All Posts in “Writing & Publishing”

Dr. Strangewrite or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the eBook

Ian David Philpot

Web Editor Ian David Philpot addresses the topic of eBooks from the perspective of an undergraduate student looking to become an author immediately after graduation in eight weeks.

I have two bookshelves from IKEA that take up a lot of space in my room. They are wonderful and everything I had ever wanted from a book-holding structure, but they are also very full.

My girlfriend, who bought me the first of the two bookshelves, recently asked me if I wanted a Kindle for graduation. My immediate response was “No.” I mean, how could I stand to ever read a novel from anything but an actual book? As an aspiring author, the thought of eBooks is nauseating. When I get a hold of a published copy of my first novel, I want to feel the pages, not the pixels. I want to breathe in the stories just by smelling the physical object in my hand. (Have you ever tried to sniff your computer screen? I tried it once. Apparently there was some static build up on the screen. I got zapped.)

I’m also aware of the large stigma attached to “online-only” publications. Don’t get me wrong, there are some I follow very closely because I know who the editors are, but a majority of the literary community is concerned about the quality being produced by online-only journals. (And if someone happens to read a story they don’t like from one online-only publisher, they may forever be turned off to the idea, whereas that person isn’t likely to give up physical books.)

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Parts of me wants to have an eBook reader: the tech savvy part, the part of me that always travels light, and the environmentally conscious part. That last part is where my biggest struggle exists.

I want to do everything I can to help out with the environment. I turn off the faucet when I brush my teeth. I take home plastic bottles from work–my day job doesn’t have a recycling program in place. These are little things, I know, but I like to think they’re helping out. So what if I didn’t have to buy any more physical books at all? (Textbooks especially.)  Then I started the process of justifying timber sacrifice for my personal needs.

NPR and CPR or: eBook Bound

Then NPR posted a link on Facebook to Lynn Neary’s article “No Ink, No Paper: What’s the Value of an eBook?” I was scared when I started reading.  What if I finally write something good and it’s never actually printed on paper? What if Richard Stallman gets a hold of it and starts distributing it for free? What if my book never makes any money? I dropped my laptop and ran to find a paper bag to stop from hyperventilating.

When I regained consciousness… Okay, so maybe I didn’t really pass out, but I did freak out. What right did NPR have of presenting me with the harshness of reality? I was so upset, I went back to the article to read the rest. And a peace came over me when Neary quoted Chris Dannen, a freelance writer:

“If you have iTunes selling your books, you have this entire store right on everyone’s desktop and you can expose them to a lot more,” Dannen says. “You can just get them into the habit of buying books, and more importantly, you make the whole process of buying completely frictionless.”

iTunes–where I spend over $100 a year buying music–could be selling my book to anyone near a computer? How could I not like that idea?

So Erin, if you’re reading this, I’ll have the Kindle with a side of eBooks, please.

***

NOTE: Relief will not be abandoning the printed form anytime in the foreseeable future. Our eBooks are available on Scribd.

***

Ian David Philpot is studying English at Northern Illinois University and spent one year in Columbia College Chicago’s Fiction Writing program.  He writes fiction, poetry, and music.   Ian prefers black to white, vanilla to chocolate, and only eats yellow cake.

Photo Haiku Wednesday 3.10.10

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Kasan.

Directions:

1. Write a haiku inspired by the photo and post it in the comments.

For extra chances to win:

2. Follow @reliefjournal on Twitter

3. Follow @Quo Vadis on Twitter

4. Twitter @reliefjournal with your haiku and #PHW (Photo Haiku Wednesday)

* * *

The good people over at Quo Vadis have generously donated some prizes!!

The weekly winner will receive a Quo Vadis Habana Journal and a bottle of J. Herbin ink!!

Every week Relief will choose a random winner! So play along and tell your friends. See the information below for extra chances to win.

* * *

Winner will be announced via Twitter Thursday afternoons.

We can only ship to U.S. addresses right now.

You may only win once every three months, but you may play along every week for Twitter Super Bonus Points.

* * *

Would you like to have your photo featured on Photo Haiku Wednesday?

Email your photos to Michelle: photohaiku@reliefjournal.com

You’ll get a photo credit link here on the main blog and you’ll also be entered in the drawing for the Quo Vadis Habana journal and bottle of J. Herbin ink the week your photo appears on the blog!

Deleted Scene: The Scar

Lisa Ohlen Harris

Lisa Ohlen Harris provides us with a short passage that didn’t make it into her forthcoming book Through the Veil. (This post first appeared on her website LisaOhlenHarris.com.)

I stayed home with the baby that night. I must have fallen asleep on the sofa, because when I woke about midnight, Todd wasn’t home yet. The gathering at the Manning’s house must have run late, I thought.

While I was putting on pajamas and brushing my teeth, Todd was helping Tim out of the wrecked taxi. A couple of Arab shabab stopped at the scene of the accident to ask if they could help; they took Tim to the emergency room to have his head sewn shut.

When they left the Manning’s house, the guys had waved down a taxi. Tim sat in the front seat, because his Arabic was better than Todd’s. There was a seat belt on the passenger’s side, Tim remembered later, but it was grimy and dusty. He thought briefly that he should put it on anyway, but pushed the thought away knowing that the driver would interpret this as an insult to his driving—and a lack of trust in the will of God.

