23 Ways to Celebrate World Book Day

Time once again to celebrate World Book Day. What’s with the blank look? Did the holiday sneak up on you this year? Wait—you say you’ve never even heard of World Book Day? Well, this is the right blog post for you.

According to Wikipedia, World Book Day (WBD) was “organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to promote reading, publishing and copyright.”

Now that you know that, let the celebrations begin!

Um…you don’t know how to celebrate WBD? Okay, let us count the ways:

  1. Buy a book. Ever the helpful blogger, I’ve included a suggested list in the right column of my website.
  2. Give a book as a gift to someone else. New of course, unless you make it clear the book is used.
  3. Peruse a bookstore. Best to carve out the whole day.
  4. Visit a library. Again, you can get lost there, so allow time.
  5. Get a library card. Mine gets more use than my credit cards.
  6. Help a child get a library card. Open up endless new worlds for the kiddo.
  7. Buy an ebook reader. A lot lighter to carry than hundreds of hardbacks.
  8. Bake a book-shaped cake. You’ve heard of devouring books. Do it literally!
  9. Sing a traditional WBD song. What? There are no songs for this holiday? Then…
  10. Compose a song for WBD. There’s definitely a need there.
  11. Create a dance for the WBD song. Start the tradition of dancing around a bookshelf.
  12. Dress up as a book character. Pick your favorite. Spend the day talking and acting like that character.
  13. Tour a book printing factory. It there’s a book printer near you, it would be fascinating to learn how they make the darn things.
  14. Buy or build a bookshelf. Fill it with books.
  15. Write a book review. Post it on Goodreads, Amazon, BN.com, etc.
  16. Email an author. They all love to hear from fans. Hint: pick a living author.
  17. Set a reading goal. How many books do you think you can read between now and the next WBD?
  18. Attend a WBD Festival. There’s one in Kensington, Maryland. If that’s too far away, then…
  19. Plan a WBD Festival in your town. It will breathe life into the place.
  20. Commit to reading the classics. Hate it when your friends quote some classic, and you don’t get the reference? You either admit ignorance or pretend you know it.
  21. Write a book. You’ve been wanting to. I’ve seen your bucket list. You can’t finish what you don’t start.
  22. Answer David Filby’s three-book question. See below. *
  23. Read a book. Escape all TV, radio, and video games. Make it just you, your favorite drink, and your book.

* Near the end of the 1960 movie, “The Time Machine,” David Filby finds that George has left in the time machine.
David Filby: “He’s gone back to the future, to begin a new world. But it’s not like George to go off without a plan. He must have taken something with him. Is anything missing?”
Mrs. Watchett (George’s housekeeper): “Nothing…[sees blank space on bookshelf]…except three books.”
Filby: “Which three?”
Mrs. Watchett: “I don’t know… is it important?”
Filby: “Oh, I suppose not. Only, which three books would you have taken?”

 

I hope World Book Day will be as enjoyable for you as it will be for—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Read an eBook Week – It’s Almost Over!

Now you’ve gone and done it. You dithered, procrastinated, dallied, delayed, hesitated, vacillated, dawdled, and wavered, and look what happened. Today is the very last day of Smashwords’ Read an eBook Week.

It’s insane, really. Smashwords slashed the price for every single book in my What Man Hath Wrought series. The ones that were $3.99 are now $2.00 and the ones that were $2.99 are just $1.50. But only for the rest of today.

Oh, you meant to pick up one or more of my books at half price. The intention was there, but life dangled its distractions in your face, and you let the time get away from you.

Luckily, there are still a few hours left, but you’re burning valuable daylight reading this. Click on any link in this post now to grab a bargain. Just use the code RAE50 (for Read an eBook – 50% off, get it?) at checkout. Tell ‘em you were sent by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Jack the Ripper

Late in the year 1888, someone terrorized the slums of East London’s Whitechapel district, murdering at least five women. Before the slayings stopped, a newspaper received a letter signed by ‘Jack the Ripper,’ and that chilling moniker haunts us still, more than a century later. The cases have never been solved.

