Sunday, June 27, 2010

My writing week 3 (25)

Hi all,

I felt like a writer last week, spending a lot of time researching, reading and writing. I was told of a disability site requesting articles on disabilities from writers with disabilities, I had a look. They were offering a contract for four articles over six months and requested a sample article, I decided to have a go.

As anyone who has been following this blog knows, my father recently died from dementia, so I was keen to write an article about what it was like coping with him. I wanted to write something that helped give permission to people to place a dementia suffering relative or parent in a nursing home. I know I felt like I had betrayed my father when we had him assessed as high care and to be placed in a nursing home,but there was no way we could have coped with him living at home.

I wrote the article. The original version went for over 1000 words which I had to cut down to a 500 limit. This meant cutting out many of the anecdotes and rendering it a lot less personal account. I emailed it off, along with a covering letter containing suggestions for other articles I could write.

I received an email back that said they were currently on a recruitment drive for writers and would I please apply. They wanted two sample articles and suggested I write one of those I had included in my covering letter on how ebooks would make it easier for the disabled to access books. They felt that such an article would demonstrate the range of my writing and make for a very strong application. I have been reading a lot about ebooks lately so I had plenty of material and after a bit more research, I have plenty of ideas for such an article.

But, I have begun to wonder about the tone of my articles. The dementia article (after the removal of anecdotes) was informational and had a somewhat sad and resigned tone, as in, we tried our best, but it was never going to be good enough (perhaps I could include that in a subtitle). Besides, how could you possibly be bubbly and positive when talking about dementia?

The second article about ebooks will be a lot more positive and hopeful. I have been thinking that a more positive tone is probably what they want, but as a person with a disability I would prefer the truth to false hope. I hope whoever decides who gets to be a contracted writer is not into just putting positive spins on disabilities.

I have put a couple of anecdotes back in the first article, in an attempt to make it more "entertaining", and I will now cut words from other places. I will write the second article in the next day or so.

As you can never have too many ideas, any ideas of the benefits of ebooks to the disabled would be appreciated.

I also continued writing the second draft of a novella. Much has changed and it is a far better story, with less fantasy.

So for a few days last week, after spending much of the day researching and writing, I felt like a working writer, like it felt when I was studying writing. It felt great.


PS, my disability is no big thing, just a bit of a hassle when it becomes active, which can be at the most inopportune times. It was mentioned many posts ago.

Sad to see Kevin go

Hi all,

I have just caught up on my reading about the dumping of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister by the NSW Right, and in particular Mark Arbib. I read two articles in The Age stating that scumbag Arbib forced Kevin Rudd to postpone action on climate change, threatening him with the loss of his Prime Ministership.The fact that Kevin Rudd was forced to back down on immediate action on climate change explains why he did such a bad job of selling the change of policy: he didn't believe it abandoning the fight on climate change. It's a pity scumbag Arbib is a senator, because if he was the labour candidate in my electorate I would place him last on the ballot at the next election.

I watched Kevin Rudd's final speech, and it is truly heartbreaking. I think we might have actually seen the departure of one of our few Prime Ministers who actually cared about the less fortunate in society, with a lot of the good he tried to do being thwarted by the senate and having to deal with the GFC.

And as for the billionaire miners and media owners, it would seem that Australia is fast becoming a country ruled by the mega-rich, people who don't give a stuff about anything else except the size of their personal wealth. Bring on the revolution.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Writing Week 3 (24)

Hi all,

It has been a busy start to the week so I have only now gotten around to doing my weekly blog post. I spent more time writing last week then the previous week so things are on the improve. The end is insight of the novella, but I've changed nearly every word since half way through, so I will want to edit again before I let anyone look at it.

Didn't read anything much on ebooks last week so I will leave the cartoon, out of The Age, below as my only comment on them.

I was also cheered up by the latest newspoll, not great, but better than the last one. At the moment I fear that politically we are at episode one of the Stars War's saga, with Tony Abbott, aka Darth Vader, only beginning to flex his growing power, under the tutelage of the evil emperor Rupert Murdoch. We still have a long way before Luke (Kevin 010) defeats Darth. Princess Leia (Julia Gillard) has to help put him on the right path first. Let's hope that Hans Solo (Martin Ferguson) can escape from the clutches of the Jabba the Hutt (Clive Palmer billionaire miner) and help. Hopefully C3P0 (Wayne Swan) will be able to understand and explain the intellectual concepts coming from R2D2 (Ken Henry). And they all better steer clear of the brain deadening Jar Jar Binks (Wilson Tuckey).


Monday, June 21, 2010

Does my photo appear?

Hi all,

Yesterday an acquaintance was looking at my blog and the photo did not appear. They had just upgraded their computer to windows 2007 so that might have been the problem as the photo always appears for me. I was wondering if my computer has to be on for the photo to appear (I only have it on when I am using it, so it was not on when the acquaintance accessed my blog). I won't have my computer on for the next few hours - it is 9.40 am est in Australia - so can anyone who reads my blog leave a comment on whether the picture came up and if they use windows 2007.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

My writing week 3 (23)

Hi all,

I was a really miserable human being last week. Life has been a series of ongoing emotionally draining events: my father's death, cataract surgery, losing my job, next door neighbours who have no respect for other people's property or sleeping patterns etc.

