Monday, March 29, 2010

My writing week 3 (12)

Hi all,

Life continues to get in the way of writing. I have been trying to sell my father's Hyundai Excel Sprint (1995) and the process is a lot more complicated than expected, with road worthy certificates lasting for only 30 days and various problems with selling an unregistered car (if I choose to go that way). My brother has expressed interest in buying it for his sister in law, but his buying price is a bit below the market rate.

I had a new set of lenses, for computer use, placed in spectacles that were for distance use. My old computer glasses were scratched, something I didn't notice until after my cataract surgery. While at the optometrist, on Tuesday, he pulled out an eyelash that he thought irritated my left eye. For reading he said there was nothing wrong with using the glasses I had. Before I had cataract surgery I was looking at getting stronger glasses for reading, but now I have gone back to one of the weaker pairs. My distance vision is a lot better, everything is a lot clearer and more colorful, so I no longer need distance glasses. Since seeing the optometrist my eyes aren't as tired and I am not rubbing them as much, so I no longer have my eyes as an excuse for lack of writing.

On Facebook, Ian Nichols wrote: Bob Silverberg managed 20,000 words a day when he was writing lots of pulp novels, but even this achievement is dwarfed by Georges Simenon, who wrote 80 *pages* a day while drifting down the canals of France with his wife and mistress on a canal barge. That makes slackers like me feel very very challenged. At my current rate it would take me about half a year to write 20,000 words. Perhaps I should try the 10,000 words in a day challenge, but just how do I get life to stop intervening during that day?

My father was back to wandering around the nursing home when we last visited him. He still seemed to recognise us though and did tried to communicate. He is on a small dose of morphine for general pain, but the morphine makes him constipated and, from experience with him when he was home, constipation is one of the reasons he doesn't sleep and constantly wanders. The nurses estimate he has slept for a total of five hours over the past four days. So I expect a phone, at any moment, telling me he has fallen again.

And my weekly look at Kindle's top 100 bestselling ebooks reveals a trend for less $2 books (21) but more $2.25 to $3.50 books (16) with one for free. I still haven't got very far into the ebook I downloaded on to Kindle installed on my computer because I find that when I use the computer I tend to be on the web and sometimes writing. Perhaps if Amazon or Apple gave me one of their readers for free I would read more ebooks.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

My writing week 3 (11)

Hi all,

Again, I didn't do much writing last week, but I feel this is about to change. A good sign is that my thoughts frequently drift to the story I am writing, Miracles Rarely Visit Optimists.

As it is now six weeks since my second cataract surgery, I am getting my eyes retested tomorrow and probably new, weaker reading spectacles a few days later, which will hopefully mean less tired eyes and headaches and more writing. Much more writing.

I had a bugger of a start to the day with morons changing the lane ropes while I swam, so I thought it was going to be one of those days, but then I visited my father in the nursing home and he actually sat and tried to converse, instead of just walking away. When I shook his hand to leave he said "goodbye Graham", so he knew who I was, unlike the previous couple of visits after which I concluded he no longer knew who any of his immediate family and relatives were.

My weekly look at the Kindle ebook bestseller list saw 22 selling for $2, ten for $2.25 to $3.50 and one for free. About the same as last week, so there appears to be a trend downwards of $2 ebooks, which has been more than made up by books priced from $2.25 and $3.50. Interestingly, there were eight versions of the Picture of Dorian Grey all in a row from 76-83 and similarly six versions of Dracula in a row from 88-93.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My writing week 3 (10)

Hi all,

I enjoyed watching a repeat of the Tuesday Night Book Club on Sunday where they discussed adaptations of novels into movies. They talked about popular titles, most of which I had read and/or seen. Jaws and Lord of the Flies were too novels that they thought were well adapted to the screen. The screenwriter on the panel said he thought 2001 was a good adaption too. I wonder if he realised that 2001 was adapted from a short story, The Sentinel, with the novel being written after the movie's release.

Movies which they thought failed to translate the novel to the screen included One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Golden Compass. I really have to agree on the Golden Compass, with most of the Northern Lights novel's questioning of religion removed. They didn't like Bliss either, which I loved, but I am yet to read the novel.

I was delighted to hear that John Marsden's Tomorrow series, all action YA novels, has been made into a movie. The show increased my disappointment with my local cinema for not screening The Road. It seems the only way the local cinema would have screened it is if Adam Sandler had played "the man" and it had been turned it a teenage comedy about farting.

