I have a Split Personality

It seems to me that I like living a double life. One life is the normal me, the real me. Some of you know who that person is. Some of you don’t. It’s the person I am on a daily basis. It’s the person “real” person see every day. It’s the boring person that isn’t anything special and doesn’t have exception thoughts on topics. It’s a person that is generally “seen but not heard”. And then, there’s the other me – the writer. That person is seen and heard on the internet. That person seems (to me) to be a bit more interesting in many ways, even a little more confident. That person has a purpose in life other than going to work and sleeping.

I believe I have a split personality. Not all writers suffer from this affliction. Some are normal but they might come across as a bit eccentric. Others are more writing focused and are proud to scream out to the world, “I write, therefore I am an author.” And then you get the section I fall into, those who want to keep the two halves of their lives separate, for whatever reasons they might have.

For me, that separation is a necessity and it is for this reason that I have done something that might make people – writing friends especially – groan in frustration. You see, I have a Facebook account and some of my “friends” are also my workmates. Two are my bosses! Because of this I don’t want the two halves of my life to converge, as I don’t want those people knowing everything about me. Some things are meant to be kept secret. For those who have known me for a while, you may have guessed when these “friendships” occurred (yes, when I changed my name and deleted everything writing related – did you notice that?).

Therefore, I have created another Facebook account. One for the writing side of me. One where I don’t have to censor my words. The account in my real name will remain and will be used as often as it always has. It will be the place I mix with family and friends. The new account in my pen name – Karen Lee Field – will be used just as often but it will be where I show the writer side of my life. For those of you who know both sides of me, please do not say anything on my “real name” account that will alert other people to my split personality.

I am not ashamed of the fact that I write. In fact, the people I work with know that I write. But I want to ensure some privacy. I want to feel free to say what I want without the presence of workmates, and especially bosses, breathing down my neck. Also, because I feel strongly about it, I will not use a photo of myself on my profile, instead you will seen the character you see at the top of this page sitting at her desk, which I think is appropriate.

If you would like to be my “friend”, feel free to send a request.

Karen Lee Field | Create Your Badge

Kindle, Sony and the iPhone

What started out as simple observations about forms of reading, ended up turning into a major research project for me over the last few days. I’ve been all over the internet during this time, starting with Alan’s post called eBooks are the Future and from there going to countless other websites. It was informative and interesting to see what other people think.

It seems that more and more people are thinking along the same lines as me…that ebooks will be the way of the future. However, it is also evident that it will be a while before they “take over the world”. From what I can fathom, this is mainly due to two reasons:

1. Format. Until a worldwide standard format can be decided on, there will be on going problems due to the fact that readers (the device, not the person) will be limited to the formats it is compatible with. This limits the person using the device to what they can read and also what price they have to pay to buy the ebooks they select, as they won’t be free to shop around. Whilst this is an issue, paper books will remain popular.

2. Price of readers. They are expensive! When the cost of these devices come done then I believe ebook sales will climb through the roof. But…technology is the only area I know of that prices DO come down over time, which means if we wait long enough ebook readers will be as common as the mobile phone.

During my research three names cropped up continually: Kindle, Sony and iPhone. Each time a new name came up I got excited and my research turned in another direction, with the hope of cheaper devices…that didn’t happen.

Kindle is about $US299 and is associated with Amazon, and for that reason alone I felt an invisible barrier come up as I am reluctant to head in a direction that I know will be very limiting for me. Amazon, in my opinion, are trying to grab this corner of the market by offering their own reading device. I understand that the device reads pdf and doc formats as well as its own format, but I also understand that Amazon are charging at least $US9.99 for an ebook, with some as high as $US16, which I believe is too expensive. Why spend that money on something digital, when you could buy a paper book instead. It makes no sense to me. Besides that, I wonder how much the author gets of the cost? Half? Less than half? A couple of dollars? If asked, I’m sure Amazon would say that the publisher and/or author sets the price, not them, but I know that Amazon would set the rules and their charges which force the prices up, up, up. OK, they are in it to make money, that’s the way of the world, but the whole thing smells of greed to me and I’ll be staying away from that option.

