Tag Archives: Kindle


The third book in my Bethany Beach series is out now on Kindle!

Anne’s Family Plan takes place up the coast  from Bethany at Dover, Delaware. Its story centers on civilian physical therapist Anne Lee (first seen in Book One in the series, Reese’s Summer of Promise) who, after learning she’s unlikely to ever bear children, meets a USAF pilot, a widower with two daughters, ages twelve and fifteen. As Anne comes to grips with the fact that she’s perfectly fine without motherhood in her future, she has to confront a big question: What happens when you fall in love with a man but not his kids? She eventually discovers that motherhood is not a one-size-fits-all career.

Annes_Family_Plan_200x300I’m a happy mother of three grown children, but before I bore them I’d not been around babies or even young tots much at all. My ideas of motherhood were wildly unrealistic. I had this notion, for example, that I’d be able to take my new infant with me to opera rehearsals (I was a singer at the time), and he’d sleep peacefully through the whole practice. (Cue hysterical laughter from mothers everywhere.)

As my children grew, I discovered I struggled with some other aspects of motherhood. I was horrible at setting up play dates, for example, because I came of age when kids just found each other and played in yards or in alleys.

I also don’t think I was terrific at children’s birthday parties, not knowing how to keep fun flowing and merriment abounding, astonished at how a particular game lasted only five minutes when I’d budgeted twenty for it.

I could go on, but the bottom line is: I was less than perfect at some mothering tasks, okay at others, and maybe really good at some.

When I watch my daughter-in-law deal with motherhood with grace and panache, I’m in awe. I know it’s hard but she makes it seem effortless.

I console myself over my failures with memories of successes (I hope they were, at least!). I was a fierce advocate for my kids at their schools, making sure they were in appropriate classes for their skill levels and, yes, battling with some teachers who, oddly enough, seemed challenged by bright kids. (And I did this while also trying to instill in my kids respect for those teachers, even when they treated my children unfairly.)

Despite my mothering deficits, my kids did look up to me enough to seek my counsel. For years, an armchair sat next to my desk (I worked from home at freelance jobs) that we dubbed the “advice chair” because at various times they’d plop down in it, often interrupting my work, to talk out a problem or tell me about their goings-on. That chair still sits in our family room now, and I don’t know if I could ever get rid of it, despite how worn it becomes.

I love my children more than life itself. But I realized, looking back, that motherhood was sometimes an uncomfortable fit for me and that I struggled to do a good job.

And you know what? That’s okay.

It’s okay if you struggle at parenting. Your particular child doesn’t come with an instruction book.

It’s okay if you get some things wrong. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are thousands of ways to parent that will not damage a child irreparably, and only a handful of things that will ruin a kid’s life.

It’s okay if you even wonder if you should be a parent.

That’s at the crux of Anne’s Family Plan. As Anne falls in love with Lt. Col. Eric Bankwell, she also confronts the fact that she’s okay not wanting to be a mother — even as two friends announce their pregnancies. What she’s not okay with is pretending to care for Eric’s daughters…until she learns she really does.

BookLife has said of Anne’s Family Plan:

“This book features an uncommon plot and unique take on modern-day romance and one that highlighted some pervasive, but little seen, aspects of military life…The standard love-story trope is elevated here into something intriguing, quickly capturing and keeping the reader’s attention.”

I want to thank my USAF pilot son David Sternberg for helping me with military and air force details. (All mistakes are my own, however!)

I hope you take a chance on this new book. It’s on sale as it launches at the Kindle store (you can order it here) and will be available in print soon.

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E-Readers or Dead Tree Books?

by Libby Sternberg

Note: This article was originally published in the Wall Street Journal on January 5, 2011 under the title “From Papyrus to Gutenberg to Kindle.” It has been updated for this blog.

