By Golly, It’s a Book!

As much as I loved the first printing of Irish Firebrands in paperback, there’s nothing quite like seeing it in hardbound form!

Two hardback copies of Irish Firebrands visit their friends in my Irish research bookcase. (The bookcase is made of real oak, five feet high, and there are two more full shelves to it; some of the shelves have two rows of books on them, and two more double-row shelves of Irish books live on the other side of the room, at my computer desk. Am I an anorak?)

The new dust cover makes an eye-catching presentation, whether it’s face up on a table, or spine outward on a shelf. The text is printed on cream paper in graceful Garamond font with American Uncial accents (chapter numbers, page headings and page numbers), and the lines are spaced at the classic distance for ease of reading. The boards are bound in dark-blue linen, with the spine labeled in gold leaf, and with its traditional frontispiece map (and a bonus central illustrated section to provide a brief intermission), it holds its own with the best that printing presses have produced for the past 200 years.

Although it has more pages, plus the flyleaves and linen-bound boards, it weighs the same as the single-volume soft cover, but this does not constitute the same kind of disadvantage that the weight and thickness give to a paperback, because the flexibility of a hardbound spine permits the book to lie flat when open on a reader’s lap or a table.

What I don’t like about it is what the list price is required to be, just in order for all of the retail outlet middlemen to take their cut. It’s in the same range as the list prices for a few of the newer hardcover First World War nonfiction books I’ve bought recently, but that’s a specialty subject. For fiction – even for a 200,000-word epic like Irish Firebrands – it seems artificially inflated, and at that, if any lovely reader does buy one from a hand-in-the-till retailer, I will net less than 3% of the list price.

The good news is that readers will be able to buy the hardbound printing of Irish Firebrands at the Lulu Store for a much more reasonable 20% off list (which results in a price more in line with traditionally published hard cover fiction), and I will receive a realistic return for all my work.

Indie Author-Publisher colleagues: I’ve begged you before, on behalf of readers like myself who have visual disabilities, to print your books in paperback as well as to publish them digitally. I renew that request here, and I present a challenge: Do yourselves a favor, and print deluxe editions of your works in hard cover, too. Treat your writing with the respect it deserves, by giving it a presentation of which you can be proud, and which will compete on equal terms with traditionally published fiction, in a format that will increase its endurance on a reader’s bookshelf.

Hardback. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Click HERE to shop at Lulu Press.

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Resting Place.

In my interpretation, Wang Wei’s classical quatrain
becomes a tristich or tercet with cadence.

Thanks again to Robert Okaji for re-posting
the transliteration of another evocative Chinese poem.

Illustration: Unattributed photograph found at several online sites.

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Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

That’s true in the Parallel Universe, too, where time expands and contracts for characters experiencing fictional life, as well as for their author (as narrator), and for readers (as observers). Writers who are pantsers don’t do much, if any, planning, plotting, or outlining when writing, but keeping an eye on the passage of time is important no matter how much or little of it elapses during the story.

For a historical novel set sometime on Earth, in addition to coordinating the plot with important dates, a writer may need to know the phases of the moon, and a calendar will be important for determining the impact of the weather on fictional events as well as the historical ones. Where in time do you need to go? 1066? 1776? 1871? 1914-1918? 1939-1945? A perpetual calendar is the place to start.

The website timeanddate.com offers one that can be customized and printed (PDF). Once you have the information provided by a perpetual calendar, it’s easy to construct your story’s fictional calendar, and then use it to verify continuity when you’re editing.

Time is important no matter what the genre, so if your story involves other-world-building, you’ll need to come up with a method of reckoning based on your planet’s periods of rotation and revolution. How much light, by how many suns, constitutes daytime? Is there more than one moon to illuminate the night? Do the inhabitants of your world use constellations to reckon longer periods of time? Do they use clocks and calendars driven by radioactive decay?

Yes, indeed, time flies, but you can put away your stopwatch, because unless you’re writing a story like The Poor Little Rich Girl (which, among other more ghastly things, explores bizarre alternative meanings for common idiomatic expressions), you probably don’t need it for racing insects.

 

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