Author Archives: Mercy

New Pew Internet Report Uncovers the Reading and Tech Habits of Younger Adults

New data has come from one of the most comprehensive sources, Pew Research Center Internet Project. This most recent study took a hard look at how millennials experience books and the technology involved in reading in the 21st century.

According to a spokesperson for Pew Internet:

“The report covers a variety of survey findings that illustrate the ways in which the young are somewhat different from their elders. Here are some of the details we highlight:

Millennials’ lives are full of technology, but they are more likely than their elders to say that important information is not available on the internet. Some 98% of those under 30 use the internet, and 90% of those internet users say they using social networking sites. Over three-quarters (77%) of younger Americans have a smartphone, and many also have a tablet (38%) or e-reader (24%).  Despite their embrace of technology, 62% of Americans under age 30 agree there is “a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the internet,” compared with 53% of older Americans who believe that. At the same time, 79% of Millennials believe that people without internet access are at a real disadvantage.

Millennials are quite similar to their elders when it comes to the amount of book reading they do, but young adults are more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months. Overall, 88% of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, compared with 79% of those ages 30 and older. Young adults have caught up to those in their thirties and forties in e-reading, with 37% of adults ages 18-29 reporting that they have read an e-book in the past year.

As a group, Millennials are as likely as older adults to have used a library in the past 12 months, and more likely to have used a library website. Among those ages 16-29, 50% reported having used a library or bookmobile in the course of the past year in a September 2013 survey. Some 47% of those 30 and older had done so. Some 36% of younger Americans used a library website in that time frame, compared with 28% of those 30 and older.

As with the general population, most younger Americans know where their local library is, but many say they are unfamiliar with all the services it may offer.”

The full report can be found at

NEW RELEASE: Bridges to Survival

In Bridges to Survival: Non-Stop Action behind Enemy Lines in World War II, acclaimed researcher-turned-author J. A. Stallings pens the first person account of nineteen-year-old Harry Rossi, a new recruit to the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II.

As the novel begins, Harry is a naïve teenager seeking adventure. Trained for the OSS, he becomes a member of the Margot team and enters Italy by submarine on the Adriatic, south of Venice, behind enemy lines.

The team’s mission: to stop the flow of German troops and materials pouring into Italy by destroying bridges crossing the Adige River and tunnels leading from the Brenner Pass. Working hand in hand with the Italian Resistance, Harry meets Carlo, his lookalike best friend, Melania, his first love, and Antonio, their brutal leader.

Soon, Harry finds himself wrestling with his basic morals as he witnesses the torture and death of his leaders and takes revenge on the killers. Meanwhile, to relieve the tension of war, Harry and Carlo tease and torment one another. They are teenagers, after all, not above fooling around and wrestling to alleviate their fear and anger.

By default, as their leaders are killed or captured, Harry and Carlo become leaders. Their mission is to protect priceless Italian art and outwit the Nazis with their use of plastique, pencil timers, radios, disguises, and their essential alliance with the Italian Resistance.

From train heists to dynamiting bridges, from unforgettable Italian friendships to falling in love, Harry lives through life-changing adventures that inevitably result in the keen grief that comes with being a soldier at war.

Stallings comments, “My four children have asked why a pacifist like me would write a war story. My answer is that Harry came to me. He was persistent, and his story unfolded. Like millions of innocent, adventurous patriots, he left his home unprepared for the war-time world that awaited him, a world where friends are tortured beyond recognition, where the instinct for revenge is unbridled and killing comes easy, where the mirror reflects a man he does not know, and where home is a child’s fairy tale to which there’s no way back.” She adds, “My father and uncles were in World War II. Like most of the World War II warriors, they never spoke of it.” 

