Guest Post & Giveaway With Author Mima

There aren’t many things I enjoy more than good stories, sex & romance, and games. So today I’m especially excited to have romance author Mima, who just published a trio of interactive fiction with a promise of adventure and sexy fun.  Read her post below to learn more about her latest books, her thoughts on taglines, and her geeky awesomeness. Plus there’s also a chance to WIN a free book.  Don’t forget to check out her website for more of her work.

Enjoy, and good luck!


The Power in a Tagline

Tatiana’s website has a wonderful tagline. “Making Fantasies Take Flight” makes me imagine a honking huge dude, nekkid, with really cool tattoos (sorry. I’ve been brainwashed by the last few years of NY romance covers) and enormous black wings. Feathery wings, wide and tapered like a raven’s. He’s crouched on the edge of a flat-top city brick building about to jump. It’s a lovely mental image, but it’s mine and I bet a lot of people have a totally different, unique mental image when they read that tagline.

Take Control Trilogy

Tatiana invited me over to her pad to help celebrate the release of my three interactive romances. These choose your own adventure-style romances give the reader a choice and what they decide makes the story diverge to one of several different endings. Tatiana and I both loved the books as a kid, and she’s really supported me in my project.

The tagline for my series, called Take Control, is “Take control and brave the fates, for true love is hard to find.” I’m trying to do three things with this tagline.

  1. Embed the series name in the reader’s mind.
  2. Inform the reader that they are in charge and it isn’t all smooth sailing. This warning is imperative when selling to romance readers who demand HEAs. Because some of my endings are decidedly not HEA.
  3. Assure a reader who starts reading a Take Control and might get frustrated with the first few stories not being happy that the romance exists.

One of the stories in the book is definitely a romantic, sexy, swooningly-satisfying fairy tale ending. So keep trying. There’s a bunch that are sweet in each book, but only one where the heroine rides into the sunset on the hero’s white stallion (Disclaimer! That doesn’t happen in any of them, even the western. It’s just a metaphor. No spoilers here.) Although interestingly, I’ve heard from a few readers and their favorite endings vary and haven’t been the fairy tale.

When I make a picture in my mind for this tagline, I see the Prince from Sleeping Beauty, reins of the frantic stallion in one hand, sword in the other, giant briars all around. There’s struggle. There’s danger. Be resolute and persevere. In other words, don’t stop reading after your first “The End” because otherwise you’re not really “getting” the book.

I hope the tagline inspires you to try Becca, the scifi (Aliens! Mobsters! Heat pistols!), Lauren, the contemporary western (Rattlesnakes! Bar Fights! Rustlers!), or Charlotte, the paranormal (Mermaids! Evil fairies! Moon magic!). All of the opening chapters are available for reading at any of the sales sites. Other excerpts are at my website, http://www.mimawithin.com along with reviews.

Do you have a mental image created by either Tatiana’s tagline “Making fantasy take flight” or my series tagline “Take control and brave the fates, for true love is hard to find”? If you share it in the comments, you’ll be entered to win your choice of a Take Control book. So what picture springs to your mind?

Mima
www.mimawithin.com

Game With Me

I’m a gamer girl. Don’t exactly get to play every single day, but when do get on, I play hard.

Right now, on PS3 I’m playing some expansions for Dragon Age Origins and considering replaying it with a different class, before I dive into the brand new Dragon Age 2. Not a lot of plans for potential cooperative games there, but that could change.

I’m on Xbox 360 frequently to work up a sweat with Kinect or to continue exploring the universe in Mass Effect 2. Also at some point in the near future, I’ll probably join my husband in some first-person shooters (romantic, I know).

Wanna play with me? Or just watch some Netflix together? I’m GeekGoddiss on Xbox Live and Geek Goddess on the Playstation Network.

Friend me, and let’s play together sometime!

