Blogs at Amazon

New Kindle Personal Documents Features

We are excited to announce an improvement to the personal document experience on Kindle. 

Personal documents are now in Amazon Cloud Drive: Starting today, all personal documents that you have archived in your Kindle Library will be available to access, delete, organize, and share from your Amazon Cloud Drive. You can see these documents in a new “My Send-to-Kindle Docs” folder on Amazon Cloud Drive alongside all of your saved content such as photos and personal videos. 

There is no action required on your part. Your personal documents features will continue to work just as they have in the past. And as always, you can use Manage Your Kindle to see a list of your documents, re-deliver them to Kindle devices and free reading apps, delete them, or turn off auto-saving of documents to the cloud. Documents will be delivered just as they have in the past and you will continue to have 5 GB of free cloud storage for your personal documents.  Just “Send Once, Read Everywhere.”

Documents saved in their native format: Also starting today, new documents that you save to the cloud with Send to Kindle will be stored in their native format (e.g. MS Word, RTF, TXT) so you can access them anywhere from Amazon Cloud Drive.

To learn more about sending documents, news, blogs, and other web articles to your Kindle, please visit www.amazon.com/sendtokindle

To learn more about Amazon Cloud Drive features and apps, please visit www.amazon.com/clouddrive/learnmore

Author Jay Crownover Discusses Opposites in Romance

Jay Crownover, author of "The Marked Men series," reflects on why the differences in characters make romance all the better. Her new book, Nash, releases April 29.

NashImageCropOpposites attract. It’s a trope that’s been around since the beginning of romantic literature and it’s always struck a chord with readers. Face it. It’s just more fun when a poor heroine is swept off her feet by the rich guy, and the bad boy is tamed by the sweet and innocent good girl.

I particularly enjoy using opposites in romance because there are so many of them to explore. Opposites in social class, looks, beliefs, upbringing. There are countless ways to pit two people against each other and then ultimately show that none of those differences matter as long as they love one another.

I usually focus on opposites in the couples I write, because I love breaking down all those differences as the story goes along. Even more, I enjoy showing the reader that some preconceived notions attached to certain stereotypes are wrong. Just because a boy is tattooed from head to toe doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy or an outlaw. And just because a girl is beautiful and comes from a well-to-do family doesn’t mean she’s happy. It’s all the stuff under the surface that connects people and makes them similar that is fun to play with.

In my new book Nash, I wrote the male lead specifically to play with the idea of appearances not telling the whole story. His outward looks are all rough and tough, big and scary, and tattooed bad ass, but at his core, Nash is really a sweet, kind, very gentle man. The same can be said for his leading lady, Saint. I wanted her to sort of have this ethereal quality, this outward appearance of being somewhat innocent and untouched. But at her center, Saint is an extremely hard and jaded young woman who has so many obstacles to get past in order to find her happy ever after. In Nash the hero and heroine aren’t really so different from one another, instead they fly in the face of what the outside world may project on them based off their looks alone.

I think the reason story lines about opposites are so popular is that the notion that true love can find a way through any set of circumstances or differences is a heartwarming one. These stories give readers and romantics hope and show perseverance against all odds. Everyone, deep down wants to believe that love really can conquer all. Plus when the hero and heroine do have major differences it makes the journey that much more fun  and the result even more satisfying when they finally find their way to a happy ever after!

Interested in romance? Sign up for Romance Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in romance each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from authors.

The Intersection Between the Mythic and the Real

Writer, Erik Bear of the Foreworld Saga's comic book spin-off mini-series, The Dead God, talks about the things that only the comic book medium can do with a story and world like The Foreworld Saga. TheDeadGod3

The line between myth and history is pretty thin. It starts with regular people doing fairly regular things (or at least as regular as founding nations and fighting wars and all that tends to be). Then, over the years, the stories just get embellished more and more and eventually these people who (presumably) used to be real are off fighting hydras and raising the dead and all the stuff of your stock fantasy epics.

Which is where The Dead God comes in. Because Foreworld is a fantasy epic, but it’s one set in our world, where magic is not real. Or is it? Because that’s the thing, you can’t really know the entirety of what’s out there, especially not in the Dark Ages. There’s a reason we call this era of Foreworld the “Age of Myth and Mist”. The Roman Empire has fallen and western civilization has gone with it. The world is getting colder, bandits are everywhere, and it’s basically, as I described it, medieval post-apocalyptic.

