Wednesday, 28 November 2012

What Makes You Pick Up a Book?

I was browsing in my local library last week in quite a picky mood. I did end up borrowing three books but it got me wondering why I choose one book over another and whether it depends on how I'm feeling that particular day.

There are various factors that may persuade one to pick up a book. Perhaps it's a favourite author - in which case it doesn't really matter what the plot is, you know you are guaranteed a good read. Or, the opposite is true - you read the flysheet and are blown away by the plot summary and just have to give it a go - if you enjoy the book then you are likely to go looking for that author again.

Genre is important obviously. We all know whether we are in the mood for romance or crime or comedy. But within that, an attractive cover might be the hook to pick up a book or an intriguing title.

It's always said that as a writer, your first paragraph is vital to draw the reader in. I know I usually read the first page of a novel before deciding whether to buy/borrow it. A satisfying ending is needed too.

As writers we may have little influence over the colour, final title and illustrations of our published books but we can make very sure there's an enticing first paragraph, a riproaring plot and fantastic ending, ensuring that readers come back to find our next books on the shelf.

So, what is it about a book that makes you pick it up?

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Where do we buy books?

"What booksellers have lacked, to date, is the ability to cost effectively engage with their customers in the mobile / digital arena." (A quote I read recently.)

In other words, where are we going to be buying our books? For me, it’s usually a case of Amazon or bust. I buy the usual things (Easy Reads or similar) from supermarkets but digital formats, we mostly buy using the easiest way. One could go to specific websites and buy them directly from the publishers but it seems to me that Amazon has the edge for downloading them. For me it’s single click and it appears on my iPad a few seconds later. No passwords, no fuss. I must admit, I don’t always finish them using this form of media, as I’ll begin something else (in paper format) and get hooked on that.

But, for many of us with publishing e-books now filling our time, perhaps this is where our future lies. Self publishing on Kindle seems to be very popular and is very successful for some of us. It is made as easy as possible to do, with on-line instructions available. I put up several of mine a while back and have sold a few but never bringing in mega bucks, like some folks do. I wonder how many are sold this way compared to the many other websites? There are other hassles involved too, with overseas sales. Getting the elusive ITIN to receive payment from USA seems to be a major problem.

How many of us do choose to use kindle, tablet, mobile phone or similar methods for reading? I know several people who do have appliances to read but many of them also use the more traditional method. I am planning a holiday in January so am building a collection of books to read during that time, on my iPad. This holiday will be a testing time for me!

Though I’d like to continue to buy from shops, for me it is increasingly difficult to actually get there. Our little local(ish) shop has now closed so increasingly, one has to rely on supermarkets or on-line shops. With this and all the library closures, it is not a good outlook for us, particularly with large print. It also represents a decline in possible other markets.

But, as long as we can, I believe all of us Pocketeers will still be writing our words for them, as long as they are accepted!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


The statistics are staggering. Facebook now has 1 billion users, Twitter 140 million users and there are 4 billion views a day on YouTube.
A leading neuroscientist has warned that a generation of children risks growing up with various disorders, including a poor attention span and little empathy, due to an addiction to websites such as twitter. She said that a decline in physical human contact meant children struggle to formulate basic social skills and emotional reactions and suggested that a reliance on social networking and use of computer games could effectively ‘rewire’ the brain. The researcher also said that websites like Facebook and Twitter were creating a generation with a child-like desire for constant feedback on their lives.
We, Ruth and Mary, have at times felt overwhelmed by the need to network as writers. There is a fine line to draw between giving the best to, and getting the best from, networking and allowing it to engulf us.
Being part of a writing community and able to share information is a definite plus. The negatives are the constant pressure to keep sites and blogs up to date, read comments, respond and take on board what’s being said as well as acclimatising to the technology.
We’re unsure how much personal information we want to put on the internet. It’s also very time-consuming scrolling through screeds of unwanted information on a website when one is trying to find out about the nitty-gritty of writing. How much time do we as writers spend networking? How important is it and would our time be better spent writing?
We would be interested to hear what other writers think as we are sure there is a wide spectrum of views and experiences.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Delighted to tell you all that The Duke's Deception is now up on Amazon. Sold five copies before I noticed I'd used the same title for the hero - have now changed this and re-published. Not sold anything in Japan -anyone here done so? Have a good weekend. Fenella

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Romancing the First Draft

Depending on how we all write, of course, and each of us is so different, but the first draft for me is a relief. Not to say in the process, it doesn't present challenges. As Carol said in a previous blog, sometimes the halfway mark means scaling a wall but about then it's more like perseverance.

There are lots of moments during that first draft. Early on in my current romance, it was getting interrupted. There just seemed to be so many things happening, phone calls, LIFE happening, etc. but I pushed on through, somehow put my writing first and kept up with my daily allotted output, and it all began to flow and slot into pace.

Most days I write my minimum quota, always aiming for more. But there are other days when some more research needs to be done even though, knowing your plot and topics that will crop up, you may have done much of this beforehand. Clearly I was away with the fairies recently for I had my hero's mother losing her fiance in World War 2. Duh! She would have been nearly 90 and the hero only 30 years younger. Bit old for a romantic hero! So I had to toss all that lovely research re grave sites in Indonesia for that era and re-think, realising the Vietnam war was my only option for the 1970s.

My first draft is often done by longhand on an A4 lined notepad for I find the slower pace of handwriting keeps up better with my steady creative thoughts and words. Sometimes they gush out and I write madly until my hand aches but it's all in a good cause. Getting those words down. For this current project, I've forced myself to list scenes and notes onto the computer and work from there. It's certainly quicker but if I hit a slow or dead spot - not sure how to proceed with the next scene etc. - then I will transfer to handwriting again and the words just come.

When I'm handwriting I become quite familiar with whiteout tape! I hate seeing all those scribbles and changes on the page so I blot them out and it's so much easier to read when it comes to me typing it all up into the computer. My current pen of choice is a Bic Pro. It's a 1.0 thickness and has a really smooth flow.
Of course, no matter how well the writing is or isn't going, there are always distractions. It's spring here in Australia and while it comes with the usual unsettled weather - warm and sunny one day, chilly and showery the next - those warmer days are such a temptation to be outdoors after winter. I'm half done on this current novel and hoping to keep going with it while I am in tropical Brisbane for the next few weeks for the birth of my latest grandson. Happy first draft writing everyone.