Saturday, June 22, 2013

Trouble in Taos--a book review

Trouble in Taos: Or the Lowdown, Dirtiest, Boring Gunfighter
by Headley Hauser
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't usually read Westerns. No wait . . . that's not accurate. I never read Westerns. But this one was recommended to me by someone in whom I have the utmost confidence, so I read it. And I'm glad I did; I  enjoyed every word.

It's the story of Slimy Beach, an unlikely gunfighter whose day job is digging holes for outhouses, and is told by his extremely long-lived best friend many years after Slimy's demise. Slimy's not a glamorous hero, despite the juxtaposition of this story against a romantic dime-novel version of Slimy's life. He's short, smells bad, and is, as the title says, "boring." But it's his very unheroic nature that makes this book a fun read. The narrator has a very limited view of the world, but the story is filled with references to historical people and events that only add to the reader's enjoyment.

It's written with humor as dry as a Taos winter. It's a very quick, entertaining read. I recommend it highly as a perfect beach book--though preferably not for a slimy beach.

This is the first in a promised series from Headley Hauser--the so-called genre series. I look forward to reading whatever genre comes next!

Trouble in Taos by Headley Hauser is available as an e-book on

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Writers . . . There When You Need Them

Many lament the life of a writer as solitary, their days spent in a room with only their characters for company. We've heard about writers deserting family and friends when in the throes of creativity. Yet, writers, thanks in no small part to the internet, have a rather close-knit community. They find each other on Facebook, follow each others' blogs, and answer each others' questions on message boards. They console each other during inevitable rejection, encourage each other through the tough patches, and congratulate each other for a job well done. This is even more important as the world changes and the prospects for writers to actually make a living from the craft diminishes. (See Scott Turow's Op-Ed in the April 8, 2013 New York Times.)

David Farland
But the camaraderie goes further. They are there for each other when things go really badly--are are ready to spread the word when one needs help. Take the case of novelist David Farland. He's won prestigious awards and written best sellers. He's been a generous mentor to such authors as Brandon Sanderson, Stephenie Meyer, and Brandon Mull. It sounds like he has it all--but that doesn't mean he doesn't need his friends.
Ben Wolverton
On Wednesday, April 4, 2013, his son Ben Wolverton, age 16, an active guy with his whole life ahead of him, was in a tragic long-boarding accident. He suffers from severe brain trauma, a cracked skull, broken pelvis and tail bone, burnt knees, bruised lungs, broken ear drums, pneumonia, and is currently in a coma. His family has no health insurance, and the cost of his medical treatment is expected to rise above $1,000,000.

To help raise money for Ben, the writing community is having a "book bomb" (focused on Nightingale and Million Dollar Outlines) on behalf of Ben. The general public is more than welcome to participate.

What is a Book Bomb?

A Book Bomb is an event where participants purchase a book on a specific day to support the author, or, in this case, a young person in serious need: Ben Wolverton.

David Farland’s young adult fantasy thriller Nightingale has won seven awards, including the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Book Festival—beating out ALL books in ALL categories. It has been praised by authors such as James Dashner (The Maze Runner), Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn), and Paul Genesse (Iron Dragon series), and has received four and a half starts on Amazon.

Nightingale is available as a hardcover, ebook, audio book, and enhanced novel for iPad. You can purchase it on Amazon:; Barnes and Noble:; or on the Nightingale website:
You can get the enhanced version, complete with illustrations, interviews, animations, and its own soundtrack through iTunes:

If you are a writer, you may want to consider purchasing David Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines instead. Both books are part of the book bomb. Million Dollar Outlines has been a bestseller on Amazon for over a month and is only $6.99. In Million Dollar Outlines, Dave teaches how to analyze an audience and outline a novel so that it can appeal to a wide readership, giving it the potential to become a bestseller. The secrets found in his unconventional approach will help you understand why so many of his authors go on to prominence. You can get it on Amazon: ie=UTF8&qid=1365434120&sr=8-1&keywords=Million+Dollar+Outlines or Barnes and Noble:

If so moved, you can bypass the book bomb and donate money to the cause here: 

If you can’t spare any money, but would still like to help, you can do so by telling others about Ben’s donation page, and/or this Book Bomb. Share it on facebook, twitter, pinterest, your blog—anywhere you can. There is an event page set up on facebook at:

Thank you!

Ben and his family greatly appreciate your support, and so do all who care about them.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Where do you buy your books?

I used to work for Barnes & Noble--and I really loved it. I was actually paid to be surrounded by books and readers. (By "readers" I mean people who read, not devices that contain electronic files of books.) Not that retail work is uniformly great. I had my share of disgruntled customers and holiday shifts, but for the most part, it was work I enjoyed among people I liked.

The perks were great. Employees earned full benefits if you worked 30-hours a week, and all employees, regardless of the schedule worked, received the employee discount and the opportunity to borrow hardcover books. (I really loved the perks!)

I left after a couple of years, but I still look back on it as the ideal retail job--if there is such a thing.

When I worked at B&N, outside of the cafe it sold only books, magazines, music and movies, and a few "gifts for writers" including journals, pens, bookmarks, greeting cards, etc. After I left, I saw a Nook-selling section take over where the magazines used to be, and watched as the welcoming upholstered chairs were removed to make room for games and educational toys. I noticed the backlist books were harder to find. Books that had only been out a year or so were nowhere to be found. And I missed the old just-books feel of the place; the store had lost some of its soul.

When the Great Recession hit, it became apparent that bricks-and-mortar bookstores were in trouble--especially independent stores. When Borders went out of business, it proved big-box stores were vulnerable, too, but I didn't see it as a harbinger.

I still went to my local B&N to go to the cafe, meet friends, pick up a gift, or just browse. It wasn't the same, but it was still fun to visit. But I noticed that the store wasn't as busy as I remembered it being, and that managers were handling the routine tasks I used to do. (When things aren't busy enough, salaried managers are called into service on the sales floor to cut the shifts filled by employees paid by the hour.)

I should have realized that B&N, too, was fighting for its survival. Its corporate headquarters recently announced that retail sales dropped 10.9% in 2012, and Nook sales dropped 12.6%. And I am part of the problem. After leaving the B&N workforce, and losing the employee discount, I shopped for my books by price rather than convenience. Amazon often had the better price, so I joined Prime and shopped online. When I got an e-reader, it was a Kindle.

In the meantime, B&N has closed many of its less-profitable stores, and plans to close even more. I seriously doubt my book budget could keep my local B&N afloat, but I'd really like it to survive. So far, the stores in our area are still there. But who knows for how long?

And what will that mean for book buyers? Will Amazon, already the book sales leader, become a virtual monopoly? Or will the market adjust, as it often seems to do, to create new sources for those who hope to buy books?

Since monopolies are bad for consumers (and suppliers like publishers and authors), I certainly hope B&N survives. But I have to admit--I still love my Kindle.

What do you think? Is there any way to save bricks-and-mortar bookstores? Would it be cataclysmic for them to disappear?

And, where do you buy your books?