Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Friday, December 31, 2010

My Best Blogs in 2010

Blog Logo courtesy Blogger
The year is almost over - what a great blogging year 2010 was, too. I came on to Blogger in August and since then acquired quite a few followers, and wrote an average of 1.5 blogs a week. The topics were varied, but most - of course - centred around reading and writing.


My most visited blog was
The Most Beautiful Image in the World

The blog I wrote that got most comments was
Why You Need a Computer-Free Day

The least visited of my blogs was probably
A Very Brief Interview With My Keyboard

The blog with most Australian visitors was
How to Announce a Winner

The blog with most Russian visitors was
6 Things You need to Know about St Luke

The blog I enjoyed writing most was
Venice: A Great Location for a Book

The blog that received most visits from the UK was
Are Controversial Books a Fad?

The blog that attracted most Maltese visitors was
Malta and the New Testament

It was a very enjoyable year, all in all, where blogging was concerned. Here's hoping that 2011 will bring all my readers, followers, fans and friends a great number of amazingly pleasant surprises.

A very happy New Year!



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Monday, December 27, 2010

How to Make a Resolution

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Writers greet the New Year a bit differently from the rest of the population. They tend to cling to things that work. There is no room for resolutions. What they have worked for is pretty well set. There's not much one can do to change the way one gains inspiration. Or with the thought processes that take the inspiration and run with it, until there's something in mind that resembles a story.

Writers tend to hang on to something that works: a style, a voice, a genre. One does not reach a satisfying voice - after years of trying - and then abandon it or resolve to find another. One does not abandon a style that seems to work with a hard-won audience. One sticks with a genre that seems to suit and welcome the style and voice.

That's the WHAT. How about the HOW? The way writers work is where there is room for New Year resolutions. The methodology can be pruned. The routine can be managed and altered. Surely the discipline and time management can stand a tweak or two. Perhaps the way one files ideas or stacks the concepts that weave together plot and sub-plot. Or there might be a better way to construct a day around one's most fruitful writing time.

This year, as we lurch inexorably towards 2011, this writer has resolved to make only one resolution. Any more, and they will get broken - as always - about halfway between Christmas and Easter. One resolution should be easier to manage and keep. It's going to be a HOW resolution about methodology, organisation, preparedness, and keeping a neater mind.

Perhaps the idea of just one resolution might suit you too: find one whose concept will affect all other niggly things in your life you feel could do with adjustment. It could be an all-encompassing resolution about stress, or free time, or time management. It might sound big and grand, or small and manageable. You choose: but choose something that can be done in small steps and will still be around in April. By all means leave a comment about how you intend to go about it.

See you then!
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

From Idea to Story - A Guest Blog

Dale Harcombe
An equal happiness to being asked to be a guest on someone else's blog is hosting one.

Today I have the greatest of pleasure to have Australian author Dale Harcombe round at my place. Enjoy her article:



One of the questions writers get asked most often is where do you get your ideas?  Actually, for the writer it’s more a case of not where you get ideas but how can you not have ideas?

Ideas come from life. They are all around us in the world and the people we meet and the conversation we have. The difference is the writer sees these things and then builds on them. They may see exactly the same scene as someone else but their writerly (if that’s not already a word as spell check insists it isn’t, it should be) brain then starts to imagine.

So writing is a combination of experience and imagination, of reality and fantasising. It also about empathising. Putting yourself into the other person’s place for a time, imagining how they feel for example when a loved one dies, or their marriage breaks up or a new baby is born, or disaster strikes or they see an amazing sunrise.  It means tapping into our fears and joys, our emotions, passions and anxieties.

Most of all though writing is about story. I’ve just been re-reading, thanks to another author friend’s reminder, The Rock that is Higher – Story as Truth by Madeleine L’Engle, one of my favourite authors.

She stresses in that the importance of story. Facts though are not story. So often you hear someone say but that’s what really happened after they have written a piece. But that doesn’t make it a story. The facts then need to be shaped, added to, embroidered and maybe some things deleted or changed a little. It needs to be worked into a structure.