“J. A. Stallings’ gripping new novel Bridges to Survival: Nonstop Action behind Enemy Lines in World War II gives us a flesh-and-blood narrative set in northeast Italy, a page-turner from beginning to end. Embedded in the narrative are instances of Italian art stolen by the Nazis and the daring retrieval by Harry and friends…[In] perhaps the most riveting section of the book, Harry and his compatriots make plans to destroy tunnels through the famous mountain pass between Austria and Italy, the entry point for German troops. The project is huge and full of danger…[This book will] be appreciated by veterans of all wars and by their families.” ~ Review by Lois-ellin Datta 

Author: J. A. Stallings lived her first twenty years in Indiana. Throughout her high school and college years, she wrote poems and short stories. She started her professional life as a teacher of forty multicultural fourth grade children in Long Beach, California. This was a great learning opportunity for teacher and students. Everyone survived, and the children attended her wedding. After her marriage to Hal Stallings, they lived on a sailboat, expecting to cruise the world and write stories for a living. The births of four children withn five years slowed the writing process. A move to Palo Alto, California,  placed them in close proximity of Stanford University. Jane entered their doctoral program, studying how children learn, how teachers teach, and the influence of social context. With her doctoral degree, many doors opened. She worked ten years at Stanford Research Institute, three years at Vanderbilt University, four years at University of Houston, and six years as the first woman dean at Texas A&M University (where she learned survival skills). The World Bank hired her to consult with teacher educators in Tunisia, Morocco, Gahanna, Brazil, and India. Retiring to Washington, D.C. in 1999, she finally started writing her stories. New challenges came in 2002 with a decision to grow organic almonds in northern California’s beautiful Capay Valley. During this ten-year period, she was inspired by her work with the Esparto School Board. In June of 2012, after the death of her husband, David Markham, she moved to Rossmoor, where she is a member of the Writer’s Club and the Published Writers of Rossmoor. She has published research articles, book chapters, books on the effective use of time in classrooms, and studies of effective teacher education. Bridges to Survival is her first novel. This timeless book gives voice to the experiences of people like her father and uncles and the circumstances in which they found themselves in World War II. 


Bridges to Survival: Non-Stop Action behind Enemy Lines in World War II by J. A. Stallings; Hellgate Press; Category; Historical Fiction/World War II; Paperback: 978-1626600812; Foreign ISBN: 1626600813; eBook: 978-1626600140; Availability: and

Amazon Finally Announces Self-Publishing for Children’s Books

It was hard not to put an exclamation point at the end of that sentence! (So I used one here.) Self-published authors have long been barred from the ease of use and abundance of readers associated with self-publishing, at least in an inexpensive way. Authors could create their books, but ebooks were not as streamlined as they were for text-based books. But that’s changing, thanks to KDP’s new tool.

According to an announcement sent out just now from KDP:

Starting today, you can use Kindle Kids’ Book Creator to create illustrated children’s books for Kindle, taking advantage of features like text pop-ups. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Download the tool, and you can convert individual illustrations into interactive books for both Kindle devices and free reading apps.
  2. Once your book is ready, export the file and upload it to KDP.
  3. Set the book category, age range, and grade range to help customers find the right books for their kids.

Want to learn how to prepare, publish, and promote illustrated and chapter books for children? Check out the new KDP Kids for more information.

Best regards,
The Kindle Direct Publishing Team

When Can an Author’s Work Have Day Job Ramifications?

Per the news this week of yet another author suffering at his “day” job for the content he published, BiblioCrunch’s weekly Twitter chat #indiechat focused yesterday on authors’ experiences with facing discrimination either at work or in their personal relationships. Several attendees shared news of having faced everything from awkward explanations to their parents, to actually being called in by a superior to explain themselves.

This week’s news of author Patrick McLaw and his subsequent legal and suspension issues made headlines because it focused on the books he’d written and published under a pen name, and not on the four-page letter he allegedly submitted to the school board over the middle school where he teaches. According to some reports, the author’s books had nothing to do with the police bringing him in for a mental health evaluation and the school being swept with bomb dogs, even though two of McLaw’s books involve terrorist acts against schools.

First, what does the scope of the law say about someone in any given profession writing and publishing a work of fiction, and then facing consequences for that content? These issues are not always protected under freedom of speech, especially when the specific career field is one that relates in some way to the questionable content.

But more importantly, if the author in this scenario was not in any trouble for the content of his books, why did it even come up? Is it because society expects authors to police themselves and not publish anything that can make others uncomfortable?

Finally, the #indiechat discussion explored the safety–or lack of personal safety–involved in using a pen name. In the case of McLaw, some of the reports allege that his pen name actually contributed to the question of his mental health since some saw it as a form of multiple personality concerns; given the wide variety of authors who use pen names, that theory seems very far fetched in this case.

