Guess what? It’s another book meme

I picked this up from Scribe, who picked it up from Benjamin Solah, who grabbed it from Bites… You can follow it back further yourself if you’re really interested.

I thought it was worth a look as it’s a bit different from the others I’ve put on here up till now. Consider yourself tagged if you want to have a go. Drop a comment here if you do reproduce it yourself, with a link so I can come and have a look at your answers.

Hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback?

I’m not especially fussed, to be honest. I tend to have more mass market paperbacks than anything else, but that’s primarily a financial consideration. I’d love to have a library of hardbacks. I’d also love to have a twenty acre property that I could enjoy from the driver’s seat of a Ferrari Enzo, but there you go.

Barnes & Noble or Borders?

Do we have B&N over here in Australia? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. There was a Borders in Bondi Junction, near where I used to live, and I enjoyed browsing there as the place was just so freaking huge. But I prefer a dingy little independent store with dust on the shelves given the choice.

Bookmarks or dog-ear?

I don’t mind a book looking like it’s been read and enjoyed, so I’m not against dog-earing a page. But I usually tend to tear off the corner of the newspaper or something similar and use that as a bookmark.

Amazon or brick-and-mortar?

Both. I love to browse in brick-and-mortar stores, but I also love to shop at Amazon. I just wish we had an in order to enjoy local shipping rates. Do you hear me, Jeff Bezos? We read down here too, you know!

Alphabetize by author, by title or randomize?

In a store, definitely alphabetise by author. At home, my OCD tendencies encourage me to do the same, but I’m usually pretty slack at it. I’m both obsessive and lazy.

Keep, throw away or sell?

Throw away a book?! THROW IT AWAY?! There should be a gaol sentence for that. Or better yet a public flogging. I’ll keep all the books I can. If I don’t enjoy a book I’m likely to trade it in at a second hand book store for something else. I once sold a load of books to finance an overseas trip and I still regret that.

Keep dust jacket or remove it?

Permanently? Keep it, of course. It’s an integral part of the book. But I usually take them off while reading and leave them on the shelf. I put them back when I’ve read the book.

Read with dust jacket or remove it?

Oh right. See above.

Short story or novel?

Both. I love the short story medium (I love reading them and writing them). I also love novels. There’s not really any distinction for me. A story is a story and the length is irrelevant.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?

I’ve never read Lemony Snicket, so can’t really answer this one. I’ve have read all the Harry Potter stuff and, to be honest, it wouldn’t take much for Lemony Snicket to be better…

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?

I’ve woken up with a book all crushed underneath me before, so I don’t tend to let tiredness stop me from reading. If I have to do something else I’ll usually try to get to the end of a chapter before I put the book down.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?

Dark and stormy all the way. Once upon a time usually has a Disney-esque moral and that gets a bit tiresome. Although real fairy tales are brilliant.

Buy or borrow?

Both. I’ll buy things as often as possible in order to hoard them and cram my bookshelves like a magpie stuffing its nest. But I’ll borrow too, if something is recommended to me.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations or browse?

All three. Probably reviews are the least likely thing to swing me one way or another, but I tend to buy based on all kinds of things. Sometimes it’s just a feeling in the gut and that often leads me to ripping yarns. Always trust your gut.

Tidy ending or cliff hanger?

Depends if there’s a sequel. It also depends on how well it’s done. A good, clever cliffhanger can be great, but not if it’s a cop out because the author couldn’t think of a good ending.

Morning, afternoon or night time reading?

Just like Martini – Anytime, anyplace, anywhere, that’s my reading… (That old Martini ad is really quite the tautology. Surely anyplace and anywhere mean exactly the same thing? Anyway…)

Stand alone or series?

Both. A solid standalone novel is always a pleasure, but series can build so much more detail and character. But only if it’s a good series. Multiple books rambling on about the same old bollocks page after page just for the sake of it are a crock. (Yes, I’m talking to you Robert Jordan! (I know he’s dead now, but I can still hold the same opinion I had when he was alive.))

Favourite series?

Tough call. The Lord Of The Rings is eternal, I really enjoyed The Belgariad and the Discworld books are perennial favourites. Also the Hitchhiker’s Guide… man, I could never pick a favourite. There are so many good series.

Favourite children’s book?

A three way tie between Charlotte’s Web, Stig Of The Dump and Runaway Ralph.

Favorite YA book?

I’m not sure I’ve really read anything specifically Young Adult. I did really enjoy Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy recently – does that count?

Favorite book of which no one else has heard of?

I should refuse to answer this question on the grounds of grammatical butchery. However, one that springs to mind is Replay by Ken Grimwood. It won the 1988 World Fantasy Award, so people must have heard of it, but whenever I mention it to friends they always shake their head. But you should read it. It’s brilliant.

