Category Archives: ebooks

Interview with Stuff Fundies Like Creator Darrell Dow

Darrell Dow, creator of the renowned Christian website Stuff Fundies Like, just released his new book Fundamental Flaws. I got a chance to talk to Darrell before he completed his book publishing project, and to read the book before it came out. The book is insightful and succinct, useful to a wide variety of folks of a Fundamentalist background (and possibly to those without it, in understanding what it all means). Below are a few of Darrell’s thoughts.

1) What books have influenced you most over the course of your life?

It’s hard to pick just a few. Growing up we didn’t have a lot of television so I used to read several books a week. I think reading Orwell’s 1984 during college was the first time I really came face-to-face with the concept the authoritarian power structures that tried to re-invent reality. That was seminal. C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity (and later The Reason For
God by Tim Keller) also were key in showing me that orthodox Christianity was a far larger family than what I had been led to be believe. I also just finished all the Harry Potter books so I’m sure that’s somehow important too.

2) How would you say that your educational background influenced you?

I was home schooled for most of my childhood. That afforded me the time to read what interested me and study things that perhaps children in a more rigid learning environment may not have had the chance to do. Of course, attending a fundamentalist college was really what began my journey out of fundamentalism. When you see the inconsistencies and the rhetoric writ large it’s kind of hard to miss exactly how wrongheaded so much of it is. Without Pensacola Christian College there would be no SFL — not that I think that information will ever make it into their advertising.

3) What is a fundy?

Trying to get a detailed answer to that is like trying to nail the proverbial jello to the wall. Most of my writing is about those who self-identify as Independent Fundamental Baptists. But even in that world there are huge debates about who really deserves the title and who doesn’t. In a more general sense anyone from a Christian organization with a highly controlled, low trust environment will likely find something they can identify with on SFL. We have “fundy” readers from a variety of backgrounds.

You can buy Darrell’s new eBook Fundamental Flaws on Amazon. Read more of my interview with Darrell here.


I Met the Bloggess

Not really. Really, Kirinjirafa met the Bloggess, and I intend to blatantly steal as much related content from her as possible (or, some), as a special kind of repayment for her introducing me to this blog in the first place.

If you think this:

Knock-knock, motherfucker!

is funny, you should read The Bloggess (and then print the Beyonce paper doll here). If you don’t think it’s funny, there’s either something wrong with you or you need to read the rest of the story.

Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. The Bloggess) deserves to be so much more than an internet sensation, so all of her adoring fans were ecstatic way-back-when, when she expanded her soon-to-be-empire to include a book. Most of us even pre-ordered it and read it on our Kindles (cough, cough)  the day that it came out, and then slacked off on blogging that momentous event for several months. The book is just like the blog, but there’s more of it. Blog entries are only so long, and when you read one, you have to wait for the next one. Not so with the book. With the book, you can read 336 pages in one sitting if you want! (But when you finish, you still have to wait for the next one.) Buy the book here.

One day, I hope I really do meet Jenny Lawson. But until I do, this autographed illustration Kirinjirafa made for me will suffice.

Kirinjirafa’s lovely illustration work with Jenny Lawson’s signature, and it’s MINE, all MINE!


“Every World Needs Love”: an interview with erotic romance author Elizabeth L. Brooks

Elizabeth Brooks is a vivacious person with twinkling blue eyes and an anecdote for every occasion. When I learned she was a published “erotic romance” author, I was delighted – and nervous. I read some of her work, and enjoyed it almost as much as I enjoyed talking to her – review to follow soon!

How did you get started writing?

“Started” is such a nebulous verb… Somewhere in a box at home, I have a story I wrote when I was about five years old about a reindeer and a snowman, complete with a construction paper cover and barely recognizable pictures. I wrote about half of a poorly-planned mystery/horror story when I was in middle school called “Bangle Hills Manor,” mostly because I really liked the title and needed a story to go with it. In high school, I wrote an angst-laden short story that thinly disguised myself and my friends in a post-apocalyptic setting and (probably all too clearly) outlined the way I *wished* That Guy would ask me out. I showed it to another friend, who demanded to know What Happens Next. We expanded it into a novella-length story in which the writing was only barely eclipsed in horribleness by the truly glurge-y plot.

