The Momentum Blog
Posted November 13, 2013 by Mark
The following is an excerpt from A Single Girl’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse by JT Clay, a novel about hippies, zombies, friendship and love.
“What are you making?” Q asked.
“It’s an altar to the spirit of the river,” Rabbit said. They had reached the stream and were dangling their feet into the snow-melt water. Q was throwing in sticks. Rabbit was piling up a cairn of smooth stones.
“Really?” she said, embarrassed on his behalf.
“I’m messing with you. It’s a pile of rocks. But it’s funny that people stack rocks when confronted by natural beauty. It might be a ritualistic act that honors nature, buried deep within the collective subconscious.”
“We vegans frighten you, don’t we?”
“No! Not at all!” said Q. “Okay, yeah, but you and Angela are cool.”
“Thanks. That’s the least awkward thing you’ve said all morning.”
Rabbit sniffed. “What’s that smell?”
“It’s my new fragrant spray,” Q said, glad she had made the effort this morning. “It’s called Ocean Flowers.”
“Oh,” said Q. “I guess.”
“Cool. I like algae.”
They dangled and they sat. Q, not used to being in the wilderness without a map icon to click on, tried to orient herself. They were a long way west of Sydney, high up in mountain country. The air was cool and rich and full of earthy scent. The ground poured into gullies and choked on shrubs. There were no power lines, no roads, no straight lines from anything man made. They were in someone else’s land.
The quiet of the morning was interrupted by Q’s regular slap! whack! at mosquitoes and ants. After a while, Rabbit intercepted her hand.
Her face burned and her belly flipped. He was holding her hand!
“They’re part of the bush,” he said. He let go of her hand and turned back to the stream. “Let them be.”
Q sighed. It was nothing after all. “Things are biting me,” she said. “Anything less than extreme self-defense would be weird.”
Rabbit grinned and steered away an inch ant with a stick. “She’s all right,” he said. “You have to be— ow!” He sucked his finger and breathed through his nose. Q giggled.
A movement on the bank downstream caught Q’s eye. She couldn’t make sense of the image at first. Something large and brown lurked in the trees, hunched over the edge of the water. Was it drinking?
No. Not drinking. Another color poured from the creature into the stream. Red. The brown shape was the heart of an expanding pool of red.
Q tapped Rabbit on the shoulder, put a finger to her lips and pointed at the shape. He didn’t see it at first.
“What’s there?” he said. Q waited for the image to make sense, then decided she preferred the abstract version.
“It’s creepy old caretaker guy,” she said. “He’s washing something in the river. Something bloody.”
The man stood up and disappeared into the bush. Q waited until he had gone, then walked downstream to the spot where he had been. There were footprints and blood on the river stones, but the creek itself had washed clean. She didn’t like that man. He reminded her of Chapter Seventeen, The Survivor Type and how to avoid being eaten by one. She returned to Rabbit and scribbled in her little black book.
“Are you writing about our walk in your diary?” Rabbit asked.
“No— yes— sort of.” She put the notebook away.
“What do you write about? Your fears and doubts?” Rabbit asked.
“Sometimes. Like, have you ever noticed that the things that scare us the most aren’t just monsters, but monsters that can turn us into one of them?”
“I know exactly what you mean,” Rabbit said.
Q grinned. He understood! “Vampires and werewolves and zombies,” she said.
“Lawyers,” Rabbit said, shaking his head. “I’m surrounded by them every day. All I want to do is sing folk and make the world a better place and I’m terrified that one day, I’ll forget all that and start overbilling on my time sheet.” He looked so sad.
“Cheer up,” Q said. “I reckon that fear is more common than you think.”
“Kate does not agree,” Rabbit said. “She says I’m wasting my life. She thinks I’m a failure.”
“You? Nah. Anyway, how do you measure success? Your first job? Your first house? Your first stalker?”
“I don’t need to be the best at anything,” Rabbit said. “I just want to be a better person.”
“Me too,” Q said. “I just want to be a person.”
Rabbit’s fingers drifted to a piece of cord at his throat and he pulled out another wooden snake pendant, almost identical to Pious Kate’s, except that this one had glinting green eyes instead of red.
He’d made them matching necklaces.
“That’s pretty,” she said, kicking water and thinking corrosive thoughts.
Rabbit dropped the snake as if it had bitten him. Maybe he was thinking corrosive thoughts, too.
“Kate came up with the design,” he said, glum. “She gets upset if I don’t wear it.”
“What’s the deal with you two?” Q asked in a careful tone, in case she got an answer she didn’t like.
Rabbit watched the moss-covered rocks beneath the surface of the water. “We’ve been best friends since kindergarten,” he said.
“My best friend’s in kindergarten, too,” Q said.
“We were thrown together. The only two vegans at school.”
“Oh!” said Q, with sudden understanding and relief. “You were the little Cantonese kids!”
“What?” Rabbit’s face crinkled into that expression so familiar to Q because it was what people wore when they were trying to interpret her.
“The two kids who didn’t fit in. You smelled weird. You had weird food. Your parents were weird. Everyone picked on you.”
“Thanks for bringing it all back,” Rabbit said.
“But it’s okay now,” Q said. “No one cares any more. We’ve grown up.” Q thought of her online crew. They would never have found each other as children, but as adults they stood together against the darkness, with Jeremiah BownZ off to one side and downwind – acceptance had its limits.
Should she venture a hand onto his shoulder? Or just throw herself on top of him and pin him to the ground for a kiss? It was a flawless plan, unless he knew Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She was about to make her move when he spoke up.
“We should head back,” he said. He put on his sneakers. “You need to soak the lentils.”
“You’re rostered on to cook tonight.”
Q guffawed. Rabbit did not join her. “No, seriously?” Q said.
“Sure,” said Rabbit. “We take turns.”
What would these hippies expect? Would she have to do it alone? Would Angela help? “Me and my dad don’t do much fancy cooking at home.”
“Make a dish you’ve made before,” Rabbit said. “What do you usually eat?”
“Takeaways. Microwave dinners. Sometimes Dad makes dyslexia stew, where he accidentally replaces every ingredient in the recipe with the wrong one, then adds bacon. It was good once.”
She could tell by his tone that she had lost face. What had she said? She dropped her head and concentrated on tying her shoelaces, which were much more difficult to fasten than they had been for the past eighteen years. “It’s not like I don’t know how to cook. Sometimes I grill up a couple of ginormous steaks, two huge piles of beef, and we smother them in barbecue sauce on the grill and cook them rare so they’re all gooey and bleeding inside…” She stopped talking. Rabbit was pale. He looked like he was about retch. She took a step back. “I mean—”
There was a brain-shattering scream from the direction of the camp, followed by four clear gunshots. After a pause there were several more shots in quick succession.
“Thank God,” said Q. She ran toward the sounds.
Tagged: a single girl's guide to the zombie apocalypse, ebooks, excerpt, jt clay. zombies, reading, romance
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Posted November 11, 2013 by Mark
We bookish types have a reputation for being lazy when it comes to sprot and exercise. In fact, people think we’d much rather be drinking and reading than playing a soprts game with balls and stuff. But here at Momentum we’re not lazy when it comes to exercise and sorpt. Let me present our totally not lazy list of
eight five exercises to keep you fit while you read.
5. Book toss
You’re reading a book and it’s really not that good. What do you do? Hurl it across the room, of course! Reps: 1. Calories burned: Like, 7 or something? I’m going to say 7.
For this one you’re going to need a big glass of wine, or a bottle. Basically you lift a full glass as often as you can while you read. For best results the glass should be brought as close to your face as possible. Reps: As many as you can handle. Calories burned: Probably about 10 per lift, so the sky is the limit with this one. Wine doesn’t have calories* so this is just a good exercise.
3. Turn and stretch
Turn a page, stretch from finger to wrist. Reps: As many as you can handle in a session, although you could go for ages as plenty of people already have strong wrists if you know what I mean/get what I’m saying/wink. Calories burned: 1 per page, so for best results read a whole book.
Balance a book on your lap or leg. This will centre you or something. Reps: I guess it’s just 1. Calories burned: Do we have any cheese? I’m hungry.