So into this bleak landscape ride these three heroes, Coll the bowman, Eadhild the axe-wielding warrior-woman, and Valens, the handsome and dashing bard who happens to be the one who’s telling the story. They’re sent out on a quest to find the still-living severed head of the sky god Yvrnn, which legend says whispers powerful wisdom to those who find it. To get to it, they’ll have to pass three trials, and defeat the evil spirits who are following at their heels…

...At least, that’s the way the story goes. The Dead God is about that intersection between the mythic and the real. One of the things I wanted to do that you can only really do in a comic book is seamlessly transition from the real world to the mythic world, panel-to-panel. Which Haiwei Hou really does amazingly well, by the way, she’s equally adept both at the grungy medieval look and the illuminated-manuscripty style. If you see things a certain way it’s all magic and demons and bandit kings, and if you see things another way it’s just a bunch of very cold, very dirty people scrabbling at each other over this old head in a box.

But sometimes there is truth in the old tales. Sometimes these myths and stories and rhymes are just disguised versions of the real truth. As regular readers of The Mongoliad and all the other Foreworld stories will know, we built a lot of secret history and mysticism into the world that we only began to hint at. Dead God has a few more pieces of the puzzle - a few more branches of the tree, if you will. In fact, there’s a lot of secrets in here, if you dare to see how deep the roots go...

Also, a woman fights a bear. So I don’t know what more you’d want out of a comic.

 

This guest blog was written by Erik Bear and presented by Amazon Publishing's Jet City Comics. Interested in comics and graphic novels? Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.

Guest Blogger: "Squeeze Play" Author Cal Ripken, Jr.

Squeeze-playWith the start of a new baseball season, kids are hitting the field and parents are taking to the stands. In Squeeze Play, Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. coaches kids--and their parents--on being good sports.

Growing up, my dad was a manager of minor league teams in the Orioles' organization and as a result, we were exposed to the game in a unique way. Most people believe that Dad stood over us and created young ball players. The opposite was actually true. He was there for us but never pushed, and while he was on the road with the team, it was Mom who took us to practice and watched most of our games. And she, like Dad, was very supportive; never the kind of parent who took the joy out of the game.

In my most recent book, Squeeze Play, we were able to take a look at the role parents and mentors play, and how their response in the stands and off the field could negatively affect their kids and teammates. 

So many times, parents overreact to everything that happens, the positive and the negative. 

I believe in a simpler approach. Kids notice all of their parent's actions at their games, so while it can be challenging, I would encourage parents to react to all things on the field the same way and minimize the highs and lows. 

In Squeeze Play, the goal was to make parents aware of how some of their responses in the stands affect their kids and teammates. I also wanted to give the kids ideas about how to deal with that. Confiding in your coach or another adult could help you deal with these types of situations. 

Let me stress that the vast majority of parents who behave this way don't realize what they're doing, and most have the best intentions. Once they are made aware, they want to change their behavior and depressurize the situation for their children. 

Another issue I am often asked about is specialization and when kids should focus on one sport. 

I'm an advocate of kids developing by playing multiple sports. There are mental and physical advantages to playing other sports. 

Mentally, you don't get burned out if you're not doing the same thing over and over again. New sports keep you fresh and give you different challenges. Physically, you can develop your athleticism by having other sports challenge your athleticism differently.

I played soccer in high school and, looking back, I believe it kept me in great shape and developed my hand/eye coordination. Putting the glove down for a while always allowed me to maintain my love of the game and avoid burn out.

Encourage your kids in sports; let them have fun, and the rest will take care of itself. 

Brian Azzarello - "God created the Devil. He created Lono too."

The Eisner award-winning team behind, 100 Bullets--writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso, reunite to tell the story of the baddest Minuteman of all. When last we saw Lono in 100 Bullets, Dizzy Cordova had shot him through the chest ... but Lono always was too tough to die. Now, after the final events of 100 Bullets, Lono finds himself in Mexico working on the side of the angels. Check out what Brian had to say about "100 Bullets: Brother Lono". BrotherLono

Question 1: You don’t need to read 100 Bullets to pick up "100 Bullets: Brother Lono", so what’s your tagline to new readers for this miniseries?

Brian Azzarello: "You don't need to read 100 Bullets to pick up "100 Bullets: Brother Lono" sounds like a good one. "God created the devil. He created Lono too." That works as well.

Q2: Brother Lono has a very different feel than 100 Bullets, but still fits comfortably in that world you created. How did you find the right balance of creating something totally new that still fits with 100 Bullets?

BA: Eduardo and I never want to repeat ourselves, so going back to a character from 100 Bullets we had to have a fresh perspective on him, or why bother? Turns out we had one… a rotten fresh perspective.

Q3: 100 Bullets has been compared to jazz and you’ve called BROTHER LONO “mariachi death metal,” so what would that make WONDER WOMAN? And who would be in a “punk rock” 100 BULLETS spinoff?