Some people proudly tell me they never read fiction. That’s sad as they are missing so much.They downgrade fiction as being unimportant and irrelevant. The opposite is true. Cognitive scientists in Toronto have found that people who read fiction have better developed social skills. The reason for this is that they will be more empathetic and understand other people better. In other words we learn about the world, the people and our place in it, by reading fiction. We learn to see more clearly. That’s why I read and write fiction.

Dale’s latest book is Streets on a Map. Interested readers can find out more about it at www.daleharcombe.com. Or you might also like to check out Write and Read with Dale, which is her very interesting blog.
If you scroll down to Friday December 10, you will find out how the character of Abby came into being and how story was created from an incident. 

Dale Harcombe is the author of seven books for children, one book of poetry, numerous articles about marriage, home and family and now her general fiction book Streets on a Map.
 




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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Guest Blogging at Dale's Place

Dale Harcombe
Dale Harcombe is a well-known writer and blogger - a fellow member at the ANZauthors group. She has a book coming out right now called Streets on a Map. To celebrate its release, she has invited me - along with a handful of other writers - to write guest blogs at her place: Write and Read with Dale.

Dale gave us all the same theme to write about: a jumping-off point from which to start. She linked it to the title of her new book, of course, but it could not have been more up my alley if she tried. Maps! I could write for hours about maps - they are the quintessential symbol for location. They encompass all that there is to say and feel about place, about leaving, about getting there.

Image from Uncyclopedia
I would like to invite you all to read my blog post - and the fascinating variety provided by the other writers - and comment on the blogs as you see fit. You might like to write about what maps mean to you. How they affect your writing, your travel, how you plan your holidays, and how you remember them.

For me maps mean location - a concept that is writ large in all my writing. Without my locations, my stories would fade away.

Please visit Dale's blog: the insights into how writers see maps, and the different takes that are possible, can be quite entertaining.

Afterwards, for another blog about location, why not click onward:
Venice: A great location for a book


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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Challenges Within and Without

A solved Rubik's Cube, showing the yellow, blu...Image via Wikipedia
When an author decides to start writing a new book, the different sides of the project - like the different sides of a cube - present themselves. Just like a cube, the new project does not reveal all its sides in one viewing. There is always a hidden aspect - or an aspect that is very difficult for an author to address.

One could possibly give the six sides of the cube the different facet names or tags associated with writing a novel: story, plot, structure, characters, locations and the all-important premise. They all present challenges to the author, and none more so than the last. How can an author afford to address the premise last, though? Turning the cube so that premise is always on the blind side might be possible when scribbling out a plot outline. It might even seem possible when one is sketching out the various characters.

Erasmus by Holbein from Wikipedia
When it comes to deciding upon and creating the protagonist, however, and the plot that drives the story, one cannot move onward without a good strong premise: one that is based in some way on some aspect of the human condition. Sometimes a premise can be found by looking at ancient adages: they were created, and found some sort of permanence, because of the universal quality of their meaning. "Too many cooks spoil the broth." "It takes one to know one."

An author cannot go past Erasmus when looking for a premise that will hold a book together. Applying one of this philosopher's adages to a book can quickly bring about that 'aha!' feeling one longs for when faced with a new task. It can show the way: it can reveal a method, an understanding, or a trajectory. And when a writer can see these things, the reader will be able to see them too.

A reader is often challenged by an author: plots can be complicated, characters can seem dull and lifeless until the action starts. The premise too, is sometimes elusive. This is because the author is challenged in two dimensions. One is the dimension and time-line of the novel and its story: it exists outside the author's own life and needs to stand alone. The other is the relevance the novel has to real life, and how it needs that relevance to reflect something inside the author's life. This is something readers need to guess, but they certainly feel it if it is authentic.

The premise is important to the writer: the challenge is to be brave enough to choose one that is close to what the author is all about. It is exposure. It is showing the world something private and personal: something meaningful and weighty. It is risky: dare one show the world how one feels about issues that are contentious and private? Would it be turning the story inside out?

