Kindle

Where Did the Week Go…

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Greetings, readers of EDN. The head honcho at EDN asked me if I was interested in writing a weekly column on the entertainment scene in the Eugene/Springfield area. Every week I tell you what’s playing at your local cinemas, but now they’ve asked me to share my opinion on what’s good, bad or just interesting – sort of a recap of the week in entertainment. So this will be my first entry. Hope it goes well and I hope you come back next week.

My parents and grandmother spent the weekend with my sister and me. It’s my sister’s birthday today and usually she likes to stretch her birthday celebration beyond the big day. So this year it began on Friday and lasted the whole weekend. We went out to dinner on Friday, and on Saturday we had a Thanksgiving-style dinner and watched the Ducks pummel Stanford. It was a nice little weekend filled with parents, presents and pumpkin pie. So while I was busy entertaining the family, there was a lot going on this week.

Modern Warfare 3

If you’re a male between the ages of 17 and 30, then Christmas came early this year with the release of Modern Warfare 3 on Tuesday. Fans were lined up outside Best Buy in Springfield for the midnight release, and as predicted it’s getting rave reviews and will probably obliterate sales from the previous game in the series: Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Personally, I’ve grown a little tired of military first-person shooters. If I’m going to pay $60 for a new game, I want to be able to enjoy it on my own without some 10-year-old in Florida kicking my ass on X-Box Live. Judging by the last few Call of Duty games, the single-player campaign on MW3 probably looks, sounds and lasts about as long as a Michael Bay movie. But I am closer to 30 than 17 so maybe this is just the first stage of maturity.

(sub) Urban Projections

Last year there was a great little documentary called Exit Through the Gift Shop. It was about an eccentric man who set out to make a documentary about the mysterious street artist known only as Banksy. As the film progressed, the man became more and more interested in creating his own art than profiling Banksy. The film showcased amazingly creative art on buildings, street lamps and signs. What one person might perceive as merely graffiti, another would consider art. With that film in mind, I’d like to make you aware of some street art happening in Eugene right now.

Premiering this past Wednesday and continuing for the following two Wednesdays in November, (sub)Urban Projections is highlighting emerging artists while also celebrating the spirit of Eugene through a digital arts festival. This is a free event that aims to use the buildings we look at every day and create a more vibrant and colorful environment. But instead of secretly painting artwork over buildings Banksy-style, this project focuses on promoting new digital art and media and re-imagining the city of Eugene and the possibilities for public art and space.

This past Wednesday’s event was showcased atop the Hult Center parking garage and featured artist Jon Bellona. Each of the three shows last from 6-9:30 p.m. Next Wednesday it will be held at 5th Ave. and Willamette, near the train depot. The featured artist this week will be Kevin Patton.

If you’re in the mood for some creative, visually amazing digital art then check out these remaining two events. Like I said, they’re free and you will be amazed what artists these days can do with a computer. Every artist needs a canvas. Why not use the boring buildings we drive by everyday?

11/11/11

Friday marked 11/11/11 on the calendar and in anticipation of this rare event, some on the web celebrated this day by watching the cult classic film This is Spinal Tap. The official name for the day was “Nigel Tufnel Day” in reference to the character Christopher Guest played in the 1984 film. The film is a mockumentary following a fictional British rock band on tour called Spinal Tap. The film is endlessly quotable and one of the more memorable scenes is when Nigel is showing the fictional director in the film (the actual director of the film) the amps the band uses. Normally they go up to 10, but Nigel has them go to 11 on the dial. Whether this actually makes the amps louder is beside the point. Eleven is greater than 10 so that means they’re better.

So on Friday, I hope some of you acknowledged that special day that only comes once a century and watched This is Spinal Tap. Although I’m sure you had to turn your televisions up louder than 11.

Kindle adds rental service

With Borders closing here recently and the future of reading moving more and more towards e-readers and tablets, the first company to embrace how we consume books is finally offering its customers the opportunity to read e-books without buying them.

Early last week, Amazon announced a rental service for its online Kindle bookstore for Prime subscribers. If you pay the $79 for a year, you get Amazon Prime which allows you to have packages delivered quicker and free. Subscribers also have access to hundreds of movies and television shows to stream online. Before last week, KIndle customers could only buy books they wanted to read. Now they have the ability to rent one book at a time for free with the Prime membership and not have to worry about a late fee.

The Lending Library

As someone who has a Kindle, this is something I’ve been waiting for for a long time. Most other e-readers give you the option of renting your books at a lesser price. Amazon showcases its e-readers like Apple does its iPods: by selling them as a brand name with an exclusive store. Sure the e-books are sold at a lesser price than if you went into a bookstore, but if I can save a couple extra bucks and just rent it, I’d gladly take that option.

If you’re interested in some books by Oregon authors, a number of Ken Kesey’s work is available in the Kindle bookstore including One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. If you’re interested in more modern Oregon authors, check out Philip Margolin, whose novels are also available in the Kindle store.

