Monday, 31 December 2012

Not Got an E-Reader Yet?

Yes, I'm back...

E-readers seem to have been a popular Christmas present again this year, but I think Christmas 2012 will have seen the biggest choice of devices available.

In the UK the choice has previously been Kindle or Sony- despite Sony readers having been available first, they couldn't compete with the Kindle once it became available to UK readers.

(You may even have taken to reading your e-books on your smart phone...)

But this year there's been an explosion of devices available from new e-readers to tablets.

Publishers have finally got their act together this year too.
You can buy e-books direct from many publisher now- the big mainstream publishers will likely cost more than you'd pay at Amazon, but buying direct from a small independent publisher is a great way of discovering new writers and supporting these important organisations too.

Tablet devices were selling well before Christmas, as they offered the practicality of reading books and being able to access the Internet (though you are paying a higher price).

In October I bought my kobo glo and I'm really happy with it. (It has much better battery life than the first generation Sony e-reader I had.) With the adjustable font and text size, along with the front light, it's great for reading in the car as daylight fades- I couldn't do that with my previous reader.

How do you choose the right e-reader for you if you're finally venturing into e-books? The answer is as usual, research.

Don't be put off by the variety of technology discussed on the TechRadar website, it has some interesting reviews on Tablet devices and e-readers, so type in the name of the device you're interested in finding out about in the search box and go from there.

There are lots of online reviews available, so compare views.

You can try out Kindles in Waterstones book stores, and Kobos in WH Smith's. In fact wherever e-readers (of whatever make) are sold instore you'll find them on display to try out. (Talking the UK here.)

This Christmas (over 3 days) I read 2.25 novels, and at least 10 previews of books I was interested in. It was lovely to spend Boxing Day curled up on the sofa reading - and my books didn't get bent or creased by something resting on top of them in my bag...

I do still buy paper books- just ask my family - but you can't beat e-books and readers for space saving. :-)

Happy New Year...

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Are You Ready for 2013?

Hope you had a good Christmas.

I'm slowly returning to some sort of normality, despite a cold that two members of the family had over Christmas and have now given to me; but the good news is I'm breathing okay and haven't developed a chest infection, so three cheers for my inhalers...

Actually I'm starting to get itchy fingers. I want to get back to the novella, but the family are all at home, and there's little peace and quiet, so I'll be catching up on a few outstanding tasks meanwhile- why does everything that needs you to do something, or ring up, arrive on Christmas Eve when it's too late?

At least I'll be able to get straight to work when they do go back to their normal routine.

I intend to try out a few different strategies in 2013 to attempt to get more writing done.

So strategy 1: Stop procrastinating and write 100-500 words minimum each week- if I do more, great. It may not seem much, but it's setting myself a better routine.

As I haven't thought of a second strategy yet, the first one better work... :-)

I've also realised that my sense of what day of the week it actually is, will have returned by then!

I'm writing this Sunday evening, but I keep thinking it's Saturday- probably because the usual weekend tv programmes aren't necessarily on...

Hope 2012 was a good year for you. But if it wasn't, I hope you have better times in 2013.

Friday, 21 December 2012

A Few Important Reminders That Pay You...

This will be my last blog post for a week, I'm taking some time-off to recharge my batteries and catch up with some reading- as well as sorting presents and organising food for the hungry horde (my OH and growing children- if only they would stop growing :-) ).

Before you finish for the year you might want to make sure that you've added everything you need to add to your ALCS (Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society) page. You'll find some of the available downloads useful. And best of all if you have any qualifying work it will eventually mean you'll get payments.

A big thank you to writer Vivian Hampshire who mentioned DACS on the Talkback forum.

This is similar to ALCS but for visual artists- and if you're a writer who has had your photos or artwork used in a UK magazine, in books, or broadcast on certain TV channels, then you may be eligible for future payments.

You have to claim each year, and it's too late for 2012's Payback, but it will relaunch in summer 2013, so if you're eligible sign up now ready for next year.

So remember:

  "If you are a photographer, illustrator, sculptor, cartoonist, fine artist, animator, architect, designer or craftsperson, and your work has been reproduced in UK publications or on UK television, you can claim your royalties due."

So find out more here.

Don't forget PLR (Public Lending Rights), register your print books there- do it by the end of June each year.

E-books currently don't qualify for payment, but I was told by the Licencing section of the ALCS this week to submit the details so they were on record; even very short stories in anthologies qualify.

Who knows, if there's enough presence of e-books, and library lending of e-books becomes more widely available, it may help the case for future payments- it's been recommended that library loans for e-books should get PLR, but it's not been put into action yet.

Merry Christmas...

image courtesy of digitalart/

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

It's the Office Party-Welcome to My Christmas Past...

As mentioned yesterday, today is the Office Party for all of us who are the only people in the office...

So to my little piece about Christmas- don't worry, I can't access the old photo of me sat on Santa's knee (I was only 5 years old :-) ).

But that did get me thinking about Christmas in the 60's compared to Christmas now.

In fact there was one special day every Christmas when I was little that told me Christmas was on its way. We lived an hour from London (by train) and the adventure started the moment we came out of Charring Cross Station.

Across in Trafalgar Square the big tree would be covered in lights- not on during the daylight of course.

We take for granted that the streets will be decorated with coloured lights in fantastic designs, but when I was little that was a rarity outside of the big cities. But I did get to see the Christmas lights in Regents Street every year.
Christmas Lights
The lights were strung from one side of the street to the other like a bejewelled necklace; and I remember walking along gazing up in delight at the stars and curls of light that filled me with absolute wonder.

There would always be a visit to look around Hamley's. We couldn't afford to buy anything, but it was a joy to see the toys out
and to my imagination at six I thought that this must be what Santa's workshop looked like...

Our next stop would be to look at the different window displays at Selfridges. The big windows were filled with Christmas montages...

As the daylight faded we would walk back along the streets now lit up to full effect in the darkness.

The day would finish off with a trip to the Panto at the London Palladium. I remember seeing Tommy Steele as Dick Whittington, and I've vague recollections of Jack and the Beanstalk too.

One year it was Cilla Black playing Aladdin...

Having found a link about the pantomimes held at the Palladium, I've just realised how many 'names' I saw as a child...This makes interesting reading.

When the panto was over we'd wander back to Trafalgar Square, look at the Christmas tree lights one last time, then go across to the station to get our train home. I certainly slept at the end of the day, dreaming of all the wonderful things I'd seen...

Snowman design courtesy of Feelart/
Christmas Banner courtesy of Simon Howden/

Monday, 17 December 2012

A Week to Go...

Okay, it's 7 days to Christmas Eve...

Every year I promise I'll get my cards written and posted off before the deadline for 2nd Class postage (it's the 18th in case you didn't know it). And of course I've still got to do them, and write a few letters to go inside them.

I did consider doing a round-robin letter, but I know a lot of people absolutely hate them, so that time-saver is out.

A Jolly Holly Christmas
There's still presents to finish getting- small bits and pieces- so that's scheduled for later in the week.

Construction work is underway at home- though it's outside this time. My OH has a few days off this week, so he's assisting one of our sons in making a new side gate.

I will be passing the stiff broom to them to sweep up the chiseled out wood bits... :-)

Sadly winter bugs have invaded the house, with another son feeling ill today, he couldn't even face the trip to college...Just as long as he doesn't pass the lurgy onto me.

Another was partying today with his class mates- he took a large bag of mixed variety crisp packets with him this morning.

I'm finalising my choices of e-books to buy and download ready for the holidays. It will probably be busy Christmas day, with the big advertising push for e-readers and tablets.

Tomorrow- TUESDAY- you can join in with Sally Quilford's Office Party - read about it here.

We do miss out by working from home, so tomorrow put on your party hat and join in.

I'll be a little late as I have things to do first, but I'll be there at some point with my blog post. :-)

See you tomorrow.

'Holly' image courtesy of SusieB/

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Winding Down for Christmas is Not Easy...

Only 13 days to go to Christmas Day...
One Day...
(created by and copyright Dane Bevitt)

I thought it would all get easier now my children had finished school: no more Christmas Concerts to attend; no Christmas card lists with the name and class number on the front of the envelope; small thank you gift to the class teacher...

This month I've already attended one progress evening at college for one of my younger three- so had to give up going to the belly dancing Hafla as they were taking place at the same time...

Got through awards night at Nottingham Writers' Club; performed my first solo belly dance in front of an audience- and a repeat performance for next year has been requested... gulp! :D
(If you missed the pictures in my earlier post- I didn't have them available when I did the post, so they were added later- here is one of them.)

At least I was smiling...
 A few posts back I reviewed my writing year. Though I hadn't set myself any targets for 2013 at that stage.

Well I've thought about it...

The only fixed target I have set myself, is to complete my Nottinghamshire novella 'After the Storm'.

As I've discovered in the past two years, 'real life' can throw all your plans out.

I'll be open to entering competitions, trying out different genres, and any opportunities that come my way to promote myself and my writing- can't be a wallflower in the publishing world today!

I will be creating a website for my alter-ego, Serena Lake. But in the meantime any news will be on Serena's page at the top of the screen (just click on the tab).

There will be a few posts yet before I shut down for Christmas.

Hope you like the little animation that one of my sons created for me last year (with limited programmes). I didn't use it then, so I'm adding it now.

Now where did I put the wrapping paper...? :D

Monday, 10 December 2012

Books I've Been Previewing...

I have to admit that at this time of year I do tend to procrastinate more than usual...

Really I shouldn't as I have a lot to get organised still.
Christmas cards and letters to send; presents to wrap and label; and stocking up the freezer.

On the literary front I'm reading some previews of books that I downloaded onto my Kobo glo.

Previews are a great idea as you can try out an author you've never read before, or there's a book that's all the rage and you're not sure about it.

I've even decided to give new books by my favourite author a miss because they've not grabbed me with the preview...

I will be buying the full version of a few of the books I've previewed so far.

I've been trying to broaden my range of reading matter, so want to use Christmas as a catch up on my reading spell.

So here's a few of the books I've been previewing:

'The Casual Vacancy' by J.K.Rowling- the opening is promising, but the seemingly most interesting character drops dead at the beginning, and the others that we're then introduced to just bored me- they were selfish/irritating individuals. And I kept wondering how long it was going to be before something interesting happened- actually another character dropping dead might have been good, but I couldn't be bothered to buy the book to find out- I gave up before the end of the preview!

That's probably a deficiency on my part, not JKR's writing. I had no complaint about her characterisation; perhaps it was just her narrative style I disliked...

'Life, Death and Vanilla Slices' by Jenny Eclair- now I find her comedy very funny. She is a grumpy old woman in a fun way. Women of a certain age, or state of mind will recognise so much she says...

As individual chapters they were good, and if the book had followed through from the first character who had just bought the vanilla slice of the title, before her accident, and not then gone on to telling us about yet another character, I probably would have bought it.

I know stories that aren't linear can work, but again, I don't think I have the patience to wait around to find out how the different women connect together- if they do...

I can deal with stories that are going along, but then, with a flashback take the story back in time for quite a while, before coming back to the present.

I will be buying Sue Moorcroft's 'Want to Know a Secret'- When the lead character, Diane's happy life becomes unsettled; suddenly learning about a few things her husband has been keeping quiet about, but only after he has had a serious helicopter crash.
I got to the end of the preview and immediately wanted to know what happens next...

If you read e-books, do you find the preview facility useful?

And have you bought a book because of a preview that you wouldn't have bought otherwise?