RippersRing72dpiJack the Ripper appears as a character in an upcoming story of mine, “Ripper’s Ring,” which will launch in early May and will be available here. After reading the story, you’ll understand how the Ripper got away with the crimes, and how a single detective at Scotland Yard really solved the case. Well, one fictional theory, anyway.

Hasn’t JtR been used in fiction before, you ask? Yes, in tales by the following authors, at least: Peter Ackroyd, Carla E. Anderton, John Brooks Barry, Robert Bloch, Anthony Boucher, Fredric Brown, Harlan Ellison, Philip José Farmer, Lyndsay Faye, Gardner Fox, Michael Generali, David L. Golemon, Richard Gordon, T. E. Huff, Richard Laymon, Kim Newman, Anne Perry, Robert Perry and Mike Tucker, Stefan Petrucha, Ray Russell, Iain Sinclair, and Roger Zelazny.

Obviously, JtR is a character too compelling for writers to resist. When you combine the horrific acts, the fear they induce in a community, the anonymity, and the timeless nickname, you get a powerful character suitable for unlimited fictional variations.

As you’ll read about in upcoming blog posts, my take on the Ripper is—I believe—unique. Since the story is part of the What Man Hath Wrought series, you know it has to involve technology, and the difficulty of coping with it. This story might even make you think.

“Ripper’s Ring” is darker than the other stories in the series, but is also a mystery/detective story, and a thoughtful tale about power and restraint. Soon it will be released on an unsuspecting public, not just in Whitechapel, but worldwide. It’s well worth the wait, according to—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Vote for Your Favorite Story of 2014

Happy New Year! That must mean it’s time for the Critters Writers Workshop to conduct their Preditors and Editors Poll (the 17th annual one this time) to see which newly published e-book readers prefer.

critters_headerYou can vote for your favorite book in a wide variety of categories. It’s not really a scientific poll, but winning it (or landing in the top ten) gives each author some bragging rights.

TheCometeers72dpi Someone has entered two of my own stories in the poll. “The Cometeers” is in the Steampunk Short Story category and is currently running 2nd out of 6 in the poll. Also, “Time’s Deformèd Hand” is in the All Other Short Story category and is currently running 3rd out of 22 in the poll.TimesDeformedHand72dpi  The links in this paragraph and the story cover images take you straight to the correct poll category to vote.

If you wish, you could vote for my stories. All you do is click the button beside your favorite story’s title (for example, “The Cometeers” and “Time’s Deformèd Hand”), then scroll to the bottom, enter your e-mail address, and type an author’s name from a book cover image to prove you’re not a spam robot. Then you’ll get an e-mail to confirm your vote; just click the link in the email and you’re done. Please vote before January 14, when they close the polling.

Once again, our good ol’ Earth has reached the beginning of its orbit and started another elliptical swing around the Sun. That’s worth celebrating! The astronomers and calendar manufacturers have declared we get to start a new year, so that’s not a bad deal. Happy 2015, everyone, from—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Time for a Story to Launch

I just learned my next story, “Time’s Deformèd Hand,” is scheduled to be launched by Gypsy Shadow Publishing in just three days, on November 15th. It’s the 12th book in that What Man Hath Wrought series everyone’s talking about.

Here’s the blurb: It’s 1600 in an alternate Switzerland, a world where Da Vinci’s mechanical automatons and human-powered flight almost work, thanks to magic trees. Long-separated twins, Georg the reluctant groom and Georg the clock thief, roam the clocklike village of Spätbourg, beset by more time and date errors than you can shake an hour hand at. Will Georg get married after all, and repair the town’s central tower clock? Will Georg—the other one—purloin more timepieces, or give up his pilfering ways? Will William Shakespeare lend a hand, and some iambic pentameter poetry, to reset the cogs and gears of this zany comedy? Only time will tell…or maybe not, in this ultimate clockpunk tale of mistaken identity and temporal mix-ups.

