Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, writer, and possessed by cats

Tag: reading

Of print and digital and all that jazz

One of my goals over the next month is to not only get Dagger of Elanna released in print but to make sure I have updated print editions of all my novels up for sale. The problem with this is not knowing what Amazon is doing right now. Createspace is still in place — or it was last week when I last checked. But Amazon also has a new service through your KDP dashboard where you can set up your print book there as well. The problem being this new setup doesn’t have all the same functionality and benefits as Createspace does.

But what has me wondering if I ought to just wait a bit is the fact you can now transfer your books from Createspace over to this new print side of KDP. Does that mean Amazon is going to phase out Createspace? If so, do I want to set everything up over there and then have to transfer it over to KDP, risking something going wrong?

And there are things that can go wrong. The first thing is that they are already saying there may be issues with the covers set up for Createspace not necessarily working with this new interface. I don’t want to have to recreate my cover flat — or ask my cover artist to do it.

Then there is the potential of the interior files not printing the same way for the new venture they did for Createspace. So, you can see my quandary.

There’s another reason why I’m hesitating on doing quick re-releases of some of the print books. Setting up new print files as well as new cover flats takes time away from writing and editing, both of which I not only need to do but want to do. That seems to be my constant conflict as a writer. I’d rather write than do the promo work I should, the “business stuff” that needs to be done, etc. But it will be done. I’ve just got to decide whether to wait a bit longer and see what Amazon has up its sleeve or not.

And no, I am not interested in going with Lightning Source right now. It is wasted money because I don’t make that much on print books and, at the moment, can get author’s copies for less from Createspace than from LS.

As for digital, there are a couple of books I want to do re-issues of when I have time to go back and look at them. No, nothing major will change, but covers need to be updated and new back material put in. All of that takes time, something I don’t have an incredible amount of right now.


Because the writing is starting up quicker this time after finishing a book than it usually does. Hopefully, that’s a good sign. I’m about 1/3rd of the way through Nocturnal Rebellion and it is a fun book to write. I’m hoping you guys enjoy it as much as I am so far.

Now I need to run. I have an appointment in a few minutes. When I get back, I’m hoping to update my main site. I’m liking the new look of the blog and hope you do as well. In the meantime, tell me what you’re reading. I need something new to read before bed.


Of Mondays and time changes and pre-orders and more

I want to go on the record here and now that I hate the time change. I understand, sort of, why the government instituted it back oh so many years ago. But now? Sorry. I don’t like it. Let’s choose a time and stick with it. I know that I’m going to be dragging the rest of the week as I adjust to the new time and I feel for all the parents out there who have to drag their kids out of bed, kicking and screaming because they’re still tired. I remember those days and do NOT miss them.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I hope you guys had a great weekend. I’m moving slowly today, not only because of the time change but because I spent the weekend doing prep work and then painting part of the interior of the house. It was supposed to be a small job. When we replaced the HVAC last month, they moved the thermostat. That, in turn, left a hole in the wall. Said hole had to be patched which required the paint being touched up but. . . .So, the hallway had to be painted.

And, in the way of all things in my household, that lead to much more than the hallway needing to be painted. Well, needing isn’t exactly the right word. You see, Mom is of the mindset that you stop painting when you come to a closed door — a closed door into a room that is painted another color. Except there are only two rooms in the house painted in another color.

You get the idea. Over the next week to 10 days, I’m going to have a lot of painting in my life.

But that’s okay because it gives me time to plot and plan the next couple of books. Nocturnal Challenge is well on its way. I know the next book after that should be Victory from Ashes but I’m not sure that’s how it will work out. I could force it but I’d rather write the book when it is ready to be written. I know that doesn’t make sense but I learned a long time ago that I write better when I’m not trying to force a book to come. I think that’s why, on occasion, I get waylaid by books I hadn’t planned on writing. Those books wind up being a lot of fun and they give me a fresh mental slate for the books that really need to be written.

Something else the next week or so will include is reading. Not reading to do research but reading for pleasure. I look forward to the week after I finish a book because that I when I give myself permission to not worry about putting in a certain amount of time at the keyboard every day.

