Tuesday, April 12, 2011

K is for...


Really, what I want to talk about are e-books, but Kindle is sort of the original hand-held format for e-books, and it starts with "K." There you have it.

One cannot look at publishing right now without considering e-publishing. Some companies are jogging to catch up, still primarily doing actual paper books. Some companies are moving more toward e-publishing than paper books. Others are right smack in the middle, which is where I hope to find a publisher, though I keep getting mixed reviews on which format actually benefits the author the most.

I'm still stuck on where I stand on e-format as a reader. I love the feel, the smell, the entire tactile experience of reading a book on paper. I love my book shelves full of books. In fact, I have only experienced two novels in e-format. One of those was by Stephen King and was probably about a decade ago, maybe a bit shy of that. I can't remember for certain, but I believe it was either "From a Buick 8" or "Riding the Bullet." I'm fairly certain it was the Buick one.

When you consider that he put that book out in an e-format well before publishers were doing anything like that, it's pretty amazing. Is the man savvy or what?

Know what else starts with "K"? King.

Stephen King.

I was such a big Stephen King fan in middle school and high school that friends jokingly called me Shannon King (my true maiden name actually began with a "K," as well, but wasn't King). If there was a lull in the class, you'd inevitably find me consuming a Stephen King novel. Some of those were behemoths, yet I lugged them around from class to class, taking up most of my arm space.

The thing about Stephen King is he establishes a certain cadence in his books. He does this thing where he repeats a bit of an extra theme throughout the story. I don't know why I enjoy that, but I do. It brings me in, makes me feel like I'm a part of the in-joke. It ties together different parts of the book. He is also good at painting a picture of the every-man. Of this typical guy, stumbling through life in Maine (usually, though Colorado gets to claim a few), who happens to run into some really freaky monsters.

I was also a fan of Dean R. Koontz. There's yet another "K" for you. They run rampant in writing circles, I guess, those "K's." Koontz was a little more flowery. His characters a little less "aw shucks" in some ways. I loved the poems he had at the beginning of chapters in some books from "The Book of Counted Sorrows," I think it was. His books mostly took place in California, where there was plentiful sunshine, and where I discovered the word bougainvillea, which I tried to find the correct pronunciation of for years. And he always had a golden retriever in there somewhere. Okay, so I can't say definitively that there is one in every book, but it had to be close, people.

I keep talking about King and Koontz in past tense, but that is when I was their biggest fan (yikes, anyone get that reference? Cockadoodie, dirty birdy). Not to say I don't pick up their books now, but it's not the same mad rush, as I've moved a little ways away from horror. I love to re-read their older books, and they take up quite a bit of shelf space.

K is also for...

Kelley Armstrong.

I'm afraid she's my new favorite author. Yet again, an example of my having hopped from horror to fantasy. Fantasy has elements of horror, at least the urban fantasy books I've been reading, yet it doesn't set out to scare you in a "boo!" fashion. Instead, it makes you look at your neighbors and wonder if they're actually werewolves that put on a good face. Maybe they're faeries. Who the heck knows? Urban fantasy has taught us that the supernatural can be all around us, yet life just keeps marching on as it always has. No biggie.

And Kelley Armstrong is the Queen of Urban Fantasy. Though I was sad to learn she is about to wrap up her Women of the Otherworld series. Sob. As long as she keeps writing, I'm game, though I will miss the characters she's left behind. Elaina, her werewolf heroine, is one of my favorite characters, and one of the kick-ass chicks that stands out.

Oooo, another "K." Kick-ass chicks.

Who doesn't like kick-ass chick characters? My youth was spent (misspent?) reading stories with male protagonists. The types of books I liked were written by male authors, and male authors tend to write with male protagonists. Maybe that's why I turned to urban fantasy so readily, though. Maybe I was just ready to read about a female protagonist who wasn't in a wishy-washy romance (well, they typically do that, too, but they have other things on their mind most of the time). I can spool off a ton of YA and MG novels with female protagonists, but when it comes to the adult novels I enjoyed, they were usually heavily populated by males. Even mysteries seemed to lean toward males unless they were cozies, and I wanted some real blood shed, not a cozy mystery (though I like at least one series of those, as well). Finally, along came the kick-ass chicks of urban fantasy. I believe it was Laurell K. Hamilton who originally introduced me to that particular genre. Before then I'd hit a bit of a slump and was reading anything that came my way to try to find what I was looking for. (I slipped another "K" in there, haha).