Sony is another option and it sells for about the same price as the Kindle. From what I can see the Sony is compatible with more formats, which makes it a better option for me because I could purchase ebooks from all over the internet. In other words, I can shop around and get the best deals and not be limited to just one outlet. But, the cost of the device is high and I have a little voice in my head saying to wait until the kinks have been ironed out and the price drops dramatically.

Then there’s the iPhone, which could be a good alternative for some people. Especially if they install the Stanza application, which is a free (open source) ebook reader. The fact that I saw the words “open source” made me feel comfortable with this option straight away as I’ve been a Linux user and understand how software of this type works. To me, it means improvements are always happening and the latest software is always available. It also means that as many formats as possible will be compatible through this software, which is a good thing. And, as an added bonus, I could listen to audio books as well. Now that sounds perfect! But…I don’t have an iPhone and if I want one I would have to go onto a plan to get one, which I will not do. Currently I am prepaid on my mobile and I spend about $30 to $60 a year (I rarely use the thing, as you may have gathered). A plan would be that amount each month! Or, I can buy one outright, but the cost is around $AU800 to $AU1,000 which means this option is definitely out of the question for me.

At the end of all this, I’m still no better off. I still think printed books are the better way to go. And I will continue to check out what’s available in the future for when a company finally realises that they could conquer the market by not being greedy and offering the consumer something that is inexpensive and full of format compatibilities.

I will wait for that day!

Forms of Reading and the Future

The publishing world is changing and I think it’s important for readers to keep up with technology and know the options available to them. Each form of “reading” has its pros and cons and in this post, I’m going to discuss my thoughts on them.

The Printed Book

For me, nothing beats the traditional printed book. It’s a solid object that I can hold in my hands. I can admire the cover, the new smell of its pages and I can sit comfortably anywhere I like and read to my heart’s content. I can use my favourite bookmark when I must put the book aside. And, when discussing the book with others (whilst reading or afterwards), I can flash the book in front of their eyes or lend it to them. It’s the form of reading that I prefer, because … well, I suppose it’s because it is the way I’ve always done my reading and I’m not really a person who embraces change.

However, the printed book does have its disadvantages. Some books are quite thick and heavy, so when you want to read whilst travelling, such as on a train, carrying a bulky book can be a bit of a nuisance (even if you do wear a back pack). And, what about when you are nearing the end of the book? What happens then? Who wants to carry two heavy books to and from work on the train, just in case the first book is finished and a new book is required? Not me, so I end up with nothing to read and the journey instantly feels a lot longer.

Finally, the price of printed books are going up, up, up. It’s actually becoming an issue for me to buy books new, as I simply cannot afford them any more. Therefore, I must rely on the library (and my local library is stuck in the dark ages so my chances of getting a new release is zilch) or second hand book shops (again, I have to wait a very long time to get anything new).

The Audio Book

The audio book is only a new experience for me, having only listened to one book … ever! But that one book left me with a knowledge that reading can be enjoyed without a physical book to look at.

In fact, I quite enjoyed listening to a book whilst leaning back in the seat with my eyes shut (resting them for a change) or whilst I quietly minded my own business and knitted. At the end of the book, I felt as if I had accomplished a lot, which was a good feeling.

Also, the mp3 player that I used is quite small and very light, so I hardly knew I was carrying a book. I only had the one book on the player, but I could have had several books, which would be handy upon reaching the end. It felt wonderful not to feel like a pack horse for those few days. Although, I did tend to load myself up with other things because I had extra room. 🙂

However, not being used to it, my ears suffered from the earphones. I’m not one for plugging music directly into my head, so my poor, tender ears felt the pain as they grew accustomed to foreign objects being in them. I also found myself wondering if the constant use of earphones (which I would have to use because I’m listening to the book in a public place) would cause permanent damage (much like constant computer use weakens the eyes).

The biggest disadvantage, I found, was that the mp3 player didn’t hold power for long. This might have been due to the fact that the player was an inexpensive one, but it runs off a single AAA battery with a life of about four to six hours. Remembering to charge it each evening was an issue, but I guess it would be something I’d soon get used to.