Ok, yes I know we’re a digital first publisher and I know I’ve ignored ereaders up to now. But here is the best way to get fit with an ereader: read in the bath. The amount of coordination and effort involved in not dropping your device in the water is huge. Especially for bookish people, who are naturally clumsy (especially once clothes are off). Reps: I actually don’t even know what the exercise people mean by ‘rep’. Calories burned: It’s a constant burn. You’ll feel it. Especially if you accidentally hit the hot tap! Boom!
*Completely, utterly and totally untrue (according to my colleague but what does she know).Tagged: Books, ebooks, ereader, fitness, reading
Posted November 8, 2013 by Craig Hildebrand-Burke
Recently I read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. It was a book I had been meaning to read, having gathered a reputation as one of the pre-eminent horror novels of the twentieth century. A portion of this reputation stems from its recommendation by Stephen King in his book on the horror genre, Danse Macabre:
‘It is usually easy to divide horror novels into those that deal with inside evil and those that deal with outside evil. Occasionally a book comes along where it is impossible to discover exactly where the line of evil is. The Haunting of Hill House is such a book.’
A rather more significant reason for its reputation is that it’s exceedingly well written. Taut, tense, and very much playing into a Gothic tradition of the haunted house, Jackson wrings the reader dry with a character’s slowly decaying sensibility in the atmosphere and environment of Hill House.
It is, though, unfortunately a little underwhelming. I was more intrigued by the style and mood of the book, rather than by the horror of it. Despite a couple of moments of real frights, neither near the ending mind you, I was never really lifted into anything terrifying. To put it another way, I didn’t go and lock the book in another room of the house after I finished it. (I’ve heard of people putting horror books in the freezer. I wouldn’t go that far. I might need something from the freezer.)
Regardless, this got me thinking. What constitutes a horror novel? Back in that forgotten era when Borders existed, it used to have its own section, largely stocked by King and Koontz and Straub. But these days it seems to have been subsumed by the Sci-Fi and Fantasy sections (I’m not a fan of dividing fiction up this way in bookshops, but anyway). It’s interesting to note that it seems to be a genre people are avoiding, even resistant to as a label.
It does have certain connotations, granted. Mention horror and people generally envisage something of the Gothic supernatural, dashes of Poe, unspeakable unmentionables of Lovecraft, and the aforementioned tomes of King. Lately, newly published books that might otherwise be called horror are being relabelled as dark fantasy, even dark mystery, as if we might need to deliver horror by subterfuge to the reader. It feels akin to the Harry Potter books being repackaged with more ‘sensible’ covers so that adults could read them and not worry on the train of looking like they were reading kids’ books.
Anyway, I wanted to get to the bottom of where horror is at the moment, as a genre. Is it its own? Does it have its own defined rules? Boundaries? Tropes? Is it more than werewolves, vampires and mummies? Or is it a subgenre of something else? Or an extension – an extra – to pre-existing genres?
We certainly know what horror used to be. From Frankenstein to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Dracula, to The Raven and At the Mountains of Madness, we can clearly chart the path of horror as a tradition. But now?
Can we clearly say what horror is?
The easiest path for me to answer this is to read more horror. And the first port of call is one of the established horror fiction associations: The Horror Writers Association. A worldwide association, it was formed in the mid-eighties during the ‘new’ horror boom of popular fiction. On its launch, it then began the Bram Stoker Awards, a prize for superior achievement in horror writing, an award that has been given every year since 1987.
This seemed to be a good place to start. And it’s a good list too. For however long it takes me, I’m going to read my way through the winning books in order to get a greater understanding of where horror is now, 26 years after the first Bram Stoker Award. (I should add, they award novels, short fiction, graphic novels, screenplays and a whole host of categories, but for the purposes of this exercise I’m going to just look at the novels.)
With just a brief scan down the list, there’s some cracking reads on the horizon: American Gods, The Silence of the Lambs, Lost Boy Lost Girl, Zombie. And before you suspect it’s just a thinly veiled excuse to read more King, there’s only a few of his, and I’ve not read any of them before. Though you’re probably right.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the genre has to offer. What the different authors do, and how different they are to each other. Great horror, I feel, is a rare thing, and a difficult thing to write, and exceedingly undervalued.
Oddly, the first winner was a joint award, to King’s Misery and Swan Song, by Robert R. McCammon. And in the spirit of fairness, I’m going to forgo Misery and just focus on McCammon, given that I’ve not read anything of his before, and he has three winners on the list. Clearly worth looking at.
Twenty-six horror novels. And me.
I’ll keep you posted.
Though I don’t know how my ereader will go in the freezer.
Tagged: Books, Bram Stoker Award, ebooks, horror, lovecraft, poe, reading, stephen king, thriller
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Posted November 6, 2013 by Craig Hildebrand-Burke
A while ago I wrote about enhanced ebooks, about how they had largely been somewhat underwhelming and that though the medium offered much in the way of potential, there was more enhancement in the reading experience to be had in a 1980s Choose Your Own Adventure paperback.
So, in lieu of offering a successful model for enhanced ebooks, I’m offering a potentially similar – though fundamentally different – option: special editions.
Perhaps where enhanced ebooks aren’t getting it quite right is in the idea of what they’re meant to be doing. So far they seem concerned with the medium, that reading an ebook is somehow different in its essence to reading a paper book. And because the medium is different, it can therefore change the experience, provide an alternate journey through the story, and as a result, enhance it.
So far this usually seems to be through inflationary methods: interactive maps, hyperlinked indices and character details, images, sound and video. Enhancement here seems preoccupied with turning a book into something that it isn’t.
The difference in medium is misdirection. Ebooks are still books. They are still read like books – with a certain degree of qualification. This experience shouldn’t really change, lest enhancements give the way to novelty, and then redundancy.
While DVD sales may be on the wane, the special edition model offered by them and BluRay is worth considering. Here, the original story is still intact. What is offered in addition is a supply of extras: development stories, interviews, commentaries, outtakes, deleted scenes and so on. The rise of special editions saw consumers become wise to the early release of the vanilla edition – the film without any extras – and merely wait it out for the more expensive yet more enriched viewing of the special edition.
With downloads now supplanting the vanilla releases, the special editions are quickly becoming a norm for hardcopy releases: audiences now expect the extras, the special has become standard. What remains intact, however, is the original story itself. Unless the original director chooses to recut a new version – something that is becoming rarer – there isn’t a preoccupation with enhancing the film from what was seen in the cinemas.
So can’t special editions work for books?
The text of the book would still remain the same. Previously explored enhancements only make the book itself less navigable – and this is something that cannot and should not happen in books. The joy of reading a book is in how simplistic the form is through its elegance. Its linearity serves the story, serves the reader, and makes it a model that can’t fundamentally alter, and hasn’t in centuries. So that ideally remains, eschewing any temptation to drive the reader away from the story into a cul-de-sac of an image or video or whatever else.
But ultimately the one thing implicit in a linear read is that it ends. The story stops, the characters finish, and we have to find something else to read. Unless more is offered.
Why not show behind the scenes of the creation of the book? Stories from authors about where ideas came from, about the foundation of characters, settings and scenes are always devoured by readers with eager anticipation, so why not include these extras as part of what a reader receives alongside the book? The readiness of readers to attend and meet and listen to authors at signings and festivals show that the interest is palpable.
The proliferation of books on writing, by authors who often cite examples from their own stories about how they were developed, is potentially also something that could be included. The stories about stories are fascinating in their own right, and worthy of readership. Allowing readers to discover what happens after a book is accepted, and how it is then developed to become ready for publication, would be fascinating for anybody who has just finished reading that actual book.
There isn’t anything hugely groundbreaking here. All of these things are often available for readers from a variety of places, but these are usually beyond the experience of reading the book itself. Offering readers a book that packages many aspects of what goes on around the book itself would create a special edition worth purchasing. Possibly.
To me, a workable model could be one that looks at the before, the during and the after. What happened before the writing of the book, for the author, that deliberately allowed them to create the story they did. Then what occurred during, what detours did they take, what was left out and what had to be included in service of the story. And then the afterwards, the reflection and acknowledgement of what ended up on the page.
