Sunday, November 28, 2010

My writing week 3 (47)

Hi all,

I wasted a bit of time last week on a pointless ebook debate with a writer who just wanted to argue semantics and not facts. His original blog post said that he was against changing the parallel importation book laws in Australian, and had recently launched a book in a bookstore, but felt guilty because he purchased most of his books on Amazon.

I had a look at his website which had icons to buy his books directly from him or from Amazon. At Amazon, one of his books was half the price he charged directly, but I am sure he would earn more from a direct sale. If he, as an author, is not prepared to pay extra to support Australian authors and bookstores, why should other consumers?

He also had an ebook of the first book in a series for 99cents. The consumer in me keeps on warning that if ebooks are ridiculously cheap than, like many cheap DVDs, they are probably crap.

I have had a lot more enlightening debates about ebooks with other writers, like Graham Storrs. I am enjoying his e-novel Timesplash.

Divine magazine paid my second invoice, so I now have been paid for all four stories published. I talked to the editor this morning and my fifth article should be up this week. It is about my father’s time in a high care ward of a nursing home. He had dementia. I will probably start writing another article this week, its idea I will keep secret for the moment.

I ordered and received a leather cover for my Kindle, something I should have done when I originally ordered it to save the $20 postal charge. The cover makes it much easier to read when lying in bed as it opens like a book, allowing me to balance it on my chest. It will also protect the screen from scratches. The ease of reading the Kindle’s bigger print has me reading a lot more.

Along with the above, I worked at the Victorian elections on Saturday and spent a bit of time reading the training manual, so I did not make time to finish writing the first draft of my novella as hoped. Maybe this week.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

My writing week 3 (46)

Hi all,

I spent a lot of time fiddling with a new Kindle last week. It arrived on Tuesday, three working days after I had ordered it. It took a couple of hours to charge, connected to the USB port of my computer (the power adapter was yet to arrive). I couldn’t figure out how to transfer another copy of Graham Storr’s ebook Timesplash from my Amazon account, Kindle for PC or from Lyric Press, so I purchased another copy for $4.40 from Amazon. It took a long time to download, probably because the battery hadn’t completely charged.

I enlarged the font size up, finding it a lot easier to read then the tiny print in the paperback I had been reading. I tried out the text to speech function. The voice reading the text was more natural than I expected. But I immediately heard one of the problems with text to speech software when it mispronounced a word. The sentence went something like this: Graham read the ebook. Instead of pronouncing read as red, it pronounced it as reed.

The following day I downloaded Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat Cradle to check how fast the downloads actually took, and it only took a minute. The power adapter arrived. At the end of the week, I ordered a leather case to protect the Kindle’s screen, something I should have done when I initially ordered it. I would have saved $20 postage.

I felt some smugness after reading an article in The Age by Charles Wright comparing ipad to Kindle. It said the Kindle screen was much easier to read. Battery life was much greater for the Kindle, and it was lighter and therefore more comfortable to prop up when lying in bed. And the range of ibookstore titles doesn’t compare favourably with Amazon. Add that to the plan costs for an ipad and it costing $450 more, and a Kindle clearly comes out as a superior e-reader.

I finished an article about what happened when we moved my father into a nursing home. My father had very bad dementia at the time. I emailed it to Divine online magazine of Thursday. I don’t know when it will be up.

I did a bit of critiquing and wrote a tiny bit of writing of a novella. I will finish the first draft of it this week. I certainly read a lot more last week as a result of the Kindle being much easier to read than a print novel.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Aussiecon4 - editing panels.

Hi all,
I attended two sessions on editing at Aussiecon4.
Editing the Novel.
Panellists were: Simon Spanton editor at Gollancz; Zoe Walton a publisher at Random House; science fiction author and freelance editor Jean Johnson; and Ace editor Ginjer Buchanan.
They started the discussion by answering the question of how long a book should be. Simon said that a novel should be as long as the story takes to tell. Ginjer said that for a large novel, Ace used different formats to fit the words in or they just charged more for the novel. Young adults like chunkier books. Fantasy readers like more padding, description.
Simon said editors are not there to be creative and that he never came up with a solution to an editing problem that was better than what the author thought up. He said it was increasingly difficult to get good copy editors.
They said that an author can refuse all the changes an editor makes, but then the reader might spot all those problems. Editors don’t want an author to agree with 100% of changes.
Jean Johnson came across as a bit too overbearing. I don’t know whether her appearance on the panel would have increased her sales.
How we Edit
The panellists were: Simon Spanton, once again, but looking a little bit under the weather; Amanda Pillar, in-house editor at small press Morrigan books and; John R. Douglas, who has 21 years experience as an in-house editor than freelance editor.
John said he worked with an author to find out what story they wanted to write. He removed most adverbs when editing. He said he spent a lot of his time explaining to management what the science fiction book he was editing was about, because they had no idea about the genre. He reckons it helps if the editor has a science background.
But Simon – who edits Stephen Baxter -said he had no science knowledge. He said you must remember that you are editing a novel. He trusts that the hard science fiction writers have gotten it right, adding that they were usually scientists. He said the main task was to ensure the novel was consistent.
John said editors with production houses like to work with authors who get it nearly right at the start, so the editor can edit enough books to satisfy management. He said the workload per editor is increasing at publishing houses. One of the big problems with books he edits is that most authors know a whole more about the world their novel is set in than they remember to tell the reader, and they leave it too late to give the reader vital information.
John said that publishing on demand is delivering hundreds of thousands of not very good books.
Simon said that things that interrupt the story are a problem: too many tricks risk knocking the reader out. (Graham here - that is why I didn’t like the novella that won the Hugo “Palimpsest”by Charles Stross, I was continually being thrown out of the story by information dumps, histories of the future and a plot that jumped all over the place.)
Simon said that publishing houses no longer have paid readers to troll through the slush pile. It was the last thing he looked at each day if he had time. Unless a novel from the slush pile absolutely blew his head off, it was not going to be published.
John said that he got rid of 90% of the slush pile very quickly He would dismiss submissions by the first line or page. He only spent about 5% of his time on the slush pile. He said that editors needed to spend 95% of their time on signed clients and couldn’t afford to waste their time thinking about the novel they might miss in the slush pile.
The editing panels did not have a lot of new information for me. They confirmed the fact that publishing houses are caring less and less about editing so a writer, especially a new writer, will have to try and get their story as structurally and grammatically correct as possible before submitting it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My writing week 3 (45)

