Monthly Archives: January 2007

Struggling with WordPress Themes

If you’re wondering why i’ve not been posting lately, it’s because i’m hard at work trying to give this site a unique look, something easier said than done when my CSS skills are limited to Blogger redesigns. But it’s frustrating fun, and it’s a learning experience that should help with the readability of the blog, plus i’ve got a few ideas about web presentation for blooks that i want to try out.

Oh yeah, and i’m finishing up War and Peace and The Joy Luck Club. Reviews when the site looks nicer.

Currently Reading

Offline

war_and_peace.jpgWar and Peace. It’s nearly finished now, and boy they weren’t kidding when they said that there are no main characters in the book. Over 500 characters, and no main ones. Wow. That being so, i tend to pick which characters i like and then root for them, though the storyline’s so long and convoluted its hard to see what Tolstoy’s got coming for some of them. It’s well planned alright – War and Peace is not a compact, waterproof plot kind of thing – you’ve no idea what’s going to happen in the next chapter, the next volume or to your favourite character who seems to finally have things going for him (mine’s Prince Andrew Bolkonkski, just in case you’re wondering). What Tolstoy excels in, however, is the characters – all believable in actions and thoughts. More on this when i finally finish the book.

Online

sidebara.gifI’m currently reading Hackoff.com, which i had read halfway through a year ago but forgot. So i’m revisiting it, and i must say i’m rediscovering the humour in some of the episodes. The chat room sections of the blook are echoingly funny of real world internet lingo. And while it’s eating up most of my online time, i must say things are looking promising. Other reads: The Agency Delta, though i’ve only just started and am not sure how good it’ll be.

Unfree

Am also checking out The Open Laboratory, published earlier this year. Probably non-fiction, but if you’re interested in science blogs (this is, afterall, an anthology) buy it here at $8.69 for a download and $19.95 for the physical copy.

Blook Plugin

Connor Boyack has released a pretty good interesting plugin yesterday in his blog. It basically pulls all the posts you have on a stand-alone wordpress install (on your own server, like Novelr), removes the links, and then creates a footer with all the links listed. All videos and interactive media are removed, and then your posts are made downloadable in HTML format.

But the work’s not over. You’d have to format it in either Pages or InDesign (i have InDesign, but am not particularly comfortable with it), make it look reasonably readable, and then port it over to PDF format before submission to Lulu for publication. All of which requires basic CSS or HTML knowledge.

It might be useful, especially if you just want a hassle free port to paper, but for fiction not a particularly good idea. There has to be at least an editorial process before publication – to ensure quality and typos are accounted for … and so on so forth. I’ll install the plugin later – running out of time now, and i’ll see how it works. And don’t twiddle your fingers, just sitting around like that! Download it here.

PS: Apparently there are a few instructions … read them here.

Blook – A Truly Horrible Word

computers.jpg
I’d stopped blogging about blooks in Blogsome some time ago, due to exams and stress and pretty much real life. But looking back on the links and the commentary on the emergence of the word ‘blook’ is just gold. Check this out:

“These so called 75,000 new online diaries are not, by any stretch of the imagination mostly diaries. They are everything from diaries, to marketing channels, to sales channels, to small business models, to PR venues and more…Now, this extremely ridiculous label called ‘blook’ is trying to stick to the blogosphere (another outdated name) and keep the whole concept of mass communication via this platform in the realm of ‘tiddly-winks, thing-a-mabobs and watch-ya-macall-its’. Listen, not every new idea or process that results from this platform needs to start with ‘bl’. I don’t have a solution to this naming convention catastrophe, but, I do know that it’s not pretty.” Found here.

What a paragraph. Here’s another one i found back then:

“Am I being a dinosaur for feeling that this will mean even more stratification? 75,000 new online journals every day implies, to me, the old needle-in-a-haystack dilemma: many are called (or at least are hopeful) but damned few will be found. There are a few fascinating jewels that have come out of blogs, of course–though they seem mostly to deal with war and sex. Is there a market? Would the rest of you go in search of a blook?” Found here.

It is an interesting point, isn’t it? Would you go all out to find a blook? We live in a world where pictures do most of the talking, and then we have video, in which the talking is actually literal.

Would you go to the web to find literature? Hmm.

[Update!] Found this link! Blook receives sparce mention (see if you can find it), but the overall message of the article is clear: Blook. A member of the English lanuguage that doesn’t fit in. Wadd’ya expect? Bangalore?

