In Between the Lines – The Paranormal

Paranormal – Beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanationAmerican Heritage Dictionary.

Humanity seems to be fascinated with the paranormal. It is the juice of many Hollywood movies. We cannot get enough of it. Whether we approach the topic with curiosity, fear, passion, or skepticism, we are drawn to the unknown because we seek to make sense of it. The paranormal is another theme present in my novels, and a topic that I love to research.

We are complex beings who live in a material world and make sense of it through our brain and senses, but seem to entertain a spiritual side or at least try to make sense of spirit, whether we are religious or not. It has been since the beginning of our species. Whether we choose to blur or highlight the line between spirituality and science, the issue is more our curiosity to find out more, to study it, to learn. It is our curiosity to learn that makes us human, whether we set out to prove or disprove the paranormal or make sense of our physical/material world.

History is full of examples, some gruesome, of our species trying to make sense of our surroundings – cave paintings, rituals, altars, religious persecution, witch huntings, signs on the sky … All of if represents to some degree our interpretation of an event, paranormal or not, in our search/attempt for an explanation or for power.

To a person in medieval times, a hologram would have represented the paranormal or the work of spirits or the devil; to us, and in the context of today’s culture and technology, it is merely an image produced and meant for entertainment or artistic expression. Our mind and culture has evolved to create and make sense of it. We have an explanation for it. If today, we were to present a holographic image to a remote culture that is removed from technology, the people might interpret it as paranormal or of spiritual origin because they cannot explain it through their present technology, knowledge, and experience. Something to ponder. Is the paranormal the absence of knowledge?

 

 

 

 

Smashing my Words and Other Vicissitudes

I decided to offer Moonlit Valley via Smashwords because it offers a wide distribution option for electronic books.  In a way, it was like killing many birds with one stone (ouch).  It offers the ePub format (nook, apple,kobo…) and others like the Sony reader, Palm, pdf, rtf, and of course plain text, as well as library lending.  This seems the perfect all-in-one, one-stop-shopping deal.  For someone like me, who gets easily overwhelmed by too many sites to keep track of, and too many profiles, joining Smashwords was a plus.  There is only one thing I did not like – the look of the end product of an electronic book.  Unlike Amazon Kindle, it is a bit messy and limited on what you can do with font type and font size.  Your chapters might end anywhere in the page, and the worst is that when you are trying to fix it, your book is out there available to the public – there is no in-between or prelude to the publishing button.  I was so worried that I could not get Moonlit Valley as spiffy as in the Amazon Kindle, that I became frustrated.  However, I hadn’t finish fixing my file when I already had three downloads for a sample of the novel – I guess a good thing.  How I dealt with this feeling?  It was easy.  I searched for the books of famous and best-selling authors, then looked at their file – they were having the same issues and troubles with how the novel looked.  Then,  I guessed that there was no way getting around that – Smashwords electronic books will never look as perfect as Amazon Kindle, but at least will offer readers who use the e-formats mentioned above the opportunity to find my books, and sample them.

I find that offering Moonlit Valley through Amazon in paperback and kindle format, as well as offering it through Smashwords in various e-formats covers pretty much everything (check the Novels tab in this blog).  So I am sticking with this way of doing things.  I advice that you  create profiles in Amazon USA, UK, France, EU, and that you do it in the main language (use goggle translator) as well as follow-up with an English description underneath (just in case).  Making use of the forums on Amazon/CS from time to time is a good idea as well. One thing I wish I could do is to manage all the Amazon stuff from one Hub, meaning the CS, Kindle, and Author Central – it would save much back and forth.

As far as social networking goes, I love Facebook because it offers so much, and although I don’t love twitter’s format that much, I am trying to get used to it.  To me, FB is more geared to follow-up in conversation, while Twitter feels like a bunch of birds chirping at the same time, with little or no interaction between them.  I will give it some time. One word of advice to new authors trying to get into social media, “it is not that easy to transfer all your people from your personal FB account into your Author Page – most of them will not click to join the new page, but they are more than happy to interact with you through your personal FB account.  So my advice is that if you are like me, who cannot bother with too many profiles and accounts (hence why I condensed two blogs into this one and this one will serve as my author blog as well), the best thing is to start your FB or Twitter accounts with your author name – it will be much easier in the long run.  I made that mistake, so now I share on both. I guess if you are using a pen name, then you have to keep multiples of everything, and to me that translates into nightmare.

For me, keeping it simple works best, despite all the advice out there saying that you  have to be in every format/platform available.  For me, doing that would be contra productive because I would end up tired, overwhelmed, and dreading the whole thing, and with no desire to write, which is the main purpose – writing novels.  For me this is what works:  Amazon +Kindle + Author Central + Smashwords + Facebook + Twitter + WordPress = A happy writer.

In the end, we want to be happy writers and enjoy the process.  Too much of anything gets in the way, that is how I feel.

MOONLIT VALLEY

MOONLIT VALLEY

I am adding this link as I think it is important news about the battle between Amazon and bookstores – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/drm-lawsuit-independent-bookstores-amazon_n_2727519.html

Technology – Big Brother or Big Sister?

Security camera at London (Heathrow) Airport. ...

Image via Wikipedia

Much has been said about Big Brother, surveillance, and the intrusion of others in our private lives.  However, must of us embrace technology, and the latest fun and new gadgets in the market.  We play with them, we love them, get mad at them when they don’t work properly or when we don’t know how to use them, can’t live with them, can’t live without them …

From chips in cell phones that can track our every move, to surveillance cameras in the streets, to chips that can store our likes and dislikes and cater to our whims by sending just the right advertising piece, … we are being watched, like it or not.  However, it is not the feeling of distrust that Big Brother suggests, but more like the Big Sister that protect us, likes us, and to whom we look up to.  We embrace her, we play with her, we love her, and we get mad at her sometimes, but soon we forget.  Technology has become our Big Sister.

Keeping Up with the Techies

Micro-chip - integrated electronics

Image via Wikipedia

Technology changes so fast that it amazes me.  I am conflicted at times by this issue.  Although it is fun to try new gadgets, it is hard to keep up with all that is going on in the technology area, especially in the world of electronics.  I do my best to keep up, at least to be informed.  It seems that as soon as one masters a gadget, another one appears, faster and better, with more applications and elements of awe.

This is the world that we live in, fast and techie, like it or not.  As writers, we can take advantage of these applications and technological advances or we can just get behind, and have less exposure and opportunities.  Eventually, the world keeps moving, readers evolve, genres do as well – even if it does not seem so obvious.  Embracing technology is opening doors; attempting to get up to speed on it, might be suicide for many, but at least we try.

Young writers are born with the speed and skills of a new generation of super techies, they are the future of writing, in tune with today’s readers, and at par with readers of the future.  Writing will evolve, at least in the mediums in which it is presented, as well as in the way stories are created, and future words come to be.  New technology creates new words … new worlds.