Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wishing You Were There

You're behind the wheel of a an open-air sports coupe, hitting the highway, wind in your hair (provided you have enough, which I don't), the refreshing rush of morning breeze lifting your spirits, the song on the radio pumping its rythmn through your blood, the landscape flashing by, the ocean on one side...

Actually you're not, you're reading a novel but you feel you're right there alongside the protagonist, seeing what he/she is seeing, feeling the same exhiliarating sense of freedom and excitement...You wish you really were there.

That's what the best fiction does, transplants us into the middle of the action, where we feel we are an honorary character in the cast, walking the walk, talking the talk.

It's one of the secrets of success of the world's most popular writers.

Wilbur Smith's epic adventures take place on land, sea and in the air. I'm sure many readers, like myself, have tasted the salt of the sea on their tongues, or the dryness of the desert parching their lips, or the adrenaline kicking in as a safari hits the open African plains.

Reading Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road,' I felt I was tramping alongside the hero on that apocolyptic near-future journey or feeling the tropical heat and rain in Somerset Maugham's novels and short stories.

Setting of scene and atmosphere is one of the writer's most effective tools of trade, and is effectively what puts the reader into the action.

We've all visited a place that seemed to be imbued with its own personality. Every place has its unique characteristics. Zeroing in on those and subtly using them to build the ambience of a location is an essential part of the craft for every writer to master.

The writer's goal is not to get bogged down with long passages of by-the-numbers description, but instead to briefly and deftly weave those sensory aspects of a place into the plot, just as a painter must brush them onto canvas with light and shade (that's today's lesson, I do try to pass these things on, lol)

Right now though I'd like to be behind the wheel of a sports car in an exotic location, and where better to be suave, sophisticated and worldly than on the pages of one of Ian Fleming's James Bond books, where he invariably drives Alfa Romeos, the Ford T-Bird, Mercedes convertibles, the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost...

That sports coupe on an ocean road?

I'm still waiting for that scene to be written.

But I can dream, can't I?

Better still maybe I can persuade a boutique car dealer to let me take the latest sports models for a spin, testing their wares on coastal highways, and into the country...research, after all, is essential to getting the facts straight. Wonder if Mr. Fleming ever tried that?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Read An Ebook Week

In addition to the paperback and Kindle editions, on Amazon, my novel 'The Delta Chain' is now also available in several other ebook formats, from Smashwords, and from Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony, Apple's ibooks, and Diesel.

And just in time for the 2011 Read An Ebook Week.

As part of the Ebook Week promotion, 'The Delta Chain,' is available at a 50% discount (using coupon code no. RAE50) from Smashwords, until March 12.

According to my neighbor, Buggeroff, there's no reason now for anyone not to get a copy. But then up until last week he thought an ebook was a geeky term for an xbox. When I showed Buggeroff a Kindle, he wanted to know which button to press for the latest Red Faction: Armageddon game.

The Read An Ebook Week initiative runs this week, from March 6 to March 12. It's an annual promotion that's been going strong for several years now, but is more topical than ever given the steep rise in ereader devices over the past year, as they've become lighter, slimmer, and lower in price.

On her write2publish blog, Robin Sullivan investigates many ebook stats. Industry reports show that the ebook was recently approx 10% of the U.S book sales market. That's a healthy and growing niche.

Ebook Week has news, info and features, across a wide variety of media, about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically. Authors, publishers, readers, booksellers, the media and the general public participate. In 2010 it attracted readers from 136 countries, speaking 74 languages.

You can find out a great deal more about it here

For 500 years, since Gutenberg's first printing press, we've had printed books. This past decade the Project Gutenberg enterprise has made thousands of classic books available as ebooks, and for free, and helps introduce them to a whole new generation.

In the 1960's movie version of 'The Time Machine,' the time traveler arrives in the far future and is taken to a hall that contains Mankind's books. When the traveler takes some of them from the shelves, they crumble in his hands, due to neglect.

In Ray Bradbury's classic novel, 'Fahrenheit 451," futuristic nasties burn all the books.

I expect the printed paper book is more resilient, that it will survive the doomsayers, and that it will always have a place in our hearts, albeit in smaller numbers. And that it can live happily alongside the ebook.

The ebook definitely has a vital and increasing place in our world, and in our hearts, and Ebook Week celebrates that without resorting to burning or neglecting its print counterpart. Live and let live.

There's thousands - or more - books available, from the classics to the latest bestsellers. And if there's a negative to the whole ebook revolution, then it's that there's so many titles of all kinds available, and just not enough time to read 'em all. Damn.