I dabbled with poetry for a few years (ah, teenage angst) and eventually came back to prose in college, when I amused myself and friends by writing background stories for my favorite characters in the role-playing games I was playing. These got *slightly* less awful over time, and in my late 20s and early 30s, a dear friend and I collaborated on what, over several years, turned into a 300,000 word novel. (For reference, a small novel is usually around 50,000 words, and the average paperback is probably about 100,000 words or so.) It was never published — it can’t decide if it’s a romance or an adventure story, and thus is currently unmarketable — but it helped me solidify the world in which “Safe Harbor” is set, and it was the first project I’d finished that I thought might actually approach publishable material.

Then I had kids, and that kept me too busy to write much for several more years. So I didn’t get around to writing anything actually suitable for submission until my late 30s. Since then, I’ve managed a novella a year, plus a short story or two here and there. I’m not a fast or prolific writer, but I’m usually pretty pleased with the results.

Why erotica?

To be fair, most of my publications aren’t strictly erotica; they’re erotic romances. I think the “romance” tag is important — I’m not just writing about sex, but about the physical expression of love and affection. A lot of erotica is missing that emotional element, and I personally find it much less enjoyable and arousing as a result.

As to the why… I guess I never entirely got over that teenage glurge stage. I love a good romance — I love feeling the power of yearning, and I love that moment when the despair of loneliness is transformed into hope and joy. I include the sex scenes because oftentimes, the characters express themselves more truly (if wordlessly) in the midst of passion than they ever can during any other waking moment. And because — let us be honest — it’s fun.

Every story I write is an easier and more certain way for me to fulfill my jones for a really satisfying romance than actually having to experience it… and less likely to get me in trouble with my husband, as well!

What influenced your decision to work with a publisher that only offers ebooks?

To be fair, Torquere Press offers print books as well, but only for anthologies and novel-length works, which so far I haven’t written. But I can tell you exactly why I chose to submit to them. I follow a ridiculous number of webcomics, and I particularly like the ones that tell good stories with engaging characters. One link or another led me to Friendly Hostility by K. Sandra Fuhr. I devoured all of it, and then sought out the previous comic that had spawned it, Boy Meets Boy, and devoured that, too. I’m still a fervent fan of all her projects, and while Friendly Hostility was active, I was an occasional participant in its LiveJournal community. When Sandra announced that she was publishing a trio of stories with Torquere Press, I jumped on them eagerly. They’re still some of my favorite re-reads, even though they’re now out of print, and until that moment, I hadn’t been aware of any publishers remotely like Torquere. So when I wrote “Of One Mind” and a friend told me that it was good enough to publish, it didn’t take me long to decide to try them first, and I was lucky enough that it was accepted.

(A note for the curious: “torquere” is Latin for “twisted”, and it’s pronounced “tor-CARE-ay”.)

Where do you find your inspiration for your characters?

It varies. The “Of One Mind” characters just materialized in my head when I started playing with the concepts that constructed the world. Jody from “Of Sound Mind” was inspired by a particular photo of the actor Keith Hamilton Cobb. Rafe and Tyver from “Safe Harbor” are reincarnations of a pair of thieves from an RPG I used to play. Everything is grist for the mill, as the saying goes.

Do you have a favorite project out of the ones you’ve worked on so far?

I have to say “Safe Harbor” is my favorite book so far. I think it’s got a stronger story and tighter writing than anything else I’ve done. But the scene between Calis and Jereth in the clothing store in “Of One Mind” is probably my favorite single scene in anything I’ve published.
What can your fans expect to see next?

The next thing I know for certain is coming out is a story called “Assumption of Desire”. Unlike my previous stuff, which was all sci-fi or fantasy, this is a contemporary piece. It was inspired by a young man I met while I was at a GLBT Pride festival in Roanoke, VA this past fall. “Assumption” is currently scheduled for release from Torquere in March.

I also have two short stories out for consideration; both of those are for themed anthologies, one about succubi and one about the military. They’re both a departure from my other work in that they’re heterosexual, and the succubus one is erotic horror instead of romance. I haven’t heard back on either one yet; but watch my blog for news!

Which authors have you found most influential over the course of your own life?

I’m such a voracious reader, it’s hard to narrow it down to a core list. My earliest influence is probably Mercedes Lackey’s “Magic’s Pawn” series — they were the first books I’d read with gay main characters who got to have satisfying and fulfilling relationships, and I was surprised by my own strong response to that emotion. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden books have been a huge influence on my writing style. I’m also a big fan of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. For erotic influence, I have to admit to A. N. Roquelaure (a.k.a. Anne Rice)’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy. (Yes, I like series.) And finally, I’ve learned an incredible amount about the art of storytelling from the works of Neil Gaiman.

Least Favorite author?

