Novel, Novella, or Novelette?

Worlds Of Words

I’ve been exploring the real world of creating fake worlds – fiction. Like seeking fireflies at night, I dream of writing a book someday. I figure it should be short for starters, to increase my chances of completion (which in itself I’d consider success). But how short should it be?


Word Counts

While rummaging through websites about the writing craft, my eyes gazed at a sparkling headline: The Novella: Stepping stone to success or waste of time? Talk about hive-mind. It’s like the web knew what I was thinking!

The beginning of the lengthy piece is the best explanation I’ve found distinguishing different fiction book lengths, like Large, Medium, Small, and Fun Size!

“A novella typically starts at about 20,000 words and tops out at 50,000, which is the minimum length for a short novel.”

The first thing that came to my mind was NaNoWriMo with its 30-day blitz to 50,000 words. You can author a novella in a month!

Here’s the breakdown of book lengths:

  • Standard Novel – 80,000+ words
  • Short Novel – 50,000 to 80,000 words
  • Novella – 20,000 to 50,000 words
  • Novelette – 7,000 to 20,000 words
  • Short Story – up to 7,000 words

The word counts above are general ranges. But, at long last, it’s nice to know. Only recently did I ever hear the term, “Novelette.” I wondered what that was. There’s so much about the writing world I’m ignorant of. So I keep reading up.


Weighing Words

For me, the measure of word count versus page count makes the prospect of authoring a book more feasible. It sets a target to aim at.

When I write blog posts in Google Docs, for example, I check my word count at the end of my first draft to see how verbose I was. I shoot for an average of 500 to 1,000 words a post. Then my inner editor unleashes word-wrath! I get to be my own Grammar Police.

Words count, so check word counts. Speak little, say much. Be brief, concise, succinct, simple. It’s challenging.

That said, I’m out.


Did you know the length of a Novella? Have you heard of a Novelette? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Edward Snowden’s Permanent Record

Now Read This

Maybe the US government is logging my keystrokes as I type this. Or maybe only Google is since I’m using Docs on a Chromebook to write. Ambient Privacy and Surveillance Capitalism are important topics. But for this review of Ed Snowden’s memoir, I want to focus on only the literary aspects.


A True Story

For the record, Permanent Record is a good read.

More than that, Snowden’s account of the events of his life, leading up to when he revealed classified documents, is a great book that I didn’t want to put down. I devoured its pages over the weekend. Everybody loves a good story; Snowden’s story, and the telling, is fascinating.

When the memoir was released last week, my interest was piqued. But I thought I’d wait to purchase the book. By the next day, I saw on Ed Snowden’s Twitter account that the US government was suing him and/or the book publisher. If the federal system of America does not want Snowden to profit from his memoir, that’s one thing. But if it didn’t want me reading it, that’s another thing. Fearing the book might be yanked off store shelves, I decided I should buy it right away.

I’m pretty much a 100% eBook guy. I always want the digital version to read on my device. But knowing how easy it is for a company to delete, remove, or retract an eBook from eStores and eReaders, I wasn’t going to risk it. I bought Snowden’s hardback from Amazon just in time to get it before stock ran out, which happened by a day after my Prime order.

Snowden’s recount of his formative years leading to his dangerous decision to pull back the curtain on secret NSA operations gives the pretext and the context of that monumental revelation. His life, his decision, and the US government’s actions are on permanent record, thanks to Snowden and his memoir.

It begins when he was a young boy, detailing key parts of his upbringing that help explain his personality and character, things that inform and influence his life circumstances, choices, and conscience, which all factor into that single point of deciding to bring to light the dark arts of one of America’s most secretive organizations.

Ed Snowden was a bright young man with a knack for computers. You could say he was one of the top web surfers in the world, riding one of the biggest waves to ever hit the shores of the States. Read: he was unparalleled in his aptitude for networking. It was intriguing to read about Snowden’s skills and how he honed them. Being part geek and part nerd myself, I related much with Snowden.

Even more gripping than Ed’s tech-star status were the inner workings of the US Intelligence Community (IC). Like many, I enjoy the entertainment of spy-thriller movies and espionage novels. This genre of stories is naturally intriguing due to the inherent secrets and mysteries shrouding the characters and actions involved. But in Snowden’s memoir, it is by default an order of magnitude more engrossing since it is a true story!

From a literary standpoint, of course Permanent Record is written in the first-person perspective, which makes it more direct and immersive. But it’s not written only by Ed Snowden. The last chapter is written by Snowden’s then girlfriend. It is a collection of her personal diary entries during the initial days Ed went missing. She tells a true spy story, involving the FBI, with raw emotion. It grabs you.

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Get Snowden’s Permanent Record

Permanent Record is a book I recommend you read. That’s another reason I bought the hardback version. I want to easily share it with friends or family so they can be sure to consume it.

