Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

New Author Photo!

Photo of Kelly A. HarmonI’m one of those people who abhors  having my photo taken. Because I’m so stiff in front of the camera, the photographer usually has to take a zillion shots to get a halfway decent pic. Inevitably, once it’s over, we’re both mad at each other and I’m exhausted.

Unpleasant, to say the least.

But, I needed a new author photo for the Eternal Press Web site. I also needed a photo for a new column I’m writing for the The North Eye monthly newsletter. I guess when two folks come knocking, it’s time to get things done. I buckled.

(In reality, I could have sent them both the same old photo I’ve been using…but it just felt the like the right time for an upgrade. You know?)

I put my hair in rollers for this shoot. Can you tell? It’s all smooth and shiny, not my usual wildness! And the curls are so bouncy that my hair looks much shorter than it actually is. Nonetheless, I think this pic is halfway decent, except for the smooth coiffure….in retrospect, I’d prefer my Medusa snarls.

Still, not half bad. And my big crystal spider is visible. Spiders: always a plus.

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Clive Barker's Birthday CakeWell, not to me…to my site!

Today is the one-year anniversary of the launch.

Isn’t this birthday cake cool?  Dee-London baked it in October for Clive Barker and posted this photo on the Clive Barker Jericho Web site. It’s just a tad bit “darker” than Blood Soup could ever be…but I think it’s better than something creamy, white and generic!

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Enhanced Edition Ebooks: I’m on the Fence

I stole this clip from Enhanced Editions.com where they rave about enhanced editions ebooks, particularly those that they’ve created.

They list a host of “enhancements” available in their editions which are supposed to make the e-version more desirable than traditional paper…and for which you’re supposed to be willing to pay an additional amount, say $15 instead of $10.

Direct from the web site, here are their enhancements…along with my take in red.

“Enhancement” My Thoughts
Easily switch between type sizes and serif and sans-serif fonts. My eReader of choice already allows this…so, I’m not sure how this qualifies as an enhancement.
Store bookmarks and notes on the text. My eReader of choice already allows this, too…so, again, I’m not sure how this qualifies as an enhancement.
Navigate via pages, chapters and the table of contents. Are they really calling this an enhancement? Because I don’t see how this qualifies either. I admit I’ve purchased a few PDF ebooks which don’t have chapter navigation…but PDF always allows a page view…I can navigate (admittedly a bit awkwardly) but navigate I can, nonetheless.
Keep up to date with your favourite books and authors via the in-app news feed. Okay: They got me here.  The books I’ve bought so far don’t offer this. But I’m wondering: do I need their dedicated reader to use this option?
Read reviews and articles about the book. I read my reviews and articles BEFORE I purchase the book.  Why would I be interested in them after I made the sale?  And, I can already get that stuff free on the ‘net. Now…critical essays about the book, that’s another story…
Quickly and clearly search the full text of the book. Sorry, I can do this now.
Turn on tilt scrolling to move the page with a flick of your wrist. This might be useful if you’re trying to read one-handedly…but I can read one-handedly on my device with no problem, using just a finger tap to turn the page.  A wrist-flick seems so…inefficient, and painful, after a while.
Watch exclusive videos shot with the authors. (Selected Title Only) This would be cool….as long as it’s new footage, and not a re-hash of something I can get on YouTube.
Change the type orientation and reading options, and remember your personal settings. I can do this now with my current eReader, so how is it an enhancement?
Listen to exclusive soundtracks and extracts, or switch to the complete audiobook edition. I like the audiobook option.  In fact, I love it….with a two-plus hour commute daily, I’ve been listening to more audio books.

Perhaps I’m being overly critical, particularly with the navigation thing, but even if you count that, I see only four real “enhancements” out of the ten they’re touting:

  • Enhanced Navigation (Still, imo, a gimme.)
  • Keep Up to Date with Authors via Newsfeed
  • Author Interviews
  • Audio built in

If I want author news, I can always check the Web myself. And, depending on how Enhanced Editions sets up their newsfeed, I might actually get more news if I do the search myself.

The included author interviews will be stale after a few months. Again, I can probably find these on the web.

Now the built in audio…that’s a plus. That’s the one I really, really like. And it might make me spend the extra $5. Maybe.

You’ve heard from me. What’s your two cents?

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Some Folks Love a Hot Steaming Bowl of Blood Soup…

All I can say is, “Wow!” I received this fantastic review of Blood Soup, posted by S.R. Southard at Amazon:

In “Blood Soup,” Kelly Harmon ladles out a story of a fantasy kingdom beginning at the moment of a fateful decision. That decision, warned about in a prophesy, carries consequences that ripple across decades in an inevitable and destructive chain of cause and effect. The characters are complex, vivid, and compelling, with motives both understandable and entangling. The aroma of “Blood Soup” carries the tang of universal themes such as wise and unwise leadership, the long-term effects of bad decisions, birth, death, and the wisdom that comes with reflection in old age. Kelly Harmon writes with a flowing style that draws you right in to her swirling mix. Read it at a bus stop and you’ll miss three buses before you even look up. It’s hot. It’s tasty. Take one spoonful of “Blood Soup” and you’ll finish the bowl!

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Having Serious Focus Issues… ?

Not much action on the blog lately. Are you feeling it? My fiction production has taken a downturn, too.

Spring is in the air, and despite the length of my to-do list, (or maybe because of it) I’m having a hard time staying focused.

Anyone else having that problem? I’d rather be hiking than writing these days (hell,  after all the snow we’ve had this season, just sitting in a sunbeam is enough to make me giddy. I have a feeling it’s only going to get worse.)