I’ll be sure to let you know when “Time’s Deformèd Hand” is launched and where you can buy it. You know if there’s one person who’d never leave you uninformed, it’s—

Poseidon’s Scribe

November 13, 2014Permalink

Writing for the Very Young

As someone who’s read books to his children and (more recently) his grandchildren, I’ll offer my thoughts about books for the very young. Here I’m considering books for children who haven’t begun to speak yet.

baby-looking-at-the-bookI believe the writer and reader of such books share a profound duty, one they shouldn’t take lightly. They work together to create an experience, from a first and indelible impression to a repeated pattern that becomes an ingrained habit. Their shared purpose has several facets:

  1. To entertain. This is not as important for this reading audience as it will be when they get older. Perhaps I could have phrased it as “To avoid boredom.”
  1. To teach vocal communication. The child needs to understand the one-way vocal transmission of thoughts and ideas. Sure, you don’t need a book for that, but the book provides something to look at while the speaking/listening communication takes place.
  1. To transmit the joy of human story-telling. It’s a primal human trait; we tell stories.   We convey life lessons through the use of characters, which make the lessons clearer. We pass down the stories through generations, and that strengthens an understanding of ancestors and the past.
  1. To imbue a love of books and reading. At some point the child will realize the book always opens the same way; the pages are always moved one at a time in the same order; the book doesn’t change from one reading to the next; and there must be some connection between the funny little marks and the sounds the reader is making. The child should come to see reading a book as a quiet, comforting experience.

The reader has a huge part to play in accomplishing these purposes. I think it’s important to introduce books in brief doses. Don’t even read the whole book at first. Gradually lengthen the time spent reading. In every case, you should finish before the child is ready for you to finish. In other words, don’t associate reading with boredom. Needless to say, vary your voice pitch as you read, and read with dramatic emphasis.

Enough about reading. For the writer, you have only pictures, words, and book layout to work with.

  1. Pictures. At first, the child will know your book only through the pictures. Make them bold, colorful, and immediately obvious.
  1. Words. The child won’t understand the written words, but will experience them by listening to them. Use short, simple words.   Make use of rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. Use words that sound good together.
  1. Book Layout. Consider cloth or plastic pages for early books, or a thick grade of paper. Don’t put too many words on a page; make the reader keep turning pages frequently.

Another thought on book layout—as the shift to e-books continues for adults, e-books will soon appear for adults to read to small children. From what I can tell, the ones available now still have real pages to turn, and the book narrates its own story without needing an adult. I think there would be value in a sturdy e-reader able to display pictures and text, but requiring an adult to read it.

Whether you write books for little tots or read books to them, please take the task seriously. If you do it right, you’ll spark a love of reading. If you do it wrong, the child will forever consider reading boring. Thank goodness Mom and Dad did it right for—

Poseidon’s Scribe

October 12, 2014Permalink

9 Things the World Loses With E-Books

Most weeks I blog about writing, but this time the topic is more about reading, specifically the technology of reading.

As you can tell from my fiction, I write quite a bit about people coping with new technology. I’m fascinated by the process of one technology supplanting another. The process forms a repeating pattern, whether you’re discussing the transition from sailing ships to steamships, from horse to car, or from dirigibles to airplanes.

ebooks vs books 002When society is in the midst of such a technology transition, as we are now moving from traditional paper books toward electronic books, or ebooks, debate often rages about which technology is ‘better.’ Some people embrace the new, others cling to the old.

Those who cleave to more traditional technology often use arguments based on ‘romantic’ ideas, things like aesthetics and the lifestyle that will be lost. In other words, the world has formed itself around the old technology, and layered infrastructure and culture around it. When traditionalists envision a new technology supplanting the old, they associate the old tech with its accompanying milieu, and bemoan the loss of all of it.

I’ll not wade into the argument about whether print books are better than ebooks.   For one thing, most of my published books are available only in ebook form. For another, the marketplace will decide the real answer no matter what I say.

Besides, no new technology ever completely stamps out an old one. People still use sailboats, ride horses, and fly in balloons, as part of nostalgic connections with the past.