Favorite books read last year?

I finally got around to reading Ender’s Game last year. I picked the twist very early on, but it feels like the reader is supposed to pick it before the kids realise. I enjoyed it a lot and it’s the only one that comes to mind right now.

Favorite books of all time?

Impossible to say. There are dozens of books that I absolutely love, but would never be able to pick one favourite.

What are you reading right now?

The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks. And it’s excellent. I have about half of the last book left to go.

What are you reading next?

I got Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson for my birthday recently, so I’ll probably give that a go.

Favorite book to recommend to an 11-year-old?

I would say RealmShift and MageSign, but that would just be mean and corruptive of young minds. So perhaps I’d say The Lord Of The Rings.

Favorite book to re-read?

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels. I never get tired of those stories.

Do you ever smell books?

Of course. But I do prefer to smell bookshops – I like a more intense book sniffing experience.

Do you ever read primary source documents, like letters or diaries?

Only when I’m not supposed to. It’s just boring otherwise.


Bloggers Unite For Hunger And Hope

hungerToday is Unite For Hunger And Hope day. It’s a simple concept that bloggers everywhere post about global hunger to raise awareness of the situation. From the Unite website, here are a few facts and figures:

• Right now, more than 500 million people are living in “absolute poverty” and more than 15 million children die of hunger every year.

• World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the population is underfed and another third is starving.

• Even in the United States, 46 percent of African-American children and 49 percent of Latino children are considered chronically hungry.

There is enough money and enough food in the world right now to end global poverty and hunger, if countries would pull together and make it happen. First world countries are greedy and full and that makes it hard to recognise what it must be like to not know where your next meal is coming from. I’m very late to this party and don’t really have much to add of any substance, other than putting my hand up to be a part of a solution. Try to be aware of the food you buy and eat and see if you can only buy from your own country’s production, instead of buying produce that’s been stolen from the mouths of starving families and shipped around the world. Awareness is the beginning of solutions.

(Hat tip to Michael for this one).


The power of words and perception

I’m a big fan of using words in powerful ways. I suppose that’s a given, seeing that I’m a writer. But regardless, when people are clever with words and language and create something more than it first appears to be I always applaud the effort. This is a great example, originally created for the AARP U@50 video contest. It won placed second place.


Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics

I picked this little gem up from S F Signal, one of my all time favourite blogs. If you’re a sci-fi fan you should definitely add them to your RSS feed. This particular piece is something that has always fascinated me, for its brevity and completeness. Very few things are truly brief and complete, but Asimov nailed robot laws with this one. Here’s a young Asimov explaining his laws:

Edit: If you can’t see the vid below, you can see it here on S F Signal or here at YouTube.

The Three Laws of Robotics:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

For all those people that think the Skynet is falling in regards to robots and the machines taking over the world, this is some small comfort. Of course, truly self aware robots would happily break rules as easily and regularly as we do, but I guess that’s the perceived difference between social rules and hard programming.

Regardless, these rules exist initially in the form of fiction (I Robot being the primary example), but they also carry over into true life robotics. Any sufficiently advanced robot that gets developed will have these laws programmed in. And that’s a very cool thing. These are rules that first appeared in Asimov’s short story Runaround in 1942. (Incidentally, Asimov also coined the term robotics in 1941.)


In further developments over time a fourth and fifth law have been added by others. I like to think of these as the Blade Runner Addenda:

In 1974 Lyuben Dilov’s novel Icarus’s Way added the Fourth Law:

A robot must establish its identity as a robot in all cases.

Nikola Kesarovski, in his short story The Fifth Law of Robotics, added the Fifth Law:

A robot must know it is a robot.

You can see why I think of these as Blade Runner laws. Another Fourth Law appeared in the 1986 tribute anthology, Foundation’s Friends. Harry Harrison wrote a story called The Fourth Law of Robotics in which a robot rights activist attempts to liberate robots by adding a Fourth Law that states, “A robot must reproduce. As long as such reproduction does not interfere with the First or Second or Third Law.” The robots build new robots who see their creator robots as parental figures, which is all a bit weird. Like all the other robot stuff isn’t weird…

Anyway, this is a fairly non sequitur post, but I’m a big fan of the concept of robots so I love this stuff. Blade Runner is still my all time favourite film, for example. So if you’re a sci-fi writer and you like to play with robots, don’t forget Isaac Asimov and his ground breaking ideas.


Friday Guest Blog – Five Months Hard Writing by Avery K Tingle

averyktingleToday we have a guest blog from my friend Avery K Tingle. I met Avery through the ever expanding virtual world of writer related social networks and was impressed by the broad scope of his work. He’s also a top bloke. Here he talks about what it is to be a freelance writer, especially in this current unstable climate.

