Tag archive for "writing"

On Writing

Bloggers Block

No Comments 15 February 2012

I, perhaps more than anyone, am qualified to talk about bloggers block. After all I took nearly ten years to write my first novel, The Human Race. During that period I wrote little and rarely, embracing any excuse that meant I could avoid writing a single word but secretly berated my inability to put the proverbial pen to paper. I am sure you are all familiar with that feeling. It’s the life of a writer hey. Continue Reading

project gutenberg ebooks

On Writing

Is the path to enlightenment paved with e-books?

2 Comments 07 October 2011

Michael Hart had a grand vision, which he named Project Gutenberg: e-books for all, for free. He aimed to provide “a million e-books each to a billion people all over the globe”.

Hart was the founder of the e-books industry and, in the week that The Human Race came out on Kindle, I read about his passing. Had Michael Hart lived, he planned to achieve his goal by 2021: fully 50 years after his light bulb moment when, as a student at the University of Illinois, he first conceived his plan. That year he published none other than the Declaration of Independenceon the university’s mainframe computer. Apparently six people downloaded his submission and the first Project Gutenberg e-book was born, fully 36 years before Amazon launched its Kindle.

As of June 2011, Project Gutenberg e-books numbered some 36,000, with an average of more than 50 new titles being added each week. Most are books with copyright that has expired in the US, and this is evident in Project Gutenberg’s “most downloaded” list. The top 20 is dominated by American and English authors who died years ago. They include Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Bram Stoker, Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens.

There are, of course, some surprises. The number one Project Gutenberg e-book download is the Karma Sutra. The illustrated edition, no less! And the 2010 CIA Fact Book holds strong at number 16. Sex and spying: a potent combination. Especially when it’s free.

Project Gutenberg is clearly a worthy cause and Hart deserves to be celebrated for bringing some of the greatest works of fiction to a wider audience who are thirsty for knowledge. As stated on the Project Gutenberg website: “E-books are an efficient and effective way of unlimited free distribution of literature. Access to e-books can thus provide opportunity for increased literacy. Literacy, and the ideas contained in literature, creates opportunity.”

Hart was a revolutionary. Project Gutenberg always stayed within the law, but he believed that copyright obstructed his vision. For this reason I suspect he would have been absolutely delighted to see the disruption to trad publishing. I wonder if Michael Hart wasn’t delighted to witness some of the disruption that e-books are now bringing to the “in-copyright” market place. As a recently published author I find it both scary… and liberating;

  • The internet has been a great leveler for authors, allowing their voices to be heard in numbers unimaginable just five years ago. E-books have enabled that, for precisely the same reasons that drew Hart to them back in 1971. However the internet has also created a huge amount of noise above which you now have to shout very loudly to be heard. Having a fancy web site, a great blog and loads of Twitter followers are no longer enough. Instead, such media has become the base line – and both publishers and authors need to up their game as a result.
  • The reduced cost of entry has also destroyed pricing models. This is great for the consumer.  Look at the top ten paid books on Kindle UK: five are less than a pound. However it also means that substantial sales are required to make a good living as an author, especially if you are just entering the market. For many publishers and authors, this new pricing model may prove to be unsustainable.

I have no problem with any of this. It’s the market we are in and, as in any market, the best deserve to win handsomely.

In the meantime, e-books are here to stay and Project Gutenberg e-books will continue to be given away for free. And so I will continue to work my socks off to add to my readership, one e-book lover at a time!

This post was selected for Book Marketing Blog Carnival – October 26, 2011, hosted by Selling Books and Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies Issue #14, hosted by The Book Designer.

carbon free

On Writing

How to become a carbon-free writer

1 Comment 30 September 2011

I was horrified to discover that writing the sequel to The Human Race had produced 13.62 tonnes of CO2 – and even more horrified after I found a way to visualise that number. Determined to reduce  my carbon emissions, I have drawn up the following plan of action:

1.       Following in the footsteps of Ray Anderson, I’m aiming to cut my business emissions to zero over the next ten years. I plan to do this while minimising the impact upon my lifestyle. This could be tricky. As you know I’m a committed – if reluctant – environmentalist, so I’m not even sure whether it is possible. You could argue, however, that I have already taken the first steps. Ten years ago I didn’t pay much attention to global warming. Ignorance was bliss! Nowadays, every activity I undertake carries some green guilt.

