Writing at the Speed of Sound

Most people would be daunted at two sixteen-hour flights in the space of two weeks, wondering if they will sleep, whether they have seen all the movies, or what the food will be like. But I have found the perfect solution.

It involves a tablet, a charging station, and already being in the flow of writing your novel. The result was over 10,000 words each way. I never watched a movie, barely touched the food, and only dared the coffee once each trip.

A good pair of headphones helps. Apparently there was a baby in the vicinity and, according to my neighbor’s exasperations, the little tyke was definitely not writing. I’m sure his embattled parents offered a pacifier, milk, and other distractions, but maybe they should have got him on a writing regime before traveling.

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The flight attendants seemed to give me a wide berth because I seemed to miss the drinks all the time. One asked if I was on a work deadline – I think we were the only two awake on the plane at that point – well, I hope the pilots were too – and I was too engrossed to answer any more than a nod. Still, from that point on, she kindly supplied me with water every time she passed.

What was particularly exciting was that I allowed myself to just flow. Usually, I write three chapters from one character and then switch to another. It sets the book in a rhythm and allows me to switch dialogue or action without losing a balance (too much action or dialogue or intensity).

But for this trip, I just wrote from one character’s point-of-view until I had nothing else to write about them for now. Only then did I switch to another thread of the story. And I didn’t stop.

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True, back on US soil, I stared at a mass of squiggly red and green lines on my computer screen. There were spelling errors that even I couldn’t identify, and in two places I had to completely rewrite indecipherable paragraphs.

But, at the end of the day and the trip, I was over 20,000 words nearer the end of Wycaan Master Book 5. I got the strangest looks when the pilot announced we were landing and I looked up and wondered aloud: “Already?”

In other news, Thursday was my 50th birthday and waiting in my inbox was Sacrificial Flame – Wycaan Master Book 4, back from the formatters. Only a few weeks to go…

Sacrificial Flame Cover Hi Res

Now, when is my next trip?

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth (ebook currently at 99 cents), The First Decreeand Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+

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Dragged Into The 21st Century

Did you wake up this morning the proud/confused/intimidated owner of something small, electrical, and vaguely rectangular? Did you smile meekly last night while your loved ones looked on with bated breath as you apprehensively ripped open the packaging and did they cheer and clap their hands welcoming you into the technological age?

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And did they notice when you reached for that glass of single malt and took a gulp instead of a sip? Thousands of years in the future, archeologists will discover that man had a propensity to collect random items and leave them in their boxes. Often, they will propose theories to skeptical crowds, these gifts ran off of some obtuse energy source which was, no doubt very rare, since these gadgets seem to be hardly used.

Furthermore, they will note, primitive humans had a propensity to acquire the same gadget with slightly better features despite barely understanding the gadget’s predecessor.

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Have another sip of scotch. Oh, I forgot it is the morning after. Well you can always lace your cereal if you do it discreetly.

We are all entering the technological age, whether through brave adventurism, or without choice. You might as well take a deep breath and plunge in. Who knows, you might actually enjoy it.

Such things as cell phones and iPods seem to be accepted by all but a brazen few, even if the desire for the latest phone has nothing to do with actually making a call. The battle, for now, is over the tablet. The world (at least those of us who don’t need to worry about the little things like a roof over our heads, food at our next meal, or what’s in the water supply) is divided into three groups.

1. Embracing the technology. These people don’t just read on their iPad, Kindle or Nook, they embrace it, often with an annoying missionary zest. They don’t take it out of their bag at the coffee shop or on the bus, they brandish it, like a mighty sword from days long past.

They are liable to chastise you, often in a smug, sympathetic way, as you balance your hardcover on your lap. “Oh,” they whine in true Bob Dylan style, “How many trees does a Luddite reader fell…” When dealing with these people, it can be advantageous to note that the hefty hardcover has a distinct advantage over the light, sleek screen – it is far more effective when you take a swing at aforementioned pretentious individual.

2. Luddite Conviction. No way! We are already spending too much time on screens. A book is more than just words on paper. You can smell it, feel the page crackle as you move through the novel, feel the weight of the author’s perseverance as you hold his/her masterpiece in your hand… And then the classic, yet oft-doomed line: It will never catch on.

3. Dithering in the Middle. There is some middle ground. I have to admit that I love my Kindle. It is light, convenient, and I get a kick about the environmental aspects. However, I do also miss the feel and smell of the book. I love the art of a well thought out book cover, and I also love reading while soaking in a hot bath. My bookshelves are an important part of my identity in our house and I hope sets a certain tone with my family.

So, some Advice for The Morning After:

Firstly: Don’t Panic! Take a deep breath, slowly unwrap the gadget and take it out of its box.

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Then: Go on your computer and find either the website for the company or go to You Tube. There are some really good, simple, step-by-step videos for people like us. I know, half of my readers are men and we read instruction manuals like we ask people for directions (btw – you might have a GPS navigator on your tablet).

Finally: Have another whisky. It is the holiday season after all. And take note: if you are reading this blog, then you have already embraced the blogosphere: the cutting edge of the Internet. You are already firmly in the 21st century, dude. YOU CAN DO THIS!

Oh, and if you did receive a Kindle, iPad, or whatever, this might be a good first book to read on your gadget (couldn’t resist!). In fact, how else can you stack up with an award-winning epic fantasy trilogy for just $9….Just saying!

Happy Hols’

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, The First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+