The challenge for a reader is to decide whether the premise - and the humanity of the author it reveals - is valid, a seamless part of the story, and the most important part of the book. The challenge is to take According to Luke, my forthcoming thriller, and decide what the main premise of the book is, and whether anything significant is revealed.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

What I Eat When I'm Writing

Vegemite on toastImage via WikipediaAuthors are creatures of habit in the main: they stick to a routine whether or not they create it intentionally. My habits are a big secret, mostly because like my office, they're in a bit of a state at the moment. But that's what's so fascinating about different authors and the different ways they live. Just as there is no such thing as a typical actor or a typical painter, there's no such thing as a typical author. But they do tend to fall into a routine.

Mine, now that I write full-time from home, is pretty mundane for a writer of art history thrillers. I have never stolen a masterpiece, and have not been chased by a gun-wielding extortionist for some time now. I sit at my desk and in between paying bills, ordering class photos of my kids, and agreeing to meet friends for lunch, I tap out a couple of blogs, half a chapter, and the revision of an outline. I also edit and re-write, which is the bulk of my work. And this happens most days, Monday to Friday.

I also eat. You will find that most authors will confess to this habit, which we have to support in one way or another. One way is working with a keyboard and mouse in one hand and a salami roll in the other. Another is to plan your life around finger food. There is no way to skirt the fact that writing is a sedentary business: so staying fit enough to bend double and tighten a USB connection that's far underneath the desk in cable spaghetti-land becomes a challenge.
They tell you to get up and exercise every twenty minutes. Yeah, right! They tell you to eat a one-lettuce-leaf salad accompanied by a mug of green tea. Uh-huh. Writing is hard work - any novelist will tell you it's gruelling to take a protagonist and a friend on a wild car chase with stuff moving and rolling around in the back of the car and lots of hills and dead-ends on the way. Breathless stuff.


Good nutrition is essential. Here's what I eat when I'm writing, to keep up the energy:

Good, Australian egg sandwiches with a moderate amount of mayo
Good, Australian sausage rolls
Bacon and egg sandwiches
Shapes (no writer can do without Shapes) They are tessellated in the oven.
Doughnuts
Vegemite sandwiches
Cheese and pickled onions
Oreo bars
Rice pudding

There's more, mostly in the way of leftover pasta and pastizzi. Then there's drinks: "Tea, and lots of it," a character demands in my forthcoming book. Yes - I must confess that's autobiographical. And some Pine-Lime cordial, which gets pretty popular around here in the hot weather.

Routine stuff, you would remark. Yes - it's hard to break out of a habit that's taken years to perfect, and who would want to? Food and drink are an important part of a routine, too, so one must stay disciplined and remember to stock up.

Do I include food and drink in my writing? Yes - for sure. Here's a link to a previous blog that proved very popular. Go to this link and scroll down until you see:


Food in Fiction



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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Some Artists Who Have Painted Saint Luke

c. 1440Image via WikipediaThere was a time when sacred art was just about the only permissible art. Church decoration and the establishment of private chapels, shrines and mausoleums meant there was a lot of work for artists in certain centres of learning, big cities, and cathedral towns.

Being an artist meant understanding realistic representation, and heeding the scriptures. It meant listening hard to what patrons wanted, and studying pictures 'on site'. There was no means of reproducing paintings: one had to go and see them for oneself or view another artist's copy.

Artists would visit famous depictions of saints, make sketches, return to their town and regale everyone at their 'shop' or studio about what they had seen. In this way they spread styles, fashions and innovations.



The evangelists, Mary and Baby Jesus, the Crucifixion, the Annunciation and Nativity and famous martyrs were depicted over and again by various artists to grace alterpieces, vaults, monastery walls, churches and palaces, the ceilings of libraries and private chapels.

St Luke was a popular subject, because his testament, or gospel, was one that narrated some very special stories, unique to the saint: duplicated nowhere else in the scriptures. The evangelist was painted by a great number of artists through the ages. Most can be found online. Many show the saint painting Mary, since legend has it that the two had met in person, and Luke could depict the Holy Mother from memory.

