Pirate Flags in the Book World

A member of my book club asked how she could tell if a web site was offering pirated books. If such an avid reader didn’t know, it’s likely that she’s not alone. So here’s a brief summary of eBook pirate flags. For your safety, steer clear when you see them.

If you find a site that offers eBooks and PDFs of books free, and nothing but free, you have probably found a pirate site. If they offer best sellers and new releases free, you can be sure it’s not legit. If they have only a few of the books in a long series, that’s also a pirate flag. (They have not succeeded in stealing all seven or eight.) A real online bookstore will usually carry the whole series. And if later books in a series are free, not just the first one, that’s almost certainly a sign of piracy.

Pirates steal book files and cover images, or in some cases only excerpts of books. Pirates sometimes don’t really have the books at all. If the grammar and sentence structure on the web page seem a tad off, as if the site’s creator is working in English as a second language, that can be a hint that this site is housed in a country like Russia that tolerates cyber criminals. Think about it. What profit is there is giving away pirated books? There has to be an angle. That angle is exploiting the “customer” through credit card info theft, multiple types of malware, and email harvesting.

Some people share book files, thinking it’s like giving a friend a paperback after you’ve read it, but a paperback can’t reproduce forever, and there’s a risk in participating: malware. Instead of file-sharing, use the lending option on legitimate eBook platforms. I’ve known people who have two e-readers to loan one out so a friend can read what’s on it.

I found my three of my books—including the one that’s free in genuine online stores—on two pirate sites. My McAfee anti-virus program identified the sites as risky, so anyone who goes there may run into cyber trouble. If you’re an author, be careful as you check to see if your work is pirated. Just search, don’t click on links.

Pirates make it very hard to contact them or send a Digital Millennial Copyright Act take-down notice without clicking on a potentially risky link. To get around this, some authors go to the trouble of contacting the web host or asking Google to stop indexing the site in search results. If you do contact the pirate sites by email, keep in mind they may simply be harvesting email addresses to sell to spammers who will then try to sell you dubious products like paid reviews.

If you want to buy books safely, buy from legitimate, reputable outlets such as Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Smashwords. If you can’t afford even low-priced $3.99 and $4.99 indie titles, go the free and 99 cent sections on eBook retail sites. I’ve shopped for free Nook books that way on B&N and found a large—and safe—selection. You can also check out an eBook from your library if they have Hoopla or Overdrive or another such system. Authors deserve to get paid. And readers need to avoid risky web sites.

The Annual Whole Series Sale

All books in the Mae Martin Series are discounted through the end of January, on sale for $3.99 each .  Book one, The Calling, is free. The prequel, The Outlaw Women, is 99 cents, and book 7.5, the short story suite Gifts and Thefts, is $2.99. No murder, just mystery. No inflation, either. Available through all major eBook stores.

 

 

 

The Smashwords Sale

In addition to all the other e-book stores, my books are now available in the Smashwords store, the largest indie bookstore on the internet, and they will all be half price (or free!) as part of the Smashwords 2022 End of Year Sale.

You’ll find big discounts on thousands of indie titles throughout December. Discover your next favorite book at https://smashwords.com/shelves/promos

#SmashwordsEOYSale #smashwords #ebook #sale #books2read #indiebooks

Anna

She passed on in February. I still think of her. Still miss her.

We were critique partners, writers who appreciated each other’s work. Though we knew each other’s real names, we connected and communicated by pen names, Anna Castle and Amber Foxx. We never met. Our friendship, though we shared other interests and agreed on some major issues, was centered on writing. Sharing your work in progress with another writer takes trust and respect. She critiqued my short story suite, Gifts and Thefts. She followed and appreciated my blog post essays. I was honored to critique Anna’s Francis Bacon mysteries, to become a beta reader when I was already a fan of the first books in the series. I love the characters, the historical depth, the wit, the originality, the settings—I could go on and on. To be able to contribute to her next work in any way, when the work was as good as hers was, meant a lot to me. I miss that partnership.

I also miss the social media interactions, the humorous exchanges, even the updates on the progress of the grass paths in her garden. I believe her fictional characters miss her, too. She told me how the Bacon series would progress, what would happen in future books. Books that will never be written. The real Francis Bacon went through difficult periods in his life which were going to make their way into the series. Perhaps the fictional Francis is spared those challenges, but Tom Clarady will never complete one of his great life goals. Perhaps in the world the characters inhabit, they carry on—and he does. Anna planned that he should.

