Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Monday, 26 September 2011
Saturday, 10 September 2011
I wanted to reply to this as I appreciated the work and effort they had obviously put into their review, and genuinely wanted to thank them.
It wasn’t a glowing review by any means, but it was fair and their personal likes and dislikes were reasonable. A reply from another reader, who had stopped reading because they had become confused, even said they would now finish the story based on the review.
Now, I did leave a comment and almost immediately had second thoughts. After reading my comments back it could be interpreted as a blatant plug for the other books in this series, and that really wasn’t my intention. Not that thers much unusual about an author blatantly plugging their work. After all, you haven’t much option until you can get someone who is much better at it than yourself to plug for you!
Monday, 5 September 2011
I was editing a few beginners’ short-story efforts recently, and kept coming up against the passive-voice monster. This got me wondering why people write like this, and we all did it. In fact I think most of up probably still do. We just get better at recognising and removing it.
The first thing everyone is told when learning to write is usually ether “Show, don’t tell” or “Don’t use passive voice.” Both are very good pieces of advice and both invariably leave the would-be writer reeling under the weight of these short sentences.
Subject and action, that’s how most of us think. ‘The dirty dishes were not washed by our son again’ a common enough occurrence, at least in our house.
We may think that way. But we don’t talk that way. I think that’s where the problem is. We are more likely to say “You’re son didn’t wash the dishes again.” … and yes, the answer would probably be “He’s your son too.”
Monday, 22 August 2011
Friday, 19 August 2011
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Monday, 25 July 2011
I’ve been reading book reviews and comments left on Amazon and various other sites lately, and have begun to realise that these seem to polarise into two distinct camps. On one hand there are the relatively serious and well informed reviews and comments left by people who seem to have a more than average grasp of literature, in the proper sense of the word. I suppose these are the people who are generally referred to as ‘well read.’
The ‘other half,’ which isn’t really a half as it makes up by far the majority or readers, are the people who generally read the mainstream blockbusters. They tend to read things they know, and their comments also tend to reflect this. In general they write less comments and reviews than the first group, but their bulk almost evens this out.
Believe me when I say I mean no disrespect to ether group. Reading isn’t a race to see who can do it better, especially fiction reading, which is supposed to be a pleasurable pass-time. I personally think some people should do well to remember this.
Friday, 22 July 2011
Monday, 4 July 2011
Saturday, 2 July 2011
OK, it’s hardly a new question, and if you do refer to yourself as a writer, what stage were you at before you did, and what were other people’s reactions?I’ve recently decided to think of myself as a trainee-writer instead of a wannabe-writer. Why? Well I suppose it’s just a slight change of mind-set. I have had some limited success in getting paid for short stories. I’ve also had very encouraging feedback (but no deals) from publishers, and pretty much all reviews I’ve ever had seem to think I’m doing more things right than I am wrong, with most people liking the stories. I still know that what I have achieved commercially so far is nothing to write home about and I certainly still wouldn’t dare refer to myself publicly as a ‘writer’ brackets and all!
Now you may think this is all just me contemplating my own navel. But I do have a wider point, and that is about our perceptions of ourselves and of how others view us.
It somehow seems to be thought ‘silly’ or at best a waste of time to want to be a writer by most people. Then there are those who say "who will buy it" and "you will never be as good as…" and then name someone who isn’t necessarily all that brilliant technically, but very successful. People will say this even if they haven’t read a single book by the person they name!
So all this led me to reconsider how I see myself. I’m under no illusions that I am ever going to be a ‘great’ writer. But I have technically improved significantly over the years. And this is the crux of my internal change in status. At this stage I really just want people to read what I’ve written and hopefully like it. I feel much more confident in submitting my work to the world in general, and that is a big hurdle for anyone who wants to write.
My question is, why do people generally assume the ‘big names’ are the standard and are by default ‘very good’ writers, without reading a word. Whilst at the same time practically dismissing anyone starting out as ‘rubbish’ again without reading a single word?
These perceptions do seem to be fairly ingrained with some people when it comes to books, especially fiction novels.
You just don’t get the same prejudice in other fields. I’m a programmer by profession, and you don’t get clients coming up and saying, "I only want the older experienced people who worked on the biggest systems in the past to do my work for me, because all the new ones will be crap." It just doesn’t happen, and would sound ludicrous if someone did. But in the fiction book world it seems to be the ‘normal’ or at least mainstream readers default perception. Of course the marketing machines churning out the same old spin for the same old people and books don’t help it.
Now if I’m sounding bitter, I’m not, and I don’t intend to. I have no illusions about the industry, and if I never make it past this stage, then that’s ok. Maybe I’m just not good enough to go any further. What does get me is the often snobbish attitudes people have to books, combined with a sneering attitude to wannabe writers, even (or sometimes especially) those people who don’t even read!
So where has this attitude come from?
I’ve been a bit bogged down with work and things lately. So it hasn’t left much time for blogging or writing.
I have managed to finish off the draft for my second OtherWhere book though.
This one is called ‘Still Life’ and will be around 16 to 17K. It follows one of the ancillary characters, briefly, introduced in the first Novelette.