Hi all,

I'm a paid writer. I received a payment for the first two articles I wrote for Divine.

I immediately used some of my writer's earnings to go over to the darkside: I ordered a Kindle. It's supposed to turn up this week. Then I can rush onto the Kindle store and fill it with free ebooks. I will never have to pay for a book again. Just joking. Anyone who has read this blog knows I am no fan of free or stupidly cheap ebooks. I will pay what I think is fair and just because it only costs $2.99 won't make me any more likely to buy it.

I have just checked the Kindle top 100 bestseller list for the first time in about five weeks. Last time, you might remember, 51 were free. This time there were 44. An upward trend? Not really, as there were 14 ebooks from $0.01 to $2.00 with just about all of these being 99c. I noticed that someone has decided to charge 99c for some of the classics that dominate the free ebooks. Last time there were about ten ebooks at $2.99, the going price recommended by ebook gurus, this time there were none. There were four ebooks priced from $2 to $3.99, 18 from $4 to $8.99, 11 from $9 to $11.99 and nine over $12.

The most expensive book was George Bush's bullshit autobiography. Good grief, as if that guy could write. Dick Cheney obviously wrote it with a little help from Rupert Murdoch's bullshit artists. It was $19.13 and came in at number one on the list.

I am speeding up the critiquing of a novel, which I am quite enjoying. The author has managed to maintain a high level of intrigue for more than half the novel. I printed out another story to critique last week, but it turned out to be one of those with a twist at the end, where everything before the twist is just filler. I am not a fan of stories just written for a twist or pun at the end. So I did not critique it.

I only did a tiny bit of work on the novella. My productivity last week was again hampered by lack of sleep due to dropkick neighbours on two nights and heat. I am getting ready to flip the nasty switch if it happens again this week.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

My writing week 3 (44)

Hi all,

Surprisingly, the neighbours have been quiet for most of the past week. Their teenage son, who lives in the garage, has not had his doff doff doff music on since last Wednesday night, and then it was only on at level low enough to be drowned out by a fan. I find it hard to believe, after our history with the neighbours, that he stopped due to me asking his mother to get him to turn it down last Tuesday. Perhaps other neighbours have complained, like the one I spoke to them last Tuesday too. They would have been most affected.

It is so good to get some sleep. I reckon I need at least eight hours a night, especially on swimming days. With more sleep I found myself doing some writing, critiquing and reading last week.

In my last writing week update, I forgot to mention that I had another article published on Divine. This one was about the Wangaratta Jazz Festival. It was the first straight news item I had written for the magazine and I wrongly tried to personalise it a bit. So the editor made a few changes. I have written and had published two articles in October. That makes four all up.

I plan to write another article this week. This one is about what happened when we placed my father in a nursing home. It is a companion piece to a previous article I wrote about caring for my father who had dementia.

I have work for the Victoria state elections on the 27th of November. Before then, I need to read an 80 page manual, watch a training DVD and complete online training. They certainly make you earn your money.

The excellent x-file-ish Fringe is back on GO this Wednesday. So along with Caprica and Stargate Universe, I have some good new release science fiction to watch. I just wish the morons at Channel 7 had promoted The Event as science fiction, as I only read this week that it had aliens in it. I have missed all its episodes so far. Dumb dumb dumb Channel 7. No wonder no one is watching it. Hopefully it will turn up on cable.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My writing week 3 (43)

Hi all,

I am feeling really tired today. Lack of sleep and stress has got to me as we engage in preliminary skirmishes in what looks likely to be a long war with the neighbours. Surprisingly, their dogs have not been the problem, they have been drowned out by the mindless thud thud thud of dance music.

The teenage son who moved into the garage got a stereo, and knowing his musical tastes are so fabulous decided to ensure all his neighbours could hear it. I went over at 10 last night and asked his mother to get him to turn it down. He did. But the noise has been back up today, so it looks like it will be a nightly event, until we get nasty. We have form with the neighbours, so I don't expect them to do the right thing without numerous actions.

I talked to another of their neighbours last night, just before I went and complained, and their history of the people living next door is full of drama. I'm not going to risk slander by restating it here. The neighbour said that another neighbour had also had run ins with them. I have previously spoken to a further neighbour and they were not impressed with them.

I have been searching the web for cheap soundproofing ideas. Double glazing is not cheap, and will it work? The noise seems to come through our wooden walls too.

So this is what happens when you take a week off writing and exercising, your neighbour's arsehole levels increase.

I do hope to get back into my routine this week. Either that or start digging trenches.