Tag Archives: Kindle

Shattered Worlds Challenge: Curse Breaker

My blog is late this week, because I only finished Curse Breaker last night (not a slow reader, I’ve been taken up with lots of non-fiction reading this week, all about marketing, social media and advertising, yawn). Curse Breaker is just as lovely as I hoped it might be: a beautifully-realised fantasy world with some fabulous characters, a kickass heroine, heartbreaking prince and page-turning abilities that reminded me of Michelle Madow.

And do you know what, I’m more than halfway through my Shattered Worlds challenge, and I am so impressed by what a fabulous group of writers I’ve joined with. I only knew a couple of my fellow contributors before getting involved in Shattered Worlds (and them only through Facebook), but everything I’ve read so far is creative and powerful and well worth reading. When people are still blowing the tune that indie-published books are in all ways sub-standard I’m proud to be a part of a group blowing that myth out of the water.

Check back next week, I’m jumping into Elizabetta Holcomb’s time slip next.

An experiment in free reading

I read a lot of YA fiction and review a lot, too, on the Paisley Piranha blog. Recently, I signed up as a blog tour host/reviewer with YA Bound Book Tours. As a result, I’ve been reading a lot of review books (and discovering lots of new, fabulous authors). I joined YA Bound deliberately to widen my exposure to different books/authors and also to widen my reading community since reading tends to be rather a solitary activity. A result I didn’t expect is that my bank balance has been unexpectedly buoyant the past couple of months. I didn’t realise how much I spent on books until I wasn’t spending it.

A lifetime of free books?

I often hear as a cry of joy for readers the argument that you could fill your Kindle/Kobo/Nook entirely with free books, read for the rest of your life and never spend another penny on books.

I’ve decided to test this supposition.

The rest of my life is way too large a commitment, but for the rest of the year I’m going to see if it’s possible to have a satisfactory reading experience only reading free books. For clarity, my reading matter can be:

1. Books I’ve got for free to review.

2. Books I’ve chosen which are either permafree or on a time-limited free deal.

3. Books borrowed from the library.

4. Books lent to me by friends.

5. Books given to me (since my birthday isn’t until the end of November I don’t forsee this resulting in many books during the course of this experiment :-().

But aren’t books worth paying for?

However, as both a writer and a reader the concept of “free books” makes me deeply uneasy. If a book is worth reading, it’s worth paying for, in my opinion. To ease my conscience, I’m going to allow some exceptions:

1. If I’ve read a book for free and really enjoyed it, I can buy another book by that author in order to support them and, hopefully, help them keep on writing.

2. When a writer friend releases a book I can buy a copy to support them and help their book launch (and because a lot of my writer friends are on my must-buy list and I can’t bear to wait six months for their book).

3. I can buy books for other people. Since that’s just as much as pleasure as buying for myself, that should help with any withdrawal symptoms.

And that’s about it. I’ll blog at least fortnightly to let you know how I’m getting on and whether I can stick to my rules and still enjoy reading.

If you’ve tried reading only free books for any length of time – or did so by chance – do let me know how you got on in the comments.

The art of knowing when to stop

I am in the thick of final, final, FINAL proofing for my next novel, The Last Dreamseer.

Somehow, I thought it would be quicker than this. I’ll explain my editing process: I’ve written the book, had writer friends look at it, revised and revised again. It’s then been to a professional editor for substantive edits (what’s wrong with the plot/characters), and revised. And then to a line editor (what’s wrong with the sentences), and revised. It’s then been printed out and read through by me, as well as being proofed by two professionals and fed through my Kindle to catch any errors I couldn’t see on the PC screen. I’ve then gone through the formatting, so all that was needed was to upload the final version to my retailers (Amazon and Smashwords).

I thought it would take me maybe an hour.

Two days.

It’s the oddest thing, but reading it through on the Amazon on-line checker made me see all manner of repetitions (and a few, plain, good-old typos) that had managed to escape all the eyes that have looked through the book so far.

Finally, it’s now done and uploaded and I’m relieved to see the back of it, if I’m honest.

Cover of Katy Haye's The Last Dreamseer
It’s beautiful … but it’s time it got off my PC and out into the real world.

Because the thing is, writing is the kind of art that doesn’t ever have to be finished. As well as checking for typos and errors, I was also aware of my fingers twitching over the keyboard, while my mind nagged at me, “Is that the right verb? Are you sure?” and “Maybe that scene would be better if it took place outside instead of in her room.”

I had to grit my teeth and stop myself making some unnecessary changes, thankful that I had a deadline because otherwise I might still be tinkering with the thing on my deathbed.