Tucker Max – Blog to Book to TV

I have to laugh. Checking through one of my Google News Alerts recently alerted me to yet another blog turned to book turned to TV show (!), which set off little alarm bells in my mind. What did this guy do? Marvelous writing? A great storyline or a girlfriend grandmother in the publishing industry?

Well, i was right on one thing. An extremely readeable blog. But more on his story:

One-time Chicagoan Tucker Max hardly seems like the kind of guy who kept a diary as a kid. Yet he has turned his affinity for writing about himself into a mini-empire.

His tales of boozing and womanizing have taken him from a self-published blogger to The New York Times best-seller list and beyond. But the Guy Page wants to know what makes one blogger rich and another just narcissistic?

Apparently he is a ‘self proclaimed asshole’ (whatever that means), and his first book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is in the genre know as fratire – or chick lit for guys.

Now this got me laughing.

I have to be upfront about this – i never particularly liked chick lit, although i do suppose as a form of escapism it works pretty well. Then again i’m a guy, and i read classics. So how exactly is fratire going to work? I’m not sure, but i’ll find out as soon as possible and post something on the genre here, i suppose.

Another thing about Tucker Max – he recently got a deal with Comedy Central to write a pilot, but for what show, i’m not sure. Yet. And if it’s in a new category to make South Park run screaming away, then i must say i approve.

And of course from my vantage point, on the couch, sitting with a good book in hand.

So, Why Blogs?

pencils
Interesting question. Why do blooks exist in the first place? Why use blogs? If you take a look at Epiguide, you’ll find a slew of well established (some above 100 chapters) webisodes that run on normal websites.

Blogs give a few distinct advantages over the normal online novel. Let’s have a look at them:

Easier to update
Blogs do not require you to mess with html code everytime you want to update. You just have to create a new post in a Microsoft-Word-like environment. It saves time and prevents you from screaming once your table tags go haywire.

RSS
Billed as the future DNA of web, RSS is a very powerful tool to use when distributing your blook. Blogs automatically create RSS feeds as you update, and instead of visiting your blog (and thousands of others), readers just subscribe and have the feed delivered to their feed reader of choice. With feature rich services like Feedburner, you can even compile these feeds into an email subscription service – all the more to have chapters delivered to your readers’ doorsteps!

The Blogosphere
Writing in a blog automatically makes you part of the blogsophere – a lively, noisy (if you listen to podcasts, that is) ethos of opinionated people. This bodes well for your blook, as blogs trade links and connect to each other fairly fast. Hop over to Technorati to take a peek at all this action

The Coding Community
If you’re stuck building a website, there aren’t many places you can go to for advice. But blogging platforms have the benefit of collaborative users. If you have a layout problem with your blog (common when you’re trying to build a site for multiple browsers), just paste your code and have other users help you out. The Blogger forums are great for those dealing with the Blogger platform, while WordPress users have their support forums.

Trackbacks
Blogging is all about conversation. Trackbacks provide a way for you to link to a post you’ve read somewhere, thus helping you to both foster ties with other bloggers as well as driving new traffic to your blog. That’s the rough idea – for more info check out Movable Type’s explanation.

The Interaction
Core to the blogging experience is the fact that readers can comment easily on what you write. Fanmail is a thing of the past, and stories could very well be affected by what your readers expect and say on your plot. Draw a line here, however. Writers should determine how the story plays out, not the readers.

The Look, The Feel
Last, but not least, blogs provide an easy way for aspiring authors to present their work ina pleasing format. Websites require some work before they look good – blogs have ready-made, one-click templates. I admit things get a little more complex with some of the better blogging platforms (AJAX, anyone?) but overall blogs are a lot more accessible to the guy who knows how to write better than he codes.

Introduction

Take a loong look at the web 2.0 products around you. In a world of media, we have Flickr for photos, Youtube for videos, Pandora and Last.fm for music. We have blogs to replace factual guides. The modern day Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is Boing Boing.

What about fiction?

You bet there’s a Flickr for fiction? Fictionpress, you say?

Hah. You wish.

No. Fiction is not on the same scale as pictures or music or video. But we want more people to read, to write, to enjoy created worlds of magic, love and political strife.

I created Novelr to do exactly that. To review blooks of every kind and to help average Joes (like me) put up their stories on the web.

Novelr. Making people read.