Reading’s important for a writer. At least I believe it is. We need to know what is going on in the genre(s) we write in. We need to know what is selling — and I don’t mean what makes the NYT best seller list but what Amazon and the other retailers report is selling. We need to look at other writers’ styles and compare it to our own. It helps us learn and when a writer quits learning her craft, she might as well turn off her computer and walk away.

Which is why I get more than a bit perturbed when I hear other writers say they don’t read. Some are proud of it. They talk about how they don’t want to spoil their voice by reading other people because their voice is so unique and special. It might be but if you don’t read, you don’t know what is out there and you sure as hell don’t know what readers are responding to.

Then there are those writers who say they don’t have time to read. This I can buy more than the other but it still is a crock. If you have time to watch TV or sit in the morning reading blogs, you have time to read. You don’t have to read a book all at one sitting. But read. You have to. As I noted above, you need to know what is going on in your genre, you need to know what readers are being exposed to and what they are buying. Besides, reading exercises your mind and that is something we all need.

Okay, climbing off my soapbox with apologies. Mom has GMT on this morning and Danielle Steele just said she didn’t have time to read anything but her own books and that set me off. So I’m backing away from the TV to finish up this post before getting to work.

Finally, don’t forget that Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) is available for pre-order. Publication date is — gulp — in two days. I’m so proud of this book and where it takes the story begun in Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1). I also had a blast writing it. I think that’s why I’m biting my nails. I’m hoping you enjoy it as much as I did. Anyway, here’s the blurb.

Plots form, betrayals are planned and war nears.

Cait Hawkener has come to accept she might never remember her life before that terrible morning almost two years ago when she woke in the slavers’ camp. That life is now behind her, thanks to Fallon Mevarel and the Order of Arelion. Now a member of the Order, Cait has pledged her life to making sure no one else falls victim as she did.

But danger once more grows, not only for Cait but to those she calls friends. Evil no longer hides in the shadows and conspirators grow bold as they move against the Order and those who look to it for protection. When Cait accepts the call to go to the aid of one of the Order’s allies, she does not know she is walking into the middle of conspiracy and betrayal, the roots of which might help answer some of the questions about her own past.

Bedtime reading and more

There are times when I wonder if I’m still asleep and everything going on around me is some weird dream brought on by the three day old pizza I had before going to bed. If that were the case, at least it would explain some of the idiocy going on around us. Really, guys, those times make me wonder why I bother writing novels when reality is so, well, unreal. An article I saw yesterday falls into that category.

“THE ABC has questioned whether parents should read to their children before bedtime, claiming it could give your kids an “unfair advantage” over less fortunate children.”

Yes, you read that right. Now read it again. Did your head explode? Mine sure did. Especially when I saw that it was followed up with this piece of idiocy, “Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?”

It seems there is this British “academic” by the name of Adam Swift who believes that there is a bigger difference between those who are regularly read bedtime stories and those who aren’t than there is between those who get to go to exclusive schools and those who don’t. But it was the reaction of the presenter, one Joe Gelonesi, that really got me.

“This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion that perhaps — in the interests of levelling the playing field — bedtime stories should also be restricted.”

When contacted by another news organization, Gelonesi tried to justify what he said — and frankly the entire interview — as a way of getting attention for the uneven playing field. But — and this, to me is the most telling — he admitted that they hadn’t even discussed the possibility of encouraging more parents to read to their kids. I guess it is just easier to tell folks they are being bad and mean by reading to their kids.

Talk about moving the bar down to the lowest common denominator instead of raising it.

And yes, I know there will be those who condemn me for my privileged view point. Screw ’em. The truth of the matter is, the further we lower our expectations, the worse things will be in the long run for us. How far have we slipped when it comes to how well our kids do against school aged children from other countries? How badly do many of our college students do when compared to their counterparts elsewhere? What happened to the U. S. being at the cutting edge of technological developments?

Instead of pushing our kids, we are coddling them. We focus more on how well they do on standardized tests than on teaching them how to think critically. We coddle them to the point where they face few, if any consequences, for their actions in school or at home (this is an over-generalization but you get my point). And now we have someone, even if only half-serious, suggesting that we take away one of the best bonding times parents have with their children as they grow.

Give me a break.

