This final post of 2022 was originally written for the December 2022/January 2023 edition of the Tetbury Advertiser, which was published in the run-up to Christmas
This month my to-do list includes a much-needed weeding of my groaning bookshelves, in the hope that Father Christmas, who knows me well after all these years, will bring me a pile of lovely new books.
Every room in my house contains bookshelves, except the utility room and the larder. (I’ve slipped up there.) Each shelf is jam-packed with rows of books, with more laid on top horizontally to fill all available airspace. It’s clearly time to declutter. But which books should I keep and which jettison? Continue reading “Off the Hook for Books”→
A post about the joy of ereader devices for everyone from the athletic to the housebound
I was very chuffed (yes, chuffed, my American friends, I know how much you love that word!) to receive a photo the other day from my friend the children’s author Karen Inglis, sharing with me the fact that she was reading my latest ebook on her Kindle at the gym.
Now, I love my Kindle (and yes, other ereaders are available, as the BBC might say), and the freedom it gives me to read on the move. It makes packing for the trips in our camper van so much easier and allows my handbag to remain portable, whatever book I’m reading.
Another Reason to Love Ereaders: RA
But there’s another reason I love reading this way: for the last seven years, I’ve had to work around the chronic illness rheumatoid arthritis, which, when I’m having what’s known in medical circles as a “flare” (i.e. it’s playing up!), can make my hands and wrists stiff and painful.
I’m one of the lucky ones: my medication is usually pretty effective, and most of the time I’m able to forget the condition altogether.
But there are times when holding a big book for very long becomes first uncomfortable, then positively painful. That’s when I especially love my slim, lightweight ereader. No matter how thick a book I’m reading electronically, and no matter how many books I load into its memory, it never gets too heavy to hold. (I used to think it literally never got any heavier, but I did once read a scientific explanation that proved me wrong – apparently there is a really tiny difference in weight when you add more data.)
Large Print for All
I was recently reminded of this by a fellow author Pelham McMahon who not only has RA but also has some eyesight issues. She pointed out that for those who are housebound, sight-impaired or otherwise disabled, the advent of ereaders has made the difference between being able to read and not being able to read at all. Blessed with reasonable vision provided I’m wearing my glasses, I hadn’t really thought before what a godsend these devices must be to those who can only read large-print books. Ereader technology allows the reader to choose the typesize of whatever they are reading, effectively turning any book into a large-print book. What a fabulous innovation.
An added bonus is that on Amazon and many other sources, it’s possible to download free reading material legitimately e.g. classics that have passed out of copyright.
So if you haven’t yet become an ebook reader, don’t dismiss the technology quite yet. For others, it’s much more than a trendy gadget.
I’ve shared Pelham’s comments on the blog that I manage for the Alliance of Independent Authors – you can read the post here, if you like.
This time last year, I had the honour of having one of my short stories, The Reason Why We Eat Turkey at Christmas, featured on the Mumsnet Advent Calendar.
Mumsnet, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a highly-regarded, well-read parenting website. Dads are by no means banned from it, though some may be intimidated by the name.
Mine wasn’t a children’s story (though older children may enjoy it), because the calendar was aimed at parents – and what parent doesn’t love an advent calendar, big kids that we all are?
But in this age of the e-reader, another fun festive trend is emerging to get us in the mood for Christmas: the rise of the special Christmas e-books. These are usually short stories rather than full-length novels, because who has time to read much when there’s Christmas shopping to be done? Nor the budget to buy them – so these e-books are usually priced low, designed to provide an affordable treat that offers light relief from the stresses of Christmas preparations. Speaking as one who has yet to write a single Christmas card, post a parcel or finish my shopping, it’s a service made to measure for me. I’ve just enjoyed two very different such stories by my friends Joanne Phillips and Andrew Peters.
On finishing Andrew’s book, it dawned on me that here was a bandwagon (or perhaps I should say sleigh) on which I, as a self-publishing author, ought to jump. So last night I entered the fray, and hey presto, via the digital magic of Amazon, I’ve conjured up a new Kindle e-book of my Mumsnet Christmas story, under the new, snappier title of The Owl and The Turkey. As its original name suggests, it is a fun, frivolous and ever so slightly silly fable that suggests the real reason that we eat turkey for Christmas. The tale begins when a young Queen, bored of wild boar, despatches her Royal Huntsmen on a quest to find the medieval answer to fast food. No birds were harmed in the writing of this book, which is suitable for vegetarians of all ages.
The Owl and the Turkey is now for sale on Kindle at just 77p/99c here.
And while you’re reading it, I’d better make a start on those Christmas cards….
While we’re in wintry mood, make a mental note to come back to this site on Saturday, when I’ll be taking part in a special feature about the winter solstice, with links to fun and fascinating contributions from 30 other writers, kindly choreographed by my friend the historical novelist Helen Hollick.