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Sunday 20 November 2011

WolfSong Paperback and thoughts on ebooks vs paper

The paperback edition of WolfSong is now up on here for anyone who doesn't have an e-reader.

I never expected to feel so excited over holding a physical copy of the book, but that's exactly what happened when I opened the proof box and pulled the book out.

I do think I need to rework the cover totally, but that needs to go on hold until next year, when my life regains some semblance of sanity and I might actually have some free time.

The fun part was telling my folks the physical book was out. I think my mom was more excited than I was (I think she plans on casually taking a copy out at her next ladies club meeting and waving it at people). She has also now decided I am, indeed, a "real" writer, and that was  interesting to me.

It seems a lot of people don't consider an ebook to be real, whether they have an ebook reader or not. From the writer's perspective, this can be frustrating - the same amount of time and energy goes into it whether it's published as an electronic or paper copy, but I think we underestimate the desire to physically touch something.

I haven't bought a paper version of a book since my brother bought me my kindle (best Christmas present ever!), although I think I'll have to break down and go back to paper to catch up on the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, since the publisher STILL hasn't released e-book rights for half of them in the UK. It's not nice to deprive an addict of her favourite paranormal series, publishers. Ahem.

But although I haven't bought a physical book in a long, long time, I still have around 300+ tree books at home. I love the feel of a tree book, and every now and then I cheat on my kindle and pick up one of my much-read books and fall into one of my favourite worlds again.

Those books are mine. They feel real and tangible in a way that e-books don't, despite their convenience. When I moved to the UK and had to give away my books, it hurt.

Some of it may have to do with the item itself. An e-reader is a pretty anonymous piece of equipment, if you think about it. You can't be pretentious on the tube and flash the cover of the latest must-read at people, and you can indulge in whatever your guilty reading pleasure is without trying to hide the cover.

Ebook readers are light, convenient, and a great way to get cheaper books. But it doesn't feel like a book, or smell like a book. Until you flick the switch on it, it doesn't look like a book, and then it only resembles a book to the person engaged in the screen.

And keep in mind, my generation is the one that likes tech, uses tech, needs it to function - and doesn't trust it. It malfunctions. It eats your important stuff like documents and images, and corrupts them, won't tell you why. If you're me, every now and then it literally blows up or catches fire, and you're left with a funny scorch mark on the wall and a confused look on your face..

What will happen ten, twenty years down the line, as more and more people get comfortable with the ebook concept, remains to be seen. I doubt we'll see the end of physical books in my lifetime, although they may (probably will) become rarer.

Until someone designs an ebook cover that flashes the actual book you're reading across it, and changes when you change the book, I think that feeling will remain, at least for our generation. We need the sight, scent and feel of a paper book to feel like it's "real", to know that it's ours.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Richard Shury On Motivation : Guest Post

My friend Richard Shury recently got his awesome holocaust/fantasy book  Laid Hold the Dragon (UK link) up as an e-book for us e-book fans. The link for readers outside the UK is here.

(Can I just say I wish I'd thought of that title? It just pushes all my buttons. Don't judge me.)

Of course, far from satisfied, I bugged the poor boy until he agreed to do the blog post below for me; which I hope you enjoy - I think whether you write or not, you'll identify with what Richard says.


Motivation comes and goes, so I try and grab on to it when it does swing by. It has been a while since Laid Hold The Dragon was written, let alone published. 
It began as other pieces of my writing have, with an idea from another book, merged with a scene in my head. In my mind’s eye it plays out as a scene in a movie, vivid, colourful, but initially without context. The swirling mists of the story gradually coalesce and take solid form, and the thing comes together. For me, the process is often chaotic, which lends it a certain energy, but also means I have to write a lot of notes in order to ensure that the final product will make some kind of sense. It’s a balance between precision and emotion, or between patience and the desire to blurt out as much of the imagery in my head as possible before it fades away.
I have been thinking back to the original motivation for the book, besides being sick of thinking about writing one for some time and actually wanting to get on with it. I had been interested in (but not a believer of) Christian Apocalypse theory, or whatever it is called, and I remember thinking ‘what if the End of Days didn’t go according to plan?’ That was where it all started. Actually, thinking about it, that would make a fairly good movie tagline. Ok, maybe not. In any case, I liked the idea of drawing on this warped vision of the future, and warping it even further, whilst being able to tell very human stories through my characters and through their visions. Incorporating the science fiction elements into the book was just another fun, though challenging, aspect of what I wanted to achieve.
The impetus for creation, as mentioned earlier, is often drawn from other works, or from the seeds of concepts expressed in these works, be they works of fiction or otherwise. I often find that my best ideas for science fiction (or the ones which seem so to me) have sprung from today’s science or ways of thinking. Translating the excitement and fascination of these concepts into something readable and equally as exciting is the challenge I have taken on; if I have not completely succeeded, perhaps it will not be too much excuse-making to say that it is a struggle to truly express these concepts; and indeed, the struggle itself has its own rewards.
It would seem the ultimate test is always how readers feel once they have finished reading (and, indeed, whether they do finish reading), and whether they come to the end with a sense of satisfaction and time well spent; if you are one of those who has been intrigued enough to pick up a copy, I hope I do not disappoint. If you would like to give me feedback, I’d love it, but please be gentle; it’s my first time.


