25 February 2010

Author Answers with Jon F. Merz

Jon F. Merz is this week's guest author. Recently, he's teamed up with author Joe Nassie to write a seriel novel, "The Cerberus Protocol" for your cell phone and he graciously agreed to explain just how that works.

WN: "Cerberus Protocol" is written for mobile phones? How does that work?
MERZ: The Cerberus Protocol is delivered in installments through a basic subscription model. The first installment is absolutely free and anyone with a smart phone can download it by visiting our site at http://www.hellstalkers.com/. Future installments will be available through subscriptions. Once you subscribe, the installments are automatically delivered to your phone for your reading enjoyment.

WN: What was different about writing for this format than writing a "traditional book"?
MERZ: Actually Joe and I write this book the same way we write any other book. We didn't think in terms of the platform that would be delivering the story; we focused on telling the best exciting tale that we could. Of course, given that the mobile phone is a much smaller screen, there are obviously some formatting challenges to be overcome, but we think the end-result will be well worth it.

WN: Where did you come up with the idea for the story? (And what's it about, in a nutshell?)
MERZ: Joe and I had been tossing ideas back and forth for a while about several projects, and Joe suggested we do something timely around the Large Hadron Collider in CERN, Switzerland. We started churning out some possibilities, focused on a few key elements and before we knew it, we had the basis of the series. As for what the story is about, I think the blurb we have at the official HELLstalkers.com site says it best:

On February 5th, scientists at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland ran a short test on the newly completed Large Hadron Collider. For that brief period, protons swarmed back and forth along the seventeen miles of carefully constructed tunnel and slammed into each other with devastating force, generating power the likes of which had not been seen since the moment of the Big Bang. Just a few short hours. That was all it took for our world to be invaded. My name is Captain Memphis Stone, commander of the Hellstalkers, the armed response unit hastily assembled to face this growing threat. This is the story of the men and women under my command, those who stand in the gap and shed their blood to protect the rest of humanity from creatures that we never imagined we’d ever face, not even in our darkest dreams. Welcome to the front lines.

WN: Am I going to need a special phone/gadget/whatzit to be able to read this book?
MERZ: Joe had initially approached a Vienna-based company to handle distribution via mobile phone networks, which means that you need to have a smart phone capable of reading an ebook file (such as epub or .prc). But our overall goal is to acquire a print publisher and bring this series out in the "traditional" format as well. Joe and I are all about producing properties that lend themselves to a wide variety of platforms. In keeping with that, we want our audience to be able to enjoy our work no matter how they choose to read it.

WN: How does writing for a platform like a mobile phone change people's understanding of a "book?" Is this just part of the evolution going on in publishing right now?
MERZ: There's definitely an evolution happening, it's just a matter of whether people want to admit it or not. In the US, it would be fairly uncommon to see someone devouring a novel on their handheld cell phone, but internationally a huge amount of content is consumed this way. Ebooks, printed books, cell phone novels, social media - all of it is part of the ongoing process and writers need to be familiar with all of it. Our audience doesn't simply read books anymore and many of them are preferring to embrace new technology as their principal means of entertainment. Writers who are reluctant to explore new ways of delivering their work to the changing tastes of their audience will undoubtedly find themselves with an ever-dwindling readership. Personally, I happen to love the feel of traditional books. But I don't let my personal inclinations deprive my audience of enjoying my work wherever they prefer to. That's simply not very smart. So, yes - things are evolving and Joe and I are happy to be part of the evolution rather than the grumpy old guys in rocking chairs shaking our canes at those "young whipper snappers" who don't appreciate traditional books.

09 February 2010

Book Banter -- A Darkness More than Night

Title: A Darkness More Than Night

Author: Michael Connelly

Genre: mystery

Length: ~450 pages

Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: Indianapolis Marion County Public Library

Plot Basics: Former FBI agent Terry McCaleb is enjoying the quiet life with his wife, stepson and new baby daughter. But a sheriff's deputy brings him a case she can't untangle and McCaleb realizes he's still hooked on investigating. The vicious murder consumes him and he becomes obsessed with finding the perpetrator. Meanwhile, LAPD detective Harry Bosch is a key witness in the trial of another brutal murder. As the two cases weave together, two of Connelly's greatest characters come together one opposite sides -- one investigator, and one suspect.

Banter Points: This is the first of Connelly's books where he crosses characters together and he does it in a big way. Both McCaleb and Bosch are integral to the plot and reporter Jack McEvoy makes several appearances that also are key to the story. It was nice to see Bosch from McCaleb's perspective and how both of them reacted to Jack. It added layers of depth to these already complicated characters, while still delivering a great mystery.

Bummer Points: Connelly got a little repetitive with language, talking about the "darkness more than night" over and over. It lost its punch when it got repeated.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Word Nerd's still on her Connelly reading jag (about one a month) and this one was definitely better than Void Moon. (It was nice to see some references to that book, however, in this one.) This one is a should read because of the blending of the universes of Bosch and McCaleb and how they fit together.

08 February 2010

Word Nerd hasn't been hibernating...

So, Word Nerd got a little consumed with life in the past two or three weeks, moving to a new house, etc. etc.

But, the move is done (photos are coming) and blogging will resume on a more normal basis.

Things to watch for soon --
1. Book Banter -- A Darkness More than Night by Michael Connelly
2. Book Banter-- The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
3. January's bibliometer
4. A book giveaway. Yes, you heard that right. Free stuff.
5. Author interviews, guest blogs and all the great stuff you've come to expect on Word Nerd.

Happy 2010.