Archive | September, 2013

Sketches Straight to Digital

27 Sep

Moleskine and Evernote are working together to make it easier for analog sketches to be converted in digital copies. As an author who’ll imminently be marrying sketches (by a very talented artist) with a short story I’ve written, this comes as great news.  For someone multi-talented in this regard (not so much me – I can’t draw a stick figure), the prospect of easily converting sketches, while organizing them, must be something artists have been waiting for since the dawn of the internet.

Comic book artists, storyboard artists and those whose sketches become paintings, sculptures or other forms of art, will want to take note of Moleskine’s Sketchbook. Artists can tag pages with Evernote and then scan and upload the page to the cloud, where it is stored and organized.

While not a leap forward specifically in publishing, it is a new way to store the information that may make its way into author’s works. I have seen scanned story maps of, for instance, one of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books and Heller’s Catch 22.  I know my own story wall is sometimes chaotic if I have multiple projects going at once. If I had the ability to draw a map or outline, scan, sort and store it then move on, maybe I could concentrate a bit more on the story at hand and get rid of some of the paper cluttering my workspace.  Organization will always be a key element in writing and publishing.

notebook page

Examples above as to how ridiculous an author’s, ahem, MY, analog workspace can become

idea wall

Examples above as to how ridiculous an author’s, ahem, MY, analog workspace can become

I can also imagine authors publishing a digital copy of the notebook they kept while writing popular novels as a companion piece.  Perhaps readers could pay  a little bit more and get this digital notebook to go along with their books. It would be similar to the DVD extras, or the Blu-Ray extra-extras that come along with a movie or TV show purchase.

As publishing moves deeper into digital forms, new avenues for revenue and for connecting with readers will reveal themselves. The Moleskine Sketchbook is just one of the devices that will allow closer connections between an idea’s inception and its realization in digital form.


Moleskine Sketchbook:

JK Rowling’s story map:

Ten Author Story Maps:

Carla Gannis and Justin Petropoulos collaboration: Legend

26 Sep

Jaded Ibis collaborators Carla Gannis (ink drawings) and Justin Petropoulos'(poet) project called “Legend” ( <legend>  </legend> ) is in installation at Transfer Gallery from September 7th to the 28th. The exhibit, app and book are based on text redactions of The Book of Earths by Edna Kenton, published in 1928. It’s a book about the speculations and superstitions about the earth throughout the years. The app allows users to redact and change the text to create poetry and a new narrative from those words left over from redactions themselves. The exhibit changes the redacted texts into images, digital paintings, animations, projection mapped and 3D printed sculptures, as well as interactive works.

The narrative includes poetry of various lengths (created by redacting narrative), organized into chapters. The ink drawings by Carla Gannis were written in response to audio recordings of each poem while still being informed by the original illustrations in The Book of Earths, most of which are old variations of Earth maps.

Jaded Ibis seems always to be working with truncated and rearranged narratives to create new stories. The museum installation and app allows readers/users to experience and interact with the narrative. While I do not think the book, as an art form, is in any danger of going extinct, I am interested to see who comprises the new audience pulled in by art installations and interactive applications.


Transfer Gallery Installation:

“Legend” on Jaded Ibis:

Book of Earths App, easy directions:

Debra Di Blasi to Speak at &Now

24 Sep

&Now 2013, a conference held to discuss writing as a contemporary art form, will be in Boulder, CO this week, and Debra Di Blasi, owner and Publisher-in-Chief of Jaded Ibis Productions will be speaking there about writing as the ultimate medium to break social mores.  Specifically, Di Blasi will address the idea that writing across genders or race is taboo, as the empathy required to take on another’s perspective effectively is difficult to achieve.  The assumption here is that writers feel pressure to write within their own race or gender, and need encouragement to write outside of their comfort zone.

This is actually an interesting idea. I’ve never thought about social mores when writing from the perspective of men or women of any race or sexual orientation. I just go with whatever the character happens to be. All of these things seem inherently fluid to me, as an author is basically writing a character’s psyche and soul from the ground-up. The characters can adhere to social mores or not.

This subject, worry about appropriating another’s perspective, may actually be an off-shoot of privilege. I can understand someone in powerful sociological standing being cautious about crossing race or gender lines. I know I am particularly scathing when a man writes women as weak, or as damsels-in-distress, or only use them as plot points (lookin’ at you, Robert Kirkman) because they haven’t enough empathy to build them as viable characters.  And, granted, I am especially livid when another white-man/woman-saves-inner-city/native-inhabitants-from-other-white-folk/encroachment/themselves movie or novel comes out that makes the white man/woman the main character and makes little to no attempt to build out the socially disadvantaged characters. This is called BAD WRITING.

What Di Blasi will be speaking about is the fact that the only way to get better at writing is to practice. If writers feel discouraged from venturing into these scary transgressive waters, then writers cannot grow in their craft.  We, as a society or at least as writing and reading community, must encourage, and maybe even be a bit forgiving (I know I need to work on this part), when writers attempt these jumps in social strata. Publishing houses would do well to follow Di Blasi’s lead, and allow writers to stretch their fingers out into this dark and troubled abyss knowing they have some support.