Last fall was a high point for me. I had successfully ‘competed’ in my first NaNoWriMo, and parlayed the success into my first two freelancing gigs. I wasn’t taking it very seriously at the time; I had two clients, and of the two, I absolutely abhorred one of the assignments. Fortunately, both of my clients were very lenient when it came to deadlines, and I was able to take my time. Plus, my steady job allowed me to pursue my freelancing while I was on the clock. I didn’t have much to complain about.

Then I lost my job.

Filing for unemployment was a joke; I had resided in two states over the previous eighteen months, which meant I couldn’t do the process online. Getting through to a live operator was next to impossible. Also next to impossible was finding a job in this area; it seems the town I live in has been devastated by the recession.

Freelancing took a sudden shift from part-time hobby to full-time necessity, and my two clients became my sole source of income.

Five months have passed, and I’ll be returning to work full-time early next month. In that time, I have ghostwritten a novel and completed countless articles for fifteen different clients. In addition, I launched my own personal blog (Life As I Play It) and web fiction (Universal Warrior), the latter of which is read in four different countries and has been hailed as an “epic, action packed tale” and a “battle for the ages.”

It’s a good start.

I have also been ripped off quite a few times, driven myself to the point of exhaustion, and run through approximately one hundred tubs of Folgers Gourmet (That’s a type of coffee – Alan). I’m still in the middle of this journey, and I have had some great coaches along the way, but I feel I could have done much better for myself if I had followed some simple guidelines.

First, you need to know that it is very possible to earn a living, full-time, as a writer. What you also need to know is that you will work harder as a freelance writer than you ever did for someone else.

If you’re considering making the jump, plan ahead. Your new venture is a business, and like any business, it needs to be planned. Before you give notice to your existing job, you should know exactly what you would like to write about, and how you’ll make a living with it. You need to have accounted for your overhead (in this case, rent, electricity, etc.), and you need to know how much you can do in a set amount of time. It also helps tremendously if you have a little cash to fall back on; if you’re new to this, having money to fall back on might allow for a smoother transition. You can never do enough research, and you can never know enough.

Hard truth: I did not completely survive these past five months solely on my freelancing work. When I lost my job, I had next to nothing saved up and bills were due. Had it not been for some very good people, I might not have gotten through this period. I had opportunities to seriously research what I was doing before I lost my job. Had I taken them, I would’ve been a lot better off. Don’t assume tomorrow is a given; if you have the opportunity, start planning ahead now.

Another hard truth about writing for someone else is that only about a third of your work time is spent actually writing. The rest of the time, you’re investing in your future. You work your network, you bid on every project you think you can pull off, and you research your markets.

The upside to this is, as you are awarded projects and complete them on schedule, you will soon find yourself being invited to bid on projects, or even better, you’ll find yourself getting a lot of repeat business. One thing I learned is to not count on a single client for more than roughly twenty percent of your income (special thanks to Angie Haggstrom for that tidbit). The trick is learning to balance what you can do in the time you have. I learned to manage three to four clients at a time, and that was enough to cover my expenses—most of the time.

When developing your career, I think the single best piece of advice I can pass on is keep your word. In the beginning, this is the only asset you can present to the outside world. If you develop a reputation for turning in quality work according to schedule, you’ll soon find yourself in the favorable position of picking and choosing your clients. In the case of fiction, you may find your fan base growing. I release Universal Warrior every Monday. I have done this the last eighteen weeks, without fail. As fans have grown accustomed to this, I’ve found that they’ve been hitting the website on Monday before the story is actually released. That means they’re hyped.

Finally, if you foresee that you’re not going to be able to make deadline, don’t break off communication; this can be a death sentence for a fledgling career. Communicate with your client and tell the truth; sure, you may get chewed out, but you’re new, it’s what happens. Learn from the mistake and don’t repeat it. But you’d be surprised how forgiving people can be if you’re up-front with them. When I got started at the beginning of this year, I tried to juggle ten clients and broke just about every deadline I had. I got my head handed to me, and I lost some clients (that happens too, don’t beat yourself up about it) but I completed almost all of my assignments, I retained some of my existing clientele, and I replaced the ones I lost. Life went on.

I’ll tell you straight, writing for other people may be the hardest work you ever do. People would ask me how come I didn’t have a lot of free time, since I “wasn’t working.” My days often started at eight in the morning and ran till about three at night. I loved every second of it. I plan to make it career again someday.

No matter what kind of writing you intend to do, plan ahead, keep your word, and communicate. If you can live by those three guidelines, you’ll have a long and healthy career. If you can’t, you better hold onto the day job.

Avery K Tingle is the author of the critically-acclaimed, ongoing web fiction Universal Warrior: Uprising, which is a prequel to the upcoming novel Universal Warrior: The Last Campaign. You can read the story by visiting

You can also check out Avery’s blog at