Northwest Women’s Comedy Festival

The Wildish theater in Springfield held its 6th Annual Northwest Women’s Comedy Festival on Saturday. The act featured a dozen female comedians including Sarah Lowe, Ashly Reiss and Virginia Jones. In case the comedians didn’t make you laugh, the theater provided wine and chocolate so you could get a slight buzz off of alcohol and sugar while watching the performers.

I wish I could have attended this. With popular female comedians like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Whitney Cummings starring in three of the more popular comedy shows on television, it’s nice to see an event celebrating local comedians as well. It was the 6th time they’ve done this, so it must be funny.

Local Writer L.J. Sellers Spotlights Eugene With Fictional Detective Series

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EUGENE- Wade Jackson is a detective for the Eugene Police Department, Homicide Division, a good man who loves his family and his home town. He’s been through a divorce, a child in danger, and had to solve some of the worst crimes Eugene has ever seen… and he’s not even a real cop.

Local author L.J. Sellers made him up. “Jackson is a composite of the first two detectives I interviewed [when researching the novel], with a little of my husband plus some imagination thrown in.” Detective Wade Jackson has been in 5 novels now starting with The Sex Club, and the latest Dying for Justice just came out in March. All of the thrillers have received resounding reviews and Detective Jackson has gained quite a following both in the local community and around the world. “I originally considered setting the first book, The Sex Club, in Salem because it’s the capital. Then about halfway through, it occurred to me that the detective would make a great series character, and that it made more sense to write about Eugene, where I live. Why not?”

Seller’s fictional Eugene is not much different than the one we live in, an ex-logging town turned burgeoning meth-o-polis/backwoods San Francisco. We’ve seen violent crime increasing as our population and our problems grow out of control, meanwhile our government can’t even afford to pay someone to teach our kids. On the other hand these problems are not unique. The Emerald City is also a thriving community with heavily dedicated people that really do have our best interests in mind. “Local readers say my series is very reflective of Eugene. My protagonist, is aware of the escalating violence in Eugene and my series reflects that, with the last two books, Passions of the Dead and Dying for Justice, containing more violence than the first three.”

When it comes to character however, Detective Jackson defies the “Homicide Cop” norm. “I purposefully didn’t want Jackson to be the typical cop that you see in so much crime fiction: alcoholic, bitter, lonely, and dysfunctional. So I wrote about a stable, good-hearted family man who struggles with all the same things we do: divorce, financial troubles, and family issues.” Said Sellers, “Readers have responded very well to the character.”

L.J. Sellers was born in Santa Rosa, California, but moved to Oregon at a very early age, the third of six kids. Growing up in Cave Junction almost her entire life, Sellers was tired of the small town, and at 18 packed her VW Bug and drove North towards civilization. She graduated from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication with a degree in Journalism (same here!) and has been writing non-fiction since… but never gave any thought to writing fiction. “One day, I was reading a particularly bad novel and tossed it to the floor, thinking I could write a better story than that… On August 7, 1989, I sat down to write my first novel.”

Years later, after coutless sumissions, scripts, screenplays, stories, etc… LJ published the first Detective Jackson story, The Sex Club. “I feel very passionately about the subject matter, so it was a story I had to write, even knowing that it might never be published.” It was, and not only is she continuing to get published, Sellers is one of the many authors helping to reinvent the way we think about publishing.

It all started when the economy tanked. With both her and her husband being laid-off, the bills were piling up and freelancing was not cutting it. LJ had two book deals going for two stand-alone thrillers she’d already written, and her next follow-up Jackson novels were being published (by a publisher) to Kindle. The problem was, all of these were set to release in the near-future, all set up along an old-school publishing schedule. That wasn’t going to pay the mortgage, so Sellers gambled on herself, withdrew from her book deals and her publisher, and self-published all of her works on Amazon. What do you know it? Money actually began to come in. She was writing furiously, getting more Jackson novels online, cutting prices, and guest blogging to get the word out about her novels. It worked.

“In January of 2010, I had one book on Kindle and sold 31 copies. I had two print books on the market with a small publisher, and they weren’t selling much better. In December, I had six books on Kindle and sold over 10,000 copies.” She wrote earlier this year on a guest blog.

How did all of this start? Well in 1971, Project Gutenberg became a volunteer effort to digitize important works in order to encourage the future creation and distribution of eBooks. 30 years later the nation’s largest book chain has filed for bankruptcy due to the decline in popularity of the printed word. In July of last year (2010), Amazon.com reported that sales of ebooks for Kindle outnumbered the sales from hardcover books for the first time ever.

“The whole publishing industry is teetering on the edge of collapse, and the big presses will have to reinvent themselves if they want to stay in business. They may have to give up their expensive Manhattan offices and contract out more of their services. They’ll also have to start offering writers better royalties on digital books. Amazon pays indie authors 70 percent of the cover price, which authors set themselves,” Said Sellers. “Print books won’t disappear, but they will become more and more scarce, especially in fiction.”

In the meantime, authors like LJ Sellers and her Detective Jackson stories will only continue to see increased popularity online. “…I get emails every day from people who urge me to write faster so they can get their next dose of Jackson.”