Thursday, December 31, 2015

Project Vampy Black: Back On Track

I am currently working on Darthaniel Black's Vampy Black project and getting that edited and ready for release. It is a fun book and I am currently working through the end chapters on clean-up. This is currently 42,000 words so it is a sizable editing job, so I expect another week or two of work before I am ready to put my editing signature on this and hand it back to Darthaniel for release.

I am done two of my back-project books and they are doing very well, and it is time to push this though and finish work on it. Nothing feels as satisfying as actually taking something that has been sitting there for a while, finishing it, and delivering. It is always easier to start something than it is to finish.

So get ready for some fun, sexy, fang-y, and action adventure-y urban fantasy from one of my favorite dialog writers, and also a friend who helps me run my projects. More on this soon.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Upon an Ocean Together

If you get a moment today, read that. This is one of part of my Workshop series over on e-read, and I am told it is beautiful and inspiring many, writers and those who create.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Rankings: Cinderella Loves Snow White, Top 50 in Fantasy Erotica

The one thing I dislike about watching book rankings is seeing them eventually drop off the charts, so I tend not to use these or sit there refreshing a page all day watching them. Many books in the erotic romance genre are likely to drop below that sub-basement #1,000,000 level some day, so it is best not to pin too many hopes and dreams on these things.

That said, I love seeing them go up, and I will be sitting here refreshing this page all day.

Top 50 in fantasy erotica and top 100 in lesbian erotica?

I am not only honored, I am humbled. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

New Release: Cinderella Loves Snow White

She kissed me in my dreams.

We stood in a lake in the middle of the deepest woods, alone, sans clothes or secrets between us. Two women, our bodies bared to each other, our breasts free and full, wet from the lake, as drops of water glistened and sparkled on her skin and rolled off in dewy streams.

That I was so fascinated by another woman’s breasts surprised me, and I felt my breaths run short. She stared at me with pearly-blue eyes, as her hair shimmered with the black shine of a raven’s feather, and a body I could only dream of. Her body was perfect, sculpted and lithe, the peaks of her hipbones just above the water, and her skin dove down towards her sex as it caught the laps of the gentle waves between us.

A woman?

I dreamed of a woman.

A wet drop of water clung to her hardened nipple, and I wanted to touch it, to steal it off and bring it to my lips. It escaped my touch before I could reach for it, as my hand stopped short in the tense air between us.

In my most private times I dreamed of her.

In my most lonely moments she delivered me peace and comfort.

My secret?

Why, my secret?

Her eyes knew but they did not say.

Fantasy fairy-tale erotic romance captures my heart today, and now live in the store is book #1 of my CLS Romance Project, or aptly-titled Cinderella Loves Snow White. This is now available in the Amazon store and also on Kindle Unlimited, so you can check it our for free if you are a subscriber to that service.

So, why? I have always wanted to write romance, and while my alternate-ego Angel Black is deep in the middle of a swords and sorcery futanari epic, I wanted to stretch my wings and try something more conventional, yet unconventionally so. This started out as straight romance, but it acquired enough heat after I came back to place this in the erotic romance category, although the sex-to-pages quotient may not be as high if you are used to books that deliver sex in every chapter. Out of 32,000 words I have two-and-a-half erotic scenes, and the rest is pure story. The story is a mix of traditional romance and action-and-adventure, so it is a genre I love and true to my heart.

This is a book #1, because I needed this out. It sat for nearly a year uncompleted, and I came back to it early this month and finished this half of the story. I wanted this out to judge reader reaction, the end of this story has not yet been written, and I feel in some way this ending needs to come from the fans. I need feelings on this, and then I shall dive back in and bring the story to its end. I set a two-book limit for this story, and even put "1 of 2" on the cover to make that promise to readers. It feels like a two-book story now, and I don't want to lure readers along endlessly without a set limit.