BA: WONDER WOMAN is definitely metal--Norwegian black metal. As for a 100 BULLETS punk spin-off… there's NO FUTURE for that.

Q4: If Lono was never one of the Minutemen, what do you think he would have ended up as?

BA: A Hollywood executive.

Q5: Out of the characters you’ve written—such as Lono, other Minutemen, Joker, Comedian, and Rorschach—who do you think is most messed up in the head?

BA: C'mon, what kind of question is that? Only one of them is insane…

Q6: Was the collaborative process with Eduardo Risso the same as it was on 100 BULLETS, or was the process different on BROTHER LONO?

BA: Well, it was more familiar, but still a joy. What can I say? I'm still in love with what we create. This time though, I was going through some seriously stressful quicksand in my life, and Eduardo really picked me up through this story. I owe him. We owe him. 

Q7: Did you have to think about where to draw the line with Lono’s villainous qualities, or did you trust that audiences would always love to hate him?

BA: Boy are you wrong. Readers don't love to hate him, they hate to love him. That's why he's so compelling.

Fred Bowen: Why I Write About Sports

TheperfectgameFred Bowen, author of the All-Star Sports series and most recently, Perfect Game, explains why sports are an ideal subject for young readers.

As the author of 18 sports books for kids, I sometimes get asked the question, “Are you just going to write about sports?” The question implies that sports are lightweight subjects for a book, even a kids’ book. But it seems to me that sports are a perfect subjects for kids. Here’s why.

First, like music, art, and drama, people have been interested in sports and athletic achievements for thousands of years. The Greeks had their Olympics, and the Romans had their gladiators and chariot races.

When friends return from visiting Rome, I’ll often ask, mischievously, whether they visited “the ballpark.” When they ask what I mean, I say, “the Colosseum.” After all, the Colosseum was a ballpark.

That rich history is why I include a chapter of sports history in every one of my books. It gives my young readers the feeling that their teams and games are part of something that has been going on for a long, long time.

Second, sports are something kids really do. Kids don’t usually solve mysteries, go on fantastic adventures, or practice wizardry. But kids play sports.

When I visit schools to talk on the writing process, I always ask, “Who plays sports?”  So many hands go up that I have had to change my presentation slightly to make sure no one feels left out. Now I always add, “I’m sure the kids who don’t play on a team play something on the playground or after school.”

A recent survey by the National Federation of High School Associations determined that participation in high school athletics went up for the twenty-fourth consecutive year. The bottom line is that playing sports has become as common as owning a pet or taking music lessons, so it seems a natural subject for kids’ books. And a great way to get reluctant readers reading.

Third, sports are the place where many kids tackle some important issues, such as fairness. Nothing quite teaches the history of America’s troubled racial past like the story of Jackie Robinson. Kids sense how unfair it was that a terrific player was kept off the field just because of the color of his skin.

Sports are also the place where many kids ask themselves what they are willing to do to win. In my books Winners Take All and Touchdown Trouble, the characters must decide whether they will win by cheating or taking advantage of a referee’s mistake, respectively. These are not easy questions because we live in a competitive culture that admires winners.

Finally, kids’ books should allow readers to explore their feelings and emotions. Those feelings and emotions are present in sports. Being on teams and playing games force kids to deal directly with the joy of winning and the disappointment of losing. Playing their games, kids have to sort through many conflicting and confusing feelings.

For example, some kids may be jealous of a teammate or friend who is better than they are at a sport. Or figure out how they can help their team even though they are not going to be the big star. Sometimes kids who play sports have to learn the most painful lesson of all: that you can try your hardest and things still won’t turn out as you had hoped.

History, high interest, important issues, and raw emotions. Sports is such a rich and fertile subject, I can’t understand why people ask, “Are you just going to write about sports?” I think the question should be why aren’t more kids writers writing about sports?

Hydrocalypse

51LFvOBsfBLContributer Matthew Mather-the author of The Atopia Chronicles, gives us a look at the inspiration behind his novel.

As Mark Twain once said, “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.” In post-apocalyptic science fiction, there have been many reasons mooted for the fall of the world, and I’m going to add one more—the Hydrocalypse. While much of the 20th century could be characterized as a fight  over oil, the 21st century might end up being a fight over water. This is one of the central themes for conflict in my post-apocalyptic novel The Atopia Chronicles.

As Jarrod Diamond illustrated so effectively in his book Collapse, complex societies in the past have almost all imploded as a result of the natural environment surrounding them being used up. This was easiest to document in isolated South Pacific islands, such as Easter Island, but examples abound such as the dichotomy between poor-and-struggling Haiti (which destroyed its natural environment) and green-and-prosperous Dominican (which didn’t) that occupy the two halves of Hispaniola Island.