Luke became the advocate of painters, and was the patron saint of many artists' guilds and associations, a custom that began in the Middle Ages, or perhaps before. The symbol for this evangelist is the calf, or young bull, and artists' paraphernalia is often placed around the picture: an easel, paints and brushes. Being also described in the Acts of the Apostles as a physician, Luke is variously painted with herbs and flasks, which signify healing.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the various ways Luke has been depicted by artists through the ages is how most of them chose the clothes, interiors and artefacts of their own times with which to portray the saint. So it is possible to find Byzantine Lukes, Medieval Lukes, Renaissance Lukes, Baroque Lukes and Neoclassic Lukes.


Artists who have painted Luke include: El Greco, Nicklaus Manuel, Rogier van der Weyden, Giorgio Vasari, Jacobsz van Heemskercke, Quentin Massys, Marten de Vos, and Guercino.

Why this fascination with a disciple who lived almost 2000 years ago? The fact we know so little about the saint adds mystery to a story that - from the little shown in the New Testament - seems to hint at a life of adventure and risk.

Adventure and risk that intrigued me enough to write a book that concerns some of that life, how it was lived, and what mysteries it holds to a present-day reader. I wove it into a modern-day thriller, complete with mobile phones, guns and lifts. Complete with magazines, computers and planes. Complete with USB drives, text recognition software and yes, a car chase.

According to Luke contains more than one story. How they are woven together might be interesting to read. Chapters One and Two are available. The paperback and eBook will be out in a matter of weeks.


More Rosanne Dingli blogs about St Luke:

Why I write about St Luke

6 Things You Need to Know About St Luke





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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Most Beautiful Image in the World

The Studio by Marie Bashkirtseff (1881). Marie...                                Image via Wikipedia
Many writers find their own prose fascinating: they could read their own stories all day. Prolific authors have to - the process of rewriting, redrafting and editing is one where the writer is constantly rereading. I find redrafting and editing the most absorbing of all authorly tasks.

When it comes to pictures, authors might be flummoxed. Not me - oh, no. I went to art school and I also paint, so I thought images were my forte.  Not so: when asked to examine the way I think, and when tested by an expert, it turns out I am not a visual person at all. I think in words. What! Hmm - I do, which is not such a bad thing for a novelist. When I think of the beginning of a new book, or creating a new scene, I do not imagine it in my head like a part of a movie. Many authors will tell you they do that. I don't: I see the written page. I hear the words it's made of. I mumble great sentences, and think up fifteen different ways of saying pretty.

Images come to me when I read back what I have written. It's the only time I can see the scene. This means of course that I could not possibly design the cover of my own book. I cannot imagine it. I can only imagine covers of existing books. So my idea would necessarily be derivative. Luckily, I don't need to: the designer at BeWrite Books, my publishers, has that job. His name is Tony Szmuk, and he knows how to think. The cover of my new book has just come up on the BeWrite site, and this is what it looks like:







At the moment, this is the most beautiful image in all the world. Find me a writer who is not fascinated by the cover of their latest book. I am: and I can honestly say I would not have come up with this cover in a million years. It takes a designer who knows what a book cover needs to do: attract readers.

This cover expresses the nature of According to Luke: the puzzle aspect. The combination of elements that shift and change as the story progresses from order, to confusion, and then perhaps to some kind of order again. The closer you approach, the more you can decipher the elements: oh yes, a gun, and a beautiful woman. There's a picture of St Luke of course, and an ancient icon. And an artist's brush. But there is also a number... aha! It's the corner of a €500 note.




Money, guns, a beautiful woman: essential elements of a good thriller. But what has St Luke got to do with it all?

You know there's only one way to find out.








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Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 02:  Musicians fro...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Members of WASO
Winning anything is exciting - but getting a mention on the Versatile Blogger list is such an honour, and very flattering, because it acknowledges hours of writing.

I must heartily thank Norma at Beishir Books. I am so pleased she chose me and my website.