Parents, ignore the stupidity. Set the example for your kids. Read to them. Let them see you reading in your spare time. Talk to them about what you and they have read. Talk to them about what is happening in the world around them. Take an interest in their lives and their friends. Do not fall into the trap of believing we will all be better off if Big Brother takes over parenting.

coverI guess this really hit me because of a conversation I was having yesterday morning with some friends. We have been hit over the head so much recently about “privilege” and other buzz words that I found myself second-guessing the opening chapters of Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1). You can see, if you read the snippets I’ve posted on this blog or if you read the sample on Amazon, that it starts like any number of other books do. Someone is in peril and needs help getting out of it. Nothing new, right?

Except I make the horrible mistake, in the eyes of a certain group of so-called enlightened people, of having the character in peril be female who is saved by a male. Gasp! How dare I?

No, the real problem is that all their yelling and screaming and condemning of all things male made me stop and think twice about what I was writing. I have never before done that and I swear I never will again. That particular plot thread was what the story required. But I’m pissed at myself for even thinking about changing it.

And all because of the mass condemnations and stupidity that comes from the mouths of some of the progressives. No, we aren’t all equal. We never will be. We each have our own talents and our own weaknesses. If you want to be equal, you might as well make us all automatons.

As for reading to your kids being a sign of privilege or whatever, bullshit. I know more lower and middle class parents who make the time to read to their kids than upper class. Sure, those with less money might have fewer books in their homes but they do such revolutionary things like go to the library to check books out. They find a way. As every parent should. If you work at night and can’t be there to read at bedtime, you can record yourself reading to your child. Or you read with them at another time during the day. It is the taking of time to be with your kid and share a story with them that counts, not the time of day that you do it.

So, ignore the idiots who say you are doing a disservice to some unnamed person somewhere in the world at some point in the past, present or future and worry about your kid. Sure, teach your kid about things like service and charity, responsibility and honor. But do not hinder your kid for some idiotic philosophical idea.

Read to your kids. Read for your own education and entertainment. Read.


Parents, set the example

Cedar Sanderson’s post over at Mad Genius Club this morning really hit home with me. Part of it is because she writes about a topic near and dear to my heart — children and reading. Another part is because it ties in with a conversation I had with some of my fellow library friends members at our meeting Thursday night. Then there were the articles about the “School of No” in New York where a series of articles by the NY Post about the lack of text books — as in no math or English text books, iirc — a failure to hire substitute teachers and an absentee principal finally brought down investigators from the Department of Education and even then it is alleged the principal failed to hire subs.

All of this brought back some terrible memories of my son’s third grade and how one teacher came close to forever killing his love of reading. That year was followed closely in the annals of school years I came to hate by my son’s fifth grade year where the principal decided it was more important to cancel the gifted and talented classes — without telling parents — so teachers could devote more time teaching to the test so the principal looked better in the eyes of the administrators. The only reason I found out was my son came home and said something and I, being the concerned parent, went up the next day and the school counselor, a wonderful and caring young woman, stopped me and took me into her office where she told me everything that had been going on. When I finally got to see the principal, she first denied the classes had been canceled and then she tried to say she didn’t know anything about it (funny, she seemed genuinely surprised that I didn’t accept the premise that every GT teacher in the school decided on their own or together to cancel classes they’d fought so hard to get in the first place). It took about a week of what were really nothing short of confrontations between this so-called educator and other parents with the same concerns I had to get the classes reinstated.

While that was bad, the third grade situation is still one that brings my temper to a boiling point after all these years. Before that year, my son loved to read. He grew up, as did I, in a house where reading was always encouraged. He was read to before he could read and then he read to himself and to me. Trips to the library were things to be treasured and enjoyed, not dreaded. Then came the year from Hell.

The portents were there from the beginning that this was not going to be a good year for my son. I wasn’t too concerned when he came home at the end of the first week and said his teacher hadn’t been there after the first day. But, over the course of the next month to six weeks, he had substitutes on a rotating basis more often than the teacher herself was there. I worried about what the lack of consistency might do to his learning. I should have worried about what would happen when the teacher came back.

