Monday, September 03, 2012

I'm In Good Company!

In an ocean of self-published titles, two questions surface: How can readers find quality e-books, and how can authors of quality e-books find readers?

Before Amazon’s Kindle changed the face of electronic publishing, in 2006, 51,237 self-published titles were printed as physical books, according to the data company Bowker. Last year, Bowker estimated that more than 300,000 self-published titles were issued in either print or digital form.

How can readers sift through hundreds of thousands of self-published titles to find quality e-books that will be worth their investment of money and time?

Author collectives such as the recently launched “Killer Thrillers” provide one answer. All 22 Killer Thrillers members are award-winning, bestselling, and internationally published thriller authors committed to bringing high standards and professional quality to their self-published works.

Of the 163 self-published titles currently featured on the Killer Thrillers website, many first appeared in print. Others are original e-books. All are written by talented, experienced thriller authors who’ve proven they know how to tell a ripper of a story by winning major awards, becoming regional, national, and international bestselling authors, and seeing their novels translated and published in other countries. Some of the Killer Thrillers titles have also been optioned for television and film.

New York Times bestselling author David Morrell, christened “the father of the modern action novel” for his iconic creation, John Rambo, lists 15 self-published e-books on the Killer Thrillers website including First Blood, the title that introduced the world to John Rambo, The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for a television mini-series, and his other Rambo books.

“I'm in the process of archiving my entire 40-year output of novels, essays, short stories, and non-fiction works as e-publications,” Morrell says. “E-books are wonderful for authors. No more out-of-print titles.”

Killer Thrillers authors include Brett Battles, Raymond Benson, Sean Black, Robert Gregory Browne, Blake Crouch, Karen Dionne, Timothy Hallinan, Katia Lief, CJ Lyons, Bob Mayer, Grant McKenzie, David Morrell, Boyd Morrison, J.F. Penn, Keith Raffel, J.D. Rhoades, Jeremy Robinson, L.J. Sellers, Zoƫ Sharp, Alexandra Sokoloff, Mark Terry and F. Paul Wilson.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Sane Republicans: Rare and Endangered, But They Do Exist

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As some of you may have noticed, one of my interests is in finding and cataloguing a rare breed known as the Sane Republican. Alas, not only is it a rare breed, it’s getting rarer.
They’re being hunted to near extinction by other species such as the Raging Right-Winged Moonbat and the Red-Faced Red-State Howler Monkey. Yet, this plucky species continues to live on, and can be sighted if you’re paying attention.
Let’s start by heading to upstate New York, where first-term Republican Congressman Richard Hanna told The Syracuse Post Standard that he was “frustrated” by how much “we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes at this point in history.”
As a specific example, Hanna mentioned the demand of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Insane Asylum) and other right-wingers that Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, be investigated for Islamic extremist ties, not for any action of hers, but because some of her family members were “connected” (in ways not specified by Bachmann) to “Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.”
Hanna responded to this bit of neo-McCarthyism by noting that “we render ourselves incapable of governing when all we do is take severe sides.”
Normally, such reasonable statements, especially as they relate to Congresswoman Crazy Eyes, would be the equivalent of painting a set of cross hairs on your forehead. But Hanna survived a challenge from a candidate favored by the tea party (remember them?) back in June. It remains to be seen what will happen when he faces Democrat Dan Lamb in November.
Next let’s head down to Utah, aka the Beehive State, the only state I know of that has its own official state firearm (the Browning M1911 automatic pistol). Utah’s Republican governor, Gary Herbert, recently responded to an Obama administration proposal to relax some of the federal work requirements for welfare recipients for states who wished to try their own projects. The requirements for participation were that state plans (a) get more people working and (b) produce verifiable results.
Herbert did not, however, repeat the Romney administration’s repeatedly refuted falsehood that the proposal “gutted” work requirements, and would lead to people just “sitting around and getting a welfare check.”
You’d think giving states greater flexibility in implementing federal programs would be regarded as a good thing by Republicans. But the Romneyites weren’t going to miss a chance to throw a little race-baiting — OK, a lot of race-baiting — into the campaign by resurrecting the well-worn specter of the lazy “welfare queen” from the Reagan years, and never mind the fact that such an accusation was a blatant lie.
Herbert, on the other hand, is trying to get stuff done. He told The Huffington Post that “the idea of flexibility is something that all states want to have,” and that his own state had asked for one of the waivers.
He disagrees with the administration’s method of implementation, contending that it has to be done through Congress, but that’s actually a reasonable argument to have, in contrast with the hysterical ranting of a proven lie, which is what RomneyCorp has chosen.
Also in the Beehive State, we find Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. When President Obama announced, to howls of rage from the right, that he’d no longer be using federal resources to deport children of illegal immigrants if they met certain conditions, Shurtleff called it “clearly within the president’s power” and pronounced himself “pleased” with the decision.
“Law enforcement makes decisions based on the resources available to them,” Shurtleff said. “The administration is saying, ‘Here’s a group we could be spending our resources going after, but why? They’re Americans, they see themselves as Americans, they love this country.” Exactly.
There are others, of course. But sadly, the Republican herd often drives the moderates and even the mildly sane out of the fold, like former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, who’ll be speaking at the Democratic Convention.
Because, you see, there’s a word for what used to be called “moderate Republicans.” The word is “Democrats.” A goodly number of current Democratic positions, including the Affordable Care Act, were ideas from the Republican Party, before it completely lost its mind.
If you’re a moderate Republican who doesn’t feel at home in the GOP anymore, you might consider jumping ship. And if that suggestion fills you with scorn or apoplectic rage, you’re not one of the people I was talking to.