As for cost, the book I listened too came from the library, but from what I’ve seen, audio books are around the same price as printed books…and some were a lot dearer! I can understand the reason for this as a lot goes into them, but when finances are tight, this can be a big issue and I’ve rarely seen audio books in second hand shops. Having said this, there are audio books that can be freely downloaded if you know where to look…and by “freely” I am not talking about obtaining illegal versions.

The eBook

This is something I have never tried. I’ve always felt it was an option I wouldn’t entertain, until recently. Now, I find my thoughts wondering if this could truly be an option for me. I guess I’ll never know until I’ve tried it, but the readers are so expensive! What if I paid the money and discovered I hated it? It’s a shame I couldn’t borrow one for a trial period and see how I go with it first.

Ebooks are the way of the future. I realise that. It’s inevitable that “saving the planet” will force the issue and I’ve witnessed the change towards this option over recent years. I feel that when the readers are perfected (and cheaper) then there will be a sudden surge in ebook sales because out of all the options available to readers, ebooks are the cheapest. And so they should be! What’s more, most (if not all) of the proceeds from sales go directly to the author (which I think is how it should be too).

I’ve been doing some research on the readers and they do look interesting. However, our “in shop” experience is that we have been unable to find anywhere locally that sell them. That may have changed in recent months, but when G was thinking of getting himself one last year it was like we were asking for a piece of Mars or something. All we got were blank stares. We might give this another try soon to see how things have changed.

With an ebook reader, I could have several dozen (or ever several hundred) books with me at any given time. My research tells me that once charged, the power source will last approximately two weeks (or about 3,000 page turns). The reader is light and compact, which would suit my travelling needs too. The cost of books are much more within my reach too; and I wouldn’t be buying second hand which would mean the author would get their royalty.

The only disadvantage, that I can think of right now, is that I wouldn’t have a bookshelf filled with wonderful smelling books that would inspire me to read…and write. But, then again, I’d then have more space in the room to fill with something else instead, so it’s not all bad.

In Conclusion

I still love the old-fashioned book and I believe I will continue to favour this form of reading for some time to come, but I realise that the world is changing and at some point those books will become rare, collectible items (possibly even worth a bit of money, but I doubt that will be in my lifetime).

With my current situation, I believe the ebook would be the most financially friendly option for me, giving me lots to read at a reasonable price. It’s only the reader itself that would be a bit of a burden to me. I like the compact unit, but I’m not sure how I’d go reading a book on a small screen.

Even though I think audio books are expensive, I truly like the idea of reading and knitting at the same time. It’s one way of getting more out of my day.

In short, all forms of reading should have their place in all our lives. Why should we restrict ourselves to one or the other? If it wasn’t for the cost, I’d be happy to do all three…I think.

What do you think?

Book Review: Shadows


Shadows by John Saul

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first audio book I’ve listened to. I thought I would have problems with my mind wandering, but the story was so intriguing that I found myself completely absorbed with what was happening.

In short, the story is about a school for genius children. It confronts the many problems these children experience on a daily basis, in normal life such as isolation, teasing, boredom, lack of friendship and suicide tendencies. Then it moves into life at the new school and shows the feeling of normalcy and acceptance. But the school isn’t everything it portrays and that’s when things turn quite sinister in parts.

Unfortunately, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else, I can’t go into any details. There was, however, one section about suicide that actually made me quite angry. It was obvious to me, a person who has lost a son to suicide, that the author hasn’t experienced suicide and this fact showed in his writing. Yet, running parallel to this was some interesting thoughts that I actually agreed with too. One moment I felt a fire in my belly that wanted to put an end to the words I was reading because they embraced everything that fed the stigma that has been around for decades, and then the words changed and I found myself nodding in agreement. It was a roll coaster that swung back and forth. All I can say is that I was glad when the story changed direction and the topic of suicide was over.

Then the story moved into another interesting topic. I can’t tell you what it is as it would spoil the book, if you intend to read it. However, although I find the topic interesting, I am not emotionally attached to it so things were “sweet” from this point on…if not quite disturbing, in other ways.

