20 January 2012

What do you think about iBook and iBook Author?

When I first read the snippet about Apple's announcement, I thought it sounded great for non-fiction authors, especially for how-to authors, history ... to add photos, links, and videos to enrich your narrative. Who wouldn't want that? As for textbook market, I thought it would bring the subject material to life. If I'd had books like those while I took physics classes, I probably wouldn't still have a chip on my shoulder about Mr. Newton.

But as I'm focused on the fiction side of books, I've been thinking of ways a fiction author could use photos and music to set the mood for their written word. Does the storytelling medium change from written word to something closer to a movie? How much do I as an author want to set the stage and how much do I want to leave for the reader? Will adding these new elements make the reader more engaged or less? Tricky questions.

Already other authors are sharing their views. On the internet today are two different reactions, one from a non-fiction author, the other a fiction writer.
  • Joseph Linaschke, a professional photographer, posted on one of his blogs a few experimental pages of a photobook centered around his trip to Vietnam. Joseph's early-adopter actions lead me to think he's excited about the idea. (If you can, download and read his experimental book if not for the interactive book experience, for the photographs.)
  • Holly Lisle, a published fiction writer and writing teacher, has pulled all her books from the iBookstore because of changes in the EULA. She posted her reasoning here.
On the textbook side ... On yesterday's Tech News Today, a guest raised concerns about iPad availability and cost for students and how to manage hardware and books in the primary education environment. Additionally, she suggested that interactions with such a textbook could include a larger social aspect than with just an individual student, allowing for entire class group discussions.

This is just what popped up in my limited view in Facebook, email, and podcasts. I'm sure many other folks are weighing in on the news with varied opinions.

What do you think? What will ultimately happen? Let me know in the comments section.

As for me, I don't know how things will shake out. I suspect other companies will release a program similar to iBook Author that would let anyone, on any computer platform, create and sell their content on multiple computer platforms and devices, with less egregious terms and conditions

It will be interesting to watch the book writing and publishing industry, already undergoing transition, react to this further democratization of creating and publishing content. Who knows what other changes will be catalyzed?

What I know for sure is that I'll be keeping a close eye on it all.

13 January 2012

Mission Statment for Writing?

Christina Katz, in her latest book, The Writer's Workout, encourages every writer, regardless of genre, to create a mission for their writing. Really, a mission for my writing? When I read that, I groaned. "Another thing to do?"

My Old Badge Mission Card
But then, I gave it some thought.

Corporations have mission statements. As a matter of fact, I still have my badge companion from Intel that the company gave to every employee so we would carry a copy of the mission everywhere we went. So, I pulled it out and read it again, surprised to find it was from 2000. (Had it really been that long ago?) I remember how I worked to embody that mission. It wasn't too hard as integrity and discipline figured heavily in my own upbringing. What stuck with me was how that mission provided a foundation from which to conduct business with internal and external customers.
My Old Mission Statement

Shortly after I joined the company, I took a course called 7 Habits for Highly Successful People, in which mission statements came up again. I had to write a personal mission statement for my life. I balked at that, but as it was homework, I wrote one, and maybe not so coincidentally it was very similar to Intel's corporate mission. When I reincorporated a paper weekly planner in my life last year, I found that handwritten mission tucked into my old planner. Eleven years after leaving Intel, thirteen years of marriage, and three kids later, that mission still fit, even if it was too detailed for my tastes today. It was just a statement of how I wanted to present myself to the world.

A foundation to work from. How I want to present my work to the world. Maybe having a writing mission statement isn't that crazy.
My Writing Statement : TBD
So now, I'm committed to developing a mission centered on my writing. But what will my writing mission be? A good question that leads to other ones like: How will I present my writing to the world? What experience do I want an audience to get from my stories? I'm still figuring out the type of story to write ... romance, paranormal, fantasty, so I'll have to create one that encompasses my interests and aspirations. A tall order, but one I'm now prepared and ready to tackle.

Once I have one that speaks to me, I'll share it here on my blog.

04 January 2012

A TBR Books Quickie

Two of the gifts I received this holiday season were books. One by new-to-me author, Catherine Coulter and the other by not-new-to-me-author, Christina Katz. One historical-fiction, the other non-fiction. And I'm looking forward to both.

Why? Well, as for the Coulter book, I'm always looking for new stories to devour, to discover new places even if they are old, and to see how other authors craft their stories. Which leads me to why I'm excited for Katz's book: to improve my writing and develop a sustainable approach to this not-a-day-job-yet activity.

Any new books that you are excited to read? Let me know in the comments.

In case you were curious, the two books are ... 

Catherine Coulter's "The Valcourt Heiress"
Christina Katz's "The Writer's Workout"