Browsing the About Me category...

I just got the copy of Nos4a2 by Joe Hill I put on hold at the library, and I can’t wait to start reading it. Mainly because I have no idea what it’s about. I mean, yes, I have a vague idea as to what I should expect from the story based on the title and the cover. There was a blurb that may have put me on the right path. But as for characters and plot, I’m in the dark. I did the same thing with Neil Gaiman’s new novel. With that one I had character information and I knew what it was about in the same way I knew The Avengers was about superheroes.

I really like going into books dark. I want to be as much of a blank slate as possible. I know that sometimes it’s required to read the summary an author/publisher provides because you can’t just go in based on the cover. Especially with a new author. You gotta get hooked somehow. But with established authors who aren’t likely to veer radically off-course, I want to be surprised by even the earliest revelations. Summaries have landmines. “When her new friend is murdered” makes me view the new friend as a joke from Page 1. “But a shocking twist at the first meeting” makes me anticipate the twist, and therefore it lacks as much punch.

This habit of mine to just glimpse and then ignore the summary is especially irritating when it comes time to summarize my own books. I HATE to summarize. What is too much to give away? What is too little? Can I get away with revealing this character or that storyline? Can I get away with not mentioning them?

I’ll keep on writing the summaries to the best of my ability because I know I’m probably in the minority. But if the whole world was like me, summaries would be so much easier to write. “Don’t you think the world needs more novels with female werewolves? And shouldn’t that character be a lesbian and live in Seattle? I agree!” I mean, if it was me, that’s all I’d need.

As of today, I’ve written and released 14 novels. On the Air, Gemini, Tilting at Windmills, Only Flame and Air, World on Fire, The Following Sea, Riley Parra Seasons 1-4, Gunfire Echoes, Wolf at the Door, Railroad Spine, and Underdogs. Way back when I realized I might be making a living at this, I wondered how many novels I would need before I considered it a true oeuvre. For some reason, I chose fourteen. Once I had fourteen novels, I would be able to relax and declare myself an author. So that time has come and now…

On March 15, my fifteenth novel The Rise and Fall of Radiation Canary is going to be released on Kindle and other ebook formats. It sort of feels like the start of a new era. I love all the books I’ve written up to this point (even the ones that aren’t out yet… Underdogs: Beware of Wolf blows the first one out of the water in my humble and biased opinion). But there’s just something about Radiation Canary. The characters, the stories, the world I created… for some reason it feels like THE Novel. The one I’ve been practicing for with my other novels. I’m so proud of it. And I think for a long time, when people ask which of my novels is my favorite, I’m going to have to say Radiation Canary just because it won’t let me go.

In my first fourteen novels, I wrote romances, action, westerns, steampunk, horror, supernatural thrillers, mysteries, ongoing series… Maybe in my next 14 I’ll try comedy and scifi just to tick all the boxes. I know for sure part of my next 14 will involve at least two (or three or four) more Underdogs novels, Riley Parra Season 5, and Radiation Canary Bonus Tracks. And what else? A Railroad Spine sequel? A book about a female safecracker being caught in the Great Seattle Fire? A story about a female soldier (because apparently I have a really big following in the armed forces, and I could not be more thrilled/humbled by that)?

Time will tell. But it’s good to know that the muse seems to be just getting started with me. The fact that my fifteen novel is my favorite – and will hopefully become the favorite of lots of people – is very heartening.

It’s official. I’m in love with my Kindle.

This is not a paid endorsement or advertisement. It’s just something I feel like I need to say publicly, since I was so adamant about how little respect/interest I had in the things. I told everyone who mentioned how great they were that I needed the cover, the weight of a book in my hand, the pages to thumb through… the FEEL of a book was just as necessary as the story. I wasn’t going to get that from some little tablet computer thingamajigger.

A large step toward changing my mind was when I started doing book reviews for Geek Speak Magazine. The books they send are ebooks (naturally), so I was spending days reading them on the computer instead of writing. The first book I read, I was interrupted by a storm and had to get offline. My friend mentioned that if I had an e-reader, I wouldn’t have to stop reading. The seed was planted, but it took a couple more books before I realized, “You know what? She’s right!” I would save myself a lot of time and energy if I just went to that place immediately with this particular friend.

So the idea ruminated for a while, I did some shopping, asked some people what they thought of the Nook or the Kindle, and finally I decided it was time to stop hedging and get off the fence. I bought a Kindle Keyboard (or 3rd Generation, or whatever you want to call it). It was like those days when you’re not very hungry, but you decide to go make something for dinner just because it’s time, and as soon as it starts cooking you get ravenous. I couldn’t wait to have my Kindle. I spent the time it took shipping (an ENDLESS… three days…) considering what to name it and what books I should get to stock its little shelves.

When it arrived, I was reading a paperback book (“The Invention of Everything Else” by Samantha Hunt, a love letter to Nikola Tesla, which everyone SHOULD READ) so I couldn’t leap right in, as much as I wanted to. I held off and then I set off on the grand experiment to see what it was like to read on the Kindle.

