Monday, May 9, 2011

My wife, the love of my life, passed away last Friday evening. The following is her obituary.

Jane Kennedy Sutton loving wife, mother, sister, grandma, and author passed away May 6, 2011 in Fort Myers, Fl.

Survived by husband Kim Sutton, daughter Heather Sutton-Lewis, sister Terry Cromie, grandson Sebastian Sutton-Lewis, son-in-law Christopher Lewis and brother-in-law William Cromie all of Fort Myers, Fl.

Jane was born in San Diego, Ca. January 15, 1949. Graduated from Central High School in Little Rock Ar. In 1966. Jane and her family were world travelers living in Taiwan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, and Saudi Arabia. It was during these sojourns she honed her skills as a writer, her first novel “The Ride” published by ArcheBooks.

Jane was an active member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association and the Florida Writers Association. She was also a prolific blogger where she shared her knowledge of the art(s) of writing.

Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Taking a Break

No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one. - Elbert Hubbard

Due to circumstances beyond my control…OK, maybe that’s a little dramatic. I could have been and should have been in control, but I let things get away from me.

I’ve been out of town for a week and away from the internet. It was wonderfully liberating, but now I am so far behind, I don’t know where to start. Since my energy levels are down, I am going to take a two-week blogcation in order to catch-up on health issues, taxes, family matters, etc.

I do appreciate you stopping by. I hope to see you in a couple of weeks.

My apologies for not having more to offer today.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Good News About Bad Reviews

I never read a book before reviewing it – it prejudices a man so. – Sydney Smith

I’ve been pleased with the reviews I received on The Ride. Yes, I paused here to knock on wood. OK…it was the side of my head, but let’s not worry about details.

Recently I read about an interesting study, Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: Can Negative Reviews Increase Sales? Don’t get me wrong, I am not asking for someone to write a bad review. In fact, I’m hoping that doesn’t happen. I’m only saying the results of the study were intriguing.

The report scrutinized the effects of a New York Times review on the sales of 244 fiction hardcover books. A negative review for established authors led to a 15% decrease in sales. A negative review for unknown authors increased sales by 45%. That’s quite an increase.

For unknown writers, I’m wondering if the increased sales have more to do with being reviewed by the New York Times than the actual content of the review.

Honestly I think a bad review would make me think more like Steve Lehto in his article, “When an Author Meets His Critics.” After receiving positive reviews in the New York Times, Vanity Fair and The Wall Street Journal, he talks about how bad a one-star review on Amazon made him feel.

He went on to check the reviews on some classics. He says:

To Kill a Mockingbird was called "A BORING, WORTHLESS WRECK OF A BOOK" -- yes, in ALL CAPS -- by one reader, and "one of the most overrated and hyped books of our time," by another. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling better already.”

I suggest reading the entire article, especially if you need a few chuckles after receiving a bad review.

Have you ever given a book a one-star review? How do you handle negative reviews? Would a positive or negative review in the New York Times influence your decision to purchase a book.

Tags: Sydney Smith, negative reviews, New York Times review, Steve Lehto, Amazon, To Kill a Mockingbird

Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Piracy

Piracy has taken a hit, but it’s always going to be a problem. It’s human nature to find ways around paying. – Jimmy Schaeffler

My first encounter with book piracy occurred when I lived in Taiwan in the early 80s. The large bookstores were stocked with inexpensive books—because many were pirated. I admit I didn’t think much about it at the time. I was more concerned about keeping my daughter in reading material. She’d go through books like I’d go through potato chips.

I’m also guilty of passing along favorite books to friends and family which I know deprives the author of royalty. So I guess you could say I should go around with an eye patch and say, “Arrgh, matey.”

However, I think the problem of printed book piracy pales in comparison to illegal e-book downloads. According to an article the

"A campaign is needed to educate the new wave of e-reader owners that downloading illegal ebooks from torrent sites is theft, amid signs that the piracy of books is increasing, authors claim.

“Crime writer David Hewson, author of the Italy-set Nic Costa novels, said a campaign along the lines of "People Who Love Books Don't Steal Books" was urgently required – because readers who consider themselves his fans are downloading pirated copies of his ebooks and audiobooks.”

