Thursday, 13 September 2012

E Book versus Tree Book

E Book versus Tree Book - This was a catchy phrase I heard on the radio and I think it asks a good question.  Which do you prefer? Which do I prefer for that matter? After all it is my blog.

I have to say that I love books. I love the soft rustle of the page as it turns to reveal more of the book’s mystery. I love that unique smell of ink on paper and I love to study the front cover. I like to try to relate the cover picture to a particular scene within the book, not always possible I know, because some covers are abstract to the extreme and others seem to have no relation what-so-ever to the story.  Still…I like to look. That sounds creepy doesn’t it?  The point is…the paperback has a distinct physicality that just isn’t present with an e book.

Then you have to consider the process involved in purchasing a book.  I have spent many hours roaming the shelves in the bookstores, (now it seems to take me hours just to find a bookstore) I’d scan the colourful, exciting and sometimes misleading covers, until I found one in my ‘genre of the day’ that caught my eye. Phase two; pick it up and read the blurb on the back, if it sounded good I had one more test to run before it left the store with me.  Flicking through a few pages I’d check out the style of the author, that’s my thing…no matter how good the story sounds, I won’t buy it if I don’t like the way it was written.

Yes, buying and reading the good old paperback is undoubtedly good for the senses. Whether curling up on the sofa, soaking in the bath or killing time on public transport. Even licking your fingers to turn the page, and then wondering what that god-awful taste was, only adds to the experience of enjoying a good book. Except…since I bought an e reader (shock horror) none of those things seem important anymore.

What made me put aside all of the emotional and pleasurable experiences of purchasing and reading a Tree Book, for the more clinical practice of reading an E Book?  Well to be honest I only did it to help me get published.  Huh?  Most of you know that I have written a Young Adult (YA) novel.  Now, I probably shouldn’t make this public knowledge, but I did promise to keep you updated with my efforts towards getting my book published, so here I go.

When I started sending my manuscript out, a lot of publishers wanted to know what YA novels I had read recently, and who my favourite authors were.  It shames me to say that I hadn’t read any. (Sorry publishers)  To be totally honest I hadn’t read much of anything over the past 9 months as I had been totally focused on writing. So what’s a girl to do?  I immediately ordered and e reader then started to look at the YA e books available online, there are millions.  As soon as my e reader arrived, I got to buying.  I now have a small library of YA novels, and a few other things as well, so I don’t have to make things up next time I send my manuscript to a publisher. (Again I am sorry.)

I have to say that I didn’t like the e reader at first.  It just didn’t feel or smell the same, and there was no licking of the finger required, just a simple tap on the screen.  But it serves its purpose well. The stories are the same, the pages still turn and when you open it, it always takes you back to where you left off.  I’m sure we’ve all lost our bookmarks and spent the first couple of valuable reading minutes searching for our place, well…never again.

I’ll admit that I am a true convert and I make no apologies for it. I can take my books; notice the plurality, everywhere with me. I no longer have to fit a door stop of a book into my already crowded handbag; this is a big bonus for me because as well as the other bits and pieces in my bag I now have to carry reading glasses.  Does anyone know why they give us such big, bulky cases for our reading glasses?  Do they think we are too blind to find them otherwise? I digress. If I want a book I can download it in minutes, it can be read in the sunlight or shade, indoors or out and it is small, light and portable. I do miss browsing the book stores, although I know I could still browse, I would feel guilty when I went home to buy online.

There is one big drawback for me in using an e Book; you see I have a bad memory, a really bad memory.  I even bought a book years ago about how to improve my memory and I forgot where I put it…I kid you not. Okay, so when I pick up a paperback I would always look at the cover while I got settled. In doing this I read the book title and the name of the author.  Now over the days or weeks of reading the book those two bits of information tended to stick in my memory.  I can still list dozens of book titles and authors that I have read, even as far back as my school days (and that’s a very long time ago).  But when I pick up my e reader and switch it on, all I see is the pretty cover I bought for it, then it opens to the last page I read, so if you were to ask me to give the titles and authors of the books that I have read on my e reader, I’d have to say…none.  

For me it’s a bit of a conversation killer,

“Yeah, I just finished this great book. No sorry can’t for the life of me remember the title. Nope don’t know who wrote it either.” See what I mean?