13 Games I Played This Year

So I’m a gamer. I absolutely adore video games, to the point that I really hope to create some of my own in the near future. I try to get in about a game a month. Here’s 13 that I enjoyed this year:

  1. Dragon Age – I’ve blogged before about this game. Great story + Great battles + Multiple romantic options makes this game a WIN for me. Easily one of the best games I’ve ever played.
  2. Rockband 2 – My entire family enjoys this game, including my drumming-gifted 3-year old. It’s a great party game, too.
  3. Dracula Origin – Pretty, story-driven game with lots of puzzles, a few which gave me quite a challenge. Decent casual game.
  4. College Romance – A casual, visual-novel game that’s easy to play (and to finish).
  5. Spirited Away – This casual game is a mix between a visual novel, a dating simulation, and a mini RPG. What I liked most about this game is that it offered something I don’t see very often in the gaming world – a female heroine who gets to choose amongst 9 different male characters to date and marry, instead of it being the other way around. Very simple game that I personally would have executed a little differently, but I was pleased with the concept enough to be entertained.
  6. Fable II – This is an action RPG game that in addition to kicking some major butt, allows you to chose what kind of hero your character is, and how they live their life – all the way down to what house they buy and live in, who they marry (and how many spouses they choose to have) and if they have children. My kind of game.
  7. Army of Two – This is a shooter game designed to be played as a two-player local co-op. Translation – instead of losing your significant other to hours of addicting fire-powered action on Modern Warfare or Halo, you can join him in this game and take down bad guys side-by-side. We loved this game so much, we bought the sequel. Can’t wait to play it!
  8. Borderlands – this is another two-player local co-op game. It’s also predominantly a shooter game, but also very much an RPG at its core. My husband and I enjoyed so many hours bonding with each other over this game, we bought and played two of the expansions, as well.
  9. Borderlands:  The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned – Fun expansion for Borderlands, even though my husband is terrified of Zombies!
  10. Borderlands: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx – Another fun expansion for Borderlands (I personally liked the Zombie one more, but the hubby preferred this one. the big chicken)
  11. Modern Warfare –  I played the single player campaign to completion and enjoyed it a lot, but didn’t touch the online campaigns. I really didn’t want to get my a$$ handed to me by a bunch of anonymous kids.
  12. Devil May Cry – Yes, I know how old this game is, but I’d been wanting to play it forever, and only got around to it this year. It was still quite entertaining.
  13. Super Mario Wii – This game wins big points by being one of the few video games that a whole family can play together at the same time and all be sufficiently challenged and entertained – even the preschooler. The four of us were able to jump, stomp, run and laugh our way through many family game nights. 🙂

What have you played this year?

Geeky Friday: RoboTimes (Android Woman!)

This geeky yet creepy video is especially appropriate as today is both Geeky Friday and a couple of days before Halloween.

Maybe this means I’ll finally get a real life guy like Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation soon? *crosses fingers*

Geeky Friday: HDR Video

So I was doing my weekly reading of geeky news on Syfy Dvice, and came across a video so lovely I had to share.

It’s a demonstration of HDR Video. And. It. Is. Gorgeous.


HDR Video Demonstration Using Two Canon 5D mark II’s from Soviet Montage on Vimeo.

This video highlights several clips we’ve made using our new High Dynamic Range (HDR) process. Video is captured on two Canon 5D mark II DSLRs, each capturing the exact same subject via a beam splitter. The cameras are configured so that they record different exposure values, e.g., one camera is overexposed, the other underexposed. After the footage has been recorded, we use a variety of HDR processing tools to combine the video from the two cameras, yielding the clips you see above.
[source]

I mean look at it! The city scape almost looks like super-high-resolution computer animation. The guy looks like a dream – better than real life! Seriously, he’s mesmerizing me (and not just because I think he’s cute).

If they make shows and movies that look like this, I’ll have a hard time getting off the tube!

Nook vs Kindle 2: How I Decided

So I recently bought a Nook, and several people have asked why I chose it in order to help them make a decision. I must admit – it wasn’t an easy decision to make. I was originally waiting to hear more about the Microsoft Courier but apparently that product got nixed.  I considerd the iPad, but since my husband is probably going to get one eventually for his graphic novel and comic book reading pursuits – which I don’t really read a lot of – I decided to invest in a less expensive device that’s dedicated to reading books and uses e-ink technology. He and I could always temporarily switch devices if needed. Plus I already have an iPod Touch, and the Nook and Kindle 2 are less than half the price of the iPad.

