How to Read eBooks on Your PC – A Friendly Guide

After coming out with my eBook, I discovered that a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors don’t have an eReader and don’t know how to read eBooks on their PCs. This didn’t surprise me, since, up until 3 weeks ago, I didn’t either.

Buying an eReader is WAY too expensive for me. I just can’t justify it. But once I had my own eBook, I needed a way to read it, to proof the design — and once I started buying eBooks, I realized how cool it is and how great the experience can be. There are so many books out there for a dollar (or even free) that I can’t even begin to guess at a total of them. And some of them are downright cool.

This gave me a brilliant idea — why not write a quick guide for those slow adopters, just in case they want to catch up but don’t know how.

What follows is that guide:

1) For Amazon eBooks (.mobi format — Amazon has their own format because they are special):

a) If you use Chrome or Safari as a web browser, instead of IE? If so, you can use Amazon’s Cloud Reader — a web app that accesses any ebooks you’ve ever bought from Amazon, anywhere — here:

Note: Safari is the Mac browser, this is the best way to read Amazon ebooks on Mac.

b) If you use a PC but don’t use Chrome for some reason (you madman!), you can download and install Amazon’s Kindle for PC right here:

2) If you prefer standard .epub eBook format, such as found on a Nook or an iPhone or a Sony eReader (basically everyone except Amazon), you can download and install Adobe Digital Editions on your computer for free — it’s quite a nice tool, zehr modisch.

If you enjoyed this post, you can give eReading a shot via my eBook “Teddy Bears and Tea Parties: A Horror Story”, available AT B&N or AT AMAZON.

Paul Jessup’s Weekend Novel-A-Thon

Ever wondered how the words get written, the magic gets summoned, the real heart of a book gets made? Here’s your chance.

One of my favorite writers of the strange and surreal, Paul Jessup, is going to a weekend-novel-a-thon. This weekend (and the two days prior), he will crank out a whole novel — that’s 40-50 THOUSAND words. That’s a LOT, ladies and gentlemen.

…But wait, there’s more.

He will also blog about it as he writes it! You will be able to follow along, near-live, as he spins a novel whole-cloth from his head. And, better yet, you can vote on the title.

More info, here:

Go Jessup go!

What I’m reading

I’m one of those wierdos that likes to read a lot of books at once. I like it when a whole bunch of different images collide in my head, and I think that’s part of the way I create new ideas.

So, for the current reading list: Other than my own novel which I’m reading to edit, I am also digging in deep to the trenches of World War 1 with “All Quiet on the Western Front”. This book is awesome — starts out a little weak, but about 80 pages in and BOOM, it becomes astounding.

Also in the in-progress pile are:

– Jaye Wells’ “Green Eyed Demon”, her third foray into Sabina Kane land — action packed and emotionally charged as usual, this time taking over New Orleans.

– Katy Stauber’s “Revolution World” — a novel of bio-punk engineering, video games, and revolution set in the near-term-post-apocalyptic future. Another fun one.

– The New Yorker’s short story collection “20 under 40” — so far I’ve liked 3 out of the 4 stories I’ve read, and I’ve LOVED one of them (“An Honest Exit”, which I mentioned yesterday). Strong writing in all the stories, sure, but there’s a formula to them in a way:

Some kind of emotional conflict/trauma/journey is center stage, brought up to the point of resolution, but instead of resolution there is just a kind of afterward — a lens of sorts, sometimes one paragraph, sometimes three, that tries to bring some kind of transcendence to the piece despite the lack of resolution. Additionally, emotion is usually held at a distance as if with tongs, much like a dead butterfly being examined under a magnifying glass. I mean, it’s pretty (usually), but it’s predictable in a way. Just as hog-tied — if not more — as a sestina or the simplest plot.

This formula only applies to the 4/20 I have read. I’ll see if the same formula holds true for all 20.

Not setting yourself up for failure

You know, a lot of us have a goal to write at least once a day. Some of us even have wordage targets. But sometimes you have to have a reality check:

I did not write today at lunch. Instead, I drafted a cover letter for the complete novel and got it reviewed by a writing buddy. Crossed all the t’s, dotted all the i’s. But, to me, this counts as “writing” — it’s all part of the same thing: getting the work published.

I used to feel guilty in situations like this. In fact, that sense of guilt might even make me stop writing a for a few days as I stewed over my failure and wondered what went wrong.

But now I have come to realize there are only so many words in me per day, and work takes most of them, and blogging takes more. Until my writing muscles, build, it’s more important to not get discouraged. And besides… So what if I didn’t move forward on the current work? I did something critical for the overall goal.

I count today as a win.

Finished Dan Simmons’ “Hyperion”

… The audio frontiers version, with a full cast of characters. Pretty good book, very impressed.

The structure is based off of Canterbury tales, each of a series of pilgrims telling their own story, but it’s much darker and each story is part of a single whole. They are all on a pilgrimage to what is essentially a dark god or avatar of the end times called The Shrike, who may or may not grant their wish (presumably to save the universe).

Of all of them, the Scholar’s Tale was the most affecting. It’s about someone’s grown daughter being cursed with reverse aging, and how she gradually becomes a teenager and then a child and a baby again, forgetting her life and what she has learned as she goes. It was so painful and emotionally intense, I almost had to stop the book at several points. What’s strange is that just a couple of year’s ago, I might have found this tale the most boring — but since I have a daughter of my own now, it hit home hard.

Perhaps one of the most plot-important tales, the Detective’s Tale, was the weakest one of the lot. It was basically a cyberpunk novella, and a pretty good one, but contrasted with the other tales, it felt hollow and empty of resonance.

Of course the problem with Hyperion is that it is a huge book and it is not a complete tale in itself. You have to read another huge book, Fall of Hyperion, to get to the ending — and I don’t know if I’ll be up to that for a while.

4 out of 5 sparkly vampires gone super-nova.

Building up wordage

I recently had a bit of an insight about writing productivity/wordage…

So as part of the rehab for my knee, I’ve been riding stationary bikes at the gym 3 times a week, and I’ve started going to Tai Chi again — and simultaneously I’ve been writing again.

The thing with the bike and the Tai Chi is that I used to do them a lot, I used to be good at them and be able to just go and go, but now I’ve been injured for a while and out of the game, I have to build back up. Endurance and power are earned through hard and deliberate work.

And writing is the same way. I know this is the cliche of the decade, but your brain is a muscle — just like your quads and calves and abs — and writing novels is like running a marathon. If you want to do it, it takes a lot of hard work and A LOT of dedication.

Keep at it and the muscles and endurance will build up. Keep at it and you will cross the finish line.

Just don’t sprain anything or give up before you get there.

WIP: Buckling Down and Plotting it Out

Been failing to plug away at the novel, which usually means I need to fix something. In this case: the plot.

I’ve been seat-of-the-pantsing the current Work-in-Progress novel long enough. I like it, I’m interested in it — I’ve bought-in, as they say. Phase 1, falling in love, is done. Time to have an idea where I’m heading.

I sat down tonight and cooked up a pretty solid-looking plot. 60-or-so scenes in mind, following a three-act structure.

It’ll change, of course. I’d be scared if it didn’t. But it also helps me know all is not void and darkness. Yes, just like the working title of this one, “Sometimes There is Light.”