Todd woke me up when he finally got home, early in the morning. It was still dark, but I remember hearing the birds sing outside our bedroom window. When I turned on a lamp, I saw blood all over Todd’s sandals and a deep gash between his toes, almost splitting his foot for an inch or so. It should have been sutured, but he hadn’t noticed his own injury while he was at the hospital with Tim. Todd’s wound took weeks to heal, and he still has the scar. It’s easy to hide under socks and shoes.

We didn’t see Tim over the weekend, and when he came to the language school that Monday he had a big piece of gauze taped over the wound. When his forehead healed enough he took gauze off, but it wasn’t until the sutures were removed that we all saw the jagged crescent.

———-

So there’s the “deleted scene.” The guys were in a taxi crash. Tim hurt his head and ended up with a crescent-shaped scar. It’s kinda interesting, but so what? I mean, really, why would this story matter to anyone but our family and Tim’s? I might tell about the accident when we get the old gang together, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s book-worthy.

As I assembled my chapters for Through the Veil, I wanted each memory, each chapter to say something more than, “This happened then that happened, now isn’t the Middle East exotic?”

Ultimately, the taxi accident memory just didn’t make the cut.

***

Lisa Ohlen Harris is Relief’s Creative Nonfiction editor. Her Middle East memoir, Through the Veil, will be published by Canon Press in 2010. Lisa’s essays have appeared in journals like River TeethArts & Letters, and The Laurel Review, and have received special mention in Pushcart Prize XXXIII: Best of the Small Presses (2009) and in Best American Spiritual Writing (2008 and 2010). Lisa enjoys mentoring and editing the work of emerging writers through her critique service.

My Emerging Tendencies

Michael Dean Clark

This is the first in a series of four entries on “being” a writer.

I’ve spent the last four years completely committed to becoming a published author and yet only recently come to terms with calling myself a writer when people ask what I do for work. Even though I’ve written since I was young, saying it out loud (and claiming it as a vocation no less) has always felt a bit presumptuous and a lot bougie. And then there’s the inevitable follow-up question:

What’s your book called?

Um, I don’t have one. Until a couple years ago, I didn’t have a single fiction credit to my name. The awkward moment that follows generally ends with another question, or really, variations on the same question:

So what do you really do? Oh, so what’s your day job then? So, writing’s a hobby then? Where does your money come from?

Since drug sales and exotic dancing don’t seem to be acceptable answers to those questions, I’ve been obliged to tell people I teach writing and am working on a terminal degree (anyone else think that a Ph.D. and cancer sharing an adjective is odd?). And then the nod comes. You know, the head bob that says, Oh, you’re a loser.

Recently, however, I’ve had a couple pieces published and some “encouraging” agent rejection letters. As a result, I find myself described in a new way. Now, I’m not a loser, I’m an “emerging writer.” I am troubled by this title as well. Am I a grizzly rolling out of months of winter hibernation? Am I a developing nation? The consensus seems to be that I’m somewhere between caterpillar and butterfly, which in my estimation makes me that nasty, gray chrysalis from which a living creature may or may not spring.

If you think I’m wrong, try out the following:

Sir, you’re going to need triple bypass heart surgery. But don’t worry; one of our brightest emerging surgeons will perform the procedure.

I know you’re on trial for murder, but you’ve got an emerging public defender representing you.

When I think about the idea of emergence, I immediately want another title. I’m trying a few out. Tell me what you think.

I am under-published. I am material heavy and publication light. I’m very market selective. My readership is still on an indie level. Commercial success isn’t all that important. My family likes some of what I write and you should too. If I’m not the next “it” writer, I feel safe saying I could be the next “that” writer.

That last one seems a bit long and probably wouldn’t go over well on a resume. Maybe the one before it too.

I guess I just want to feel less like a fraud when I call myself a writer. Then again, if great novelists like J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, and Lauren Conrad from The Hills never settled comfortably into the title, maybe I shouldn’t expect too either.

Michael Dean Clark is an author of fiction and nonfiction and is in the final stages of earning a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin. His work is set primarily in his hometown of San Diego and has been known to include pimps in diapers, heroin-addicted pastors who suffer from OCD, and possibly the chupacabra.

Photo Haiku Wednesday 3.3.10

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Kasan.

Directions:

1. Write a haiku inspired by the photo and post it in the comments.

For extra chances to win:

2. Follow @reliefjournal on Twitter

3. Follow @Quo Vadis on Twitter

4. Twitter @reliefjournal with your haiku and #PHW (Photo Haiku Wednesday)

* * *

The good people over at Quo Vadis have generously donated some prizes!!

The weekly winner will receive a Quo Vadis Habana Journal and a bottle of J. Herbin ink!!

Every week Relief will choose a random winner! So play along and tell your friends. See the information below for extra chances to win.

* * *

Winner will be announced via Twitter Thursday afternoons.

We can only ship to U.S. addresses right now.

You may only win once every three months, but you may play along every week for Twitter Super Bonus Points.

* * *

Would you like to have your photo featured on Photo Haiku Wednesday?

Email your photos to Michelle: photohaiku@reliefjournal.com

You’ll get a photo credit link here on the main blog and you’ll also be entered in the drawing for the Quo Vadis Habana journal and bottle of J. Herbin ink the week your photo appears on the blog!