Name Your Fave: E-Read or Hard Copy?

Hi friends,

I’m still so psyched about the NY Giants’ incredible run toward the NFC Championship. Working on a related post for later this week or next!

We were supposed to be talking about discipline vs. control with kids this week, but that dinky little post morphed into two and is now a five-part series. I’ll most likely start running it next week, once I feel each piece is ready to go to (Word)press. 😉

In the meantime, I’ve had a little over a year to consider myself an official user of an e-reader and thought I’d share my thoughts on some of the pros and cons.

As I’m sure you know, this awesome little device–in its many forms–is here to stay. Chances are, many of you recently acquired one right around that last week of December. That’s when my Nook Color sneaked its way into my happy little hands—last year, among hubby’s gifts. (Check out this year’s favorite here, then come right back now, y’hear?)

 bn.com

Yay! You didn’t get sidetracked! Back to e-readers, tablets or whatever device on which you choose to read. And yes, for our purposes, Kindle and Nook apps count. Like others before me, I want to lay out what I find advantageous about reading digital versus holding that print book in my hand. I’ve found disadvantages to the former, and I’ll cover those as well.)

We’ll begin with print books, probably simpler and more straightforward on both the negative and positive sides. The biggest advantage as far as I’m concerned, I can read my story from beginning to end without distractions (to be discussed below). I can mark up my copy any way I want, and use the notes for future reference. (Recently, I bought very colorful post-it notes and used those to mark pages/passages in a suspense to help me construct my own. My plan is to lay out the post-its in a notebook or on posterboard and substitute story ideas of my own. I figure then I can move these around as needed to get a first draft ‘outline’ together.)

Biggest disadvantage to print book: the ones I love are taking up too much space in my house (and gathering dust, unfortunately). At least others have made their way into a donation box.

E-readers/tablets:

Biggest disadvantage (for those of us who are DBD, or Distracted by Dust): distractions!!!! Other books, the internet, email, social media, blogs, shopping for more e-books, games, crossword puzzles, etc. (I believe this is significantly less with Amazon’s original Kindle and Sony’s dedicated device.)

Advantages: Love being able to look up information as I read—these can be word definitions or articles related to background information relative to the plot or time during which the story takes place (i.e., currently reading a romance set against medieval times; words for garments, weapons, tools, etc are unfamiliar. If the built-in dictionary isn’t helpful, Google is one touch away, assuming wi-fi is on).

I can highlight great prose or take notes on the story, note typos to inform the author, etc; these are auto-organized by page and ready to be viewed with another touch.

Virtual storage rocks! Eight gigabytes of space are on the Nook Color; this can expand to up to 32 GB via a memory card. I can also store the files on my computer and Barnes and Noble houses all my purchases in their virtual library. I can’t ever lose any book I bought via their website. (No dust bunnies anywhere, either!)

Viewing my work on a screen other than the laptop’s and not being able to mess with it while reading for flow. I save the file as PDF—just scrolls better for some reason—and just read. (I did, however, take extensive handwritten notes on a last re-read of a current manuscript, then went back into the Word-file and made those changes one at a time. Found a whole ‘nother level of the story that way. Now, the most recent version is in PDF and cooling a little before I upload it to my reading device.

I can share my work with others without having to print two hundred pages or so. Saves me $$ and spares the environment the extra paper, ink cartridges, etc that otherwise might have wound up in landfills. (Even recycling has its disadvantages in the energy needed for the chemical processes involved. I also learned the hard way that refilling ink cartridges at my local drugstore was a recipe for destroying my printer in the long run—which turned out to be less than a year.)

The cost of e-books is often significantly less than the cost of a print book (though not always the case).

E-books have created apparently infinite opportunities for writers and authors to indie- and/or self-publish works that might have otherwise virtually rotted on their hard drives.

So where does your favor lie? On the print pages or with virtual ink?