I’ll hopefully be gathering some critiques over the next few weeks and then it's on to the second round of re-writes and edits.
If anybody is interested in having a look at the current version, or if you are on CC feel free to let me know what you think. It doesn’t have to be a full critique, I’m always interested in general opinions as well. Still isn’t anyone buying them much though. I’ll have to work on that after this one… or maybe after the next short-story…
Thursday, 23 June 2011
Why do I ask? Well, two reasons really. The first is to find out what other people do and to see if there is a better approach to the one I’m currently using. The second is to find out what others think would be the best way of organising our work-in-progress, and for maintaining a record of our submitted and accepted work. I would now include self-e-published work in this.
Firstly, I currently hold my ideas, WIPs, critique feedback, editing and submissions history, and not forgetting my acceptance and rejection history for each story all as files in a rather complicated directory structure on both my word and home PCs. This structure has grown, rather organically, over time, and means I'm constantly attempting to keep all the documents in both machines at the same revision level, as well as updating/ensuring all the various documents; whether they are story files, critiques, ideas, or the various history file; in the appropriate folders.
My structure is as follows:
I’m sure this is more complicated, and less secure, than it should or needs to be.
Now, I’m a .net applications designer to trade, that’s fancy speak for computer programmer, so I was thinking about writing my own system for keeping better control of my work. I did a bit of research and there doesn’t seem to really be anything out there that does what I want to do. I know some people seem to use spreadsheets to keep track of things. I assume their story files are just saved on their hard Disk, but didn’t find any accounts that went into much detail. There are plenty of versioning solutions out there, some decent ones are even freeware. The thing is, like the spreadsheet, this only provides part of the solution. And it seems a bit overkill to write and maintain spreadsheets as well as some sore of versioned directory structure just for what amounts to a handful of files or such.
So before I start looking at making something of my own, I’d appreciate it if anyone knows of any programs I may have missed, or at least say how you deal with your work and related record keeping.
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Ok, I have question for you. As of now, what are the two biggest selling children’s - YA book series?
Answer: you are probably wrong…
That is, you would be wrong if you answered Harry Potter and Twilight. The combined sales for the 7 main Harry Potter books are in excess of 400 million copies. The twilight series have sold just over 100 million. Both very good figures for any book series. But contrary to what the marketing machines would have us believe they are not the only game in town. There are other, perhaps quieter and les controversial, series that are sitting quietly in the background and perhaps chuckling at all the hysteria generated by the, rather vocal, fans of the ‘big two’.
Would it surprise you to know that there is another YA/children’s book series that easily tripled the Twilight sales and has only marginally less that the HP series? I think some people would be surprised by this; others will possibly already have guessed that I’m referring to the good old Goosebumps books. Ok, before the fans even get started, I know I’m comparing 60-something plus books to two relatively small series. And my intention isn’t to deride ether HP or Twilight here. I’m merely trying to show that the majority of pre-teen and YA readers may not be the HP and Twilight only generation that the media/marketing machine would have us think they are. By the way, the Goosebumps series has sold well over 350 million books, and is still climbing.
In the children’s market, Thomas the Tank Engine and Noddy have both doubled the sales of Twilight. Yes I know it isn’t the same audience, again that isn’t my point. The point is that there are other, invisible, things out there, with much larger sales, that don’t appear to be as ‘big’ as the two most hyped/talked about series. The general pubic perception is that vastly more children and young adults are reading these two book series, where in fact the overall sales figures do not bear this out.
So why the current fervour over HP and Twilight, and how do the others sustain their sales without it? What’s the secret? Is it all purely the marketing machines creation? Do people buy a Goosebumps book with a certain, safe, expectation, when their pre-teen, tween, or mid-teen would rather be reading the ‘edgy’ (or should that be ‘cool,’ ‘sweet,’ ‘wicked,’ banging,’ or whatever is in vogue nowadays…) Twilight book that they actually want – based of course of the hyperbole surrounding the series.
Obviously the TV franchise type books (Thomas the Tank Engine & Noddy, etc.) have a distinct advantage here, but it doesn’t explain why the quiet competitors like Goosebumps are still doing so well without the hype machine. And although the vast number of Goosebumps sales is split up between 60+ books, remember that The Hobbit has sold over 100 million copies, for one book, and The Lord of the Rings has sold over 150 million. Now, I’m honestly not trying to make this a competition, and granted, those sales are over a longer time-frame. My interest here is in how much of the children’s and YA audience really only have read the HP and/or Twilight books, and how much have read those as well as many from the other major and minor sellers. If all those books are still being sold then surely someone must be reading them?
Monday, 20 June 2011
I was looking through my straining bookshelves holding my Diskworld collection the other night, and was struck by the amount of off-shoot franchising type books I actually have. There are, of course, all the diaries (bar two) the almanacs and the various guides. But we can’t forget the Diskworld and Anamorphic maps and cook books, as well as the other book-based miscellany. But that isn’t including my moderate collection of ClareCraft Diskworld figurines, far less the postcards, VHS-videos, DVD’s and other memorabilia I have acquired over the years.
