Monday, January 31, 2011

The Everyday Romantic / Tammie Clarke Gibbs

Genre: Non-Fiction/Self Help

Approximate net words:

9-10,000 words

Availability Kindle:


Georgia native and romance author Tammie Clarke Gibbs has experience helping fictional characters become romantic, but as a former owner of a balloon and gift basket business, she’s experienced in helping real people become a little more romantic too. Her latest novel is Island of Secrets, a historical time-travel romance. For more visit
the author's web site.

The subtitle, The Ultimate Guide to Do-It-Yourself Romantic Rendezvous, Gifts and More …, tells the story. The book is split into three sections - Romantic Rendezvous, Romantic Gifts, and Romance Everyday.


If I have a complaint about this book, it’s not with the contents, but with the structure. It seems the book, just like real people, should start small and work up to the big things. Instead, the book kicks off with the big things, ideas for romantic weekend getaways with your special someone. I would have saved that section for last. Although excellent ideas they’re also not the “every day” (or week or probably even month) kinds of things most people can or would do.

Were it me, I’d have started with the Romantic Gifts section. This and the last section are where the book shines. Here you’ll find new ideas for those big days that “are a given” like Valentine’s Day and birthdays, but also those days when you want to surprise your special someone. (It’s the latter that will make you a romantic.) You’ll learn why flowers are not always the answer and the situation where daisies or the wildflowers by the side of the road are better than roses. This section has some excellent ideas and advice that should help anyone think more romantically.

The previous section was focused outward, what you can do and how you can do it. The last section of the book, Romance Everyday, focuses inward. You’ll find ideas for making yourself more receptive to romance, because in the end, romance isn’t about the specifics, but about the attitude.

Format/Typo Issues:
The initial version of the book contained a greater than average number of typos/proofreading errors although not so excessive as to be a big problem for me. However, I passed those I found onto the author who fixed them and uploaded a corrected version of the book. I don’t anticipate any significant issues remain. (Anyone who purchased the book prior to January 30th should be able to contact Kindle Customer Service and request the corrected version.)

Ranking: ****4 Stars

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kindle Singles – News/Commentary - 01/28/2011

Wednesday morning Amazon began releasing what they are calling “Kindle Singles.” The description they give is, “Each Kindle Single presents a compelling idea--well researched, well argued, and well illustrated--expressed at its natural length.” Prices for the initial batch ranged from $0.99 to $2.99.

I’ll admit, my initial impression was, “so what.” What’s the big deal? Why the big announcement? Countless authors have published short stories, novellas, and other short fiction that is available in the Kindle store. Among the venues Amazon announced this was a thread in the Amazon Kindle Forum. The reaction among the group who responded was mixed, but seemed weighted toward those who saw this as inconsequential or thought the Kindle Singles were overpriced.

After digging a little deeper and considering the ramifications I’ve changed my opinion slightly. It’s true that fiction of all lengths is already available in the Amazon store. However, these new “singles” appear heavily weighted toward non-fiction. Almost all those I checked are non-fiction on a variety of subjects. Memoir, true crime, what might be termed investigative reporting, business, politics, and science are included in the initial offering. The length is included in the listing for each with those I checked ranging from 18 to 58 pages.
Amazon's press release indicates that their target size is 5,000 to 50,000 words, a size that falls in between that of a large magazine article and a small book.

The Positives

I see this as a positive for a few reasons. As the announcement says, any essay, article, paper, or whatever you want to call it has a “natural length.” This move by Amazon showcases one of the advantages of the Kindle that thus far has not been emphasized or, with the exception of fictional short stories, been taken advantage of by many. A book, essay, or article can be “its natural length” without the problems inherent in physical distribution. A short piece does not have to be published as a magazine article or part of an anthology. A book that should be 30,000 words doesn’t have to be artificially expanded into a book.

Other than size, what it takes to become a Kindle Single is still unclear. It appears there is some kind of vetting process. However, I can envision this inspiring indie non-fiction authors to see the potential of publishing directly to the Kindle. There was nothing preventing this before, however, many potential authors still think in terms of the requirements of the paper book world. By thinking outside of the box, Amazon may inspire others to do the same.


On the subject of pricing, the basic rules of economics still apply. The appropriate cost of a novel in eBook form has been hotly debated in many venues. Eventually the market will decide. However, most people in those debates acknowledge that non-fiction is different because in many cases these works require a disproportionate investment of time and other resources to research and produce than fiction. Those who compare these shorts to a magazine cover story, what some of them could have been with a little cutting, and believe this should somehow reflect consumer cost aren’t taking into account the effect of advertising revenue in the economics of the magazine publishing business. In the end, the market will determine the appropriate price. I’ve had several authors who have told me they are happy with their sales volume of short stories, priced at Amazon’s minimum price of $0.99, so I expect there might be enough readers who see these Singles as a good value to satisfy potential authors.


Time will tell how well this works, however the more I consider it the more I see this as a positive development for all parties, Amazon, publishers, authors, and us, the reader. In the next week or so I’ll have reviews of four of these Kindle Singles. In the meantime, you can also check out
this article by the author of one of the Kindle Singles with his thoughts on the experience.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brittle Shadows / Vicki Tyley

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Approximate word count:

Availability Kindle:


With her first novel, the mystery thriller Thin Blood, Vicki Tyley was one of two independent authors with a book on Amazon’s list of the top 100 selling Kindle books of 2010. Her 2nd book, also released in 2010 is Sleight Malice. Although a native of New Zealand, Tyley and her husband have lived in Australia since the early 80s. Click for Tyley's website.

Jemma Dalton travels to Melbourne to tidy up the affairs of her sister, an apparent suicide brought on by the suicide of her fiancĂ© two months prior. Soon Jemma begins to suspect things aren’t as they seem. How was her sister able to support her better than average lifestyle and accumulate over $1,000,000 in stock on a personal assistant’s salary? Were these really suicides?


Tyley is a master at weaving a complex, multilayered plot. The many characters Jemma meets starting with the manager of her sister’s apartment and the police detective who assists her, continuing to her sister’s friends and co-workers, all have unclear alliances and murky agendas. Everyone is a possible ally or a potential foe. The more Jemma uncovers about her sister and the other characters the cloudier the picture gets. Somehow Tyley managed to keep me guessing and second guessing what really happened right up until the end.


Ms Tyley is an Australian resident and the book takes place in Australia. This means you’ll see an occasional Aussie-ism. There is also some word usage that may be unfamiliar to US readers as well as Australian/UK spelling.

Format/Typo Issues:
Although the version I reviewed was a pre-release copy it had been formatted for the Kindle and had no significant formatting or typo issues.

Rating: ***** 5 Stars