But there were questions raised about how much protection a pen name provides, since news headlines from around the country would demonstrate that pen names aren’t enough to save an author if his true identity and his content are discovered, as in the case of a number of teachers who’ve been suspended after outsiders discovered their erotica titles.

All in all, the tone and this week’s news story would speak to the need for caution where authors and their books are concerned. Until there is definite legislation that protects an author should his books or his identity be discovered, there is no verified safety net in place that will protect an author’s income and employment.

Hugh Howey Wants Answers!

In another brilliant look at the publishing industry, author Hugh Howey has crafted a list of unanswered questions, questions that are not being answered for authors but that also shouldn’t be classified, top-secret information. Despite accusations in the past that Howey is practically in Amazon’s pocket, this list fires directly at the world’s largest ebook retailer and self-publishing platform and demands information for authors. A few of the highlights are below, and the full story is HERE.

1) I would love to know how many readers borrow a book and then go on to buy a copy of the same book. I’ve done this before, and I tend to doubt my uniqueness. For Prime members especially, who only get one borrow a month, do they ever love an ebook so much that they decide to own a copy for good?

2) I would love to know how far into my books readers get. Do they finish the work? Do most who drop out do so around the same chapter? What about from those who return the ebook?

4) Why can’t I see my lifetime sales anywhere on my dashboard? This one shouldn’t be hard. You do it on the ACX homepage. Give me total sales across all titles and for each individual title.

7) I want to know why you all haven’t come out and explained that the 70% cut we make on ebooks priced in a certain range aren’t really royalties. (See #5 of this list for an example of improper usage of the term). When they’re called royalties, the 70% seems exceedingly generous. Because publishers pay a lot less. But publishers provide other services, like editing and cover art. We are handing you a finished product. As a distribution fee, you taking 30% (plus more for delivery fees) sounds less crazy-generous. It seems downright reasonable, in fact. Or even an area where you all could afford to give a little more.

8) Why the 70% price cut-off? In a recent announcement about ebook prices, you all admitted that there are occasions when ebooks deserve to be priced higher than $9.99. I agree. I’d love to package my entire Silo Series trilogy together and sell it for $12.99. That would be an amazing savings to the reader, a great value to your customers. But you all treat every ebook product the exact same, which means my royalty rate would drop from 70% to 35%. That’s not good.

Take a look at the rest of Howey’s questions and the more in-depth explanations behind his reasoning on his post.

Scribd Unveils New Enhanced Browse Features for Better Book Discovery

eBook subscription giant Scribd announced new search features this week that will make it even easier for readers to find great content. And with a catalog of over 500,000 titles and counting, discoverability is certainly going to be an issue for both authors and readers.

“Our goal with the new browse experience was to retain the same human touch that we have come to love about personal recommendations from a trusted friend, but use the power of technology to extend it to our catalog of over 500,000 books,” said Jared Friedman, co-founder and CTO of Scribd. “The result is as if we’ve built every reader their own personalized bookstore, with the human touch readers love, that they are now able to carry around in their back pocket.

The new feature works by letting readers search in two directions at the same time. They can go for a broader search option, which would be akin to walking into a vast bookstore and heading over to the Science Fiction section, or they can narrow it down, which would be like having a personal shopper handing over only the books that contain all of the search options the reader is interested in. This dual system lets readers be highly specific about topics of interest, but also lets them just “wander” the aisles of Scribd when they don’t have a specific title or content in mind, but still know what they like.

“Scribd’s subscription model does wonders for book discovery, because it eliminates so much of the friction that usually exists to begin reading a good book,” said Trip Adler, co-founder and CEO. “Meanwhile our new browse feature alone is a huge step forward for book discovery. Ultimately we believe it’s the combination of the subscription model with our innovative book discovery offering that will create a magical experience for readers, and this is just the beginning of more to come.”

This search enhancement is going to be a tremendous boost to indie authors who’ve put their titles in the subscription catalog through Smashwords’ agreement with the company, as it will let Scribd’s membership find new titles without having to have the boost of advertising dollars from the major publishing houses.

