Archive for October, 2011

A Taste of the Future

Posted: October 25, 2011 in Twitter Fiction

Having said I would never write another twiction, post kindle I couldn’t resist this:

Members of the Book Club each took a pill of the novel they were gathered to discuss. Several grimaced.

“I found it indigestible,” said one.

Brilliant!

Posted: October 24, 2011 in News

After my son returned the aforementioned gadget yesterday, he went in search of replacement gifts. Although this was completely unnecessary, I am thrilled with what he and my husband chose. I am now listening to the wonderful Caro Emerald (great swing-dancing music) and have the prize-winning Julian Barnes novella with its beautifully designed cover to stroke. So all’s well that ends well.

The root canal work this morning was a piece of cake too, so I am a very happy bunny!

Kindle update

Posted: October 23, 2011 in News

It’s gone.

Kindle or Swindle?

Posted: October 22, 2011 in Opinion

It was my birthday on Thursday and, against all his instincts, my husband bought me a Kindle. My son bought me a lovely black case to keep it in. Both gifts remain in their boxes. 

I haven’t yet been seduced by the feel of the object in my hand, its smooth curves and buttons waiting to be pressed. I am resisting temptation on that front because I am as susceptible to elegant, functional design as anyone else.

I am waiting for someone to give me a reason to want it and, if they can convince me, I will break the seal and hope it doesn’t turn out to be the white elephant I fear. I ought to say at this point that, except for the odd piece of Toblerone or glass of wine, I rarely want something unless I need it.

I did a brief canvass of Kindle-owners a few weeks ago and came to the conclusion that, although they love them, the reasons why are woolly. I’m sure Kindles could be invaluable – I imagine students at school and college would much prefer to carry one small item instead of lugging great tomes around and creating back problems for the future. And it’s true that members of a book group can all upload the same book at a fraction of the usual paper cost. But I don’t belong to a book group.

So, why do I need a Kindle? Here are some of the other reasons I have been given for keeping it, and my instant reactions. Feel free to shout abuse at my reasoning.

FOR: It is small enough to carry in a handbag for instant access to reading material, any time, anywhere.

AGAINST: So is the average paperback. And it doesn’t need a fancy case to stop it getting damaged. And dropping it in the bath wouldn’t be a major disaster.

FOR: There is no glare.

AGAINST: I’ve never had a book glare at me yet. The first one that does will find itself at the back of a cupboard with its corners turned down.

FOR: Books can be uploaded really cheaply – so cheaply that it doesn’t matter if they never get read.

AGAINST: Have we got more money than sense? My spouse paid £111 for this baby and it’s going to take a bloody long time to claw that back. Compare it with the three-books-for-a-pound deal at my annual village fete and I think it’s obvious which makes more financial sense. On top of which, I can take them back the following year (a small percentage unread at 33.3p each) and make a donation to village hall funds at the same time. £111 would buy me 333 paperbacks which, at roughly ten a year, will last me 33.3 years – rather longer than I expect to inhabit this body. It would take a hundred years at thirty five books a year to read all the books the Kindle is capable of storing. Is it just me or are some people in denial about their own mortality?

And here’s a novel idea – I can go to my local library (yes, I’m still lucky enough to have one) and read a book of my choice for FREE, unless it’s Blood Meridian, which cost me so much in fines over the three months it took to read it that I could almost have bought my own copy.

FOR: The latest releases can be uploaded much cheaper than their paper equivalent so I could be right up to the minute with the literary Joneses.

AGAINST: Except for reviewers, who on earth needs to read a book in the first year of its release? Will it cease to be good five years on? I read Gulliver’s Travels a hundred and fifty years after it was written and it remains one of the freshest, wittiest and most pertinent satires I’ve ever read. And, if I’m so desperate I can’t wait for my birthday or Christmas for the latest thrilling AS Byatt, I can get the library to order a copy. For nothing!

Quite apart from this, I have a suspicion that having everything immediately – no waiting or delicious sense of anticipation – not only creates a restless and dissatisfied society, but is making life whizz by at an ever-increasing rate. I want to slow it down if anything!

FOR: I could upload the ebooks written by friends and acquaintances that haven’t been released in print, some of which are free.

AGAINST: True. This is the trickiest one and puts me at most risk of offending someone. What it boils down to is that I’m never going to be able to read (and reread) all the books I want to anyway, so this is one way of narrowing it down. I usually borrow books I’m recommended, otherwise I can take pot luck with new and familiar authors at the fete. I got into the recycling habit when I commuted to central London every day for twenty years and got through fifty plus novels a year. I bought and sold them at the second-hand stalls under Waterloo Bridge and consequently read many wonderful books I might never otherwise have heard of. So, apologies to my fellow writers – it’s nothing personal.

FOR: There is no need to cut down trees for paper, which makes e-reading more environmentally friendly.

