on with the story." However, in such short works as these, the mundane does become the magical. For example (two of many I noted):

"She pulled the gibbering fears through her heart and into the earth below her, like a rod grounding lightning safely into the earth, where they would become life energy."

or

"Wizards know that white magic is poetry, and black magic is anything that works."

I've read some of Ms. Babb's other books. All whimsical, but closer to childrens' fairy tales. These stories are beautifully written little gems.

More, I say, MORE! Well done, Charlotte Babb.


Trial by Ordeal (Valda & the Valkyries, #1)Trial by Ordeal by Mark Neumayer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As Charming as How to Train Your Dragon

I really enjoyed the first in the Valda the Valkyrie stories. The plucky dwarf, Valda, finds herself tapped to be a Valkyrie by Odin. The only thing she had in common with the nordic goddesses was blonde hair, which is unheard of for a dwarf.

Since Valda has few qualifications for the job. The other Valkyies treat her like dirt, but that doesn't keep Valda down. She makes friends with the thralls and less-than-heroic warriors inhabiting Valhalla. Given the crappy jobs all the time, Valda finds a way to make it a positive experience even if she does cry herself to sleep every night. When she can get any sleep at all. The head Valkyrie, Kara, has a particular grudge against Valda and makes the dwarf girl's life as miserable as possible.

The references to the Norse myths are accurate and included a few of gods I hadn't heard of before. The author's take on how Valhalla operates is a far cry from the Avengers' Thor version, but I kind of like it better.

This is a book for kids of all ages. Since I write books for kids, I found it just at the right level, with good deeds and persistence rewarded, but without pounding a kid (even an old kid like me) over the head with a moral. Kids aren't so dumb they can't get the lesson without the author telling them what it is.

I recommend it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Reviews of My Favorite 2014 Books (4)

Continuing the Goodreads reviews of some of my favorite books from 2014 (just one today since the review is fairly long).

Old Hickory LaneOld Hickory Lane by E.J. Ruek
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary:
Warren Jeffreys wants to be a premiere veterinarian on the horse show circuit. He certainly has the education (multiple degrees) and a special connection with the horses he loves (not to mention the cows, pigs, goats, and mules), but he's got a prickly personality. Who'd care, you think? The top horse breeders are a snooty bunch and want to be catered to by their vet. Warren is not a people person.

Ms. Ruek's sometimes frightening, sometimes humorous story of the aspiring veterinarian is an engrossing read. Not all warm and fuzzy like "All Things Great and Small," it still has elements to tug at your heart strings. You can't help but wish Warren success, but you also want to slap him upside the head to knock the chip off his shoulder. If he was totally likable, I don't think the story would be near as compelling. The characters, the situations, the details of day-to-day veterinary work will keep you glued to the page. I would have read it all in one session, but for the book's substantial size. You definitely get your money's worth.

Highly recommended.

More about the story if you're interested (potential spoilers):

Before Warren can realize his dream, he's got to get the all-important work credits. He joins a veterinary clinic in Idaho to gain the all-important experience. Just a couple of years, he thinks.

Unfortunately for Warren, his personality along with being an "Injun" is a prejudiced and tight-knit area, he is scorned and even ripped off by a rotten slumlord. Forced to live in a hobo camp until he can earn enough to afford an apartment, he has to hide so nobody will know his poor circumstances. To the rich horsey set, it'd never do for their vet to be anything but prosperous...and white.

Along the way, he finds himself falling for Elise, whose grandmother raises a rare breed of horse which fascinates Warren. He wants both the woman and the job. Elise likes him, so that's not a problem, but her grandmother keeps pushing him away from having a relationship with the young woman. Prejudice or something more?

Slowly, Warren gains the trust of the farmers and ranchers in the area. His bosses at the Lewis and Clark Clinic see his skill and the something extra Warren adds when he treats animals. A skill or magic? Warren doesn't even know for sure, only that his Cree grandmother taught him ways to feel an animal's emotional state and even tell him what their problem is. Not in words, but in a metaphysical connection to the animal that allows him see and understand more than any normal human.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Reviews of My Favorite 2014 Books (3)

Continuing with the reviews of my favorite books of 2014.

Energize (From the Logs of Daniel Quinn, #1)Energize by Thomas R. Manning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very readable story.

An interesting character, Daniel Quinn, is trying to make a living as a jack-of-all-trades space jockey. A a traumatic past haunts his dreams, and a vindictive spaceship captain is out to destroy him.

All he's got going for him is his ship, a spit and baling wire clunker, and a unique Artificial Intelligence named Al. Having stolen the AI from the renegade captain, Daniel keeps his head down and just tries to get along.

That is, until he discovers what may be a revolutionary energy source on a distant planet. If he can just get to the planet and take advantage of what might be the discovery of the century, he could put his past behind him. But it's never that easy, is it?

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the continuing chronicles of Daniel Quinn. I highly recommend this to the hard SF junkies looking for something good to read.


Waiting for ShadowWaiting for Shadow by Eduardo Suastegui
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd already read Shadow 7 (book 1 of Tracking Jane) and liked it a lot. Since I already knew most of the information about Jane from reading the other book, this didn't add to my understanding of her. It did, however, reinforce Jane's past a little more. Briefly, Jane was a soldier with the K9 Corps in the middle east wars. When she runs into an IED, she becomes a double amputee and has to leave the military and her beloved dog, Shadow behind. She has done the paperwork to adopt Shadow and awaits his return from the wars. In the meantime, she has trained another dog, Shady, as a search dog.

It also shows how she got into the business of tracking for law enforcement. She reluctantly joins the search for two missing teens. Shady, her tracking dog, takes to the task and succeeds where other dogs don't. Does Shady have mystical powers? No. Shady has the smartest handler, Jane.

There is a mystery involved, but don't want to give out any spoilers. Not just the disappearance of the teens, but exactly how that occurred is related to Jane's new prosthetic legs and the company that developed them.

Since I need a balancing statement, I'll mention the author's need of an editor. There are far too many typos, but I believe Mr. Suastegui is working on that. The errors did not stop me from reading. The story is that good.

Recommended.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Reviews of My Favorite 2014 Books (2)

Continuing with the reviews of the books I liked and recommended in 2014.

Side TripSide Trip by Renee Duke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A thoroughly enjoyable tale of a trio of planet-hopping teenagers who end up saving a Prince's Kingdom and keeping one little brother out of jail. Fun and fast reading.

Meda and Kristy look forward to the edu-tour of multiple planets but the chaperone is bound and determined that no kid in her care is going actually have fun on it. The two girls form a plan to get off the tour and head out on their own, hopping between planets, getting jobs to make money for food and their next ticket. All is going well until they discover Meda's clever little brother has jumped ship as well. Unfortunately, he's hooked up with a couple of older boys who talk him into stealing an important item from an exhibit.

The chase is on! The girls and little brother are joined in their travels by a Jip, a girl who can move between different planes of existence. A very handy skill when the kids are on the run from various evil-doers trying to get that certain item back and won't hesitate to kill to do it. Meda, Kristy, Jip, and bratty brother are on the run and determined to help an alien prince become the Emperor he's destined to be.

It's a mad dash for the teens, avoiding the men who oppose the prince, a strange man who seems to be chasing them for no reason, and their parents who will most likely ground them for life for ditching the tour.

Very well written (as I've come to expect from Ms. Duke). My favorite of hers to date. I hope she turns this into a series.

I received a free advance copy of this book from the author.


Elspeth, The Living Dead GirlElspeth, The Living Dead Girl by Stuart R. West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We met Elspeth and Elizabeth in the third "Tex the Witch Boy" book. I'm happy that Stuart West decided to go on the Elspeth/Elizabeth branch in this spinoff series.

What Stuart West has done is rotate first person accounts of the two girls (Elspeth is actually in her 50s if she'd lived). The changes in Elizabeth (the one inhabited by Elspeth the dead girl) are progressive and natural as information builds. It's good to see her moved and changed by events. Elspeth is unlikely to change a lot, being dead and all, but she does find a softer side who cares about Elizabeth and helps the living girl become a better person.

