Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Funnies - Kitty Yoga

New feature! Since I keep my sense of humor well hidden, I thought I'd give it some overdue exposure and share with you all some of my Facebook wall photos.

This week's installment is our cat, Trouble, grabbing a snooze on the deck railing - or practicing kitty yoga, I'm not sure which. In case you were wondering, his head is to the right and he was in this position for over an hour. He earned his name as a kitten when he used to throw himself on the driveway in front of the car when we came home.

Have a WONDERFUL weekend!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Where to find good, cheap and sometimes even free books to load up your Kindle

Whether or not you've gone hog wild and decked out your Kindle, you can easily recoup the modest investment by loading it up with very affordable, and sometimes even free, e-books. I'm going to provide some links to where you can find those books. In the few weeks that I've had my Kindle, I'm reading more than ever. With the price of gas nowadays, buying an e-book from Amazon or elsewhere can even be cheaper for me (who lives out in the rural farmland of western Ohio) than driving into town and borrowing a book from the library. So, since my husband is now referring to my Kindle as my 'crack', I've decided that I'll be the enabler and get more of you hooked on this wonderful little device known as the e-reader.

First, let me suggest that no matter how cheap the book, always download a sample before buying. It only takes a few minutes to check out the synopsis, skim over reviews and then read a few pages. If you like what you find, by all means click away. If not, press 'delete'. Check out reviews, but keep in mind these were written by folks who may or may not have the same tastes as you. This is why the sample is important. Sometimes even negative reviews can be valuable to you as a reader/potential customer. If someone writes in their review how the graphic battle scenes disturbed them so much they had to give up on the book, I'm going to download a sample - because I LOVE battle scenes! Just remember: sample, sample, sample.

Now, here are some links to check out:


Kindle Nation Daily - News about Amazon, Kindle and Kindle authors, traditionally and indie published. Tons of information available here.

Kindle Author - A place to discover new voices in Kindle books.

Kindle Obsessed - A showcase of both indie and trad published e-books.

The Indie Spotlight - Features on indie authors.

Daily Cheap Reads - Kindle books for $5 or less, indie and trad published.

The Frugal eReader - E-books for under $9.

Indie eBooks - A blog focusing on indie authors.

Bargain eBooks - Another blog featuring $5 or under bargains.

Red Adept Reviews - Want an honest opinion? Check out this well-respected review site.

Pixel of Ink - More bargain e-books!

E-Reader News Today - Reviews and bargain book alerts.

Note - For reviews of historical fiction books, please check out my blogroll to the right!


Smashwords - Type in keywords or check out the various genres and bestseller lists. This isn't the most consumer-friendly place to navigate, but if you use the right search words you can hit on the topics you're interested in. You can usually download the first 20% (or more) of books here and find different formats (PDF, EPUB, PDB, LRF) in case you happen to have a different type of e-reader than Kindle.

Kindleboards' Book Bazaar - Check here for Bargain book finds and the Master List of Kindleboards Authors by Genre.

KindleBook Forum - Admittedly, this can be a lot to wade through, but if you're looking for a diamond amidst the heap of coal, you just may find it here. Various threads here on books under $3, under $1, or for specific genres.

Amazon's Most Popular Free Books and Games - Start here. Yes, you can get games for your Kindle, too.

Well, that should keep all you Kindle-holics busy reading for awhile. Just don't ignore your family... or your pets, your house, your job. Power down the Kindle and go for a walk every now and then.

Happy reading,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Not-So-Amazing Race

There are two things I remember most about airports: 1) Waiting at the gate for my flight, and 2) Going through Customs and Security. I wish I could sleep in airports like the contestants on Amazing Race do. I'd be a much less cranky traveler if I could, but my sense of fight-or-flight (no pun intended) in unfamiliar surroundings can't be overridden. I'm mortally afraid I'll either miss my flight, or that someone will abscond with my valuables, or worst of all that I'll start snoring and drool away my jet lag while complete strangers snap pictures of me with my mouth open. So I sit there, people-watching for entertainment when I'm not reading on my Kindle, one foot touching my carry-on bag and my purse snugly in my lap at all times. Needless to say, I arrive home from my vacations more tired than when I left.