The list does indeed go on…
The thing is, and I suspect this holds true for a lot of people, apart from the Novels most of it is no-longer even out on display. The sad thing is much of it never was. So why do I have all of this stuff hoarded away in boxes? Well it’s probably no different from seeing today’s teenagers walking around with Twilight t-shirts on. Oh I have a ‘Death’ Diskworld t-shirt as well; I had it for a while before I decided to actually weir it. Anyway, what was I on about… ah yes the sometimes impressive, if that is the word, collection of stuff, or collectables if you prefer, that we acquire for various franchises. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all this stuff is junk necessarily. Looking through my rather extensive Diskworld collection just got me thinking about the amount of merchandising that is done nowadays.
I think the main thing that says you have made-it doesn’t come from rave-reviews or critical-acclaim anymore. No, the real test of a writer’s metal is whether or not they ever get the action-figures made from their characters. You get the action-figures made and you are a writing-publishing-story-spinning demigod!
Does that sound cynical? It wasn’t meant to be. I think it’s just the way the world we live in works now. Oh, and I said demigod because you need the cartoon-series and the films to lay a clam to true god-dome… pretty sure that isn’t a word, but you know what I mean.
So what do you think? When does the mid-list author, making decent money but by no stretch of the imagination famous, make that break into the world of the uber-author and join the ranks of the household-names? What percentage is talent and how much is marketing?
Again, no bitterness intended here. Personally I think Sir Terry deserves his success based on the merits of his work, others maybe not so much… But hey, good luck to them. They obviously did something very right that propelled their books out of the norm, and into the merchandising machine overdrive.
As I said, Dibbler would have been proud!
Monday, 13 June 2011
Well… obviously the Mode Series by Piers Anthony.
So, why the reactionary title, you may ask? Well it’s a reactionary series, and one of the most… interesting works I’ve ever stumbled across… up to a point.
I read my first ‘Mode’ story not long after I was out of my teens, and it was this book that made me want to further explore the strange universe created by Mr Anthony.
There are officially four books in the series. Although some would argue that there are still really only three. The first three books were released one a year from 1991 to 1993. These being: Virtual Mode, Fractal Mode, and Chaos Mode. Eventually DoOon Mode was released in 2001, a full ten years after the original instalment. Why eventually? Well, read on…
How will this affect the long-term saleability and popularity of the books?
Think about it. Whether you like them or not, we are now left with a series of very high profile and popular books that are written for differing age groups; not to mention a set of films that more-or-less do the same. So what will the future hold for the series?
What is the target readership for a set of books all aimed at differing age groups?
Will people still start reading book one aged around eight to ten, and read every other book at the appropriate age? I think not. Although some parents who grew up with the series may indeed attempt to drip-feed the books in this way. Good luck with that!
Many people have already stated a preference for ether the earlier or latter books, depending on their personal tastes. Will this be overlooked in the future, with the entire series eventually becoming a ‘classic’ set, or will this be a major factor in the series fading into obscurity?
Whilst some of the ‘classics’ of today have remained popular from their outset other popular titles of their time have faded to obscurity. Is the very, following the reader, nature of the HP books set to propel them into the latter category? Or are they set to take on the ‘children’s classics’ status of ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Alice in Wonderland?’
I’m not pretending to understand what does or doesn’t make a ‘classic’ book. But if past experience tells us anything, it tells us that contemporary popularity isn’t the overriding factor. Quite a lot of todays ‘classics’ were rather obscure, or even derided, at their time of launch.
So what do you think? What will the future hold for HP?
Friday, 10 June 2011
Anyway, we don’t want to redistribute them to the trash. So that means ebay, charity shops, goodreads, and anybody who wants any of the stuff that is being disposed of really.
The volumes that live in the loft have naturally selected themselves into two distinct camps. The dusty-shelve inhabitants, and the shadowy cardboard-box dwellers. And it is the latter of these who are most in need of population control.
Searching through the various layers of these books is like going on my own personal archaeological dig, and excavating my reading history.
Down in the primordial box section we have the ancient ancestors of today’s YA along with the Comics and their close relatives the Graphic-Novels. One of which I have since discovered is a rare fossil indeed… now ebay bound.
Next came all the horror books. I had no idea how much horror I must have gotten through in my late-teens to early twenties. Closely following the, rather sudden, extinction of this era came a; sometimes gradual, sometimes rapid; evolution. Here we have the Sci-Fi, fantasy, mainstream, and yes even the classics and ‘Literrary Fiction,’ even some poetry has managed to hang on in there.
But there is another creature lurking up there. It is a large shelve-bending, floor-board creaking, beast known to those who know as ‘the wife’s Star-Trek collection,’ and it is a sight to behold… For it is large, and it is mighty.
It’s also strictly off-limits to my clearing effort… see how that works?
So, the question is what should I do with it all? I also have an extensive pile of, retro?, computer manuals. I’m quite happy to give stuff away to a good home. I don’t want to put a list up on my blog, but I am going to put up a rather extensive list on the book-swapping thread over on good reads, once I get things sorted out a little more. I’d be quite willing to ‘swap’ a lot of them for not very much or nothing. So if anyone is interested feel free to take a look.