Elizabethan healer and herbalist Jane Moone must miss her author, too. I had an inkling where the Cunning Woman series was going, and was eager to see its fulfillment. These historical paranormal cozies set in a village where magic is real are as fully researched as the Bacon books. I admit the Moriarty series didn’t hook me, simply because I’m not fond of the Victorian period, but the one story I read was as brilliantly crafted as the rest of her work. Her cozies set in Lost Hat, Texas were her only modern mysteries, and I delighted in those.

I may always miss our exchange of creativity as writers. The trust with each other’s words.

This isn’t an anniversary of anything. It’s just something I needed to say, and have needed to say since February. I was prompted by a post on the blog Pleated Stories about friends we meet online and friends we lose.

Note: Alas, Anna’s web site address seems to have been taken over by some strange, rather frantic entity in a language I don’t speak. Her Goodreads page is still there, though. If you have not yet discovered her books, I encourage you to explore. Honor her memory through her characters. They live on.

A New Mexico Mystery Review: Stargazer by Anne Hillerman

The protagonists have kept this series strong for years. Hillerman develops them further with each book. As an elder, Joe Leaphorn is still growing and learning. Bernie Manuelito and Jim Chee navigate the challenges of their police work and their marriage. And the new characters are memorable and deep. The multiple suspects in the crime were all plausible, and I was never sure who was responsible until near the end. The settings are intriguing. The Alamo Navajo Reservation near Socorro, New Mexico is a lesser known section of the Navajo Nation, yet still part of the nation and its culture. Also near Socorro is the Very Large Array, the site of high tech studies of the stars. The victim, a scientist who worked there—the star gazer of the title—is revealed in depth as a person.

Anne Hillerman has knack for creating colorful, utterly real, and very regional people as minor characters, also. Bernie’s attempt to serve a warrant on Melvin Shorty presents one of these gems. And how Shorty behaves in the end is true to the way he and Bernie met as human beings, not just as officer and law breaker.

Hillerman gives realistic complexity to the characters’ lives. Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito are never dealing with just one case. There’s a primary mystery plot, but there are other demands on their professional time as well, including a painfully sad case Bernie stumbles across while attempting to deal with stray cattle. The leads’ private lives are not neglected by the author or the characters. I like having fully functional sleuths. They attend to their relationships and friendships, not just their work.

The author’s prior writing career in nonfiction serves her well. She integrates research  fluidly as needed, resulting in a poetic balance between the science at the Very Large Array and Bernie’s Navajo view of the stars and constellations.

The ending is satisfying. Major issues are wrapped up, yet the reader is left thinking about the characters’ future plans.

No spoilers, but Joe Leaphorn’s encounter with a child who is traveling alone is wonderful. And if you read the author’s notes at the end, that scene gets even better. Hillerman’s notes are as good as the story, as she shares more about the Very Large Array, Navajo cosmology, and her writing process.

 

A New Mexico Mystery Review: The Treasure of Victoria Peak

This true story would make a great movie, featuring a hidden treasure and a huge cast of characters trying to get hold of it despite the claim of the stubborn widow of the original finder, Doc Noss.

Doc, a Cheyenne foot doctor of no known medical credentials, had an office in what was then Hot Springs, now Truth or Consequences. He was reputed to be skilled in treating foot ailments, whether or not he was real doctor. Once he found treasure while out deer hunting, his life changed, and not for the better. He had a lot to worry about—more gold and ancient Spanish artifacts than he could remove from the cavern in Victorio Peak. (The mountain is named after Victorio, the Apache war chief. I’m not sure how or why Koury or perhaps his publisher renamed it Victoria.)

The book chronicles Doc Noss’s adventures, his sudden and dramatic death, court case after court case, subsequent treasure searches, and Ova Noss’s years of fighting to retain her right to the treasure and get permission to dig it up. Once the peak was made part of the White Sands Missile Range, Mrs. Noss had to go up against everyone from the U.S. military and F. Lee Bailey to the woman who claimed to be her late husband’s other widow.

Attorney for Mrs. Noss Phil H. Koury has a penchant for detail. As you might expect, he tells his story with an emphasis on the legal battles, but it’s never dull or confusing, and he has a humorous flair. He recounts the treasure hunt scenes he witnessed with apt observations of character and settings. The process of solving this mystery during a time when communication was slower increases the suspense. I rooted for Mrs. Noss all the way. Since this is a true story, the plot doesn’t necessarily turn the way a work of fiction would, but that makes it no less compelling.

 

Blue Grasshopper

The opening chapter of Work as a Spiritual Practice features a shiny blue grasshopper landing on the head of a statue of the Buddha. I read and reread the book often and finally gave it away when I retired and moved. Since then, I’ve reflected on its lessons, such as awareness of the task itself as meditation, being present to one’s steps and breath even when rushing, and keystroke meditation. But I never saw a blue grasshopper until today.