Yes, if there is interest, the second book will be finished in a lot faster time than a year, trust me. I have fallen in love with this story, and ideas and endings are coming to me at this moment. It takes a little time though to finish something right, because I put a higher standard on myself because I am a reviewer. I'm not perfect though, but I like to think I am.

So, why fairy tales? Because it is about time we took them back. Go back and read the original Brothers Grimm tales, and you'll find that fairy tales were decidedly adult stories with mature themes. While I take nothing away from all the great work that writers and creators have done for these tales for younger audiences, I feel there is a wealth of material in the land of not-so "happily ever after" for these characters more suited for an older audience.

What happens to a Cinderella after her marriage to Prince Charming? What if she discovers her love for him may have been a little less true than she first assumed? What if another princess caught her eye, and set a fire in her heart? I know, there hasn't been too many fairy tales where princesses run off with other princesses, so this story has a unique and interesting angle to it that I feel is contemporary and worth exploring.

This world also has darkness, and same-sex relationships are not always the things of which fairy tale endings are made of. There is quite a bit of dealing and coping in this book with a troubled soul or two, and some admittedly dark places which define characters and their motivations. The world and certain places within are not so friendly to such an affair, and while this may be hurtful to some, it makes their love all the more tragic and special. Great romances are defined by the forces which stand against them and judge them, and in this case I wanted to capture a little fairy tale reality and some of the tragedy from history, from both medieval and our modern times.

There is humor, adventure, lust, betrayal, adultery, deception, and plenty of hurt to go around. Against that tide of war and darkness stands love, and someone who does not know who she is as a person. She must find herself, and she must deal with who she is and who she could be. In the end, this is a book about strength and love, and how two souls can overcome the darkness.

There is another part to this story, I know and I feel it. There is yet another tale here to be told. But for now, let me be your storyteller for a while, and take you once upon a time into a fantasy world where a single dream can turn everything on its head.

Cinderella Loves Snow White, book #1, now on Amazon.

Monday, December 21, 2015

CLS Romance Project: Cover Reveal

So...CLS Romance Project?

Let's start calling this Cinderella Loves Snow White, and today let's do a cover reveal. I just submitted this to the Amazon store and it is in review, so it will take a day or two to go through the store submission process and get on the shelves.

So, lesbian erotic romance meets fairy tales? Yes, you got it right, and this one was so fun to write. If you have been following along, this one sat on the back burner for a while, as I hit a point where I didn't know where I wanted it to go. I had a plan, but by the time I got there, the plan rung hollow and it needed a new direction. I needed to follow my heart, so I rolled some things back, set a new course, and finished the first book in this series.

I wanted to write this as straight romance, but I had some very nice heat creep in there by the end, and so I put this in erotica where it belongs. I needed that heat, because without it, you would have this book where the two of them constantly lust instead of commit and change. This decision to add a little more heat was a part of my revamp and rekindling of this title, and it payed off for me because I was able to explore so much more, and take this in a decidedly delicious and darkly twisted direction.

This is a book one, and it will be up to the fans to let me know if this one should continue. I know it feels like a typical move, but I want some fan reaction to shape the ending of this, so I will let people read and give me some feedback. The end of this story has not yet been written, and in a way, the fans will let me know in which way this one will go.

I will speak more about this when it is in the stores and give you a store link, but for now, enjoy the cover, and I am a happy writer who has another one on her shelf.

More to enjoy soon.

Friday, December 18, 2015

iA Writer and Narration Tense

I love this app. If you have a Mac, iOS, or Android device, it is worth checking out iA Writer. It is one of those "distraction free" writing apps for the Mac and iOS (and they have a version on Google Play for Android), but with one incredible difference.

You can auto-highlight verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and conjunctions.

You type, and all those pesky verbs are highlighted, and you can check things as you go against your little black book of rules. Now, I love Scrivener for its organizational magic, but when I am in the down and dirty of editing and ironing out verb tense, nothing else comes close to this app.