Which she did and very quickly I learned that was cause for concern. Remember, this is the third grade. Suddenly, my son no longer had assignment sheets to review at home to remind him what his homework for the night was. That meant I had no way of knowing if he was getting his work done. When the first set of progress reports came out after the teacher had been back for a month or so, it was clear something was wrong. An “A” student was suddenly close to failing. My son didn’t know what was going on other than the teacher always seemed to be mad at him and the other boys.

So, like concerned parents, his father (my ex) and I made an appointment to talk to the teacher and that’s when we realized that there was a very real problem. This woman, this educator who supposedly understood her students, was trying to teach her students responsibility. She’d write their assignments on the board and leave it there for a few minutes — less than five — before erasing them. It was up to them to make sure they wrote the assignment down. If they didn’t, too bad. No, this wasn’t in accordance with school or district policy and she hadn’t gotten approval to vary from the policy. But she was going to make men out of the boys, by God.

Our response was to meet with the teacher and the principal — well, vice-principal because the principal didn’t want to deal with the issue (see above about the GT classes. It was the same one.) — who basically told the teacher to quit and go back to following policy. She did. But she was still going to get those evil male children. That’s when she started using reading as punishment.

I don’t know how many recesses my son and the other boys missed for so-called “infractions” of her rules. She’d make them stay in the room and read the worst books she could find. Then they had to report on them. If their reports didn’t meet her standards — which weren’t written down and which were never shared with the parents — they were penalized even more. By the end of the year, I’d spent more time in the principal’s office trying to deal with the issue than I did in my entire time as a student. Worse, my son no longer wanted to read.

Nothing could tempt him. It was like pulling teeth to get him to read the summer reading list — not that I blamed him on most of the books, but there was the occasional good book included. I had to sit right there with him to make sure he finished his reading during the school year for the next two years or so just to insure he got his book reports done. His teachers those years, both excellent teachers who cared more about their students than they did about the politics of kissing the principal’s ass, worked just as hard as I did to re-instill the joy of reading in my son.

Finally, ready to hunt down the teacher responsible for this sad state, I talked with one of the children’s librarians at our local library. She only worked there part-time because she was full-time in a neighboring school district. When I explained the situation to her, she was as outraged as I had been. Then she sat me down and asked me what my son liked. What did he watch on TV? What games did he play? What subjects interested him? Before I knew it, I was walking out of the library with an armload of books, including a collection of manga.

My son ripped through the manga like someone who hadn’t eaten in days. The next day, he came in and asked if I’d take him to the library to get some more. Part of me rebelled. These were, after all, nothing more than glorified comic books. But he was reading. That really was all that mattered.

So we went and before long he’d read all the manga the library had to offer and it was bringing in more through inter-library loans.

That’s when something else happened that surprised me.

As I said, I’m a reader. So, whenever I’m in the car for long, or when I know I’m going to have to wait somewhere for long, I have a book or audiobook with me. At the time, I was going through the audiobooks of Diane Mott Davidson’s “Goldy the Caterer” series. I hadn’t paid much attention to the fact that, as we’d drive to and from school, my son fell quiet after telling me what happened that day. But then, one afternoon as we drove home and there was no audiobook playing, he wanted to know why. He wanted to know what Goldy was up to. Didn’t I have another book for us to listen to?

Flabbergasted, and pleased, we spent the rest of the drive home talking about the books we’d been listening to. Later that day, I asked what books he’d like to listen to. We’d tried reading the first Harry Potter book together but the bad taste from third grade had lingered on. So I was a bit surprised when he said he’d like to try Harry Potter. So, off to the library we went to check out the audiobook and the rest is history.

My son once more enjoys reading. His kindle is always with him. He’s found authors he likes and he doesn’t hesitate to share them with me — just as I do with him. But it was a close call, thanks to one teacher who didn’t think — or perhaps who didn’t care — about the consequences of her actions. What I learned from all this is that you not only have to set the example for your child that reading is something that is fun but that you have to protect them from those who would strip that source of enjoyment from them. You have to be flexible and driven when looking for ways to keep them interested in reading despite the crap the schools would have them read “for their own good”.

As Cedar said, it is up to us, as parents, to set the example when it comes to reading. We can’t rely on anyone else to do it. So, pick up a book and read with your kid. You won’t regret it.

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