Sunday, July 28, 2013

Starting an Indexing Business Fourth Edition - Enid Zafran, Joan Shapiro

Starting An Indexing Business Fourth Edition
Enid L. Zafran and Joan Shapiro
Information Today
Copyright: 2009

The product description:

This revised edition of the must-have reference for new and aspiring freelance indexers includes advice on these topics and more:
1. Setting up an indexing business
2. How indexers learn their trade and stay up-to-date
3. Finding clients and setting fees
4. Packagers: Who are they and what do they do?
5. Indexing while holding a full-time job
6. Liability issues
The book also includes a sample Letter Agreement setting out terms between an indexer and author, a mini-salary survey with insight into the earnings potential in the field, and a handy business startup checklist.
I debated buying Starting an Indexing Business a few months back, but decided against it at the time, mostly because it came out several years ago, and I wasn't sure how valid the information would be now. After seeing some references to it in the last couple of weeks though, I changed my mind, and ended up reading it while camping last week. On reading the book, I'm glad I did.

Yes, some things are slightly outdated, but there's still plenty of good advice on how to start out finding customers, discussions of liability and insurance (which, by the way, this is the first time I've heard anything about), fee discussions, including a bit of an informal survey of how rates have changed between 2003 and 2008.

Overall, I'd definitely say that Starting an Indexing Business is worth getting if you're a new indexer - especially in the States, which is honestly where the information is focused. Most of it though, is still worth reading even elsewhere, because marketing techniques and ways of finding customers are still going to be useful in other countries, especially here in Canada, where I think a lot of customers are located in the States.

One thing I found about this book is that it fired up my enthusiasm to higher levels, and I can't wait to be really able to get going.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Catfantastic II - Ed. Andre Norton and Martin H. Greenberg

Catfantastic II
Ed. Andre Norton and Martin H. Greenberg
Daw Books
Copyright 1991

The back jacket description:
A yowl shatters the silence of the night -
It is a call to battle, a warning of danger, or the greeting of a fellow predator stalking through the darkness, heading for a rendezvous with adventure in one of the magic places - those mysterious realms undetectable by mere humans. Tonight the cats are gathering to tell their tales, of times past or yet to come, of the two-legged beings they have adopted as their own special pets.

So let us join them now, and if we are very quiet, as silent as a cat on the scent of likely prey, we may be privileged to learn some long-kept secrets of the feline kind. Listen now, the stories begin, legends of such might heroes as: Bomber, the ship's cat out for revenge on the German warship, the Bismark; Graywhiskers, who ruled his kingdom with a unique weapon of his own creation; Bat and Punkin who had patiently lived out several lives while waiting to find the only humans worthy of being theirs; Hermione, who as familiar to an astronomer would have to guard him not from falling stars but from the unexpected dangers lurking in his very own home....
Catfantastic II
Catfantastic II is the second anthology of fantasy and science-fiction based cat stories edited by Andre Norton and Martin H. Greenberg. I've read it before a couple of times, and this volume has some of my favourite stories from the whole series of Catfantastic books (all five of them), including P. M. Griffin's In Bastet's Service, which I reviewed on it's own a few years ago.

On the other hand, I feel a little bit guilty with this review. I didn't read every story in the anthology. These days, I just go looking for my favourites, one of which, as I said is In Bastet's Service by P.M. Griffin. Another, and it's made it's way to the second favourite slot, is The Last Gift by Elizabeth H. Boyer.

The Last Gift is a "how were cats created" story set within Norse Mythology, and it's absolutely out and out hilarious. Of course part of that for me might be the fact I could see my two cats in the behavior of the cats in the story. The best quote: ...creeping across the rafters overhead with larcenous intentions on the meat curing there in the smoke of the fire. They snatched food straight out of the pot... It goes on for a while and every time I read that passage I end up giggling madly, and shaking my head at the same time. I think I need to remember to look for some of Elizabeth Boyer's novels, seeing how much I've enjoyed this story.

Graywhiskers is another character I enjoyed reading about, in The Execution by A. R. Major. Talk about ingenious! Elizabeth Moon's story, Clara's Cat though, I just  found both creepy and sad - and she's normally one of my favourite authors.

Some authors who had stories in the first volume of Catfantastic reuse those characters in Catfantastic II, most notably Ardath Mayhar who writes about Hermione in the form of her reports. The offering in this volume is Hermione at Moon House. On the other hand, I missed Mercedes Lackey's SCat series of stories in this one. I know though, that her stories will be in the rest of the series.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Robert Galbraith is J. K. Rowling

I have the feeling that this might just be the biggest piece of news in the publishing (and reading?) world this year: Robert Galbraith, author of The Cuckoo's Calling, is actually a pen-name of J. K. Rowling. Since the news came out, the book has become just about impossible to find, of course.

Apparently, the news has been out for a while, at least in the U.K. I, however, only just found out about it last night.

The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)
Mulholland Books
Copyright: April 30, 2013

The product description:
The Cuckoo's Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.
I do have to wonder, if you read The Cuckoo's Calling before finding out the author's real name, did your opinion of the book change after that discovery?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Phoenix and Ashes - Mercedes Lackey

Phoenix and Ashes
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright Date: 2005

The Chapters/ description:
In this dark and atmospheric rendition of the Cinderella fairy tale, an intelligent young Englishwoman is made into a virtual slave by her evil stepmother. Her only hope of rescue comes in the shape of a scarred World War I pilot of noble blood, whose own powers over the elements are about to be needed more than ever. 
I was inspired to read Phoenix and Ashes for the first time in years after I finished reading Alison Maloney's Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants last week. Interestingly, while it wasn't one of my favourite books in the Elemental Masters series the other time I read it, back when Phoenix and Ashes came out, or the last time I tried to re-read it, this time I found that I absolutely couldn't put the book down.