I narrate in two main styles, a present tense style which I call careful tense, and the standard novel-style past tense. My characters speak in all tenses, so they are free to speak as they wish. There is one overriding rule for careful tense narration, it is that all statements in regards to verbs and times must be true. I can thus narrate like this:
I walk down the street and enjoy the warm weather. Yesterday, I walked down this same street in the rain and got soaked. I will be walking down this street when he leaves tomorrow. I arrive at the bus stop.
Mixed tenses all in the same paragraph with a default present tense-narration, but all statements true in regards to the time they were stated. Some of the statements are in past or future tense, but they relate to facts the narrator is relating to that happened in the past or are expected to happen in the future. If you are doing past-tense narration, you would write the following:
I walked down the street and enjoyed the warm weather. The day before, I walked down this same street in the rain and got soaked. I would be walking down this street when he leaves tomorrow. I arrived at the bus stop.
Present tense assumed the narrator is speaking now, where past tense assumes the narrator is relating events which happened in the past. There is a good reason novel writers use past tense, because switching tense in your narration can be a tricky thing. It is easier to stick to the past tense throughout, and ignore the present tense unless a character is using it in dialog.

I am using traditional past-tense narration for my CLS Romance Project since it is a traditional fairy-tale type story, so I need iA Writer to double-check my verb tense. It helps a great deal, since I can zero in on my verbs and check each one to make sure it is using the correct form of past-tense, and ensure I don't fall into those "had been" and "have been" issues when I am supposed to be speaking in the past tense.

I love writing in the present tense though, or at least my careful tense style. I love the books written in present tense and how they feel, like 50 Shades and the Hunger Games, there is just this immediate and gripping style when a character-as-narrator says:
He grabs me and kisses me.
You are right there, and it is happening now.

Now I will say if you do any amount of mixed writing, where some of your books are narrated in the past tense and others are narrated in the present, you are setting yourself up for disaster. It is always the best to stick to the style you love and get used to that, because once you start switching narration modes, you will find yourself slipping past tense verbs into your present tense narration, and the other way around.

But if you are learning this stuff, trying to develop a past or present tense style, or find yourself constantly tripping over verb tense, get a Mac, iOS, or Android device (sorry Windows), and check out this app. If you need it for proofreading, cleaning up excessive adverbs, or just a double-check of your inner editor's sanity, check out this app.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

How to be a Writer

Six easy steps, done every day:
  1. Write!
    1. Just write, edit, or push something along until it's done.
  2. Organize!
    1. If you don't feel like writing today, organize your projects!
    2. This is a trick, because by going through your projects, you will find something you love and jump into it.
  3. Study!
    1. If you don't feel like organizing today, study!
    2. Practice makes perfect, and self-help books really help.
  4. Read!
    1. If you don't feel like studying today, read!
    2. You owe it to yourself to be reading every day, because it makes you a better writer.
  5. Market!
    1. Do this after you do something in steps 1-4.
    2. You need to make money. 
  6. Community!
    1. Do this after marketing.
    2. Become a part of a community, review, and help others.
    3. When you need help, you will have someone there.
If you need a break, take it. You cannot expect to do good work when you are burnt out. If a project is stagnating, put it aside. There is a value to finishing something, but maybe it needs more time to simmer. Don't get into the habit of starting things and never finishing them though, even putting out half a book is better than putting out none at all.

CLS Romance Project: +10% to Fix the Purple Monkeys

I always end up adding an extra 10% to my word count on each editing pass I do, and this is true with my CLS Romance Project, where I am up to about 31,000 words. I credit this workshop for a lot of my editing work, and I am constantly adding things which I found was short-changed the first time through:

Wednesday Workshop: Purple Monkeys and Padded Rooms

I just love that workshop, and yes I wrote it, but it forces me to slow down and rethink rushing through a scene. To me, those details of what things look like bring in so much to my work, and all sorts of interesting observations start appearing in my writing as characters begin reacting to where they are and what other characters look like.