As a reader, I’d like this. I’m unsure how much this has already been explored, or how viable it is, but I think a special edition book would be an excellent way of enhancing the reading of a book, rather than enhancing the book itself. And the experience of reading a book is still unchanged. All of this is trading on words, which is the contract a reader signs up to when the pick up a book, digital or not.
Tagged: Books, digital, ebooks, ereaders, ereading, reading
Posted October 31, 2013 by Mark
In this episode we talk about the death of Momentum author Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read and what it means for publishers when authors pass away. Then, we all went and saw the new movie Gravity, and we chat about what we thought of the film and whinge about minor details. Finally, Mark sat down with regular contributor to the Momentum blog, Craig Hildebrand-Burke, to discuss Stephen King and Doctor Sleep.
What We’re Reading
Tagged: chopper, doctor sleep, ebooks, gravity, horror, mark brandon chopper read, movies, podcast, podmentum, publishing, reading, Sci-Fi, science fiction, stephen king
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Posted October 24, 2013 by Mark
It’s the old story. Girl meets boy. Girl loses boy. Zombies attack.
Q, a trainee kindergarten teacher and martial arts expert, wants to woo beautiful vegan, Rabbit, but doesn’t know how. Her luck turns during the zombie outbreak. She teaches Rabbit and his hippie friends how to make war, not love, and does her best to save him from the living dead.
But can she defeat evil ex-girlfriend, Pious Kate? And can love survive the end of the world?
Zombies. Not just another eating disorder.
A Single Girl’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is the debut novel from JT Clay and won the 2010 Olvar Wood Fellowship Award.
Tagged: a single girl's guide to the zombie apocalypse, apocalypse, comedy, cover reveal, ebooks, JT Clay, romance, zombie
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Posted October 14, 2013 by Mark
I was trying to eat a bowl of cereal in bed while reading a paperback on the weekend (I live life in the fastlane) and it got me thinking about eating and reading. There are certain foods that go so well with books, and certain foods that can ruin your reading experience, your book, and your life (ok maybe not but you get the idea).
If you’re uncoordinated like me, then soup is one of the worst foods you can eat. It’s easy to splash, splatter and spill, which is a huge hazard to any paper products that may be nearby.
Similar to soup. Plus when you pick your bowl up to scrape the last of the cereal you need two hands and this means losing your place (unless you’re using an ereader but good luck refunding your Kindle after dunking it in milk).
“I can eat spaghetti without making a mess! I’m a grown-up, after all.”
Nice! Easy! The joy of a delicious pasta dish without the whiplash that can send ragu splatter all over the place.
Nothing is more civilised than sitting down with a good book and a cup of coffee. NOTHING.
Harder cheeses are better than softer ones when it comes to preserving the state of your ereader or paperback, and it’s always a good idea to cut the cheese first. Wait.
Chocolate: NO (controversial)
Chocolatey fingers, while delightful, can put suspicious brown stains on your pages. Also that’s how you get ants.
Burgers: ARE YOU CRAZY?
Just no. No. You need two hands to eat one, your fingers get messy, and stuff is always falling out.
Are you using your fingers or a knife and fork? One is ok and the other is not.
Not only can little bits of tomato slide off your fork and splat your device or paperback, but dressing is a constant hazard.
So, what do you think? Any foods you would definitely avoid/consume while reading? Or am I just a messy eater?
Tagged: Books, ebooks, food, list, paperbacks, reading
Posted September 10, 2013 by Craig Hildebrand-Burke
You were dreaming of a book. But then again, you’ve already opened Twitter. You’ve already clicked the link. Now you’re starting to read this blog post and wondering what’s going on. You notice that the title says it’s something about enhanced ebooks yet it occurs to you that a. This is not an ebook. b. This is not especially enhanced. c. This post appears to be rather poorly adopting the style and tone of a dodgy 80s knock-off of a Choose Your Own Adventure.
You don’t turn to page 86.
Instead, you scratch your head. It is odd. Very odd. Is this deranged? Are you deranged? You contemplate briefly the prospect of either having a good lie down or a cup of tea. Neither are available to you right now, so you decide to keep reading.
You really would like to know what’s happening with enhanced ebooks and how they’re going to enhance your life. It’s why you clicked the link in the first place. Of course, it may occur to you that the ideal thing to do would be to search for ‘Enhance Ebooks’ in Google instead. Surely that’ll get you to the point more quickly. But then, the quandary. Ebook or E-book? (E! Book!)
Without a moment’s hesitation you decide to keep on with this endeavour. You sense there may be a subheading or a dot point on the horizon, or at least beyond the bottom edge of the screen.
So what are enhanced ebooks?
You were right! And what are they? You know. Those ebooks with the extra features. Like that one for Game of Thrones that looked all fancy and schmicko and did contain some excellent audio extracts, a hyperlinked character index and an interactive map, but in the end you found it was just a handful of features overlaying the book itself. Extras features, but not necessarily enhanced per se.
You did look at that Philip Pullman book. The Jesus one. That’s right, you remember now. It too had audio, but it was the full audio of the text that could be synced, and had other interviews with Pullman about his own ideas and beliefs behind the writing of the book. But, again you have to ask, is it actually enhanced? You’re wondering if you’re going to get a book that can really enrich and extend your reading of the text, rather than giving you a set of extras.
You’ve already looked at the enhanced versions of Frankenstein and Edgar Allen Poe’s stories that reinvent how the original texts were presented. The Frankenstein version, in particular, grabbed your interest because it made you an active participant in the text, and required your input at various stages, redirecting the narrative depending on where you wanted to go, what you wanted to focus on. It took the epistolary form and turned it into something immersive rather than distancing. But still. It wasn’t the book itself. It was a different version of the book.
You joined Pottermore.
That’s right. You remember the early announcement, the anticipation, and the final launching of the site. Billed as an interactive reading experience, it was essentially a click-through abbreviation of the books, and though you enjoyed the artwork and the notes by the author that gave depth to your knowledge of the books, it still wasn’t reading. Nor did you find your experience enhanced. Worse still, the best parts of the whole whizbangery was at the beginning, where the Pottermore site ensconced you in the world of the books and the characters through a series of challenges. And you found your excitement dimmed quickly, and dulled, and eventually extinguished. It was not the reading you were looking for.
So what next for you and your enhanced ebooks?
You wonder if you’ll ever find what you’ve been looking for. You understand the difficulties, you understand that it’s a new medium, and things like Pottermore don’t come around that often, so you should enjoy something clearly with a lot of thought and finance behind it. But you dream as well. You dream of the perfect enhanced book.
Actually, you dream of all books. Of the ones you find in a store, bound and covered, the fwwwwip of the pages as you fan it open and obdurately ignore the final pages, knowing therein lies the secret to your dreams. You visit the books elsewhere, the ones that arrive magically, instantaneously, a collection of images and pixels and hallucinatory screens that wipe and reappear, bringing you words and stories out of the ether.
But you also dream of something more. Some kind of book that takes all of this and places you there, in the middle, a part of the story and the process and the author’s very writing of their own dreams. You dream of a book that talks to other books, and to the author’s mind. A unison of their words and your imagination, an innovation of reading of hitherto unexplored horizons.
It will be glorious, you think, that undiscovered reading country, but you’re not there yet. You have a way to go. It’s a long journey, and there’s still so many books to read.
You turn to another page.Tagged: Books, ebooks, enhanced ebooks, ereader, ereading, reading
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Posted August 30, 2013 by Mark
Here are the five most popular blog posts this week on Momentum
Tagged: Books, ebooks, films, movies, Nina D'Aleo, Posts With Momentum, reading, The Forgotten City, The Last City
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Posted August 19, 2013 by Mark
When it comes to ebooks a huge drawback is the lack of physical object (especially if you happen to be a person who loves physical objects).
There are many reasons to have a house filled with books. I’m no interior decorator but I do believe that books furnish rooms quite well. Jammed into shelves, in untidy piles by the bed, propping up wobbly furniture, they add a certain level of comfort to any dwelling.
It’s also important to have books in the house if you have children. As has been pointed out recently on this blog, if you want your kids to read, they need to grow up surrounded by books (and readers). It’s not just about having a pretty house, it’s about the future.
