Three Vooks for iPad Reviewed

1. Promises, by Jude Deveraux

Video + Book = Vook. But does it equal an advance in storytelling. I'll be straight with you -- no one wants to see interactive forms of fiction succeed more than I do. So if there's something good to say about technology applied to storytelling, I'm going to find it. Did I find anything good at the Vook store?

Let's start with my first Vook. I purchased Promises several months ago to read on my iPod Touch. It's an interesting idea, but the application was buggy and the platform too small to do it justice.  This week I updated the app and loaded it on my new iPad.  Much, much better! The video gave me a look at setting and time period that went far beyond what I imagined. That said, the whole experience is choppy. The navigation is clunky and confusing and getting between chapters and video took so long that it made me lose that story immersion. Below is a picture of what a page with text and video looks like. This instructions indicate you should click t0, "See what Jamie found. " But the story tells you what Jamie found, so you don't need to see the video. There are sections with video that do further story and character without repeating what has been said, but most of it is a repetition. It reminds me of fiction that shows you the same scene from the POV of different characters. I never was a big fan of  that technique.

2. Call of the Wild, by Jack London

I revisited the Vook store last week to find something eye-popping to use when I do educational e-book demonstrations. I loved this book as a kid and thought it was a title most people would be familiar with. When I cracked open this Vook, surely the contrast between the old paper version and the video version would be jaw dropping. Well...

It wasn't, but it was better done. I love the video, the way the sepia toned images impart a sense of an earlier time, the way they use different narrators and the contrast of those unique voices, the gorgeous frozen landscapes, and the dog's-eye view of running a sled trail. Here again the narrator is telling the same story as the text, snippits, but the clips are compelling and I did look forward to the clip at the start of each chapter. There are links throughout the story that lead to Wikipedia articles with more information on a subject or to  dictionary definitions of some terms. Navigation between chapters is better, but it moves in the opposite direction from navigation between pages which was confusing.

I had intended to download just the one extra story, but somehow I wound up with a copy of this next Vook, a free sample, on my iPad. A happy accident, because even though I might not have chosen this willingly, it was the jaw-dropper I was looking for.

3. Buddha Guide, by Deepak Chopra

If you get this book for no other reason than to enjoy the artwork, it is worth the money spent. The main text contains history, basic information on the Buddhist faith,  and links to more information. What really shines in this Vook is the video story, narrated by Chopra, a stunning blend of art and music that illustrate the story of Buddha.

Buddha is available in iPhone, iPad, and an online version. I downloaded the free demo but I enjoyed it enough that I'll get the full version when I can get a fast Internet connection. Vook files are big, but the price tag on this one isn't and you can grab a demo and see for yourself at Vook.com.

Bottom line: Vooks are in their infancy, a new storytelling form that I hope will be around for awhile. I see each new effort improving on what was done before and I look forward to watching Vooks grow up.


The Mesmerist

Crabapple Blossom by LadyDragonflyHerWorld on Flickr photo sharing

The Mesmerist

His magic is his mind
Like a beautiful garden
A fragrant intoxicant
A sensual arrangement
Of colorful fantasy
Of textured thoughts
A place to immerse yourself
To forget there is anything beyond him

When I am with him
I believe I can be
Before him life was empty
Barren as the crabapple out back
A parade of blossomless springs
Fruitless summers

And I know
I know
Gardens like him have thorns
Yet I go to him gloveless
Opening my hand
Palm up
Offering myself
Eager as an addict for a needle

~Allison Black
The Mesmerist's Tale
Copyright Nara Malone 2010

This week's Carry On Tuesday prompt is is a quote from the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran

Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.
My response is through the eyes of a character in my current WIP, The Mesmerist's Tale.
Click here to see what other participants wrote.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Testing blogpress for iPad

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Adding a link is supposed to be hard....

My Blogger Blogpress Test

Rain Making

Lady in the Lake

I'm combining two prompts this week (didn't finish this in time to post it yesterday and I needed something more to make this work, like the 3 words from Three Word Wednesday!) so I made it a little longer than usual. We're closing in on drought conditions here, and I thought I might try to tease a little rain from the clouds.

Three Word Wednesday words are: bait, jump, victim

This Week's Carry On Tuesday Prompt is from the first line of the 2008 novel
The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt

Lightning first, then the thunder. And in between the two........