Scribd will be rolling out this search capability across of all of its platform-specific apps in the coming weeks.

Celebrate Oysters with Oyster


Today is seriously National Oyster Day. You’re welcome.

To celebrate the momentous occasion, ebook subscription platform is hosting a giveaway in which one winner will receive a twelve-month subscription to the unlimited reading service. According to a statement from the company, “It’s National Oyster Day (really!). Just as oysters are enjoyed best by the dozen (with a squeeze of lemon and a drop of mignonette sauce), books should be savored by the thousands. To celebrate this wonderfully fake holiday, we’re giving away a dozen year-long subscriptions to Oyster. Share #HappyOysterDay on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and we’ll select 12 of you as winners (and champion gourmands).”

eBook subscription models have taken off in the past year, despite having digital roots extending back as far as 2010 with companies like Spain-based 24Symbols. Even Amazon has gotten in on the game with its recent launch of Kindle Unlimited, which Oyster has declared to be just another validation for the viability of the ebook subscription concept.

Oyster has already inked deals with a number of major publishers and with ebook distribution and self-publishing platform Smashwords, which has helped ensure a growing catalog of content for subscribers to choose from. A standard unlimited plan costs just under ten dollars a month and allows unlimited numbers of reads in each paid period.

Amazon Offers Credits towards Movie Streaming in Exchange for Slowing Down the Shipping

Just because you HAVE a good thing, doesn’t mean you have to use it. That’s the thinking behind a new option for shipping speed at Amazon’s checkout.

In what will undoubtedly unleash a firestorm of hate and scorn for the online retailer, Amazon unveiled its slower shipping option for Prime members that will still be free and will reward the user for accepting slower shipping with a $1 credit towards a movie rental that isn’t already free under the Prime membership. Members who still wish to take advantage of the free two-day shipping that makes the $99-a-year membership worthwhile are certainly able to do so, but those who don’t have to have their purchases arrive as quickly can use that credit towards a movie while they wait.

While critics are going to scoff that Amazon can’t continue to offer free expedited shipping, there’s an even bigger picture here. Just because members are entitled to their purchases through their membership doesn’t mean it’s a necessity. Consumers can feel good about knowing they’re reducing the carbon footprint by letting their packages have more time to go out with similar shipments, and can even earn a reward for making the choice.

Amazon is certainly within its rights to announce the free two-day shipping isn’t feasible, if that was the case. Instead, the company has stepped up and demonstrated once again what genuine value and customer service look like.

Amazon Backs Its India Store with $2B Investment

Not to be outdone by Flipkart, the largest e-commerce site in India, and its $1 billion investment in its retail site, Amazon has announced its own $2 billion backing of its marketplace, only one day after Flipkart announced its round of funding.

According to Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, India stands to be its fastest growing marketplace, and the first of its retail markets to produce one billion dollars in sales. Given the population within the country, the abundance of tablets due to strong education initiatives in mobile technology, and the fact that English is one of its official languages, this comes as very little surprise.

While Flipkart has claimed the status of India’s largest e-commerce site with 22 million users making five million shipped purchases per month, Amazon has already refuted that claim. Despite the US-based retailer’s standard operating procedure of not disclosing any specific sales data, Amazon claims to retail more than 17 million different products within its Indian website.

While both Flipkart and are talking and investing in terms of more than just books, this focus on the market means a great deal for self-published authors. With constraints on international book rights in place, even many traditionally published authors don’t find their titles available in every market. But thanks to both Amazon’s KDP platform and self-publishing/ebook distribution site Smashwords, indie authors can list their ebooks in both the Kindle store and Flipkart’s ebook store, due to Smashwords’ agreement with Flipkart.

Authors who don’t take the steps to list their titles with these two options are missing out on a significant number of English-speaking readers who already have a history of online purchasing, have the devices on which to read ebooks, and may already be clamoring for ebook content.

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Catch up with authors and readers who are on fire for all things bookish!

Readioactive Books is a place to share great reads and brag on our writing accomplishments while helping authors and book bloggers with some much needed promotion. Have a new title coming out? Being featured on a blog? Read a great book and just need to tell everyone (or sadly, warn us away from a really bad one)? This is your chance!

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