Tuesday, August 28, 2012

As E-books Spread around the World

I think this article makes a lot of points I've tried to make here and elsewhere. E-books will be the best thing for writers like myself in places outside of UK and USA. I was surprised though when the author of this article, Mike Shatzkin says,

"....One exception: I’d expect the poorest parts of the world to get to near-zero print faster than the developed world because, ultimately, distributing books electronically will be so much cheaper that printed books will become a relative luxury."

Near zero print? Are African writers and publishers paying attention? This should affect how we all proceed. I recently helped a friend with a publishing contract she received. My take right now is do not give e-rights away unless the publisher can prove to you they are on top of this curve, that they know how to market and sell ebooks. Most traditional publishers do not.

I think the biggest problem in developing countries regarding ebooks is devices. If someone can sort out a cheap e-reader I think the ebook market will explode. Internet availability is growing in leaps and bounds. Also if books could be bought through cellphones, this could solve the problem of the non-banked (credit card) population in developing countries.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Raising Tilapia

I'm not one to waste things, except for maybe time. As regular readers know, we recently raised enough money to put in a new in ground pool (see pool here) . But our old pool was still usable so we decided we would use it to grow bream fish (Tilapia) for eating. My husband likes eating fish -a lot -and we rarely get bream here in Mahalapye.

I phoned the fisheries people in Mmadinare. I was not a little bit amazed by how knowledgeable those folks were and also how very easy it is to be a fish farmer, I'm quite lazy when it comes to manual work. Fish farming is perfect for lazy people.

Since my pool has a diameter of four metres, it meant I could keep 26 fish in it. The most important thing is the surface area of the water so they can get enough oxygen. I was told to put water in the pool up to about one metre and let it sit for four days to let the chlorine disappear. Then I could go and collect my fingerlings.

When the water was ready Giant Teenager No. 1 and I set off for Mmadinare about 150 kms away. The fingerlings were bought for 50t each. We were asked if we wanted one sex or mixed sex. Apparently they breed like crazy and things can get out of hand. But too we hoped to make our fish pool sustainable so we decided to get mixed sex. They advised us to get extras as some would die on the way home. So we left Mmadinare with 35 fish, 10 female and 25 male. One died on the way. We now have a bit of an overpopulation problem. We've decided to solve it by ignoring it and hoping for the best.

(that's the dead fish (female), and Senor Ramon in the back mourning the dead fish)

So we've had them now for about three weeks. At first the pool was quite clear and you could see them swim around and it was a good way for a writer to procrastinate, watching the fish swim around. Now the pool has gone a bit green, which is apparently a good thing according to the fish people, and you can't see them very well. But when the sun is out they like to all come to the surface, I think they're sun bathing, I'm not sure. They eat a kind of pellet I bought in Gaborone. But they also eat the algae and the insects and mosquito larvae.

Below is a photo of the fish sun bathing. Sorry the photo came out so that you can't see the fish, but they're there. Honest.

So that's my experience as a fish farmer so far. My conclusion is that compared to the many ways I try to avoid writing, this is one of the more calming and rewarding ones. I like going out to look at the fish and I like feeding them. I'd recommend this procrastination method to all writers.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just One of Those Days

Being a writer is tough, especially nowadays. It's an odd occupation because you never quite know if you understand it, if you're getting anything right. There's always this mental pull and push between art and making a living. You want to write what and how you want, but you really can't unless you never want to be published. Even once published you don't really know if you've had success. You get reviews and royalty statements but do they really mean anything? Do they answer the questions in your head in any satisfactory way? Do they give you any real feedback about what took place? Do they assure you that it will all happen again?

If you're a plumber, for example, you go to plumbing school and you learn how to fit a toilet. And once you've become an expert at fitting a toilet you can be content in knowing that you can fit a toilet. With writing, today I write an exceptional story, the best I've ever written. It gets published. Everyone loves it. But that doesn't mean that now I know how to produce an exceptional story every day for now on. The next day after the exceptional story day, I'm mostly back to where a started. Maybe a few steps ahead, but only a few. Each story, each book, has its own unique path, one you will discover only if you're lucky. Many wrong paths have been cut through the bush to get to the end. Believe me. I've taken wrong paths.

On top of not knowing what you're really doing, just having this vague idea about how things work, we get to be writers in a time where the publishing industry is in flux and chaos. So not only do I not know what I'm doing, the publishers don't seem to know what they think I should be doing either. Odd books are shooting out of nowhere changing the landscape like a tornado ploughed through (i.e. Fifty Shades of Grey). Today I feel like we're all walking around blindfolded bumping into things, occasionally the things are soft and nice, occasionally they're not, but there's no reason to any of it.

Now if you can't count on publishers, then everyone says do it on your own, so you set out to self-publish. Two thousand people download your books but you've hardly made enough to buy a bag of groceries. You're bone tired trying to let people know about your books, to generate that much needed "hype". Your muse has run away, her wardrobe empty, and she left no number. She won't talk to you until you come back from where you've gone, unencumbered. You really cannot be a salesperson and a writer too. She won't allow it. She says I must choose.

But ...I wished for winter to be over, and it's warmer and maybe there really will be summer this year. And I think we're all okay. And I'm lucky in a million ways. So I'm hoping something will budge and let me see the light again. I'm digging deep looking for the faith.

I'm hoping and hoping it really is just one of those days and tomorrow won't be.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Botswana Gets First Ever Olympic Medal!!

Last night the 800 metre men's final at the 2012 Olympics was magical. As the Kenyan, David Rudisha broke the world record for the 800 metres with a time of 40.91 seconds with relative ease, few noticed that history was being made right behind him. 18 year old Motswana, Nijel Amos, took the silver medal in a world junior record time of 1:41.73 and was written into the history books as the first Motswana ever to take home a medal from the Olympics.

At the start of the Olympics, when our four member team set out for London, Batswana were fairly confident that this would be our year to finally get a medal. 400 metre star Amantle Montsho was almost certain to bring home a medal. She'd done wonders in India at the Commonwealth games and stood as the fastest woman at that distance. In her heats and even in the semi-finals she looked confidant and right on track. But sadly she missed out in the finals, a hair's breath behind the bronze winner. The country began to accept that maybe we would go home empty handed.

But then there was Nijel. In his heat he looked good. In the semi-finals I got a bit worried he looked like he was really pushing himself to the limit. And then there was last night's final. He ran such a mature confident race, holding back until he was needed and then giving everything. It really was a wonderful thing to behold.

Congratulations to Nijel Amos!!! Fantastic job!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Read an Excerpt of Anything For Money!

I'm over at my buddy Vanessa Gebbie's blog where she's put up an excerpt of the third book in my Kate Gomolemo Mysteries series, Anything for Money. Stop by and leave a comment. Let me know what you think!
Thanks again, Vanessa!