Free Fiction Friday #19

 

Hello and welcome ladies and gentlemen of blogland! It’s Friday, and you know what that means—Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who aren’t aware, Free Fiction Friday is something I do every week where I post 10-20 4+ Star rated, 100% FREE on Amazon e-novels for you to enjoy over the long weekend (while I’m off and away doing chores instead of posting like a good little blogger). I try and switch up the genre every week (and I certainly take genre requests), so there’s always something new to check out. Take this time to break out of your usual genre restrictions. ❤  This week’s genre: Mysteries with Women Sleuths.

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Kindle Notes… A Tool You Need To Know About

Say hello to my desk mascot

As a book reviewer, there are a few tools I tend to keep in my arsenal that have proved invaluable to me since beginning my book-blogging career. One of those is my Kindle Fire of course, but one I’ve never really talked about (and perhaps should) is the Kindle Notes feature.

For those of you who aren’t aware, or who don’t read with an e-reader such as a Kindle or a Nook, the Kindle has a feature that allows you to make notes and comments as well as highlight text (in different colors even!) as you read through your book.

This seems like a rather innocuous feature. I’ll admit, when I first got my Kindle Fire, I had no idea why anyone would even bother taking notes on a book they were reading. I’d heard several people mention that they occasionally made highlights or notes… but I really had no idea what that meant. ‘Do these notes get shared on the internet with other readers?’ I wondered… and yes, it turns out, you can share them on some books—but it only occurred to me later as I was doing book reviews how valuable the Notes feature really was.

A few weeks ago (okay, maybe we’re talking months at this point) I sat down one weekend and read through five books in a series (The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare!) I was engrossed, and before I knew it, I’d polished off the complete series. Unfortunately, at the time I was also rather busy with being sick and dealing with the Christmas holiday season… so like the lazy person I sometimes am, I made myself a sticky-note at my desk to remember and write some reviews about the books at a later date. I’d still remember the books in a few days. Right?

I was so very wrong. The holidays, and my illness dragged on for ages, and by the time I finally got around to writing those reviews (I’m still in the middle of them) I could no longer remember the books. It wasn’t that I couldn’t remember if the books were good. I know they were. I even remember that the last two are my favorite.  The problem lies in distinguishing what happened in the books as individual events. I remember who died and what events took place…but not what book they took place in.  As some of you can probably imagine, it’s very difficult to write a book review if you can’t remember what happened in the book.

As a book reviewer, I sometimes read through an egregious amount of books in a very short time period. (I’ve read 8 in the past three days) This has lead to the very useful, but sometimes unfortunate side effect that my brain tends to wipe it’s memory clean of a story after 24 hours.

So, to remedy this problem, I’ve spent the last few days skimming back over the pages of each of the five books page-by-page in an effort to separate the events in my mind and remind myself what I liked, and didn’t like, about each book. Here’s where the Notes come in:

If you’re a book reviewer, take notes. Highlight grammatical errors, funny dialogue, or brilliant scenes. Make comments as ideas and events strike you. There is nothing more valuable to someone who needs to write a 2k word article on a book than to be able to look back at your notes and skim for topics, names, and events to talk about. Sometimes your love or hate of the book can change from chapter to chapter, and it’s great to be able to look back and figure out where things started to change.

I’ve begun to make it a habit now to always write notes and highlight as I read through stories – and sometimes my comments are snarky, sarcastic, and hilarious shouts of fan-girl glee—but they’re always something tangible I can go back to in order to remind myself of some of my favorite, and least favorite, parts of each book.

I’m curious to know from other reviewers out there how, why, and if they use the highlight and notes features of their e-reader… and if you don’t, (or if you read hardcopies), I’d love to know if you’ve ever considered making notes, or if you have some other trick to reminding yourself. For me, it’s definitely a huge time-saver (and memory-saver!), and I know I’ll be making more of an effort in the future to continue to use this feature—if only to save myself the hours of skimming needed to replace those notes when I inevitably put off a review for another several weeks. I’m lazy. I can admit it.

Ah June…

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A picture of weeds dying in my backyard from lack of water. I love the desert.

It’s 23 minutes past midnight here in El Paso, Texas, and that means it’s June 1st. What does that mean to me?