It is instantly great stuff, and it not only gives the reader an idea of what things look like, it gives the reader an insight into the character observing the scene and how they think about the world. a great description goes both ways, it colors the world for the reader, and it also colors the character observing that world to the reader.

When we write a first draft, we invariably rush to get the scene done. When we come back, we need to pay attention to grammar and correctness, but also sound and tone. And finally, we need to pay attention to painting that picture in a reader's mind. That is what I love doing, coming back to a scene and then seeing all the fun little places that I can paint-by-numbers some great detail and visuals back into the work.

You can go too far, and spend a lot of time describing things which do not need description, but you need to pay your dues at other times. If you can go through several chapters and still have no idea of what a character is wearing or looks like, you have a serious problem. I love great dialog, but one things I notice about a lot of books with great dialog is a distinct lack of description, as if somehow a character's words alone will tell a reader what that character looks like or what they are wearing.

You need to slow down, and nail this stuff. Readers need to be filled in on the basics, and you need to set the scene. Characters needs to be described at least once, and even the most minor of details can be very telling.

But yes, I find it is very helpful to use the purple monkey and padded room rule when you edit, because it forces you to think about things which may have just sailed right by you through several editing passes. These missed descriptions are great opportunities to use to not only paint your world a little for your readers, but to make your characters come to life in ways which reflect the world you just described.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A World Without Desktop Apps?

What value do desktop applications bring to the world?

I find myself sitting here and taking stock of the desktop apps I need, and the ones I really don't.

I like Scrivener and that brings value to my work and what I do. Photoshop is another. I am a creative professional, and there are some applications I prefer to work with and that make my life easier with what I do. Are there tablet and mobile replacements for these programs? Yes, there are. They are not as a capable, and they would make me change the way I do things, but I could survive as a creative professional without them.

For the general public, the answer to this question is much easier. You could survive without desktop applications altogether in today's world. There are mobile apps that create MS-Word files and Excel-style spreadsheets, and some that do so very well. There are image-editing programs that could put together a good-looking image or edit a photo.

And Scrivener and Photoshop have versions out or coming out for mobile.

Games are another huge desktop application, multi-gigabyte creations that reside on my hard drive should I find the time to spend with them. They are, really, one of the last reasons I maintain a desktop or Windows laptop.

Some of the most pointless desktop apps out there are primarily used to support other desktop apps, or somehow do something the basic OS should be doing for you without a major hassle. They exist just to perpetuate the desktop world, and they have no use or real function outside the desktop model. I don't need ZIP archive programs, FTP programs, file managers, or anything else of the sort on a tablet - I really shouldn't - but I admit they are once and a while nice to have things. On a tablet, I don't see the need, really, and there is always a desktop around for these types of files and functions.

Content. The future world should focus on content. The OS should be focused on a small space for running itself, and the rest should be content space. The OS should organize things and take into account whatever storage you hook up to it. Everything should optionally upload to the cloud, and things I buy from the same company should be stored up there for free.

I like devices that handle all the messy stuff for me. What app should open my books and movies? I don't care, they should just open. I expect a choice in some cases, and with other devices, I don't, but it is nice to have an option to set it.

As a creative professional, I cannot escape my desktop apps just yet. I feel that day is getting close though. In some ways, I will miss the old world, but in others, I won't.

Google has come a long way to replacing a lot of desktop apps with their online office suite. The minute Google makes a Photoshop replacement I will be one step closer to freedom. Yes, owning desktop apps is a huge benefit, but it is also comes at a huge cost. Not having to own install disks that are tied to a particular version, not having a hard drive and machine to install them on (which they get tied to), and not having to worry about a physical machine tied to one location is a huge benefit.

Things are changing again. While I like having the freedom of choosing how and where my data is stored, I also greatly appreciate the software as service model. This is a place where Amazon's model of how things are done falls way behind Google's. I love Amazon's content ecosystem, but I equally love Google's work ecosystem.