Let me play the crotchety old traditionalist today, and tell you young whippersnappers all the things you lose with ebooks.

  1. What’ll you do when the power fails and your battery runs out? Can’t recharge your e-reader then, can ya? I’ll still be reading my print book by the light of a flashlight or candle.
  1. Can’t really lend or sell your ebook to a friend. Oh, you could loan ‘em your reader, but then you can’t read until your friend gives it back.
  1. You can’t impress anyone with your ebook. You can’t hold it prominently while waiting for a bus or walking in a school hallway, letting everyone know what you’re reading (or what you want them to think you’re reading).
  1. You can’t dazzle anyone with your whole library. Think o’ them commercials for lawyers, or politicians on the talking head shows. They always have a bookshelf behind them, lined with important-looking books. Think of all those books stored in an e-reader, and that e-reader sitting alone on the bookshelf. Not quite the same impact, is it?
  1. Try putting your e-reader on your coffee-table. ‘Nuff said.
  1. Got little kids? Oh, they’ll be real enthused about reading when you snuggle up with your e-reader. My grandkids much prefer the real books with pictures and pages that turn. They love those pop-up books, too.
  1. Looks like some bit or byte got out of place and your ebook froze up. Too bad. I’m still readin’ right along with my print book, with no circuit cards or software glitches in sight.
  1. Every book is different, and deserves to be different, and separate from other books. Your ebook reader jams ‘em all together so they all seem the same. Print books have different sizes, shapes, colors, fonts, paper thicknesses, and smells. All that stuff combines with the content to form the overall experience of the book.
  1. Are you a collector? Not only is it tough to impress folks with your ebook collection, but it’s not like the collection’s value will go up with time, like first edition print books do.

There have been some really good blog posts written on this subject by others, notably here, here, and here.  To repeat, I believe the marketplace will sort out whether ebooks truly replace print books, but no matter what, print books will never truly vanish. A lover of ebooks and traditional books alike, I’m—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Launching July 1st

It’s the event anticipated all over the world and throughout the known universe, and it’s happening July 1st. For those not in the know, that’s the date of the launch of my newest ebook.

ToBeFirstWheels72dpiIt’s part of the celebrated What Man Hath Wrought series published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing, and once again you’ll be getting two alternate history stories for the price of one.

“To Be First” follows two space voyagers from an alternate universe as they return from the moon, in 1933. In their timeline, manned rocketry began in the Ottoman Empire, which advanced and spread. When these Ottoman lunanauts end up orbiting our comparatively backward world, they have a choice to make, one that will forever change their future and ours. Along the way, one of them will learn something about why humans explore.

In “Wheels of Heaven,” an arrogant Roman astrologer finds a geared Grecian machine for predicting the positions of celestial bodies. Today we know the device as the Antikythera Mechanism. On the voyage back to Rome, the seer meets a sailor who dismisses astrology, an astonishing notion in 86 B.C. But when the sailor’s prediction is right, and every one of the astrologer’s is wrong, he begins to question his most basic beliefs.

The star-studded cover, designed by Charlotte Holley, not only demands attention, but it illustrates the connection both stories have to outer space.

You’ll be able to purchase the book in all the usual places: Gypsy Shadow Publishing, Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, etc.

Now you’re caught up with everyone else in the universe. No need to thank me. It’s all part of the service provided by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

FAQs About My Latest Book

RallyingCry72dpiEver since I’ve been dropping hint after hint about my upcoming book (Rallying Cry and Last Vessel of Atlantis), questions have been pouring in.  Flooding in.  Give me a break, I’m drowning here!  More questions came in than I could answer individually.

So I paid for some time on a supercomputer that compiled all the questions, sorted them, combined similar ones, performed complex statistical analyses, and spit out a list of the most frequently asked questions.

Below are those FAQs, complete with answers.