Follow Richard on twitter - @RichardShury, or say hi to him on GoodReads -  and of course you can still pick up the tree version of Laid Hold on here.
Laid Hold the Dragon is also up at Smashwords, the Sony reader e-bookstore, and Barnes & Noble has stock of both the paperback and e-book.

Friday 11 November 2011

A bad day in Manchester

Most of my regular readers are aware I travel quite a bit for work. 
This past week saw me in Manchester, which is where things went, shall we say, pear-shaped. As in I have achieved the crowning moment of WTF, also known as Bad Moments in Time.

To set the scene - I realised after I got there that I'd picked up the wrong overnight bag.

No phone charger. No pajama's. No toothbrush. No soap.

Feeling a bit grumpy with myself, I waded into the local Primark, then grabbed dinner and hit the budget hotel I was booked into.

And that, dear readers, is where my night went very, very wrong.

They put me into one of the disabled rooms. This is a good thing on the one hand, since it meant I had an actual bath. One the other hand, the freaking genius who designed the layout of the room (and please believe me when I say I someday hope to meet said genius, preferably while armed with a blunt instrument of choice) had put the light cord on one side of the bathroom doorway, and the Oh-Bugger-I'm-Dying alarm on the other.

I was tired. I pulled the wrong cord.

After ten minutes off frantic slapping at every flashing light and buzzer I could see, reception knocked on the door, laughed at me, graciously waved off my apologies and re-set things so they stopped flashing and beeping.

I ran my bath, stripped in the bedroom since there was nowhere to put my clothes in the fridge - sorry, bathroom - wrapped a towel around my aching torso, and stepped through the door, which clicked shut behind me.

Remember the freaking genius room layout?

In an attempt to raise the bar even further, the bathroom door and the main room door were identical. And next to each other.

I suppose, for the average person who isn't dog-tired and prone to having weird things happen, this would be a perfectly acceptable thing.

Unfortunately, the person they put in this room was me.

I'd taken a full step onto more carpet before I realised the following:

1) The bathroom didn't have carpet in it when I ran my bath.
2) The room I was in was way, way too big to be the bathroom

My mental process for the next 30 seconds was:
"Huh. Wait. Oh, no. I did not just do this to myself. I'm in the freaking hotel corridor!! Crap!!!  Wearing a very small towel!! Mommy!!!!"

To add insult to injury, the corner of my very small towel was caught in the door. It took some acrobatic maneuvering, including the judicious application of my heel against the face of the door, to retrieve it.
Anyone entering the hotel corridor at this point in time would have seen a short, chubby, naked female wedged halfway up a door jamb, gibbering gently to herself. 

Towel retrieved, I gingerly (bare feet, economy hotel carpet) made my way to the escalator and down to reception, which consists of a vending machine, the reception desk, a small row of shabby couches - and a full size plate glass window, on a very busy main road.

To add insult to injury, reception was currently full of 5 or 6 well-oiled young guys, one of which spent the time I was down there trying to figure out if I was real or a side-effect of the local watering-hole.

(Note - trying to hide behind a vending machine and hissing "Hey! Reception lady. Cooeee!" while wearing nothing but a towel gets a strange reaction from drunks trying to check in.)

Reception lady eventually followed my semi-hysterical whimpering around the edge of the vending machine, took one look at me, and clapped both hands over her mouth.

"Oh, God!" She said.

"Yes," I said. "Um. Help?"

I have to give her credit. She was very sweet about the whole thing, and instead of calling either the cops or the local mental hospital, got me back into my room before I got frostbite. Since I was turning a delicate shade of blue by this stage, I was  grateful; to the point that I hardly heard her roaring with laughter all the way back to the elevator. I was too busy trying to get feeling back into my toes.

Before I attempted another walk to the bathroom, I wedged the room chair against the outside door.

My bath was cold.


J H Sked is the author of WolfSong & Basement Blues.
You can find WolfSong on AmazonSony  e-bookstoreNook, iTunes &  Smashwords. Basement Blues is on AmazonSmashwordsiTunes  and  Nook