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Belgium for a dog show judging assignment. On the trans-Atlantic flight over, I tried to fool my body into an early bedtime by popping a melatonin, since I lost five hours with the time change. I jammed my earplugs in and turned the movie sound down to a low buzz for white noise to drown out the screaming baby five rows up and pulled my sweatshirt sleeve over my eyes to blot out the glow from the TV directly overhead. But... my internal clock still said, "It's only 9 p.m., you fool. You don't go to bed until midnight." By the time I finally fell asleep, they were rumbling by with the breakfast cart. "What? Coffee at 2 a.m.?" Yeah, I attempted to caffeinate myself into a new time zone.

Two days later I was almost over the jet lag, when we went out to eat for supper after the show. Belly full, I was ready for a good night's sleep. Spent an hour in my room surfing the net, catching up at home, then a little reading. Started looking for my brush to tame the rat's nest that was my hair, when... I couldn't find my purse. Last I remembered, it was hanging on the back of my chair in the restaurant. But worse than my brush being in it, it also had my passport. Oh, #*%@!

So I laid awake all night replaying in my sleep-deprived mind where I might have left it. At the dog show? In the first car I rode in to the restaurant? Dangling from the back of the chair? Somewhere in the parking lot? In the second car I took to the B&B? This maniacal thought process was repeated about 50 times. It then became replaced with: What happens if you have a plane ticket home and no passport? Do they put you in a windowless room, interrogate and fingerprint you and then let you get on the plane? Or do they just turn you away at check-in and say, "Sorry, you are not allowed to go home until someone in the U.S. verifies you are who you say you are and then sends the proper documentation. That should take about three weeks."?

I woke up early the next morning to catch the person who had been my ride the night before and who happened to be picking up that morning's judge. "No, I did not see a purse in the car," she said. Just. Freaking. Great. I closed the door and slid to the floor, resisting the urge to bang my forehead on something solid until a developed a bloody gash. A trip to the hospital about now might make a good distraction. How could I not be more aware of where my most valuable possession was?

Five minutes later, an almost inaudible knock on the door brought me crawling back. I stood up and mustered a painted-on smile. I opened it. There stood the judge's wife, Shelly, clutching my purse. "It slid underneath the seat." Happiest moment of the whole week. I grabbed it out of her hands and gushed profuse thanks. From then until I got home, I kept checking for that little blue passport book every 30 minutes like someone afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

On the day of my return, traffic was light and so we made it to the airport extra early. Relaxed, relieved, I checked my bags and went through Customs and Security (jacket off, laptop out, Kindle out, put all those and my purse in little trays to slide through the x-ray machine, then collect them and arrange everything for ease of carrying). Then I ambled through the airport shops to buy some much-needed Belgian chocolate. Got to the gate, saw the flight was delayed an hour, so passed the time reading. Then some lady with a distinct Southern accent comes by and says, "The flight's been canceled." We all thought she was joking. Uh, no.

Long story short (since you were probably wondering when this was going to end and what the point of it was), they sent us out of the terminal, back through Customs and we had to pick up our bags and get re-booked. Our flight was full and three other flights that day had been canceled, so just imagine how long that line was. My heart sank when several people in line ahead of me at the ticket counter asked where the closest hotel was, because they couldn't get out until the next day. Luckily, I got routed from Brussels through London to Chicago and then on to Dayton, scheduled to arrive at midnight.

Problem is that only left me about 90 minutes between flights and I had to go through Customs and Security at each airport. There was no time for a bathroom stop. I do not kid. Of course, my gates at both London and Chicago were in different terminals from the ones I landed at AND my gate was the furthest possible one. There must be some universal law that when you have minimal connection time, your gates must be further apart, but if you have five hours between, they'll be right next door to each other. I was literally RUNNING down the corridor at Chicago, flapping my ticket over my head, as they were paging my name, the door already closed. By the time I sat my rump in my seat on the last flight home, sweat was pouring down my sternum. No need for a workout that day.

When I found out my luggage didn't arrive home with me, I was completely unfazed. I was just glad to BE home after that marathon day. The dirty laundry inside my bag could wait. Besides, I had my Belgian chocolate in my carry-on bag. I may not know where my passport is all the time, but I do not let my chocolate out of my sight.

