Tag Archives: twitter

A time of torment

Now that the Viking invasion of half term has finally departed, this week I treated myself to a trip into town to partake in one of my favourite pastimes – browsing round Waterstones bookshop. I like to head straight to the back of the shop avoiding all the gift buyers and get stuck into the crime section. As usual I start with the tables in the middle of the shelves which are piled up with books displayed by theme. Then I head to the start of the crime section, which is where my plan fell to pieces. It seemed they’d moved the section. I looked around in a panic, what’s a book shop after all without a good stock of crime fiction? This would be a complete torment for me to live in a city without a crime section in the bookshop. Yet it soon became clear that whilst the initial panic was unfounded, there was still crime novels galore, there was a new problem. The crime novels were now all just mixed in amongst a general fiction section stretching round the store.

This was not good for me. I don’t like change. I also like to be able to go into a bookshop and head straight to the crime section knowing that whatever I’m picking up is crime. I like to know I’m not going to pick up a book and end up with a mills and boon (which I was a big fan of when younger, mainly because Jilly Cooper was a lot harder to sneak past the parents but the sex scenes were just as good) or much worse something dungeons and dragons based. My reading matter rarely deviates from anything that isn’t classified as crime. This new layout therefore really seems to be rather at odds with what I like, so it was time to express my annoyance.

Clearly nowadays the idea of writing letters to the local newspaper is practically akin to sending smoke signals. Outraged from York has long been in retirement. Therefore I did what all modern annoyed people do and I took to twitter to express my disgust. Rather surprisingly I swiftly received a reply to my tweet from one of the most high ranking authors in crime fiction. Once I’d come down off the roof thanks to the excitement of getting the tweet, I actually read it. Suddenly rather than seeing the concept of all fiction being in one big pile as a negative thing, I was open to the idea that this actually was a good way to ‘broaden your horizons’

I do love is discovering new authors. One of the best things about both writing this blog and of course attending the festival is the joy of discovering new writers and styles that you wouldn’t necessarily pick up yourself. I have also in the past read non crime fiction and really enjoyed it. So I completely agree that mixing the books altogether could potentially mean I discover new authors which is obviously a good thing.

However there is still a part of me that is a little bit sad about this change. I always loved the fortnightly trip to the library and this hasn’t disappeared as an adult. The difference is now I always look for the little blue sticker with the handcuffs on it so I know I’m a getting a crime novel. Which leads me to the biggest issue that this is going to cause me, and that’s one of time. Whilst I’m looking forward to discovering new authors the sheer time I’m going to need to browse through all those books is scary. I wonder if part time working is feasible? Or maybe rather than seeing it as a Saturday morning treat I should just get a job in a bookshop.

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Filed under crime fiction, Hobbies

Vanish

As a huge crime fiction fan I do love a good mystery. Take for example the case of the vanishing watering can. This manky plastic green watering can has sat in my front garden for a couple of years with no problem, now it has disappeared. Some people say I need to let this particular mystery go and accept that the watering can is no more, but it is just not that simple to do as it has no conclusion.  Whilst I suspect that Hilda 1 has taken it in order to prove her point about the number of dangerous gangs there are in the area (which I am not denying, however I imagine that carrying a large plastic watering can alongside their Ben 10 lunchboxes may have proved too difficult for even the most hardened 5 year old!) But without confronting her about it I’ll never know the truth and that annoys me.

I have the same struggle with missing parts of the alphabet. The number of texts I get that have missing letters drives me mad. The other day I was sat in a bar with a friend and a bloke offered to buy us a drink. Although what he actually did rather than speak, was throw a napkin on the table in front of us with ‘Cn I by u a drnk’ scrawled on it. Even if he hadn’t been older than my Dad, fat and balding the lack of proper words is just not the way to court someone.

I heard Stephen Fry talk last year, and someone asked him what he thought of the current craze around text speak. Surprisingly he didn’t throw up his hands and batter the questionnaire over the head with a missing vowel. He actually said that he thought anything that got people using language is a good thing, no matter how they use it. He then went on to suggest that people using text speak in order to put a point across in twitter or in the space of a single text is similar to Lord Byron shortening words and writing in different directions in his letters in order to save paper.

Well I hate to have to say it but I disagree with Stephen Fry. I realise there is absolutely no denying that he is a much more intelligent, educated, witty and articulate person than I am, however safe in the knowledge that he will never read what I’m about to write. I think he is wrong.

Text speak annoys me terribly. I don’t mind the odd ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ and ‘tom’ instead of ‘tomorrow’ which is always a tricky word to spell. But as soon as I find myself having to re-read a message to try and understand it then it makes my blood boil. I don’t even believe it’s a youth thing, as I have had some perfectly legible messages from some of the younger contingent in my acquaintance and some barely understandable vowel-less nonsense from those old enough to know better!

