Friday, March 30, 2012

eBooks & Digital Archiving by Rhoda Baxter

  A few weeks ago, I read an article about Jonathan Franzen[1] saying that eBooks will spell the death of books. He’s entitled to his opinion, of course.
Now, I love paperback books. I always have. I love their shape, their solid weight, the dusty papery smell. Of course, the heart of the book is the story it tells, but there’s something about the tactile experience of a book that’s hard for an eReader to reproduce.
  Over Christmas, I downloaded my first ebook and started to read. Within a few pages I’d forgotten that I wasn’t holding a paper book. The story unfolded. I was as engrossed as I could ever be, with the added bonus that I didn’t get that funny wrist pain you get from holding a paperback open with one hand (the other hand is needed for the cup of tea – obviously).
  When I finished the first book, I went on Amazon and downloaded another. Immediately. No waiting until I was near a bookshop. No dithering over whether I wanted it urgently enough to pay for next day delivery. None of that. Just a new book. Instantly.
  So, no. I don’t  think eBooks will kill books any more than the DVD killed the movie industry. The thing that’s likely to kill eBooks, though, is time.
  Paper documents, kept with care, can still be read a hundred years after they were produced. The same cannot be said for electronic only documents. Being the sort of geek that finds this stuff interesting, I’ve been following the AIMS project[2], a joint initiative between the Universities of Stanford, Yale, Virginia and Hull looking into ways of archiving content from the digital era.
  Digital technology moves so fast that formats overtake each other. There’s a delightful story about how the archivists couldn’t access a set of scripts written in an obsolete program until someone in the drama department dusted off a disk with the software on it. A great story, but also a little scary. There are several eBook formats about at the moment. At some point they will converge until there are only one or two left. What happens to the books that were available only on, say EPUB if (when?) Kindle takes over the world? VHS saw off Betamax, but who plays VHS tapes now?
  The other problem the archivists have is the volume of information. What’s relevant, what’s not? What do you keep? What do you ignore? There is a similar parallel to be drawn with eBooks. With the rise of self publishing, there are millions of books that are available only electronically. Some of those books will be brilliant. Some will be literary gems far ahead of their time. Many will be mediocre. And some will be just plain awful. How do you choose which ones to keep for future generations? I don’t know the answer to that. I doubt anyone does. I guess only time will tell.

[2] - not for the faint hearted. The white paper is unpenetrable if you’re not a specialist librarian. I gave up.

Get Patently in Love for your Kindle, Click the cover image!

  Bio: Rhoda Baxter lives in the Yorkshire, England. She writes contemporary romantic comedy. Her book, Patently in Love, is set in a London patent law firm. It is available from Uncial Press in a variety of formats - html, pdf, mobi, prc and epub. For more information, extra chapters and random silliness, visit

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The 2 Page Rejection Letter by NY Times Bestselling Author Jennie Bentley

One caveat before Jennie's post below. She also writes as Jenna Bennett, and I've read all of her novels, both the Jennie Bentley series for Berkley, and the Jenna Bennett series, and loved all of them.

You can get  A Cutthroat Business for only 99¢.

Now, here's Jennie/Jenna!

I started writing back in the dark ages of 1998.
  Actually, that’s not technically true. I wrote before that too, but I wrote in Norwegian. I even completed a couple of manuscripts – YA mysteries with a bit of paranormal shenanigans thrown in for good measure, that I could never figure out what to do with after they were written. They’re still taking up space in a cabinet somewhere in my house. But in 1998, my husband suggested that if I wanted to get serious about writing, maybe I should try writing in English. I lived in the US, the only books I read anymore were in the English language – it was a lot harder to get foreign books back then, before online bookstores – and I both thought and dreamed in English. English had, for all intents and purposes, become my first language.
   So I started writing in English.
   The first thing I wrote was chapter of a book called “A Fine Romance.” It was intended to become a category romance, one of those thin, inexpensive paperbacks you find at the grocery story. And I wrote the chapter for the express purpose of entering it into the Music City Romance Writers’ first annual Melody of Love contest. It’s so long ago now it’s not even listed on their website. There, they list 1999 as their first year. However, there was a contest in 1998 too, and I can prove it. I won the contemporary category with that chapter, and I have the certificate to prove it.
   My first kid was born a few months later, in the spring of 1999, and for a while after that, anything resembling romance flew out of my life, both on paper and elsewhere. When I went back to writing, after my second kid, born in 2003, started sleeping through the night, I was writing murder mysteries. I’m not claiming that there’s a correlation, but I think the coincidence should be noted.
   Anyway, sometime during that time when I was knee-deep in diapers with no time to write, I came up with the idea to try to sell that book I never wrote to Harlequin. (This is one of those cases of do as I say, not as I do. You don’t EVER want to offer someone a book you haven’t written. Especially if it’s your first one. They’re gonna wanna see it, and you’re gonna wanna have it written and edited and ready to go. Just saying.)
   But I did what I told you not to do, and sent my query letter and my synopsis to Harlequin, thinking that if they were interested, I could always crank out a halfway decent manuscript in a month or six weeks. And as I richly deserved, a rejection letter followed a few weeks later.

Thank you very much for submitting your query letter regarding “A Fine Romance.” We’ve had opportunity to read your proposal, but we regret that the story doesn’t work for us.  

  I was devastated, of course. So much so that I never looked at the manuscript again. And that page and half of information about everything that was wrong with my proposal, and suggestions for how I could fix it, was wasted time on the editor’s part. (Sorry, Kathryn Lye. If you’re out there somewhere, reading this, I didn’t know any better.)

The thing is, I’ve learned a little bit since then. Namely, that when someone sends you a two page rejection letter telling you everything that’s wrong with your submission and giving you detailed instructions for how to fix it, that’s not really a rejection at all. That’s more of a door left cracked; a “do this and then get back in touch with me.”
   But of course I didn’t know that then. If I had, I might have gotten published in 2002 instead of 2008. Six more years I could have spent earning royalties.
   So let that be a lesson to you.
   The moral of the story? Make sure you know what you’re doing before you get involved in something. If you want to play with the big boys, be sure you understand their language.

  So what about you? Have any good rejection stories to share? Can you beat the sheer stupidity of mine?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Women Writers in Television

Picture from 
There a very few women writers in TV. Why? Not sure. But just check out these articles by and from Jane Espenson in the Huffington Post.

This subject is important to me because I'm a woman writer, and I'd love to have the opportunity to write for television. Yes, I write mystery novels, but I've written several TV spec scripts, for shows like Happy Endings, Cougar Town, and The New Girl. I'm currently working on a Justified script, and outlining my own pilots for a sitcom and a procedural dramedy.