I've been busy cleaning up the back yard after hiring a huge (and I thought unfillable) skip last Friday, but it's nearly full and I still have about a fifth of the backyard to weed. Only one blister so far. Still have some junk to take out of the garage and back shed to put in it too, which should do a good job of weighing down all the garden waste.

I visited my father at the nursing home on Monday and I am now sure that he doesn't remember me anymore. My mother is convinced he doesn't know either of us. In some ways that is a good thing because he doesn't miss home. He actually appears to like it there. All he does is eat, shuffle around the place, and sometimes sleep.

Either my mother or I get a call on average once a week telling us he has fallen over. He has only scratched and bruised himself so far, but it is only a matter of time before he does some real damage. If it wasn't for that inevitability he would probably last a few years in a sort of semi-dream state, where he forgets that he pooped his pants ten minutes after it is cleaned up.

He can't read, doesn't listen to the radio, doesn't watch television. He takes in no information about the outside world what-so-ever. We try to talk to him, he gets up and wanders away. Just shoot me if my brain ever deteriorates to that stage.

I have found very little time to write. When I get some new glasses in two weeks everything should become clearer and my writing efforts will increase. The short story I am writing, like many stories I start, has begun to morph into something bigger, I hope I can keep it under 10,000 words. Stalking Tigers was originally meant to be a longish short story and is currently 130,000 words, a previous short story I wrote for my master is now up to 12,000 words with an estimated 150,000 to go.

My weekly survey of the top 100 kindle ebooks showed some new developments. The first el-cheapo $2 book did not appear to tenth spot on the list. All up, there were 20 $2 books, a substantial drop form the 26 on average of previous weeks, but this drop was more than made up for by a big increase in books in the $2.25 to $3.50 bracket, there were 11 of them and two freebies. I did not see any articles in The Age about ebooks last week - is the massive propaganda assault dwindling?


Monday, March 8, 2010

My writing week 3 (9)

Hi all,

Kate Eltham, organiser of the Brisbane Writer's Festival, was on ABC radio last Sunday talking about ebooks. She said that some libraries already loan ebooks, which got me thinking on the effect this might have on both libraries and sales of ebooks and traditional books. If most books come out in an ebook version there will be little need for physical libraries as ebooks could be loaned from web libraries, so I don't see much of a future for costly rural and suburban libraries. Universities and schools may still have them as places of study, but they might not have many physical books in them. State libraries would still exist to hold book collections.

If there are no limits on the amount of times an ebook can be loaned at once, there will be no wait for a popular book and therefore less need to buy an unavailable book. How many parents would tell their child that they could borrow the latest Stephanie Meyer from the web library for free, rather then them having to pay for it? Currently, with a printed book, the child is able to show their peer group that they have the latest Harry Potter, but an ebook is just words on a kindle or ipad, words that could just be owned or borrowed. Kate Eltham said that the files of library borrowed ebooks can only be accessed for three weeks.

The above musings change a little if the ebooks are licenced so only one borrower can access that ebook at once. I reckon ebook library websites could have a big impact on both ebooks and physical book sales.

In other news on the ebook front, science fiction author John Scalzi wrote a blog post on how a free ebook promotion of his books affected the sales of the physical version. The ebooks were only available for a week from Tor and he thought the sales of the physical version increased by 2% over the seven weeks after the promotion.

An article in The Age said sales of ebooks jumped 176% in the US last year and were worth nearly $170 million. Their share of the market went from 1.2 to 3.3 percent. Sales of paper books dropped slightly, but as the US went into recession the drop can be blamed on other things besides ebooks.

As usual I checked the top 100 ebooks on Amazon. This time found the number being sold for $2 steady at 26 when compared to previous weeks, with one free and six selling for $2 - $3.50.

Four Corners had a story on Scientology last night. Bad, greedy, illywhackers picking on the niave and lost. Had me wanting to chuck out L Ron Hubbard's novel Battlefield Earth. I think I will begin by unsubscribing to The Writer's of the Future.

Last week began with enthusiasm as a compelling short story idea took over my thoughts. I started to write it, but then other things started to get in the way, like a visit from relatives, lightning storms suddenly appearing just after I turned the computer on and a recalcitrant printer. I hope to finish the story this week - it could be a long one - and do some more editing of Stalking Tigers. It was great to be have my thoughts constantly returning to, and developing, a story idea.

When I finally get into writing again and have something more substantial to say about my own endeavours, I might start a weekly column on ebooks.