In all my years of flying, I've been incredibly lucky. This was the first time I've ever had a flight canceled and I've yet to miss a connection - although I tried real hard this time. After this, I'm putting in for the Amazing Race. I've got the airport terminal dash covered.

P.S. Second best moment of the trip - I'm 90% positive that Michael Flatley (Lord of the Dance) was sitting at the gate at Brussels, flipping through a newspaper. He had a shirt on, which is why I still had the smidgeon of doubt. Since I didn't want to stare and my camera was in my checked baggage, I must've looked 20 times. "Is that him? Yes, I think it is. Well, maybe not. Oh definitely, it IS him." He left after about 10 minutes. He was probably getting annoyed by the American twisting around to ogle at him.

Happy traveling,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Hidden Dangers of Buying a Kindle

What? Did you think I was going to warn you about dangerous radiation waves emitted by your e-reader or how reading for hours into the night on a Kindle could lead to severe eyestrain, migraines and possible blindness? Uh, sorry, no.

My very first Kindle arrived just over a week ago. I had been planning on paying off some bills first, but with a 5-day trip to Belgium planned where I judged a dog show, I wanted a Kindle NOW so I wouldn't have to lug multiple books along. I am soooo glad I had it (maybe because my first flight home got canceled, so I spent 9 hours at the airport at Brussels, wondering if I'd make it home that day or not). I spent half as much on e-books as I would've on paperbacks and even browsed a few samples and got my next selections lined up. Makes me wonder why I waited so long.

Naturally, I couldn't allow my Kindle to travel naked and unprotected, so I had to dress it up and layer it accordingly. To carry my Kindle through 4 airports in one day's time, I needed something to put it in. So I chose the fab striped e-reader Roo Bag (bottom photo) in Red Rock fabric from Borsa Bella. BTW, Borsa Bella's customer service is top notch. And just to let you know how impressed I am with the price, style and quality, I bought not just one, but two --- and I normally hate purse shopping. But this was for my Kindle, you see, and Kindles deserve to look gooood.

To fancify and personalize the actual casing of the device, I started looking at skins. Little did I know there are hundreds of designs available to suit even the pickiest consumer, like me. I'm pretty sure I spent something like 5 hours ogling skins at DecalGirls. I settled on Tree of Books in matte finish and also got the more colorful Aqua Burn. Skins here run from $15-20, but if you 'Like' them on FB or pay attention to their site you can get discount codes or special deals on shipping if you buy more than one. They also have skins for cell phones, iPhones, iPads and laptops. In the future I won't have to grumble about the fact that almost all laptops come in silver and only silver - I can simply order a skin and have it look the way I want it to.

To protect the Kindle from bumps, I ordered an Oberon leather cover. If you don't want a bag for carrying, a leather sleeve will double in purpose. At $69, the cover is a bit of an investment, but you don't get any better craftsmanship than Oberon's and it's so durable it will undoubtedly serve its purpose for years to come. Mine is called Tree of Life and I LURV it. Not only do I find the leather smell intoxicating, but the pewter clasp with a miniature tree on it is first class - and they even sent along a matching pewter charm that I plan on putting on a silver chain. The Kindle fits snugly inside the corner straps of the case, there is a wool pad on the opposite side to protect the screen and it has little pockets built in either side. Oberon also sells purses, wallets, jewelry

To read in the dark, I went to Target and bought a Belkin e-reader light for about $15. Stays in place and the light positions easily, but it is BRIGHT. I was afraid of waking up the other sleeping passengers on the plane and had to shield them from the nova glow. And because I couldn't bear to think of my laptop bag clashing, I bought the brown and robin's egg blue bag above for it. Must be matchy-matchy - it's an illness I have.

Above are the two ensembles that started with one Kindle purchase. And no, they are not both for me.

Happy e-reading,

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What is Cader Idris Press?

View of Cader Idris, North Wales, 1878, by Sidney Richard Percy.

I've been asked on more than one occasion who or what Cader Idris Press is. Heck, once someone even e-mailed me their manuscript and asked if I'd consider it for publication. But the fact is, it's just me. And it will only ever be me. Unless you want to count my husband as my accountant, because I hate balancing the checkbook, so he does it or it doesn't get done.