So I narrowed it down to Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle 2. Here’s a table I made comparing the two:

 
 
NOOK KINDLE 2
 
Display: 6″ diagonal E Ink display and 3.5″ LCD color touchscreen 6″ diagonal E Ink dsiplay
Reading a book on either device pretty much looks the same. However, Nook has a color touchscreen at the bottom for navigational purposes that also lets you see book covers (bought directly from Barnes & Noble only) in full color.
Size: 7.7″ x 4.9″ 8″ x 5.3″
The Nook is slightly smaller. Not enough to make a noticeable difference, however.
Weight: 12.1 ounces 10.2 ounces
The Kindle 2 is slightly lighter. I’ve held both in my hands before – I didn’t feel a difference.
Internet Access: Free wireless via AT&T; Wi-Fi, Free Wi-Fi in B&N stores; 3G only Free international wireless via  AT&T and WhisperNet
I don’t know much about Kindle’s WhisperNet, but I’m pretty cool with Wi-Fi and 3G. I don’t need it on this device much anyway except for buying new books and checking the news.
Storage: 2GB, expandable 2GB internal (1.4G for user content)
They both have around 2 gigabytes of memory, and can hold up to 1,500 books out of the box. However, the Nook’s memory is expandable (via microSD) whereas the Kindle 2 isn’t. That put Nook ahead for me.
Battery life: 10 days with wireless off. Removable,rechargable battery pack. 14 with wireless off (4 days with wireless on). Non-removeable rechargable battery pack.
Kindle 2’s battery is reported to provide up to 14 days of reading without needing to be recharged, whereas the Nook lasts about 10 days. While both have rechargeable battery packs, only the Nook’s is removeable and therefore replaceable without having to replace the entire unit. As someone who’s had plenty of issue with dying rechargable battery packs with other devices, this was a big plus for Nook for me.
Keyboard: Virtual Built-in
Nook has a virtual keyboard that is displayed at the bottom half of the device in the color LCD touchscreen. Kindle has an actual textile keyboard built onto the device. Honestly, I prefer actual keys that I can feel (so I can type without looking at the letters) over a touchscreen keyboard, but it wasn’t an absolute deal-breaker.
Audio: MP3 player, mono speaker, 3.5mm stereo audio jack 3.5mm stereo audio jack
Audio Books: Supports Audiobooks, music/MP3s Text to speech; Audible audios books supported
You can listen to MP3s and Audiobooks on both, which is nice. Yes, you can listen to music while you read a book. The one advantage Kindle 2 has in this area is its text-to-speech functionality which automatically reads certain ebooks to you. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on this too terribly though, as I prefer the professional done audiobooks to auto-generated readings anyway.
Formats Supported: EPUB, PDB, PDF, Non DRM PDB, Audible, MP3 Kindle (AZW), TXT, Audible, MP3, MOBI, PRC, PDF, HTML, DOC
Not compatible with: Kindle (AZW) ePub
Here’s the most critical yet most confusing area – book formats supported. The Nook supports EPUB, PDB, PDF. TXT and DOC. Kindle supports TXT, MOBI, PRC, PDF, HTML, DOC, as well as the Kindle’s own AZW format. You can’t shop on Amazon.com and buy Kindle books to read on the Nook, and you can’t read books bought from Barnes & Noble’s online store on a Kindle. That sucks either way you look at it, to me.Now the interesting thing is that I spend far more money on Amazon than I do at Barnes & Noble, but when specifically talking about books, I tend to buy a lot more books from Barnes & Noble because there’s a great B&N store less than 2 miles from my house.

So this was a tough choice for me. What finally gave Nook the advantage though was the fact that the Nook can read ePub files. I already had a lot of ePub books on my laptop. I had a few Kindle books too, but I can still read them on my PC or on my iPod Touch using the Kindle App. Really, it’s a toss up. I recommend you consider where you buy your books from most often.

Store: 1,000,000 books at Barnes & Noble online store 400,000 books on Amazon.com
I can’t say that these numbers mean much to me. To be honest, there are still books I can find on Amazon.com that I can’t find on Barnes & Noble’s online store. Not enough that has caused me personally a lot of concern.For a while, the Kindle 2 was winning simply because it seemed that MORE of the specific books I look for are there. Sometimes books are cheaper on Amazon.com, but sometimes they’re cheaper at Barnes & Noble. I have a B&N Membership as well as a Amazon.com credit card, so I get lots of great discounts for both stores.

To tell you the truth though, I’m trying to make an effort to buy more books directly from publishers’ sites more often, to put a little bit more back into the pockets of publishers and authors. But since I hang out in brick and mortar Barnes & Noble A LOT, it makes sense for me to be able take advantage of the free access to full books while I’m I the store, so Nook has the advantage here. Only by a smidgeon, though.