I should really wrap this up, though I'm sure I could expand on each of the above topics enough to create a whole post about each one. I've been doing a bit better at shortening these posts for the challenge, but sort of messed up this time. I hope you'll forgive me, Dear [Constant] Readers, for being a bit wordy this time around.

As for you, have you found that you've stuck to pretty much the same genre throughout your life, or have your tastes changed over time? How? Why? Who are your favorite authors and who WERE your favorite authors?

Happy Writing!


  1. I still really enjoy Stephen King (although lately his work isnt his best, I have reviews on my blog) and Dean Koontz (my favourite of his is The Husband) I like them because, without fail I can pick one up and get straight into it and be gripped the whole way. I just love their writing style. And my kindle, well I am having a very taboo love affair with my new kindle <3 hehee. (my E post was on ebooks and I have a kindle review on my blog too) Thanks for stopping by Mercys World.

  2. I'm also taken aback by the rise of ebooks. I think I'd be heartbroken if they ever truly replaced good, solid physical books, but as an aspiring writer I can absolutely see their value.

    When I first started to understand the differences between genres, I gravitated to horror, because I felt the characters would be more developed and human (I was about 12). From there I moved to fantasy, then to my current favourite, urban fantasy.

  3. I used to read a lot of King when I was younger, but fell out of love with him in recent years. Just a bit too longwinded for me now.

    Interesting, wide0ranging post. I suppose I'm going to have to get an ereader... eventually.

  4. I don't have any kind of e-reader. I plan to stick with my paper books as long as possible. I guess I feel I stare enough at screens with all my writing/blogging/etc. and so I like to go back and be able to just sit with a paper book.

    However, I understand that a lot of people find them much more convenient. My publisher does both printed books and ebooks, and I'm glad for that.

    I think I've pretty much stuck with the same sorts of books throughout the years. Fantasy and sci-fi were always my favorites, but I've also read tons of other genres too. When I was a kid/teenager I read absolutely everything I could get my hands on. Except I never really went for horror or murder mysteries. I've read a couple, but they're just not my thing.

  5. I like all those K's. A friend just emailed me and said Kindles are on sale right now.

    I find I enjoy stories more if there's a kick ass chic in them.

  6. I have not read any Kelly Armstrong or Stephen King. Is that sad or what?

  7. 1. e-publishing: I'm all for it. In a general sense, at any rate. I still don't own an e-reader, though, as I prefer to hold an actual book in my hands. However, I support anything that helps curtail the waste of the publishing industry, so that includes POD publishing, too.

    2. Stephen King and horror: I've always intended to read some King, but, somehow, I've never gotten around to it. That's probably because horror is not my preferred genre, but I've always wanted to see what all the fuss was about with him, so to speak.

    3. My favorite author while I was in high school was Piers Anthony. I outgrew his stuff, though. That and it just kept staying the same year after year, so I felt like I kept reading the same stuff again and again. These days, I really like Stephen Lawhead. I'm still at the point where I'll read anything new he puts out.

  8. I am 100% being digital publishing. But I think publishers still need to offer the book in print formats too. Some genres do extremely well in ebook format, while others do not. It depends on the target market for the genre. The under 40 market is definitely into digital anything. But the over 40...over 60...not as much. But in my honest opinion, if they'd try it, I bet they'd love it!

    I read a lot of RL Stine and similar when I was a kid. But now, you won't catch me with anything even remotely scary! LOL! I read a lot of Judy Blume too and other girly series type of books.

  9. I think that digital publishing is taking over and we have to be ready for it. I mourn the loss of a print reading audience though.