For the authors it’s not so good either, they need to be remembered and to be talked about, especially in this techno age where word of mouth and social media rules, though I think I have found a solution to my problem. I will try printing a copy of the book cover and stick it onto the inside cover of my e reader.
Does that mean I’ll have the world’s first             e tree reader?

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Back on Track

Ok here I am again to update you on my progress along the publishing path.  Now if I was a woman of few words and of weak character I would simply say, No one is interested…I’m giving up! Luckily for you, or unluckily whichever way you want to see it, I am neither of those.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog I submitted my manuscript to four publishers and one agency, all of whom have elected to pass me by…their loss. Again I remind myself of JK Rowling and as it turns out many more successful authors, who received multiple rejections before their ultimate success. Follow this link, for an extensive list including some of my favourites, William Golding, Ursula Le Guin, James Patterson and Frank Herbert, check it out.  Believe me it’s worth looking at if only for the reassurance to keep on going.
So…what’s next for me now?  Well I am up for another round of submissions but I am also looking at joining the “indies” and self-publishing an e-book. If I do that I want my work to be flawless, and for that I need help. So…I have just sent my manuscript off to a Manuscript Assessor (MA). Yes I know I should have done that before I sent it off to the publishers, just remember…my blog is about the journey I am taking and that includes all of the stuff ups, of which I am sure there will be many - so learn from them. The MA will appraise the plot, structure, characterisation and dialog, amongst other things, and will hopefully reassure me that I am on the right track, and provide pointers to get me to where I want to be.
I have to tell you, sending my manuscript off to the MA was hard; maybe even harder than sending it off to the publishers. Why? I think because I had toughened myself mentally against the possible rejections. Now the publishers only saw a single page synopsis and a chapter at most, while the MA has the full manuscript, and her job is to objectively critique it. So for the very first time a professional will be reading my manuscript, and she will provide an unbiased, honest report on its quality.  Now tell me that doesn’t send a shiver up your spine!
The bad news is I have a very nervous wait ahead of me, nothing happens quickly in this industry and it will be a couple of months before I hear anything. I will let you know what my MA thought about my work; if I thought it was worth the wait and the money, and whether I thought it was beneficial to me as a budding writer. I am sure it will be.
On the upside, now that I don’t have any distractions relating to the first book, I can continue to work on the second book in my trilogy and I will be able to update my blog on a more regular basis.
I hope you enjoy the photos I post on my blogs, photography is another passion of mine. If you like these little snippets that represent spring, the season for new beginnings, feel free to check out more of the same on my Facebook page.!/joanne.pick.1238

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Code Name 'Book Club'

I know I haven’t been near my keyboard for a while and for that I apologise. But I have a good reason. I haven’t forgotten my promise to keep you updated with my quest to get published, but allow me this digression…I’m sure it won’t be the only one. My husband turned 60 a couple of weeks ago, and I have been planning a surprise party for him.  You will be pleased to know that it all went well, the secret was kept, and the surprise was indeed a surprise, a well-received one at that.

Has anyone ever organised a surprise party? It’s a lot of work isn’t it? I am pretty confident that I won’t do it again. The hardest part for me was not being able to talk to Peter about it. Sitting in front of the TV at the end of the day, I would have to constantly stop myself from saying,
‘Do you think I should organise games for your party?’ or
‘Do you think there’ll be enough food for your party? And so on.  Luckily I tend to think before I speak, and as a result I was able to stop myself from saying anything.

I started planning way back in February, sending out Date Holders, stipulating that all future correspondence about the party would be referred to as 'Book Club', and knocking about with a few ideas. The planning started to get more intense a couple of months prior to the party, and the last three weeks before ‘P’ day were full on. My main problem was how to get organised while keeping Peter in the dark.

Peter and I live alone with our girls, Willow and Alba, and we have enough of everything to comfortably entertain 8 people, chairs, cutlery, crockery, glasses etc. and space to accommodate 4 guests.  I had 44 RSVPs with 15 people wanting to stay overnight!  I won’t bore you with all of the details; suffice it to say that many of our guests came prepared.

