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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What do teens read about?

In most news sites, newspapers and blogs in the last few days, one reference keeps popping up - The Hunger Games. This book by Suzanne Collins has been around a while, but since Hollywood decided to take a peek inside the book, the game's changed seriously. We're talking mega-money and mega-fame for the author.

Articles have been written dissecting the moral lessons in the trilogy, calculating its entertainment value, and discussing the characterization. This post-apocalyptic vision of the world is disturbing. Me - I've never been a fan of dystopia.

Elsewhere, I read about a disconnect between today's teens and the novels of Judy Blume. At one time, this author's books flew off the shelves -she wrote about teenage angst, the weighty questions of life involving parents, God, sex, all the biggies in short.

One mother lamented that while she grew up reading Blume's novels, she did not think her daughter could connect with them. I suppose today's teens are more attracted to dystopian scenarios, vampires (remember 'Twilight'?), kids fighting to the death (this happens in 'The Hunger Games') et al.

What a sad commentary on our decade!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A New Story

The process of creating a new story is shrouded in mystery oftentimes. There is the germ of an idea in the beginning. This may take birth from an incident heard from a friend, an article in the newspaper, a memory, an impression, anything really.

Someone once told me, "Oh my, you're a writer, so perhaps I should be careful what I say around you. You may put it in a story!"

I can understand her concerns, but the fact is it's not that simple. A writer doesn't just relate straight facts. That's a journalist's job. I have 'been there, done that'. At J-school we were taught to stick to the facts and make sure our viewpoint did not colour the story. That is one kind of writing.

When I'm writing fiction, I have the creative license to imagine. I take the bare facts and start my embroidery. Some of it involves putting myself in my character's skin, and getting a feel of what he may think and feel. It's exciting because you get to be someone else. I imagine it must be something akin to what an actor feels when he performs. However improbable the situation my character is in, I feel a deep bond with him/her.

There is a certain slow pleasure in the writing of a story, which equals no other. At the moment I am finding myself in the skin of a 57 year old man!

Meanwhile, here's something to celebrate - read my interview published in this gentleman's blog:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Adventuring still

Marketing efforts for 'Threshold' ( ) still on. Day 2 of the promo offer on Amazon. So far, I'm satisfied with the results. Now, I'm no marketing expert, so it's a slow progress. Let me give you a recap of yesterday's results.

Since my free promo, downloads have shot up. My ranking on the Amazon Kindle store is steadily rising. I have one review so far. I don't want to turn this into a numbers game. But it feels good to know my book is in the hands of readers.

For a writer, being read is paramount (and not just by your spouse, sister in law or aunt). The opinions of total strangers who read and comment, hopefully constructively, is important to me. No one is in the writing business to make money unless they are JK Rowling or Patricia Cornwell or Mary Higgins Clarke.

Just the fact that readers can hear me, contemplate my point of view which I try to work into my stories, is enough to spur me on. This is a personal viewpoint of course. Some writers may disagree.

But for the time being, I'm happy being read and reviewed!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Promotions game

Writing a book is hard enough. But there's something harder - marketing and promoting it.

Before I got into the whole epublishing game, I had no idea how much work promoting my book would be.

With my two other traditionally published books, there was a publicist who mailed out free copies to reviewers, pointed out lists etc. Not that that was enough, but at least it was enough to feel that there is someone else who also has an vested interest in selling your book.

This time, for 'Threshold' my ebook of short stories ( the onus is completely on me.

So I'm learning and bumbling my way through online resources, offering my ebook free for a limited time, writing blog posts, begging for reviews from complete strangers, twittering like a demented bird, facebooking like there's no tomorrow.

Let's see how this actually translates into sales. It's early days yet, but I'm hopeful. My stories are good ones, offering a glimpse of other lives, other viewpoints....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Down the ebook road

I finally did it! After much hesitation, backtracking and agonizing, I decided to give it a shot. I'm talking about epublishing - what did you think?

After having 2 books published traditionally, it was hard to convince myself that epublishing a book was any less 'legitimate'. There are so many misconceptions about the whole business that separating grain from chaff took a lot of time. I did my research and found some amazing stats:
  • ebooks now comprise more than half of Amazon's sales,
  • big name writers have lent legitimacy to the enterprise (think Stephen King, Jodi Picoult etc),
  • traditional publishers are in dire straits as the economy dips,
  • Canadian libraries saw a 50% increase in their ebook title downloads last year.
This trend is clearly here to stay. I'm not getting left behind. I have a good story I want to share with my reader, I will.

I won't have to wait for 8 months to a year undertaking these steps till I turn into a nervous wreck: write up a proposal, chew my nails and pray that the acquisitions editor did not have a row with her partner, then write the book, get rejected, go through the whole process again...