When the Kindle and other e-readers first made inroads into the book market, they were treated with derision by steadfast lovers of DTBs (“dead tree books”). These readers value books as objects, not just as a means of communicating a story. Despite the Kindle’s popularity, some people still refuse to use them, loving the feel and smell of regular books. Perhaps some historical perspective can help these holdouts adjust to our new era, when electronic reading devices exist side by side with books as objects:

From a fifth-century A.D. Sumerian clay tablet discovered in the Euphrates delta, remarkably intact except for the salutation and signature:

“A thousand pardons for hitting young Jezebel in the head with my last note.

I am sure no one will notice the scar after it heals. You do keep your tent very dark; she will still find many suitors. (Editor’s note: It is unclear if the writer is saying “suitors” or “donkeys” here as the words are very similar in cuneiform.)

Please do not worry about the new papyrus we have heard so much talk of. The clay tablets we provide for the village elders are far more durable. They have a rich earthy smell and make for heft in one’s hands. Papyrus will never take the place of clay.

So confident am I that clay will never be replaced, that I have taken a loan from Old Fatima-mae to make some improvements to my tent. I will be able to pay it off quickly with the delivery of our next set of tablets.

But please stop using the clay to write down what you are calling ‘poems.’ It is a waste of precious material, my cousin. No one wants to read those when they can hear them round the fire at night.”

The following appears to be a clandestine letter written by an Egyptian scribe to his wife. Although the date is missing, experts peg its provenance somewhere between 500 B.C. and 200 A.D.:

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times: Look at both ends of the scroll to see which one is the beginning of the story. It’s no wonder that Nanatu, the Story Seller, would not buy my latest effort. You presented him the scroll with the ending first!

And no, my dearest one, I refuse to try that product they are calling parchment. It is thin and one must use many separate sheets of it, which can easily become lost. If one scroll confuses you now, what will you do with many single pieces? I can see it clearly—parchment blowing every which way in the wind like the petals of a flower during a sandstorm, and you giving Nanatu one of my stories with half the pieces missing.

Nanatu is temperamental enough as it is. If I hear him say once more that he wants a story with a boat journey in it like the one that Homer fellow told, I will scream. Putting my stories on parchment will not make the difference; getting rid of the likes of Nanatu will.”

Fifteenth-century epistle from an older monk at an Alsatian monastery, Schwer-an-Bier, to another younger monk in a nearby German abbey:

“Please try harder to color within the lines, dear Frère Aefle. Your latest efforts were a strange mess of colors in odd cube-like forms that reminded me of images seen through shards of glass. But I must say at least it was better than the blurry pictures you did on the previous manuscript. That one created mere impressions, rather than a specific image. It made one feel as if one were viewing a landscape through wine-besotted eyes.

Abbot Pierre exclaimed after seeing it: Je vais chercher du bon vin à la cave. (Editor’s note: The loose translation for this phrase is: “Wine is good. Very good. Very, very good. Is it five o’clock somewhere?”) Such shoddy workmanship on your part will only feed the talk that our efforts are useless decoration and unnecessary toil, especially now that villagers are all in a fever over the printing machine you described.

Gutenberg, Schmutenberg, I say, Frère Aefle. Even your most pitiful illumination efforts are more vibrant than the cold black and white letters I’ve seen coming from his machine.

Rest assured, nothing will replace our artistic efforts. And even if Herr Schmutenburg’s device takes hold, I have been told by Friar Chuck that such ‘presses’ will still need laborers like us. He has devised a plan to work together with the Gutenbergs, something he is calling ‘the agency model,’ providing manuscripts to the presses for distribution. It is very complicated. But the important thing to remember, mon Frère, is to keep toiling away, perfecting your craft and trusting Friar Chuck and all the Abbots to look after us.”

Just as well-meaning scribes adjusted to papyrus and the printing press, so too have authors, publishers, readers and agents made the change to a publishing world where e-versions of books are now a must. The reading and publishing world marches onward. To paraphrase a famous playwright, “the story’s the thing,” not where or how you read it!

Libby Sternberg is a novelist whose books are available in print and on e-readers. Her latest novel, Fall from Grace, has been called a “novel for our times” by Midwest Book Review.

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No April Fool’s Joke: FREE “After the War” and Extra Chapter!

It’s free, it’s free — again! I’m offering a two-day giveaway at Amazon Kindle of my 1955 family saga After the War. Mark your calendar and download it, Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1. 

And, if you’ve already downloaded and read this book, here’s an extra: I’ve penned an extra chapter for it that tells you what happens to some of the characters in the book more than ten years later! If you’d like a copy of this chapter, just email me at Libby488 (at) yahoo (dot) com, and put “extra chapter ATW” in the subject. I’ll send as a PDF!

After_the_War_Cover_for_KindleHere’s what’s new with this book: I redid the cover, and I tweaked the prose a bit, getting rid of a few phrases here and there that were either repetitious or clunky. Let me tell you, it’s a humbling experience to reread one’s work after it’s been published. Ask any author. We cringe when we crack open the spine of an ARC (advance reader copy) to proofread one last time before printing.

I’m excited to offer this book for free again because it has something in common with my new release coming out this fall, Fall from Grace (Bancroft Press, September 2017). While After the War is a historical and Fall from Grace a contemporary, they both share faith elements, where religious faith plays an integral part of the story, motivating characters to do both good and…not so good things.

So, get crackin’! Head on over to Amazon on the free dates (March 31 and April 1) and get your free Kindle editions of After the War. When you’re finished, email me for the extra chapter!




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Learn to Write Romance, Learn to Write

Cough, cough… There’s a lot of dust here. I haven’t visited in a while.

Okay, down to today’s topic.

I am happy to report that a new romantic comedy has hit the e-shelves by none other than yours truly — in this case, Libby Malin. Titled Aefle & Gisela, it tells the story of Medieval History Professor Thomas Charlemagne, who is so eager to slay his childhood reputation as “Timid Tommy,” that he takes a dare at a bachelor party and stops a wedding the very next morning.

Only problem — it’s the wrong wedding. A comic romp blended with biting satire (of academe), Aefle & Gisela should appeal to all my fans (yes, both of them!) who enjoyed Fire Me! and My Own Personal Soap Opera. It’s available for Kindle, Nook, and other e-reading devices. Please check it out and take advantage of the summer sale — it’s only 99 cents for a limited time.

I really enjoyed writing Aefle & Gisela. But if you’d told me ten years ago that I’d get so much pleasure from writing something as light as romantic comedy, I would have cried in your face. You see, I always wanted to be a Serious Writer of Serious Fiction that Serious People took Seriously.

But because I didn’t see myself being accepted into that club (yes, I know, Dr. Freud, I had a classic inferiority/superiority complex about writing), I didn’t bother to try getting in. I didn’t try to get published.

I couldn’t stop writing, though. It was my addiction. My beloved sister knew this. She’d been kind enough to read some of my stories over the years. She knew that’s what I had the “fire in the belly” for. So she suggested I try my hand at romance.

Romance? Why, shut my mouth, that should be a walk in the park for someone like me, who, after all, had spent years writing Serious Fiction that Serious People Would Take Seriously if I ever bothered to get any published.

So I got me some Harlequin romances, sat down and penned a quick proposal, sending it off to the editors, sure I wouldn’t have to wait long to hear back from them with a breathless “yes, yes, yes, we want this amazing, wonderfully written story even though it’s far, far too good for our humble imprint.”

I waited a long time for that note. In fact, I never did get it. I did get an impersonal but very polite thanks, but no thanks.

In a great display of magnanimity, I forgave those hapless editors, sure that my next effort would have them falling all over themselves to publish me.

Wah-wah-wahn. No dice. The Romance Goddesses, they no like me.

By this time, however, I became committed to learning how to write a romance novel, not just playing at it, but really figuring out what made them tick. I read Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz and bunches of category romances that I actually outlined in a marble notebook. I joined Romance Writers of America and became a member of their various email groups. I entered their chapter contests. I went to a state chapter conference.

