article, news

People Are Reading More Books During Quarantine

Credit: Getty Images

In a (not so) surprising turn of good news, it seems the publishing industry is doing pretty well during the extended duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Publishers Doing Well, Retailers OK.

While retailers like the ever-embattled Barnes&Noble took an initial hit, publishers have quietly been able to continue churning out books mostly on schedule due to the nature of their business. This piece over at Observer details how sales of books have been going up as more people turn to books for entertainment and information while being at home.

This makes logical sense to me. I’ve been reading far more in the past couple of months, even if my writing output has suffered from quarantine. I have noticed that I’ve been skewing heavily toward non-fiction books though. I’ve struggled with getting into fiction, which is extremely abnormal for me. It’s not surprising to me with all the major events happening globally in 2020 that people are seeking out information in books, and creating a rise in non-fiction sales.

Luckily for us, many retail booksellers are now open again in some capacity. That combined with availability of online sales is something we can at least be grateful for in these challenging times.

Have you been reading more during the pandemic? If so, what have you been getting into? Let me know down in the comments.

article, photography

DIY Black & White Photo Development

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten any photos developed.

The lack of photo updates (or any updates, really) are due to COVID-19 and its impact on creative endeavors.

Specifically for film photography, there were a couple reasons I haven’t gotten any new pics.

  1. Finances – Sending film to a lab for development is expensive, and its a luxury right now that I couldn’t prioritize
  2. Lab Closures – Some of the labs I regularly use are either currently closed or have limited availability
  3. Film stock availability – I’ve read about shortages of particular stock online, and after the price increases early in 2020, I’ve been dipping into my fridge stock rather than buying anything new to experiment with (See: #1)

Learning to Develop at Home

I’ve been shooting color film almost exclusively for the past few years. However, I started on B&W back in the day when I first took photography classes in high school (yes I’m old), and have been interested in getting back to it. I bought a used copy of Black & White Photography: A Basic Manual by Henry Horenstein on eBay, and it has been very inspiring. It’s available for less than $10 used, and I cannot recommend it enough. I plan to write up a full review of the book, because it’s an amazing resource.

I’m interested in coming up with an extremely budget-friendly workflow for black and white development. Most of my film photos ironically end up digital, but I’d like the final scans to be high enough quality to print on paper since I occasionally frame photos as gifts or home decor.

I’ve also been bringing my rangefinder out quite a bit lately, and everything I’ve read about the Yaschica Electro 35 says it truly excels when you load it with B&W film.

Creating The Workflow

I plan to build on this post long-term as I seek out and choose equipment to reach my goal, and I’ll try to update it with links to gear as I put together a kit. The focus will be on value, since I think a lot of film enthusiasts are on tighter budgets than usual during this pandemic. Film and photography equipment is a luxury for hobbyists like myself, but I’d like to be able to continue creating photos more regularly, in a DIY fashion instead of constantly scrimping and saving for lab services.

I’m also open to suggestions from any film photography blog followers, or film buffs who happen to run across this post. How do you develop B&W and has it made things more affordable? Let me know in the comments.

Stay tuned!

article, review, writing

Best Software for Socially Distant Writer’s Groups

My writer’s group is finally back on track!

After a few months hiatus, we’re meeting regularly again and it feels great to have the encouragement and accountability. The only difference is we’re not currently meeting in-person due to the ongoing pandemic.

We’ve experimented with a few pieces of software for our critiques and meetings, and I wanted to spend a few minutes outlining some software we’ve been leveraging, along with Pro’s and Con’s.

Continue reading “Best Software for Socially Distant Writer’s Groups”
writing, writing tips

A Writer’s Guide to Coronavirus Quarantine Life – Part 2 (The Reckoning)

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Still Inside…

Years ago, I wrote a story about a group of people stranded in a desert town, dying from unseen radiation poisoning, and trying to figure out where they fit into the plan of the world.

It seems strangely relatable now, minus the radiation and mutants.

It’s been roughly six weeks since I wrote my first post about writing while under the Coronavirus stay-at-home orders, and in that time I’ve mostly managed to keep to my routine. There have been slip ups, and low points, but overall I am managing.

I continue to adhere to the exercise regiment each morning when I wake up to early morning silence. I’m also trying to eat plenty of green vegetables and other healthy food, and take in deep breathes of fresh spring air, weather permitting. New England has had a cold, generally raw spring befitting the situation. No Murder Hornets though. Not yet anyway.

What I’ve Learned

  • Creativity is fickle – No matter what kind of routines you adhere to, this bizarre scenario is just mentally & creatively exhausting. With all the new roles roles people have begun taking on as caregivers, teachers, and remote-employees, plus the economic stresses, it all compounds to take a toll. If you’re a writer, go easy on yourself. I beat myself up a bit over an “empty tank” a few weeks ago, but after some conversations with peers realized many creative people are stifled right now. Even my WordPress Reader feed is a bit sparse these days!
  • Creativity is important – Writing is a mental health exercise for many people. Losing the glow of that creative spark can be distressing, even if it is temporary. That’s why I say it is OK to be upset about writer’s block, or whatever creative endeavors fuel you, even if they seem “trivial” compared to what’s happening in the world right now. If it’s important to you and helps you stay sane and healthy, then it is important. Don’t let anyone minimize lack of creativity as insignificant.
  • Creativity comes back – Don’t think that once it is gone it’ll never return. It will. I’ve found that on better days I will get a quick burst of inspiration. Sometimes it gets triggered by the aroma of a new coffee (I have so many flavors to buy and try) or intense sunshine on a clear morning. Whatever it is, I capitalize as much as I can. One week it was a single sentence, another it was 5000 words in a day. I just go with it when it shows up. The only thing that remains consistent is that inspiration strikes at the most inconvenient times, just like it did in the “before times”.

If you’re out there reading this I hope you are safe, well, and making the best of your particular situation. This will all end eventually, and when it does I look forward to drinking coffee in book stores and going to author events again.

-BLD

news

How The Book Business is Coping with Coronavirus

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Credit: Publisher’s Weekly

Coronavirus is upending nearly every industry on Earth.

The book industry isn’t immune. It’s been crazy to see such a sudden shift in consumer behavior (mandated or self-imposed) over just the past few weeks here in the USA and through news reports around the world. I’m very thankful for my Kindle, and I made sure to grab a new book from my local indie bookstore before it was forced to shut down this week.

Jim Millot over at Publisher’s Weekly wrote this fascinating article on how the publishing industry, which isĀ notoriously slow to change and adapt, has been forced to adjust. Especially around live events and their love/hate relationship with Amazon who is (rightfully) focusing on inventory of basic necessity items for customers.

There is also a major toll on brick & mortar book sellers, especially the 800 lb. gorilla Barnes&Noble who were already teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

I’m not sure what will happen with this situation, but it has made one thing very apparent to me.

Books are one of the single most well-engineered pieces of information and entertainment. No wifi, electricity, or connectivity needed. It’s no wonder they are still going strong after centuries.