My lifestyle is important to me, as I’m sure yours is to you. I love to travel and will be loath to give it up. What’s more, I would like to become a bestselling author – an ambition which, I am sure, comes at a carbon cost. Even so, from now on I intend to pursue my pastimes and ambitions in an environmentally friendly manner. Ray Anderson did it: he grew his business to a $1 billion turnover, while cutting its carbon emissions by more than 60 per cent.

2.       I will offset the tonnes of CO2 that were generated while I wrote the sequel to The Human Race. In fact I have already done so, thanks to the website www.carbonfootprint.com. It cost me £190. Essentially I bought one tree per tonne of carbon emissions. I have requested they be planted locally in Yorkshire, my home region.

3.       And I’m not done yet! As my books continue to sell copies, I will continue to offset the carbon cost of their production. I spent a long time trying to come up with a scientific formula for doing this, but failed. There appears to be no accurate method of measurement (please tell me if I’m wrong).

For paperback copies, the closest I can find is The Wisconsin Paper Council’s reckoning that 128 cubic feet of wood produces 942lb of books. Then there are distribution costs. E-books are lighter, but they still cost carbon. E-readers all require charging, manufacture and eventually, disposal. Again, I could find no calculations – please contact me if you can.

In the meantime I am going with the following formula:  for every 100 paperbacks or 1000 e-books sold, I will offset my carbon emissions by planting one tree. I will place a counter on this site, so readers can monitor my progress.

So that’s my plan. I’m sure it could be better- but at least it’s a start.

My challenge to you: what are you waiting for? Begin offsetting.

At the very least, work out the carbon footprint for your home or business. If you are like me you may well be shocked, embarrassed – and inspired to do something about it.

This post was selected for Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies Issue #14, hosted by The Book Designer  and Lovely Words Vol. 39, hosted by Writing as a Sacred Art.

green guilt

Future Earth

My name is O.C. Heaton and I’m a polluter…

No Comments 29 September 2011

After posting about corporate environmentalism, it occurred to me that I should be practising what I preach. Even writers generate a carbon footprint, but I have never taken the time to analyse how much CO2 I spew out into the atmosphere.

When my eco-thriller, The Human Race, was published, I traded in my Grand Jeep Cherokee 4.7L V8 engine for a Brabus (a Smart car). I hasten to add that this had nothing to do with the publishing advance I secured for the book! Instead, it was a conscious decision. If you are a regular reader of A Rush of Green, you will know that after researching the environment inside and out for The Human Race, I was struck by green guilt and became a reluctant environmentalist. My Smart car was a first step in the right direction: my miles per gallon soared, from a measly 16 on a good day, to more than 50. Even so, at the rate of 200 miles per month the carbon emissions from my tiny car still amount to half a tonne of emissions per year.

Driving accounts for a mere fraction of my daily emissions, so I decided to work out how much impact my business – writing – has had on the environment. As a writer, I was unsure how to separate my downtime from my writing time and eventually decided not to bother. I treated them as one and the same. After all, the business is me. I am the production engine as it were, so everything I consume has one output: books.

Here is a breakdown of my household’s energy consumption:

Heaton energy consumption

Using www.carbon-offsets.com I calculated that, based on those figures, our family produces nearly 14.89 tonnes in one year. Because I write at home, I am the heaviest user in my family of four. I am here all day, using light, power for my laptop, gas for warmth, cooking and the occasional shower! Given my heavy usage, I have calculated that I am responsible for 40 per cent of our household emissions

Writing the sequel has taken nearly two years. If I consume 40 per cent of the household total, that puts my carbon emissions at a shocking 11.91 tonnes.

And that’s not all. The book research that I have undertaken outside the home has also produced a significant carbon footprint. Since a large portion of the sequel is set in Washington DC, I invested in a research trip. Including return journeys and accommodation costs, I “spent” an additional 1.21 tonnes.

So while writing an eco-thriller, I have produced approximately 13.62 tonnes of CO2.  It doesn’t look good on paper, does it?

It gets worse. I haven’t included my car’s output, and I haven’t factored in the carbon cost of publication. As for the latter, however, rest assured that after my recent evaluation of paper books v. electronic books, the sequel to The Human Race will be heavily promoted on Kindle and other e-readers!

As for what happened next… Find out in tomorrow’s post!

This post was selected for Everything Home End of October Edition, hosted by My DIY Home Tips.

On Writing

My writing progress: I’m a summer writer!