As I said, most books on the shelves (yes there are quite a lot of them) are relatively safe, but there are some well known as well as some relatively obscure books still lurking in the boxes.
Surely this curious tale isn’t all that unusual a story?
Wednesday, 8 June 2011
Never before has a series of books seemed to polarise opinion so vehemently that the Twilight saga. There are the legions of very loyal ‘Twilight Looovers’ and the equally, what’s the word for anti-loyal, ‘Twilight Haters.’
First of all I have to point out that I only looked at book one, and the grammar used in this is not the same as that used by the vast majority of books I would normally read.
Honestly, my immediate reaction would be to say this has some issues, but as stated in the title I am very much outside the target audience demographic.
It was hard going for me to read this book, but I can see why it would read well to some people.
The three big issues I kept on hearing about with this were the writing style, the simplicity of the story and the message. Ok, it will never be considered as what is generally referred to as ‘literary fiction’ (a whole other rant), and the style won’t be to the taste of most, if not all, avid-readers. Then again, it does appear to appeal to the mainstream target audience, at which it was marketed, as well as quite a few others. So surely this must be doing something right.
I have heard quite a few teenage readers referring to this as ‘The best book ever,’ and in their, sometimes limited, reading experience I believe they truly mean this, and why shouldn’t their opinion be as valid as that of the avid-reader?
Some of my favourite books have often been described as ‘flowery’ and ‘pretentious.’ Everybody has an opinion. As I’ve said before, any book that gets people reading, especially those that may not normally do so, is a good book (in as much as it fits its purpose, it does what it was produced to do).
To me the words did get in the way of the story a little, which brings us to the story… see what I did there …
Yes, the story is simple. So what? Some of the best books have simple stories, and most genre books follow some form of the ‘Hero’s Tale’ concept.
‘Alice in Wonderland’ has very little story when you break it down, as do a fair amount of the ‘classics.’ So simple story, yes. Unimaginative story, well you can see where this tries to be different from the standard vampire story. How successful this was is entirely subjective, but it does follow a fairly predictable pattern. Then that pattern may only be discernable hence predictable to someone who reads a lot! I think it’s fair to say that a major part of the Twilight audience is not hugely well-read: that is not a slight!
And we are now left with the message… Interpreted by many as: teenage girl with low self esteem is used and abused by older ‘sometimes boyfriend.’ OK, I can see where this is coming from. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, I didn’t particularly care ether way… and truth be told ended up skimming the best part of the book. In my defence I had already discerned the writing style, and wanted to understand the story, by this point. From what I gathered, it isn’t as bad as some people make out, and it isn’t as good or morally commendable as others seem to think it is. Of course that assumption is only my own personal thoughts, and as such is entirely subjective.
My quick conclusion… Ok, if you insist…
Personally I didn’t care for it very much, then it wasn’t aimed at me.
I think the story is simple, but that isn’t necessarily a sin on its own.
The message is morally ambiguous at best, again not necessarily a sin.
I didn’t like the way this was written and found it hard to read. I think a large percentage of frequent readers with probably feel the same.
I can see why it has gained favour and scorn where it has.
The solution… As always, don’t read it if you don’t like it. What’s the point of hating?
Friday, 3 June 2011
I’ve tried to do it in the original style, and much of the original text is still intact, although some was edited for clarity.
I’d appreciate any comments on this.
You can see it here: http://www.feedbooks.com/userbook/21008/the-land-roboclads
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
The findings of a six month independent review led by Professor Ian Hargreaves, published on 19/05/10, now seem set to become law. The recommendations of this report embraced changes to the existing UK’s intellectual property and copyright laws to include the digital marketplace.
It looks like we will be getting laws passed that makes it legal for us to copy music from one format to another for personal private use. So we may now finally be able to copy those old CD’s to our laptop, iPod, or other mp3 player without breaking the law! Ok, in general these laws were never enforced, and we did have a sort of unofficial ‘fair use’ system, although not in-law. But these changes will have more serious long-term effects.
Professor Hargreaves said the current laws are “obstructing innovation and economic growth in the UK”, a comment that was directed towards digital companies in particular. He also called for the government polices to “be more closely based on economic evidence”. He went on to say that the recommendations “are designed to enhance the economic potential of the UK's creative industries and to ensure that the emergence of high technology businesses, especially smaller businesses, in other sectors is not impeded by our IP laws."
So how will this affect e-book sales and usage?
Well, under the new laws it will be legal to copy copyrighted files legally downloaded to your computer to another compatible device for private purposes. So you can copy music or video from a PC or Laptop to a suitable player and, presumably, do the same thing with e-book files. I take this to mean that you can legally convert that EPUB file to any other format for use on, say a Kindle for example. I’m not a lawyer but I can’t see what the difference would be.
The recommendations go on to say that, digital copying of medical and other journals for computerised analysis in research, is also allowed. So what are the implications for this? What information would be covered and what type of access will be granted?
