Reading Fun

Making My Writing Time More Efficient

So, I haven’t chatted about anything beyond new releases recently partly due to how little time I seem to have to get things done.  I’m running from life responsibilities to work responsibilities and then collapsing in bed.

But I actually have something that I would like to share because it has radically improved my efficiency when writing. It is an app called Notes Plus. Just to get it out of the way, no-I am not being paid in any way, shape, or form by them to promote their product. I just really, really like it.

ipadprowithnotesplusscreenshotandpencil900So here’s how it started: I was trying to figure out how to become more productive in my writing. I examined my process to see what was sucking up my time. And I realized it was re-typing my notes. I tend to write a first draft right on my laptop, then I print it up and handwrite all my edits. I find I think better that way which means those edits tend to be extensive – pages and pages. But then I need to re-type them.

It takes forever.

So I went searching. And I found Notes Plus. It requires an Ipad Pro and an Apple pencil, but I can ‘write’ directly on the iPad and then it converts my handwriting into text! It is incredible. I cannot praise the time savings this app has provided enough. So if you are looking for a cool app that will reduce your typing time, check it out. Honestly, it is just amazing! Happy writing!

Reading Fun

Readers Are Just Awesome People!

I read this article and just had to pass along the link. It talks about the benefits of being a reader, not just for ourselves but for those around us. And by readers I mean those people who when they lift their eyes from the page need a few seconds to adjust to the reality they have just returned to.

This link leads to an Elite Daily article on why Readers are the best people to fall in love. The article discusses the psychological research that finds readers to be more empathetic and capable of understanding than non-readers. Have a look yourself. Enjoy!

Authors I Love, Books I Love, Reading Fun

Destiny Won’t Be Denied: Book Three in the Belial Series

I am happy to announce that the third installment in the Belial Series is now available on Amazon!  Click here to be directed to The Belial Ring

Belial Ring 3D__________________________________

Delaney McPhearson has been through the fire more than once.

This time it’s not her choice to join the fight, it’s her destiny.

And that destiny will either be the hope of the world or its doom.

In the last two years, Professor Delaney McPhearson has uncovered two Atlantis sites.  Each time, she’s lost people.  Now, all she wants to do is enjoy the peace with her love, Jake Rogan and those she cares about.

But fate has a different idea.

Plans are in motion for Laney, Jake, and Henry Chandler that stretch back thousands of years and across the globe to a mysterious, ancient Egyptian necropolis.

Everything Laney thought she knew about herself and her past has been turned on its head.  She never dreamed the violence of last year was only a taste of what to come – a taste of the destiny that awaits her.

But destiny, like fate, always comes with a cost.  And this time, the cost may be more than she can bear.

__________________________________

Thanks for reading!

-R.D.

 

Books I Love, Reading Fun

Emptying out the Bookshelves

So I’ve been painting. No, not beautiful landscapes – kitchen cabinets. Unfortunately, the kitchen cabinets are in a weird sort of way attached to the bookcases directly behind them. So I need to paint them too. Ugh.

And I’m getting to it. But I may wait for nicer weather. Nonetheless, I emptied all the bookshelves in case the need to remove the hardware and doors, then sand everything down and finally apply three coats of paint and two coats of polyurethane hits me out of the blue. (No, I’m not holding my breath waiting for that little miracle.)

And where am I going with this little foray into my home renovation projects? Well, cleaning out the bookshelves got me thinking about changing reading habits. As a college student, I was all about the paperbacks. Then when I could afford it, it was about the hardcovers. And now, it’s e-books.

In fact, now, almost all my fiction buys are e-books. It’s generally only my non-fiction that are physical books. That’s because I like to flip back and forth in non-fiction, which so far an e-book does not let me do with ease. (Okay, okay and occasionally I skim.)

So back to the bookshelves. There were crucial decisions that needed to be made: will I ever re-read this book again or should I donate it so that someone else can read it?

Now I’m a book lover, but I was surprised by the number of books I was ready to donate. Legal thrillers topped the list. I used to be obsessed with John Grisham books, but most of them, with the exception of A Time to Kill, ended up in the donate pile.

But I kept all of William Bernhardt’s books. I absolutely love his Ben Kincaid series. And not for the legalese. The characters are engaging, funny and flawed.