Maybe it was having a bit more background knowledge of the time-period and culture now, but I found that knowing a bit about the culture meant that I was catching all the little references and more familiar with the various characters' attitudes and expectations.

The little things about not letting the servants meet up during their duties so as to not let them gossip, for example, or Reggie's musings about what people were looking for in servants such as footmen. It was neat to be able to say "I recognize that" as I read.

Phoenix and Ashes is part of the Elemental Masters series, but this one's set somewhat later than most of the others, being set during the First World War, which adds another layer to the story. At the same time, this volume makes reference to some of the other books in the series, namely The Gates of Sleep, The Serpent's Shadow, and even to The Fire Rose - the only one of the series so far to do so that I'm aware of to date.

This time through on the read, I found Ellie and Reggie to be much more interesting characters, as well as the situation they were living in, which fits the tale of Cinderella very closely, almost point for point.

Definitely worth the read, or perhaps re-read.

SeniorSource - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing
Released: July 4th 2013

The product description:
For seniors who need a comfortable place to live, SeniorSource fits the bill. Zero-g, medical care, even a work exchange program for those who can’t afford it otherwise. And for one former NYPD detective, SeniorSource provides a lifeline. But if he fails to solve his latest case—the murder of a young boy on the Moon—in 24 hours, he’ll find himself downgraded or worse, back on Earth. In other words, dead. But this case proves to be far from what it seems.

“Kristine Kathryn Rusch is one of the best writers in the field.”
I'm not usually that big on short stories, I'll be honest on that. Although, now that I think about it more, maybe I read more short stories than I think - it's just that they're usually collected into volumes.

This one though, intrigued me. I love science fiction and the idea of a seniors home being in zero gravity is most definitely a new one to me. The rest of the story was just as captivating and I had an enjoyable time this morning reading it.

I don't want to say too much more, just because I really don't want to risk spoiling the story - it is a short story after all. Still, after reading it, I'm curious to maybe try some of Kristine Kathryn Rusch's other works. Maybe you will be too.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants - Alison Maloney

Life Below Stairs: True Lives Of Edwardian Servants
Alison Maloney
Thomas Dunne Books
Copyright: December 24, 2012

The product description:
UPSTAIRS, an Edwardian home would have been a picture of elegance and calm, adorned with social gatherings and extravagantly envisioned dinner parties.
DOWNSTAIRS, it was a hive of domestic activity, supported by a body of staff painstakingly devoted to ensuring the smooth running of the household.

Brimming with family secrets, society scandal, and of course elaborate parties, dresses, and social customs, the world of an aristocratic Edwardian household as depicted on the hit show Downton Abbey has captivated millions.  But what was life really like for the people who kept such a household running: the servants?  In Life Below Stairs, international bestselling author Alison Maloney takes readers behind the scenes to reveal a lively and colorful picture of what went on "downstairs," describing servants’ daily life in this now-vanished world.
Detailing everything from household structure, pay and conditions, special duties, and rules and regulations, to perks, entertainment, and even romance, Maloney examines the drudgery and hardships below stairs, as well as the rewards and pleasures.  Thoroughly researched and reliably informed, this charmingly illustrated volume also contains first-hand stories from the staff of the time, making it a must-read for anyone interested in the lifestyle and conduct of a bygone era.
This one's for you if you're a fan of Downton Abbey, or so I'm told. I actually have yet to see any of that series, though I'm thinking I might try and borrow the first season sometime. From what I've been told, it sounds quite intriguing.

I picked up the book because it's the same period Mercedes Lackey writes about in her Elemental Masters series, particularly The Gates of Sleep, which makes a few references to girls going into service as servants and what life was like for them. Not to mention the servants as described in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was even interesting in the way it illuminated the master-servant relationship today, such as the one between Adam Sinclair and the housekeeper and butler he had in Katherine Kurtz's Adept series (starts with The Adept).

Life Below Stairs acts as a bit of a window onto a bygone era, in particular, the first decades of the 20th century in England. I found in reading Alison Maloney's book, that it's a world I wouldn't mind getting a few more glimpses of, although it's definitely not one I'd want to live in - at least not as a servant!

Alison Maloney has written a book that's a quick, fun and informative read, filled with both information and direct quotations from people who experienced life during that era - from both sides of the master-servant divide. I was a little surprised at how quick a read Life Below Stairs is though - I'd expected a bit more I guess.

Even so, this might be the perfect book to brush up on things before the next episode or season of Downton Abbey comes on.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Trailer

As usual, I'm slow off the mark on finding trailers, but I just discovered the trailer for the second Hobbit movie. Not even a month after it was released - not too bad, I guess. Especially as I'm not following any of the movie sites the way I did with the Lord of the Rings movies.

After watching the first movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I'm curious to see what Jackson does with the source material to create the second and third movies. However, and this might not be accurate, given that this is a trailer, it does look like he's emphasized the big battles and fights, as well as adding more in.

Are you looking forward to anything in particular from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug?


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