From first impressions this seems set to go much further than the American ‘fair use’ policy, and hopefully it will close some of the loop-holes present in that system.
Maybe our American friends will be downloading material form over here in future, instead of the other way around ;)
I recently come across a rather interesting thread on a reading forum about the perception of people through their avatars and screen names. I’ve never been a huge fane of made-up screen-names. I want to talk to Gerry, to Suzan , or Paul, not ‘MegaRoboDeathPanda2500.’ A personal choice maybe, but the thread quickly grew a bit darker with many people sighting instances of on-line stalkers where people used their real names.
Now it’s just as easy to follow ‘MegaRoboDeathPanda2500’ from forum to forum that it is ‘Paul Smith.’ Although I suppose it is more difficult to know that ‘MegaRoboDeathPanda2500’ on one forum is ‘FluffyBunnyLove1900’ on another, where ‘Paul Smith.’ is still ‘Paul Smith.’
This does raise some questions when trying to promote through blogs, posts, and social-networking sites etc though. There are some people who paint the internet as a very dark place, full of shadowy figures just waiting to stumble upon their next victim. I can only say I have been using the internet since its text-only days… see I told you I was old… and have been fortune enough to never come across any of these virtual stalkers. My name has been out-there for a very long time, a lot of it in what is now, rather dramatically, called the dark-net. Sounds scary and a bit cloak-and-dagger, doesn’t it! Until you find out that this just refers to the sites that a normal surface-web crawler, like Google, doesn’t pick up. And contrary to popular belief there are a lot of very innocuous things Google doesn’t pick up!
So why mention this? Well, is it just me or has the internet gone all paranoid lately? After years of more-or-less happy use people seem to be getting frightened by the net. It will steal their identity, corrupt their children, and generally allow the crazies into their life and get stalked. Well… that’s what the voices told me anyway.
Seriously though as budding/beginning, or even mid-list, authors we are putting ourselves out-there, not only that but we are screaming ‘look at me, look at me, and see what I can do.’ So do we really need a crazy-filter? I, like many others, have been busy joining various sites and groups, posting of forums, putting myself out-there on blogs and social-networking sites, with the sole aim of getting my name recognises as easily as possible. Are the Nay-Sayers right in their paranoia? Is there really the danger that they perceive there to be? Personally I don’t think the danger is as prevalent or damaging as some make it out to be. Sure if someone takes it into their head to dislike you they can put up some nasty posts, so what? They can give some bad reviews, but chances are they won’t be recognised reviewers in whatever venue they are posting, and if it is defamatory you can always have it removed. Worse things happen with bogus-reviews and forum posting etc, both pro and anti the author, all the time. People generally trust who and what they trust, and are naturally sceptical of anything too glowing or too derogatory. So is it really a big-deal?
I think we, as writers, are scraping along the edge of the virtual-web-world and the real-world, so yes maybe these hypothetical net-stalkers could find it easier to follow us than the average forum-poster, but again if it stays on the web, so what. If it doesn’t that’s a whole new and very different thing. I don’t think I’ll ever be famous enough to have my own actual stalker!
Monday, 23 May 2011
This was a bit of an experiment with me trying to get familiar with using future-tense, hey don’t laugh. I think I’ve almost pulled it of in parts!
It will be interesting to see what reviews it gets… if any.
You can have a look at it here if you like.
Or just check out the ‘Book Brouhaha’ site.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
‘Alice in wonderland and Through the looking-glass.’
So that makes two of my all-time favourite books and two others that I would consider to have mass-market appeal listed as ‘Highbrow.’ ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Alice,’ highbrow, seriously?
I’m not sure what this says for the general readership nowadays if people generally see these books as highbrow. Is it just that they are seen to be older now? Does old equal stuffy, equals highbrow?
I still have my ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ album by the ‘Sex Pistols,’ that’s old. Does that make it highbrow also… is it now the preserve of the intellectual, educated, scholarly, and cultured classes? I think not. Classic maybe, I could live with classic.
So conversely what is considered lowbrow, and who would happily admit to being a ‘lowbrow’ reader?
Seriously though am I the only one that finds this a rather sad state of affairs? Or am I just getting the wording of this wrong somehow? It seems pretty clear in meaning to me, but I’ve been wrong before. Am I missing something? Are these books considered to be of that strange and misunderstood ilk called ‘literature’ and is all literature considered to be highbrow?
Just another quick note to say this has just passed the auto-vetting on feedbooks now, so it may take a while to get into the premier catalogue.
I’m planning on doing the whole shebang with this short-story, and giving it an ISBN so it can filter through to all the stores.
It’s the first time I’ve done this with something les than 10K, and I’m still not sure of the reception for shorts out there… It is free though.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Monday, 16 May 2011
My research got me thinking about the wider question of who looks at what web-sites, and why. What types of people look at what type of sites, and how much overlap is there? I was primarily looking at social networking sites, which more-or-sell included blogging sites, and various sites associated with writing. Although I suspect my findings could equally well be applied to any group of specialised web sites. I definitely think the same things hold true for the technical and programming sites that I also frequent (I’m a computer programmer to trade).
