Tenth Chapter Benchmark

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At last, I have some actual book stuff to tell you guys about. If you’ve been with me long enough you’ll recall that I revealed some stats about my first book last summer once I reached the conclusion of the tenth chapter. Ten is such a nice round number and it gives me the opportunity now to compare where I was in my first book through ten chapters to where I am in my second. But first let me tell you about the chapter.

I know it’s been some time since I posted about MY book, so let me give you a short review of what’s happened so far. Andrew is hired by a prominent activist who needs some additional security. Andrew and Sydney have decided to add to their tiny family. A major event hosted by Andrew’s client is interrupted by some very unwelcome guests. And the case is sending Andrew out of the city of Houston for the first time.

In this chapter Andrew and Sydney make a major decision regarding their relationship. The chapter is playful and happy and serious and argumentative all at once.

Obviously that wasn’t an in depth review of what’s happened, but all of that is in previous blog posts. Feel free to play around on here if you want to know more about the first nine chapters.

Now, to the stats! And I offered up a comparison between my first book numbers and my second.

Book Two (Book One)

Word Count: 23,561 (22,885)

Chapters: 10 (10)

Average Chapter Length: 2,356 (2,288)

Total Editing Time: 24 hours 34 minutes (27 hours 54 minutes)

Total Pages (in Word): 76 (70)

Average Length Spent on Each Chapter: 2 hours 27 minutes  (2 hours 45 minutes)

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Where do you Read?

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I am as avid a reader as any person I know, but I’m well aware of other bloggers who read the number of books I read in a year, in two months. But that doesn’t make me any less of a reader and it certainly doesn’t mean that I haven’t hunkered down and read in every place imaginable.

For me, reading is the greatest escape there is. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a good day or a bad day or just turned 21 or anything at all. A good book never fails to suck you in for hours upon hours just to leave you breathless at the end thinking…”WOW! I need to continue the series!” That’s happened to me more times than I can possibly remember.

I mean, what else can you do for hours and hours and hours without eating or sleeping or moving from your spot and not feel bad about? You can watch TV, but the entertainment found there rarely hits the spot like a good book. You could just lie in bed all that time on your phone texting or tweeting or doing absolutely nothing but stare at the ceiling. What good does that do? No, there’s nothing quite like reading.

I honestly, cannot think of every place I’ve read. Let’s see…my favorite place is lying in bed. I’ve read in a hospital room, in the front seat of a car, in the emergency room, reclined on the sofa, in college and school classrooms, at the library, at work, and probably several places that I can’t remember as i write this. You can read ANYWHERE. And I certainly have.

So I ask, where is your place to get lost in a good book?

Our Presidents and Their Books

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Happy Presidents Day! Hopefully you’re off of work or school or whatever you have going on.

In honor of the holiday I took it upon myself to look into the history of U.S. presidents who have written books. The practice is fairly common today for outgoing presidents to write books about their presidencies. These often become mega bestsellers. I’m certain that President Obama will be writing about killing Bin Laden, the Affordable Care Act, and being the first African-American president in our nation’s history once he’s out of office. But that’s not happened yet, so let’s look at the books already written by former presidents.

Barack Obama

The current president has written a few books already, one of which was released during his presidency. I think most people know that he was a New York Times bestselling author before reaching the Oval Office. His books are The Audacity of Hope, Dreams from my Father, and Of Thee I Sing. The third title on that list is a letter to his daughters in which Obama writes tributes to great Americans and discloses that he sees their traits in his daughters. I haven’t read the book, but I definitely will at some point.

George W. Bush

Bush wrote the memoir Decision Points shortly after leaving office in 2009. It’s hard not to want to log into your Amazon account and order this book if you haven’t already done so. We had the September 11th attacks, wars started in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the start of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression during his presidency. It doesn’t matter what you think of Bush the president, I’d recommend this book so you can gain a new perspective of the realities of American presidency.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Before becoming president, Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. If you know nothing about the war, just know that there weren’t too many people with more important jobs during the war than his. He wrote Crusade in Europe in the years between the end of the war in 1945 and him taking office in 1953. The book tells the story of the war from his eyes. This man was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of France and Germany, which is reason enough for you to read it.