Have a great day and ttys,

Joanna

Call Me Aphrodite…er…C.R. Wills

I happened on this gentleman when I came across his article, Designing Characters Using Mind Maps at SellingBooks.com. I very much liked the graphic organizer he used, commented on it and invited him to be a guest. So today, as part of Wednesday’s craft and/or author days, I present to you young adult author Christopher Wills, writing as C. R. Wills.

       

Welcome, Chris! Tell us a bit about yourself:

I wrote my first book, Call me Aphrodite, about a teenager who ran away from home and ends up in London having lost her memory. It has some uncomfortable scenes in it so although I say it’s YA it’s more A than Y. I used to be a teacher of 13 – 19 year olds in a good Roman Catholic school and I got the story from seeing a pupil disappear. I asked her friends where she was and was told she’s run away to London. l ended up reading a report on the Barnardo’s website (a British charity that looks after children who have had a tough time). The report was about child prostitution in London and my story was born. It was a story I felt I had to write.

I designed the cover myself because I wanted to do it all myself, probably more ego than sense… I’m going to get a professional to design my next cover.

My current book is much lighter, it’s a YA ghost story (Okay, it’s my Harry Potter genre attempt). It’s definitely Y and not so much A. I wrote it during 2009’s National Novel Writer’s Month (a.k.a., NaNoWriMo, which runs every November) in  and I’m now editing it. I love NaNoWriMo.

I give you so much credit for NaNoWriMo, Chris. Never had the discipline to take that on. And you go on to prove that time very well spent, as all of the books you mention in this article appear to be products of NaNoWriMo. Tell us about other aspects of your life.

I have been a soldier in the ranks, a sailor as an officer and a teacher of Physics and Math. I have three degrees, A BS in Electronics, an MBA and an MA in Creative and Critical Writing. Currently I work for air traffic control in the UK as a technical author. I have just started my three year plan to become a full time fiction author. The ebook revolution may (hopefully) speed things up.

I am a positive person myself and I love the positivity I get from your blog. No negative karma there.

I so thank you! These are the moments one is so happy to be putting oneself out there to the world. J

What do love best about writing?

I am happy to be left alone, so I love the solitude of writing and being in the world I have created.  (I can so relate; must be a writer-thing.) It’s as good as reading. Also I love problem solving because when I write I create problems for myself that I need to solve. Sometimes it would be easier to ignore the problem and write around it, but I can’t do that.

A good example is in the book I am writing at the moment. It’s a paranormal about a 15-year-old girl who becomes a ghost after a road accident. It’s an adventure about her looking for her dad who passed away when she was young. She believes he will also be a ghost so she sets off to find him.

Unfortunately one of my previous incarnations was as a Physics teacher and I am used to asking and answering silly questions. Of course I had to start asking myself questions like, “How can a ghost walk through a wall but not fall through the floor?” (Great question!) And, “If a ghost is invisible how come her clothes are invisible too?” (Why would a ghost wear clothes, lol?) When I was a teacher these are exactly the kind of questions I was faced with every day, not that ghost studies was on the curriculum. This was the part of teaching I loved: taking knowledge the pupil has and accepts, and using it to get them to understand something they don’t understand.

What do you like least?

Nothing. I am currently a technical author so I write engineering manuals all day and I enjoy that. If pushed I would say I get frustrated when I see a piece of writing that I think I could improve but the author thinks otherwise. I run a creative writing group and I often get to read and constructively advise others.

What keeps you writing?

The need to justify to myself that I am a writer. I have friends who paint and knit and take photographs in their spare time and they all have output to show as a result of their efforts. I want to have a shelf full of books and be able to say, ‘I wrote them’.

Where do you get story and character ideas?

I may have made myself creative by reading and writing a lot. Also I draw mind maps and other types of diagrams, which I think are amazing ways to stimulate you. There is no such thing as, I can’t draw; scribbling and doodling is drawing; just doodle to a theme or to a question and you will stimulate your brain. (I like that perspective.)