I know a lot of people have rules when it comes to the paper/digital divide. Some people follow the disposable/permanent rule, while others digitise their entire collection. Personally I have no rules. I buy paper books when I’m in the mood and I buy ebooks when I’m in the mood. It usually has to do with where I am when I decide that I want to buy a particular book. Although there are a handful of authors that I buy exclusively in print, to complete the collections I already have at home.
What about you? What rules, if any, do you follow to ensure that you have a healthy variety of books on your shelves?
Tagged: Books, bookshelves, ebooks, reading
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Posted August 16, 2013 by Mark
Here are the five most popular blog posts this week on Momentum
Tagged: Books, ebooks, erotic romance, erotica, list, Posts With Momentum, reading, romance, science fiction
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Posted by Mark
We’re mainly talking about Hung Parliament here…
1. Snigger at the title
2. Acknowledge the genius of the title
3. Open it up and start reading, admire the writing style
4. Get aroused
5. Stop it, you’re at work and it’s the middle of the day
6. Picture real politicians in the roles
7. Vomit on your desk, shoes, colleagues
8. Forget all about real politicians and use your imagination instead
9. Keep reading
10. Get aroused
11. Go home earlyBooks, ebooks, erotica, hung parliament, list, politics, reading, romance, s.a. gordon
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Posted August 14, 2013 by Anne
We have three topics for this episode. We’ll start by discussing the latest book sales information released by AAP for the first quarter of 2013 and the way it has been interpreted by industry commentators. Then we move on to the New Adult genre, and finish things off with opening lines.
Going negative on ebooks - latest sales data released by the Association of American Publishers has shown a decline in growth of book sales across all formats, down 4.7% from Q1 of 2012. The focus of many commentators has been a decline in the growth of digital books sales though, despite the ebook market growing by 5% in 2013. This means that ebook sales significantly surpassed all other book format sales, yet many are choosing to ignore this news and focus on the negative.
New Adult – a genre that has sprung up as recently as 2009 when St Martin’s Press called for submissions of “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’.” It features protagonists aged 18-25, and while the term New Adult has only recently been coined, the genre has probably been around far longer. Currently authors like Abbi Glines and Jamie McGuire dominate New Adult lists, which are aimed at readers 14-35 and feature explicit themes like sex, drug use and self-discovery. So these books are going to be formative texts in readers lives, and in light of that I thought we could discuss some of our formative texts.
Opening Lines – there has been some discussion in the book world about opening lines of books recently, after an article in The Atlantic on authors’ favourite first lines and we’ve been talking a bit about our favourites in the office. The Slate Culture Gabfest talked about some of their picks recently, and Mark suggested that our discussion would probably focus more on genre fiction. The opening line that has stayed with me above any other is from Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth.
“The small boys came early to the hanging” – Ken Follett, Pillars of the Earth
Mark – Graphic Novels: Batman Year 100
Joel – The Kingkiller Chroniclesaudio books, data, digital books, ebooks, podcast, reading, sales
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Posted August 12, 2013 by Anne
Over the weekend someone on twitter asked me what I thought about this blog post regarding the flattening of ebook sales in the US. On his blog ‘Rough Type’, Nicholas Carr wrote the following:
In a post on the first day of this year, I noted the surprisingly rapid decline in e-book sales growth over the course of 2012. The trend appears to be continuing this year. The Association of American Publishers reports that in the first quarter of 2013, overall e-book sales in the U.S. trade market grew by just 5 percent over where they were in the same period in 2012. E-book sales in adult categories fared a bit better, rising by 13.6 percent, but that also marks a continuation of a sharp slide over the last two years. The explosive growth of the last few years has basically petered out, according to the AAP numbers*:
E-books are still taking share from printed books, sales of which declined by 4.7 percent in the quarter, but the anemic growth of the electronic market calls into question the strength of the so-called “digital revolution” in the book business. E-books now represent a bit less than 25 percent of total book sales. That’s a healthy share, but it’s still a long way from dominance. The AAP findings are backed up by a remarkable new Nielsen report indicating that worldwide e-book sales actually declined slightly in the first quarter from year-earlier levels — something that would have seemed inconceivable a couple of years ago.
There has been so much written about this apparent slow down in ebook sales that rather than engage in a detailed discussion over twitter (which I adore, but is a less than ideal platform for a nuanced and extended conversation about the state of digital book publishing in 2013) I was able to refer to a post written by Sam Missingham on the Bookseller’s FutureBook blog earlier in the year. Basically, Sam points to the huge amount of self-published ebooks that are not accounted for in the AAP data, up to 30% of the market, and the fact that 43% growth year on year is hardly something for publishers to be worried about.
Sam rounds up her post with six main points;
i) A market that has gone from zero to conservatively 706m ebooks in 5 years in the US is not plateauing.
ii) The area that has seen revenue growth rates reduce (again, not the same as plateauing at all) comes from data provided by 1953 traditional publishers. (A subset of the entire market).
iii) The fact that print book sales have remained strong (actual plateauing) tells us very little about whether readers prefer e, p or e+p (absolutely no stats to back purchasing behaviour)
iv) No consumer market has exponential growth year on year in a maturing market (including ebooks). BUT the growth year on year is still mind-blowingly HUGE.
v) There is a growth in the number of books bought across e & p. Print books $ and units have plateaued whilst ebook units have grown rapidly. More books.
vi) The number of self-published authors will continue to grow, in general their ebooks are cheaper; we will see more rapid growth in unit sales here.
The Rough Type post buys into the negative narrative about ebooks that Sam posits, and is emphasising the figures that support this negative standpoint.
Yes the rate of growth is down, but it is down on book sales across the board, including print. With a -4.7% change in all book sales from Q1 2012 to Q1 2013, that ebooks still grew by 5% means digital has surpassed other book format sales significantly.
And when it comes down to it, that is the story that reputable outlets are reporting: US ebook sales grew by 5% in Q1 2013. Let me repeat that: digital book sales grew. In the first quarter of this year. And that’s not including sales of self-published titles. So don’t buy into the negative narrative that some people enjoy spouting about books and the book industry (and digital in particular). Let the numbers tell the real story.AAP, data, digital books, digital publishing, ebooks, reading, sales
Posted July 29, 2013 by Mark
“Oh, Sarah Easton.” A cold digital voice mocked her. “It’s about to begin. Send the virus.”
Cold horror washed over Dimity. She jabbed the phone’s off button and dropped it on the table.
A noise, the rough grate of wood on metal, startled her. Numbers curled across her mind as a migraine inched closer.
“It’s the stove.” She spoke to break the quiet.
Beau – the labrador – cozy and content at the base of the wood-burning stove, continued to sleep as if he’d spent the morning chasing rabbits.
Which he hadn’t.
Unless bacon was involved, Beau never ran.
The silence of the house closed back around her.
She scooped up the phone, hesitating, waiting, and hoping the suffocating dread would dissipate. It didn’t. So she hooked the handset back into its base, flicked open the dishwasher and unloaded the cups and glasses she’d stacked there in a rare burst of domesticity that morning.
Someone hammered on the front door. A thick, white mug with the faded words Nerd Girl on it slipped from her fingers, bounced off the side of the dishwasher door and shattered into a thousand pieces on the floor.
Jake? It couldn’t be him. He had a key and was in the south of France. But no one ever came to visit, she made sure of it.
The someone hammered again.
“Shit,” she muttered. “I’m so sick of this stupid life.”
So tense she could hear her own sinews and tendons creaking, she crept across the kitchen and peered out of the peephole. A blonde woman stood there, fist raised to pound the door again.
Of course it wasn’t the police. Of course it wasn’t the flat digital voice on the phone.
She pulled open the door.
“What do you want?” Dimity didn’t smile.
The woman was tanned, tall, pencil slim and dressed in an expensive-looking mauve suit, with a white coat to keep away the January chill. Her matching heels had not fared well in the muddy stable yard. She squinted at Dimity as if they’d met before.
Dimity started to swing the door shut. They’d never met, and strangers were dangerous, especially ones who thought she looked familiar.
“My name is Susan Kiffler.” The woman’s cultured English accent matched her outfit perfectly.
Kiffler? Dimity’s heart stopped.