John F. Kennedy

We all know the story of Kennedy’s assassination and we’ve heard the conspiracy theories surrounding that dreadful day. But JFK also wrote Profiles in Courage in which he profiled the heroic acts of eight Americans during different time periods in our nation’s history. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

There have been many more presidents who have written books including Calvin Coolidge, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and more. This list on Goodreads has plenty to pick from.

Saturday Selects: Farewell to an All-Time Great

As evidenced by my most recent posts, I’ve decided to branch out and discuss a wider range of topics related to books, publishing, reading, and writing. Well, I’m going to continue that trend and start a series of posts on one Saturday a month to discuss a topic that is unrelated to any of the above topics. After all, there’s more to me than books. (But not much) This will be the first and it will have a baseball theme to it.

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Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter announced this week that the upcoming baseball season will be his last. You might be wondering why this is significant. Well, Derek Jeter will be a first ballot hall of famer when he becomes eligible. There’s no doubt about it. For those of you non-sports watchers, a first ballot hall of famer is when the player is elected in his first year on the ballot. This year there were three such players elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but it doesn’t happen often.

I’m only 22 and Derek Jeter has played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball. I have literally grown up watching him play. It doesn’t matter that I’m not a Yankees fan, I’m a baseball fan above all else and Derek Jeter has been the face of the game for nearly two decades. He’s played in a whopping seven World Series! Seven! Five of those times the Yankees came out on top, losing in 2001 to the Arizona Diamondbacks in one of the great sports moments of the last 15 years, and in 2003 to the Florida Marlins.

To put it into perspective what he’s meant to the game I’ll give you what I think is a perfect comparison. The NFL is king in America. The Super Bowl seemingly breaks its own viewership records each year. Well, Tom Brady has been the face of the league over the last decade or so. He’s played in five Super Bowls and won three. He’s constantly in the discussion of being one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. While Jeter isn’t necessarily in that particular conversation when it comes to baseball, it’s hard to argue against him when he’s compared to players of his era. And he is in that conversation when it comes to the Yankees organization, which is far and away the most prolific we’ve ever had in baseball history.

I’m not going to get into his stats because I can tell you that they are representative of his GREAT career. I will, however, suggest that you take a look at this article published by CBS Sports that ranks him based on his numbers among the greatest shortstops ever. I’d also recommend you read this article published on Forbes that discusses Jeter as the player of his generation.

It’s been great watching you play, Mr. Jeter. Absolutely great.

A Valentine’s Day Duel: Ron & Hermione vs. Katniss & Peeta

ImageHappy Valentine’s Day! Hopefully you spend the day with someone special. Or, if you’re like me, you can spend it with your books. So, since it is Valentine’s Day I thought it only fitting to discuss two of the most well known literary relationships of the last decade. I’ll give you a hint…there have been a total of ten movies in which these two pairs of lovebirds appear so far, with two more on the way. Any guesses? Ron and Hermione of Harry Potter fame and Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games. Let’s dive right in.

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Ron and Hermione

I am a HUGE fan of the Harry Potter franchise, but I have to admit that I have not read any of the books yet. I know, I know. You don’t have to tell me. I NEED to read them. I will at some point. But that’s not the point of this post. We’re talking about witch on wizard love. I considered including Harry and Ginny in this conversation, but Ginny isn’t quite one of the big three in the series, so Harry gets left out even though every book bears his name on the cover.

I’m sure every person keeping up with the literary world, and probably plenty who don’t, heard J.K. Rowling admit that Harry and Hermione would have been the better couple rather than Hermione and Ron. I tend to agree with her. Again, this is coming from someone who has not read the books, but Ron and Hermione just seem….odd together. One of the images I have in mind as I write this is in Deathly Hallows Part 1 when Ron abandons Harry and Hermione. While he’s gone they share a pleasant moment in which the two are seen dancing even though they’re in the midst of a dire situation. You can’t possibly tell me that Ron would be capable of such a thing. After all, he did abandon them.