I do not know if the technical stuff was correct or not. All I can say is that it sounded convincing and when reading a story that is all I care about. As the story ran swiftly to the climax, I found myself eager to find out how the author would tie the pieces together and what would have to a couple of the “characters”.

The end was satisfactory. I was pleased that the author didn’t elect to go in another direction, which I had feared might happen at one stage.

For my first audio experience I think I had the right book. I enjoyed it a lot and will definitely try something else by the author…and I’d also listen to another audio book too.

New Theme Called “Post-It”

As you can see I’ve installed a new theme. As always, I have some tweaking to do over the weekend, including creating a new home page. Right now though it’s after midnight and I’m extremely tired…so I’m going to bed.

I’m too tired to think of anything witty to say so I’ll leave it at that.

Extensive Online Book and Comic Lists Added

With the recent closing down of the message board, I am currently going through tens of thousands of posts in an effort to save important information that will be of use to me … and to you.

This morning, I came across an extensive list of books that can be read online that I simply could not delete – not after all the work that went into creating it. Of course, I am not sure if all the links are still valid, but my link checker plugin will quickly do that job for me. Broken links will be shown as if a line has been struck through them and I will check and fix or check and delete those ones in due course.

The list can be found on the Library page, under Jamie Lauren’s A to Z Online Library Links.

I am also transferring a list of comic strip lists to the Library page for your enjoyment, which was also created by Jamie Lauren – Jamie Lauren’s A to Z Online Daily Comic Strip Links.

I’m a Woman; I’m Allowed to Change My Mind

It seems a while since I was saying how pleased I am with the theme you see before you, and that was why I was only going to change the banner when I changed the name of the website. In fact, it was actually only twelve days ago. How quickly time flies! And how quickly a person can change their mind!

Anyway, at the time I had spent some time doing the rounds and couldn’t find anything that I felt was better that what I’m already using. Then, a few days ago, I stumbled across a theme that jumped out at me. I really liked it. It’s completely different to what I’ve used before. To me, it looks a bit “out there” but I couldn’t stop looking at it … and wanting to use it! It is a theme that is not free though, and that kept me hovering on the threshold for some time…several days. The cost was minimal – only $20 – which I think is a fair price, but I’m not trusting when it comes to the internet. What if I paid and got nothing in return? What if I paid and the theme didn’t work properly? Eventually, I decided to take a risk.

I’ve purchased a new theme for this website. I don’t know if it will work, that will be discovered over the weekend (actually I probably won’t be able to wait that long and will, no doubt, install it on Friday night), but I feel excited about the coming new look (assuming all goes to plan, of course). So…put a “post it” note on your screen reminding yourself that The Desk of Karen Lee Field is about to be modernised. 😀

Using Mind Mapping to Plan a Writing Project

Deborah Woehr has written two inspiring posts on this topic:

1. Experimenting with the Mind Map Technique, and,
2. How to Draw a Basic Mind Map of Your Characters.

I say these posts are inspiring because they lit something creative inside me that forced me to try mind mapping in my own writing. I’ve been having trouble moving forward with my projects, so trying something different certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Due to the life issues I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve decided to put Mirror Image on a back burner for a while as I’m not mentally strong enough to deal with that manuscript at the moment. Having made that decision, I turned to my other projects and felt myself drawn back to my children’s series. It was whilst I was combing the internet looking for inspiration that I came across Deborah’s first post.

Immediately, I felt the urge to try one of the software programmes she mentions in her post and I quickly found myself stalled. I was a little annoyed by this so I returned to the internet and revised my search strings, but continued combing the internet. At this stage I found a hand drawn image that resembled a mind map. In the middle was an untitled oval which had five “arms” going in different directions. At the end of the arms, where five simple words:

1. How?
2. When?
3. Where?
4. Who?
5. Why?

With these words, or questions, freshly planted in my mind, I returned to my stalled mind map…and away I went. It was such a simple thing, but these words had a powerful effect on my mind and allowed it to “open” up at last. Finally, my mind map started taking shape and the project is moving forward at last.

Thank you, Deborah, for putting me on the right path.