The case of the missing letters is one that is always going to bug me. I understand sometimes its necessary. I will always shorten words that I struggle to spell however with good old predictive text even bad spelling isn’t the barrier to good English it used to be. I accept there are times when you are in a rush and want to send ‘c u in pub’ rather than ‘One is very much looking forward to seeing you in the public house later on this evening’ but on the whole there is just no excuse.

I’m sure all authors would agree that words are something that should be treasured, and enjoyed, not things that are just cast aside as though unimportant. I might not be able to solve the vanished watering can mystery, but I can at least make sure I try to not lose letters!

 

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No time for goodbye

I was in Glasgow last week running an exhibition stand. Our stand was positioned directly opposite the internet area where delegates could sit and check their emails and ensure they kept up to date with all important work related things.

Having spent 5 days sat watching the people using these computers I can categorically state that the most used website at this conference is guess what…Facebook! As you may have guessed from my previous posts the whole Facebook addiction has rather passed me by. Don’t get me wrong I have been known to check the site from time to time and having been sat here on my own and rather bored this week I’ve probably looked at it more than normal. I am naturally a very nosy person. But it still saddens me to see how people are so obsessed with the minutia of other lives and how people seem to live their lives via Facebook updates. As for ‘liking’ things, that’s just plain weird. For example, ‘Little Johnny is currently waiting for the doctor to sew his arm back on’ and people like it!

There will be a whole generation of people who grow up unable to interact with other human beings face to face. They will get the shakes if they have to go somewhere with no internet access. There will be support groups to join – My name is Nigel and I’m an internet addict. You’ll be able to go to the doctors to get tranquilizers if you have to travel by tube with no internet connection.

It’s the inordinate amount of time it wastes that I think upsets me most. At one point during the conference I got out my kindle to take advantage of the free wifi and make sure I had a couple of books ready in case my train was delayed and I ran out of reading material on the journey home. One of the delegates saw me and started chatting saying how they would love to read but don’t have the time. They then proceeded to go over and spend 25 minutes staring at Facebook. That 25 minutes could have been spent reading a book! I bet there is a direct relationship between people who check their emails every 5 minutes and spend hours staring at Facebook to those who say they have no time to read or take up other hobbies. (Potential psychology experiment there sis?)

I have never understood how people don’t read? As you will be aware by now I love reading and read almost anywhere stain on the silence  Its so accessible. It doesn’t matter what age, or how much money you have reading is a hobby that can be done by all, and I’m sure if people spent as much time reading as they do updating their status the world would be a happier place!

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Filed under crime fiction, Reading

Strangers on a train

Yesterday East Coast Trains (well the people that run the company rather than the trains themselves) launched the first ever Twitter crime story. The author Martin Waites ‘tweeted’ the first line. Followers can then ‘tweet’ what they think would be a good next line. East Coast will then publish this -sorry ‘tweet’ it and so on and so on.

Putting aside the fact that grown adults talking about ‘tweeting’ is frankly ludicrous and I always have visions of lots of people doing the birdie song actions to each other. Whilst I think it is great fun trying to come up with the next tweet and is no doubt a great marketing ploy I’m not sure it’s actually going to produce a story I’d read. Wasn’t there some kind of game played when we were children whereby you wrote something on a piece of paper, folded it over and then the next person wrote something else? I can’t remember what the point or the prize was though, but I’m sure it was similar.

To me in order to really enjoy a book you have to sit down and read the first few chapters all in one go in order to ‘get into it’. Reading requires time and dedication to enjoy properly. It’s no good just buying lots of books and having them sit and look pretty on your bookshelves. Often those who have the nicest sets of books, in the most pristine condition are those who don’t actually enjoy reading them.

There is a man who comes into my gym, he turns up wearing professional looking speedos, tinted goggles, he stretches before he gets in the pool, all ready for a good old workout. He then swims so slowly that from a distance he barely moves, and does two lengths (of a pool the size of a walnut) before getting out. It doesn’t matter how professional you look, if you don’t put any effort in you won’t get any reward.

I think the same goes for reading. Often the best books are those that take a bit of work to get into, a good example being the previously mention CJ Samson.  Sometimes you have to sit down without any distractions to start off a book, on a train for example. You can sit down for a couple of hours with nothing else to do, and really get into the story. Until of course some kid gets on with his MP3 blaring, then the self-important idiot behind starts loudly making phone calls to tell everyone how important he is, then the tannoy person starts shouting about how they want to apologise for the delay due to leaves on the line/signalling problems in Peterborough/missing driver (delete as appropriate)

Despite that trains are a perfect place to read, as are hotel bars. You may have to put in the effort to ignore all the distractions around but just occasionally you find a quiet train that’s not delayed and you can really enjoy a good book.

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April 20, 2012 · 4:20 pm

Playing for Pizza

As previously mentioned I’m a bit of a twitter stalker. I have recently hunted down a number of the authors who are visiting Harrogate on the site, mainly to look at if they have any books coming out but also to sneak at peak at what they might be having for tea (a favourite topic of discussion here in the office, stir fry for me in case you want to know)

I’ve often wandered if there is some kind of link between the genre of books people like and the genre of music they listen to. Both me and the Sister like rock music (bordering on heavy metal but I don’t like to admit that in case people get the wrong impression of me, I have no piercings and don’t own any faded t-shirts with skulls on them!) and as we’ve established we both have a borderline obsessive love of crime fiction.

My initial glance through the world of twitter did seem to confirm my suspicion, a fair few had put rock music in their likes (although even more seemed to rate a love of pizza as a top interesting fact about themselves – I like pizza is that another common link?) However the more I looked in depth the more I realised that actually there are seemingly no common factors other than a love of reading crime.

It would be interesting to do a survey to see if there is some common thread linking the types of people who like certain genres. It can’t be linked to genes as neither my Mum or Dad read them (in fact its debatable if my Dad has ever read anything except Farmers Weekly) and although my Gran is a big reader she’s more a ‘chick lit’ ‘fireside romance’ kind of women than a serial killer chaser.

Now don’t get me wrong I read other types of books too. I like the odd girly book myself as I think sometimes you need a break from death and destruction but the one genre I always come back to is ‘crime’. I’ve never actually counted up how many books I own but if I did I imagine the majority would be crime related, or at the very least mysteries. Then again most books have an element of mystery, whether its girl meets boys and which one she will fall for, or a fantasy novel good versus evil plot (never read any so can’t really comment)

I suppose it depends what you define as Crime as the genre is so incredibly broad it could pretty much cover everything. According to Wikipedia it’s all much more detailed than that. Crime novels are classifield as those told from the point of view of the perpetrator, whereas detective novels are those focussing on the solving of a crime, and mystery fiction are ‘whodunits’ where a vital piece of information is kept hidden until the climax. Interestingly one sub-genre is called ‘locked room mystery’ where things happen in a locked room. I did recently read ‘Locked in’ by Kerry Wilkinson although I’m not sure one book can be counted as a sub-genre.

Personally I’ll stick to the general term of crime for the novels I like, this is after all the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writers Festival Challenge, not the crime, mystery, and detective writers festival challenge. That’s way too much of a mouthful, I’m still waiting for TOPCWFC to start trending on twitter. Maybe if I keep the stalking up I’ll get there!

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Filed under crime fiction, Theakstons Festival

Close enough to kill

A couple of weeks ago I met a friend for lunch and one topic of conversation was facebook (Not a book, although if it were a book, if you ask me Facebook accounts would be on a par with the telephone directory. We all have one sitting around and don’t really want to get rid of it, but have no interest in 99.9% of the people in it. Am I the only person who uses the phone book once the first time it arrives and only then to look myself up?)

At  lunch we were discussing the fact that lots of people with accounts on facebook have a huge amount of ‘friends’ but how many of these do they ever actually meet up with, or even have the ability to contact outside of Facebook means? They are virtual not real.

That’s one of the most exciting aspects of the Theakstons Crime Writers Festival, all these people that I’ve only seen on the fly covers of books are actually there in real life, walking around, signing books and having face to face conversations.  However, having a conversation with Martina Cole last year (where incidentally she told me my name would make a good name for a prostitute in one of her books) does not make me her friend. In the same way ‘poking’ someone on Facebook does not make them a friend.  I’m as nosy as the next person, and do use Facebook as a way of looking at what people are doing, but that tends to be people who I haven’t had a conversation with in 10 years. If I want to know what a real friend is up I’ll talk to them.

Saying that though, the crime loving part of me does enjoy the emergence of Facebook and especially twitter. Last year I was lucky enough to see Patricia Cornwall talk in Harrogate, and on my way home I set up a twitter account as she had mentioned that she was a prolific user. That evening I was therefore able to see that bad weather had grounded her flight and she had to drive all the way to Heathrow to fly back to America, rather than boarding at Leeds Bradford. I found this ability to track her movements rather fun, but there is still a big part of me that feels this is bordering on stalking. I know obviously I can only see what she wants to put on but still it somehow feels wrong and rather creepy.

I bet the ability to track people’s movements is becoming more and more a part of the serial killers armoury.  It must certainly save them time, no more of that hanging around on street corners waiting for the victim to return. They can just check out a potential victims status whilst sat in the warm with a nice glass of Chianti and wait until they see posted ‘loving spinning class tonight, now time to hit the shower’ then have a leisurely drive round!

Another conversational topic at this particular lunch was of course books (you may have gathered that a lot of my conversations involve books, its not even limited to friends, people at work, strangers on the bus, I bore them all!) I’ve recently introduced Patricia Cornwell to my friend, in return they suggested Carl Hiaasen, describing them as comedy crime capers. Not someone I’ve read before, although I’m always happy to try new books. Unfortunately however, as he’s not on the list for the festival I may have to wait a while. Maybe I should contact Mark Billingham via twitter and ask him to invite Carl Hiaasen, I am after all his twitter friend!

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Filed under crime fiction, Crime writing, Theakstons Festival