Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thanks! and a mystery to be solved....

The photo above shows three people in one row on an airplane flight, just before Christmas, reading Kindles. One of these happens to be Ana's editor, one is his wife, and another his daughter. The picture does not show an unrelated man in the seat across the aisle also reading his Kindle. It's a good example of how popular e-readers and especially Kindles have become.

The story of Ana Darcy Méndez, the first extraterrestrial human to return to Earth, has been a real hit with Kindle owners. We deeply appreciate all those who have enjoyed reading Ana's chronicles, and we wish them (and everyone else) a joyous holiday season and a happy new year. But there is also a mystery connected with this, which we will get to shortly.

The reasons for the stories' popularity are obvious and yet not so obvious. Obviously, they are light, imaginative, and fun reading, with engaging characters and a rich mix of suspense, action, and human interest. There are never enough stories like this. For another, the series is budget priced, always a good thing, especially when compared to the handsome paperback editions. Third, they are ideal books for the Kindle, and for other types of e-readers. Readers of e-books often read in waiting rooms, on airplanes, and wherever idle time pops up, but they quickly put them down when their turn arrives or the plane lands. While many find Ana's stories hard to put down, they are also easy to pick up again without forgetting where the story left off. They are something to look forward to resuming.

The mystery behind their popularity is less obvious. Ana's books are independently published, and receive no promotion from the literary/industrial complex (with the exception of the visionary people at Ana's author is a retired person of embarrassingly modest means, who writes for the fun of it and has an avertising budget of approximately zero. The mystery, in a nutshell, is this: how have so many people managed to find out about the Distant Cousin series?

It can only be word of mouth--readers so pleased that they think to recommend them to spouses, friends, and others. To those thoughtful, considerate people we would like to extend our special thanks. We have no idea who you are, where you are, or how you discovered Ana's stories, but you are in our thoughts as we near completion of the next in the series. Our deepest appreciation and warmest best wishes to you!

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's a Christmas Without Cats?

For Ana's family, no Christmas is complete without cats! Holiday greetings, everyone, and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Easy Gifting for Kindle Owners:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why Would an Extraterrestrial Love Nursery Rhymes?

Ana loves nursery rhymes. She knows nursery rhymes in at least six languages we know of, including her native language, Luvit.

Here is one of her favorites in English, which she learned from her husband's grandmother. Like many such rhymes, it contains a cautionary theme about the relation between parents and children. This one ends on an uncertain note--is the smell real? Her husband pointed out that "to smell a rat" is an English idiom, and it may mean the mama cat suspects that the washing of the mittens might be a ploy by her kittens for second reward.

Idioms are hard to learn in a foreign language, but Ana learned quite a few right along with her toddlers. Nursery rhymes make a nice, simple introduction to poetry as well, and even to literary criticism!

Three little kittens, they lost their mittens,

And they began to cry,

Oh, mother dear, we sadly fear

That we have lost our mittens.

What! Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens!

Then you shall have no pie.

Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.

You shall have no pie.

The three little kittens, they found their mittens,

And they began to cry,

Oh, mother dear, see here, see here,

Our mittens we have found.

Put on your mittens, you silly kittens,

And you shall have some pie.

Purr-r, purr-r, purr-r,

Oh, let us have some pie.

The three little kittens, put on their mittens,

And soon ate up the pie;

Oh, mother dear, we greatly fear

That we have soiled our mittens

What! Soiled your mittens, you naughty kittens!

Then they began to sigh,

Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.

They began to sigh.

The three little kittens, they washed their mittens,

And hung them out to dry;

Oh! mother dear, do you not hear

That we have washed our mittens?

What! Washed your mittens, then you’re such good kittens.

But I smell a rat close by

Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.

We smell a rat close by.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

When Writers Write Writers

It's wonderful to hear from readers, all readers. The wide variety of people who've enjoyed the Distant Cousin series is hugely gratifying, and a heartfelt thanks to all who have taken the trouble to send their comments.

It's a different kind of pleasure to hear from other successful writers--by no means better, but gratifying in a special way. It's like an auto mechanic whose work is not only appreciated by his customers, but also by other mechanics. Knowing the machinery from the inside out like they do, well, there's an extra little lift in their feedback.
Here are some comments on Distant Cousin by writers who've been around the track many times themselves:

1. "I'm sorry to say I've hardly read any science fiction, so I cracked it open with low expectations. How quickly that changed! What I most admire is the way you keep the story moving. That's always been the challenge for me in writing fiction. You clearly don't have that problem. All through the book I kept watching you go off around a bend and wondering how the hell is he going to write his way out of this one? And you always did, with a grace that kept the ancient eyelids open and the pages turning as they seldom do. Through all this I cared about the characters and worried about them in their vicissitudes, which seems to me remarkable in that I cared about Darcy the space being early on as real enough to care about."

2. "A couple of huge successes that are excellent movies, although outside the realm of my top ten favorites, are E.T. and Close Encounters. All of these have a strength of character and plot that pushes your intellect forward while engaging your heartstrings at the same time.

Few movies can really reach this pinnacle, but these, and I am sure many others, have done just that. Distant Cousin does it, too. I can tell you that Distant Cousin is easily the best fictional iU book storywise that I have read. It is also about the tenth or twentieth best fiction novel I have ever read. Wolfen made that list. So did several of the books by Anne Rice, Harold Robbins, and Robert Rimmer. All of the ones that have made the list have that special quality I described. I am holding my breath to the end."

3. "This sequel to Distant Cousin is, like its predecessor, more mainstream literature than science fiction. Readers will find the science fiction elements kept to the background in a storyline that is more about character and society than about the arrival of extra-terrestrials on Earth. We continue to learn more about the culture of our "distant cousins," the humans transplanted on planet Thomo, but the focus is more on our own culture. It is not difficult to believe in the astonishing charisma of Darcy, since we, the readers, are charmed to the point of wanting to read anything that the author cares to write about her. Don't get me wrong--Repatriation has its share of suspense--but the fact is, this novel's allure exists primarily in the depth of characters and also in the nature of the 100-pound demure and spitfire little heroine, our distant cousin, Darcy."

Other opinions: "You suck!"     You sort of suck!   Brides, commuters, subway riders, students of theology, etc., etc..