I must now release to the world seven things about myself.
1. I love yellow crockery.
2. My favourite colour is yellow (duh!).
3. I really really hate hot weather.
4. My shoe size is 7.
5. My new thriller is about to be released by BeWrite Books!
6. My favourite piece of music is Music for a Found Harmonium by Simon Jeffes 
I love the version by our very own West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
7.My office is a mess at the moment.

That was not hard at all. I could have gone to 14, even.

Now I must produce a great drumroll and announce my selection.
Congratulations go to the following 12 blogs: they are all fascinating, informative, funny, brilliant and very enjoyable. Visit them with my guarantee of satisfaction, safety, and success.



1.  Karla Telega's humorous blog
2.  Duncan Long's exquisite illustrations
3.  Matthew Buchman's excellent writerly advice
4.  Brooke Monfort's extremely useful writer's weblog
5.  John McDonnell's views on life and online
6.  Paul Novak's guide to freelancing
7.  BeWrite Books blog: my publishers! Read them. 
8.  Kat Jordan's blog - a witty writer
9.  Anecdotes from Malta: pictures galore
10. Susanne Dunlap's elegant and infinitely interesting letters
11.Charissa Weaks and her bright blog for writers. Great interviews!
12. The WM Freelance Writers' Connection. Chock full of info and advice

Making this list and showing it to you is probably more revealing than the seven points above it. You now know where I do my blog reading. And when you visit, you will know exactly why. The people on these blogs are generous with their knowledge, experience and expertise. They share with great wit and panache. What's more - they all do it very differently, so the variety is also entertaining.

If you are on this list, kindly let us know seven interesting things about yourself on your blog, and find another 12 blogs that you feel deserve the honour of being listed.



 



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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Book and Its Cover

Pic courtesy Morris Bookshop
One of the hardest thing for an author to do is think like a designer. In essence, creating verbally and visually are two very different tasks. They both require hard work, but it comes from different sides of the brain, perhaps... and certainly different parts of the soul. And different parts of a person's training and experience.

When an author writes a book, the mind's eye comes into the equation, and there are scenes and faces, artifacts and props that seem obvious. But will they be imagined in exactly the same way by a reader? Rarely. Ask six readers to describe a written scene, and you will have six different versions: "Oh - I saw the woman as slim and mean-looking!"
"Oh, no - she struck me as tall, over-powering, but essentially warm."

Even places and things can be 'felt' differently by readers: "The notebook was big, I think - one of those hard cover jobs in sleek black or blue."
"No - I kept imagining this dented, much-used spiral notebook!"
Or: "That place gave me the creeps: it echoed and smelled musty."
"Really? The inside of the church was the epitome of grandeur, and the smell of incence made me feel the gravity of the moment."

If readers of the same thing can feel so differently, the same can be said for the person who wrote the book, and the person assigned the task of designing the cover. Some startling surprises can happen. Seeing how a designer interprets a book, a blurb, or a description can be a lesson in visual significance. The writer wonders: is that how my book can be seen? Felt? Considered? Liked? ... Bought?

No matter how artistic the author, they are not an expert on what catches a book-buyer's eye. Designers know all about warmth, depth, sentiment, attraction... items that intrigue, and the ineffable qualities that make a person pick up one book rather than another, from the very same shelf.

A reader can only read the blurb and description, or critics' praise printed on the back... or the first few pages of the story, if they actually pick up the book or click on the cover. They absolutely need to be attracted by the cover first. Rather than a judgement (which it cannot be yet, at such an early stage) it is a choice. And it is an emotional choice, a visceral choice. No one knows more about visual art and emotion, choices and selections and how a picture can trigger an action, than book designers.

So authors put themselves in the hands of someone whose art comes from a totally different place, someone who might very well ensure their words are read. Someone who cleverly attracts a reader to an image that represents something undefinable in words. A few seconds that make a world of difference.
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why You need a Computer-Free Day

Mouse gtw                                   Image via Wikipedia
This might seem like a no-brainer to a lot of people. Still, it cannot be denied that a lot of our interaction has moved online, most of our business is done on a computer, and financial transactions... is there any other way but the internet?