The Lake

Liquid Light glides over her skin.
She shivers, undulates with pleasure.
She welcomes this lovers touch,
makes it part of herself,
opening, drinking him in
drawing him down into her moist depths,
flowing around him,
lifting and tugging him deeper
on a tide of pleasure.

Attracted by her breathy sighs and gurgles,
Wind joins in,
turning the duet into a threesome,
adding a new rhythm to their mating.
Soft rippling kisses stir desire.
Sighs rise to moans,
swaying to rocking,
thrusting to pounding,
throbbing to craving.

Wind with his clever fingers
roaming everywhere at once,
slipping in here and pinching there,
probing delicate depths.
Light’s tongues just as devilish,
licked, nipped, nibbled.
And in between the two...
Lake moaned,
slippery and hot,
baiting them with playful slaps.

Lake struggled to escape their sweet torture,
bucking and wriggling in her earthen bed,
pluming upward in clouds of steam.
She blocked Light, turned the sky a prosaic purple,
held Wind captive under humid, cumulus banks.
She gathered herself in voluptuous waves,
tossing frothy white caps,
rumbling warnings as the pair stalked her.
They weren’t deterred by her pretense.
She knew they wouldn’t be.

Wind ripped through the bonds,
and whipped her writhing body,
until her watery sobs rose,
a harmonic backup to his howls.
Not to be out done, Light drove deep,
impaling her on jagged bolts.
Bound tight between two magnetic forces,
captive between opposing poles,
Lake was helpless to do more
than ride sizzling currents.
Like greedy bandits they ravaged and plundered.
Lake played her victim role,
injecting sobs and shrieks between moans and sighs,
Until she forgot the game, wrapped herself tight around them,
shuddered, jumped, and dissolved with a shiver.

Rain sheeted down,
backlit by blue bolts streaking across the sky,
tossed and bounced on Wind’s rocketing thrusts.
Below, the earth trembled under pounding waves.
The trio swirled and twisted,
wringing every drop from their rapture.

Spent, the they collapsed in her silt bed.
Lake curled there  as day dawned,
content, a smooth rippleless mirror,
basking in Light’s pleased golden glow.
Wind shifted gently over them,
a soft blanket,
holding them close,
wrapping them in the earthy scent
raised by the night’s storm.

~~Nara Malone

Visit Carry On Tuesday

and Three Word Wednesday to see what other participants have written.


Blogging Tips for Beginners:Spinning Your Web

Web 2.0 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

There would be no WWW without links. Links make the web, one page to another, one idea to another, one person to another. There should be no blog post without links.

Not only do links take your readers to more information about a topic, they provide breadcrumb trails for readers at those other sites to find you. In the blogger world they call this trail a trackback. I know, we all groan and roll our eyes over terms, but this one actually means what it says -- it provides a track for readers to follow back to your blog from the one you quoted.

In Flock linking and quoting are geek-free processes. To link a word, highlight it and click the button with a picture of chain links. Then type the address of the page you want to link to. I always open a second tab in my browser and go to the place I'm linking so I can copy and paste the exact address, no mistakes. Make sure you delete the http:// that is pre-inserted in the form if you do this.

If you want to quote text on another site, highlight, right click and choose "blog this". That's one of the coolest features of Flock. Often when I'm surfing, I'll see something I might want to include in a post later, so I use the blog this feature and Flock opens the composer, gives the post the proper credit and link back. All you have to do is click save.  You can do the same with pictures.

Be sure to follow copyright rules of fair use and never include pictures that aren't specifically tagged as free to use. Open Stock Photography is a good source of open source images. My favorite picture source is Creative Commons Search, use the Flickr tag.

While we're on the subject of links, don't forget comments. Comments accomplish a couple of things:

They let bloggers know they've been heard. It can get pretty lonely out there and feedback keeps your favorite bloggers going. It also makes a link back to your site, so people who are interested in the topic  can follow your comment trail back to your blog. Search engines love and reward links because readers love and follow links. So throw out those breadcrumbs and people will be able to find you.

You  should thank your commenters with a quick little note of response or my favorite  --  a comment at their blog. You'll be surprised at the wonderful friendships that can grow out of those breadcrumbs you scatter. And as I learned just a few short months ago, new opportunities and fascinating work can find you through your comments.

Go rack up some comment karma and let me know in the comments how it works out for you.

Blogged with the Flock Browser


Friday 55: Ashes #flashfiction

Heart Aflame

Heart Aflame by BozDoz on Flickr photo sharing

“Focus,” he said, tugging the rope.