5 Comments 22 September 2011

Earlier this year I blogged about my obsession with my writing progress. I am scrupulous about recording my “writing statistics”, and either beat myself up when I fail to meet my targets or celebrate with high fives when I hit them.

Having just finished the second book in The Human Race “Thrilogy”, I am taking a short break before starting the third and final instalment of the series. This week, contemplating the best time to put pen to paper, I decided to compile statistics for my writing progress for the last four years. As you can see, they make for some interesting viewing: Continue Reading

memory palace

On Writing

Do you have a Memory Palace?

11 Comments 15 May 2011

Here’s a question for all authors out there. Do you ever struggle to remember the characters in your books? What about those incidental characters, created on the hoof?

I have to confess that I sometimes struggle, particularly once the book is published and I’ve moved onto the next story. This was brought home to me most forcibly this week when I was preparing for an interview on BBC Radio Leeds with Adam Pope to promote The Human Race. While gathering my thoughts and ideas about the book, the name of one of my main characters completely escaped me! Unforgiveable really, but perhaps not surprising as I killed the character in the first book and that character does not feature in the sequel, which I am knee-deep in finishing at the moment. Continue Reading

On Writing

Are writers all “liars and thieves”?

3 Comments 18 March 2011

Are we? Well, according to Nicholas Hardiment, the serial philanderer and highly successful author in the film Tamara Drewe, we are. After watching the film on Saturday night, I immediately dismissed the incendiary statement. What self-respecting writer wouldn’t? But alas, the words seem to have stuck with me and after five days I have made a U-turn.

In fact, not only am I a liar, I hope that I’m a great liar. I’ve always made stuff up, ever since I was very young. In hindsight, I think I was rather good at lying back then; if I wasn’t convincing my granny that I was colour blind I would be trying to persuade my Mum that I had chickenpox. Essentially, I created stories and told them to anyone who would listen, and now it’s clear to me that storytelling is the foundation of all great writing. For me, the more fanciful the tale, the better the story. Continue Reading

why I love technology

Future Tech

Why I love technology

No Comments 12 March 2011

As readers of The Human Race will know, I love technology. Yes, I’m a real gadget man. Mankind’s capacity for invention and ingenuity fascinates me. The idea that someone, somewhere in the world sat down and had the intelligence, perseverance and creativity to invent something that hopefully solved a problem for someone else is partly romantic, often exciting and sometimes terrifying. There have been a few wobbles along the way, but technology has helped us to evolve and survive.

Continue Reading

On Writing

Do words count? And if they do, should I be counting them?

6 Comments 01 March 2011

Over the years I have become obsessed with what I have termed my ‘writing statistics.’ I religiously record the amount of words I write and the number of pages that these words equate to.

When I see the figures in front of me, sometimes I celebrate, or at least I do when I manage to beat my monthly target! Yet inevitably, sometimes I fail to reach that golden target number and the sulking begins. Continue Reading

On Writing

How to write

3 Comments 08 February 2011

I’m often asked how I got into writing.

“How do you write?”

“What are your writing dos and don’ts?”

I decided to put this post together to try and answer these questions. As with everything that I write I did a little research beforehand, for guidance. I visited other authors’ blogs to try and understand their writing tricks and tactics, but their ideas about how to write and mine simply don’t marry up. I don’t really follow any of the tried, tested or recommended ways of doing things. Continue Reading


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Reviews of The Human Race

Unputdownable. Yes, I know it's not a word, but it definitely applies here, anyway. That's the word I'm going with, to describe The Human Race by O.C. Heaton. - Hira N. Hasnain

An outstanding first novel from O.C. Heaton that catapults him into the Best Seller league… - Justine Bond

"This is an exciting, fast-paced read. The Human Race is a book that is very easy to forget to put down. Bring on part two!" - L. H. Bowers

"If you are looking for a well-plotted and well-written thriller to while away the hours of a long flight, this offering might suit you very well." - David Bryson, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer

For further reviews of The Human Race by O.C. Heaton click here.

Author Bio

Charles Heaton British thriller writer O.C. Heaton, author of The Human Race, is fascinated by the past, present and future of human evolution. (Image credit: Ross Parry Agency) Read More>>

O.C. Heaton’s bookshelf


O.C. Heaton in the Guardian

O.C. Heaton's post about Harold Haw was featured in the Guardian.

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O.C.'s bookshelf: read

The BeachThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeLife of PiOuter DarkThe FirmAlexander 3: The Ends of the Earth: A Novel

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