Perhaps as a woman, and a Black woman, I feel absolutely no pressure whatsoever to write only from a black female perspective. Sociologically, in America, I am under the boot-heel of the social hierarchy. It will not be considered condescending for me to “write up” about other races. But coming the other way – well, I guess I wouldn’t want to be the person to do it.

&Now (@andnowfestival) is a bi-annual conference held by University of Colorado celebrating writing as a contemporary art form. Di Blasi’s talk is on Friday September 27th and is entitled “Break On Through to the Other Side: Writing Across Race and Gender as a Transgressive Act.”


Debra Di Blasi, Break On Through to the Other Side: Writing Across Race and Gender as a Transgressive Act:

And Now Festival, 2013:

Augmented Reality Storytelling

23 Sep

Drew Davidson will be speaking about augmented reality storytelling at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 11th.  Augmented reality uses geotagging, 3-D effects, holograms and animation to break down the barrier between the reader and a book’s content. Readers are now part of a fully immersive experience as participants in the story, no longer a bystander watching adventure unfold, but in the thick of the action.

Augmented reality is a hardcore extension of Jaded Ibis’ cross-genre experiments. I am interested to read about what Davidson says at the Fair on October 11th about interactive storytelling and about the technologies worth incorporating into the reading experience (of the future!). What really excites me, however, will be the epic  possibilities of choose-your-own-adventure type stories, and the opportunity for everyday people to create immersive stories of their own to share with friends and communities.


Storydrive Speaker Drew Davidson on Augmented Reality Storytelling:

The Commonplace Book and An Honest Ghost by Rick Whitaker

21 Sep

Jaded Ibis has six new books due out in the Fall and I will post about them here as I get more information. Their newest releases number six as well, so it seems they roll out a half-dozen or so quarterly/seasonally.

I managed to find a publicity flier about An Honest Ghost, a novel by Rick Whitaker, which is due out this Fall and sounds like it will be an interesting work. In the old, old tradition of Commonplace books, An Honest Ghost is a collection of words written and published by other people throughout the centuries, re-arranged into a semi-autobiographical novel.

An Honest Ghost will be released as an interactive iBook, e-book and paperback. In the interactive iBook, touching a sentence will bring up the original source information, including author, book, and page number.

I wonder if this indicates the possibility of commonplace book resurgence. I once had an idea to string a lot of lyrics and sentences I liked together in a long, winding string of tattoo around my arm. Thankfully, I decided against it. A commonplace book would make an interesting replacement, however.

It seems a lot of innovations in publishing center around breaking apart traditional narratives and pinning them together again in a different way, be it with pictures, audio, shake-me-up-and-I-scramble e-functionality or, as in An Honest Ghost, taking scraps of other works and making a cohesive narrative out them. In any case, I look forward to the other upcoming releases by Jaded Ibis, and innovation across the publishing world in general.


Jade Ibis Press’ Rick Whitaker author page:

Press Flyer for An Honest Ghost:

Mobile Storytelling

20 Sep

Today I saw this article on mobile storytelling ventures in London. Apps like Twitter and Facebook are all about telling stories, real-life stories, so it is only natural that there should also be apps to help people make, restructure and share fiction.

People buy and use mobile storytelling and reading apps (like Kindle, iBooks and eMobo and its companion website to entertain themselves while trapped on public transit, sitting in traffic or standing in line. It falls in the same tradition of Arabian Nights or The Iliad, telling stories to pass the time, entertain and keep the monsters at bay.

While is fairly straightforward: an author creates a story and disseminates it, readers can download on mobile apps or read online, this app, Tiny Games by Hide and Seek, makes writing and reading into a local-centric game, slicing and re-structuring “story” to include local information, a social aspect and good, old-fashioned creativity to create a brand new narrative.

Also recently created, also in London, is an app called Me Books specifically for creating interactivity with children’s’ picture books.  It allows children to select with their finger the part of the story/picture they like best and record narration of their own. Licensing from traditional publishers for conversion to this digital medium was difficult, and an issue I anticipate will continue as digitization of traditional books continues. However, as digital publishing expands and becomes norm, these licensing issues will decrease.


Tiny Games App by Hide&Seek:

Me Books:

ReaderLink Calls for Higher Prices on E-books

16 Sep

The head of ReaderLink, a company that supplies some of the largest book retailers with print books, is calling for higher prices on e-books.  Dennis Abboud, the head of ReaderLink, is asking e-book retailers to study their pricing methods. While ReaderLink’s customers include such retail giants at Walmart, Target, and Costco, their already-low prices on print books are still are more expensive the e-book versions, and this is driving consumers to e-books. Abboud speculates that publishers would need to increase their budgets for digital content marketing if the trend continues, and it may be cheaper simply to adjust pricing models.

Not that ReaderLink has lagged behind the digital curve. ReaderLink has developed ReaderLink Digital, a platform allowing brick-and-mortar book retailers like those mentioned above to sell e-pubs and print books online, with some retailers interested in beginning the service as soon as next year. ReaderLink is also preparing to place some “Espresso Book Machines” in retailers’ shops to test the print-on-demand market (and if I ever saw one of these machines I would SO try it).



Publisher’s Weekly:

Espresso Book Machine at Politics and Prose: