Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

It’s Read an Ebook Week!

According to the sponsors of “Read an Ebook Week, the ebook is celebrating its 40th birthday.

In 1971 Michael Hart was handed a real boon – $100,000.00 worth of computer time with a Xerox Sigma V mainframe computer. He decided that the greatest value created by computers would not be computing, but would be the storage, retrieval, and searching of what was stored in our libraries. The first “e-book” was born—a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Hard to believe that ebooks have been around for 40 years! It seems like they’ve only just come into vogue.

Although I believe they won’t take the place of a paper book anytime soon, I find that I like ebooks for a lot of reasons: I can carry a lot more books around on my device than I can tote manually, I can buy them anytime of day — in my jammies, no less, and I can search for text within the book (which is only one really kewl features of digitized text, there are hundreds more…).

If you haven’t tested the waters, it might be time to dip your toe in. You don’t have to have a dedicated ebook reader to read ebooks. Kindle, Nook and others have a free desktop software so you can read on your computer.

Don’t be worried about cost. Many ebooks can be purchased for less the the cost of a cup of coffee, and thousands more are available for free.

For starters, you might try where many authors have made their books free, or put them on sale, for the duration of this week. (You can sort by cost, and the site includes a quick-click button to sort by free items.)

If you want totally free access to books, try Project Gutenberg at

(I personally like Project Gutenberg’s Fantasy bookshelf. It includes the Oz books by Frank L. Baum, Lord Dunsany’s writings and Howard Pyle. The Science Fiction bookshelf includes many copies of Astounding magazine, and books by Poul Anderson, James Blish, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Edgar Rice Burroughs and more.)

If you know the book you’re interested in, you might try searching the publisher’s Web site. Publisher’s often have discounts that aren’t advertised on the large commercial bookseller sites.

If you have a favorite site for ebooks, please list it in the comments.

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Great Review for ‘Selk-Skin Deep’

Tangent posted an in-depth review of Bad Ass Fairies 3: In all Their Glory, and had some really nice things to say about my story, Selk-Skin Deep:

“Selk-Skin Deep” by Kelly A. Harmon is a very well-written, harrowing story of an accident that didn’t have to happen aboard an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam war. The selkie uses his advantage to try and save the ship and its crew. Ms. Harmon has written an action packed, suspenseful account of a naval battle with a poignant ending.

Bad Ass Fairies 3: In All Their Glory - CoverI’m pleased to hear it. There have been a few other reviews, and they’ve been good, but no one’s singled out my story. Of course, the Tangent reviewer mentioned all the stories, but I can’t help feeling a happy glow from what she said.

If you’re interested, I’ve got permission to post the first five pages of the story. You can read it here. Warning: it ends abruptly in the middle of the scene!

Epic Award WinnerYou can read the entire story in the anthology, which just happens to be an EPIC Finalist. (Winners will be announced in March. With a little luck, I’ll be changing this “finalist” icon to a “winner” icon some time in the next few months.)

If you’re at all curious about the Bad Ass Faeries™ series, you need to check out the new Bad Ass Fairies Web site. There’s an associated blog as well.

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Bed Bugs at the Local Library


A (becoming more) common bed bug.

I’m not a traveler, although I’ve done my share of traveling for book gigs.

The first thing I do when I get to my room is check the mattress near the headboard: a prime location for bedbugs to hide. If I spot them, my plan is to cancel my reservation on the spot. A new room wouldn’t cut it for me.

The problem with bedbugs is that they’re so insidious: you can fumigate, but they hide in fabric and behind walls. And the worst-case scenario for me would be staying in an infested room and then taking hitchhikers home with me in my luggage.

I nearly missed my vacation to the Carolinas this summer when the rental agency called to let us know that our beach house had been infested. They’d fumigated, but I (and thank goodness everyone else involved) refused to set foot in the rental. The agency found us a new home.

But now the threat hits even closer to home: someone returned infested books to the Urbana Public Library in Frederick about a week ago. (Old news, I know – but I just heard about this from a student – I don’t normally patronize the Urbana location.)

The book drop has been closed, and the library has suspended inter-library loans until they’re certain the problem has been arrested.

The library has called the patron who returned the books to let them know about the problem…but I’m left wondering if it’s possible that they didn’t know they had a bedbug problem. Bedbugs bite–and leave nasty sores behind! How could they not know?

So, I’ve got to ask: why would a patron dump the books in the drop and make Library staff discover the bugs? Did they think they wouldn’t get caught?

If the patron had done the responsible thing, the problem could have been isolated to a single location.

I guess I’ll be adding, “Check books for bugs,” to my “to do” list when I go to the library. (Stuff like this makes electronic books a better proposition, eh?)

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

No More Text Books: Enter Kindle

It was only a matter of time, right?

Students at Clearwater High School in Tampa, Florida are getting Kindles instead of text books in the fall.

From the story:

Though the school hasn’t settled on a vendor, school officials are negotiating with Amazon Kindle to try to equip all 2,100 students with the 10-ounce devices this fall.

Already, the school issued e-readers to all 100 of its teachers.

Principal Keith Mastorides said he was inspired to make the switch earlier this school year after campus surveys revealed a desire to integrate more technology with classroom instruction.

“When you think about students today, three-quarters of their day is spent on some kind of electronic device,” Mastorides said. “We’re just looking at textbooks a little differently.”

It makes sense to me. Teens are so connected these days that I can see them embracing electronic texts with more passion than they do hard-copy ones. And no more leaving text books in the locker overnight because they’re too heavy to carry home.

There’s also the cost factor: electronic texts are less expensive than their hard-copy counterparts. And losing a Kindle doesn’t mean losing all the texts stored on it. Those files can be transferred to a new device.

Read the full story here from the St. Petersburg Times.

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Enhanced Edition Ebooks: I’m on the Fence

I stole this clip from Enhanced 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?

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Good Review for Blood Soup!

Cover of Blood Soup

Blood Soup went out to several reviewers in September and October and I’ve been anxiously awaiting a response.

I’m thrilled to see the first is a good one.

Kari at Kari’s Korner Reviews apparently enjoyed it very much. I’m doubly honored since Kari reviews mostly romance.

To wit:

With the scary title BLOOD SOUP (Eternal Press, ISBN: 978-1-926704-53-1) by Kelly A. Harmon, it even has a cover that immediately catches your eye and makes you shiver. This is a medieval tale about a kingdom destined for certain dire ruin if the King’s heir isn’t a girl.

The characters in the story work together AND against each other as they secretly manipulate, scheme, hope, and react to the surprising birth of the King’s heir.

Filled with murder, mystery, and very dire consequences, this is a fast paced Novella with vivid portrayal of events and characters, pulling you into this harsh world the author has created and no doubt leaving her with new fans eagerly awaiting her next book.


If you’re interested, Blood Soup  can be purchased: