Thursday, 19 August 2010

Do You Know What's in Your Character's Fridge?

Stumbled across this great photography project: You Are What You Eat.

It is a selection of photographs of people's fridges. The captions tell us about the owners. You can tell quite a bit about lifestyles from these photographs.

For example, this is the contents of a 1-person household. The owner was a World War II prisoner of war. He has a well-stocked fridge, which even includes cans of food. Make me wonder if he now has a fear of hunger, and makes sure his food supply is always well-stocked with long-lasting products in case of emergency.

The caption for this photo is: "Short Order Cook | Marathon,TX | 2-Person Household | She can bench press over 300lbs. | 2007". I'm mostly wondering why the hell there is a snake in her freezer (top right).

Anyway, food for thought. How well do you know your characters? What would they have in their fridge?

Monday, 16 August 2010

New-Fangled eReaders: The Growing Appeal

This is the age of technology. Didn't you get the memo? Paper is so last decade.

But despite my general excitement about most advances in technology (usually paired with a subconscious sense of impending doom - I've seen enough sci-fi movies to know that technology can be scary stuff), I've not really jumped on the eReader bandwagon. Mostly because of the emotional attachment I feel with worn, well-loved paperbacks that I can read in a hot bath. I can't imagine using an eReader in the bath. The screen would steam up, it would slip out of my wet hands and plop into the water and I'd electrocute myself to death. (Note: I have yet to drop a book in the bath.)

Not only that, but they are bloody expensive.

However, I have been watching the developments with interest. This month, Amazon released a UK beta version of the Kindle. Despite the drab grey colour, it looks more compact and you can get it with free wi-fi or swanky 3G for a little extra dosh. At £109 for the wi-fi only version, it is much more affordable than the beautiful looking Apple iPad, which is not a steal at £429 - thought the iPad does a lot more than host eBooks, of course.

Following Amazon's new Kindle release, Waterstone's slashed the price of its Sony pocket eReader to £99, and announced today that a new Sony eReader is on the way.

There is much debate about whether or not eBooks should be cheaper than printed books. When it comes down to it, the only cost saving is on the paper, which costs the publisher pennies. So technically, no, eBooks shouldn't be cheaper. However, since the reader will have to cough up for an expensive (though now declining in price) eReader, paired with the expectation that eBooks should be cheaper, eBooks do indeed seem to be a lot cheaper than paper books at the moment. Perhaps this is why Amazon recently reported that digital sales outstripped hardbacks for the first time. Good going, I'd say, especially since I still don't think everyone has heard of eReaders yet. My sister, an avid reader, asked me yesterday: 'What's a Kindle?'.

Perhaps the 'green' issue will help lift sales. eReaders have been labelled more 'green' than traditional paper books. After all, think of how many forests are cut down for the tonnes of paper needed to print the latest Dan Brown novel? However, eReaders run on electricity and end up in landfills when they are thrown away - surely that can't be that green? This recent article explains that eReaders are indeed more environmentally friendly, that the little electricity it takes to run them outweighs the carbon footprint of the paper book, and that Kindles are completely recyclable. Interesting.

So, eReaders are coming down in price. eBooks are cheaper. And an eReader is more eco-friendly than paper books.

I'm starting to see the appeal.

Other reasons I'd love an eReader include:
- So many up-and-coming authors provide awesome free e-content.
- Many eReaders support the use of PDF, and I'd love to try Inkspill Magazine out on them.
- Saving space on my bookshelf appeals to me.

So what about you? Do you have an eReader? What do you think of it? Do you want an eReader?

Friday, 13 August 2010

No Time To Say Hello! Goodbye!

Things are hectic as usual, and there are some big changes happening. Recently, I was accepted onto the Creative Writing MA at Royal Holloway, University of London. (Woo hoo! - Looks like Hogwarts, don't it?). Last week, I handed in my notice at work.

Many, many people think I have a screw loose. Leaving paid employment at a big publishing house, in a national economical crisis, to go back to being a broke student, and to study such a flopsy subject like 'creative writing'?

Yes, I can see how that sounds crazy.

But it is something I have been considering for a long time. It is my dream to be a published author, and if I don't try to achieve that dream, I'll regret it. I would rather fail knowing that I've tried than not try at all.

But an MA won't make you into a published author, I hear you cry. Indeed. I know that. I know the pros and cons, and I know the risk. (And boy do I know the financial risk!) But the way I see it, I'm investing in time to write, and legitimacy to write (somehow I don't think my mum would approve if I just quit my job to write - at least at the end of this I will have another qualification). And hopefully, I'm also investing in a creative, supportive environment. I felt I got a lot out of my BA, so I'm hoping I will suit being in the MA environment.

Now is the right time for me. Firstly, I want to get in quick before the fees go up. Secondly, I squared it with my lovely mother so that I could live at home for another year (paying a bit of rent), which means my living costs will be minimal. I shall commute into London. Thirdly, I have a good year's publishing experience under my belt now, which will hopefully help me get another job after I complete the MA. Fourthly, I have a few contacts now, who I believe I can draw on for some freelance work so that I can keep a bit of cash coming in.

So fingers crossed that I'll get what I'm looking for out of this.

Funnily enough, I have published an article in the second issue of Inkspill Magazine called 'Creative Writing Courses: What are they good for?' by Charles Christian, which has some less up-beat views about creative writing courses than my hopeful post here.

The PDF eVersion of Inkspill Magazine is available now. As some of you may know, I have been experiencing some trouble getting the printed copies of this issue, but thankfully that is nearly sorted and they should be on their way soon. Issue 1 is on sale at the moment to compensate the delay of issue 2! Please buy it. I am soon to be a very broke student!
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