From contest judges, I learned that my heroines were sometimes unlikable (when I wanted readers to hug them to their hearts) and that I didn’t need to use so many ellipses because readers understand from the context when dialogue is supposed to sound halting. I learned from one kind soul that I wasn’t formatting my manuscript correctly — not a deal-breaker if the story was terrific, but why distract an editor you’re trying to woo. And from one inept judge I learned that I used too many weak verb constructions (when she circled every “was” in my entry, incorrectly chiding me for using so much “passive voice”).

And I learned how encouraging it was to hear “attagirl” when manuscripts placed in contests and how comforting to get “so sorry to hear” emails when my latest proposals were rejected after initial enthusiasm from an editor.

The romance writing community, unlike some other writing communities, is an extremely supportive one. Writers cheer each other on and help each other out. They share information about editors and agents and trends.

In that community I became comfortable with myself, and I learned how to write. Not just romance. I learned how to let that voice inside me loose and get it to sing my song, not the Serious Fiction that Serious People would Take Seriously song, but my quirky, funny, sometimes bittersweet tune. I found my voice.

When I have the chance, I tell writing students that they should try to write romance if they really want to learn how to write. Romance has a formula (go look it up if you don’t know what it is — I’ve blogged about it), and it’s very hard to make characters real, a plot believable and a story compelling when readers know implicitly if not explicitly what the formula is.

Those of you who’ve read my bio know I went to a music conservatory, not a liberal arts college. Learning to write romance was my degree in creative writing. It was my Writing Seminars Program.  I highly recommend it for any aspiring writer — even those who have gone through a college writing course of study.

Now, hurry on over and get a copy of Aefle & Gisela! Here are the links if you missed them up above:

For Kindle, click here.

For Nook, click here.

For every other e-reading device, click here.

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When the first feature-length “talkie,” The Jazz Singer, was released in 1927, it represented a half-million-dollar investment in a movie that could only be shown in two theaters in America. Nobody was wired for sound.

But Sam Warner, the visionary who spearheaded the production despite his brothers’ objections, correctly assumed that once the public had a taste of a full-length sound movie, they’d want more and more. . .and more. Movie theaters would catch up quickly enough.

He was right, of course, even if he didn’t live to see it–tragically, he died of an infection several days before The Jazz Singer’s premiere.

Once The Jazz Singer debuted, however, it started what amounted to a nuclear reaction in the film industry, exploding away the old ways of making films, and with them, some of the people and professions associated with silent movie-making.

While this upheaval progressed, some folks remained in denial. Irving Thalberg went so far as to say, “sound won’t last,” calling it a “passing fancy.”

Even those who saw sound’s audience potential still believed that the silent picture market would continue to flourish–due to its great artistry and ability to be marketed worldwide (no dubbing necessary).

Nonetheless, within two years, talkies became the dominant movie form. In that time, directors who didn’t know how to work effectively with speaking actors lost their careers (such as Fred Niblio, who’d made the silents Ben Hur and The Mask of Zorro) while mere speaking coaches imported from the New York stage would see their directing careers begin (George Cukor among them).

Actors who couldn’t capture audiences’ imagination with their voices lost their livelihoods (John Gilbert, Mary Pickford) while new stars were born (John Wayne, for one, who was hired by Raoul Walsh for The Big Trail). Even second-string movie companies like Fox and Warner Brothers were able to speed past their “quality” company brethren (such as Paramount) by jumping on the sound bandwagon fast and furiously.

Denial wasn’t just a river in the Egypt of film actors’ and directors’ minds, though. It also flowed through film journalism. The Film Daily didn’t utter a peep about sound in their yearly editorial about the business in 1927. And the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America’s 1927 list of important events in cinema only included the release of The Jazz Singer at the very end, “behind DeMille’s The King of Kings and the movie industry’s contributions to flood relief,” writes Scott Eyman in his book The Speed of Sound.

