Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What is a "Real" Book?

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

It was a fine day, just like any other day, right up until I read this blog post from Nathan Bransford on the results of his (admittedly unscientific) poll on buying ebooks.

Bransford found that, for the first time, the percentage of people who said you'd have to pry paper books out of their "cold, dead hands" stayed the same. The percentage of people who professed to embrace ebooks also stayed the same.

Okay, so a pretty non-controversial post, right?

Then I made the mistake of reading the comments. And boy oh boy did I feel my blood pressure start to go up.

Again, you had the usual distribution of people who like ebooks and people who don't. Then I got to the comment of a gentleman who referred to RFBs - or real f*-in books. And that's where I lost it.

Okay, I get it - not everybody likes ebooks. And that's cool because hey, everybody's different and who am I to criticize someone's reading preference? It would be like criticizing genre preference. I understand. I'm a converted digital reading person myself because I never thought I'd like reading on a screen until I tried it.

But seriously, some snobs need to get off of their high horses.

Yes, you heard me right - I said "snobs." Because when you get down to it, that's what they are.

So a book isn't "real" unless it's printed on paper, huh? So, my recent ebook release of Power Play isn't a real book because it's digital only?

What about audio books? Are they real?

The three novellas and the novel I wrote aren't "real books" because they currently only exist in digital format on my computer?

The novel that my friend Amy wrote as part of NaNoWriMo, her first, isn't a "real book" because it doesn't exist on paper yet?

I call shenanigans.

News flash: the dead tree matter, leather and glue you hold in your hand is indeed a physical object, a noun, called a "book." But that's not the important part. The important part, the thing that reaches out, grabs you by the throat, and keeps you up at night long past your bedtime isn't the form factor. It's the story conveyed by the words on the page.

In other words, it's something as virtual as anything digital. It can't been seen, smelled, tasted, or touched. Not by your eyes, nose, tongue or skin. All those things are experienced in the depths of your mind.

And when you think of all of the people for whom digital books have made reading a joy again - because their eyesight has deteriorated to the point where they can't see the print, even with glasses, or their arthritis is so bad they can't even hold a trade paperback - are you going to tell those people that they haven't been reading "real" books?

It's time for this to stop. Books are books, whether physical or virtual.

To say they aren't is insulting to readers - and authors - everywhere.

All images used under Creative Commons. Photo of e-readers courtesy of  PiAir. Photo of stacked books courtesy of LollyKnit.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book Release: Hero's Sword Vol 1

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

It's finally here! Volume 1 in the Hero's Sword series of ebooks, Power Play, is now available. Well, allowing for my delay in posting because of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday that is - the book hit Amazon and Barnes & Noble last Wednesday.

All Jaycee Hiller wants to do is survive eighth grade. Mostly that means hanging with her friend, Stu, avoiding the cheerleading squad, secretly
crushing on Nate Fletcher, and playing her favorite video game, Hero’s Sword.

When she receives a new video game controller, Jaycee finds herself magically transported into the Hero's Sword video game world. Survival takes on a whole new meaning. No longer battling with a plastic joystick, Jaycee picks up a real sword and bow & arrow and readies herself for battle.

Can she save Lady Starla's rule in Mallory, keep herself in one piece, and maybe even learn something about surviving middle school?

Download your copy for Kindle, Nook, or Sony's Kobo today! And please, help an author - leave a review!

PS: I keep checking, but haven't seen POWER PLAY in the Apple iBookstore yet. If you see it, please let me know via a comment.

Update: Apple finally released the book and it is here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Chain

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

So, a couple weeks ago, fellow Sister in Crime Nancy Adams tagged me in this blog chain project called "The Next Big Thing." Essentially, authors answer ten questions about their current work in progress, then tag someone else. I had a bit of a hard time deciding what to answer the questions on, but I think I'm going to use the ebook that is currently in production. So here goes:

What is the working title of your book?

Hero's Sword: Power Play

Hero's Sword is the name of the series, also the name of the video game that figures in the story. Power Play is the name of the first installment. Think political grab for power, not the hockey term.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This was one of those social media networking, "you never know what's going to happen," kind of things. I got a message via a long-time technical writing colleague that he had this friend who had an idea for an ebook and I should contact him. So I did, and pitched my credentials. His idea was for a "chapter book" series. If you think of the popular Magic Treehouse books, you'll get the idea. Except he was looking at the increasing numbers of kids in the 6-10 year old demographic using ereaders, so the series would be all digital. His idea surrounded a video game, but he was open to other ideas. I liked the concept, however, so I expanded on it - she is sucked into the game via a new game controller, where she has to become her game avatar, a "hero" of the land, and save the day. And while each book has it's own episode, there is a bigger story arc, since his vision was for a series of 10-12 books.

What genre does the book fall under?

It's a fantasy. I mean, what kid doesn't fantasize about being a hero or "living" the story of a video game?

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

Oh my gosh. For Jaycee/Lyla, I'd probably go with Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. She's a little old, though as Jaycee is 13. But it's the same spunky female character. The other big character, Roger Woodbridge, is a father-style figure, so I'm not sure. Liam Neeson really appeals to me for that, although he too might be a tad old.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When she is magically transported into a video game, Jaycee Hiller must become her avatar, the hero Lyla Stormbringer, to save the lady of Mallory and learn a little about herself along the way.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It is going to be independently published. That is, my partner is handling the bulk of the publishing details, but it's not going through a traditional publishing house, I don't have an agent, and I get a lot of input on things like cover art.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The first draft took about three weeks. It was during the summer and I was unemployed so I had a lot of free time for writing.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The Magic Treehouse is probably the best comparison I know - both for length and genre. In both series, kids are magically transported to another place to solve a problem.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Well, I was unemployed, first of all. =) Second, I also see more kids reading ebooks these days, either on their own Kindles/iPads or using Mom and Dad's, so I thought the market was there. And I've never written for this grade level, so the challenge of doing so was appealing.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Jaycee is a girl, but I think her problems - having a crush, being on the outs with the "popular" crowd in school - are typical of a lot of kids between 8-10. So I hope she is an inspiration for any kid, girl or boy, who doesn't quite "fit" and is searching for self identity in the face of the school bullies (physical or social). I deliberately tried to avoid the "girly" stuff so that boys would find Jaycee an engaging character. And she's not a "girly girl." I wasn't one myself in middle school, and there weren't a lot of literary characters I could related to in that way.

Well, this was fun! I'm still working on people to tag, so check back later to see how successful I was.
* * * * *
If you are interested in continuing the chain, here are the rules:
  • Use this format for your post.
  • Answer the ten questions (above) about your current WIP (work in progress).
  • Tag five other writers/bloggers and link to them (be sure to line them up in advance).