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This CD-ROM has the full electronic contents of a great many of Roberta Gellis's books as well as mine. The books are in several formats. Apparently, if you have a PDA and know what you are doing, you can read them on your PDA. I don't have a PDA, and I wouldn't know what to do with one if I had one, so you're on your own there.

You can, apparently, read them on virtually any word processor even if you don't know what you're doing any better than I do. I used to be a computer programmer, but I worked on Big Machines, and PCs and Macs are a mystery to me. This is what I know: when the magic smoke escapes, the machine stops working. Seeing the magic smoke escaping from your machine is Bad, and means I have to wail for help. And usually buy a new machine.

If you've got Microsoft Word or WordPad installed, click RTF format. Other formats will probably work also, but this one I've run for myself, I know it works. Even on old Operating Systems. You won't even get the Blue Screen of Death.

This is what they tell me, but I've never tried for myself: If you know absolutely nothing and don't have Microsoft Word or WordPad installed, HTML—browser format—will work. But remember, if you're trying to use this on a PDA, you are into Arcane Knowledge and I can't help you.

However, there's probably a geek around who can, or you might try asking your 12-year-old, who knows more about computers than both of us put together. Or you can log on to the Bar at http://bar.baen.com, go to the topic CD ROMs, and ask. Many geeks will probably reply. In fact, they are remarkable in their eagerness to reply. Me, if the Magic Smoke hasn't escaped, I go ask our Captive Brit, who has a water-cooled over-clocked monster. How sci-fi is that?

The files on this CD are not encrypted. Jim doesn't understand the logic of making his books hard for people to read. What is the point in that? I agree, though we seem to be in the minority among publishers and authors. So hey, enjoy them, shove them off on your friends, archive them for posterity so that the giant mutant cockroach archeologists will find them in the far distant future.

Please don't sell the files. For one thing, that's just wrong, selling things you got for free. For another, you're putting yourself in the same category as politicians, used-car salesmen, and shell-game operators. Nobody is going to hunt you down, but if you have any morals at all, you'll feel slimy in the morning

As with the text, the pictures ought to come up for any of the standard image-display software options. Apparently this includes Internet Explorer, which your machine almost certainly has even if you don't choose to use it. These are covers of the books, some with titles, some without. Some of them were created by my husband, Larry Dixon. Please don't pirate them and try to pass them off as your work. For one thing, that's pretty much telling the world that you have no talent of your own. For another, what happens when you get an assignment that you can't steal art for? And lastly, sooner or later, someone is going to recognize the real artist's work and "out" you, which is going to be excruciating and painful and so hideously embarrassing that you will have to change your name, have plastic surgery and move to Leminster, Massachusetts and take a job in the pink flamingo factory.

Besides lots and lots of electronic texts, the CD has a time slice of my website. Browse it at leisure, or visit the live version at mercedeslackey.com. It gets updated whenever my webmaster (mistress, actually) and I get around to it. Since she has a business to run and I have books to write, this isn't as often as we'd like, but because I have eclectic interests, you never know what you're going to find.

You might also want to visit the website of my co-author, Roberta Gellis, at http://ww.robertagellis.com. Roberta is a world-class historical-romance author, and I grew up reading her books. She's one of the authors who does impeccable research, and her series set in the time of Queen Maud and King Stephen is utterly fascinating. She's always has an element of fantasy in her books, and Jim Baen has been publishing a line of her books that have more than a "touch" of fantasy in them. The backlist of those is on this CD too, and I hope if you're not familiar with Roberta, you'll soon find that you've found another favorite author in her.

When you've run through everything on this CD, come to the Baen Free Library at http://www.baen.com/library/ and find a plethora of other free, downloadable books. Eric Flint, my co-author on a lot of the books herein (and a delight to work with) is Librarian, and additional titles are added frequently. The Free Library has been the boon to a lot of people stuck off somewhere where English-language books are scarce.

And the Free Library is a great place to try authors you might not have been willing to risk your beer-money on. I'd be willing to bet that before too much browsing in there, you'll find more reasons to forego a six-pack in favor of a good read.

So settle in with your Mac or PC and have a good old time!

Misty Lackey

PS: When you grow tired of this disk come visit WebScriptions.net where there are hundreds more eBooks from your favorite Baen authors.