And then there are the action adventures. Now I need books where the female is not just window dressing, but actually has something to offer the story’s resolution. And I need there to be something positive. I don’t like walking away from a book feeling depressed. I want a little bounce in my step or at least an extra something to chew on.

I have emptied out a lot of space, which is good. It’s good to clear the decks and feel like you’re starting fresh.  Anyone else seeing changes in their reading habits?

On the to-be read pile right now is Ruins by Dan Wells – a YA title. I think the YA books right now offer me that glance of perseverance against incredible odds. We adults tend to overthink, overanalyze and weigh the odds a little too much. When I’m done, I’ll let you know how it is. Happy Reading!

🙂

 

 

 

 

Authors I Love, Books I Love, Reading Fun

Are you Kidding Me?!#$@%

Author Lynn Shepherd recently posted a blistering, vindictive, jealousy infused blog on Huffington Post saying JK Rowling should stop publishing books.  (Click here to see original article.)   Seriously, my screen was leaking envious, small-minded vitriol.  I needed a lot of napkins to clean that mess up.

Normally, I like to stay out of the fray, keep this site focused on the books.  But this post was so horrendous, it’s impossible not to comment.

In essence Miss Shepherd argues that JK Rowling, who has built a phenomenal worldwide following of dedicated readers, should stop writing books because her books are taking up shelf space that could be used by other authors, more deserving authors.

WHAT?!$#!

If anyone has earned her shelf space, it’s JK Rowling.  She was writing the Harry Potter series as a single mother with the baby in the carriage next to her.  She struggled and she made it.  Boy did she make it!

But more than the sour grapes that Miss Shepherd has so clearly displayed, are the disturbing ideas about what people should read.  Reading should be enjoyable.  Yes, reading should broaden your mind.  But being some lengthy tome on modern economics or adult focused plotline does not guarantee a broadening of the mind.

Reading books from the YA market or even earlier are also an important reading subject.  They remind us of the innocence of childhood.  They remind us that sometimes problems are just black and white and the solutions are clear.  We, as adults, are just muddying up the problem with all our adult concerns.

Books aimed at the younger generation remind us why we read:  We read to be entertained.  We read to jump into a different world.  And at times, we read to escape our adult lives and responsibilities.

Everyone should read Harry Potter.  I personally have read the whole series.  Three times.  Because you need a little dose of clear cut good verse evil every once in a while.  You need to root for the underdog and you need the underdog to win.

Right now, Miss Shepherd is the underdog.  I checked her out on Amazon and she is being slammed with one star reviews.  (In her post, she critiqued Rowling without reading a word of her work.  People have taken her approach to heart.)

I suppose if I take a page from the Potter series, I should be hoping for some sort of redemption.  But I can’t quite bring myself to root for this underdog.  Not yet, at least.

Books I Love, Reading Fun

Another Trip Down the Road of ‘What If?’ – Edgar Cayce on Atlantis

This post is a first: I’m not going to write about a thriller or even a work of fiction.  (Well, actually, some of you may think the work I’m going to chat about is fiction.) Usually I  read thrillers, mysteries, something in the “Who done it?” category.   For the past few years, though,  I’ve  been delving into those same areas but in the non-fiction realm.

Those of you that have read my books, know that both Edgar Cayce and Atlantis play a prominent role in them.  I first learned of Edgar Cayce around eight years ago.  Since that time, the man has fascinated me.  For those of you unfamiliar with his work let me give you a quick bio:

Edgar Cayce was born on 1887 in Kentucky.  He had a normal enough childhood except for two things:

1)  He occasionally saw and played with ghosts as a child.

2) If he fell asleep on top of a book, he would wake up knowing its contents.

As Cayce matured, his psychic abilities also developed.

All right, all right.  For those of you already rolling your eyes: Edgar Cayce is an incredibly well-documented psychic.  Cayce’s most documented skill was his ability to diagnose and treat ailments while in a trance.  His ability reached a level where someone could give him a name and an address and he could diagnose them.  And he had an 86% accuracy rate!  In fact, some of the treatments he recommended were new in his time but are now actually used.

Cayce also did readings of people’s past lives.  Some of those lives were spent in Atlantis.  The Atlantis life readings only make up a small portion of his overall readings, but they are beyond fascinating.  I think we are all intrigued by this idea of an advanced ancient civilization that met its doom.  Cayce’s descriptions of this ancient civilization involve technology, relationships, even its downfall.