So that’s my tip for this week. If you have a piece you can’t stop messing about with, but you’re confident it is, fundamentally, fine as it is, then set yourself a deadline and move on. Publish it, if you plan to self-publish, or get it sent off to agents and editors.

And then move on to the next. Because that’s the other ‘always’ – there’ll always be another story to write.

And I can’t wait to get on with my next.

Spoilt for Choice

An array of great books waiting to be read
How I feel facing my recently acquired TBR pile.

I was in enough trouble yesterday when I drafted this post. Then I went to the library. I didn’t need any more books, I wasn’t going to get any more books … but I thought I might as well have a little look, just in case. Yeah, well, all readers know how that one ends.

So I’ve now got 5 books from the library, 3 just arrived from Amazon, 2 previews on my Kindle that I want to download and read, and 3 loaned from friends that I “must read”.

This is good, because I’d hate to run out of books, but such a surfeit of wonders also makes me uneasy because I’ve found in the past that when I’ve got lots of books waiting, the first couple are read while the rest slide into my TBR pile, never to surface again.

It’s as though, once they lose the gloss of ‘new’ (to me) I don’t love them so much and would rather move onto the next new thing rather than reading something I’ve had kicking around for weeks.

I hate to think I’m so fickle, and maybe I’m a victim of The Paradox of Choice (click through if you’re interested in the psychology of it). In short, the idea is that more choice makes it harder to make a decision, rather than easier.

Problem is, I’d hate to have less choice in books – because the nightmare that wakes me screaming is that I’ve run out of things to read.

Since cloning isn’t yet available, I guess there is a simple alternative…

Young person facedown on an open book with other books around them


I love paper books, as my overflowing bookshelves will attest. But I also have two eReaders (for Kindle and Kobo) and the feature I love best is their ability to let me read a preview before deciding to buy a book.

It’s the equivalent of scanning the first page or two in the bookshop, but with the benefit of offering the choice of Kindle and Kobo’s enormous libraries – both vastly larger than the stock of most bookshops.

I bought a book last week without first reading the preview and very quickly regretted it – after about three pages all I’d got was some semi-naked men (it was a paranormal, and we all know how little werewolves like wearing shirts!) standing around and posturing. I could have saved myself the bother if I’d just started with the preview instead of rushing into an unwary purchase.

The only thing I don’t like about previews is that they appear to grant a licence to the provider to nag me afterwards. If I read a preview and like it, I’ll buy the book, don’t worry about that (occasionally, to be fair, I’ve read an eReader preview and then bought the paperback, which I suppose Kindle and Kobo could be aggrieved about, like Waterstones objecting to providing a browsing experience for shoppers who then buy online), but if I’ve decided I don’t want the book after all, the last thing I want is e-mails reminding me that I can buy it with “just one click.” To go back to the bookshop comparisons, this would be like a bookshop employee picking out the book I’ve just slotted back onto its shelf and wandering around the store at my heels asking, Am I sure I wouldn’t like to buy it? Really? But I liked it enough to pick it up, didn’t I?

What would be really useful is to send me a mail saying, “It seems this wasn’t quite what you were looking for, but if you’re interested in this genre/style, why not try X, Y or Z?”

I guess this happens to a degree in the marketing mails I get, so maybe it’s just a change of emphasis – rather than, “Readers who liked this also liked…” maybe they should try, “Readers who put this one back chose to buy X, Y and Z instead.”

Inspired marketing, or lunatic idea – any opinions?


The Comfort of Old Friends

I got book vouchers for my birthday in November, and more for Christmas. Whilst the days have been filled with lazy holiday vibes I’ve been checking Twitter recommendations and I now have a well-stuffed Kindle.

The newest additions to my Kindle
Some lovely books lined up to start the year…

So why do I find myself dipping back into my battered paperback of Steven Gould’s Jumper, which I must have read 8 or more times, when I have new books beckoning and time is as pressing as ever?

I think it boils down to reliability. I love reading and I love discovering new books and new authors, but the other side of that is I hate being disappointed by picking up a book that ought to push all my buttons but doesn’t manage to live up either to its hype from others, or to my own expectations. I know what I’m going to get with an already-read story so there’s no chance of a let-down.

A picture of Steven Gould's sci-fi classic, Jumper
My much-loved and (for me) battered copy of Jumper, one of my all-time favourite reads.

A more positive interpretation is that book worlds genuinely become places I know, and their characters are friends. I wouldn’t ignore old friends just for the sake of gaining more, newer friends, so maybe it’s a good thing that I like to check in now and then and make sure old books are doing okay in between saying hello to new ones.