James Joyce. I’m aware that the whole stream-of-consciousness style he pioneered was a thrilling experiment in storytelling, but it makes me crazy because the narrator’s mind jumps in completely different ways than my own, so I always find myself lost for whole pages before I figure out what’s going on again. I still have no idea what the heck happened in “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”

I’ve been told that not everything he wrote was like that and that I should give some of his other works a try, but let’s be honest… There are thousands of worthy authors out there and there is no possible way to read *everything* that I could want to read in my life. So outside of a classroom requirement, is there any reason I should re-read an author I’ve tried and didn’t care for when there are so many other options on my plate?

What color are your socks right now?

They’re green, with light blue starfish. 

*

Stay tuned for my take on Safe Harbor, along with a giveaway of a variety of Elizabeth L.  Brooks related  swag- including a signed print-out of Liz’s e-book, Of Sound Mind. (Can’t wait to see more of Liz’s writing? You can download Of Sound Mind for free on Goodreads, or throw money at Liz here.)


To Download, or Not to Download: That is now the question.

It started with The Hunger Games. I wanted to read it, preferably right this minute, and all of the bookstores were sold out. I don’t have a Kindle, and I’ve always claimed to abhor ebooks. I caved. I downloaded the Kindle app to my android phone, and was reading The Hunger Games in mere seconds. I scrolled through the quasi pages so fast they were almost a blur.

By the next day, I had to have another one, and I consumed it so fast it probably ought to have made me sick.  By the day after that, my little habit was growing. I downloaded two ebooks (Mockingjay and The White Queen) because I finished the first so fast I had to have another one.

It turns out that it’s a dangerously addictive habit. Downloading books gives the thrill of instant gratification, and you can get your fix anytime, anywhere. It’s easy to get hooked. 

Now, I know what people are saying about these devils lurking in ebook culture, killing our local bookstores and ravaging innocent townspeople with their big, scary corporateness and unwillingness to cooperate with the infinite sharing policies of public libraries. Here’s what I say to all of that:

Libraries, used bookstores and the lot don’t pay royalties for each person that reads their books. Now, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but considering that the average author advance on a full-length novel is well below ten thousand dollars, and considering the measly percentage the author makes on sales (usually below 30%, and the advance is just that- an advance on the author’s cut of the sale), the author – the person that creates this product you love so – isn’t exactly making a bundle in most cases. It’s radical, but I propose to you that there’s absolutely no difference between downloading movies without paying for them and reading books without paying for them, except that one is legal and the other isn’t. The irony here is that on average, books make a much smaller profit than movies in the first place. Even a bestselling book (with the exception of freak hits like Harry Potter) doesn’t make as much money as the average Hollywood “meh” movie.

Contrast the infinite shareability of a paper book, passed around a circle of friends and finally donated to the Goodwill and re-sold for fifty cents, with the ebook. You want to read the book- you pay for it. The author takes their cut, the publisher (if there is one) takes theirs, and the seller takes a tiny slice of the pie, too. You’re paying the people that published the book. And you’re paying them without overhead. Basically, they’re getting paid for producing quality products at a much higher margin than they are even if you buy a paper copy.

Take Amanda Hocking, for example. This girl self-publishes on Amazon at a much higher percentage than she could ever get through a traditional publisher, and she gets paid 70% commissions on her book sales (which are over 10,000 per month). But she’s earned it, because it’s her product. She’s self-marketing and offering products people like (and at a very low price), and she’s being paid accordingly.  A novel concept, if you’ll pardon my pun.

I thought I’d miss the paper when I started down this slippery slope. I love the feel of paper, the scent of it, its weight. I’m the girl that has stacks of books on every conceivable surface in my house, a book or two in my handbag at all times, shelves stacked horizontally two-rows deep. What I’m finding is that I no longer have backaches lugging extra pounds of book around by my shoulder strap, and I’m not bringing books into my already-crowded nest of them, contributing to a vast book storage problem (and possible fire hazard). I’m not saying I’ll ever quit buying paper books. Some of them are just too pretty to see on a screen, and some of them absolutely need to be held, touched, and even smelled to be properly devoured. But I will be buying all of the space-hogging bestsellers that I know I’m likely to read fast and give away in Kindle format from now on.  This saves a few trees and helps me avoid contributing to the current saturation of the book market that keeps authors among the lowest paid people in the book industry.

To my local bookstore: Stock books that are as quirky and individual as you are. I’ll come see you for those, I promise. Just make sure the coffee and conversation are ready for me when I get there.