Ideas are floating all around us like word clouds. When I need an idea I pluck a cloud from the air, unravel it and copy down the words or phrases I find useful, then I scrunch them back together into a cloud and throw it up in the air so somebody else can use them. (Interesting image.)

Talk about current, past and future projects, upcoming releases, maybe your ‘dream novel’?

I have more ideas for novels than I could possibly write in a lifetime. My ghost book is my current project. It’s my Harry Potter replacement attempt. I’m sure everyone’s tried it, although, maybe I should be trying to emulate Amanda Hocking. I don’t think I could write in her field so her crown is safe. (She’s done amazingly well and now a full-time writer herself, proving, it can happen.)

Please tell our readers how you juggle work, time to write and all that goes along with it (i.e., promo, etc).

Although I have been writing for years it has been haphazard, and only this year have I started to treat it more formally in a business sense. I completed nanowrimo in 2003, 2008 and 2009. My recently self-published novel, ‘Call me Aphrodite’ was my 2003 NaNoWriMo project. The ghost novel I am currently working on is my 2009 NaNoWriMo. I plan to do it every year because it gives me 50,000+ words of editable text, which for me is about 2/3 of a novel.

I was inspired by reading J A Konrath’s blog, that now is the time of the independent self published e-book writer. I realized I had to get into a schedule if I wanted to join in. So this year I decided to get up at 0500 and do an hour’s writing Monday to Friday. It’s an hour earlier than I normally get up, so I try to go to bed an hour earlier and often it means I fall asleep in my chair in the evening for twenty minutes but that’s okay. I used to try and write in the evening but I was always mentally tired after work so it was difficult. It works. I love my hour of quiet in the morning. My mind is fresh and I can write uninterrupted. Wonderful. (I can so relate about the magic of that quiet time. That’s probably my biggest challenge these days: too much activity in my home for too many hours of the day.)

Please share the three ways you find most effective to promote your work!

This is my weak point. Everyone says one must blog and tweet, which I do, but I wonder how many book readers buy books on the strength of blogs and tweets. I have a feeling it’s a bit like selling lemonade from a table outside your house; it’s not exactly Walmart or Barnes and Noble. I am currently learning about tagging which I think can help.

Tagging has me a little confused but we’ll be exploring that topic next Wednesday, when the bloglight will again be all yours, Chris. Until then, please feel free to check out Chris’ very cool blog as well as his books. And, as per Chris’ request, should any of you happen on Call Me Aphrodite at Amazon he’d appreciate a tag or two. Here are the links:

     Call me Aphrodite is available here.

Here’s a blurb (very intriguing!) Aged 13 and alone in London, Aphrodite has lost her memory. She desperately wants to know who she is, but the more she learns, the more she becomes afraid to learn.

Call me Aphrodite is the story of a 13 year old girl, dragged from the river Thames by Leon a young boy who lives with his prostitute sister. She calls herself Aphrodite because she can’t even remember her own name. What dark secrets are behind the locked doors inside her head? What is her mind trying to protect her from?

As she struggles to forge a new life for herself, she is forced into the dangerous world of under-aged prostitution by a collection of twisted characters that both terrify and fascinate her. Then one traumatic night a shocking event smashes through the barriers in her mind, and the real horror of what she has gone through in her past is revealed to her. Aphrodite has paid a terrible price to regain her memory. What can she do next?

She can’t change her past. Can she change her future? To read more, click here.


Chris’ post on using mindmaps for creating characters is here! (Worth a look, I promise!)

Thanks so much, Chris, for stopping by and giving us the opportunity to know you as well as sharing some of the knowledge you’ve gained on your writing journey to date. See you next Wednesday!

And thanks to all of you who stopped in today. Don’t forget to drop by on Friday. I’ve got a special post lined up in honor of my wedding anniversary. See you then!

Joanna