Ask a Wench about Tech!

Are you a high tech or low tech person?  Do  you enjoy all the bells and whistles of modern technology—or does it make you run for the hills?

Mary Jo here: Because the Word Wench site is transitioning to a new platform and there has been much flailing and some howling behind the scenes, tech has been much on Wenchly minds so this seemed like a good time to talk about it.

Technology, specifically the personal computer, literally changed my life.  I bought a Leading Edge, an early PC, to do copywriting and billing for my small freelance design business.  The Mayhem Consultant showed me how to use word processing–and very shortly after I realized that here was a great tool for writing down the stories in my head because when you fix the typos, they stay fixed!!! Three months later I was offered a contract for Signet Regencies and the rest is history.

Clearly I owe tech a lot, but that said, I’m a tech minimalist.  I love communicating with friends all over the world, my desk top computer is set up just the way I like it and I must admit that I like my iPhone for various reasons, including the ability to take quick pictures, such as this one of Riley the Wrecker and do of his Egyptian pals.

But I loathe upgrades, which usually make things worse, not better.  I have to be dragged, hissing and snapping, into new tech.  I have software that is a couple of decades out of date because I don’t want to waste time and brain space learning something new that I’ll probably like less.  Put me on the island with the Tech Dinos!

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Shattered Rainbows

Cv-shattered-rainbowsby Mary Jo

The Story:

Shattered Rainbows, book #5 in my Fallen Angels series, is currently free on most ebook platforms and will continue to be free for about another week.  I'm writing this blog partly to talk about the book, but also explain some of the marketing decisions that go into why a book might be free.

Shattered Rainbows is a favorite book of mine. (For the record, Romantic Times gave it a 4 1/2 star GOLD rating and it was a RITA finalist.) I could probably say that  almost anything I've written is a favorites, but that's especially true in this case. Lord Michael Kenyon is one of the most intense and tortured heroes I've ever written, and he has a lot of baggage to work through, complicated by the fact that he's a British Army officer and the battle of Waterloo is a key feature of the story. 

I have no idea why I'm fascinated by British military history in the Napoleonic period, but I keep coming back to it time and time again.  Partly that's because it was a 'good war,' fighting against an authoritarian Continental monster.  Lots of drama for stories!  Characters are tested in the crucible of battle, and in none of my books has that been truer than in Shattered Rainbows


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The Smart TV vs the Luddite—Things Did Not Go Well

Tech 1Andrea here, channeling my inner Grinch today. Along with shopping for family and friends this holiday season, I decided to give myself a present—a new smart TV! My current TVs are, umm, not very smart. And after yesterday, I’ve decided neither am!
A very nice team from the Geek Squad at Best Buy showed up—because I wasn't so dumb as to think I might be able to set it up and program it myself, even though I’m fairly good at figuring certain tech things. They bring in the humongous box and eye the current TV in my living room and ask if I want them to haul it away. I explain that no, would they be kind enough to carry it upstairs to the bedroom, where an even older TV is the one that should be recycled. They smile cheerfully and say “No problem!”
Up we go. They regard the older TV. “”Wow, says one of them. “I used to sell TVs, and like that’s one of the first flat screens ever made. It’s from 2004, right?”
“Yup,” I reply.
They chuckle and switch the sets (and bless them, they program the remote as I upgraded my cable boxes in preparation for their visit.) "Okay, all done."

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A Book at Bedtime

The three hostagesNicola here, talking today about listening to stories, not as audio books but as serializations. On 31st January 1949 the first edition of BBC Radio’s "Book at Bedtime" was broadcast. It ran every night for 15 minutes between 10.45pm and 11pm. The first book that was serialized was John Buchan’s The Three Hostages, a rip-roaring adventure story written in 1924. In the months and years that followed, all sorts of literature from the classics to new releases has and continues to be featured on the program, although perhaps there hasn't been as much genre fiction as there might have been. In fact only a year or so ago the BBC admitted that they were looking for happier endings after noticing that listeners had been put off by “gratuitously violent and tragic stories.” Well, yeah – I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to drift off to sleep with images of violence or misery into my mind! 