In order to throw Peter off the scent, I planned a fake BBQ for the following day (the Sunday) with just the immediate family; five guests.  That allowed me to explain away the extra cheeses, crackers and other party nibbles

I arranged caterers for the food; they were very good and supplied everything needed for the meal.  Our local party hire supplied the extra tables, chairs and a few braziers for the evening; and the balloons which lasted about 30 minutes thanks to the wind and Willow. Some good friends collected the cake on their way to the party, others were kind enough to bring some ice, (I still owe you for that,) my dad-in-law did a brilliant job in getting Peter out of the house so that the pandemonium could begin, and my mum helped me to finalise everything and to put up the marquee from hell. (That is a blog all in itself, I’m still traumatised over the act of erecting that damned marquee, but I might be willing to write about it…one day.)

The party was on the Saturday before Sunday’s fake BBQ and the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before that were pure chaos. Last minute shopping, and hiding of the shopping, last minute planning, re-planning, panicking and finding a solution, only to do it all again.  My dad-in-law arrived, and I have to say was duly ignored while mum and I continued to run around like a couple of chooks with our heads chopped off.

Saturday morning found us all enjoying a relaxed cup of coffee over breakfast, chatting easily about this and that until dad finally convinced Peter it was time to leave. He did well, at 8:40am, 20 minutes earlier than expected; they were gone, with a friendly reminder to refill the gas bottle for the “BBQ” on Sunday as they went on their merry way.

I closed the gate behind them and strolled casually down the driveway waving to them as they left the estate.  Once they were out of sight I started to run and I didn’t stop until…well, it felt like three days later. Between 8:40 and 12:15, mum and I faced the evil marquee, it put up a valiant fight, and found an ally in the strong westerly wind, but in the end we won. The caterers arrived minutes after we had defeated the marquee, which was a good thing as it was for them. Hidden away at the east end of our house, they set up their spit roasts and started cooking a selection of meats and fresh veggies, yum. The party hire stuff arrived and was promptly hidden. Why hide it?  Oh I forgot to tell you. Well instead of Peter walking into the house on his return and having everyone jump out from behind the furniture yelling, surprise! I mean let’s face it, we haven’t got that much furniture, I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted him to walk into the house, to see everything was the same as when he left, then he would answer a knock at the door. Get the picture?
So where was I? Oh yes the marquee was beaten, the caterers and party hire bits and pieces had arrived, morning tea was set up behind closed doors in the laundry and the guests started to arrive.

The cars were hidden from sight on the far eastern side of the paddock, my Belladonna tree being the cut off zone. I was running around trying to place all of the clues for the treasure hunt (yes I did plan some games) stopping only to welcome more guests, then ignoring them, one of my closest friends yelled out at me every time I was within hearing range:
‘Jo, go and have a shower.’
You know who you are, and you were right.  I was sweaty and still wearing my daggy house clothes and time was running out.  Finally there was no more I could do, everyone, and everything was here and out of sight, it was indeed time for me to have a shower and get into my party dress.

All that was left to do now was to wait for Peter to arrive home. We got the word that he was close, and we all hid behind the marquee and set a sentry to watch the entrance of our housing estate.  After a false alarm, he was finally home. As the car drove into the garage we all began to tippy-toe around to the front of the house, only to have me hold up my hand to stop them as he walked out of the garage to say hello to Willow & Alba. Quickly, and I must say silently we tippy-toe-ran back around the side of the house. He disappeared again and again we started on our tippy-toe way. We got a bit further this time before I heard him call out to dad, ‘I’m going to close the gate.’

Well that could not happen, he’d see everything! Once more my hand was raised and back they all went to hide while I ran through the laundry door and called out to mum,
                ‘Tell him to leave it open, I have to go out!’
The message was passed and the crisis was over. Then the bugger called out:
                ‘Ok. I’m just going to get a coke.’
Now the coke is kept in the fridge in my hobby room which backs onto the garage. Unfortunately that is also where I had stashed all of the party hire stuff. I called out.
                ‘I’ve got one in here all ready for you love, ice and all.’
I waited until I heard his footsteps coming up the hall before I bolted back out through the laundry door. I knew he was inside now, so I didn’t hesitate, everyone was rushed around to the front of the house where they took their positions while I ran up the driveway and into the neighbouring property, to get the best photographic vantage point. Within seconds we were ready and someone stepped forward to knock on the door.

‘SURPRISE!’ We all yelled, and it was.