Sunday, January 31, 2010

Aaaaannnd...a couple of updates to the Amazon Debacle post

Looks like things between Amazon and all the Macmillan books and imprints have been resolved.

First -- a change of heart from Amazon HERE.

Next, for his insightful and ever-amusing take on things, Scalzi is HERE. [I laughed and agreed with his arguments, but have seen the most evidence of his  point #3 this weekend].

And for those who missed my post yesterday, HERE is boingboing's summary of the whole shenanigans going down.

To finish, just to disabuse any of you who think that the writing life is one of unending glamour -- a shot of my bed this weekend, taken with my computer camera, of the interlopers who felt my attention should be on them, as opposed to the keyboard. Complaints, complaints...
Luckily one of the dogs was otherwise occupied.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's a Brave New World...

...out there.

Especially for those of us in the biz of writing.

Writers and story-tellers are riding a wave right now. I've talked about this before. Things are changing, fast enough to make heads spin and hearts sink.

I've gone on record before as saying I believe people will never stop reading stories. Reading is too much a part of our humanity. Our collective conscience, maybe.

And I really believe the first generation hardware we are seeing right now to take readers into the electronic age -- the Kindles and iPads and other e-readers -- are just the very, very start of something. These are the Edsels of the electronic book.

Personally, I still like the paper variety best, and I keep buying 'em while I have the chance.

But the fear of how this will all play out is a HUGE factor in the minds of many content providers. Publishers need only glance over at the riotous change that has been [and continues to] taking place in the music industry to see that the ride for writers and writing and newspapers and books and the Internet...well, it's going to get interesting, in the Chinese curse sense of the word.

As I attempt to feel my own way through this process, one of the things that has most worried me is a little item called DRM. This stands for Digital Rights Management, and it refers to the ability of the producer of material that has been digitized, to manage the conditions under which the copyrighted material can be accessed.

DRM purports to protect the copyright holders, but it often gets in the way of the end-users enjoyment of the material. For example, DRM may account for the problems you could have had running music you downloaded -- legitimately paid for or otherwise -- on your computer or MP3 player.

And in the field of e-readers, DRM has proven to be quite an interesting subject for discussion. The situation with George Orwell's 1984 meets the Amazon Kindle brought some interesting facts to light. It's a long story, but in a nutshell, when Amazon discovered that the copyright on the particular issue of 1984 that they had sold through a third-party to Kindle readers may have been in question, overnight one night Amazon not only withdrew the rights of the readers who had already bought the software version of the book to read it; they literally pulled the files themselves off the devices they had been downloaded into. You can read more about this story HERE.

This situation left me feeling justified in my mistrust of DRM, as did further reading on the subject from sources I trust, such as Cory Doctorow [here's the transcript of an anti-DRM speech Cory made to Microsoft way back in 2004.] and Defective By Design. As a writer, I am a front-line producer of content. I want to hold my own copyright. I want to be able to make a living from my work as a writer. But I don't think the current shape of DRM is the right way to do things.

As an author, I already have to jump through many large, varied, and often flaming hoops to have my work published and distributed. I have established relationships with my publishers that rely on trust and mutual respect to ensure that my books are the best they can be, and they are distributed to the best of everyone's ability.

The power of some other external agency to give and take away MY writing from readers who want it leaves me worried.

In the past couple of days, another incident has left the book world reeling. This one is much closer to home, affecting the livlihoods of many writers I know and love. In a dispute with Macmillan publishing over the cost of ebooks, Amazon has pulled all books that are published under the Macmillan umbrella from their on-line stores.

Here is the NYTimes take on the story.
Here is American author John Scalzi's take [from his blog], since updated with a few other thoughts.
Here are Canadian author Robert Sawyer's thoughts.
And here is Macmillan CEO John Sargent's message to the authors of the various imprints that came out in Publisher's Lunch this weekend.

We do live in interesting times.

Feel free to throw in your own two cents [and change] into the comments.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oh, Canada...

A quick one tonight. Had a good writing day. Stopped only long enough for my gym class and to walk my dogs. Watched helicopters flying over downtown. Black. My boy was up shooting a movie on Cypress this afternoon, and found himself slinking away from the armed presence up there. The Olympics have brought us a police state?
Makes me sad.

Anyway, my edits for this year's book have arrived and life has suddenly heated up. Not to mention all the weaponry pointed in the general direction of my little village on the road to the Olympic Games.

Saw this version of the anthem this week, and I liked it a lot. Enjoy! And know that no matter how we feel about the Games, Canadians welcome the world to our doorstep in peace.



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Bit of Fry and Shirley...

Not a big award show fan [unless Ricky Gervais is hosting...] but this one is SO deserved.

Why is he not yet Sir Stephen?

Now, to close a few tabs...

THIS is for my Knitting Maniac Friends [whom I whole-wooledly support...], A Novel Woman, Sarah the Librarian, and Leanne the Yarn Bomber.
[via boingboing, of course]

And THIS brilliant hand-ninja is for my favourite ninja author, James McCann.

And to finish? I saw this little number this weekend on a boingboing series of dance numbers, and I have to say, Shirley just blew me away. Talk about Dancing with the Stars! Enjoy...


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Morning Celebration...

