Tag Archives: books

Left or Full Justification?

I can’t make my mind up.  Do I prefer that fictional books I read are printed (ink or pixels) with paragraphs left justified or fully justified?  Since school days I’d always considered that full justification should be the preserve of factual books, newspapers and magazine.  Somehow it looked purpose-designed for learned treatises and similar worthy works, but now I’m not sure.  What do you think?

In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified.

Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified.

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SHUN HOUSE Available!

FINALLY!

E-book and Paperback available from the usual channels.

E-book and Paperback available from the usual channels.

It seemed to take forever to get here but at last Shun House is published.  Available through CreateSpace immediately, Amazon within the next few days, and other sales channels within the next week or two (probably).

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Great Offer from NewCon Press

Thought I’d spread the word on behalf of my chum Ian Whates:

IanWhates

Just to alert everyone that during this month I’m crashing the price on a whole load of NewCon Press titles, as part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations (including ‘Shoes Ships and Cadavers’ featuring our own group’s work) and Andy’s novel ‘The Outcast and the Little One. Books are discounted by as much as 80%, meaning that some titles are as low as £2.00, and they include many signed limited editions. Prices return to normal at the end of the month.

The offer includes titles by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Stan Nicholls, Steve Rasnic Tem, Gary McMahon, Liz Williams, Chris Beckett, David Mercurio Rivera, Kim Lakin-Smith, Eric Brown, Dave Hutchinson, Nina Allan, Keith Brooke, our own Ian Watson, Andrew Hook, Andy West, me, and anthologies featuring all sorts of people…
http://www.newconpress.co.uk/info/books.asp?offers=yes

I recommend everyone to go take a look!   🙂

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Books – Short or Long?

I heard on the radio today that there’s a move a-foot for authors to be paid by the number of pages that readers actually read, rather than by the book – I didn’t catch the whole article but I suspect a certain South American river may be the source of the story.

It’s certainly an interesting idea. In theory it would root out all those writers who (and I’m prepared for someone to say I ought to be included in this) really and truly shouldn’t be writing in the first place. I’m sure we’ve all picked up books that have a great cover, an intriguing title, excellent blurb on the back and so forth, but when we actually turn the pages (physical or electronic) and begin to absorb the content we find that the quality of the writing leaves something to be desired. Even ignoring the punctuation and spelling and just looking at the execution, we suddenly come face to face with paragraphs a bit like this:

The king had a princess he was going to mary off to the first guy who could rid his kingdom of the deadly menace that had been stalking his kingdom for many years in the form of a hideous monster. He made a proclamateon that anyone that could kill the beast would get his daughters hand in marriage as a reward for killing the beast.

“Let it be known that I will give my daughters hand in marrage as a reward for killing the monster that has been molesting my kingdom for many years.”

Hmm. No, I won’t reveal the book or writer because that would be poor sport, but the above exemplifies the quality of all too many works currently being offered to the public and marketed (okay, self-marketed in this case) as being ‘a great read’. (Alright, maybe there aren’t too many quite as dire as the above, but a fair few get awfully close!)

So maybe being paid for what the reader reads isn’t a bad idea. But there may be a problem.

Following that particular marketing strategy would, I think, result in a plethora of short stories and potentially hammer a nail into the coffin of full-length novels. It could become more economical for a writer to focus on tales of a score of pages rather than invest their time in producing anything more substantial. (If that’s where the money is, you can’t blame the author; they need to eat too, you know.)

That’s not to say established writers, the ones with great agents and funded by wealthy publishing houses (yes, admitting to a smidgeon of jealousy there!) wouldn’t still write epic tomes of adventure and daring-do. I’m sure they will. But for newbies it will mean there is less incentive to write ‘big’.

Writing a long piece is a great way to hone your burgeoning skills as an author. A single plot line doesn’t always suffice for a full-sized book so you will need to master the art of keeping track of multiple plots and sub-plots. You will have to learn how to develop your characters in a way that makes the reader (hopefully) empathise with (if not necessarily like) them. You have to come to grips with pace and tempo, as well as expanding your vocabulary so your reader doesn’t get fed up seeing the same word repeated over and over. And learn grammar rules so you avoid the sin of starting sentences with ‘And’!

And(!) what of the future? Will we become so accustomed to being spoon-fed with short-bursts of instant storylines that we lose the ability to concentrate on anything longer than a few pages? Where will the next Tom Clancy come from? The next Jane Austen? Terry Pratchett? (Hugely missed.)

So what I’m saying is, don’t forsake the big book in favour of the little book (and I confess to having written several shorts myself.) By all means read short stories, especially those written by newcomers, but also browse the catalogues and pick up the next Dune, the next Lord of the Rings, the next Dracula. If you don’t, our literary world might easily become a far less diverse and interesting place to be.

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A Sneak Preview of the Opening Chapter to Shun House

As I mentioned previously, I hope to publish Shun House in summer 2015.  However, for those who would like a little advance on the delivery, click the image to read the opening chapter.

Shun House

Cover for book, hopefully release in summer 2015

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‘Last Star’ in ‘Looking Landwards’

With the impending crises of climate change, scarcity of water, dwindling energy reserves and spiraling global populations, the effective management of our land and the food it produces has never been more relevant. Established in 1938 by a small group of far-seeing and enthusiastic engineers and agriculturalists, the Institution of Agricultural Engineers provides a professional nexus for the scientists, technologists, engineers, and managers working in the many and varied forms of land-based industry.