On top of that I have become increasingly unhappy with the Australian billionaire run media, where Murdoch, Stokes and Packer seem hell bent on Tony Abbott becoming Prime Minister after October. The less fortunate in society might as well slash their wrists. Nothing will be done about global warming, nothing will be done to improve the condition of Aborigines, refugees will be locked away on islands for years, and the middle class whose primary news sources were Murdoch's papers or Channel 7's news, leading them to vote for Abbott, will have to spend much more of their incomes on services that were formally provided by the government. The only people who will be better off are the rich.

As this is a writing blog I have to mention that parallel importation of books will probably be allowed, leading to an even quicker demise of the Australian publishing industry than ebooks will probably cause. Abbott will also probably use the budget deficit as a reason to eliminate most arts funding (they are all lefties in the art's community after all).

So basically, I feel that Australia is about to be fucked over by as much as my life has been. I have felt like just giving up. What's the point anymore, I feel like shit and I just want to stay in bed all day. Give up swimming, give up gardening, give up trying to find work that has any meaning at all, but the one thing I didn't even consider giving up was writing: I had my best writing week in over a month last week.

I am still editing the novella, but it is much more of a redrafting as subtle changes, like my main character deciding to exit by the back door instead of the front door in a smoke filled house, have changed the way the novella will get to its ending.

It's been a few weeks since I checked the prices of the top 100 bestselling kindle books and things have changed drastically. There were no $2 ebooks, when on average they previously made up 30% of the top 100. That might sound like good news to optimists but it isn't. There were 12 ebooks, as compared to the usual half dozen in the $2 to $3.50 price range, but there were a massive 29 free ebooks, as compared to the previous average of three. Does this mean that a lot of authors have given up trying to make any money out of their ebooks or that consumers have decided that even $2 is too much?

In Jason Steger's Bookmarks column in The Age he reports that Steve Jobs says that the ibooks store already accounts for 22% of the ebook market, with 2.5 ebooks, on average, being sold for every ipad. I wonder how much those ibooks cost. I tried to have a look at the ibooks store today but I think I might need to buy an ipad and download the application before I can, and there's not a chance in hell I will be doing that.

In the same article Sony estimates that the ebook market will overtake the print market in five years.

The world is ending, run for the hills.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

my writing week 3 (22)

Hi all,

Last week I finished reading the short stories nominated for the 2010 Hugo awards:

Spar by Kij Johnson - Anyone who says sex never occurs in science fiction should read this story as it is one long sex scene where an alien and human trapped in an alien lifeboat repeatedly penetrate each other. It is more of a moment of time than a story, with no clear conclusion and meaning, other than how strange the interactions between humans and aliens might be.

The Moment by Lawrence M. Schoen - Different groups of aliens visit humanity's first steps into space, a footprint on the moon. The story is difficult to read because of the language and invented terminology used, which is appropriate considering the point of view characters are aliens. The aliens are interesting imaginings. It's an optimistic story of humankind's expansion into space.

The Bride of Frankenstein by Mike Resnick - The only nominated author I had heard of before. This is the story of Frankenstein (the scientist, not the monster) told in diary entries from the point of view of his wife, where she records the monster humanising her resentful and emotionally closed life. The story had a tongue in cheek feel to it.

Non-Zero Probabilities by N.K. Jemisin - Set in modern day New York where bad luck is rife because of bad vibes. More of a fantasy than science fiction. I didn't really get the story on the first read because I misread a line and, never having played craps, I didn't equate snake eyes (two ones on rolled dice) with bad luck.

Bridesicle by Will McIntosh - Easily the best of the stories. A woman is cryogenically frozen after death and is periodically brought back to life for dates with men who, if she agrees to marry them, will pay for her rehabilitation back into a functioning human. But wait, there is more, yes two ideas, something that doesn't happen a great deal in science fiction short stories. The dead also hitch rides in the brains of the living, with their consciousnesses downloaded into the minds of willing relatives or friends. The two ideas create a thrilling murder-suicide love story. The story is very easy to read.

My vote has to be in by July 31 so I will easily have time to read the nominees for best novella and novelette, but I don't expect to have read the novel nominees by then.

Instead of spending time writing, I wasted a lot of time last week debating people on blogs and mailing lists on whether ebooks will destroy the publishing industry and make it much harder for writers to make money out of writing. I hoped for some arguments or data that would convince me that this would not be the case, but most of the counter arguments seemed to be more wishful thinking than anything else. See my previous two blog posts if you are interesting in having a go at changing my opinion.

With the dust settling on the above debate (writers very close to nil, consumers winners but than losers), I hope to spend a substantial part of this week writing.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Survival for 21st Century Writers.

Hi all,

The transcript of the online speculative fiction convention session Survival for 21st Century Writers is available here. I attended the session in which Scott Nicholson predicts that the ebook market will quickly be dominated by $2 ebooks and by the end of the decade most ebooks will be free. See my previous post for my thoughts on the future of publishing when free ebooks are dominate.