Month: February 2011

Valentine Weather

So, I’m managing to make it through not only my first New England winter, but my first winter in five years. Winter in Sydney rarely drops below 60 Fahrenheit, so it doesn’t really warrant the name; you have to remember a light jacket and that’s about it. We had two months in the Himalaya at the end of 2009, and whilst that was cold at night (especially when camping) it was almost always warm during the day.
After leaving Sydney we were a month travelling around the California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona before spending a month in Orange County. Here we contemplated the wisdom of leaving sunny climates and crossing the continent to Boston as planned, but decided to stick with it.

For those who haven’t had to live through it, let me tell you that winter here is cold. On some days negative Fahrenheit cold. You don’t want to go outside. If you own a car you have to spend many a morning shovelling it out from under a snow bank (I’ve seen cars that have been left by their owners for two months beneath five foot of snow that’s only now melting). If you don’t own a car you’re at the whim of public transport and it’s own particular frailties regarding cold weather. Walking short distances can become challenging as the pavements alternate between clear, narrowed to single file by snow banks, treacherously icy or so impassable they force you to walk along the road at the mercy of passing traffic.

Those people who make such an effort with their appearance (and, on occasion, I’ve been known to be one) begin to give up totally, resigning themselves to anything that will keep them warm and which will withstand the punishment of endless waves of ice and slush. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in a pair of heels since Thanksgiving.
Today, however, brings the tantalizing promise of spring. The snow banks are getting visibly smaller. It’s over 50 Fahrenheit. My enormous Canada Goose jacket (to which I’m convinced I owe my life this winter) suddenly seems excessive. You can hear the city giving a collective sigh, as if we’d just made it through some enormous trial but could see it coming to an end.
Of course, it will be cold again tomorrow and it’s still only February, so there’ll be more snow yet to endure. But this is a welcome, brief flirtation. A gentle kiss from Spring. A Valentine’s gift from Summer, one all the more welcome for the neglect we’ve endured from her the past few months.
This may just be a quick post, but it’s a huge thank you to everyone who’s bought Stripped: Down to the Bone for the Kindle; it’s only been available for sale for a week and I never expected to get this sort of response, so thank you all.
It will be available for other eReaders soon, being out on the Nook next week and available through Apple, Borders and more shortly after.

I’m currently harassing my editor on an almost hourly basis (note: editors really don’t appreciate this) to get Part 2 ready for release and as soon as I have it, it will be going available.

When the three parts are all edited and released, we’ll be releasing a paperback version for all those of you who prefer more traditional reading formats.

What the Victorians can teach us about Digital Publishing

In the nineteenth century the publication of popular novels (and by this I mean both good novels that were popular and mass-market pulp fiction) was a process probably more similar to the way comic books are published now.
Not initially released as whole novels (the story from beginning to end, bound in one book, as we’re used to seeing them), they were serialised monthly, several chapters bound together, and sold at news stands. They even contained advertisements to cover the cost of distribution and generate more revenue for the writer.
Some of these would run for ten, twelve or twenty months, however long was necessary for the story to be told. The authors would be writing their stories during this publication process, not writing the complete novel and then releasing it piece by piece. When the book runs had finished, they would be re-published as a whole novel.
Some of these stories, the soap operas of their day, were endless titles that ran and ran until public interest waned and they were no longer profitable to produce.
Because this was a cheaper means of publication, and therefore available to a wider audience, it suffered somewhat from the stigma of being a means of hack writers shifting poor quality work to an indiscriminate audience. Charles Dickens released much of his work in this format, and in his early career (before his reputation was established) he suffered the snobbery of those who assumed that the distribution method reflected on the quality of the writing.
With digital publishing having firmly established itself in the past 12 months and, given the sale of eReaders over the Christmas period, seeming set to take a growing portion of the market, I think we have an opportunity for this Victorian model of publishing to thrive.
Of course, releasing a novel whilst you’re still writing it isn’t for everyone; writers of Dickens’ talent are few and far between and the majority of us couldn’t get away with it without writing ourselves into a dead end or creating glaring inconsistencies between the beginning and end of the novel. But that doesn’t mean that serial publication can’t be an option once a novel has been finished and edited.