I’ve been working on my third book and as a re-result decided I needed a refresher on Cayce’s take on Atlantis.  So I re-read Edgar Cayce on Atlantis.  And yet again I am intrigued!

The last few years I’ve spent researching pre-diluvian archaeological records.  That research combined with Cayce’s readings, is imagination inspiring.  Cayce unintentionally argues for a much earlier start to human civilizations, we’re talking 50,000 BC.   For me, the joy of Cayce’s work is the similar joy I experience while reading a good thriller novel:  the joy of what if.

What if we actually began on this planet much earlier than is currently recognized?  What if there was this incredibly powerful civilization that existed prior to the Ice Age and through its own technology, destroyed itself?  What if a disaster wiped out our advances in this distant past, bringing us back to low level of technology?

Then I apply these ideas to modern life.  I think about what would happen if a disaster hit now.  Now, I can use a computer.  But I certainly can’t build a microchip.  I imagine the same problem would have faced people thousands of years ago.

Cayce was also a proponent of reincarnation and karma, although he didn’t identify it as such.  Reading about reincarnation, well, it made me wonder what I did in a previous life to end up where I am now.

One of the components I liked best was Cayce’s assertion that the people you find yourself with in this life have been in your past lives as well.  When I look the people important in my life, that idea makes me feel good and even more connected.

So if you’re looking for a little window into ancient civilizations, even if you are not entirely sure you believe in Cayce, take a look at Edgar Cayce on Atlantis by Edgar Evans Cayce.  If you think he’s a quack, that’s fine.  Just pretend your reading fiction.  Either way, it’s a fun way to pass a few hours. 🙂

Books I Love, Reading Fun

A Suggestion For When You Can’t Spend A Lot Of Time With A Book

Sorry for the long absence. I haven’t blogged about anything in a while because I haven’t read much lately. Well, I’ve read a few things, but not really anything I’d recommend. I live by the motto, if you don’t have anything good to say, yadda, yadda, yadda.

And life did get a little hectic, making reading difficult. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Life did get hectic but I have been reading. Just not novels. . . something else . . .um, well . . . okay, okay. I’ve been reading comic books.

I know, I know. No intelligent adult is supposed to admit that publicly. But it’s true and it has completely filled the reading void. I have been busy. The kind of busy that means large portions of time will go between reading sessions. Enough time that it’s hard to get into a book.

And, to be perfectly frank, I haven’t had the time to get lost in a book. But a comic book is different. A short little story that I can read in one sitting and walk away feeling satisfied.

Oh, what comic book? Um, well, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I know, I know, but I used to love that show. I was so upset when it went off the air. And the comics take up right where the show left off. It’s fun, fantastical, and irreverent.

And the Buffy comic is overseen by Joss Whedon. Who doesn’t love Joss Whedon? So yes, I am an adult woman, with kids, who likes comics. So if you’re looking for a short little something, try comics.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Calvin and Hobbes are waiting for me. ☺

Reading Fun

Are Bookstores Doomed?

I love bookstores. I love wandering through the shelves. Looking at all the covers, pulling one off, flipping through. If it doesn’t catch my interest, I wander until I find another. Then I’ll stop by the cafe, have a little snack, flip through the books I’ve chosen to see who’s coming home. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Yet, we’ve all heard that bookstores are in trouble. Recently, even James Patterson wrote a piece in the New York Times saying the government needs to step in and save our bookstores. The new age of e-books is destroying these incredible land marks. J.A. Konrath, along with a number of other indie authors, have written back that it’s okay if traditional book publishing and bookstores go the way of the eight track. Which got me thinking, is that true? Is okay for bookstores to disappear because we can access the same information online? Which led to the next reasonable question: what is it I really love about bookstores?

I imagined walking through a book store (joy!). And then scanning through Amazon looking for a new book (less joyful). But I had an ‘aha!’ moment thinking about those two divergent events. I asked myself, would scrolling through e-books be more enjoyable in a bookstore? I envisioned giant flat-screen screens aligning the aisles instead of book shelves. You touch the screen. Pull up a few books, flip through the first few pages to see if you were interested. If not, swipe them aside and pull up some others. Then wander over to the cafe for a beverage with your book samples downloaded on your e-reader. And honestly? That sounded wonderful!