AGAINST: True again, but many forests are planted specifically for that purpose and wouldn’t otherwise exist. And young trees absorb the most carbon dioxide. When a paperback comes to the end of its readable life, it can be pulped and used for newsprint and toilet paper. Try burying an obsolete Kindle when you can’t resist the spinky new singing, dancing colour model available next month in the US, and see how long it takes to rot down. Not to mention any minerals used in the making that might have been mined by children (or have subsidised war) in the third world, as they are for some mobile phones. Eco-friendly? Who knows.

And let’s not fool ourselves; another massive corporation is making a fortune out of this. That’s worth a protest, isn’t it?

In spite of all the above, I am still wavering and a present is a present…

So, should I open the box? Or take the money and put it back in the coffers for winter fuel?

I’d love to hear your reasons for either wanting or loving a Kindle. Perhaps someone can make me set aside my doubts and rip that seal open. You’ve got 24 hours to convince me, should you choose to accept the challenge.

My husband and I lay in bed last night reading our books, as usual. He said, “Can you imagine if we were both lying here holding Kindles?”

We paused, smiled, and carried on reading.

Short and sweet

Posted: October 15, 2011 in News

Nanoism have published another of my twitter length fictions – No 381. This one’s a true story, though not my own, thankfully. I submitted the story back in April and had forgotten all about it, so it was a nice surprise to get an email this week!

Rebecca Emin explains platform building and how to use it to the best advantage. 

In mid-2009, when I decided to see if I could convert my fascination with writing from a hobby into something a bit more serious, I had the grand plan: I would write a book, a huge publisher would publish it, and overnight I would become the next Enid Blyton. Simple.

It didn’t take me long to discover this is rarely the case.

It was my husband who introduced me to Twitter. By the time I signed up, he was already bored with it, so I wasn’t really sure what to do on there until the day I typed “author” into the search box and realised that Twitter is home to thousands, if not millions of writers. I started following a few writers, and clicking on their links to useful websites. It seemed that everywhere I went, I would see mention of a ‘platform’ and wonder what such a thing was and how to go about getting one.

It wasn’t until someone said to me, “You should write a blog,” and I thought to myself, “A what?” and then investigated, that I realised you could create a whole brand of your own via a few free internet sites. When I set my blog up, I had very few ideas about what to write. But I started writing as I thought, talking about what I was doing, and as time went on, I realised people were following my blog.  I then heard (via Twitter, of course) about #fridayflash. Up until this point I thought a very short story was something you wrote for fun, but no-one would ever want to read it. Imagine my delight when I discovered you could write such a story on your blog, post a link to it on a site, and people would actually visit, read and comment on it.

#fridayflash was a turning point for me. Discovering flash fiction not only had a name, but was enjoyed by so many people was a revelation. Members of the #fridayflash community visit each other’s blogs as much as they can, often offering constructive criticism which I found really helpful. I also discovered I loved reading flash fiction as much as writing it, and could learn a lot from visiting other blogs too.

As time has gone on, the number of people I interact with has grown at a rate which I still find hard to believe. This is particularly true on Twitter, where I now have over 2500 followers. I can’t claim to understand it as I have always considered myself a bit ordinary, so it’s giving my confidence the most amazing boost to think people actually want to read what I write, even when it’s only a in the form of a tweet.

Through Twitter, Facebook and blogging I have made some wonderful contacts, some now close friends of mine. I have been told via these sites about calls for submissions that have resulted in me having short stories published. It was a Twitter friend who told me she loved a short story of mine and suggested I put it on the Authortrek website. It was because of this story that my publisher Grimoire Books got in contact to say they would be interested in taking a look at the manuscript for my first novel if I was interested.

23 January 2012 is the official publication date for my debut novel New Beginnings. I am going to celebrate by having a web splash and launching two writing competitions, one on each of my blogs. 

By this date, I will have had stories published in seven paperback anthologies, as well as many more being published via the Ether app, and a few in The Pages and other online magazines. I have no doubt whatsoever that without Twitter, Facebook and my blog, none of these things would have happened by now.  I am still working hard at building my platform further. It takes continuous time and effort but it is so, so worth it.

My top tips for building a platform:

  • Take a look at all the social media sites and see which suit you. You don’t need to be on all of them, but you do need to use those you chose properly for effective platform building.
  • Get to know other people and read what others have to say. Social networking works best when you interact with people.
  • Do not spend all of your time trying to sell your own products. This is the easiest way to lose followers.
  • If you have a blog, use your stats to discover which of your posts are the most popular. This is helpful for future planning.
  • Be yourself.

***

 My blog about Writing for Children and Teens 

My Goodreads Page

 

Mother’s Pride goes blue!

Posted: October 12, 2011 in News

Mother’s Pride has been published today as a free download on the Ether App in their Award Winners category and, by skilful manipulation and sleight of hand on my part, it’s also Ether’s 1000th short story release!

The 500 word story won Flash500 second quarter 2011. I hope you enjoy it!