Saturday 28 January 2012

How has the e-book changed being a reader and an unpublished writer?

Would you buy both a paperback and the e-book?
I finished reading the first book I downloaded on my new Kindle last week ('We Had It So Good' by Linda Grant which was beautifully written and thought-provoking). There are some books which I like to keep on a bookcase in the living room because I've enjoyed them.  I could see myself buying the paperback version of a book I've read on Kindle for this reason. Vice versa I can imagine starting a paperback and downloading the Kindle version so that I can take it when travelling.
Borrowing and Lending books:
The paperback copy of 'The Help' which I read was lent to me by a neighbour. When I searched on the internet I was surprised to find that some e-books can be lent to a friend for 14 days. On Amazon it says that the eligibility for lending is decided by the publisher or the rights holder. If an e-book can be lent to someone it will say Product: Lendable in the Product Details. Click here for information
I also found out that it's possible to download an e-book from Surrey libraries and keep it for two weeks before it disappears from the e-reader. Click here for more information
Unpublished Writer:
I've e-mailed the manuscript ("MS") of my novel, 'The Grandson' to my Kindle [i] and read the whole book for the first time since August last year. As a writer it's the closest my book is going to get to being real without it being published. On a Kindle it's easy to pick up typos which would be missed when reading on a computer screen.  If I want to refer to a Work in Progress when writing in a café, I no longer need to lug parts of  it around with me. Also I can e-mail a copy of my MS to writing friends who are proofreading it and they can e-mail theirs to me. This saves on the cost of paper, printer ink and sometimes postage. Notes can also be made on a Kindle.
As a writer who wants to be published it's comforting to know that if I can't find an agent, there is the option to self-publish on Kindle.

[i]. A word document can be e-mailed to a address found in Manage Your Kindle/ Personal Document Settings when signing into
I'd be interested to read your comments on e-books, Kindle or anything else relating to this post.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

What would a writer do without Wikipedia?

When I was at university in the early 1990s we were given a list of books to use as research for our essays at the beginning of term. There would usually only be one or two copies of each book in the university library. Sometimes it was impossible to get hold of the book we needed.

Now we have the internet which has changed everything.

I've been writing Book 2 this week and I'm still unsure about certain aspects of the plot. Unable to decide on what object the heroine would find in her gran's loft at the beginning of the story, I searched Wikipedia for information on the options I had in mind and quickly made my decision.

When I was revising my latest draft of Book 1, 'The Grandson' last summer I used Wikipedia. I was rewriting a scene set in New York where the hero and heroine are reunited. I needed to know details about the Chrysler building, The Rockefeller Center and The Empire State Building. Within seconds Wikipedia told me what I needed to know and I switched between Wikipedia and Word whilst adding the final touches. Of course there are other sources of information on the internet but Wikipedia is great for giving the basic details about anything. I even looked up different types of pine trees once to find out where they grow and when they produce pine cones to help with a scene set by the sea in Italy during late August.

I'd be interested to know if you use Wikipedia for research or if you have any other comments.

Thursday 5 January 2012

My Writing Bookcase

I got a bookcase for my writing stuff last year. It fits nicely behind a door upstairs and it's crammed with the following:
·         Scrapbooks filled with pictures taken from magazines - to get to know characters
·         Newspaper and magazine cuttings - interesting articles which could inspire stories or articles relevant to my book (eg. Obituaries are useful for WW2 research)
·         Novels which inspire me: Anne Tyler and Louis de Bernières for beautiful language, David Mitchell for structure in 'Cloud Atlas', Jane Austen, E.M.Forster etc...
·         'How to' books and reference books such as Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2012, Dictionary and Thesaurus
·         Research notes and printouts from the internet
·         Books read for research - travel writing from Italy, non-fiction books about Italy, books about WW2 in Italy and in the U.K., novels set in Italy (Anthony Capella), novels set in the U.S. about Italian-Americans (Adriana Trigiani)
·         Novels read to see which market my novel fits into.
·         Photographs of Siena
·         Guidebooks and maps of Siena, Venice and New York City
·         A CD of the opera Tosca by Puccini used for researching a scene
·         Exercise books and small notebooks filled with random ideas.
·         A4 exercise books filled with scene plans and first drafts of scenes written in cafés
·         Notes from writing classes and conferences
·         and much more...
I've collected all of this over the past few years, using the information to help complete my novel and to research submitting to agents.
I thought I'd write a series of blog posts about things from my writing bookcase. This week I'm going to write about using a scrapbook to get to know characters.
When I made a scrapbook for the characters in 'The Grandson', they came to life and I need to make one for Book 2. Pictures of scenes, clothes, objects and even words can be used to help make a character real.
Here are a few cut-outs from my scrapbook:
Jessica is the heroine
A picture of a farmhouse kitchen - Jessica's home in Yorkshire
Clothes and accessories which Jessica would wear/carry
A picture of diamond earrings - Jessica is accused of stealing her boss, Isabella's diamond earrings in Act 2. Jessica finds out who really took them when she goes to see the opera, Tosca in a Tuscan hilltown with Alessandro.
Gabriella is the hero, Alessandro's girlfriend-on hold - an antagonist.
The word 'married' - her goal is to marry Alessandro
Pictures of scales, a running machine and trainers - she exercises a lot
Pictures of a pushchair, a highchair and a babygrow - she gets pregnant
Photo of  a Mustang - she borrows her father's car, it breaks down and she asks old schoolfriend, Frank to repair it at the garage where he works. She has a fling with Frank which impacts the main plot.
Harriet is Jessica's confidante.
Picture of houses in London - She is the opposite of Jessica, being from South Kensington in London. She is from the South of the U.K. and is wealthy.
Picture of china cups with tea - Harriet would insist on a cup of tea being made with the milk being added last.
Running machine - Harriet goes running every day and is very slim.

I'd be interested to know if you've used a scrapbook in the same way or if you have any other comments.