The article goes on to say:

“Authors' incomes – never sizeable, except for a lucky minority – have been squeezed over the past two years, with the drop in publisher advances. Hewson said authors now face an erosion of their earnings from multiple directions, whether from the fact that library Public Lending Right doesn't cover the loans of ebooks and audiobooks, or the new practice of "Lendle-ing", joining ebook communities to take advantage of Amazon's US free loan facility on Kindle. "What we earn is being chipped away," he said. "I do know people who are thinking: 'Is it worth carrying on?'"

By the way, for those like me who didn’t know, “torrent,” according to eHow , is a type of computer file that usually ends in the extension .torrent and allows a computer to track files and download pieces of the files from other users across the Internet using a BitTorrent client. I understand you pay to join these sites and can then download books, music, videos and games without the author/creator receiving a dime.

An article in the addressed the online clubs such as and saying:

“Previously, Kindle and Nook readers were largely limited to sharing e-books with friends because two users needed to know each other's email address to initiate a loan. The new sites give e-book readers access to a larger network of people and a larger selection of books.

“The lending sites have drawbacks. One is limited selection. Most major book publishers haven't made their e-books lendable, and the books can be lent only once and for only 14 days. That means that with every successful loan, the sites' available library shrinks unless new users with books to lend join.”

The article has a detailed chart showing how these clubs work.

Are you guilty of book piracy? Would you join an online e-book club? Do you consider piracy a problem for writers? Do you have any solutions?

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope to see you again next week.

Tags: Jimmy Schaeffler, book piracy, torrent files,,

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Novel Use of Lampposts

Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does. - Steuart Henderson Britt

Marketing, as many of you know, is not my strength. I use some of the tried and true methods such as book signings, conferences, book fairs and so on. Therefore I’m always impressed when I read about an author who thinks outside the box.

For instance there was Tao Lin who offered a ten percent share of the royalties of his unfinished second novel for $2,000 to six investors. He thought it was an idea which would have people talking and that in itself is promotion. The six investors would also have incentives to talk up the book and promote sales. You can read more here. (By the way, Lin’s book Richard Yates was released in September 2010. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for his investors to make back their investment.)

Then there’s author R. N. Morris who began posting his crime novel, A Gentle Axe, on Twitter in 140 characters or less a few times a day. He hoped to keep old fans happy and pick up new readers while waiting for the release of his next book. You can read more here.

The latest innovative idea involves an anonymous author and his or her unpublished book, Holy Crap. This author is serializing his work by sticking pages on lampposts in the East Village in New York. Each page has directions to the next section of the book. According to the article in the, “No author has come forward to take credit for the story, but it is the talk of the area.” You can read the entire article as well as bits from the novel here.

Though this is an interesting concept, I don’t think it's something that would work in Fort Myers. Our downtown area is small and there 's probably some ordinance against posting anything on lampposts.

Would you be willing to read a novel posted in short bursts on lampposts? Would you be more likely to buy a book from one of these creative marketers simply for their originality? Have you heard about or tried other innovative marketing methods?

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope to see you again next week.

Tags: Steuart Henderson Britt, Tao Lin, R. N. Morris, innovative marketing,

Monday, February 28, 2011


greasy looking smears/and next to them, written in soft pencil/by a beautiful girl, I could tell,/whom I would never meet/“Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.” - from the poem Marginalia by Billy Collins

I thought marginalia was a fairly new coined word. However unless you consider the early 1800s as recent, the word has been around for quite some time.

Marginalia, according to Wikipedia, "are notes, scribbles, and comments made by readers in the margin of a book. True marginalia is not to be confused with reader's signs, marks (e.g. stars, crosses, fists) or doodles in books.

"The first recorded use of the word marginalia is in 1819 in Blackwood's Magazine. From 1845 to 1849 Edgar Allan Poe titled some of his reflections and fragmentary material "Marginalia." Five volumes of Samuel T. Coleridge's marginalia have been published.