Water equals food and industry. As temperatures rise and water tables drop, water will become an increasingly scarce and more expensive commodity in much of the world. In many municipalities across the US, water prices have more than doubled in the past decade.

The big fight because there are very few—if any—international treaties governing “upstream” water. Six of the greatest rivers in the world flow out of the Himalayas—there are over three-thousand cubic miles of freshwater stored in the glaciers (third only to Antarctica and Greenland in terms of stored fresh water) and these collectively provide fresh water to over 3 billion people, half of the world’s population. Two of these rivers (Yangtze and Yellow) flow into China, while the other four (Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and Mekong) flow into India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Indochina peninsula (Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia). This will make for a complicated struggle in the 21st century, and that’s the backdrop to the Weather Wars starting in the world of my Atopia novels.

In the end, almost all of human conflict has been a story about resources. As natural resources become scarce, humans tend to fight for what’s left. But it’s not just a question of subsistence-level food or water. It’s a question of living standards. As we coast toward a maximum population of nine to ten billion humans in the middle of the 21st century, the biggest problem is that everyone wants to become middle-class—with cars and washing machines and big houses.

The solution? Virtual reality.

It’s been demonstrated that humans are as satisfied owning objects in virtual spaces as they are owning real, material objects—just as long as you can make the simulation good enough. The Atopia Chronicles is a story about Dr. Patricia Killiam in her quest to perfect the ultimate in synthetic reality, and then selling this into the world as a way of solving the resource crisis and stopping global conflict. But the hidden danger she unleashes in the process might be even worse.

Author Lori Foster's Top 5 Favorite Dangerous Heroes

Romance author Lori Foster shares her top five favorite heroes in literature—of the dangerous variety!

I have loved soooo many dangerous heroes, but to choose my top five, I figured I’d go through different genres, with historical first. (Since historical romance is my first love—at least when I’m reading.)

HonorsSpendourCropThat immediately brings to mind my favorite dangerous hero ever, Baron Duncan of Wexton—the Wolf—from Honors Splendour, by Julie Garwood. Such an amazing medieval romance. Duncan is incredibly powerful, invincible and, best of all, honorable. The way he protected and loved Lady Madelyne…sigh. The man had unending patience and an enormous heart to go with his “I’m in charge” attitude and ability. The dialogue is the absolute best. It will always remain one of my favorite romances.

 

PerfectPartnersCROPWhen it comes to contemporary, I have to pick Joel Blackstone from Jayne Ann Krentz’s Perfect Partners. Oh my, that book is so delicious. Not only supersexy with some laugh-out-loud banter, it has the best line ever: “Good news, Dixon, she doesn’t need therapy.” (If you haven’t read it, you must! Then you’ll be in on the joke!) Joel is the perfect mix of studly alpha, hard worker, wounded soul and considerate lover. I still reread it every so often, like visiting an old friend.

 

AHungerLikeNoOtherCropMoving on to paranormal, I’ll have to say superhero Lachlain MacRieve, a big, strong Lykae who falls in love with his mortal enemy, a vampire female, in A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole. The entire series is awesome, but I fell hard for Lachlain, in part because it was the first I read by Cole but also because it started out so gruesome (which I loved) and then the story had me cracking up (which I loved!) and then…wow. Mega sexy! It’s sort of a mix of werewolves that don’t get all nasty and furry, but rather have the power (aura) of the wolf, with Scottish touches, and some dominating male attitude and tons of hilarity. Really good stuff!

 

PushingtheLimitsCropFor Young Adult, I’ll admit I’ve fallen hard for Katie McGarry stories—all of them! But Pushing the Limits is really special—because of Noah Hutchins. He’s the tough guy, with long hair and a leather jacket and bad attitude—but he’s also a very grown-up, mature young man who more than anything needs to get his family back…even while going all protective and wonderful for Echo. I love the happy ever after that Katie gave to him—and I love how Echo loves him. First love is always a special thing, and Katie knows how to do it right.

 

Warrior'sWomanCropLastly, futuristic. Warrior’s Woman by Johanna Lindsey is amazing. I loved Tedra, I loved her computer Martha, but Challen Ly-San-Ter…wow! Challen is the ultimate alpha. A throwback to the age of “a man is the protector, period, and the little lady allows herself to be protected.” Not that Tedra bought into it, and that’s where it got so fun. Challen kept his man-card, but he also managed to win over an alpha female used to being a protector, herself. When the past meets the future, a guy has to really step up—and Challen did, in all the most important ways.