Price: $259 $259
They’re the same price and both come with a standard 1-year warranty.
Charge Time: 3.5 hrs, includes charging via PC USB 4 hrs, includes charging via PC USB
Both can be charged either by being plugged into an outlet via an attachable adapter, or via your PC USB.
Web Brower: Yes Yes
Dictionary: Merriam-Websters American Oxford
They both have okay web broswers on them – but I have yet to find a need to surf the net on my eReader. The dictionary is essential, though.
Sharing: LendMe technology None
With the Nook, you can share some of your ebooks with friends for up to 2 weeks, using the LendMe technology. You can share your Nook books with people with other Nooks, Apple devices, Blackberry, PC or Mac, with the ability to share with Android and Windows Mobile devices soon. Kindle 2 doesn’t have anything like this.
Synching: Apple devices, BlackBerry®, PC, Mac Apple devices, PC, BlackBerry® and Mac
You have the ability to read the books you bought for either device on your Apple, BlackBerry, PC and Mac devices as well. On the Kindle 2 the last page you read on one device will be sychnronized on all other devices. Nook is coming out with this functionality soon.
Other Pros and Cons:
There are some other things to consider. The Nook allows you to read full books while you are in the store. Also, the Nook is an Andorid-based reader, which implies to me that it has a lot of capability for expanded functionality in the future. It already has Sudoku and Chess on it, which wasn’t really necessary but is a nice little bonus since I love both games.The Kindle 2 is a second generation device, which means it may be a little more polished and reportedly has higher speed performance than the Nook. The Nook has recently pushed free software upgrades to the device to try to improve its performance, but to my understanding there is still some ways to go. The Kindle 2 also has Wikipedia access and may be more popular than the Nook at this time.

Overall, it was a very close tie between Nook and Kindle 2. I had a really, really hard time deciding, especially since I love to shop at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. In the end, Nook won out because of the ability to replace the battery pack and upgrade memory, sharing abilities and it’s tie-in to the Barnes & Noble physical stores. The availability of games and support of the ePub format also helped me decide, but in all likelihood I might have been satisfied with either.

Got any questions for me?

13 Reasons I Bought an e-reader

I just recently bought a dedicated electronic book reader. After months of deliberation, I finally chose Barnes and Noble’s Nook (I’ll have to come back another day to discuss why I chose Nook over the many other options out there).  Here’s thirteen things I can do with an e-reader that I can’t do with a normal book.

Barnes & Noble Nook

  1. Read the many great books, novellas and short stories that are only available in e-book format … without having to be stuck at a computer desk or with a clunky laptop
  2. Comfortably read my writing buddy’s and my own unfinished written works for editing and critiquing purposes
  3. I’m a proponent of books in all formats: paperback, hardcover, audio and digital.  I support e-books and have been dreaming about e-readers before they were even invented
  4. Increase font size for easier reading when I’m on the treadmill (which it turns out is possible at fast-walking speeds)
  5. Listen to audiobooks while driving, walking or on the treadmill
  6. Read and turn pages with one hand
  7. Read full books for free while I’m in Barnes and Noble
  8. Can carry lots of books  in my purse with one slim, lightweight device
  9. Because reading on my iPod Touch can get uncomfortable
  10. I can be rough on a book.  Stuffing them in my purse, folding and prop them up so I can read while I cook or fold clothes, I read them while I’m at the park with the kids and fall asleep all kinds of ways with my poor book still in my hands. Electronic devices tend to fare much better in my care.
  11. I can make notes in books without permanently marking up physical pages
  12. Bookshelf space is a rarity in a house full of book-lovers …
  13. Soon I will be a published e-book author. Having an e-reader will allow me to experience my work in the way my future readers might

It’s only been a few days, but so far I’m really enjoying it.

Wanted: Courier

Although I haven’t in any way lost my love for print books, my collection of ebooks is steadily growing, and I can only see it further increasing in the future. So I’m in the market for my first e-reader  (outside of my laptop and iPod) and have been considering the pros and cons of the Nook vs Kindle 2 vs the iPad.

But now I’m thinking I need to seriously wait for this Microsoft Courier device to come out on the market (rumored to be sometime in the second-half of this year) before I make my decision. Because this device looks lovely  –  I could hold it like a book AND make notes with a pen.