It's all too easy. The whole world would rather do their banking in pyjamas, sitting in a comfortable chair at any time at all, including the wee small hours. Keeping in touch with global friends? Not a problem - it's live, it's casual and it's almost free. Stocking up with supplies, getting the latest appliances, and holiday gift-buying are also easiest done at home on the desktop or notebook.

All this comfort and convenience, however, means we are all getting rectangular eyes and mouse hands. Okay - hands up those who haven't had wrist or elbow problems recently! Back and bum a bit stiff or sore? Hmm ... perhaps we all need one day a week away from the mouse-and-monitor trap. It's not only necessary, but liberating and healthy.

You need a computer-free day because this thing is threatening to take over your life, and yes - you feel guilty sometimes that a few of the ordinary tasks are left undone, and some are not done justice. People are getting less of your time, and you also need some pampering and rest.

How can it be done? Easy: all you need is a desk diary, which I know many of you have already, and a coloured pencil in a shade of your choice. Mine is a kind of browny-maroon. You can have bright pink or even green. Live dangerously.

Now you start to make decisions: is your computer-free day going to be the same day each week, are you going to favour the weekend, or are you going to stagger this liberating day? Tuesday one week, Friday the next? It's important to decide ahead, because various things need scheduling: there's bill-paying, draft writing, eBook formatting, database classifying, spreadsheet spreading (well, what DO you do with spreadsheets?) and all the other tasks you simply cannot do without your computer. They are all tasks you are going to schedule around your FREE day. That day must be conspicuously marked in your diary: I use a diagonal line in my maroony colour right through the page.

You can choose your way: shade the entire page, mark vertical lines through it, or a series of wavy horizontal waves to signal the day. That means: do not schedule  any computer tasks there: other stuff is great: exercise, reading (from a real book), writing (with a pen), talking, catching up with friends, walking your pets, and aha! yes - some housework or gardening.

It's amazing how good  a day spent cleaning a bathroom, clearing out a pantry or weeding a garden bed can feel. Your brain only feels it after a few hours. It fires up, and fills your whole being with rest and zest.

At first you will dread the day: it approaches on your diary, and you wonder whether you will be able to resist taking a peek at your emails, or just visiting your social sites. Just a peek. Don't worry if you feel resistance is futile: you will eventually start to look forward to the day, simply because you get so much done!

Those wavy lines or shading in coloured pencil inside your desk diary will take on great significance. You will list in pen all the things you can do, and the scheduled computer tasks on the other pages will become more rational and organised as a result.

Wow - why didn't you think of this before?
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How to Announce a Winner

Trumpeters playing a fanfareImage via Wikipedia
Big announcement
It is very tempting to write a title that goes something along the lines of "And the winner is...!" or to attach a sound file with a big trumpet fanfare. But this, after all, was a small giveaway. All the participants want to know is whether they were the one whose name was drawn out of the hat.
It had to be a big hat! 
Up for grabs was a copy of Death in Malta in paperback, remember? The emails came thick and fast at first, and then dwindled to a stop, with one straggler coming in just before I closed the draw at midnight on October 31.

I have used a special raffle software called The Hat. It's a nifty little program that's great for teachers and large families! 
The prize
So let's cut to the chase and put the winner up in big letters.
  
Margaret Sutherland
         Congratulations, Margaret - the book is on its way to you by snail mail.
Those of you who have missed out will be glad to hear there will be another similar draw closer to Christmas.
See you all again then.
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Sunday, October 31, 2010

How to Create a 'Read-in-One-Sitting' eBook

A Picture of a eBook                                   Image via Wikipedia
A regular novel of about 90 000 words takes about 5 or 6 hours to read end-to-end. That is, if you count all the time you spend reading, that's what it will add up to. Which means a lot of reading and a lot to remember.

Read-in-One-Sitting  books are those you can read in one train ride, say. Or one visit to a dentist's waiting room. Or one stand in a long queue, or at a bus stop. They are books you can load onto your portable device, and enjoy in one hit. One lunch-break, or one ferry trip. How neat.

They are becoming quite popular, because they are cheaper than the regular novel. Some even come free. I have three of these Read-in-One-Sitting books up at SmashWords, at the moment, and they are all free. I am testing the market. You are invited to download them here.