Knowing I can be such a slacker when the weather gets nice, I’ve put together some strategies to help maintain productivity:

  1. Make a “Must Do” List. I usually keep two running “to do” lists. Today, I have 27 items on my “writing” to do list and 26 on my “other.” I’m going to choose the top five writing items I absolutely have to get done in the next week or so and concentrate on those. I’ll put the list on a sticky note and attach it right to my monitor.
  2. Break Up the Work This probably seems counter-productive, especially if you work full-time as I do: I get little time to write during the week days: not enough to break up. But during the weekend it’s my usual M.O. to spend hours at the keyboard to make up for lost time. If I set finite goals, and a deadline, I might be able to accomplish just as much as if I’d been staring at the monitor all day.
  3. Work on the “Bad Stuff” First. For me, that mean’s tackling the non-fiction items on my list. I’d rather be working on my novel. With that goal in mind, I’m hoping I can whip out the non-fiction faster and move on to fiction.  (I’m fairly confident I can accomplish this since I used to be a reporter…) Afterward, writing fiction should feel like a reward.
  4. And Speaking of Rewards… If I get everything done on my list before the deadline, I plan to reward myself with something.  Something outdoor-sy like a a hike or a long walk or even a long drive…something out. 
  5. How do you stay focused?

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Happy Vernal Equinox!

Welcome, Spring!

In my neck of the woods, we’ve received about 60 inches of snowfall since December. I’m looking forward to a little sunshine and warm breezes…

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Does Anyone Read Just One Book?

Piles of Books

Not my Books.

I’m a book junkie. I can’t help myself.

I buy them new, I buy them used. I accept boxes and bags of them from friends and relatives who’re giving them away.

I stop at yard sales, library book sales and thrift stores…

I’m not too  particular. I’ll read just about anything. Of course, science fiction, fantasy and horror rank pretty high on my list, and I’ll usually pick up one of those before I choose something else.

Lately, I’ve discovered a passion for YA….and I’ve been re-reading my childhood favorites: Eager (I found him first) and Nesbit.

But the problem with having a lot of books is the desire to read them all…sometimes at the same time.

I’m currently reading:

  • White Witch, Black Curse – Kim Harrison
  • Buy Jupiter and Other Stories – Isaac Asimov
  • Imperium – Robert Harris
  • Booklife – Jeff Vandermeer
  • Simplify Your Time – Marcia Ramsland
  • Dangerous Visions – Harlan Ellison (Ed.)

It’s true, a few of these are short-story anthologies, but sometimes I don’t even have time to sit and read an entire story. Mostly, with my busy schedule, it’s a few pages at a time. I’ll admist I’m cheating with White Witch, Black Curse : it’s on CD, and I’m listening to it on the way to work during my one-hour commute, and back again in the afternoon.

I got to read the Asimov book for a 40-minute metro commute into DC last week, because it was electronic, and I happened to have my Ipod in my pocket…

So, what I happen to be reading at any given moment is largely turning into a matter of convenience: How much time do I have? How big is the book? What am I doing? (Why, yes ! Sometimes you can get a bit of reading in during a hike.)

It takes me a longer length of time to get through an average book, but I’m enjoying more of them at a single time. The beauty is: I almost never get bored, and if I do, I can always set something down and pick up something else.

Anyone else enjoy reading more than one book at a time?

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Happy Pi Day!

PiToday is Pi Day!

The Greek letter Pi is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It’s celebrated on March 14, (3/14) because the first few digits of Pi are 3.14. (Today is also Albert Einstein’s birthday…he didn’t discover Pi, but he’s geeky coolness unto himself. )

Pi is unique because it’s the only fraction which does not repeat. The folks over at Pi Day.org have links to Pi’s first million digits. Very cool.

Over at 360, they have a Pi Day Sudoko. (I’ve linked to last year’s puzzle, btw; this year’s doesn’t look so cool…)

I’ve always liked Pi (I’m a little Geeky that way…). I remember in school having to memorize it out to 15 digits for an exam…3.14159 is about all I can remember these days. I’m good with that: it’s probably all I need to know it in order to write.

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Quick Update: Blood Soup Now Available on Kindle

Cover of Blood Soup by Kelly A. HarmonOnly have time for a quick note, as I’m dog tired and ready to crash. (Ever have one of those weeks?  Mine’s shaping up to be one of those and it’s only Wednesday. Bring on the weekend…and a martini…not necessarily in that order.

So, to get to the point: Blood Soup is now available in Kindle format. See it on Amazon.

That is all.

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Small Cookie, Big Fortune…

Yesterday, after the reading at the Library of Congress, Colleen treated us to lunch at a Chinese restaurant. (I got “Happy Family,” btw, one of my favorites.) And, of course, at the end, we were treated to fortune cookies.

I’ve talked before on my blog about fortune cookies. I’m certain it won’t be the last time. [Because Chinese, like cheese and chocolate, is one of the four major food groups. (The fourth is salt.)]

Here’s a photo of my cookie…and for the record, there were seven  fortunes inside, although some were duplicated.

Kelly A. Harmon's Awesome Fortune Cookie with SEVEN fortunes inside!

(Yes, dear Broads, I smuggled that cookie into my purse and managed not to crush it during the LC tour, the crushing metro ride, or eventual drive home. And I was hungry on the drive home…very hungry.)

And, poor thing, after surviving the humiliating and cramped confines of my purse, I made it pose on a red background like some harlot, for your viewing pleasure.

Then I ate it.

(And it wasn’t stale it all…which is kind of scary, really, if you think about it, considering it had been nearly nine hours from lunch until photo shoot. Fortune cookies must have the same half-life as Twinkies™.)