Susan scrabbled around in her gigantic mauve handbag.
“This is a photo of me and my husband, Jake Kiffler, on our wedding day.” She held out a picture with a hand that shook. It wasn’t just a tremor; she shook like an online gamer at the end of a forty-eight-hour session, down to his last bottle of caffeinated beverage.
Dimity took the photo and stared at it, trying to make out what it meant. Thoughts skittered out of her grasp and fragmented, like the smashed mug.
One thing was certain.
Jake, her husband, was the groom who smiled from the photo.
“He said it was a disaster, that his first marriage only lasted a few months.” Dimity lifted her chin and narrowed her eyes. She’d have to leave. Immediately. Her cover was blown.
Jake knew her secrets. He’d helped her create a vague sort of life.
“Jake Kiffler and I have been married for eleven years.” Susan pulled out a piece of paper and waved it at Dimity. It was a wedding certificate. “We’re not divorced. He’s still my husband.” She pointed to his name, then snatched it away, as if she were afraid Dimity might grab it.
“Get away from my house.” Dimity stepped forward and flicked the photograph back into the gaping bag. “Go away.”
But Susan grabbed her wrist. “He’s disappeared. We’ve got two children.”
“Let go!” Shocked, Dimity twisted out of her grasp.
Tears had welled in Susan’s eyes, and now she dabbed at them, smearing her mascara. “You’ve got to tell me where he is.” Panic put an edge in her voice.
“You have children?” Dimity asked.
Dimity dragged in a breath and blinked to clear her vision. Numeric code tried to creep out of her subconscious, glowing green numbers that’d twist themselves into a stunning migraine given half a chance.
They eyed each other.
“What do you want?” Dimity said.
“Jake’s disappeared. I think he’s run off with our nanny. Fleur.”
A nanny? She couldn’t be talking about Jake. He didn’t want children.
“This has nothing to do with me. It’s all a mistake.”
Susan rolled her eyes, her distress briefly disappearing beneath impatience. “Dimity Pond, I know exactly who you are. I know all about you and the other mistress. All his women.”
“Other women?” He had a mistress? She closed her eyes to block out Susan’s over-made-up face. There was no way she could know exactly who Dimity was. No way.
“She lives quite close, in Dover. She has twins. I suppose they’re his, that’s what the private investigator said.”
“Is this a joke?”
“I wish it were.” Susan laughed suddenly. Sharp and unnatural.
The distant sound of a truck clawing its way up the hill to the village drew her attention. The words of her caller came back to her: It’s about to begin, he’d said. She scanned the empty fields. No way the little prick could be watching. She’d checked, over and over. She’d been vigilant. There were no hidden cameras, or microphones. Nothing.
As soon as it was dark, she’d leave. There was so much to plan, so much to do.
“Come inside, Susan.” She forced a smile. Telling Susan to get lost wasn’t going to work; she would have to play nice and get rid of her as soon as she could.
“I’m not sure …” Susan’s blue eyes darted past Dimity to the messy kitchen and then back to her face, searching for her motive.
Dimity half-shrugged, stepped back and swung the door shut.
“Wait.” A muddy mauve shoe wedged itself in the narrow gap.
Dimity waited, surveying the shoe.
“Thank you, I’d love to come in.”
Deeply reluctant, Dimity opened the door.
Her guest tiptoed in apprehensively and halted, inspecting the kitchen, nostrils flaring delicately.
Dimity sighed. “Sit.” She pointed to a kitchen chair.
Leaving mud footprints behind her, Susan wiped fussily at the chair with a tissue and perched on the edge of it. Then she fished in her bag, pulled out a slim green and orange can of Mace and placed it on the table. Apparently settled, she looked around, wide-eyed.
“Do you drink scotch?” asked Dimity, wearily.
“I don’t drink.” Susan’s fingertips brushed the base of the Mace. “You don’t sound English?”
“Australian,” Susan echoed, in a tone that suggested that this might be where all the problems had started.
Dimity fetched a nearly full bottle of scotch from the cupboard under the sink, her feet crunching on the broken mug as she did.
The mug. The phone call. Nemesis.
Scraping the shards of the mug to the skirting with her foot, she flipped the dishwasher door shut with a toe. Both of her unchipped glasses were on the benchtop. The dishwasher had cleaned them with its usual lack of enthusiasm, and had left behind red wine marks. The mugs were no better, all with tea stains progressing down their insides. She frowned into one. Stupid dishwasher.
Picking two mugs, she tried to think clearly in the few minutes it took to wash them.
But all she could think was that Jake had lied.
That Jake was gone.
That Nemesis had resurfaced.
It was time to run.
As she wiped out the clean mugs, she glanced at Beau. He’d kept a close eye on Susan but hadn’t moved from his spot near the stove. Usually he graced rare guests with a cursory sniff, but her keyed-up tension was so intense he’d chosen to give her a wide berth.
On the run, with a deaf labrador.
“I never expected tattoos,” Susan blurted out.
Dimity stared, surprised for a moment. She’d pushed back the sleeves on her ratty cardigan to wash the mugs, exposing the lines of computer code that spiraled around her left forearm.
Just a little reminder that pride and vanity tended to precede the most god-awful fall.
“Drink that.” Dimity slopped scotch into a clean mug and clunked it down in front of her guest, knocking the Mace onto the floor as she did.
Susan peered into the mug, scowling as if it contained weed killer, then she leaned down to retrieve her Mace.
“I suppose I’m overreacting.” She smiled, tensely, and dropped it in her bag.
“Drink it. It’ll make you feel better.” Dimity took a swig from her own mug, then followed it with another.
Susan sipped tentatively.
“Tell me about Jake.” Dimity sat opposite, and moved a heap of papers to one side with a sweep of her arm. Several fluttered to the floor.
“It was ridiculous.” Susan ran a slender finger around the rim of the mug. “He’s always been in sales, always traveled a lot. But he never had any leaflets or samples or anything. I was in the supermarket, buying paracetamol, when I realized if he was selling that sort of thing, why didn’t I see any samples. So I hired a private investigator.”
“Who found me?” Dimity shuddered at the thought.
“No, he followed Jake. When I thought Jake was at work, he was staying with you, or the other one.” Though she sat poised and ladylike, anger glimmered in her eyes and her words were tinged with bitterness.
Dimity finished her scotch in one mouthful, leaned over to the benchtop, grabbed the bottle and poured another. Up to the brim.
“So when he wasn’t with me, he was with you,” she said.
“I’m sorry—” Susan searched for the right words. “Can I ask? Are you wealthy?”
“Are you?” Dimity watched her closely, unwilling to admit anything.
Susan nodded, and Dimity believed her. She had the polish of it.
They stared at each other.
“I’ll find him,” said Dimity. “He won’t get far.”
The front door banged open, startling them both. Susan twisted in her seat, hope lighting up her face.
“It’s just Kitty.” Dimity glanced at the clock on the wall. It had broken months ago, but it had to be two o’clock. Kitty always came after lunch to take care of the horses she agisted on the farm. She’d be gone by three-thirty, to pick up her twins from school.
“Hi, Dimmy. Didn’t know you had company.”
Dimity would have put money on the fact Susan had driven a large, luxurious car from wherever she lived, and doubted that Kitty – with her predilection for expensive things that belonged to other people – had missed it.
“Kitty Sinclair?” Susan sounded half-strangled.
“Do I know you?” Kitty assumed the posture of one who had not been convicted of all the crimes she’d committed.
“You’re his other mistress. You’re the mother of his twins.”
Dimity downed the mug of scotch in three swallows.
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Posted July 26, 2013 by Mark
Here are the five most popular blog posts this week on Momentum.batman, Books, ebooks, list, movies, Posts With Momentum, reading, Shakespeare, stephen king, writing
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Posted by Nicola Rhind
The publishing industry can be cutthroat at times, and the stakes are high for unestablished authors competing for contracts and readers. Audiences are more selective, faced with so much choice that they don’t even know where to begin (Should I start Kardashian Konfidential or The Handmaid’s Tale? The choices!).
