Thursday, November 12, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
It was really cool to see an article about FastPencil in the Santa Cruz Sentinel this morning. Especially because I used to work at the Sentinel many years ago and I know how many changes that paper has been through.
There were guys upstairs like Bill and John who had scars on their forearms from the hot lead they had to pour to make newspaper plates. When I joined the Sentinel we were still printing out stories on paper and waxing them onto boards to be photographed. We worked in Picas. I helped make the transition to direct-to-film where we would compose the pages on computer and print them to film. That's when Pixels became important. Just before I left we were implementing a content management system that allowed editors to enter stories directly onto the page... and the internet was taking off.
Today the Sentinel is basically a virtual paper. There is an office in Scotts Valley but the giant metal press, the million-dollar monster that used to occupy half a city block is no longer in Santa Cruz. In it's last hurrah, I heard it fell off the truck at the top of Hwy 17 and closed down traffic for hours!
So this morning I got to be featured in an article about FastPencil and how we are going to revolutionize publishing... the technology is finally ready, the people are ready, the customers are ready. Where will the Sentinel be in 5 years? Maybe using FastPencil?
Posted by Michael Ashley at 3:28 PM
Sunday, November 01, 2009
It Takes a Village to Write A Novel
You may have heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. That's also true of novel writing. While the image of the lonely writer hammering away at her typewriter in a dark room for days on end springs to mind, today a writer has to employ every available trick to slip away from the chaos of life and get the words out.
One wildly successful program has helped thousands of writers get published. It's called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Every November writers are challenged to create a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. If you complete a novel, you "win" the contest. It's a challenge where your only competitor is yourself. Unfortunately most participants fail the challenge because they attempt to take on this Herculean task alone.
Today, you can invite your friends to take the NaNoWriMo challenge with you. Take advantage of Facebook and Twitter to post your progress. Do your writing online in a collaborative tool so friends can read, comment and encourage you to finish. It takes a village to write a book, and your village is online.
Don't Give in to Procrastination
Procrastination will kill your novel faster than a New York publisher. The good thing about joining a group of crazy authors in the 30-day challenge is heightened awareness, especially of procrastination. When you commit to writing 50,000 words in 30 days, and you have a group of friends watching, it's much harder to put off the hard work of creating that novel. You quickly learn that one missed day means twice the effort the following day.
When you learn to write every day, resistance starts to diminish and you find procrastination fades, too. If you have a great idea, writing 3,000 words a day is the best way to keep it alive.
Think of Your Novel as A Sculpture
NaNoWriMo offers you a chance to focus purely on writing, the wonderful process of allowing ideas to flow into your book. Don't worry about perfection. Don't even worry about greatness. Just focus on your story, and getting the words out. Sculptors start with a big chunk of material and gradually chip it down. You can do the same thing. After you finish NaNoWriMo, you can clean it up, tighten it, and polish it.
Editing takes time and diligent effort, but it truly makes the difference between a good idea and a great book. It's not easy to strip down the words you have painfully called forth, but to quote Robert Louis Stevenson, "There is but one art, to omit."
Realize Your Dream of Becoming A Published Author
These days it's easier than ever to publish a book. So why not give yourself the goal of not just writing a novel, but also publishing it? Print on demand technology gives you the ability to inexpensively print a single copy of your book. You can even distribute it as an eBook for far less than you'd expect.
By combining social writing tools, inexpensive publishing, and hard work, you can not only win NaNoWriMo, but also get published. All in 30 days.
Join me on FastPencil as I trudge through my novel this year: FastPencil.com/users/mashley
Posted by Michael Ashley at 4:12 PM