...of being human. Beat that drum!

People In Order: 1. Age from James Price on Vimeo.

via @MrsGreatDismal


Saturday, January 23, 2010


Writing a very intense series of scenes at the moment. The good thing is, every time I trip [metaphorically] and fall, the story wrenches me to my feet again and I'm off.

This makes me pretty happy.

But I still have to give the ol' brain a break to allow stuff to gel, y'know? So today, while gellin', I cleaned off my grossly overloaded desktop [metaphorical again; my actual desk top has wood visable, which is fairly unusual for me at this stage of a book. Still haven't opened my mail since November, though -- so goes to show I'm not THAT far gone...]

Anyway, cleared off the desktop and while I was at it, I dumped a bunch of blogs from my reader. I only got rid of those, whom, once loved, no longer post at all. Made me a little sad to see how many I had to cull.

I miss you, one and all!

However, I am still here, and as soon as the new website is up and ready, we'll be facilitating some kind of a blog move, too. Not sure if we'll be here or there, but wherever we are, you'll know. And with the new site, there will be a whole new section of the blog on writing tips and links. I already do the link-thing, but the tips'll be new. New-ish. New to me.

You get it.

In the meantime, how cool are these fingerless gloves? They go all the way to my elbows, I swear. Knit for me by the uber-librarian and Needle-Smith Sarah Wethered.

Not sure how much detail shows in this classy photobooth shot, but they have the coolest colours, a kind of spiral pattern and are made of...[wait for it...]

bamboo, baby.

[Not actually the offspring of bamboo. Just bamboo itself. Baby.]

Sarah, you rock. My new gloves rock. I may have to dedicate the new book to them, for the cool factor of having my hands so cosy while I type the chase scenes through a chilly Scottish night. Not that it's actually chilly here, or even Scottish for that matter [except by ancestry], but the chase scene is both. But regardless, a pair of fingerless gloves will make an appearance. Watch for 'em.

So, I guess I'd better get back to it.

But first -- speaking of Scottish -- don't forget the wee Rabbie's birthday is on Monday. A bet a few drams are being lifted on his behalf, even as I type.

We'll celebrate in style then, shall we?


Monday, January 18, 2010

News and a wee LinK Fest

Another nutso day, but I can't let it slip by without doing a little link-fest here.

Had a GREAT chat with members of the North Shore Writers' Association. Thanks to event coordinator Joyce Goodwin for inviting me, and all the members of the NSWA for the warm welcome. I am a past president, and was in that position when my first book was published and the support I garnered from this group was wonderful. Nice to see you all again!  Shout outs and good publishing karma sent back  to Penny and Elaine and Dorothy and Gerhard and to all the new members.

and now...a few items of interest, to allow for some tab-closing on my machine!

First -- a write up in the New Westminster Record of the Rock solid plays that have come out of my writer-in-residence experience at NDub Secondary. Traci Cave and MJ Hunt were the teacher-brains behind the operation, but the writing and acting all came from the kids. It was so much fun to work with this group!

Next, a nice little review of MS. ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK, on the blog of Sarah Wethered, the Amazing Knitting Librarian. Thanks Sarah!

And to finish, a few choice words from Ill Doctrine on the situation in Haiti. And please remember, if you are Canadian, the federal government is matching all donations that are going through registered charities until February 12th. My money went to Medecins Sans Frontieres. [I've supported this group for years -- Darrell's mother in my very first Eagle Glen series is a doctor who donates her time to MSF...]

More soon, of course...


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hanging in a Steaming, Spitting Underworld


That's where I've been.

Of course, I haven't had to leave home to be there. But I have had to avoid my email and the time-sucking internets as much as possible, hence the paucity of posting here.

I can say, though, that the new book is tripping along. Hope to be finished any day now. [Actually, if I can have something tangible to present to my agent and a few compatriots by next month sometime, I will be Very Happy.] It was supposed to be finished with 2009, but as you know, sometimes Life Interferes. I actually started researching this book four years ago next month, with my trip to Edinburgh during the Turin Games.

And then... *Bang!* Flash!*... it's suddenly time for the Vancouver games. So I guess I'd like to finish the book before that actually happens.

So while I spend my time digging through the Victorian undergrowth for rusty cogs and a watch chain, here are a few interesting things to keep you busy...

To begin, my buddy the very talented [and creepy] Michael Slade has a new book out, just in time for a decent slaughter at the Olympics. It's called RED SNOW.  Details HERE. And please ignore the minor detail of the main slaughterer's name. I would like it to go on the record that she was NOT inspired by anyone you know. And for all you Sladists out there, you know there's got to be blood in the snow. You've been warned.

I'll be speaking at the North Shore Writers' Assn meeting this month -- the evening of January 18th. Come by and heckle, if you'd care to! Details HERE.  

Also, later in the year ... I'm going to be a featured speaker at the Canadian Authors Ass'n CanWrite 2010 in Victoria this summer. More details HERE, and as anything new emerges, I'll keep you updated.

And to finish -- a very cool initiative... with a great beat:


Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Known Universe...

I'm having a writing morning, but am just pausing here, as I thought you might like a taste of the known universe with your Saturday morning coffee.


Pee Ess...

Happy New Year!