If you want a good book to read, Permanent Record will not disappoint. You may not even be able to put it down. It has the real-life makings of a riveting story: drama, emotion, danger, action, secrets. I suggest you grab a copy while you can.


Have you read the book? What do you think? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

What’s The Big Deal With Green Texts?

Lock-In

The iPhone is very popular, so a whole slew of people chat with the iMessage app. I often hear that it’s one of the biggest reasons for “platform lock-in.” That’s to say, many folks don’t or won’t stop using an iPhone because they’re chained to iMessage. But I don’t get it.


Blue Vs Green

In the tech sector, iMessage lock-in is often described as blue bubbles versus green bubbles. Why? If a person using iMessage receives text in a blue text bubble, then the sender is also using iMessage. But if it’s green, that means the sender is using an app that is not iMessage, which most often means they’re using Android instead of iPhone.

So what’s the big deal about that?

As blue is to sky, green is to grass; they’re both pleasant colors. So it can’t be the color itself but what the color means. Still, I don’t see a real problem. So what if someone sends text from an Android phone? There are only two reasons I can think of. The first is petty. The second is important.

The petty reason has something to do with status. There seems to be an air of superiority among some people who prefer iMessage and iPhone over Android and whatever pathetic chat app is used. It’s as if not only the hardware and software are inferior, but so is the person who happens to use it. I think this attitude is found in more immature people.

The important reason I can see for making a good distinction between iMessage and other chat apps is about security and privacy. iMessage texts, by default, are encrypted on the inbound and outbound side. This means whoever (the NSA) intercepts and collects your texts should not be able to decrypt and read your messages. For more on how this works, read this article.

iMessage is encrypted; that’s a nice feature. But despite how good and reliable iMessage is, it’s not perfect. Personally, I dislike how full of stuff it is. It has too many options and features and sub-menus and screens to access more stuff. The balance has been tipped from simplicity to complexity, which detracts from delight in it.

Now there is more reason why iMessage lock-in is a thing. A recent Fast Company article details some technical and related social reasons that are more important than petty. Basically, a non-iPhone text message that is sent to iMessage reduces its rich experience and, to some degree, limits functionality. Still, while there’s some merit to these reasons, I think they’re just inconvenient and a dent in luxury. In other words, no big deal.

And for more on the default Messages app on Android, check out Google’s info page here. I don’t think it is encrypted at all. Some chat features are limited compared to iMessage, but those are just bells and whistles to me. They’re nice to have, not need to have. Just give me letters and emoji and I’m good. Okay, I like the occasional GIF too, but it’s not a deal breaker if missing.


Emoji Please

So there are some reasons and my thoughts about so-called iMessage lock-in. If you send me a text and it comes in green, that’s perfectly fine with me.

Actually, what I really would like is to have what was once found on Android Messages. It used to let you change the color of the message bubbles based on the color of the contact. I loved it! My wife was all purple, my dad was red, and I was orange; it all looked very cool!

It would be more important, though, if Android Messages was encrypted like iMessage. Google, telecoms, and the NSA are collecting our texts and metadata, destroying any semblance of ambient privacy. Not good.

But hey, as long as we all get those GIFs, right? Color…encryption…just give us our emoji. 🙂


Are you locked-in because of iMessage? Do you prefer Android Messages or Signal? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Digital Bookstore Conundrum

Scattered Books

I’ve got a personal problem. But I think others have it too. When you buy an eBook, which eStore should you shop at? Because your eLibrary gets really disjointed if you buy from more than one eTailer.


The Three

Nevermind that one could simply buy real physical books made out of machine-masticated tree meat. I’m talking just eBooks here.

There are eStore options, mainly three: Google Play Books, Apple Books, and Amazon kindle. I’ll also add that since the prices are about the same across the spectrum, I’m omitting that variable.

Amazon kindle

It makes an ocean of sense to buy all your eBooks from Amazon since they pioneered the whole eBook industry. I think the kindle eReader remains the most popular.

Apple Books

What was once iBooks, and also in cahoots or competition with Amazon over pricing, is now Apple Books and is better than ever. Reading on iPhone or iPad is a delight, but if you want to read on a non-Apple device, sorry – no dice.

Google Play Books

Found on the most popular mobile operating system and on the most phones by default, this option is demonstrably valid. And you can read across many devices.

The Problem

The problem is that I’ve bought books across all three digital stores. So my library is scattered like Autumn leaves. If I want to read a book, I must recall where it is and open the right app for that. Worse, if I happen to switch to using an Android phone, I can’t read my Apple Books on it.

Sure, it’s not the world’s biggest issue. But for an organized person like me, it messes up my little world. At this point I can’t fix it unless I decide to re-purchase all my books from one store only. That is cost-prohibitive, I mean bonkers!

But even if I could afford that, which store would I buy from? Which app would I use exclusively? Those are the key questions going forward. If I want to minimize my eBook library being strewn around, I must pick The One store to buy from. But which one? I don’t know.