But...content. Our documents, images, and creations are the content we produce. To have an ecosystem that elevates our content on the same level as what we buy and consume is what I would love. To be able to click into an book cover I am working on as easily I can a movie on Amazon is my dream for how things should work. To be able to group things together in multiple ways, my stuff, their stuff, Noir, film, books, sad things, happy things, and be able to find them all, mine or theirs, is how I want things to work.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

CLS Romance: 28,000 Words, Book #1, Final Draft

I have had my CLS Romance Project book in the works for about 2 years, and I have finished it as a book #1. I was 17,000 words in when I picked it up last week, and now I am 28,000 words done and on my final draft. I am in final editing now.

It has sat a while. I needed to do some soul searching on where it was going to go. I had to throw out my plans and let the wind take me here, and I am happier that I have. Some projects take time, and when you revisit them, they come to life in surprising ways.

I am also putting this out as a book #1, and letting readers tell me if they want me to see a book #2 (and how fast they want to see it). I want this out and in readers' hands. How they react will determine a lot, if there will be a second book, where the story goes, and I need to judge reaction before I commit another 30K to finish this story. I know some may want this as a self-contained book, but I am making a choice to get this out, get feedback, or not have anything out at all.

This is a tough choice for me, since I like to stick to my plans, and I also like to finish things. Part of me wants to see reader reactions, because I have torn up all my plans, and I will be finishing this with the fans of it in mind. I would rather put out a book #1 with what I got than to have it sit and languish.

It is romance with a good bit of heat, I am wary to call it erotic romance since the sex plays a part, but not centrally so to the plot. It is more lesbian fantasy romance if you were to pin it down. It did end up hotter than I expected, and there are a pair of scenes in there that blister, but this isn't a book that seeks to get you from one sex scene to the next. There is a story here which is more important, and things which happen that need to happen.

Again, this may go a different direction based on what readers want to see. More fantasy? More heat? More romance? Right now, I have this balanced pretty well, and it feels wonderful to me. The ending of book #1 too is very nice, and I am happy with how this went.

So I am close, and in editing work again. This one will be released under my name as well and not Angel Black's, so it is a more normal type of book for readers that love my style. Angel gets to do all the fringe kinky stuff, and my releases tend to be more mainstream. Still fun and hot, but I like to keep my fans happy with distinct identities.

More soon, and I hope you will enjoy.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Surface 3, sans Type Cover

Okay, Microsoft Surface 3 Type Cover, let's try getting rid of you for a while and seeing how things go. I know I love my physical keyboards, but I have never really found a keyboard cover that I loved. For now, it is just going to be the base unit and my leather case.

Yes, that one. It has room for the keyboard, but I am going keyboardless for a couple weeks to see how things go. My first impression?

I have my tablet back again.

My magnetic keyboard thing has been stuck on my Surface 3 ever since I got the thing, and the clingy nature of the keyboard cover is a great thing to have when you want to type out a thousand words or so for an article. But I have keyboards and machines better suited for this task.

Why not get rid of the leather over and just use the keyboard as the case? There is something natural to me about things I can flip open and use, like a book. I don't like ripping the magnetic cover off, using the tablet unprotected, and then clumsily snapping the thing back on like some sort of transformer toy. I don't like it, I don't like magnets for clasps, and it just doesn't feel natural for me. It's slick, but book covers typically aren't magnetic, and I am some sort of book purist I suppose.

I want a case that I can fold over, play around with a tablet without a clingy keyboard dongle, and then close up when I am done. I like the cover I got for my new Fire HD 10, and I like the simple "flip open" operation where it is just me and my tablet under a cover.