Mark Twain was also known for writing in the margins. His comments were often not flattering to the author, but there was no mistaking his point of view.

According to "Book Lovers Fear Dim Future for Notes in the Margins" in the New York Times, the popularity of e-books has some people worried about losing this art form.

“Like many readers, Twain was engaging in marginalia, writing comments alongside passages and sometimes giving an author a piece of his mind. It is a rich literary pastime, sometimes regarded as a tool of literary archaeology, but it has an uncertain fate in a digitalized world.

“’People will always find a way to annotate electronically,’ said G. Thomas Tanselle, a former vice president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and an adjunct professor of English at Columbia University. ‘But there is the question of how it is going to be preserved. And that is a problem now facing collections libraries.’”

“… David Spadafora, president of the Newberry, said marginalia enriched a book, as readers infer other meanings, and lends it historical context. “The digital revolution is a good thing for the physical object,” he said. As more people see historical artifacts in electronic form, “the more they’re going to want to encounter the real object.”

Though I would love to run across interesting marginalia, it’s a habit I’ve never practiced (except for textbooks). To me it’s akin to folding down a corner, tearing out a page, highlighting and other book scarring tactics. Thank goodness for sticky notes. It’s not my fault. Evidently I must have been influenced by librarians and teachers.

“’Paul F. Gehl, a curator at the Newberry, blamed generations of librarians and teachers for ‘inflicting us with the idea’ that writing in books makes them ‘spoiled or damaged.’”

Do you own books with interesting marginalia? Do you often write in margins of regular or e-books? If so, what sort of notes do you make?

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope to see you again next week.

Tags: marginalia, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, writing in margins, e-reader, Billy Collins

Monday, February 21, 2011

A House Divided

Also, differences of opinion can be creatively stimulating as well as frustrating. - Jim Coleman

When two thirds of my life has been spent with one person, I can be lulled into the idea that all the surprise factors are gone. But something always comes along to knock that notion right upside the head.

My husband and I have never agreed on everything, which is fine. A different point of view provides discussion opportunities. But I did think our opinion on eReaders meshed. That stance being—why would anyone want one when paper books work perfectly fine.

Therefore when this very same husband announced out of the blue one day that he was going out to buy a Kindle, I was stunned. After I picked myself up off the floor, which is a much slower process than it used to be, I responded with a, “You’re going to do what?”

The mission was confirmed.

He has always been a techie type person, but I couldn’t understand the sudden change in attitude. He explained there was a bird book out that got excellent reviews and identified birds by sight and sound. As he does a daily blog about the birds and other wildlife in the park across the street this did make sense to me, though I still felt betrayed.

Shortly after returning home with his purchase, he downloaded his first novel. Then he proceeded to show me all the wonderful things one could do with the reader. I acted unimpressed (what else could I do).

When I curl up with a book, I simply want to read. I don’t want the capability of looking up words (I can get up and get my dictionary if I can’t figure it out by usage). I have no desire to stop and read what others have said about certain passages, to shop for more books, to play games, to have wi-fi ability, and so on. In fact, not having access to all that is what makes books so beautiful to me.

Then he finishes the first book and says, “I think this is one you’d really like.”

Great. So now the real dilemma arises. Do I highjack his Kindle and read it or do I invest in the “real book?” I tend not to check out novels from libraries because I can be a slow reader at times. OK…and because I like owning books.

Many of the books I read are passed to me by my sister and daughter. They are both close to buying a Kindle or some other eReader. I’m going to be outnumbered in my own family. However, what bothers me most is that I’m going to miss all those free books.

One side note. When my husband went to purchase the bird book that started this whole revolution, he discovered from a review that the book doesn’t work with a Kindle. It only works with the Kindle App for iphones and such. I would snicker here, but that wouldn’t be very nice.

So tell me all you Kindle, iBook, Nook and other eReader owners out there, should I quit whining and jump on the bandwagon and adjust? Or is it OK to drag my feet and wait until eBooks are the only option? Are there any other readers out there resisting the call of eReaders? If so why?

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope to see you again next week.

Tags: Jim Coleman, Kindle, ereader, Nook, ireader,
Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world