But how? Her mind ran in circles, this way and that, yapping like a little dog.

He layered pleasure and pain, smothering thoughts with an escalating craving for Him, consuming her in flames, until nothing remained but a soft floating feeling – ashes of who she had been, landing.

This post is in response to G-Man's Friday Flash 55. Participants tell a story in 55 words. See what other participants wrote here.


Gadget Geekery Gone Too Far: WiFi Scale?

Withings Wi-Fi scale at home on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I can't believe I'm saying this, but there probably are some technologies that just weren't meant to be mashed together. The WiFi scale has the honor of being the first new gadget to give me pause.

I love new gadgets as much as anyone else. A run down of the gadgets on my desk this morning: Nook, iPod Touch, a camera/mp3/cellphone, a key ring with 8 thumb drives, a Polaroid Digital Adventure Camera (waterproof and crash proof) and a Garmin Forerunner. Oh -- almost forgot -- two laptops. Two? Yes, one open to Linux and the other open to Windows.

That's just what's on the desk and what is likely to be used over the next hour. There are enough gadgets around here to support a couple of years worth of weekly columns. Hmm.

Anyway, I was watching the geek spot on a morning news show yesterday and was floored to discover this new gadget. My first reaction was intense envy, but not the kind of envy the producers of the WiFi scale might have hoped for. My first thought (honestly): There is hope for all us writer's trying to sell/market our books!

If the inventor of this device is giving workshops on how to sell ideas, I want to sign up. I mean think about it, that must have been one heck of a 3-line pitch to get this backed, produced, and marketed on a big network TV show. How do you sell someone on the idea of beaming your weight to the world?

Maybe it's just me. Maybe there are droves of people who would love to step on their scale every morning and have their weight and percentage of body fat posted on their blog and Twitter. Could be I'm too reticent.

Now, I don't have one of these and I'm not keen on buying one so I can't say if there is more to this idea. I can see possibilities as a promotional tool. If this is your idea of just the thing to pep up your blog traffic (please drop me a link to your blog in comments and include twitter ID), you can get one of your very own at the link below.

Amazon.com: Withings Wifi Body Scale: Health & Personal Care

Check back next Thursday and I'll let you share my first look at my iPad. If it's not here yet, I'll review the Nook and get to the iPad the following week.


I Had a Perfect Dream

While the fire crackled and the wind tossed ice pellets against the window,

I wrapped up in a bright blue shawl decorated with dolphins

and dreamed a perfect dream.

Snow flakes turned into a magic carpet.

I rode a glittering Milky Way

to a land of palm trees and beaches draped in gold and black sand.

Sigh. I'm going to have to make this dream come true.

This post was written in response to the Carry On Tuesday Weekly prompt, "I had a perfect Dream. See details on Carry On Tuesday's prompt  here. Or see what this week's particiants wrote here.


Blogging for Beginners: What Slice of the Pie Do You Want?

So you've decided to start blogging and -- as I suggested last week -- you downloaded and installed a copy of Flock. Now what?

Well before we start playing with the new toy we have a decision to make. It's the most important decision you make as a blogger.  What slice of the pie do you want?

If you look at any popular blog site you know which slice of the audience pie they are after, which theme their blog posts revolve around. Pick any of your favorite blogs and see if I'm not right. Let me pick one for you -- Over at the Otherworld Diner they deliver their goal as bloggers on page one:
Our staff is a collection of paranormal romance authors with one thing in common (besides a love for pie) -- we dish up our paranormal with a sprinkle, a splash, or a heaping helpin' of humor and wit. Come in and have a seat. The coffee's hot and the blue plate special is out of this world!

The Otherworld Diner

A recent theme on pie was an excellent example of blogging around a theme. Each contributor posted their own take on the subject of pie and some aspect of writing:

What if the hero is a shape shifter? What if he shape shifts into a black bird? What if the story takes place in the Middle Ages? What if your heroine is a baker? What if she bakes him in a pie? Dang it, she cooked the hero. Not good. OK, so the birds are supposed to survive the “baking” process but the hero will still not be a happy camper when he breaks free of that crust. Moral of this story . . . be careful who you bake in a pie, you could end up eating love of your life. *G*

View Original Article

Same theme different take:

The subject of pies scared me a little right from the beginning. Then, when my coworkers posted yummy recipes, I seriously considered panic. Not that I don’t cook, mind you. I do. The thing is, I write by the seat of my pants, and I tend to cook the same way. I sort of figured posting a recipe for apple cobbler that started, "take a bunch of apples, core, chop, cook with some sugar and cinnamon until soft…" well, you get it. Not too helpful.Then I realized there was another "pie" I’d worked with just a couple of weeks ago: The Pie of Life.

