Friday, June 29, 2012

Coliloquy in the Wall Street Journal

Illustration by John Cuneo, via
The Wall Street Journal has published an article about how "big data" from ebooks is informing the way those books are published, sold, and in my case, written.

I'm disappointed that the article led with the alarmist angle, including the title and graphic -- don't you love Scary Eyes Kindle? -- but I'm not surprised. Fear is always a juicy hook, as those teases for your local TV news prove ("What are the four things under your kitchen sink that could kill you? Channel 6 investigates!"). I would've preferred a greater emphasis on the intriguing positives about this technology, including my publisher Coliloquy's goals of allowing readers to shape their own experiences through interactivity, establishing feedback loops between readers and author, and turning reading into a more social experience.

But Coliloquy does get a nice long profile at the end of the article, including a brief mention of my Parish Mail series and a nifty example from my Coliloquy slate-mate Tawna Fenske on the kind of impact reader data can have on our writing.

What did you think of the article? Is data gathering from ebooks good? Bad? Or is it just data-- until someone uses it for good or bad?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

DLO Q&A, Review, and Giveaway on Literally Jen

Check out this terrific review of DEAD LETTER OFFICE on Literally Jen. A sample quote:  
I had no idea that I would have such a hard time putting it down once I started. Even though I was ridiculously tired, I read well into the wee hours of the night to find out what would happen next. 
Be sure to scroll down the page and enter for your chance to win a free copy of the ebook (U.S. readers only, sorry).

I also did an interview with Literally Jen. Wonder how writing TV is like writing an interactive book? Curious for some scoop on Parish Mail Book 2? Read the Q&A and find out!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Books of Summer

Photo by Hans F. Meier/
A warm day, a shady spot, a good book... life doesn't get much better than that, no? Here's a grab bag of summer reading I've enjoyed, past and present. Share your favorites in the comments, below!

Ray Bradbury, who passed away this month, wrote many fine books, but Dandelion Wine is particularly appropriate for summer: it's about summer, a collection of short stories with recurring themes and characters. Nostalgic and bittersweet.

I devoured Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers books when I was a kid. Rollicking good adventures, they're highly entertaining and not in the least stuffy. I actually have not yet read The Count of Monte Cristo (I know, I know, watching Revenge doesn't count), but hope to get to it this year.

One assigned summer reading book during high school made a big impact on me: Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time. A mystery where the detective's stuck in a hospital bed, the book's about how history is written by the winners. Largely due to his depiction in Shakespeare's play, Richard III is remembered as a murderous monster -- a political convenience for the Tudors, the victors of the War of the Roses. But as The Daughter of Time's bedridden investigator finds, there's no evidence to back this up. Will you feel sorry for the guy Shakespeare's Queen Margaret calls an "elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog"? You just might.

I spent one summer working at a theater in a town in central Maine -- literally a one-stoplight town -- whose tiny library was full of Stephen King books (no surprise, since King lives just up the road in Bangor). I hadn't read much King before that year, but I snarfed these down like potato chips. Carrie, Salem's Lot, Misery, The Shining... nothing chills down a muggy Maine July like a good scare.

Looking for more current recommendations? A few newer books I can suggest for those looking for a beach/hammock read: Neal Stephenson's Reamde is a globetrotting action-adventure with a dash of MMO geekery and international terrorism for spice. Laini Taylor's YA novel Daughter of Smoke and Bone is imaginative, romantic, and heartbreaking. Ready Player One is a love letter to Generation X, especially the geek and gamer subspecies -- it's fun to play spot-the-reference in Ernest Cline's past-as-prologue book about a dystopian Earth and the virtual reality game everyone jacks into to escape it. I'm biased, but my publisher Coliloquy's slate of interactive ebooks offers something juicy for everyone, from a starcrossed romance between witch and warlock to the war of good and evil playing out on the unlikely battlefield of two lonely souls lost in time.

And for me, summer means not just reading but writing. I'm busy wrapping up with Season 2 of Alphas on the Syfy Channel -- we premiere Monday, July 23 -- as well as working on the second book of my Parish Mail series of interactive YA mysteries. If you have a Kindle or an Android device, might I suggest you add Parish Mail Book 1, Dead Letter Office, to your summer reading list?

I'd love to hear your bookish memories and recommendations. Any childhood summer reading that stuck with you? What are you reading this summer?