Tag Archives: books

Can I write?

Yesterday, on LinkdIn, someone asked a question: My mom says my book is good, but is it?

The question turned out to be bogus, asked by a brand-new publisher trolling for potential authors. I didn’t realize it until I’d answered the question. When I thought back, I decided the answer I gave her shouldn’t be lost. I asked a version of that question when I first started to think I wanted to commit to writing more seriously. So, here is the answer I gave her:

Any writer, agent and publisher will tell you that the opinion of a family member is not a reliable gauge of one’s writing ability, even if they’re published writers themselves. Why? Because they love you. Because they don’t want to hurt you or your feelings. Because sometimes there’s a fine line between critique and criticism, and they’re afraid to cross it.

There are several thing you can do:

  1. Join a writing group. You can join a local writing group that writes in your genre. Your local library might be able to help you with that. You can join an online writing or critique group, although some of them are simply admiration societies and are pretty useless. Some of them, though, are quite good and can help you perfect your craft.
  2. Take a creative writing course. You can also take a creative writing course at your local college, or online. Some are quite good and don’t cost a lot of money.
  3. Read on writing techniques. There are tons of books on writing and self-editing that you can either buy or borrow from the library. One book that helped me tremendously is Orson Scott Card’s Characters & Viewpoint.
  4. Ask for unbiased advice. If you’ve always lived in the same town, you can go visit one of your English teachers, be they from high school, college, or university, and ask them for advice. But don’t send your manuscript or story to your favourite published writer. It is unlikely he or she will respond, unless you know them personally.
  5. Don’t stop writing. Don’t stop at one book. Write continuously; it’s only in doing it that you get better.
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The Self-Publishing Dilemma

This week on Twitter’s #litchat was a discussion about “indie” authors, a euphemism now used instead of self-published authors, including those who start their own publishing company to sell their own books and those who use vanity publishing.

Indie publishing is touted as the new publishing model. Self-published authors claim that they are able to retain their own voice, that they are not constrained into a mold, that they are able to have control over all aspect of publishing the book, from writing it to marketing it. That’s all very well and good, but how about filtering?

In her article, When anyone can be a published author, Laura Brown asks the question. In all of the talk of the new publishing model, she argues that one element is being forgotten: the reader. How, amid potentially millions of self-published books, is one to find something good to read? Continue reading

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Expat Harem

A year ago through Twitter, during a discussion on literature at #litchat, I met a fantastic woman, Anastasia Ashman, a US expatriate living in Turkey. She was talking about her new book, Tales from the Expat Harem, and anthology of stories written by expatriate women living in modern Turkey. Tales evolved into a huge project and blog, a “neocultural hub for global citizens, identity adventurers, Turkophiles, identity travelers and culturati of all types.” It is a place where “common interest + experience defines us better than geography, nationality — or even blood.”

Expat Harem has its regular contributors but also visiting ones. I am such a one, discussing the feeling of being an expatriate in my own country because of differences in language, culture, behavior. The in-country expat forced me to inspect and introspect what it meant for me to live in a different culture, and it reinforced the empathy I feel for all new immigrants to our country, and to my town.

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The Future of Publishing

I Tweeted about this video and sent it to my friends, but I like it so much I decided to have it here for a while. Last week was Read an ebook Week and this video would have been most appropriate. For at least ten years I’ve said that content is more important than format. This video explains it in a very clever way.

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Read an ebook week

Until Saturday, 13 March, it’s again Read an ebook week, or as we fondly acronym it, REBW.

With Reader devices such as the Kindle, the Sony Reader, the Nook, the iPhone, and the upcoming iPad, ebooks have become increasingly popular as a medium for reading. If you’re an avid reader and love to own books, the ebook is ideal.

Yeah, yeah, I know, you love the feel and smell of a paper book. But you know what? Paper books take space. Lots of space. I currently have over two hundred books in my Sony Reader. At one inch a book (and that’s conservative), that’s 16 feet of shelf space.  Since I read on average three books a week, I’d add about 13 feet of shelf space a year to my bookshelf. Frankly, I don’t have enough walls for that.

I’ve been reading ebooks since they began, really, ten years ago. I haven’t abandoned the paper book; I consider each a different medium for words and both have their level of comfort. My Sony Reader fits in my purse easily. I take it with me when I wait at the doctor’s office or when I go to the park for a picnic. It’s ideal when I travel — I can take dozens of books with me and they weigh less than a pound. Plus, I feel righteous: I’m doing my bit to diminish my carbon footprint in the world.

If you’re not sure about which reader to buy, read this article at Wired.

Zumaya has jumped into ebookweek by offering free the complete text of five of their books, in .pdf format (which means they can be read on any device):

In the Service of Samurai by Gloria Oliver (YA Fantasy)

Synergy by M D Benoit (Science Fiction)

Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows by David Lynn Anderson (Fantasy)

Milky Way Marmalade by Michael DiCerto (Science Fiction)

The Dream Ender by Dorien Grey (Thriller)

You can also read excerpts of dozen of Zumaya Publications’ books at Scribd.

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