View Original Article

So take time and think about what is important to you, what you are good at, what ideas you are so passionate about that you can blog about them week after week, through all the craziness that is your life. Then think of a creative way to share that passion. Not all blogging themes need to be as out of this world as Otherworld's. There can be a mingling of interets. Gemma@Greyscale weaves her love of Australia, poetry, and photography into every post. Writers  Alice Audrey and Kelly Jamieson post blogs according to a schedule of themes readers can expect to see discussed on specific days.

I know you're all psyched up about the Flock browser I discussed last week. You're sitting there with your finger poised above the mouse button,  anxious to launch into your blogging. This is the moment you've been waiting for.  You've picked a theme and planned your post. It's time to  click the little blue quill pen in the browser toolbar (over to the left under between the clipboard symbol and the arrow pointing up) and start writing your first post.You configure the editor with your blog host's settings by clicking the tools (wrench and screwdriver) menu.

Write your post in the editor portion of the blogging screen. When you have everything just the way you want it, you can either save the draft, or hit the publish button (right side bottom of window) and your new article will post. Leave us a link in the comments and we'll all drop by to see what you've done.

All the quotes and sources I included in today's post were made using Flock's one-click "blog this" feature. No geek skills required. More on quoting and linking(as essential to blogging as veins to a circulatory system) next week.
Blogged with the Flock Browser


What do you love about Your life?

All available sizes | Love my Dog | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

"What do you love about your life?" Betty was still fuming over Rowan’s question. Who could toss out an answer to a question like that?

The diner waitress: “The quirky people I meet here”

Betty’s doctor: “Watering my garden in the evening.”

The mail-carrier: “The 53 Ford I’m restoring.”

So, what do you love?


This post is part of G-man's Friday Flash 55. See what other participants wrote here.

If you're wondering if this is really fiction, yes --  a bit of backstory and some research(last line) for the Spirit Walker's Adventure Game I'm working on with Orchid Games.  I'm curious to hear what your answers are.


Why Do I Want an iPad?

Turning a page on the iPad on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I have resisted until now, but I broke down today and ordered one. Why? I know it's Thursday, but I don't have thirteen reasons. We'll have to cut this Thursday's Thirteen post down to a Thursday 3.

1)  Amazon just released some of the most useful interactive e-books I've seen. The cool thing is that the Amazon books weren't made for Kindles, but to run on the Kindle app for Apple devices like iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. They started by offering 13 Titles. It took a couple of days to get past the fact that my iPod didn't have the right version of software and my connection was too slow for the download, but I eventually managed to download a copy of Bird Songs. It is incredibly cool to have something I can slip in my pocket and look up bird songs when I am out hiking. Still it got me thinking this is the kind of book it might be nice to read on a screen bigger than a deck of cards. There's also a cool guide on Paris( which I expect to need in 2012) and another one on cake baking that Bond is after me to buy.

2) I have teamed up with 3 other authors to do workshops on e-reading and this is the only major e-reader we didn't own between us. When readers actually hold an e-reader in their hands and experience an e-book firsthand, it can completely change their opinion of e-reading. I want to be able to explain all the reader options, then let them make informed decisions about how they will read.

3)  I'm once again waking up to the sound of logging saws instead of birdsong in the morning. The only way to curb the destruction is to reduce the demand for paper.

Read E!


Think This of Me

photo by Hamed Saber on FLickr photo sharing

If I should die
think this of me

That I tried to see
through your eyes
as you see through mine

In this inside out
blind-leading-blind way
We stumble forward

If I should die
think this of me

What I loved changed you.

~Nara Malone 2010

This was written for the Carry on Tuesday Prompt.  See what other participants wrote here.


Blogging Tips for Beginners: A Web Browser for Busy Authors #writetip

Flock Browser - Flock Art

To be an author is to be a blogger. Not all writers are as enthusiastic about that new aspect of our profession as I am. I love geek stuff. I love playing with new ways to express myself, and I really love the possibilities blogging can bring to stories.