I guess my vote would go for the one that makes the most sense: Amazon kindle. It’s a “third party” solution, so the kindle app (and eStore) is available across the most devices. And kindle eBooks can be read on their own dedicated devices with eInk screens.

The Solution

Now a great solution would be for one or all the tech giants to set a standard for a personal eLibrary that is web-based. And no matter which company you get eBooks from, they all appear in one unified digital online vault that only you can access.

This solution is like Movies Anywhere. Not long ago, when you bought a movie, the digital copy could be from different vendors and you had to use their specific app to watch it after redeeming the eFlick from their particular website or service. That meant multiple accounts and apps, which nobody wants.

Now you can still buy a movie from iTunes, for example, and it becomes available on YouTube or Google Play Movies thanks to the Movies Anywhere tie-in! It actually works.

We need this for eBooks! If the movie industry figured out the proprietary digital rights management types of coding, then the book industry can figure out how to make different eBooks all work together too.


The Choice

Once upon a chronographical span, my eBook situation was stalwart and straightforward: kindle. It was really the only option. Today, my Paperwhite is still fantastic to read on. But the store and library interface is clunky, and I really dislike not seeing book covers in full color.

On top of that, I had decided to only read books on my smartphone for the sake of simplicity. It’s always with me, and it’s super easy to read in one hand. The phone is always connected to the eBookstore, making it zero-friction when it comes to buying my next book (except for Apple’s store blocking nonsense). Lastly, the book covers are in vivid color.

So then it comes down to either Apple Books or Google Play Books. Both reading apps work great. The overall polish of Apple Books on my iPhone makes it the nicer choice. But the main advantage of Google Play Books is that I can read and buy them on my Chromebook, the web, or potential future Android smartphone.

For now I’m using Google Play Books. But there’s a good chance I end up back on kindle.


So do you prefer books or eBooks? If the latter, what’s your favorite of the three options above and why? Let all know in the comments below, or you can write to me here! Thanks for reading!

A Story Pipe Dream

Fiction Fascination

Every now and then, my dream of writing fiction shimmies back up from the crevices between the couch cushions of my mind. With my recent resurgence in reading fiction (a new genre too), I’ve also started to think of creating my own worlds of escapism.


Imagine

Sometimes, my mind will brainstorm story ideas off and on during the day – daydreaming. I usually try to explore “what ifs” and come up with an amazing and unique synopsis that interests me and is sure to make everyone want to buy my future book. So that’s, what, a delusion of grandeur? Or a dream of glory?

Something changed recently though. Instead of just ideas, I started getting scenes in my head. An overall plot started to come together in my little brain, so I just went with it. A setting, a time, and people formed into a little world. And different scenarios played out in my imagination, like watching the story unfold in my mind’s eye.

I began to think of names that fit each person and jotted them down in a note. I pondered some of their individual traits while considering what their character might be. There were family members, friends, co-workers, adults, kids, and love interests. Some died. Some got sick. Many traveled.

Then I decided to practice writing one of the scenes I had imagined. It’s one of the early parts in my story idea. I tried to set the scene, describe actions and feelings, and introduce a character. I’m happy with how it turned out, yet I already want to rewrite it, expand, and edit. It was fun practice. But it also helped me see how challenging the story writing process is. It’s art and science – a craft.

Writing a story is no small undertaking. It’s a big investment of your time and mental energy. I read somewhere that you end up living in your story world by necessity. That makes more sense now since I got a taste of it. To me that feels daunting but also intriguing. Imagine being able to escape into a fabricated universe that you create in your mind. And although it’s fiction, it works, playing out in compelling fashion.

After those story scenes fleshed themselves out in my mind, I shelved them because I decided they weren’t to my liking. Instead, I started to come up with new ideas. I got some external inspiration and worked my creative muscles to pull some different elements together, and a bonafide story idea started to cement itself. I was excited!

There were many details emerging, like the story was starting to come alive in my brain. The usual peppering of questions arose, and answers quickly filled the blanks. I concocted a super-villain with a motive and backstory. This story idea is promising, and I’m glad to pursue it. With crazy luck, who knows, I might be able to develop it enough to take a stab at NaNoWriMo this year!


Inspire

I didn’t think this current fling of fiction fun would go far. But I am enjoying it and, I think, reaping some knowledge and experience in practicing. I’m exercising my story-telling muscles while seeing if I really have any.

To fuel this literary escapade, I find websites that talk about the writing process and how to create good fiction. Most of all, I keep reading fiction. Whatever inspiration I can find, my hands grasp it like a glass of wine. I drink every last drop.

Most of all, to fuel the fiction fire, I read more fiction. I once read a famous writer who said that to write, you should read. That works for me; who doesn’t like reading?


Have you got a story to tell? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!