Bookstores – whether digital, or bricks and mortar – carry thousands of titles all begging to be read. Even earlier in the process there is competition between authors to secure publishing contracts, leaving many unfinished works languishing by the sidelines. So how do you start yourself off in an industry with limited resources to be shared? The answer is simple, really: the Internet.
Now I know that that is a really obvious answer, considering the major advances in technology that have allowed for say, digital publishing, but I am more specifically referring to the realm of fanfiction, and the vast online communities that create a built-in fan base of readers and mentors for aspiring authors. Fanfiction sites allow writers to borrow from the popularity of better-known books, movies and tv shows, and develop their own work within these ready-made worlds. For a hopeful writer, this provides an opportunity to improve their writing skills and test story ideas within the marketplace.
While fanfiction is a great tool for getting your foot in the door as an author, this is also the realm where the boundaries start to become a little bit blurred, as amateur authors mix their own ideas with already established worlds. How do you decide who owns what? Do authors have any rights to their work after fans have adopted their stories? This is an issue that has resurfaced time and time again, and was really thrown into the spotlight with the rapid and raunchy rise of the Fifty Shades of Grey EMPIRE, a story that famously emerged from the sparkling depths of the Twilight Saga fandom. Similarly, fans of J.K. Rowling have spawned hundreds of thousands of Potter-esque fables, which is also linked to the success of seemingly overnight hit Cassandra Clare. Clare had successfully dabbled in Harry Potter fanfiction, and upon completion of her online works was offered a publishing deal that produced a trilogy not unlike her previous offerings. Bloggers across the Internet have been heatedly discussing the contested originality of Cassandra Clare’s published works, and it certainly brings up the issue of ownership once more, particularly in terms of ownership of elements to a story (like particular characters and plot points).
More recently, the online book blogging world has been shaken by the mysterious and sinister case of Jordin B. Williams’ novel Amazingly Broken that has sparked accusations of intense plagiarism of multiple best sellers, identity fraud, and all-round skullduggery when it came to promoting the book. Readers were furious to find Williams’ book had directly plagiarised large passages from other authors of a similar genre, and the author has since been confusingly linked to a previous fanfiction story with a duplicate plotline. The issue remains unresolved and very perplexing, as new details are still being uncovered.
The expansion of the publishing world online has opened up an intense can of worms regarding intellectual property and plagiarism. Perhaps these examples are a cautionary tale for aspiring authors looking to utilise online communities, or a warning to publishers to be wary of unknown writers. Either way, the backlash online can be immense.
Tagged: ebooks, fan fiction, Harry Potter, ownership, plagiarism, reading, Twilight, writing
Posted July 25, 2013 by Danielle Milliken
Before launching into this new book, I thought it would be great to read Drive me to Distraction, an unrelated, older book of Caitlyn’s.
Since she was a girl Alex has had one dream: to become a Formula 1 driver and show the boys how to drive a race car. MacCameron’s money gives her a shot at fame, and in a move that scandalizes the F1 racing fraternity she becomes the new driver for Rob Dryden’s struggling F1 team, Prometheus.
Being a woman in Formula 1 is a very rare thing, in fact the only championship points won by a woman to this day was Lella Lombardi in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix where she finished 7th.
These days there is still huge stigma associated with women entering the F1 circuit, although more women are doing such things as becoming test drivers for various teams. In the current circuit there are no women race drivers. As pointed out by Caitlyn, people think they often get a bit of affirmative action in that they are chosen because they are women and for publicity etc, which at the same time sort of makes them seem inferior and judged a bit even though many have good potential.
F1 driving is in my opinion, an extreme sport. Each driver can lose about 3kgs of body weight per race from sweat and the risk of injury is high, just last year Maria de Villota (a female test driver) lost her eye, however there have actually been no F1 deaths since 1994 when Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna died the in same weekend.
F1 is not for the faint hearted, and Alex was not a faint hearted woman. She was a risk taker, and this romantic suspense novel really pulls you into her world, even if you knew nothing about F1 before picking it up.
Pursuit is released on August 1 and is currently available for preorder.
Drive Me To Distraction is available now.
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Posted July 15, 2013 by Mark
Megan pushed her wet hair off her face and turned to the green walls of the strange jungle. “We’re through the looking glass.” She straightened. “It’s so … different.”
Matt sat with Carla, Joop, and Jian just a few feet away, drying off. He paused to look around again. “Different” didn’t begin to describe how dramatically the vegetation had changed from one side of the crater wall to the other.
Before them were all manner of ferns and fronds – fat bromeliad, gingko, and unidentifiable trees, nightmarish twisted shapes covered in bark that was like dark scales, or damp hair. Other trees, if that’s what they could be called, were rod-straight, and rose hundreds of feet in the air. They were like dark columns without branches until they reached an umbrella of ferns at their very tip. Most were draped in dangling vines, many with pendulous fruits or huge seed pods, and red-veined leaves as wide as a handspan.
Megan turned to grin at Matt. “It’s beautiful.”
Matt stood up for a better look. At ground level there were fern fronds, both broad and fleshy tongues and rapier-like straps. Sliding over them was an almost transparent cotton candy mist, just touching their tips.
He turned slowly. The huge wall behind them continued in both directions, an enormous barrier that disappeared into a distance that Matt already knew stretched for over twenty miles. On the crater basin wall, it was hard to tell where the cliffs ended and the vines began, so completely had they meshed together.
Megan squinted into the distance, shaking her head in awe. Matt turned to the group. Behind him, Steinberg and Kurt talked softly. Kurt held a handful of plastic and Steinberg listened, then nodded. Kurt was their only guide now – they hadn’t been able to convince Moema to follow them through.
“Hey.” Matt motioned with his head. “Look up.” They all did. “The canopy is intertwined with the thorn vines – the trees here are a vastly different species, and the vines have managed to grow all through them. Pretty effective way to keep things out – a cage with poisonous bars.”
“Pretty effective way of keeping things in, too,” Carla observed.
Megan lifted her arm, looking at the healing finger, and then at the skin on her forearm. “It’s kinda nice … that soft red glow from the light passing through the flowers. It’s like permanent twilight from a red sky.”
Matt looked along the thick canopy. Megan was right – the red flowers were crowding the ceiling for as far as the eye could see. The fading sun passing through the diaphanous petals cast a soft glow, like a red scarf thrown over a lamp.
“This has got to be a new species,” Joop observed.
“Or a very old one,” said Jian.
Matt turned to Megan. “Anyone want to guess why the Ndege called this the blood jungle?”
“Yeah, well, I certainly hope that’s the only reason.” Carla’s brows had come together. “At least the heat isn’t as bad … still humid, but more like a giant natural greenhouse.”
Matt shook more moisture from his head. “It’s awesome – misted atmosphere, isolated and separated – in a word, it looks and feels … primordial.”
“Primordial?” Steinberg’s voice close behind him made Matt jump. “Perfect – that’s exactly what you’d expect when searching for a primordial specimen, wouldn’t you say?” Steinberg looked around. “Seen anything yet? Ms. Nero, Ms. Hannaford?”
Megan turned to the jungle. “No, not yet. Plenty of movement farther away from the crater wall. I think anything living here has learned to give the wall and the thorns a wide berth. We’ve all heard movement in the thicker underbrush – nothing flying, though. Looks to me like a pristine jungle – it could have been this way for millions for years. Perhaps even long before …”
“And it’s all ours.” Steinberg looked from Megan to Matt. “Well done.”
“You’re joking, right?” Megan’s hands were on her hips, her chin forward.
Steinberg shrugged. “Oh, I mean from a corporate perspective.”
“Not even,” Carla added.
“We’ll just buy it – it’s empty land as far as Brazil is concerned.”
Matt snorted. “Good luck with that. By the way, there was something interesting on the way down, carved into the wall – more Ndege writing. It said something like: ‘Let not the unclean pass back to the land of man.’”
The silence hung for a moment, then Steinberg made a circling motion in the air with his finger. “And … that’s it? These guys actually talked like this all the time … in riddles?”
“These are meant to be warnings,.” Matt was annoyed by the sarcastic tone.
“So, clean of body, clean of mind … maybe clean of soul? Which is it? Or is it all of the above?”
“Don’t know yet. They’re not exactly around to ask.”