Also, Ron isn’t exactly the brightest of the wizards attending Hogwarts. We all know Hermione is a brilliant witch. I can’t be the only one who pictures her with a similarly brilliant wizard. I think Harry fits that mold quite well.

I applaud J.K. Rowling for writing the story as she originally imagined it. But I also applaud her for admitting that she should have done things a little differently.

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Katniss and Peeta

The unlikeliest of partners. I HAVE read all of the books in The Hunger Games series and I’ve seen both movies. So I guess you can go ahead and call me an expert on the matter. Okay, maybe not an expert. BUT I absolutely love the series and not just because my future wife Jennifer Lawrence happens to play Katniss.

The two are thrown together during the first chapter of the first book in the series during the annual Reaping in which one boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts is chosen to fight to the death in the annual Hunger Games. Katniss’ younger sister is actually chosen but Katniss does the unthinkable and volunteers in her place. She’s the first ever volunteer from her district in the 74 year history of the Games.

The relationship between the two starts off a bit rocky. Katniss is independent and not the most sociable person while Peeta is about as likeable as it gets. The two remain polite with each other until Peeta admits during an interview before the Games are set to begin that he’s got a crush on Katniss. I mean, I don’t blame him. She’s perfect! Katniss doesn’t like being thrown a curve ball and gets a bit upset. Then she goes on to score an 11 out of 12 during her individual showing for the Gamemakers. Peeta then decides that he no longer wants to be trained alongside Katniss because there is only one winner.

Once the Games begin and Katniss is on her own and Peeta is nowhere to be found it is announced that there can be two winners from the same district. Katniss goes on to keep Peeta alive with the help of sponsors and the two ultimately win the Games, but not before they tick off the Capitol in doing so. Katniss put on a show for everyone watching to make out like the two were madly in love. She did it to survive while Peeta wasn’t acting.

The two are forced to act as if they need each other in order to live after the Games, and although they do their best, it may already be too late. They may have inadvertently started a rebellion.

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My Favorite

This actually isn’t all that hard for me to decide. Katniss and Peeta. Hands down. I didn’t go into the second or third books of the series because I refuse to spoil those for any person who reads this who may not have read them. If you have read them then you are well aware of how their relationship evolves over time. But in the first one Katniss is about as upfront as she can be with Peeta under the circumstances. While the cameras were rolling she acted in a manner that kept both of them alive. And as soon as they were out of the limelight she made it known that it wasn’t as real for her as he might have thought. I guess my reasoning for liking their relationship slightly more than Ron and Hermione’s would be because we know what we’re getting from the start. Ron and Hermione take FOREVER to make it happen. (At least in the movies)

So tell me, which would you rather be a part of….Ron and Hermione or Katniss and Peeta?

Just for kicks, which nickname do you like more? The Boy Who Lived or The Girl on Fire?

Print vs. E-Book: Which side are you on?

ImageOne of the wonderful things about technology is that it causes us to ask questions that we had never previously thought of. The print vs. e-book question had never once been asked prior to the 2000s. But it’s a question that every bibliophile has struggled with at some point in recent years. I know I have. Before I discuss which side of the stick I happen to fall on, let’s delve into the battle a little bit first.

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Print

The printing of books hasn’t changed all that much since the advent of the printing press. The process has become easier and cheaper as technology advanced. No matter the price a particular publisher sets for the print edition of a book, the actual cost to print is essentially the same for all publishers. It isn’t as though one publisher has the printing technology of 2005 and another of 1900. Printing is printing and although the price of books is constantly changing, printing is still printing. For instance, I know exactly how much it costs to print my book.

Also, a print book is a physical object. You can hold it and dog ear your pages and highlight and then put it right back on your shelf to read again in the future once you’re finished reading. That means something to many readers.