Silvery blue and coral pink against the gray of a monsoon season sky, it struck me as too beautiful to be real. It also struck me as sign, a reminder to make all my work—writing, yoga teaching, community volunteer work, housework, my to-do list, everything—more of a spiritual practice.

A New Mexico Mystery Author Interview: Kaye George

I’m a huge fan of the People of the Wind series. It’s a pleasure to have Kaye George as my guest today to talk about the latest book in the series, Death in the New Land, which I recently reviewed.

BIO: Kaye George, award-winning novelist and short-story writer, writes cozy and traditional mysteries and a prehistory series, which are both traditionally and self-published: two cozy series, Fat Cat and Vintage Sweets; two traditionals featuring Cressa Carraway and Imogene Duckworthy; and the People of the Wind prehistory Neanderthal mysteries.  Over fifty of her short stories have also appeared, mostly in anthologies and magazines. She reviews for Suspense Magazine and writes a column for Mysterical-E. She lives in Knoxville TN.

AF: What drew you to writing about prehistory? And about Neanderthals in particular?

KG: I became more and more excited about Neanderthals after the genome was first sequenced and so much was being learned about them, almost every week. About that time, I read something in a short story magazine by a guy who writes an ancient Roman character. Someone asked him why he wrote about Romans and he said that he thinks the further back you go, the better. I remember saying this out loud. “I can go WAY further back than that.” The idea was born and I started working on it.

AF: The language you use in the narration of this series is unique. Simple, a bit formal, and lacking certain constructions normal to English such as “taller.” The Hamapa concept is “more tall.” Did the speech patterns come to you intuitively? Did you construct them consciously?

KG: I had many versions of the language, both in narration and in their communication. At the time, I lived in Austin and had an excellent critique group who met in a book store every week. I brought version after version to them and most did not work.

When I started in on this, the thinking was that Neanderthals could not speak. I also knew that their brains were larger than ours. To solve both those problems, I decided to give them telepathy, using that brain. I was reading Temple Grandin and learned that she thinks in pictures rather than words. She also posits that animals think in pictures. Ms. Grandin is autistic and a renowned animal handler. A cattleman was having trouble getting his animals to enter a narrow, dark passage and he appealed to her for help. She immediately saw that the passage was dark, and had confusing light in it. When the animals could see clearly where they were going, they went with no problems at all.

This made me think that my Neanderthals should communicate solely with pictures. You can imagine how cumbersome that was! It didn’t work at all. Then newer theories came out that they probably could talk. Their voice boxes did not last all those thousands of years to be fossilized, which was the basis for the first theory, but the second one is based on the fact that they did actually have all the structures to be able to speak.

One early reader told me she didn’t want to see modern people dressed as Neanderthals in my books. I didn’t either! I had to give them a language at this point. I studied how children first learn to speak, how people who have trouble speaking are helped, and what the universal sounds are among many languages. I gave them a language with sounds in the front of the mouth, which are easiest to pronounce. But I didn’t have them speaking very much because I still like the telepathy idea.

As for the narrative, I wanted it to convey something of another time, a vastly different time. So I made my own grammar rules. No contractions, nor –er and –est comparatives, and a few more. I wanted it to be slightly stilted, but readable. I hope I accomplished that.

AF: What was the hardest part of writing this book? And what was the most fun?

KG: I guess the research is both, the hardest and the most fun. At least the most rewarding anyway. I do find creating my characters and following them through their lives and adventures satisfying also. But the best of all of this is having fans like you who appreciate the series.

AF: Thank you. Your fictional Neanderthal tribe, the Hamapa, migrate to the place that later became New Mexico. What made you choose this location?

KG: I’m not sure. I did calculations using Google maps to see how far they could get in a day, at my best guesstimate anyway. I found a detailed study of the terrain in that area, around Tucumcari Mountain, so I knew I could portray it accurately, as it was those thousands of years ago. I also liked the idea of the mountain, or mesa, itself, because it’s so distinctive looking. I thought that I could describe it accurately (it hasn’t changed much since then, except for what grows there and lives there) and people could figure out where this was. I actually pictured having it on the cover, but my publisher came up with such a good one, that I let that idea go.

AF: Your research is impressive, and I appreciate the way you share tidbits of it at the beginnings of chapters. Is there anything you learned that you wish you’d been able to fit into a book but couldn’t—some favorite fact or discovery you’d like to share?