Steinberg grunted. “Neither is Dan Brenner, more’s the pity.”
Matt ignored the jibe.
“What do you think, Matt?” Carla tilted her head. “Could it be about the thorns, or something worse?”
“Oh shit – remember Moema’s grandfather telling him about the screaming?” Megan looked over her shoulder at the jungle.
Matt shrugged. “I don’t know what their definition of ‘unclean’ was. Maybe there was some sort of purification process they used to perform, either out there, or before they returned.”
“Possibly some sort of protection against a threat, real or imagined.” Carla grunted. “We need to keep a lookout for any more Ndege writing.”
“It’s too bad the Ndege are gone,” said Megan. “If it was something other than spiritual, we’re going to need to piece that cleansing process together. Could be vital for treating the infestation.”
“Too bad indeed.” Steinberg clapped his hands once, and made a show of looking at his watch. “We’re losing light, and it’s too late to investigate today, but first thing tomorrow, we’ll be hiking into the crater jungle. No one will be forced to go. In fact, I insist that everyone thinks carefully before deciding to come along. After all, we’re not sure what it is we’ll find in there.”
Steinberg smirked as he studied their faces. Matt knew that they’d all go; no one had come this far to stay behind and mind the bags.
Joop cleared his throat loudly. It was rare for the tall man to speak. “I think … I think this is important, what Mr. Steinberg has said. This jungle might be an example of an evolutionary partition – a physical separation of the old world from the new. Things can be snap frozen in an evolutionary stage as long as environmental, predatory, and geological conditions do not change. Alternatively, whole new species could have evolved. Any jungle is dangerous, but I believe this jungle is more so, as there is an element of the unknown, unexperienced, and unpredictable, making it extremely alien to human life. We have no idea what we could encounter, and should think hard before we proceed.”
Megan leaned in close to Matt. “Cool.”
Joop became more animated. “Mr. Steinberg, if you can get a signal out, then you should try to organize for more resources. We should have a full team with the proper equipment.”
“Seriously? You’re getting cold feet, Professor van Onertson?” Steinberg pulled a face. “The Ndege had been coming in here for who knows how many generations, and the only thing that fucking killed them was us.” He roared with laughter, which echoed down at them from the canopy overhead.
Joop pursed his lips, and repositioned his glasses on his long nose.
Carla folded her arms. “I’m going in, but I agree we need more resources. Might I remind you of why I’m here? There’s a significant parasitic infestation occurring in the United States – something never before seen by modern man. Who knows what else is in here.” She stared hard at Steinberg. “You should make the call.”
Steinberg looked a little uncomfortable. “Can’t.”
He grinned sheepishly. “Battery’s dead.”
“Oh fuck.” Megan turned away from him.
Steinberg shook his head and pulled a face. “Lighten up. There’s a spare back at the Ndege camp. I just didn’t think I’d be spending quite so long on the phone to the chopper pilot … or my scriptwriters. Got a big movie coming up, and what do you know, the world doesn’t stop turning just because we’re down here.”
His head jutted out on his thick neck. “We set off tomorrow morning and if all goes to plan, we’ll be heading back by the afternoon. Maybe even sooner, if we get lucky – who knows? Okay with all of you?”
Carla sat back down, waving him away. Steinberg turned his glare on Megan, who nodded. He went from person to person. No one opted out.
“Good.” He turned, mumbling to Kurt about dinner, and sauntered to the other side of the pool, away from the group.
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Posted July 4, 2013 by Mark
To celebrate the Independence Day weekend in the USA, we have an exciting offer.
We’re offering 30% off our entire range of Momentum ebooks for the first 1,776 users! To take advantage, simply enter the offer code applepie at checkout.
This offer expires on Monday, is not applicable to pre-release titles, and is valid globally.
Some titles you may like to purchase:
“He was my ancient master, my earliest and best friend; and to him I am indebted for first impressions which have had the most salutary influence on the course of my life.” —Thomas Jefferson on George Wythe, 1806
This is the story of George Wythe, a man determined, steadfast and courageous, described by Benjamin Rush as possessing “dove-like simplicity and gentleness of manner.” From his humble beginnings as a circuit lawyer in Virginia, Wythe was a prominent opponent of slavery and was instrumental in the creation of the constitution. His distinguished career saw him appointed the first professor of law in the United States.
Wythe witnessed most of the great events leading to America’s independence and formation as a nation and was a signatory to the Declaration of Independence. And then, in 1806, Wythe was murdered.
This book tells the story of George Wythe’s life, his amazing legacy, his role as second father to the fathers of the nation and offers a solution to the mystery of his bizarre and tragic death.
It started out as something underground, edgy and cool. Then Sniper took it all too far and timesplashing became the ultimate terrorist weapon.
Scarred by their experiences in the time traveling party scene, Jay and Sandra are thrown together in what becomes the biggest manhunt in history: the search for Sniper, Sandra’s ex-boyfriend and a would-be mass murderer.
Set in the near future, Timesplash is a fast-paced action thriller. Filled with great characters, a sprinkling of romance, and a new and intriguing take on time travel, Timesplash is ultimately a very human tale about finding bravery through fear, and never giving up.
Highly recommended for science fiction and thriller enthusiasts alike.
Timesplash is the first book in the Timesplash series. True Path: Timesplash 2 will be released in July 2013.
Splitsville is a 21st century screwball comedy about a Manhattan company that breaks up relationships for people who can’t say the words “It’s over”.
Chester wants to leave his fiancée, Sara.
Holly’s looking for revenge after her boyfriend dumped her. And she’s starting to develop a crush on Charlie.
Charlie thinks it would be better for Sallie if she left the man in her life.
Thurston would love to have a baby with Lainey because she’s cute and because a TV executive thinks it’d be good for ratings.
But Marvin the Millionaire Meat King wants Thurston and Lainey busted up.
Lainey still has feelings for Charlie. Charlie’s falling for Adelaide. And Adelaide’s married to Rob.
Luckily, there’s a corporation that can work all this out for everybody and send them to the happiest place on earth.
Welcome to Splitsville.
Tagged: discount, ebooks, ereading, Giveaway, Offer, reading, USA
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Posted June 18, 2013 by Mark
My second child was born a couple of weeks ago and the thing that became most readily apparent (apart from all the feelings of love and stuff) was that I now have virtually no time to read.
OR SO I THOUGHT
A few minutes spent thinking like Rodin’s Thinker (but less bronze and, if I do say so myself, handsomer) I came up with this handy list of how to read when you don’t really have the time to read.
1. Read graphic novels
They’re faster to read than novels, but just as gripping and fascinating.
2. Listen to audiobooks
Great for catching up with a book while you wash up or pretend to listen to your partner.
3. Read on the train
What else are you going to do? Check your emails? That’s what work is for! Look out the window? There’s nothing to see but other trains!
4. Read on the toilet
I’ve heard this one is good but I don’t go to the toilet so you guys will have to let me know.
5. Read while your significant other watches TV
This one is actually easier said than done, especially when the current crop of singing and cooking shows are so good.
6. Read on your lunch break/tea breaks/smoke breaks
Breaks are perfect units of time to read a chunk of a book. In one day you have at least a half hour for lunch and about fifteen minutes for other breaks. That’s at least a chapter or two.
7. Keep a book on your smartphone
Perfect for all those ‘waiting’ moments.
8. Don’t continue a book if it’s boring you
Life’s too short, man.
9. Stay up late, drink more coffee during the day
If we weren’t meant to do this then why are the days so short and coffee so plentiful?
10. Stop reading stupid blogs like this one
Actually ignore that. I’m being told to tell you to keep reading our stupid blog.
Tagged: Books, ebooks, ereading, list, reading, top 10
Posted June 17, 2013 by Mark
I’ve always been the odd one out in the Momentum office. I use hotmail. I don’t use that weather app that Anne uses. And I am dedicated to paper books.
At least I was. Until the move.
Three weeks ago my partner and I moved house for the seventh time since we’ve met. And it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. A bridge too far. You get the idea. The thought of packing all my paper books into boxes, lugging them down the stairs, and then lugging them up the stairs at the new place made me sick.
SO I GOT RID OF A LOT OF THEM
Cackling like a maniac, I filled up canvas bags with paperbacks.