First, that there’s only one week left of school here, which is awesome, because I walk/jog to the local elementary school (2 mile round trip) every morning and afternoon during the school year. It’s not that bad in the fall and winter, but, living in the Chihuahuan desert, come spring/summer, we’re talking temperatures easily in the 90-100 F range by 10 AM.

Second, it means bug & critter season. Up until yesterday I was feeling pretty high on my horse. Unlike every year before this, I hadn’t seen a single fire ant, cockroach, moth, or scorpion outbreak. It was unusual, because I guarantee you, every year it happens. Last year for unknown reasons we had a moth PLAGUE. On one particular night I counted 27 moths in my house and several hundred just outside my back door. I don’t know where they came from or why they were here, but the past few years, they’ve been steadily growing worse. It’s frightening. I don’t mind moths as a species, but when they’re ricocheting off your ceiling at 2 am, it sure does make it hard to sleep.

Unfortunately, yesterday I woke up to the horrors of spring again. A roach was dead in my bathtub, and it was being mauled into tiny bits by hundreds of ants. They’d come up the tub pipes in the bathroom. Yay spring.  I have since caught (just since yesterday) 7 huge roaches, including the one that crawled under my desk not 10 minutes ago. Little did it know that I’ve had years to train my cats to hunt the little beasties, and as a reward, they get cat treats. It’s very effective. *shudder* I’ve also seen one tale-tell dark brown moth from years past, and now I’m avidly waiting for the rest of them. No scorpions yet, but they’re coming. I know it.

It’s not like my house is particularly filthy either… I just live in the middle of a desert where these little pests have nothing better to eat than the cat food in my kitchen, so like clockwork they move in come spring. I put out bait, roach traps, spray bug barrier.. it makes no difference. The lil beasties will share my home with me until fall, and then they’ll disappear for a blissful 6 months, only to return next spring.

What else does spring bring? A priority change in my workload. Since school is out, I end up babysitting for three months, often multiple children, and that means spending 12 hours a day doing art/blogging/writing isn’t going to happen. You parents out there know this… trying to get -anything- done while a group of kids is poking at you every five minutes is nearly impossible, but I’ll try nevertheless.

What I -need- to do is work on projects that are going to actually get me paid this summer. (as evidenced by this last month where I spent the last week eating a meal a day consisting mostly of tortilla’s turned into peanut butter and jelly burritos cause I didn’t have the funds to go by bread) and water. That means art for the most part. What I -want- to do is write. I have horribly neglected my writing the last few months, and the year seems to be passing me by at a frightening rate. Unfortunately for me, it’s one or the other. I have to balance the two and decide which is more important to me for the summer, because it’s going to be impossible to get any work done on both. Art takes too much time (often 9-14 hours straight-through for once piece spread over 3-5 days) to be able to actively handle that, writing, and life in general. I have to sleep and eat and interact with humans at some point. If I write, I want to be able to sit down, undisturbed, and work on my writing/editing for days at a time. I desperately want to do that… but I don’t know that I’ll be able to. It’s frustrating.

Anyways, I shall continue to blog regularly, read, and review books. Why? Because I enjoy it! It’s my one hobby that I don’t feel pressured to work at, and it’s almost calming in my otherwise chaotic day. The one drawback is that means I need to finish “sorting” my digital library.

Remember that post not too long ago about my e-library needing a dewy-decimal system? yah. Out of the nearly 9,000 books I’ve obtained, I’m down to sorting the last 6,600. See, I’ve made progress. One day I will be finished and I can push a button labeled “read a random book” and POOF! It’ll be tagged and have all it’s meta data, and be ready to be transferred to my kindle. Why is this project taking so long? Because I’m going through my library book-by-book, looking up the meta-data, labeling it with title, author, series, custom genre tags (that I actually understand) and the synopsis, then converting it to my kindle’s format, and marking whether I’ve read/reviewed it, and what I rated it at. With all my books, it’s the only feasible way I could think of organizing the monstrosity to keep track of what I’ve already read and what I’m reading when I pick it up. Gone will be the days of picking a random book from my kindle library based on cover and having no idea what it’s about without an extensive google search!

Maybe my OCD is getting the better of me.

Ahem. Anyways, it’s late, and I’m going to endeavor to sleep even though it’s currently in the high 80’s and I’m fully aware that there are giant roaches just waiting for me to turn out the lights. Did you know they can fly? It is the most terrifying thing on Earth.