How did I make them? It was not that hard. I used to write a lot of short stories in the past, and they were published as collections which have gone out of print. So I found four stories, and bundled them in pairs that seemed to go well together. I also found one of my old historical novellas that was under 20 000 words - which means it's easily read in under an hour. Great.

So I had two bundles of two short stories each, and a novella. I formatted them properly, following the instruction manual at SmashWords, uploaded them, and made simple covers using patterned wrapping paper and a bit of typography.

Can you do the same? Probably: look through your old files and find stories whose rights are entirely yours. Give them a good edit so that they feel fresh, correct and very readable. Make sure that the wordcount of each eBook you make is under 20 000 words. Read them aloud while timing yourself. Each book should not take longer than about 20 minutes to read. Just the right length for a commute, a long wait at the doctor's, or that lag time between lectures.

Decide how you would like to go: Kindle? Read the instructions at Amazon. SmashWords? Read their manual. Formatting for these two is rather easy - there are others that are slightly more complicated.
Upload your eBooks after you have made yourself some covers (preferably a bit better than mine!) and try to price them within reason, always remembering they are only little books that take no time to read and enjoy. If you realise that they make excellent 'tasters' for your kind of writing, you can use them as freebies to excite readers about your work. They might then purchase your longer works more eagerly.

Making these short Read-in-One-Sitting books becomes easier the more you make. You might find your readers coming back for more.
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Still in Time to Enter the Draw

themorningglorivine
You have to be in it to win it. 
The draw for a free mailed paperback copy of Death in Malta is on in earnest - I have been receiving entries every day since I announced it.

What's this draw for?

Well, I thought I'd celebrate Death in Malta coming out on Kindle on October 2. That's reason to celebrate isn't it? I am a firm believer in eBooks. This, my debut novel, has been available digitally since it came out with BeWrite Books in 2005.

This Kindle launch, however, has given it a good boost. So I thought I'd give away a paperback to the first drawn name out of the hat.
There's still all weekend to enter. the draw takes place on November 1.


All you have to do is email the address where you'd like it mailed if you win to:
If you would like a taste of the mystery, why not read Chapter One?
Click HERE, make a cup of whatever's your favourite, and sit back and enjoy. 
 
Good luck!
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why It Makes Sense to Give Books Away

Cory Doctorow, a Canadian blogger/author, at a...Image via Wikipedia
Cory Doctorow

Not all authors are hugely prolific. Some take a long time to craft a story; then chiselling it into a book takes time, irrespective of whether one goes the self-publishing way, or is taken up by a mainstream publisher. Everything to do with books is very time-consuming. Even authors with a high out-put say that time is one of the things they wish they had more of.


So why on earth - or online - would an author ever decide to give their writing away for nothing? There are some perfectly good reasons to do this. There must be: some authors with pretty big names have given books away for nothing. Cory Doctorow is perhaps the one that first comes to mind. There are many others. Here's an article that includes interviews with ten authors who decided it was the way to go:

Interviews with authors who give books away

They were all asked the same questions, and some gave very different answers. The crux of the matter, however, is exposure. Giving half a book away might entice a reader to buy the second half. Obtaining an entire book by an author might very well persuade you - if you like what you read - to purchase everything that author has ever published.

That, perhaps, is what I tossed up when I was presented with the concept, and the opportunity, to give away some of my books. Some! Yes - at the moment, I have three small books up at SmashWords that anybody can download and own for absolutely no dollars... or pounds... or yen... or euros.

What's more: they are available in nine digital formats, which means that there is no excuse, no matter what platform you do your digital reading on, for you to go on without trying out my stories! Seriously - this is a great opportunity for readers to try authors out, because many are doing this. They are tried out on PCs, on iPads, on Kindles, on Nooks... on every digital device known to humankind. Before they go and splurge on a lovely paperback - without the least notion, except perhaps for a review and a say-so from a friend - they try the author out and see whether whether their books are what they like to read.