Denial is a powerful thing. But we witness it today in the midst of another great technological upheaval beginning to send shock waves through. . . the book industry.

Like Thalberg, some in publishing and beyond haven’t quickly seen the potential of e-reading devices such as the Kindle. Quick, who’s the famous utterer of this bit of nonsense, spoken a mere two years ago:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product (e-reader) is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

That would have been Apple’s Steve Jobs. Two years later, he metaphorically ate those words when his company released its own e-reader of sorts, the iPad (which in many ways is just a slimmed-down version of a Mac computer) in order to keep up with Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, who, like Fox and Warner Brothers back in the day, were speeding past Apple in this area.

What else will happen in publishing as prices of e-reading devices come down and more consumers read books in that format?

The author Joe Konrath, a pioneer in bypassing publishing houses entirely and putting his own material for sale in e-markets himself, lists his predictions at his blog here. They’re worth a look. The ones that jump out at me are these:

“Ebook readers will be available in stores for less than $99.” — Although Konrath included this in a round-up of predictions made several months ago, it’s already on the horizon. Kindle is now available in Target, and prices have been falling dramatically. Once ebook readers are widely available at reasonable prices, that part of the book market will explode, just as the market for sound pictures exploded once the technology was in place.

“A bestselling author will self-publish an original ebook novel” — I wholeheartedly agree with Konrath’s prediction here. After all, bestselling authors have a following. They don’t depend on marketing strategies to sell their books. Their name on the book is the marketing strategy! By self-publishing an ebook novel, however, they get to keep all the profits.

“Bankruptcy” — Konrath predicts that some major publisher or bookseller will go out of business. I don’t follow the financial news vigilantly enough to determine the merit of this prediction. But if publishers act like the old moviemakers of the silent era, it could happen. (UPDATE: Since I first wrote and posted this on my old blog, Dorchester Publishing has announced it will cease producing mass market paperbacks and go to digital books.)

Added to Konrath’s prediction, I have one of my own — I think hardcover books will disappear eventually, except perhaps for the library trade where durability is a concern, or for those books people will want to own as objects in their own right–art books, for example.

And, another sad prediction–just as silent film directors lost their jobs in the late 1920s, so, too, will some editors today as publishing houses move to ebook markets. If you follow the publishing world, you can see this already happening as houses try to streamline and save money.

But I think market pressure will drive personnel shifts in the future. Right now, publishing is curiously immune from some market responses. Because of the book returns policy — where bookstores can return unsold books to a publisher for a refund — publishing houses aren’t able to respond with alacrity to the reading public’s market desires. They don’t know quickly enough, in other words, what is selling (except, of course, for the megasellers). For many books on their lists, they are groping in the dark for a long time before seeing precisely how well or poorly books did.

Epublishing changes that. Sales are immediately known and can be tracked. It becomes apparent pretty quickly if an editor has chosen wisely.

Meanwhile, authors will continue to bypass editors and publishing houses completely, going to the ebook market directly, as Joe Konrath has done (and as I have done as well).

Back in the days when films moved from silent to sound, it took the movie industry two to three years, starting in 1927, to adapt and start down a stable money-making path in the new world of sound. By my reckoning, we’re probably at the 1928 mark in the parallel shift in the book industry.


Sloane Hall by Libby Sternberg, a story set in old Hollywood and inspired by Jane Eyre, tells the tale of troubled chauffeur John Doyle, who falls in love with his starlet employer Pauline Sloane, only to be repulsed by secrets she hides from the camera and the world. It is available in hardcover for preorder on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, among others. It will be available on Kindle within the year.

Check out other posts on my blog for more related to old Hollywood, Sloane Hall, and its inspiration, Jane Eyre.

Several of my books, including a Kindle-exclusive mystery novella, are available in ebook format. Look for books by Libby Malin and Libby Sternberg.

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