According to The Times, a brief circulated to potential producers at the time stated: “We will always aim to select a variety but we Stencil.default (3) would like to be offered more titles that are pure pleasure, diversion or even comedy. Happy endings are often a bit too rare in what we are asked to consider. We can listen to sad or disturbing stories if they are ultimately redemptive, but a gratuitously violent or tragic ending is upsetting, infuriating and can seem distasteful.” The note adds that “listeners rarely enjoy being cheated with ambiguity or uncertainty”, implying a preference for plotlines that are neatly resolved. Again, that's a yes from me; I don't mind stories where some elements are left unresolved for the reader or listener to decide on, but if that happened just before I was going to sleep I'd lie awake thinking about it!

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New Audiobooks and Giveaways!

Audio--Thunder and Roses Screenshot2013-09-18at4.26.17AMby Mary Jo

Producing audiobooks from my back list is time consuming and not inexpensive, but I continue to do them because so many people really like listening to audiobooks. My current goal is to make audio available for all seven of my Fallen Angels books, and we're getting close!  Several years ago I started with audio versions of Thunder and Roses and Dancing on the Wind along with the non-Fallen Angels book The Bargain

The economics of producing audiobooks changed dramatically so I put the audio program on hold for several years, but the marketplace is always changing, so now I've started producing them again. I started with Shattered Rainbows last autumn, and here's a link to my blog and interview with my wonderful English narrator Siobhan Waring. MaryJoPutney_TheBargain1_Audio

Production and distribution take time, so the audio versions of River of Fire (Fallen Angels 6) and One Perfect Rose (Fallen Angels #7) have become widely available at just about the same time. 

I've always loved River of Fire, where my battle hardened hero Kenneth has the soul and talent of a painter.  In order to save his bankrupt estate, he reluctantly takes a position as secretary to famous artist Sir Anthony Seaton, who may be a murderer. 

Dazzled by the creative atmosphere as well as Sir Anthony's prickly but fascinating painter daughter Rebecca, Kenneth dares dream that he might become MaryJoPutney_RiverofFire_Audioan artist himself. But what will Rebecca do when she learns that Kenneth has been spying on the household and may destroy her father? 

(I'm listening to River of Fire in my car now, and thoroughly enjoying it. <G>  Not surprisingly, it takes me back to my art school days!)

One Perfect Rose, 7th and last of the Fallen Angels series, has always been a popular favorite, and I'm delighted to finally have Stephen's story available in audio.  Stephen, the Duke of Ashburton, is brother of Lord Michael Kenyon, the hero of Shattered Rainbows.  Reserved Stephen has always done his duty, but after the death of his tyrannical father and distant wife, he's ready to explore a new freedom.

Then a grim diagnosis send him bolting away from his grand position to come to terms with his life.  Traveling anonymously, he falls in with a welcoming family theater troupe, and becomes enchanted with their adopted daughter, Rosalind, who radiates the warmth he's MaryJoPutney_OnePerfectRose_Audio copy been seeking all his life.  But can they find a happy future together?  (Don't worry, it's a romance!) 

Production has started on Fallen Angels #3, Petals in the Storm, and the final Fallen Angels book, Angel Rogue, (# 4) will go into production immediately after.  The whole series should be available by the end of the year! 

My distributor, Findaway Voices, has given me some free giveaway codes for each book, so I will give away five codes for each of these two new audiobooks to some of you who leave comments between now and midnight Thursday. 

The codes are good only in the US, Canada, and Australia and must be used MaryJoPutney_DancingontheWind_AudioIOS or Android devices, such as a Samsung phone or an iPod or iPad or whatever.  They use a special app that must be downloaded to your listening device.  I managed to do it, so it's not difficult. <G>  

(I'm delighted that the codes now work in Australia–last autumn, the codes were good only in the US and Canada.  I hope Findaway keeps adding more territories!)  

So if you're in the US, Canada, or Australia with a suitable electronic device, let me know if you'd like a free audiobook and maybe you'll win one of these books! 

Mary Jo

PS: Findaway Voices sets up author stores where you can buy direct from them using the Author Direct app.  Here's a link to their MJP store.  The three books I did with Findaway Voices are listed there.

SATURDAY NOTE!  Winners have been chosen and I'll be emailing directly with the codes, but this will take a couple of days.  Sorry!