Okay, confused? It's really not too difficult. A rocker chick, Elspeth died in the 1980s. She's hanging out in a sort of limbo where (thought not specifically stated) she has a chance to "earn her wings" and move on. To do her requisite good deeds, she occupies the body of Elizabeth, an extremely annoying high school princess type (I know. We all hated her, the bitch.)

What's very cool here is the way Stuart West has managed to do a few impossible things:

1. He needed to write in first person from the point of view of two girls who couldn't be more opposite.

2. He had to show the transition of both girls away from their original personalities and into better and kinder people.

3. He had to entertain us readers.

Mission accomplished. I'm looking forward to the further adventures of Elspeth/Elizabeth. Well done, Mr. West.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Reviews of My Favorite 2014 Books (1)

The next few days, I'll be posting my reviews of the books I recommended for 2014. I'll post two or three each day.

Fear the LightFear the Light by William Massa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Approached with trepidation in fear of discovering yet more sparkly vampires, I was quite pleased with this twist on Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians."

Whether you're a vampire fan or not, I think you can enjoy this murder mystery. Who exactly dunnit?

Recommended.


The Stairway To NowhereThe Stairway To Nowhere by Brian Rush
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like this concept of the dueling magic objects with mages defending the two sides, light and dark.

Correl and Karla have a passion for each other, but everyday living together just doesn't work for them. As mages, they can perform some magic, but not until they are recruited to the Star (good) and the Crystal (evil) do they truly separate. Correl is taken in my Dolphin when he's at his lowest point and learns to be a Star adept. Karla is initiated into the Crystal. One now a good mage, and the other evil completes their separation. But not really. Both still love the other, but now they're almost enemies.

Some Star and Crystal mages rebel against their orders and decide to construct a third object of power, one they can use openly. Prior to this, the mages performed their magic secretly. Of course, this results in a mage war, but the sides aren't easily defined.

This book is a good and relatively original story of magic, mayhem, star-crossed lovers, and the graying of the line between good and evil.

A good read overall. No complaints about any technical issues, but some longish sections which I think could have been much shorter with the same information imparted.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

KindleUnlimited and Coupons

Two of my books on Amazon's KindleUnlimited are leaving the program on January 13th. But why should just the KU folk get a freebie? Well, yeah, they paid their $9.99 per month. On the other hand, none of them have bothered to take advantage of it with my books, which is why the books are being removed from the KU program. Not worth my time or effort. Ragged homeless people holding signs at intersections make more than I do. Hm. What would my sign say?
Need Food
Buy My Books
Click These Links

Free using KindleUnlimited until on January 13th for these two books:
Quest for the Simurgh-Faizah's Destiny
Tales of Abu Nuwas-Setara's Genie


I'm offering the same deal (free) to those who still haven't downloaded either of these books. Perhaps you just need to be encouraged. I can't restrict the offer to only those people who sign a blood oath to write a review for the books, but if you have a shred of humanity within you, a reviewing is the appropriate thank you. Miss Manners says so.

On Smashwords, coupons valid through January 13th:

Use coupon GZ88F to download Quest for the Simurgh-Faizah's Destiny free.

Use coupon DA33T to download Tales of Abu Nuwas-Setara's Genie free.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Free Short Stories on Wattpad

If you'd like to sample some of my short stories, click over to my page on Wattpad. My latest addition:

No Deposit, No Return 

Curt and Karla plan what they thought was a perfect crime. But it became too personal for Karla to carry out her part.





Other stories on Wattpad:

Extraordinary Rendition
Ahmad wants to run his little cafe and find a nice girl to marry, but he's caught up in the madness of terrorism.

Chilpequin - 22 Miles
Drive the roads less followed. You never know what you might find.

Shasta Lake
Bruce takes in the homeless couple and their child. Unfortunately, they bring a so-called friend with them.

If You Could See Her
Love blooms for Mac. He just can't imagine the beautiful girl would feel the same about him.

Big Bessie's Place
Bessie runs her juke joint with an iron hand. Beware if you break her rules.

The Country Faire
One woman finds a horror in a porta-potty which will haunt her forever. It's no joke.

I've also posted a few excerpts from my books. I'll add to these occasionally.