Now I have taken a great risk, because the three books I have at SmashWords are literary fiction. They are atmospheric stories that are mostly about location, culture, folklore, tradition, and about language. They are almost fancy writing, I suppose. But they do tell you a lot about the person who thought them up, who wrote them. They tell you how I think, and how many styles I can write in, and where my fancy roams.

Then you can decide whether to purchase my debut novel, a mystery called Death in Malta, or not. And it will persuade you, perhaps, to purchase my brand new thriller, According to Luke - soon to be released by BeWrite Books. It will not be such a great risk, and your euros, or dollars, or yen, or pounds, will be well spent. 
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Monday, October 18, 2010

A Day with Mark Coker

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...                Image via CrunchBase
Attending a seminar about the future of books, eBooks , and publishing is a great way to spend a Monday. The drawcard for me when I received the invitation for this one from WritingWA was the main speaker: Mark Coker.


We all know who he is: the enterprising owner of SmashWords, the innovative eBook site where self-publishing authors and commercial publishers rub shoulders. I was ready to soak up every word: the fact he was in Western Australia to speak to authors and readers alike was an exciting opportunity.

What a very pleasant and informative day! The seminar - under the auspices of WritingWA - included an entertaining but very useful presentation by Kate Eltham, CEO at Queensland Writers Centre. Spanning from a nicely nostalgic tour of the early days of books and writing, to the possibilities and avenues of the future of the book, it was fascinating stuff for all in the packed auditorium.

Mark Coker regaled the fascinated audience with his generous advice and canny industry knowledge. He showed how truly global publishing is today, how authors can address anyone - from family and friends, to communities, to the whole world - and how they can form direct relationships with their readers. This is possible now, and is an enormous development from the traditional supply chain the publishing industry has been for decades.


There was a lot to take home, as the saying goes. Advice, informed opinion, and a ground-level view of what authors and readers are learning to expect will happen in the next decade. While both Kate and Mark expressed affection and regard for the paper book as we know and love it, they were both realistic about the future. I had to agree that there could be no doubt of the importance of the eBook, whether or not it out-does the paper book. Both said that we stand at the very commencement of enormous changes that are bound to overtake publishing. Both said they had no idea where we will be 15 or even 10 years hence.


Exciting stuff, which can be a bit daunting to the uninitiated, the wary and the technically-challenged. Acronyms peppered the talk, the future kept raising its head, the inevitability of e-everything was a palpable reality, and the consciousness of the ever-increasing numbers of authors filled the day.


I returned energized, filled with optimism, and excited about the potential, prospects and possibilities that lie ahead for me and my books. The dynamic sense I got of being on the threshold of momentous changes has still not gone away. I want to do something about what I felt today. Here it is:

I have shorn off the price-tags on my three SmashWords published eBooks. From today, my readers can enjoy Vision or Delusion, Two Short Stories: Rosaria's Dowry & Counting Churches, and Two Short Stories: Woman Peeling an Apple & Rainstorms  at no cost. That's right - download them free, gratis and for nothing, and enjoy them. This is my way of celebrating the future of publishing as I see it. Use them to try my writing out, if you still have not read anything from my pen.

Enjoy my stories, and come back for more soon.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Death in Malta is on Kindle!

The Amazon Kindle 2                                                        Image via WikipediaMy first novel, Death in Malta, was first published in 2001, in paperback and eBook, by Jacobyte Books.

This small South Australian publisher then amalgamated with BeWrite Books, who took me on in 2005. The novel has continued to sell, sometimes more slowly than others, but for a book that has been out there for some time, it's a nice little runner.

This month, it's been launched on Kindle, and to celebrate this new avenue, I am holding an old-fashioned raffle. And the prize is an old-fashioned paperback! Yes - Death in Malta as a paper paperback! Delivered by post to you, with real stamps and all, wherever you live in the world.

All you need to do to enter is send an email to rosanne.dingli@gmail com , giving your mailing address. Only entries that write to this email address are eligible. The draw will take place on November 1, so the last entry will be accepted on October 31.

To read a bit more about this book, you are very welcome to visit its own website.
 
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