Do please share your experiences of e-book previews...

Saturday, 8 December 2012

A Mention in Writing Magazine...

Just a quick mention.

In the January 2013 issue of Writing Magazine (on sale from 7th December) there is a two page article about the background to the creation of the One Word Anthology (p28-29).

Along the bottom of the pages, there are photos of many of the writers who have stories and poems in the anthology. I'm there too.

It's been good to put faces to names at last, as many of the writers are only known by their forum name. :-)

If you haven't bought a copy of the e-book yet, you can still do so. Either click on the image in the side panel of my blog- it links to the book on, or you can find it on Amazon and Smashwords.

It's only 99p on Amazon and Alfiedog. And for the number of stories and poems you get in it covering a variety of genres, it's great value.

It's both light and dark, so something for everyone...

Weekend Catch-Up and Belly Dancing...

Yes, I know this post is very late...

(Update: The photos of me belly dancing are at the bottom of this post.)

Wednesday was Awards Night at Nottingham Writers Club, and for the first half hour I was standing up front and announcing the presentations- one of the responsibilities of being the current Chairman- no sitting back with a glass of wine, or other alcoholic/non-alcoholic refreshment and relaxing...

There weren't as many trophies as in past year's- a couple of the

Awards Night Trophies, Two of the trophies awarded for Nottingham Writers' Club annual competitions
A few of the NWC annual trophies
competitions sadly didn't run, as not enough entries were received.

Some years that happens, and it's a disappointment, but hopefully next year those trophies will be presented.

I'm sure that most writers would have no problem when the subject is open, but it can be much harder when you have to fit it to a specific age (as with children's books) or a set theme.

Blogger and NWC member Keith Havers was the worthy winner of three trophies, including Writer of the Year. You can read his blog here.

Wednesday afternoon I was actually writing a 500 word flash fiction on the theme of 'a Christmas visit' that needed to be handed in to the competition Secretary that evening.

By the end of my story I had my usual issue of realising that I'd just written a scene from a much bigger story. So I don't expect it to do well.

Last December I promised I would do a party piece this year- some belly dancing. I kept my promise, and I will release the photographic evidence as soon as a copy of the photo arrives in my inbox from the club photographer. I only danced for a few minutes... :D

Otherwise the audience were royally entertained by a number of recitations, from the club president and two club members- both serious and fun pieces. And our newest member, Kate, read out the poem she'd been inspired to write during the merriment. Which proves inspiration truly does come from everywhere...

Enjoying the dance

I was going for the Christmas glitter look

and the flowing sleeves to waft about when my arms were

Below left: striking a pose...

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Writing World This Week...

Looking at the current book/magazine related news does seem to be popular, so I thought I'd start the week with bringing you a few snippets.

Easy Reads/My Weekly Pocket Novels- look out for more changes in this market. Sally Quilford has an update on her blog today- here. It seems the new Easy Reads are not continuing, but it doesn't appear that everything is going in reverse.

(This news may actually work for both the magazine readers and writers.)

Perhaps the changes that were made were too big. Especially in the current book and magazine markets where everyone is competing, trying to keep costs down and attract new readers. Regular readers can get forgotten about.

Kindle Book Pricing - came across an interesting couple of blog posts that will interest writers who are putting their work on Amazon's Kindle.

Do you have to keep your selling price low to get sales?

The Luzme blog looked at the top 30 Kindle best sellers and compared to there lowest price the previous week. See this post here.

Today's Luzme post looks at the paper copies and cost. Read it here. You will certainly understand why publishers seem to be having pricing issues of solid books vs e-books.

Don't forget VAT is charged on e-books, and not on solid books.

Which leads into a brief mention about e-book VAT  challenges on the Bookseller. Following up a few links I found an article from late October that sets out the consequences if the challenge to the UK's HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs service) succeeds- solid books may cost more.
Read the article here.

I'm sure that's enough to be going on with for now. :-)