Saturday, June 7, 2014

Assorted Reader's Natterings

1. Two E-Readers.

I am today the proud possessor of both a Barnes & Noble NOOK Color and an Amazon Kindle Fire HD, one each. (The former was a gift; the latter was an impulse purchase.) The Kindle presents the better reading experience, which is why I value an e-reader / tablet, but it sometimes seems that Amazon's marketing emphasis is on just about everything but reading. The NOOK is a bit easier to use, partly because it doesn't attempt to be all things to all men. And though my more recent purchases have leaned heavily toward Kindle ebooks, I've already got over 700 titles on my NOOK, so it looks as if I'll be carrying both units around with me for the foreseeable future.

Amazon seems to have an edge over B&N as regards both the breadth of its ebook offerings and the price at which it can offer them. So far, when there's been a price difference between the two vendors, it's been in Amazon's favor. That bodes ill for B&N's viability in this segment of the marketplace.

After I'd had the Kindle for about a month, I bought one for the C.S.O. as a Mothers' Day gift. She's as pleased with hers as I am with mine, though for a different reason: games. In her free time Beth plays computer games as obsessively as any fifteen-year-old techno-nerd. Her first action upon getting her Kindle powered up was to search for any free games she could load onto it. She found a treasure trove of them. The device is only out of her hands when she's on the which point her Samsung Galaxy S3 takes its place.

These electronic gadgets are starting to hem us in. I'm beginning to think Og the Neanderpundit has the right idea for retirement: abandon the modern world completely and relocate to a cabin in the wilderness where no technology developed after 1950 will be tolerated. It's worth some consideration, anyway.

2. Writers To Watch.

I continue to monitor indie writers for burgeoning talents. There's plenty of talent out there, though to find it it's advisable to wear hip boots, the better to wade through all the garbage without being overcome by disgust.

First on the hit parade today is Brent Meske. This writer has a gift for action-adventure fiction in unique settings. I stumbled upon him perhaps a year ago, and have watched that gift blossom with the unique sort of envy in which one says to oneself "I wish I'd written that, but I know I never could have."

Second up we have "M. Orenda." This writer has only issued one book so far, but it's a stunner, a future-dystopia adventure populated by a unique ensemble of characters with sharply contrasting motivations. As this is the first book of a projected series, there should be lots more fun to come.

Third, allow me to throw in a new conventionally-published writer: G. T. Almasi. This writer has given us the Shadowstorm, a relatively low-intensity continuous future war among four Great Powers -- America, Russia, China, and Greater Germany -- set in an alternate history in which the Nazis, unopposed by American or Soviet forces, managed to defeat Britain and consolidate their hold on Europe. All four powers are aware that they can no longer afford all-out military confrontations, due to the development of nuclear weapons, so their conflict is conducted by heavily enhanced super-agents called Levels. Each power's Levels are pitted against those of the other powers...most of the time. Almasi's first book, Blades of Winter, explores a conflict in which that paradigm changes radically, and not for the better.

I strongly recommend all three of the above.

3. Sex!

The following recommendation is specifically aimed at those who enjoy erotica -- real erotica, not just sex-for-the-sake-of-sex garbage. I've long felt that good erotic writing deserves quite as much respect as any other genre. Sex is a human fundamental; one can explore innumerable aspects of character and personality by examining people's endlessly variable attitudes toward it and what they're willing to do for it. But the writer must be able to "get beyond the plumbing" to do so...and the overwhelming majority of "erotica writers" are far too obsessed with the "plumbing" to do so, or lack the talent required.

Juliet Beltrey is a notable exception. This remarkable writer is unafraid of sex and sexual variations, but she's even more deeply invested in her characters and the desires they fumble to express and satisfy. In particular, I recommend the following stories:

Yes, Miss Beltrey writes sex, and graphic sex at that. But there's much more -- and I hope her stuff impresses you as much as it did me.

4. What I've Been Doing.

Regular Gentle Readers will already know about some of this, of course.

First, there are The Bruno Adventures, each of which features Bruno the Newfoundland, an intrepid canine whose drooly contributions to the defense of truth, justice, and the American way would make Superman green with envy. There are two of these stories so far:

Just now I'm at work on "The Newf And The Nabob." I hope eventually to have enough of these for a decent-size collection. Perhaps, if you have a dog enthusiast among your loved ones, I shall eventually invoke the Ronco Exhortation:

"Makes A Fine Christmas Gift!"

Second, I'm working on a new Onteora Canon novel, working title Polymath. This will be episodic in format, similar to Chosen One. Several characters from previous Onteora Canon books will appear therein. If you'd like an early sample, the recent novelette "A Failure Of Imagination" is the opening segment.

Third, I'm struggling -- oh, valiantly, you may be sure of it! -- to develop a full-length novel from the premises and setting of my story "The Warm Lands," which has proved immensely popular and has elicited hundreds of requests for further exploration. The problem is stiff: the original story is so dramatic, and so violent, that I'm having a hard time "living up to it." We'll just have to wait and see.

So, Gentle Reader: what have you been reading -- or writing -- lately, pray tell?


Peter said...

I've been hard at work on my fourth novel and fifth (published) book. It's titled "War To The Knife", and comes out next week. I think it's my best work yet, and so does my alpha and beta reader team. Here's hoping for success!

Tim Turner said...

Fran, I've read everything you have up in Smashwords. And I've read *some* of your your suggested authors.

And I read everything of Juliet Beltrey that was free.

Oh, wait! I didn't read the stories of yours that were about your dog.

I paid for your stories about heroes, didn't pay for the (admittedly hot) sex stuff, and didn't even look at the dog stuff.

I like cats and I'm sure your Lab was as loved and wonderful as any cat in my own experience. And I *did* read every free page that Beltrey has on Smashwords.

I like cats, I like sex, I like outspoken conservatives - Klavan, Whittle, Alphonzo Rachel, that Catholic guy who makes videos, you, Ann Barnhardt, Karl Denninger and Ace of Spades (to name some) - BUT!


I've noticed lately that you, Barnhardt, Denninger and others have lately voiced the idea that you may give up posting.

That's understandable. We elected Obama to a 2nd term and we haven't strung up the criminals who broke laws and made our country weaker.

But I really do appreciate your writing and look forward to your thoughts on all things political, cultural and thoughtful.

I'm a cheap sonamagun - REALLY cheap. So I haven't given you more than a couple of 99 cent thingies in Smashwords. And I won't give $ to political candidates until they stand up like ZO. But I think you are a VERY worthwhile voice.

I hope you keep talking, ruminating, discussing. I read PJMedia and JewishWorldReview and all the pundits they have there. But I think you - over time - have expressed an ethic that speaks not only to the ethics of Conservatism, but to the logic and humanity of what it means to believe as we do.

You make me want to be a Catholic.

Francis W. Porretto said...

I hope it's better than the first one, Peter.

Never fear, Tim. I'm packed so solidly with words that I could spend two hundred years getting them all said and written. My occasional expressions of angst should be ignored.