Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"It's all hard" was the advice I got today....

Don't you love that!  Thanks Suzanne.

It is all hard.  If it's worth doing.  Solve big problems or small.  Make a difference or build something of value.  It's all hard.  But it's worth it.

I did so much today but still feel like I got so little done...and yet time keeps moving forward.

The hardest part for me isn't even allocating time.  Rather, it's deciding strategically what I should be doing.  Everyone executes something but are we executing something of value.  And that's really the hardest part.

Hard is a really good word.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

I'm not a fan of the witch/vampire/werewolf genre.  But I love a good story.  I was given a Dean Koontz book (Odd Apocalypse...other worldly creatures) and enjoyed every minute of it.  Historical fiction is a personal weakness...however...

What to make of Shadow of Night?  It's a witch story in which (sorry) the main character goes back to late 16th century England for a bunch of reasons, including looking for a lost manuscript.  She goes with a vampire geneticist.  Oh, and I also love time travel books.  Are we starting to see the cliches and genres piling up?  No matter, Harkness makes them work.

I wasn't a fan of the name dropping early on and got a little lost in the first - too many - pages of the book.  But slogging through that yielded a fun story that kept me reading.  After that the pace picks up and I love this kind of peek into history with a few crazy turns along the way.

This book sold really well in hard copy and is now coming out in paperback ....just in time for summer reading!!!!  Worth it?  Absolutely.  I find it hard to believe that this book will be anyone's favorite but it's just so enjoyable.  I'm so glad I read this book!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter....my mood of the day...

Anyone read this book?

It's my mood of the day.

Life, love, fate...it's all a strange mix of deliberation, misunderstanding and luck.  Then there is the divine intervention as God or whatever higher power just stirs things up.

This story is a classic of love gone wrong.  Two people fall in love, one married.  She promises to give up her true love in - what she believes - is a deal with God - to save his life.  They almost re-unite but he, in a fit of jealousy sends her husband to beg at her feet to stay.  She does...or what?  I won't wreck the story but it's worth reading.

For what do we control and what controls us?  Misunderstanding counts for more than perhaps we sometimes give credit.

One of my all time favorite books.  Ever.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Honey Thief by Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman

I like this book; I like fables from different cultures.  Fables provide universal and societal truths.  They also distill life and people into simple rules which tend to repeat.  My grandmother used to tell me like stories so they sound familiar, and comforting.  Fables also provide insight into different cultures and their norms, but remind us that people are the same globally.

The Honey Thief tells the stories of the Hazara from Afghanistan.  A smaller tribe and not dominant in the region, they've built up a support structure among themselves.  I enjoyed insight into their norms and daily life.  From the north of the country, they herd sheep and goats and lead a simpler life than I do in Los Angeles.

Structurally, the book has an introduction from the author who is now a merchant in Australia.  I found his perspective enlightening but a little awkward.  The publisher clearly weighed and decided how authentic to keep his introduction and the stories, leaning a little more to authentic over polish.

The stories are fun and fairly basic, enough so that they could be read to children.

If you like this sort of book, The Honey Thief is a fabulous read.  If you're looking for more modern sophistication or edge I'd pick another book.  Worth my time.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Escape, Captive's sequel, on Kickstarter..

Link to project

And so it goes....trying new things to get my books out to a larger and global audience.  Last time it was BitTorrent and Clearbits which got over 600,000 downloads but had very mixed results.

I like Kickstarter because it does more to engage and build an audience.  For example, an author can provide updates or rewards that connect.  It's more active.  Will it work?  Who knows...but that's never an excuse for not trying.

In Escape, Khalil and George face off once again.  This time the tables turn.  The men rush through Cairo and Aswan, always looking forward to Khalil's next target.  Assassination or another bomb?  We don't really know.

I added in a strong female character this time around.  Emine is a broken hearted war journalist with a strange ability to find Khalil.  At one point she is seemingly George's only ally.

Who lives and who dies?  More importantly, who escapes?  I have an ending but am thinking of changing it.  Perhaps one day I'll write a book with multiple endings.

So we shall see...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara

Appointment in Samarra was originally published in 1934 and is being re-issued this coming week.  I love this book!

Basically, it tracks the destruction of a formerly socially set guy, Julian English.  He comes from the right family, marries the perfect wife, has a great job and is very much in with the right crowd.  Then he makes some odd (read, very bad) social choices and his life goes awry.

The book is interesting as a period piece, of the life as it was lived during the earlier years of the Great Depression in the United States.  I love books that are so in their time and give us insight into the mood of people in a given reality.

But the book also transcends the historical impact and takes us into the conflicts the characters face as life, or fate, hits them in the face (generally with little warning).  This book also reminds me a little of the British tales of local village life I'd pick up when visiting my grandparents in Wales.  It's intimate and deals with the petty details people confront every day.  We get to know them, for good and bad.

I wouldn't call this the great American novel but no book should be expected to be.  It's instead a fun read, that teaches me a little about a lot.  And, to end where I started, I loved it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Riri Woo -Marketing 101

Mac put their Rihanna red lipstick, Riri Woo on the site at 9:00 am pst and it sold out within hours. Yes, I write too much about MAC right now but I'm obsessed with their marketing.

Keeping it simple, they took a top selling red, added a celebrity and a slight change in color (which no one has seen since it's online only, sold out and not even shipped yet), limited availability and a little hype through willing makeup bloggers.

It's just a red lipstick...now listed at about $50 and up on eBay, up from the sales price of $15.  And it hasn't seemingly shipped yet...based on the fact that I got some and have no shipping confirmation.

Consumers could get one at a time so had to order multiple times if they wanted more than one.  But MAC offers free shipping for all order (love you for that MAC) so it didn't matter cost wise...only time commitment wise.

My lesson - without focusing too much on lipstick again (but lipstick might be the best marketing case study ever).

Offer a good product but not too much of it.  As I heard today, desperation shows.  MAC constantly sells out of their limited editions by leaving some money on the table.  They could produce more products in a collection; instead, they offer more sold out collections, with fewer available in each.  Check eBay to see how that works for them...people want what they can't have.

I should change this blog name to "lipstick chronicles" but for how much I write about books...