Friday, September 24, 2010

Conf 648: Kindles and Rice

Progress on the home front. Reclusive partner had a visitor yesterday. I realised after she'd gone that I'd behaved like a 6 year-old, bringing my new birthday gifts out to show her one by one. I did try to hold back and leave them alone a bit to let him speak, but every so often I'd bounce back in again saying and look at THIS!

Got Nigella's Kitchen from the library the other day. She dismisses most gadgets but raves about rice cookers. I've never been able to cook rice properly, and Argos have one for under a tenner at the moment so I succumbed. Nigella is so right. It's one of those kitchen things (like my mini-whisk) that's completely life-changing.  You just bung the rice & water in, switch it on and leave it. When the rice is fluffy and cooked the pot switches to warm and stays that way for up to 12 hours. You can also add veg and and.... and... for Big Birthday present

I got Kindle. Was a nice surprise to discover you can transfer your own documents to it: PDF, Word etc and make notes on it as you read. You can do that on a computer of course but reading your own work with that 'once removed' feel is priceless. It also made me realise, with a bit of a start, how grown-up my own ebooks are, sitting there in the Kindle Store along with all the rest.

Blackbirdebooks is all going well. We're still finding our feet and have yet to open for submissions but we have turnover. The How To Publish an Ebook book reached No 2 in the UK Kindle Writing bestseller chart the other day. Fiction will be our focus once we get going. Interestingly The Bookseller reports that the biggest category sellers in ebooks are romance and science fiction.

My first download (upload?) to Kindle was an important choice  - registering right up there with  first single/first album ever bought. I tried a sample of that Booker book 'C'. Didn't like it. Maybe 3 chapters isn't enough to get into it, but found myself skimming those.. Daughter's loving the Kindle of course, & looking forward to having all her textbooks on there. She found a gem: The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld, recommended by her psychology teacher. So that was my first purchase, now existing alongside I Want You Back (single) & T Rex by T Rex (album). 

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Conf 647: Back to Fiction


Up early this morning, trying to catch up with Saturday's papers before Sunday's arrives.

Really loved this Guardian Lee Rourke interview with Tom McCarthy, author of Booker shortlisted novel 'C'. It sounds fantastic, and HE sounds amazing. Way above my head much of it & the novel might be as well. But am encouraged by the most popular Amazon review which starts off: The first thing to note is that C is a very enjoyable read. The comic element comes through on nearly every page, and McCarthy's permanent style of `show' rather than `tell' means that you have that slightly smug satisfaction when you 'get' the obscure jokes. A lot of the jokes are pretty dark....

Loved this bit of the interview On Writing:

'One of the ways of thinking about art, or the novel, is that the writer is the transmitter, the originator: I have something to say about the world and I'm going to transmit it. But this isn't how I see it. I see it as exactly the inverse: the writer is a receiver and the content is already out there. The task of the writer is to filter it, to sample it and remix it - not in some random way, but conscientiously and attentively. This is what Heidegger says about poets: to be a poet is to listen before speaking: it's first and foremost a listening and not a speaking. Kafka said it as well: "I write in order to affirm and reaffirm that I have absolutely nothing to say." Writing, or art, is not about having something to say; it's about aspiring to a heightened state of hearing. It's why C is a totally acoustic novel and a receptive novel. The hero, Serge, sits there for hours trawling the aether waves, absorbing, listening to ship-to-shore transmissions, stock market prices, sports results, writing them all down. In a way if you could see Serge's transcript it would probably read like an Ezra Pound canto.'

Have downloaded first 3 chapters to Kindle.

I've been rewriting my first attempt at a novel over the summer. Retyping and updating with a view to reissuing as an ebook. Fortunately my contract included the all-important reversion of rights clause so my words are mine again to do with as I wish.

I keep coming across stupendously bad writing. No wonder, I keep on thinking as I tap away, no wonder it got that horrible review. And that fundamentalist One Star nutter on US Amazon was completely right. I'm not beating myself up too much about it. Just welcoming the opportunity to put it right. A film-maker friend thinks I shouldn't be doing it. That I should be moving on not going backwards. But it was/is still a good story, and even more relevant today than it was then. And I'm looking forward to re-packaging with a title and cover of my choosing.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Conf 646: Two magazines two deaths


Didn't think the coincidental happenings on holiday were overly strange. Had all but forgotten until I woke up in the night thinking - odd?

First was at a chateau b&b in central France. Some are very grand and costly, but many as affordable as a run-of-the-mill Logis hotel & nothing better for a night than a homely, un-tarty, flaking chateau to explore. I find them here.

This was a lovely place, very warm friendly lady of the chateau, likewise her cat (dot in bottom right) which follows you everywhere. There were also dogs, horses and a moody white-blonde Dutch family we shared a table with for dinner. And a good library, which is where I ended up after dinner, on my own, looking at the family's photograph albums (I know, but the were on display. One of their ancestors was a rugby champion they're rightly proud of). Then I picked up an old Paris Match magazine from the 1950s. It was full of macabre photo-essays: holiday snaps of happy people on a boat that was about to sink, and a very 9/11-like story about the last minutes of a man's life as he waved for help from a burning building, then jumped, then CU, dead, after he'd jumped. The date of the magazine: 27 August - 3 September 1955, the year and week I was born. I made a note of his name - Warren Hayes.

Then with our friends one evening in the kitchen talking about wine, as you do in France. I mentioned a long ago lunch, wine buff guest brought a very special bottle of wine that was opened with much ceremony and left in centre of table to breathe. As I was laying table I did the unforgivable and knocked it over. Woops. Fortunately everyone was at the other end of room and I could grab it before too much was spilt. Back to France 2010, later that day I picked up an old magazine left beside the barbeque for firelighting and there was a picture of wine buff guest I'd been telling them about (a journalist writing for the mag). I showed it to my friends. Look! And there he is! When we got to Sancerre and internet connections discovered he'd just died. So, so sad. RIP Robert.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.