In just a few short years print books, and thus publishers, have taken a hit from the e-book market. There of course was a time very recently in which all books were printed. Now only about 70% of book sales fall into this category. Think of owning your own business and losing nearly a third of your business before you even have time to react to what’s happening. This is exactly what happened in the last decade to the publishing industry. If you keep up with publishing like I do then you know that for the longest time there were the Big 6 publishers that maintained a stranglehold on the book world. Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, and Random House. Well, as you likely already know, in 2013 Penguin and Random House completed a merger that combined two of the world’s largest publishers. This was done out of necessity, for both publishers, due in part to Amazon’s major role in the the book market.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves because I haven’t read anything recently about any more major mergers happening soon.

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E-Book

The little guy who has turned the publishing world on its head. The advantages of e-books are numerous and can’t be denied. A digital version of a book is cheaper than a printed version. There’s no paper or ink or printing or anything but a file to be downloaded. A single e-reader or tablet can hold thousands of books without ever needing to give any away to make more room on the shelf. Reading on a device is often more suitable to the eyes than reading straight from paper. (Just think of reading something on your phone in your room at midnight versus reading off of paper) Lastly, everything you can think to do in a printed book like take notes or highlight or save your page can now be done on just about every e-reader or tablet that allows you to read e-books. Let’s face it, a huge percentage of the American population has access to a device on which e-books can be read. I mean, who doesn’t have a PC, Mac, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Nook, Kobo, Galaxy Note, or Galaxy S? We all do, which means we all have access to the cheaper version of the exact same books available at your local bookstore or online.

Where do I Fall?

After examining printed books versus e-books the conclusion may be clear to some, if not most people. And it is for me. I’m willing to pay whatever the difference is between the digital and printed formats. Why? Because a printed book is a physical object that I can forever admire on my shelf. I can’t admire a file on a smartphone or tablet. I personally have more than 160 printed books and less than 20 on my Kindle. NOTE: I did not buy my Kindle, it was given to me as a gift.

I’m Team Printed Books, what about you? Tell me in the comments!

By the way, this is on my left forearm. I HAVE to be all for printed books.

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Some Tips About Writing Book Reviews

I’ve recently read several blog posts about book reviews that got me wanting to chime in on the the subject myself. There seems to be a difference of opinion out there. I’m obviously not a professional reviewer but I am an author and I’ve received both good and bad reviews for my first book.

There a few things I’d like to go over when it comes to writing a review of a book you either did or did not like.

1. Read the Book

The first is that the book, at least in part, needs to be read. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for you to write a scathing review of a book that you read only the first two chapters. You are not helping any other reader and you’re definitely not giving the author any information as to how come you decided to write the review that you did. You can’t talk about the story or the characters or anything. So before you put your reviewer hat on just remember to read before you review.

2. Review the Book

This may seem straightforward enough, but browse the reviews on Amazon and you’ll likely come across a number of reviews that appear to have nothing to do with the book. What I mean is that you should be able to give an explanation as to what you did or did not like about the book and be on your way. There’s no need to sit there for an hour trying to come up with ways to bash the author. So you didn’t like the book, right? Then tell other potential readers why you didn’t like it and be done with it. I understand that it isn’t your job to be nice in your review, but what’s a review if it isn’t fair?

3. Proofread your Review

You may be laughing at this, but think about it. How much credence are other readers going to give you if you write a very detailed review of a book that is riddled with typos and grammar mistakes? Again, this is something that I have personal experience with. Just take a minute or two, because your review shouldn’t be the length of the book, and read over what you’ve written. There’s probably something that needs fixing.

4. Good Books need Reviews Too

Everyone wants to rush to write down the one star review of their latest read. The book was so bad that you threw it into the middle of the street for any unknowing motorist to run over so no one would ever have to be subject to its awfulness. But what about the book you read before it? That you thoroughly enjoyed but never took a few minutes to review. I’d argue that five star reviews are just as important to potential readers as one star reviews. So don’t forget that potential readers can also read about how great you think a book is and not just how bad.

Lastly, I encourage you to check out a few blog posts written by some bloggers I follow and some I don’t. I think you’ll find that there is no consensus on the matter.

The first was written on the blog A Platform of Sorts.

The second was written on the blog Raven Reviews.

The last one was written on author Shannon A. Thompson’s blog and goes beyond just the simple book review.