When I started out on this self-publishing venture there was more of a stigma attached to it than there is now - and that's only been a year ago. But thanks to the e-book revolution and likes of Amanda Hocking, Joe Konrath, Victorine Lieske, Barry Eisler, Beth Orsoff, H.P. Mallory and dozens of others, that's not the case at all anymore. Successful and mid-list authors have come over to the Dark Side, and indie author entrepreneurs have made a dent in Amazon's bestseller lists. Isabeau and The Crown in the Heather have even been cracking the Top 100 for Bestsellers in Historical Fiction there regularly lately. That truly flabbergasts me and I' thankful for each and every reader, because for so many years I was never sure I'd have any.

Anyway, as to where the name Cader Idris (my imprint's name) comes from - there is a story about Cader Idris in Wales. Cader Idris is a mountain in Snowdonia National Park. Wales is one of the most beautiful places on earth and if you ever want to walk a little closer to Heaven during this life, go there. The legend is that those who fall asleep on the slopes of Cader Idris will awaken either a poet or a madman.

So there you have it. I'm crazy. I'm a writer - and a publisher. Check, check and check.

All my best,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gone too soon

Last week I learned that a writer-friend, whom I'd met on Authonomy, had passed away. She'd had cancer, but it was a stroke that ultimately took her life. She was 55. Her name was Barb Porter, but most from the writing community knew her as BJ Alexander. She was generous with her time there and kind and constructive in her critiques.

Barb was also an enormously talented writer. Of the thousands of manuscripts I'd browsed through there over the years, hers are still among my favorites because she had a rare gift for imagery. I would've eagerly bought her books, read them and shared my enthusiasm for them with others, they were that good.

Last year we exchanged a few e-mails. She never once mentioned she was unwell. She didn't live far from me and I said in passing that I ought to drop by, next time I was in her vicinity. Sadly, I never did.

Her stories are very worth reading. There are still excerpts up at Authonomy. I'd like to share the links so you can see just how beautiful her writing is:

Silent Hoofbeats

Rodeo made him a star. A crippling accident and the life that followed made him a man.

His career destroyed by a crippling injury, former rodeo champ Joel Garrett unwillingly faces life outside the showring. Riding had once been as easy as breathing but now every step is painful, every breath an effort.

Desperate for a future, he finds himself at a rundown barn in the middle of nowhere. There, he meets an old man equally broken by life, a young man struggling under the shadow of abuse, and a horse that could restore them all.

Together they forge a dream of greatness, but nothing in Joel's previous life has prepared him for the destruction that follows his past finally meeting his present.

Whispers through the Aspens

A Colorado ghost town was only a tourist attraction until the death of a guest breathed life into a legend. Then a boy disappeared …

A young woman’s fatal fall from a cliff is only the latest in a series of unexplained deaths that have fed the legend of a Colorado ghost mining town for over a hundred years. But this time the victim’s family wants answers Will Adler, the head wrangler at Aspen Valley, can’t give them. And now her sister, Robyn, is there with an agenda of her own.

Only days later, Will’s young son disappears, sending his father on a frantic search up the mountain where he finds unlikely support in Robyn and then a clue that the mountain he’d always loved might hold a sinister secret—far beneath the surface . . .

Rest well, Barb. You're a good soul. I'm glad to have known you and humbled by your talent and selflessness.

Until later,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Worth Dying For - Now available in paperback

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Worth Dying For (Paperback) by N. Gemini Sasson

Worth Dying For

by N. Gemini Sasson

Giveaway ends April 21, 2011.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

For those who have been patiently waiting, Worth Dying For (The Bruce Trilogy: Book II) is now available in PAPERBACK! You can find it at and Barnes and Noble. It's now $13.99 at The B&N price has been discounted to $13.06, but I can tell you Amazon usually follows suit shortly after their main competitor drops the price - so keep checking if you want to save a buck. It should be available at within the next ten days. All the links will be up on my main web site as soon as they become available.

Or enter to win a copy at Goodreads.

Between the formatting, editing and file burps, it took longer than I had anticipated to pull it all together, but I can finally breathe a sigh of relief. If long periods of silence now ensue, I'm either toiling away in my garden or . . . finishing up the third Bruce book.

Happy reading,