Anyway, it’s fair to say that a good percentage of people present on one writing-related forum will also appear on other similar forums and many of those people have writing-related blog pages. Obviously this type of behaviour isn’t just limited to writing related sites, but I’ll use writing as the example here. What doesn’t necessarily follow is that those people are involved in any of the more specific social-networking sites, like Facebook or Twitter. A fair percentage is, but the assumption seems to be made that the majority of people are. The results I’d got by trying to follow people through, and in some cases simply by asking don’t necessarily follow this assumption.
I think the Facebook user can be of a very different breed to the forum/blog user.
This is a short spin-off story from 'The Crazies' the first in my OtherWhare series of Novelette/Novellas. I’m hopefully going to use this over on smashwords as an additional free tease
r-story for the first Novelette in the series, which has already been put up over on smashwords.
Anyway, I’d be interested in any thought you may have on this story.
Monday, 9 May 2011
The group is going to be a bit more informal than the ‘official’ page, and it’s your chance to say what you think about my writing. I’ve set this up as a closed group, but only because it will really just be relevant to people who are interested in discussing my OtherWhare stories; or are interested in my wider writing, or any of the other associated things that go along with it; in general.
I’m always open to constructive criticism, good ideas, and readers’ views on any subject relating to my work.
If you want to be friends or join my OtherWhere writing group you can find me under Garry Grierson
Thursday, 5 May 2011
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
Friday, 29 April 2011
I’ve been reading some blogs recently and have come to a bit of an epiphany about my writing.
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
I’ve recently been playing around with writing a piece of flash-fiction in the Scottish vernacular, and it’s made me think about regional accents and speech patterns in general writing.
Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
And so to the list...
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Ok, these popular books may not be ‘literary,’ whatever you think that means, and they may break most, if not all, the ‘proper’ conventions we are constantly taught as authors (or would-be authors.) But, I do honestly think people have to define what they mean by ‘bad’ a bit more.
Remember the two afore-mentioned book-series in particular are responsible for introducing a lot of people to reading that probably would never have picked up a book otherwise.
I know perfectly reasonable, well balanced, and intelligent adult people who do like the Twilight and HP books. So who am I, or anyone else, to tell them and the millions of other readers, that they are reading rubbish?
People have always read ‘rubbish,’ in other peoples opinions. Some of the books lauded as ‘classics’ by the nay-callers of today may very-well have been seen as a bit ‘rubbish’ by some when they were first published. Not that I’m saying the Twilight or HP series will become classics, but who is to say really? Only time will tell.
So where does the current trend for slamming popular books come from?
Why is it that a certain percentage of people seem to hate these books so much as to deem them universally bad? And I’m not just talking about the two series I mentioned earlier here. The general trend amongst non-mainstream readers nowadays seems to be to deride popular fiction and laude over the merits of other lesser-known authors.
Now don’t get me wrong, I read a lot of work from new and unknown authors. I even ‘occasionally’ peek at things that are generally considered to be more ‘literary’, and I do like some of them. I do think people should be more adventurous with their reading, it’s how I’ve discovered some of my personal favourite books. But people have to start somewhere, and if they start and stop at twilight… well at least they started, right? Everyone has their own taste, and if that only lends itself to the big mainstream series, that’s better than nothing at all, right?
After all, popular titles have generally got that way for a reason, and that reason is a very simple one: people are buying the books because they like them, simple as that.
And that brings me back to my original question: why is popular fiction bad?
I think some people have to remember that a ‘good-book’ doesn’t have to be a life-changing event. It can be that, but it can equally just be a bit of simple, fun, light-hearted entertainment to kill a few hours. Just like a ‘no-brains required’ action film, or button-basher mindless-blaster computer game can be.
Can it be that we still have too much book-snobbery in the world?
Surely HP, and even Twilight, can be seen as a good thing, in that they have enticed hoards of previously non-readers to read anything at all? These books could be the starting off point for a whole new generation of readers; surely that’s a good thing?
Can you honestly say a book is badly written if people like it, and would much rather read it over ‘properly done’ and ‘literary’ fiction; which most mainstream-readers generally describe as ‘boring.’ Isn't this just snobbery, plain and simple?
If there really is something that inherently makes a good ‘book’, as opposed to the technicalities of ‘good writing,’ then surely it could be argued that the only valid acid-test is the number of people reading that book, and we all know what the ‘best’ books would be in that case…
Surely any book that gets people reading is a good book?
Friday, 25 March 2011
So what it that supposed to mean you may ask?
Well, when I first heard of an e-reader it was referring to a dedicated e-ink reading device, which lead to me purchasing my trusty Sony Pocket 300, and eventually my wife’s Kindle. So I, like many others, had the notion that ‘e-reader’ universally meant on of these e-ink type devices to all people. Then I found out that not all of these dedicated devices used e-ink. Not only that, but most people reading e-books weren’t even using what I would have considered an e-reader at all.