    I'm too chicken to get into Stephen King.

    I enjoyed your K post. Happy to meet you through the challenge :)

  10. I don't have a Kindle yet but I do have plans to get one because there are a few books I've been wanting to read that are only available in eBook format.

    I'm not a big fan of Stephen King. I read and liked his Dark Tower series and adore his book "On Writing" though.

    My favorite author from middle school on has been Ellen Emerson White. She created some completely amazing characters who have just stayed with me ever since. I read her President's Daughter series every single year.

  11. I love my Kindle! I've read tons of stuff since I got it for Christmas. That's actually my K topic today, too. I think, as an author, you have to make e-books a part of your marketing strategy these days.

  12. I'm still on the fence about e-readers and cannot make up my mind whether to turn my memoir into an e-book. But I do think it is the way publishing is trending and I'm going to have to get off the fence one of these days. Nice to "meet" you on the challenge.

  13. Mercy, you're right about their writing styles. There's a reason they made it so big. Were you resistant to the Kindle to begin with or was it love at first sight?

    Paul, I have to hope that, though the e-format will pick up quite a bit, paper books will still be around. After all, I envision my book in paper format when I think of getting published, not a file on the computer. I've already got one of those.

    Mood, "Under the Dome" was sort of a slow death for me, but I did enjoy his short story collection that came out. The one about the female author on her way back from a signing struck a chord.

    Laura, I also read everything I could get my hands on as a teenager. I'm a bit pickier now, but I still like to branch out and try different genres and new authors. Sometimes I have trouble figuring out what else to try, though.

    M Pax, I checked it out, and there is a good sale going on right now. Even cheaper if you get one with sponsored screen savers. They might bring me around yet.

    Angela, if you ever decide to try, I think my favorite King novels were "The Shining" and "The Gunslinger" (the first one). As for Kelley Armstrong, I'd start at the beginning of her Women of the Otherworld series. I think the first one is "Bitten."

    Andrew, I'd say "The Gunslinger" would be the closest King comes to fantasy novels. Plus, it's a bit of a Western, to throw another genre in there. I've been wanting to try Piers Anthony, as I've known quite a few people who loved his books. Any you'd recommend to start with? Maybe just earlier ones?

    Stephanie, good information, thank you. I feel like I need to check out a Judy Blume. Now is the time I admit I've never read one of her books. Sort of a "gasp" moment to most people, probably. I kind of skipped over young adult books when I was a kid and am just discovering them now.

    Septembermom, I can only hope it is never a complete loss. Surely there are enough out there who enjoy that same tactile experience I do.

    M.J., I finally ran into a book only available in e-format today, so I'm thinking a Kindle will probably be in my future. I'll rant and rave all the way to the Amazon checkout in my head. Up to now, I couldn't figure out what books I'd possibly want electronically rather than physically, but if they start also putting out older books that aren't in print anymore, I could be all over that. "On Writing" is really good. I've been thinking I need to pull it out and read it again, as it has been years since I last read it and it would probably do me a lot more good now. I haven't heard of EE White, but will have to look her up.

    Shelli, very true. It may actually be easier coming into it fresh than already being established in a changing publishing world. Or at least I was thinking about that today.

    Karen, if you do decide to put your memoir in e-format, I think I've heard of Smashwords being a good way to start, because I believe you can get it put into the different formats (for instance, Nook and Kindle) on there. I don't recall for sure, though, as I'm afraid I wasn't paying as much attention as I should until recently. Otherwise, you have to convert them for the different formats.

  14. Hmm... I'll suggest the best of what I've read by Anthony, but, remember, I wasn't nearly as impressed with any of this upon re-reading as an adult.
    1. Spell for Chameleon (and the next 2 Xanth novels)
    2. Apprentice Adept trilogy (1st trilogy only)
    3. On a Pale Horse (Incarnations #1)
    4. Bearing an Hourglass (Incarnations #2)
    5. For Love of Evil (Incarnations #6)
    6. Bio of a Space Tyrant (I haven't read the last one, though, as it was added on over a decade later)