So why isn't every writer enthusiastic about blogging? I think the biggest barrier is a technological hurdle. So, that's the blogging issue I'm going to address first. You need more than a web browser to get this job done right. If you are trying to muddle along with Internet Explorer or Firefox, with no enhancements for blogging, you are wasting too much time trying to put your posts together. And that is one of the biggest complaints I hear: Blogging eats too much time.

While you can install add-ons that will improve the blogging experience with IE or Firefox, I'm not even going to waste your time trying to describe how. It's better to use the browser that was designed for blogging and all the social networking you do: Flock. All the tools you need are built in and they are fantastic.

I have been using Flock since the first release around 2005 and I started mainly to see how it functioned as a browser. Flock made a blog reader out of me and then a blogger. Here's a snip of a five-star review for Flock at CNET (snip made automatically by my Flock browser).

Flock is designed to streamline and emphasize how you interface with social networking sites, RSS and media feeds, and blogs. Because it's built on Firefox 3, its behavior will feel familiar and it supports most--but not all--Firefox extensions. And yes, the "awesome bar" is part of the latest version.

Flock Browser - Free software downloads and reviews - CNET Download.com

I know you're saying, but I'm not good at all this technical stuff. You don't have to be.  When you want to quote another blogger, you highlight the text and it's a right click away from appearing in your blog post properly attributed(see the quoted text above -- just a highlight and a click ). When you want to add an image to a blog post, it's a right click away. You can keep Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace open in the Flock sidebar and get your social networking done while you blog. Are you juggling half a dozen blogs and webmail accounts? Support for that is built in too.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be going over the basics of blogging for beginners and I'll explain how to implement these techniques with Flock. If you're already using a blogging tool, you're ahead of the game. If not, go download Flock. It's free.

Join my Flock

Get ready to love your blogging.



Cottage Garden by sean hickin on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I wrote this in response to an assignment for I class I was taking several years ago. My younger sister saw the page on my desk and said, "What a pretty poem."  I explained that it wasn't a poem and I didn't know anything about writing poetry. She told me the coolest thing about poetry is that there don't have to be any rules. I was hooked. So, I'm still indulging in my ruleless scribbling and still envying those who can apply the formal rules so beautifully.

I envy the beauty of a formal garden.
I imagine appearing neatly clipped, colors coordinated.
What a wonderful thing it would be to think in tidy paths
that take me past each important element.

All my blooms would open at the proper time,
in proper order, and in their proper place.
All would arrange themselves around an exquisite centerpiece
of good sense and logic.

I'm more like a tangled wood,
honeysuckle vines and thorned blackberries marking my borders,
tiny violets hiding in my shadows.

I'm a web of branches and green growth,
reaching for sun and sky by day,
moon and stars by night.
My roots burrow into a rich carpet,
hidden things that feed the growth.

At my center -- a twisting, babbling stream of moods,
ideas, desires, and dreams.
I envy the order of a formal garden, but my soul knows it could never bloom there.

You can see other Sunday Scribblings here, or join us by
adding your own thoughts on: "Me" to the list of contributions.


Losing Mikey

Going down by n0nick on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Death came out of nowhere, grief arcing across a bright blue autumn sky.
Your mother rocks in her chair, empty-armed, shattered.
Your father tightens doorknobs, oils hinges, mends tools, fixes every broken thing he can find.
It’s like watching a stunt plane in a spiraling dive,
bracing for a crash.
I steal the faucet washers.

~Nara Malone

This post was written for G-Man's Friday Flash 55. See what other participants wrote here.

The Dungeon Gourmet dubbed "deep and touching"

I found a link to a lovely review for The Dungeon Gourmet in my email. This was different kind of story, about a different kind of love, and two people who found themselves -- like many lovers these days -- trying to maintain a long distance relationship. That storyline introduced some obstacles, not only for the characters, but for me as a writer. I had to find some new ways to tell my story. I felt like a cook serving up an untested recipe to a room full of guests. I'm so pleased Mistletoe over at Whipped Cream, enjoyed the meal. There's an excerpt below and a link to the full review.

Talk about a dynamic story! Nara Malone definitely delivers that - in spades....

Nara Malone writes an interesting book with many different characters. This story is a deep and touching one, centered more around the emotions of the characters than the sex scenes. Don't get me wrong, the sexual tension and the sex scenes are definitely hot in this book, but the author takes the characters and readers on one emotional ride. If you are looking for an intense and satisfying read, this is one book that should not be missed.

Go here to see the full review: The Dungeon Gourmet Review at Whipped Cream

Or here to grab a copy for yourself