 

For more tales featuring dangerous heroes, be sure to check out these Lori Foster titles: Dash of Peril, Getting Rowdy, Bare it All and Run the Risk.

Guest Blogger: "Snitch" Author Olivia Samms

SnitchI don't know if I write Bea, or Bea writes Bea... she has a very strong personality and so much to say (thank god I have an editor who's not afraid of her!). I hope you take a gander at the latest of Bea's escapades, book two of the Bea Catcher Chronicles, Snitch. In the meantime, here are a few more words and illustrations from Bea, on being a highly sensitive person.

Sadly, I’m afflicted with the Princess and the Pea syndrome—forget the “princess” part, I just always seem to be feeling the “peas.”

It’s like all of my five senses are jacked up—hyper-revved. It really gets annoying sometimes.

Smell? I friggin’ smell everything! And there’s this chick in biology. Omg, she wears the strongest perfume—the kind they try to hide in the magazine folds from people (yeah, like that really works). She probably rubs the paper fold on her wrists, her neck—every pressure point on her body—right before class. And it’s always a different perfume. Boom, instant headache.

Taste? Do you think some people were born with too many buds on their tongues? I do and I believe I’m one of them. Stuff makes me gag, literally. If an egg is a bit runny? Gag. A burger too rare? Gag. Anything my mom cooks? For sure, gag. 

Snitch1Touch? Okay, we’re going to deal with clothes here—get your mind out of the gutter. Unless it’s  cotton, or a blend, I itch, sometimes even breaking into hives. And it sucks, ‘cause most of the vintage clothes I adore are not cotton. Like this petticoat skirt from the ‘50s? Full-on nylon netting. No way could I wear it if it weren’t for the cotton tights underneath. 

Snitch2Hearing? Forget sleep. I wake up at the slightest noise. My house is like five-thousand-years old and the floors creak and squeak; the wind blows through the old, paint-flaked windows. I hear my parents bicker, the neighbor’s television droning on, Barf, the dog, down the street whimpering to go inside. And I’ve been convinced there’s a mouse in the wall snickering at me.

Seeing? Well, where do I start...

Bea-ware...I’m watching you

Sign in to Kindle Whispercast here for a chance to win books 1 and 2 in the Bea Catcher Chronicles series, by Olivia Samms. Just use your Amazon.com account to sign into Kindle Whispercast. To learn more about Whispercast, visit https://whispercast.amazon.com/. Ends 4/12/14 at 11:59pm. Using the e-mail address associated with the winner’s Amazon.com account, we will contact the winner by e-mail with instructions regarding how to claim the prize. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  See official rules.

New Teen Takes on Old Favorites

Herdarkcuriosity Megan Shepherd is the author of The Madman’s Daughter and Her Dark Curiosity, creative retellings of classic tales. She shares five favorite reimaginings of classic stories.

Many of readers’ favorite classics are getting a fresh spin by authors writing for the teen market. These retellings, reimaginings, and alternate versions are a great way to revisit old favorites in a new light. Since many classics are packed with swashbuckling adventure, tortured love, ghosts, and mad science, it’s no wonder readers of all ages are embracing YA reboots. Here are some of my favorites.

The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter (coming 2015) make up a four-book series inspired by various fairy tale heroines. In Cinder, a cyborg mechanic loses her foot in front of the handsome prince. In Scarlet, a girl befriends a street fighter named Wolf in a Red Riding Hood inspired story. These creative reboots are fast-paced and fun.

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin Masque of the Red Death and its sequel, Dance of the Red Death, reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s classic story in a post-apocalyptic world beleaguered by plague. Beautiful writing makes this dark series an addictive read and will likely send readers back to Poe’s original short story.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson Tiger Lily takes a minor character from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and gives her an entire world. The titular character is ambitious, wild, headstrong, and sure to make readers fall in love with her. Narrated by Tinker Bell, this story is a tragic and moving tale of love and loss.

Splintered by A. G. Howard Splintered and its sequel, Unhinged, take readers back into the world of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in a dark, goth, utterly modern way. A descendant of the original Alice, Alyssa Gardner returns to a Wonderland that is far more grotesque, haunting, and dangerous. Full of twists and surprises.

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund In this stand-alone follow up to For Darkness Shows the Stars (itself a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion), Peterfreund blends a post-apocalyptic world with inspiration from The Scarlet Pimpernel. Fans of Baroness Emma Orczy’s original play will enjoy revisiting the common themes and characters.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge This Beauty and the Beast retelling combines the romance of the original fairy tale with a thrilling and inventive fantasy setting. Seventeen year old Nyx marries her sworn enemy with plans to murder him, only to fall in love and question everything she’s ever believed in.