Yes, I know a big part of the point with snap-on keyboards is that laptop-like experience, but a magnetic cover is a poor laptop experience in every way that a laptop shines, especially if I am in a waiting room or smaller place and only have a lap for a top. If I were to do the Surface, plus case, plus cover as a laptop it would be a balancing act for three wiggly pieces and a painful way to sit for a couple hours in that one way things wouldn't slide apart to hell.

A laptop just does the whole mobile productivity computing thing better, sorry tablets.

At least for me.

Without the keyboard, things change. It is just me and my tablet, and I am happy again. The device wants to play and show me things, and I am not a slave to a mechanical keyboard anymore. This being Windows, it has its issues with touch, but things have gotten better with November's Windows 10 patch. The Android style "slide the programs off the task manager screen" way of closing apps is back, and I am happier not having to hunt for an tiny "X" in the corner of a postage stamp with a finger. Thank you, and tablet mode has just gotten a little more bearable for me to the point where I have my Surface 3 back in tablet mode.

Can it compete with the Fire HD 10? For entertainment, I don't feel so. The Fire is in a league of its own, and you are more buying it as an "Amazon entertainment device" than you are as a tablet. The Surface 3 is still about three times as heavy with either cover, keyboard or leather, so heavy it hurts my wrist to pick it up by it's edge. Even without the cover the Surface is about 1.5 pounds, compared to a pound for the Fire HD 10, yet it feels like a lot of difference in weight. I am in the market for a really light Surface 3 cover either way, but all of them I have been seeing are ones that integrate with the kickstand or keyboard and all I want is something simple and light.

It just feels strange to be enjoying the machine without the keyboard, like the keyboard cover is some floppy magnetic dongle that is clumsy and best left forgotten. With a folding cover, I don't need to store a hundred dollar keyboard anywhere if I want to get rid of it, I just flip back a lid.

Still, the heavy and thick nature of the Surface 3 makes the device feel like it's a chore to use. I love lightweight. I love easy. I love simple.

I wonder if this whole chase of the perfect tablet keyboard is somehow distracting and really counterproductive. Give me a way to connect a full-sized keyboard to the thing and give me a tablet cover that doubles as a stand, and I am good - and probably more productive.

For the road, give me a laptop or a Chromebook. If it is so cheap I don't shed a tear if it gets lost or stolen, all the better.

I like the Windows compatibility on the Surface 3, mind you, but there are times when the thing is booting up or updating I just want to scream. The instant-on and instant-library of the Fire HD 10 is nice, and by the time the Surface boots up and I am done logging in, I have likely changed my mind on what I wanted to see. With the Fire, there is an advantage to having my stuff instantly in front of me and organized. With Windows, I have to log into another layer of another program and search for things, and then back out again.

It is sort of an unfair battle between a lesser capable device meant to entertain, and a more capable work-focused device that entertains as an afterthought.

I have this feeling the future battle in mobile is not in file or even app management, but in content management under a consistent experience. Windows feels stuck in the past, where even the new update screen tells you "your files are where you put them." As long as they are there, in the cloud or somewhere safe I don't really care where they are. iOS and Android feel decidedly app-centric, like "these are your apps and this is where you put them." Again, it still feels like an older way of thinking about things, only you are worrying about apps and not files anymore.

The new Fire OS concentrates on your stuff, and also stuff you could have. Yes, it is like opening the doors to a store in your home, but I love having all my stuff out there in the front. I am not worrying about files and where I put them, nor am I worrying about apps and what opens them.

These are my books, this is my music, and these are my movies. I don't need to open any app or program up to see them. I can have apps and games, and they are there too.

But content is king.