1.  What is the book about?  In “Rallying Cry,” an aimless youth meets two old geezers who spin bizarre war stories. They tell of a secret World War I regiment in France with ship-sized helicopters and mechanized walking tanks. Just as an inspiring shout can move soldiers to action, perhaps all Kane really needs to turn his life around is a rallying cry. In “Last Vessel of Atlantis,” a ship captain and his crew of explorers return to find Atlantis gone. While facing violent savages, braving fierce storms, and solving internal disputes, they must somehow ensure their advanced Atlantean civilization is not lost forever.

2.  Why two stories in one book?  I was in a generous mood.

3.  Why are these two particular stories combined?  They seem so different.  Actually, they’re both perfect fits for the What Man Hath Wrought series, which contains stories of alternate history involving people grappling with new technology.  The tales are quite different, though, but that means any reader would be bound to like one of them, at least.  That makes the book a pretty good purchase, I’d say. 

4.  What inspired you to write these stories?  I’ve written about that before…here and here.

5.  That’s a great cover.  Who designed it?  It is a wonderful cover.  Charlotte Holley of Gypsy Shadow Publishing designed it.  The bearded soldier gazes at something while a huge steampunk airship glides overhead and a big explosion goes off in the background. 

6.  Where can I buy the book?  Right now you can get it at Smashwords and Amazon.  Soon it will be available elsewhere, too. 

7.  You wrote an Atlantis story before, didn’t you?  What a memory you have!  My Atlantis-based story, “The Vessel” was published several years ago in an Atlantis anthology.  “Last Vessel of Atlantis” is that same story, with a title change and a few other alterations.  Definitely worth enjoying again.

8.  When will you have a print version rather than an e-book?   When the What Man Hath Wrought series is complete, I’m thinking about having a print version of the series.  It won’t be for a little while yet, since I have more stories I’d like to add to  WMHW. 

9.  What’s the next story in your What Hath Man Wrought series?  But that would spoil the surprise! 

Thanks for submitting your questions.  I’d invite more, but the deluge nearly crashed the supercomputer last time and almost tripped a wide sector of our national electrical power grid.  Let’s avoid tempting that fate, shall we?  I suggest you read the book, post a review, and before long there will be another book by—

                                                    Poseidon’s Scribe

What Everyone’s Waiting For

Everybody’s talking about it.  It’s all over the internet, crashing servers with the added traffic.  Social media sites are abuzz about it.  You can feel the pervasive air of excitement and anticipation.

RallyingCry72dpiCalm down, world.  It’s just my next book.  You’re going to have to wait until the release date of March 1 to buy it.

Actually, it’s two stories in one e-book release, a two-fer.  “Rallying Cry” and “Last Vessel of Atlantis” are paired together.  What are these stories about?  Thought you’d never ask.

In “Rallying Cry,” an aimless youth named Kane Jones meets two old geezers who spin bizarre war stories.  They tell about having served in a secret World War I outfit in France—the Jules Verne Regiment—with ship-sized helicopters and mechanized walking tanks.   Just as an inspiring shout can move soldiers to action, perhaps all Kane really needs to turn his life around is a rallying cry.

Ever since reading John Biggins’ novel A Sailor of Austria, I’d longed to write a story set in a nursing home with an older character (two, in my story) imparting the memories of a bygone time to a younger character.  I finally did.  “Rallying Cry” takes off in different directions than Biggins’ book, of course, and I recommend you read both.

In “Last Vessel of Atlantis, a ship captain and his crew of explorers return to find Atlantis gone.  While facing violent savages, braving fierce storms, and solving internal disputes, they must somehow ensure their advanced Atlantean civilization is not lost forever.  Fans with long memories will realize this is a slightly revised version of another story of mine published as “The Vessel.”  The new title is better, don’t you think?

I explained the origin of this story in a previous blog post.  It was fun for me to imagine the difficulties faced by a small crew of sailors who find themselves the sole survivors of their advanced civilization, with all other continents populated by primitive savages.

If you can just hang on a couple of weeks until March 1, the book will be available here.  Deep breaths might help you cope with the anxiety until then, along with taking time to think about other, less exciting, things.  Your patience will be rewarded, and that’s a promise from—

                                                      Poseidon’s Scribe

February 16, 2014Permalink