It made me realize bookstores aren’t just about books. They’re about community, about the experience of buying books. They’re about being around like minded folks, all searching for something to get lost in. It’s about sharing that smile when you see someone else looking at a book you’ve read and loved. It’s about watching kids excitedly sprint for the kids section. It’s about that little thrill of discovery when you find the right book. Bookstores are about the people and the experience as much as the books.

Are bookstore doomed? Not if they adapt. It’s like saying movie theatres will disappear because someone created DVDs (or back in the day Beta tapes). Sure, we all watch movies at home. But there is something almost magical about seeing a movie up on the big screen, in a theatre.

So how do we save bookstores? They need to adapt. Give people what they want: community and an exciting e-book shopping experience. Truly, the best of both worlds. What do you think?

Reading Fun

You want me to read WHAT?!: Why you should give Indie books a shot

The publishing industry is going through a fundamental transformation. Self published authors have sprung up and are now selling their books online right next to the traditionally published authors. And those indie authors are sometimes selling a LOT of books.

But how good are the indie books? Well, let’s be honest: some of them are horrible. And I mean H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E. Luckily, with e-books, you can download a good portion of the book to see what you are getting. Better news, e-books can often be downloaded for free. Yup, free. So you don’t lose any money.

Why else should you try an Indie author? A couple of reasons. First, it is getting tougher and tougher for new writers to break into traditional publishing. What that means is quality writers who would have been snapped up a decade ago, are now self-publishing instead. In fact, agents and publishers are reported to be trolling the internet looking for the books generating sales.

Two, all your favorite authors were at one time unpublished, praying that someone, anyone, would read their book and like it.

Not convinced yet? Okay. Well, here’s something that might tempt you: Indie books are often priced incredibly low and sometimes free. Why free? Well, Amazon has a program called KDP Select that allows authors to get paid, while offering their books for zero dollars.

Okay, so now we know traditional publishers are less likely to take on new authors, all your favorite authors were at one point unpublished, and three, you can often pick up an indie for very little or absolutely nothing. So now you’re saying, yeah, let’s try those indie books. Where can I find them?

Well, they’re at all online books distributors. But sometimes it’s a little difficult to parcel them out. I’ve found a website that I like that tells me about the latest reductions in indie books, including books that are offered free. At Bookbub.com, you choose the type of books you are interested in, and they send you an email everyday telling you what the latest deals are. It’s great! (Caveat: To be included in Bookbub, authors do have to pay. So the site does not cover all indie books, only those that pay to be included.)

So give a struggling author a thrill. Read their book. You might just like it. 🙂

Reading Fun

Big Brother is Watching . . er, Reading Over Your Shoulder

About three years ago, I had to take a trip for work. I would be gone for ten days with a group of colleagues I had never met before. In a foreign country. Packing lots of books seemed like a good idea.

But I read very fast. And I didn’t want to have to pack a dozen books, so I picked up a Kindle. And, like many people, I fell in love. I didn’t think I would. There’s something comforting about holding a traditional book. Nonetheless, it was great. I even forgot it was a Kindle at times, placing it face down, to hold my page. 🙂

I noticed when reading e-books that certain phrases were highlighted. There’d be a fuzzy grey line underneath a sentence or two and a tag saying something along the line of 237 highlights. I never gave it a thought. Never even wondered what it meant.

Then I read the Wall Street Journal article by Alexandra Alter entitled “You’re E-Book is Reading You.” Alter explained how the Kindle is used to as a marketing tool for authors, publishers, etc. So the number of times a certain phrase is highlighted is tracked. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304870304577490950051438304.html)

But more information than that is gathered. Where the reader stops reading, how long a reader sits, do they finish the book in one sitting, three, not at all?

When I first read the article, I had two simultaneous reactions: ‘That’s cool’ and ‘That’s kind of creepy’. Let’s start with the creepy. The idea that someone is tracking my reading habits smacks of an Orwellian world. Big brother reading over my shoulder. Shudder.

But as an aspiring author and data junkie, I love the idea of being able to ascertain trends and facts that can help market books. There’s no denying that e-books have revolutionized reading. Traditional publishers are now taking this data and putting it to work for them. Self published authors need to do the same. Now I’m not saying people should massively change their novels. But they should consider, at the very least, readers preferences in their marketing strategies. I talked about those preferences a few blogs ago. (See Size Does Matter . . . Even for Books!)

So what do you think? Creepy or Helpful? Or maybe a little bit of both?