Now, I was vaguely aware that some people used things like iPads and Tablet-PCs to read e-books, but statistically it seems that most people read e-books ether on a laptop or net-book PC. I didn’t really consider any of these to be viable e-reader platforms, so I did some research and apparently I was very wrong. But that wasn’t the end of it by a long chalk. I was genuinely surprise to find out a lot of on-line sites saying a large percentage of people use their mobile-phone as their primary e-reader. I realise none if this may exactly be news to a lot of people but it spurred me on to try and find out just what you can read an e-book on and how many people seem to primarily use what.
Of the twenty or so people I talked to face-to-face, five used a dedicated e-reader, 4 of which used a Kindle. On-line that percentage seamed to remain roughly the same, although the non-kindle percentage was slightly higher. Most people from both groups used their laptop or net-book, so the statistics seemed to be bearing out. I did specifically ask about using phones as e-readers and roughly a quarter of people said they had readers on their phones, but mostly used it for downloading news and or short-texts rather than entire e-novels. I didn’t find anyone who said the use a phone as their primary e-reader. It may-be that I just wasn’t hitting the right demographic for this, I don’t know.
I wouldn’t clame my little experiment to be scientific or representational in any way, but it would be interesting to find out other peoples results.
Just as another little bit of an experiment I gathered up all the (non-e-reader-dedicated) hand-held electronic gizmos I could find lying around the house and decided to see how many I could read an e-book on.
I found that I could read an e-book on the following: PC, Laptop, net-book, original iPod, iPod mini, MP4 player, stills camera, video camera, SatNav, Palm Z22 Personal Organiser, Android Phone, Blackberry, and last but not least the good old Nintendo DS… actually the SatNav was quite good to read off, decent sized screen, little glare and quite long battery life!
So what exactly is an E-book reader? Well, honestly I think it’s pretty much anything that people read e-books on. Is that a cop-out answer? I don’t think so. I think it’s currently the only honest answer I can give. What do you think?
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
This may be a bit of a navel-gazing exercise, but bear with me for a few minutes on this one, ok...
I recently got a fair few critiques back for part of one of my OtherWhere stories, most of which got the plot and quite liked the characters. The one that stood out though said more or less the opposite of all the others for every question I’d asked, and in a way that’s the one you want to be most interested in. Praise is always good, as long as it’s constructive. “I liked it,’ doesn’t really give much in the way of help, or improvement. So what was the main difference, you may ask? Character definition, the critique that differed in opinion though my protagonist and main secondary character had none, a fairly fundamental drawback to a story I’m sure you will agree.
So why would opinion be divided on such a fundamental thing, what had I done wrong? This got me thinking about some of my favourite books and some of the often shockingly deriding reviews they have received on occasion. Now I’m not saying I don’t trust the opinions expressed in any critique that differs from the norm regarding my own work. I do, and I don’t for a minute think anything anybody who has ever giver such an opinion was ether wrong or ever intended to be derogatory. To the contrary, I believe everything they have said was for my benefit, and there minority opinions have helped me understand how I write, what I am writing, and possibly most importantly who I am writing for. Right now this is possibly the only thing I have in common with my favourite authors, they know who they are writing for, and they know not everyone will like it. It sounds simple, but it’s probably one of the bitterest pills for a new and struggling writer to swallow - You will probably never write a book that everyone likes.
It’s hard to put your heart into something that screams ‘like me, like me, like me,’ only to be told ‘No.’
So what can I do about it? Do I simply ignore this minority? Of course not, I do what those successful authors do, I take their comments at face value and try to write better, for at the end of the day surely it’s about marginalising the minority as much as possible and gaining as much happy readers as possible.
But, is this a cop out, a sell out to you’re ideas. Some people would answer ‘yes’, and others’ no’. As the title paraphrased, “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
Just remember you can’t please them all ether, so I try to make my work as good as I can without making it sound like something it isn’t. Trying to fool a reader will always come back as bad reviews, and despite what ‘they’ say, any publicity isn’t good publicity.
So what do you think? If you write, what do you do?
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
I’m not sure what I expected. Being a lover of the traditional book, I maybe just wanted to be patted on the back and told ‘there, there, everything will be alright.’ Maybe that’s why I was so surprised by the general direction the majority of the views went. It seems that most people thought e-publishing is already set to take over from the paper-book in some areas, such as the ‘throw-away’ paper-back novel market. Just now paper-books still vastly out-sell e-books, in terms of sheer numbers, but various statistics seem to all show a sustained growth in e-book sales. It seems that a substantial amount of people who were quoting these e-book sales figures are quite keen on seeing the rise of e-books. Is this a trend that will grow? I don’t know, but as the e-world becomes more entwined with our daily lives perhaps more and more people’s opinions may change towards e-publishing. If the core book buyers adopt e-reading as the norm this market-share may well be set to grow well into the future, but will it ever push the ‘throw-away’ paperback-novel out of the market? I personally hope not.
Another thing that became obvious from the thread was that people are already starting to polarise. There are some people, admittedly like myself, which just like paper-books for the sake of them. We may wax-lyrical about having a solid object with history behind it, rather than an ethereal string of data. We may come up with various reasons why paper-books are better, but in the end our argument just boils down to the fact that we love 'real' books, and what’s wrong with that?
