The Winds of Change, or Where the Book Industry is Headed

“Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.” -Christina Baldwin

It is said that change is inevitable; that is causes us to adapt, grow, alter our perceptions and habits. The writing and publishing industry is certainly changing a lot these days. many of my authorial friends have commented on it in their blogs, on social media posts, etc. With the advent and rise of the digital book, the way we buy and read has forever been altered. This in many ways is a good thing, as it allows more readers access to more written works, in a faster more easily stored format than the traditional print book.

I foresaw this revolution coming, and in fact twenty years ago I thought about how wonderful it would be to be able to store all your favorite books in a small, lightweight device. I was inspired from reading Douglas Adams‘  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in which one of the main characters, Ford Prefect, an alien from the planet Betelgeuse, has an electronic guide-book that he carries with him everywhere allowing him to access an enormous amount of information from a device the size of a thin trade paperback.  At the time I was in college and hauling around 40 pounds of textbooks in a backpack 5 days a week led me to think there must be a better way to carry around a lot of books. I thought that electronic textbooks as well as being able to store fiction books so that you could have them at your fingertips at any time sounded like a great idea. I tend to like taking a few books with me when I am traveling, always wanting  a variety of things to read at my disposal. I should have run with this train of thought back in 1990-’91 and invent the electronic book, or at least applied for a patent. I’d be filthy rich by now. But I never pursued it at the time I guess because I knew the technology wasn’t ready for such a device. That and I was a bit of a slacker back then and I guess I thought trying to invent something like that way before it’s time would have been way too much work. Slaps forehead. Okay, I was an idiot.

Anyway, with the recent news of E-Book sales supposedly overtaking print book sales, (although there are many who think the actual numbers may be skewed) I thought I should bring it up. I do own a few E-books and will be buying many more, even though I still love to collect print books. I have 14 bookcases full and more books in boxes that I don’t have room for, so buying books in electronic format makes damn good sense at this point. I don’t foresee stopping buying print books however. I will always enjoy the feel of a real book in my hands, the smell and texture of the paper,  the way they look on the shelves in my home. But At least I have the option for now. Maybe print books will disappear completely in the far future. I like to think they won’t go away altogether, that you could still have books available even if only as print on demand if not in bookstores. And I’d like to think that used bookstores would still be around, for those eccentric collectors like myself who like to browse amongst aisles of books, the scent of old paper, glue and bindings in the air. And certainly I hope we never see print books in libraries go away, although they will be delving more and more into the electronic book format like the book sales industry is doing. Maybe someday print book libraries will be like “book museums”, where you can go and see what books were like back in “the good old days” before electronic books took over the world of the written word. At any rate, in whatever format they are in, reading books will hopefully always be a part of our existence. As a reader and a writer, I certainly hope so. I think they will be. Mankind has and always will crave learning through reading the written word.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” -Charles Eliot
 
“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.” -Henry David Thoreau
 
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Published in: on May 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Writing in Hell or How to Sell Your Soul for Fortune and Fame

“Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”- Mark Twain

About a year ago I was in rather dire straits financially and emotionally. I wasn’t happy in my job, and desperately wanted to get my writing career going, but was very frustrated at the process of breaking into the literary world of published authors.  At one point I joked that maybe it was “time to make a deal with The Devil.”  Little did I know that a few months later I would be asked to write stories for the shared world anthology series, Heroes in Hell. Coincidence?  I think not. Maybe it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Maybe it was just luck. The devil’s own luck, some would say. Many of us authors involved in writing for the series have kidded around that we must have all sold our souls to one of the series’ recurring and prominent characters, His Satanic Majesty, or HSM. But then most writers agree that they probably already did that years ago, and being a writer is torturous payback enough for our mis-deeds in life.

“The hell to be endured hereafter, of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioned our characters in the wrong way.”  -William James
 
Seriously though, almost every author wants to reach a level of success and wealth that will ensure they can support themselves by their writing alone, and make a comfortable existence for themselves. And most will do whatever it takes to reach that goal. These days it means not just writing and publishing as much material as possible, but promoting your work as well. Fewer and fewer authors are relying on paying agents a cut of their money to do what they can do themselves. And more and more authors are publishing under small presses, E-Presses or publishing their writing themselves and no longer need to rely on an agent to sell and promote their work.
That being said, here is my shameless plug for the book in which my first published story is featured:
 
 
 Lawyers in Hell (c) 2011 Janet Morris will be published July 2011. I hope you will join me on a little trip to Hell this Summer.

“Listen; there’s a hell of a good universe next door: let’s go.”
-E. E. Cummings

 
Published in: on May 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm  Comments (1)  
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Free Your Mind, or The Zen of Writing

“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders”-Taoist saying.

     Anyone who knows me pretty well, knows that I have a love for Taoist philosophy and Zen Buddhism. I try to live my life by own personal mantra: “Go with the Flow” as much as possible. How does this translate into my writing? I was recently told by my good friend and writing mentor, Amanda Green, that I should just let the story flow out of me when I am writing, and try not to over think what I am putting down on paper or the computer screen until it is finished. By starting and stopping constantly, I take myself out of the moment and lose the feeling and sense of the story, the voice of the character, and the result is the finished product reads choppy and dry. I tend to want to revise and fix things as I go along, and it has been one of the greatest stumbling blocks to being able to publish my writing. I get myself in constant editor’s mode, and never finish the damned story, book, article, whatever it is I am working on at the time. 

 “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self conscious, and anything self conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” -Ray Bradbury

     The other aspect of freeing your mind while writing, is to not censor yourself while in the creative process. Sometimes thoughts or ideas come to you through the character, and you think to yourself; “where the hell did that come from?” Just accept it and leave it be, until the story is finished and then you can always go back later and determine if it fit the character, or story. Sometimes I have “channeled” a character so well that I feel like they are speaking through me, taking over my thoughts. It can be frightening if you are not used to it, or unwilling to accept it. I have heard other writers admit to the same experience, feeling as though the character was possessing the author for a time.  I’ve been doing it for so long, I usually don’t question it, I just let it happen. Let yourself go, and embrace the moment of inspiration.

   “Only in the present do things happen”-Jorge Luis Borges

 

    

 

Published in: on May 7, 2011 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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