Drool-worthy.

Microsoft Courier - pic2

Microsoft Courier

More information can be found at  Engadget.com and Dvice.com.

Thursday Thirteen – 13 Signs You’re a Geek

  1. You want to be a member of Starfleet when you grow up.
  2. The announcement of new technology or gadgets make your heart beat faster.
  3. You actually try to use  The Force to pick up your cell phone.
  4. Ero Anime is way more enticing to you than porn.
  5. The idea of Live Action Avatar Roleplaying doesn’t sound too horrible.
  6. The only way you’d consider watching Desperate Housewives is if one of them was married to a werewolf.
  7. You haven’t been outside your home for 6 days – and you’re okay with that.
  8. Lists and Spreadsheets are your best friends.
  9. When people need computer help, they call you first.
  10. I really like you.
  11. You have a driving need to do everything yourself because that’s the only way to get it done right.
  12. Staying at home reading a good book or playing a video game sounds more enticing that going out to a party.
  13. You know it’s better to be a geek than not to be one.

The Game of Love

Love is a wonderful thing. And I’m not just saying that because Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. I truly love love. I love reading about it, writing about it, watching movies about it, talking about it, being in it.

As some of you may know, in addition to loving love I also love video games. Especially adventurous, action-packed or RPG (Dungeons & Dragons) type games where I get to be a hero or heroine and beat some bad guys until they beg me to stop. Very few of these games include any romantic elements, which I try not to complain about since I can get my romance fix elsewhere. But still, I’ve always wondered why so many game developers seem to forget that love can be a great adventure too, and often a perilous one!  So when I encounter a game which also incorporates love – and I mean actually makes the romance part of the gameplay and not just back-story or an implied relationship – then I’m completely thrilled. THRILLED I tell ya!

Square’s RPG series Final Fantasy has always put a love story in nearly every game. My favorites so far are Final Fantasy VIII with the relationship between Squall and Rinoa, as well as Cloud/Aeris and Cloud/Tiffa in FFVII, and Tidus and Yuna in FFX and FFX-2.

Even the romance in these games were entertaining and  important parts of the story, they were linear and not really part of the gameplay, however. You couldn’t choose someone else to fall in love with it, or whether or not to fall in love at all.

So today I’d like to give a shout out to a few of the games I’ve played recently that were kick-ass and yet didn’t give love the backseat.

Dragon Age

What rocks about the romance in this game is that you have options. You’ll have 3 different possible love interests depending upon your character’s gender and the sexual orientations of the game characters. Other characters reacted to my chosen relationship (either with jealousy, disgust or warnings) and there were actual love scenes.

Surprisingly, the romance was intense enough to make me gush with joy but yet somehow the game remained gritty enough for my husband to enjoy without his manhood being threatened. And when I say “intense enough” I mean enough to actually invoke real emotion in the player.  Heh, at least for me anyways. I think I have a serious crush on Alistair. At least as serious as it can get with a digital dude. But let’s just say that I think this game is so nice, I”m playing it twice!

Fable II

Unlike Dragon Age, Fable II doesn’t have a written-out romance with a main character. Instead, the “romance” in this game is more like a mini-game, where you can flirt with random citizens of the towns you visit and possibly make them fall in love with you. What I thought was an interesting touch though was that you could choose a house to buy, get married and move your spouse into it. You can even buy furniture and decorations for your home, make love and have children. After a long, hard day’s work of beating and slicing bad guys to a bloody pulp you could return home to find your spouse and children waiting to greet you and offer you gifts.

I haven’t encountered another game yet that let’s you be a hero while also getting to play house. Nice!

Mass Effect

Mass Effect has a special place in my heart because it came out before Fable II and before Dragon Age. It is one of the first games I played that actually involved you in the romance instead of just having you watch it or hear about it, and gave you at least a couple of choice. Mass Effect 2 just came out. I bought it but haven’t opened it yet, and probably won’t get to it for a while. But I believe it will continue with the same kind of romantic awesomeness as the first installment, and therefore I will be playing it.

*sighs* Bestill my heart, o-wonderous-game-makers who aren’t afraid of a little romance! Keep them coming and I’ll keep playing them! (And with any luck, one day I’ll join their ranks with some romantic game creations of my own …)