Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A Burning Issue?

The word 'Kindle' used to mean "to set fire to; to ignite" - but in latter times we have become accustomed to recognising this word as the name of a proprietary electronic reader. (See also 'Nook', etc.)

The battle to mass-share the written word has come a long way from Caxton and his cohorts, with their variable printing presses, but is the current ease with which stories can be shared actually likely to see the demise of physical books?

I touched on this in another post, 'eRevolution? Or just Evolution? - and there were some interesting responses!

An item on BBC Breakfast News this morning (sorry, no link available as yet) discussed the idea that eBooks/readers might have a detrimental effect on the publishing industry, amongst other things. I was struck by the analogy drawn by one of the interviewees to consider the effect electronic publishing had made on the music industry! :-o

As an alternative format, eReaders offer portability (much better slipping one in your bag for your holiday rather than squeezing lots of books in) together with choice, availability and cost; there are many low-priced (or even, free!) stories out there!

On that option of choice - there are gems out there, but sometimes it can be like panning for gold!

The other revolution that ePublishing ushers in is the ease of bypassing the 'traditional' route for authors and avoiding agents and publishers. By their very nature, both of these filter out some of the dross, but as more and more would-be writers react to constant rejection (often without the constructive criticism that would enable them to hone their skills!) by opting to self publish, might the publishing houses also be hastening their own doom by being too picky?

I worked in a library for many years - believe me, there was some utter tosh I had to shelve, yet somehow each of them had caught a publisher's eye and at least made it into print. However, as with everything these days, the decision to offer a publishing contract seems to rely less on the merits of the writer's work and more on marketability!

I've known authors who have (metaphorically) jumped through hoops at the the insistence of editors, to re-write, re-write and re-write yet again - almost to the point where their book is almost unrecognisable from the original draft!

Is it any wonder, then, that many writers see the route to having more control of their 'baby' via self-publishing?

Going back to my opening statement about the definition of 'Kindle', ePublishing certainly seems to have ignited a debate about books and surely that's a good thing? ;-)

When the dust settles, perhaps we will be able to see more clearly how this eRevolution might affect the Smörgåsbord of the literary world - but as someone I know often says '...come the Revolution, or when the oil runs out....' paper-and-ink books will still be here!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Thursday @ 3 - 'HOLD THAT THOUGHT!'

After what seems a very long time (over three months) I am pleased to announce the return of my 'Thursday@3' series. This started last Spring, with a story called 'Fat Lady Singing'

The premise of 'Thursday@3' is to post a piece of flash fiction with a connection to the number '3' - it could be three sentences or paragraphs; or something with a three-word title; or perhaps '3' in the title itself. Each piece has a word-count limit of 300 - the only exception for going over that is to craft a story with exactly 333 words. Each story is scheduled to appear on Thursdays, at 3.00pm (UK time) - thus, 'Thursday@3'!

For several months I dutifully rose to my self-imposed challenge, until life's events got in the way and so, mindful of that 'hiccup', this time around I will just say that the stories will appear regularly, maybe not every week, but certainly on a Thursday.

Without further ado (and with many thanks for encouragement, esp. from Cathy Olliffe-Webster ) here you go with this week's treat! At 333 words, because I really couldn't cut it any further from the 400+ original draft, this gives an odd twist to the notion of dealing with writer's block!

Comments, as usual, are life-blood to me so please leave your thoughts (good or bad) - or even better, perhaps, pen your own 'Thursday@3' story and share it with us! :-)


“Use your imagination. Trust me, your life is not interesting….” Funny what comes to mind at a time like this, as I find myself hanging out of a window on the 18th floor, fighting the urge to look down. The old adage of ‘Write what you know’ seems at odds with Kinsella’s quote and when writer’s block kicks in I find myself oscillating between both options, but today was perhaps not the best time to try a walk on the wild side.

As I pry open one eye I succumb to the view and for a Nano-second I’m intrigued by the sight of what looks like millions of ants; ants walking, running, some driving cars, buses weaving their way through armies of ants in their relentless commute. Of course, they aren’t really ants and that’s when vertigo challenges gravity and I snap my eyes shut.

“Just hang on, help’s coming!” Celia from the outer office is giving me a barely-concealed hysterical rundown of progress from the rescue service but I’m only half listening, my mind’s already occupied in a ‘they’ll never believe this' story being woven together in response to the blind panic that’s threatening me.

Leo’s starting to get really heavy, now. Leo; my some-time friend, mentor, bully and agent. He’d called in on a carefully engineered whim to see how the re-writes were going and decided to hector me as he leaned with his back against the window. Even as I vaulted forward I’d seen the look of resigned horror etch its way across his face, realising too late that the latch was disengaged.

His screams had died swiftly as the shock quickly blocked the oxygen to his brain and now he hangs like a limp ragdoll as I cling to his legs in counterbalance to his deadweight.

“Your life is not interesting…..” The quote echoes in my mind along with a descant of discordant sirens and I guess, if we survive this, Leo will take the credit for inspiration.

(The inspiration for this piece came from a link on Twitter, yesterday, to a quote by Canadian novelist W.P Kinsella: 'Use your imagination. Trust me, your lives are not interesting. Don’t write them down.' I sure used my imagination with this! ;-p)


Thursday, 12 January 2012

'A COLD DAY IN PARADISE' - Steve Hamilton - #1 Off The Shelf 2012

....and we're off!

The first book on my TBR list for the 2012 'OFF THE SHELF' challenge is Steve Hamilton's "A Cold Day In Paradise." I purchased this on a whim, touring a second-hand book store on a trip to the town of books, Hay-on-Wye. I was attracted by the cover and intrigued by the blurb - but it has sat on my shelf for too long, so I am delighted to have it as the beginning of this challenge!


This is the first in a series of novels based on a former policeman, Alex McKnight. Set in the town of Paradise, Michigan, and nearby Sault Ste. Marie (referred to as the 'Soo'), the action takes place in the hastening winter months and the storyline is as chilling as the falling temperatures!

Having been shot and seriously wounded in a confrontation with a psychotic killer named Maximillian Rose, with his partner dying at the scene, Alex Knight subsequently retires from the Detroit police force and returns to the Soo to manage a series of log-cabins his father had built and rented out to seasonal hunters.

As a sideline, he's persuaded to become a private detective but soon finds himself caught up in a web of murderous intrigue which has a strange connection to his own past. When the man who shot him and his former partner appears to be behind the slaying of a local bookmaker McKnight is perturbed, to say the least, especially since Rose is supposedly under lock and key serving a life sentence.

Facing hostility from the local police chief and still carrying one of the rounds that Rose pumped into his chest, McKnight is haunted by the thought that Rose may have escaped - who else would leave clues from the past, from the last conversation between a wounded policeman and his tormentor?

Steve Hamilton teases out the suspense with each successive chapter making this a true page-turner - and the icy backdrop keeps the action, and the reader, chilled to the bone!

Thankfully, I have the second book in the series, 'Winter Of The Wolfmoon' still awaiting me further down my TBR list - I'm looking forward to re-acquainting myself with Alex McKnight! :-)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Whittling down that pile...!

So, the 2012 'Off The Shelf' (click the linky-icon, top left of page) challenge is off to a flying start!

From the list of books I drew up, I decided to start with Steve Hamilton's 'A Cold Day In Paradise

Now that the Festive season is behind us and life is returning to something akin to 'normal' I'm hoping to set aside time to progress onwards from Chapter One, which is as far as I've managed when dropping wearily into bed.....!

Anyway, with the metaphorical crack of the starting pistol I'm off and running....

......and I'll post a review later! ;-)