“Hahahaha!!! Goodbye, 90s Stephen King! As if I need to keep The Tommyknockers!!! Good riddance, Moby Dick, you overly long pretty excellent story about a whale that..hang on, I’ll keep that one so I look smart. Ummm…ah yes, GOODBYE JONATHAN FRANZEN YOU SMUG FUCK! HAHAHAHAH GOODBYE ‘TO BE READ’ PILE, GIVE MY REGARDS TO SATAN!!!!”
I may have gone slightly overboard and I should also mention that I had been drinking.
I wound up with six large bags full of books, and I had the workout of my life dragging them from my car to the second-hand bookshop in Newtown I had selected, only to be welcomed by a truly epic ‘not one of these people’ look from the girl behind the counter.
She sighed deeply and started to sort my books, brutally kicking out over half as ‘unsellable’ (not because they were in bad condition but because I like particularly unpopular books). In the end I got $60, and the opportunity to drag three large canvas bags full of books back to my car. I thought about leaving them in the park, but the fear of being chased away by an overzealous park ranger or drunk person was too strong.
So I gave them to the local op-shop who were very grateful, even if the guy who worked out the back called me an idiot for not parking in their driveway and making it easier for myself.
I felt clear, clean, fresh. No huge TBR pile. No books that I wasn’t going to read again. I fantasised about what I would fill my shelves with when I unpacked the new apartment. I could have a dedicated shelf for trinkets and photographs. I could start a collection of something. Spoons or mugs, maybe. And ALL my reading would be digital.
A few days later, I was unpacking at the new place. And it was then that I found out just how jam-packed my shelves had been. Guess how much free space I had across three bookshelves after The Cleansing?
Half a shelf.
HALF A SHELF IS NOT ENOUGH SPACE FOR A SPOON OR MUG COLLECTION.
Half a shelf is only enough space for MORE BOOKS.
The lesson I’m taking from all of this is that the only thing I do better than buying books is cramming a bookshelves full of them. Which is strange considering how much I suck at Tetris.
Tagged: bookshelves, dead tree books, ebooks, ereaders, paper books
Posted February 7, 2013 by Anne
It’s now a week out from Valentine’s Day, and we’ve been trying to think of the best present to get our readers. So here it is, our Valentine to you: some Skin, and some free Flesh. We are all about the romance here at Momentum.
We don’t want your money honey we want your braaaaaaaaains.Tagged: brains, ebook giveaway, ebooks, erotica, flesh, love, post-apocalyptic, reading, romance, skin, Valentine's Day, zombies
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Posted January 23, 2013 by Anne
We have three topics for today. The first will centre around book piracy, the second on Amazon’s new autorip service for music and what this could mean for book bundling, and finally we’ll be talking about novels written in record times.
Pirated ebooks, file sharing and data security
Kim Dotcom, who is currently still involved in a legal battle over his initial uploiading service Megaupload, has just launched a storage service called Mega, which offers 50 megs of file storage with an encryption system that means no one, not even Mega, can see what you’re storing or what you’re doing with it. So they can claim, without blinking, that they have no idea if peer to peer file sharing (ie piracy) is going on via their service.
They save space on their servers by only keeping a single copy of each file uploaded, so that does pose the question, if they don’t know what you’re storing with them then how do they do that? It is a technique also practiced by Apple and Amazon with their data storage facilities but they’re not claiming any ignorance.
Wheel of Time author Robert Jordan died in 2007 while writing the final book in the series, and Brandon Sanderson undertook to finish writing the book. Publisher Tor and Sanderson have faced a backlash for releasing the hardback but delaying the ebook release, purportedly at the request of Jordan’s wife Harriet.
Backlash includes the review bombing of the title on Amazon and other book seller websites
Various end users have threatened to download a pirated ebook unless the official e-book was available at launch
When I googled Tor Robert Jordan ebook the first result was a torrent link, and three of the top ten results were torrent sites.
Question: Why a delayed ebook release for A Memory of Light?
Answer: This is not my decision or Tor’s decision, but Harriet’s. She is uncomfortable with ebooks. Specifically, she worries about ebooks cutting into the hardcover sales. It isn’t about money for her, as the monetary difference between the two is negligible here. It is about a worry that her husband’s legacy will be undermined if sales are split between ebooks and hardcovers, preventing the last book of the Wheel of Time from hitting number one on either list. (Many of the bestseller lists are still handling ebooks in somewhat awkward ways.)
As the last books have all hit number one, she doesn’t want to risk one of these not hitting number one, and therefore ending the series on a down note. (Even though each Wheel of Time book has sold more than its predecessor, including the ones I have worked on.) I personally feel her worries are unfounded, and have explained that to her, but it is not my choice and I respect her reasoning for the decision. She is just trying to safeguard Robert Jordan’s legacy, and feels this is a very important way she needs to do so. After talking about the issue, we were able to move the ebook up from the originally planned one-year delay to instead come out this spring.
Amazon’s autorip service for music goes live – books next?
While much of the current tech coverage is focused on the latest in streaming music, including both radio services like Pandora, as well as on-demand options like Spotify, Boom says people still like to buy physical music. “It’s almost 50 percent of the music market in the U.S.,” he says. “Only in 2011 did digital overtake physical in the United States, and in many countries, physical still represents 70 to 80 percent of music being sold.” At Amazon, both the physical and digital music businesses continue to grow, he adds, but declined to provide specific numbers.
The hastily written novel
Australian writer Graham Simsion’s debut novel The Rosie Project has been the subject of discussion at the news that it was written in just 50 days, sparking The Age’s Jane Sullivan to examine other books that were written in record time, including A Clockwork Orange (3 weeks), A Christmas Carol (6 weeks) and As I Lay Dying (also 6 weeks)
Mark – Wool by Hugh Howey
Joel – Locke & Key
Anne – Parade’s End
Ninja Sex Party – Dinosaur Laser FightAmazon, audiobooks, autorip, CDs, data security, ebooks, file sharing, Juggalo, Kim Dotcom, Mega, peer to peer, piracy, podcast, podmentum
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Posted December 22, 2012 by Hannah Story
Gift-giving is hard. Too hard. I mean, how many gifts do you people want? Aren’t birthdays and anniversaries enough?
Apparently they’re not enough. Everyone wants presents on December 25 too. But luckily for you, I’m saving you all the thinking and the tear-jerking sense of failure that comes with being unable to pick out something perfect for your mother, father, brother, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, and that guy who you’ve noticed watching you as you walk down the street. I’m just so helpful. You can thank me with a gift later.
I’ve chosen books, because if I had my hipster way I would give everyone Radiohead’s entire discography (on vinyl) and be done with it, but apparently giving people the stuff you like isn’t very “thoughtful” or in the “Christmas spirit.” Plus books make good Christmas presents because Anne said so.
And you know what the best parts about giving an ebook for Christmas are? There are so many options, and there are no lines on the internet.
So for dad, you could buy Defender by Chris Allen- because we all know dads love books with explosions in them.
And for mum, you can try Pamela by Samuel Richardson because classic romances make middle-aged ladies swoon.
And for your brother who thinks he’s the next George R.R. Martin, you could buy How to Write Badly Well by Joel Stickley. That way he’ll know if everything that he’s doing is wrong and he should start again.
Your sister who spends summer star-gazing in the mountains might like The Big Book of Astrology by Kelli Fox- she’ll then be able to tell you about your doomed Sagittarius-Taurus romance.
And your girlfriend? Buy her Flesh by Kylie Scott and wait with bated breath for your sex life to be magically spiced up. Also this way there’s no awkward unwrapping-apocalyptic-erotica-in-front-of-grandma moments.
Your boyfriend can read The Book of Bloke by Ben Pobjie to justify his disgusting bedside habits (and you’ll let it slide because it’s the festive season and he just poured you another glass of red).
And as for that stalker from down the street? I don’t know why you were considering buying him a gift. Don’t do that. That’s daft. He definitely wont stop sending you creepy emails if you acknowledge him at Christmas time. This is why your mother says you always make bad decisions. What were you thinking?Books, Christmas, ebooks, ereading, gift ideas, gift-giving, intern, list, reading
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