We did all more-or-less agree that, at least for the foreseeable future, there were some types of books that are more resistant to change and may possibly always remain in a paper format; such as the more tactile children’s books, how-too manuals, coffee-table type picture books, and those that generally heavily rely on pictures, diagrams and other illustrations; in general those that employ some form of tactile or graphical aspect to demonstrate their function.
A rather surprising bone of contention, to me anyway, seemed to be how the money was divided out from e-book sales. Bear in mind that there were a fair amount of published Novell Authors in the discussion group, so this probably wouldn’t be as much of an issue for readers. Having said that there were some good points made about who should make what from a book sale. I’d be interested to know a readers perception of where the money goes. Who would you like to see getting the lions-share of your hard-earned cash?
So what do you think? Are e-books destined to be a niche product and nothing you will ever personally be interested in? Or are they the next big thing, destined to resign paper-books to history? Are the current trends a flash-in-the-pan, or a portent of future change? Let me know!
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
It’s easy to look at the title or cover of a free e-story and download it on a whim as it costs no more than the negligible download data-size, and if you haven’t got a download limit it doesn’t mater at all. However, that all changes if the story costs money, even if it’s only 99p. I don’t think it’s necessarily the amount that makes the biggest difference, just the fact that you are now purchasing this commodity rather than merely acquiring it. Do people equate a low price to low quality? How different is it with no price? I don’t think this is ever equated to no-quality, or nobody would ever take a free download.
On occasion it seems that, for some people, the fact that a download costs anything is often too much, and this isn’t necessarily because they are too poor to afford it. I think it’s all down to perception of worth.
I’ve done it myself many times, whether it’s an e-book or a game download, I’ve thought ‘even 99p is still money.’ That suddenly makes it a transaction, and I find myself wondering if it is worth it when I wouldn’t think twice about spending vastly larger amounts of money on other, and far more mundane, things.
So why is this? Then I wonder why anyone should spend that money on my download rather than another one of the many available? It’s a decision I’ve personally made as a consumer many times, but when you are on the other side it’s all very different. No sale means nobody wants your baby, even if the decision is solely based on a title, a picture, and possibly some blurb.
I haven’t got an answer, but I am left with plenty questions…
What are people’s expectations of free and low-priced books?
Is ‘free’ seen as a taster of good things, where low-cost is seen as low-quality?
Are people more or less likely to buy an e-book priced at .99p than they are for $4.99, what about £7.99, or £17.99?
I think this mindset of ‘paying-for-something’ can obviously be applied to a much larger market than e-books. It’s determining the tip-over point between paying out any money at-all for something and deciding when the cost outweighs the possible risk. In the case of an unknown e-book the risk would be purchasing a badly writer book, or simply one you do not personally like. For some this tip-over point may well be anything, whether it is £20.99, .99p, or even .1p.
So what do you think that tipping-point is for you?
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
For a good few years my new hero was Scott Adams, and I spent many hours wandering through Adventureland, trying to find treasure in the Pirate's Cove, or attempting to kill The Count, but the technology of the time was limited, especially in terms of memory and this meant the story had to be told in the smallest amount of characters possible. Descriptions were sparse and responses short and to the point. Non of this diminished the fantastical worlds that these programs built up in my head, even today’s photo-realistic graphics cant hold a candle to those imaginary worlds summoned up by a handful of text.
So why did text adventure games disappear? Well, they didn’t really. They went to the deed-poll office and changed their name to Interactive Fiction, and to be fair some of this is really well written and rather good. Long gone are the days where text is restricted by memory size, now everybody’s phone has more memory than anyone dreamt possible back then. Location descriptions can flow on as long as they like, character responses can say as much, or little, as they need to, and the atmosphere, characters and plot can be built up just as good as any traditional book can, given an author with the appropriate skill.
And so to my original point: why aren’t digital-based Interactive-Novels big businesses already?
I see this as a logical extension of the text-adventure, the technology is here, the talent is there, and the technical groundwork is already well-and-truly done.
There is a relatively large and thriving underground Interactive-Fiction scene nowadays, a ready-made market waiting to happen, but absolutely no mainstream interest. So why is this?
Is it just that quality writers don’t consider this a proper use of there talent?
Is it just that nobody is willing to take a chance on this market? Games publishers are now polarising around the big-money first-person shooter genre, and book publishers may see this as well outside their market area, but in a world of e-everything how much longer will this be the case? E-readers are now becoming fairly common, and look like they are set to grow their market share. Maybe the next generation of e-readers can go interactive?
Then again, maybe it’s just that most ‘serious’ readers view an interactive book as in some way childish, or solely in the realms of games, and not for them. If this is currently the case, how long will that attitude last? Remember, we are coming up for three generations of adults that have grown up with computer games, the world and peoples attitudes move on.
So what do you think, why isn’t it already big, and what’s stopping it?
As I finish this post, the radio is singing ‘that’s entertainment’ at me, I couldn’t agree more!