KG: I’ve mentioned my love for the mega fauna of the last Ice Age. I have a bare mention of giant beavers in a legend told by the Storyteller, and a meeting with a glyptodont in the new land, but I wish I could cram a lot more of these fascinating animals into the plots. It’s hard to make up reasons to stick them in there! What would be fun would be movies of these with the mega fauna portrayed on a big screen. Or a little one, if people are watching at home.

AF: You’ve blended history with fiction, with deviations from the record in some cases and adherence to the facts in others. How did you choose this blend?

KG: My one main deviation, as I’ve said, it locating the tribe in what is now North America, and locating a bunch of other types of people there also. These all did live concurrently on this planet, but many did not meet each other. I liked to think about what would happen if they did, so I wrote that. My other “invention” isn’t a deviation, since the social structure isn’t known, and probably never will be. But the matriarchal society is my idea, kind of as a feminist, and kind of for logical reasons.

In everything else, I try to stick to the facts as we know them. What their art and dwellings were like, how they hunted, how they lived, what they ate and wore, clothing and burial methods. The ancient flute is controversial, but I took the stance that it was an actual instrument and that they made it and used it.

AF: The Hamapa are a female-led society. Can you share your process in creating the roles they assign to females and to males?

KG: I wanted an elder female for the leader, and she had to have a mate, even though she didn’t always keep the same one. When I decided to give them handed-down folklore, I had to have a person designated to learn it and to tell it, so that’s the Storyteller. It made sense that one person would know the most about healing herbs and practices, so she’s the Healer. Her son may one day succeed her, and none of the other roles aside from leader are gender specific. One guy is the best at flint knapping, one at making clothing, several are the best at throwing spears, and one is innately good at tracking people and animals. And, since fire was probably very important to them, one person is assigned to be the Firetender as his full time job. I tried not to have strict division of labor, but for people to naturally find where their talents lie.

AF: I know you have multiple series to keep up with, but this one is my personal favorite. Will there be another People of the Wind book?

KG: I’m ending this one so it can wrap up and end the series. I’m not saying I won’t write another one, but I’m not planning on it now. These are intense and difficult to pull together and, although I love doing them, I’ll take a break and maybe think about it later.

AF: Is there anything you wish I’d asked you but didn’t? Feel free to answer that question now.

KG: I might mention how hard it was to get this published. When you write the only series in a genre, no one knows what to do with it. I queried every agent on the planet and it was well-received, but no contracts. One agent told me she loved it, it’s “better than Jean Auel” (author of the Clan of the Cave Bear books), but that she had no idea how to sell it (to a publisher). I wanted to tell them to look at Harry Potter and maybe try harder, but I didn’t. I finally found a publisher who loves the series and has done everything they can for me and for these books. I couldn’t be happier than I am at Untreed Reads, unless I could sell a million copies. Somehow.

AF: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I appreciate getting an inside look at these books.

*****

To purchase books by Kaye George, click here.

Visit Kaye’s website

 

New Release: Chloride Canyon, Mae Martin Book Eight

Chloride Canyon

 The eighth Mae Martin Psychic Mystery

Could a faked haunting in a ghost town stir up a real one?

Mae Martin’s college summer session is off to a rough start. A classmate is out to make her life miserable. Her English professor is avoiding her. And the Paranormal Activities Club plans to investigate her psychic abilities. Her boyfriend, Jamie, is on a song-writing retreat in the ghost town of Chloride, New Mexico, population fourteen humans, twenty-three cats, and—supposedly—zero ghosts. He’s working with a famous friend who doesn’t want Mae, or anyone, to visit. But then Jamie’s neighbor claims her house is haunted, and Mae has to learn who’s behind the frightening events—the living, or the dead.

The Mae Martin Series

No murder, just mystery. Every life hides a secret, and love is the deepest mystery of all.

Buy

Coming Soon: Chloride Canyon, the eighth Mae Martin Psychic Mystery

Chloride Canyon

The eighth Mae Martin Psychic Mystery

Could a faked haunting in a ghost town stir up a real one?

Mae Martin’s college summer session is off to a rough start. A classmate is out to make her life miserable. Her English professor is avoiding her. And the Paranormal Activities Club plans to investigate her psychic abilities. Her boyfriend, Jamie, is on a song-writing retreat in the ghost town of Chloride, New Mexico, population fourteen humans, twenty-three cats, and—supposedly—zero ghosts. He’s working with a famous friend who doesn’t want Mae, or anyone, to visit. But then Jamie’s neighbor claims her house is haunted, and Mae has to learn who’s behind the frightening events—the living, or the dead.

The Mae Martin Series

No murder, just mystery. Every life hides a secret, and love is the deepest mystery of all.