The OS should serve the content, not the other way around.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fire HD 10

My ancient Nook HD 10 tablet died last week, and I got over $100 off a new Fire HD 10 to replace it. I knew about the drawbacks of buying into this device, and they are pretty significant. To be honest, the device has the following problems:
  • 1280x800 720p-ish screen (PDF documents do not look as good zoomed out)
  • Dual-core operation (quad-core inside, but either the slower or faster pair working at one time)
  • 1 GB ram (web browsing and tabs is my concern)
  • Drastically different UI from the previous Fires (though I like the new UI)
I still have my Microsoft Surface 3 Tablet and this is more of a laptop replacement than it is an entertainment tablet. The Surface weights something like 3 pounds (1.4 kg) with the type cover and case, so it is a heavy beast when fully kitted out. The Fire HD 10 weighs around a pound, so the weight difference is significant. I don't have a keyboard, but with an entertainment device, I don't need one.

To be honest, I would not have bought the Fire HD 10 without the holiday discount, but in a way I am glad I actually did. Despite all its limitations, it is a slick little device, and I enjoy the widescreen size. I know there isn't much in the way of future-proofing here, but the economics of cheap tablets are in another world than their expensive counterparts.

In my experience, tablets rarely last past 5 years, just because of their batteries and the technology degrades so rapidly. I am wary to buy a $500 tablet ever again, just because the replacement cost to service the battery (on my Note 10.1) was $300, or the cost of a new tablet. Paying $500 likely ensures you will get that full 5 years of service, but maybe it doesn't. What if a cheaper tablet with less functionality does just as well, and in five years, it is only another $200 to replace then?

It is the battle of good enough and cheap versus perfect and expensive.

How much tablet do you really need?

I have an iPhone, and I have the Surface 3 - so my heavy lifting needs are filled for the next five years. If I want to browse with a thousand tabs or edit a document, both will do that job well. PDFs look great on both the iPhone and Surface 3. My iPhone 6S will fit the bill for a small device, and it does Amazon well. My Surface 3 has issues, like not all traditional apps working or rendering well (Nook books is not that great on the Surface, using 60% of the screen in one corner). So why a Fire HD 10?

To watch movies, to have as a throw around the house device, to pick up as an instant web browser, as a 1 pound lightweight and large screened device, to read books, and to have as a travel device for movies. The Fire HD 10 has a SD-card slot (up to 128 GB) that you can use to store your own movies on for later viewing, or preload Amazon Prime movies for up to 48-hours of Internet-access free viewing. That is a huge plus when traveling for me, and the combination of that and and inexpensive device is compelling to me.

As a tablet that replaces a computer, it isn't so great. As a cheap entertainment device with SD-card capability, it is compelling to me, and I feel a worthwhile addition.

Why not an iPad? Or in that case, why not a higher-performance Fire HDX 8.9? Or a new Samsung? Price, honestly. That and the 'how much tablet do you need' question. There is a battle going on in the cheap tablet space, and I feel hardware specs are not really a central concern. We are talking support, ecosystem, and capability for price. You will give up some of the super-nice things, like high-resolution screens or tons of speed, but then again, you aren't paying $500 to $1000 dollars for these things. You are paying close to $200, where you could buy two or even three for the price of one.

Your calculus changes from specs to usability, from longevity to replacability. Yes, the technology in the Fire HD 10 is a year or two old, but are you really expecting today's technology at a price point of $200? The tablets I am replacing are closer to four years old (and both were originally in the $500 range), so it is all relative.

What is my dream device? A Fire HD 10 size with a high-resolution screen and the guts of the HDX 8.9 inside, with the SD card slot. But you see what is happening with the high-end tablets nowadays, they are going up in price past $1000 for the new Samsung Pro, iPad Pro, and Surface 4 devices. Even the Surface 3 was more of an iPad $500 price. I am sure a sportscar-like supersized Fire HDX 10 would be as expensive, and for what market? Many of the buyers have moved onto the Surface 4 or iPad, and the bottom feels like it is dropping out of the high-end market that isn't Apple or Microsoft.

But a lightweight $200 device supported by a big player focused on widescreen media consumption with a large screen and SD card slot? I am interested in that. Not for the same reasons I am interested in the more expensive alternatives, mind you, but I am interested in that.

And with over $100 off, the price was right.