Most nights, I try to read 100 pages of a book. That first night, when I finally put the device down, I was on Page 200. The next night, 220 and I finished the book I was reading. I was blown away. Two hundred pages in one night? Who knew I was wasting so much time flipping pages? But it’s not just that. With the Kindle, it’s so accessible to get back into the book that there’s no sense of starting over. With a regular book, if you stop reading for a minute or two, you have to pick up the book, thumb to the bookmark, find your spot, and start where you left off. With the Kindle you just push a button and voila, there’s your spot. The Kindle is always close at hand, so during slow moments of the day, I’ll stop and read a chapter before I continue on with what I’m doing.

The Kindle just makes it easy to read. Isn’t that what we all want? I love to read, and I have a habit of grabbing books to make a surplus. I’ll get my library books two or three at a time, and I’ll buy books just to stack them on the edge of the table so I can pick one at my leisure when I finish whatever I’m currently reading. With the Kindle, I don’t have to. I don’t have to worry about “Well, when will I get back to the store?” or “You know, if I buy this now, with the shipping, it’ll get here in a week or two when I’ll probably need something new to read” or “Well, I’ll just buy it so it’ll be available.”

With the Kindle Store, you can finish Book 1 in a series, jump online, buy the second book and voila. No unnecessary purchases ahead of time, no waiting for the USPS or UPS to deliver it, just… instant gratification. It’s like living in the bookstore without the crick in your neck that you get from trying to read the sideways spines of the books. There is still the appeal of holding a book in my hands, to being able to thumb ahead and see how much of the chapter is left, but the only change to the actual reading is that I’m able to read more books faster than I ever could before. I got a 320 page book yesterday morning from Oklahoma’s Virtual Library (which, oh my GOD. It may not have the best selection, but still! It’s a library! Free books!) and I’m currently on Page 220. I’ll be finishing it tonight. Finishing a decent-sized book in 48 hours isn’t exactly new to me, but reading four books in a single week is quite a feat no matter who you are.

So yes, I am a convert.

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As mentioned in the last post (hey, I’m updating enough to rememebr the last post! Awesome!), I broke down and bought a Kindle. Yes, I went with Kindle instead of Nook because I do 90% of my book buying through Amazon, and it seemed odd to get something that would be parallel to that instead of just hooking myself right up to the Matrix.

It arrived yesterday, and I spent a good four hours just playing with it. I set up collections (which my friend assures me turned me into an Advanced Kindle User automatically), I figured out how to work with PDFs that have print too tiny to see (turn it sideways and the print is legible), and I listened to an automated woman’s voice read Underdogs to me (very, very, very bizarre. I was spontaneously laughing my tuches off).

So yes. I have caved and become one of the minions. But am I? A minion? Or am I still a minority? To be honest, I haven’t seen a whole lot of these things around in real life. Maybe that’s just because I never go out. It still seems like using a Kindle in public will open you up to all kinds of “advertisement” conversations.

RYAN: “Hey, Col, what’s that wacky thing you have there?”

COLIN: “This is a Kindle! From Amazon!”

RYAN: “I heard those things are complicated. And expensive!”

COLIN: “Not at all! And they hold thousands of books!”

RYAN: “Thousands? Tell me more, including features and perks and where I can purchase one of my very own.”

After years of refusing to jump into the water, I have waded in. Then I reached an underwater cliff and fell into the deep. It’s an amazing little device, and it’s like magic for a reader. All these books (I have around 40 stored on it right now, and that’s just PDFs and files I had lying around) at the touch of a button. Not only that, it is far too easy to just jump on Amazon’s Kindle store and buy more.

Last night, my experiment was buying a Lee Child short story (Kindle exclusive, so I couldn’t read it before) and reading it start to finish. The page turns were simple, the story was easy to follow, the observable delay was no worse than flipping a page or moving your eye from the bottom of one page to the top of the next. I don’t particularly like the flashing between pages, which sometimes looks like the entire thing is about to seize and die, but I can get used to that.

Another experiment I played with was during a repeat of Conan. His guest was Steve Martin, and he was there to promote a book. While they were talking about it, I got to the Kindle store, found the book, downloaded a sample, and started reading it as they were talking. Conan was showing tidbits, and I was scrolling through the actual thing. It’s like living in a bookstore, only without the walking around and the crick in your neck you get from turning your head sideways to read spines.

I went with the Kindle Keyboard, by the way. It ended up being a much cheaper option, and the side-keys that turn pages are extremely convenient to the way I’ve ended up holding the device when I read. I can turn a page just by tensing my thumb a little. I can read one-handed, freeing the other for juggling and writing quantum physics equations.

So I have a brand new toy, and it’s full of books. How did I resist this long?

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Well, not tomorrow. The next day. But NaNoWriMo is about to start up again, so I thought I’d fill people on what it is.

NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, every November. You sign up and you make the effort to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month. I’ve done it, and won it, five times and three of those novels have gotten contracts for publication (On the Air was my 2006 novel, World on Fire was my 2005 novel under the title “Incendiary,” and my 2008 novel, Confused by Shadows, will be out in 2011 or so!).

It’s a great way to get motivated to finally write that novel. There’s something about knowing there are thousands of other people just as crazy as you, venturing out into the untamed world of their own creation. Characters, plots, situations, funny lines, tragic deaths, random clowns, all finally coming out and being put down on paper. It’s just the sort of thing to keep you inspired to keep on writing.

So check out the website – – and see what all the fuss is about. It might not be easy – heck, it’s definitely not easy – but it’s a whole load of fun. Hope to see you there (my name is Geonn over there, feel free to drop me a line!)

Hey, all. I’ve really been neglecting this blog. Tsk. I’ve been focused on trying to get the muse back under control. It’s always slow this time of year. I blame NaNoWriMo. Which is about to get started again, BTW, a week from today! Everyone got your plots ready? I wouldn’t have written my first novel without NaNo, so I’m very thrilled to be back with them again this year. I have a plot all lined up and everything. It’s almost like I’m prepared.

Went for a walk today. 2.8 miles, all told, and I got a nice box of Chinese food out of the deal. It was an adventure involving train tracks, wandering the woods (about four square feet of woods, but still), hounds chasing me down the street (although most of them were behind fences, the chihuahua was loose and nipped at my heels until he decided he’d scared me off).

I like this walking stuff. I like the thrill I get when I realize I’ve walked myself someplace impressive. I’m keeping track of distances, and with today’s total I’m at 110 miles. I “walked” to the local airport, “flew” to Seattle, and I am now walking to Anacortes and the ferry lanes. I have about five miles until I get to Anacortes, another four before I hit the ferry lanes, and then I’m off to the real-live Squire’s Isle. <g>

So again, I apologize for the unforgiveable gap in these posts. I’ll try to make them more frequently. And you can follow me on Twitter! I’m GeonnCannon, and I post there a lot more frequently. Too frequently, one could say. ;-D

Fellow P.D. author Kim Pritekel is in need of a helping hand, folks. She’s having some severe eye problems and, without surgery, she faces complete and irreversible blindness. One of my top ten fears right there. So I decided to step up and help her out, but I need everyone else’s help to make my gesture more than just an empty show of support. Kim is holding an auction, and I’ve donated signed copies of my books. All proceeds go toward getting Kim the surgery she needs.

So if you want an autographed copy of any of my books, the auction ends on October 3rd.

Please help out if you can! If the books are too rich for your blood, check out some of the other items up for bid. Or you can even contact Kim and offer to help her out with a little cash. It’s not quite Christmas, but that chill in the air makes you want to give. I know it does. Come on. Give a little. <g>

I am now on Twitter as GeonnCannon, if any of you folks would like to run over there and follow me. I’m pretty sure it’ll be updated a lot more than this thing. <g> The problem with this blog is that I always feel like the updates should be important or lengthy. That’s not necessarily necessary. I could post just to shoot the breeze and keep people informed about what I’m writing. I’ll try to do that in the future, promise.

Meantime, if you want some seriously unimportant updates, I’ll see you on Twitter!

Just a head’s up for all the faithful readers of my blog (you guys are out there, right…? <g>). It’s going to be going away for a little while so my website can be redesigned and made better…stronger…faster. All that jazz. But it has to be taken offline for the changes to be made. Don’t fret, there will be a mirror site (thanks to my lovely best friend!) for the actual content, but the blog can’t be mirrored because [insert technobabble here]. Just because.

The downtime will be near the end of this month, around the 28th or so. It’ll be back up sometime in the first week of September. So, you know, not a huge downtime, but long enough that people might panic without the warning. So here it is! The blog will be incommunicado for a week. Don’t panic! I’ve gone weeks and weeks without posting before (as I’m sure you’ve noticed. :D). It’s just best to do this now before Halloween and Thanksgiving and NaNo and all those crazy holidays that inspire writing.

Ahh, the royalty check. It’s always a little like Christmas morning. You know it’s coming, you’re never quite sure how much to expect, but you know what it means: free money. Of course, I need to get out of the habit of spending my free money before it arrives, but hey, I’m human. <g> So I got my January royalty check today (for the fourth quarter, which covers books sold in June, July and August). I also got paid from Khimairal Ink, which is nice.

It’s always nice to get money for writing. Especially on days when you feel like you just can’t write another word. It inspires you to put the nose to the grindstone and get to it. I have two stories to write for various obligations, then I can get to revising The Following Sea and send that in to see what Barb and Linda think of it. Wish me luck there! Hopefully I’ll have all my stuff done by February so I can start my first novel of 2009. I’m thinking perhaps Claire Lance #4 or the Dash Warren novel. We’ll see what the muse says!