In 1988 the IAgrE marked its 50th anniversary with a publication that considered the changing face of farming and agricultural engineering over the previous half century. In 2013, to mark their 75th anniversary, they have chosen to commission a book that looks forward at what the future might hold. To help them achieve this, they approached NewCon Press.

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

Looking Landwards represents NewCon Press’ first ever open submissions anthology. We have been overwhelmed by the response, receiving submissions not only from within the UK but also from the USA, Australia, mainland Europe, Africa, and Asia; from professional writers and would-be writers, from scientists and engineers who are actively involved in dealing with the book’s themes to people who have simply been inspired by them. Looking Landwards features the very best of these stories. Twenty-three works of science fiction and speculation that dare to look to the future and examine what lies ahead for farming, for agricultural engineering and for all of us.

Contents:

  1. Introduction by Andy Newbold and Chris Whetnall of the IAgrE
  2. The Blossom Project – M Frost
  3. Contraband – Terry Martin
  4. When Shepherds Dream of Electric Sheep – Sam Fleming
  5. Inversion Centre – Darren Goossens
  6. Ode to an Earthworm – Gareth D Jones
  7. A Touch of Frost – Renee Stern
  8. The World Coyote Made – Jetse de Vries
  9. Earthen – Alicia Cole
  10. Soul Food – Kim Lakin-Smith
  11. Charlie’s Ant – Adrian Tchaikovsky
  12. Cellular Level – J E Bryant
  13. My Oasis Tower – Holly Ice
  14. Throw Back – Gill Shutt
  15. Mary on the Edge – Steven Pirie
  16. Landward – Den Patrick
  17. Long Indeed Do We Live… – Storm Constantine
  18. Tractor Time – Kate Wilson
  19. Veggie Moon – Neal Wooten
  20. Wheat – Kevin Burke
  21. Blight – Dev Agarwal
  22. Black Shuck – Henry Gee
  23. A Season – Rebecca J. Payne
  24. The Last Star – Nigel Edwards
  25. About the Authors

Released 28th October 2013, Looking Landwards will be published as:

A5 paperback (ISBN 978-1-907069-59-8)   Price:   £11.99 (UK), $20.99 (USA)

A numbered, limited edition hardback, each copy signed by all the contributing authors:

(ISBN: 978-1-907069-58-1)   Price:   £29.99

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LAST STAR

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

A nice email arrived the other day saying that my latest story has been accepted for publication in an anthology called Looking Landwards, to be published (paperback + hardback signed edition, date to be announced) by NewCon Press.

To give you a little foretaste, here’s a very short extract of my contribution – I hope you like it:

Goosegirl broke the lamb’s legs by placing a foot on them one at a time, taking a firm handhold then pulling, sharply.  One, two, three, four.  The animal had stopped bleating so she figured it was probably dead.  Four years after first being introduced to the necessity of such things, the work no longer made her sick.

A few well-practiced slices with the blade she always kept so sharp it could cut through butter – whatever that was; something the Olders talked about when they reminisced, along with chocolate, paraffin, and sugar.  Goosegirl figured butter must have been really hard and tough to crack, even though Great Gramps said he used to eat it.  She assumed he must have had really strong teeth.

Now the woolly coat was almost ready to be stripped from the flesh.  One long, circular stroke to separate the body skin from the head skin and then…

Baa!

Goosegirl looked up.  Another lamb was standing pathetically in the straw, wondering where its mother was, where the next meal of warm milk would come from.

“She ain’t around no more,” Goosegirl said.  “Storm done for her, just like for this one.  But don’t you worry.  You’ll soon be dressed extra warm for your new momma.”

Nearby, a ewe tethered to a stanchion started bleating, calling for her own lost newborn. Could she smell the blood, Goosegirl wondered?  Did she recognize the scent of her offspring?  Or was she unaware that her baby was close, dead, ready to be divested of its dermal layers?

“You need a lambkin to love,” Goosegirl told her as she ripped the fleece free of the raw carcass and quickly dressed the orphan.

“There.  Maybe you ain’t so pretty with all those bloody smears, but your new momma will take to you, I promise.”  She shepherded the lamb across the floor to where the prospective foster parent was waiting, then watched while the bond formed, the youngster beginning to suckle.  Orphans didn’t survive long on their own out in the pastures, not in the harsh, late winter.  This one was lucky that its own mother had been valuable prime stock, and had therefore been tracked by Manager, the Farm’s overseer, who’d directed the rescue.

After cleaning and sheathing the knife, Goosegirl collected up her bulky, one-piece fur-lined weatherproofs and clambered inside.  She pulled the fresh meat in with her; that would help keep the smell of blood out of the wind – no sense in attracting hunters on the trek back to the house.  A balaclava with attached snow-goggles was next, and then the hood and muffler.  Moving around with all that gear on wasn’t easy, but this was essential preparation before stepping outside.  With a final glance towards the new ‘family’ she opened the barn doors.

The blizzard howled in.

Best Wishes,
Nigel.

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Are Movies Better Than Books?

Has the written word had its day?

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