Some years ago I took an Open University Degree course in geology and earth sciences. It was in the early years of the internet but the OU had, by then, started to shed the bad haircut, wooly jumper, somewhat intense image portrayed in glorious black and white, of their rather staid TV transmissions you could find on the BBC in the early hours of the morning. I think it was also outgrowing its Educating Rita days too. I found it to be modern, vibrant and already embracing the new opportunities afforded by the World Wide Web where students could communicate and interact online with peers and tutors.
Back in those days, listening to the high-pitched series of beeps and static crackle that represented the mating call of our shiny new and upgraded (from 14.4k) 28.8k modem as it sought to hook-up with the Web – our minds were truly blown by the speed with which pages loaded. I’m being deathly serious! It was a far cry from super-fast broadband and 4G but it was a time of exciting possibilities. Never, in my wildest imaginings back then, could I have envisaged something like this blog and the access to channels of communication we take for granted in 2014. How far we’ve come.
The Internet has just celebrated its 25th birthday and I find myself once more back in student mode taking an on-line course. I’ve always been an advocate of life-long learning and I’m delighted to say I have taken advantage of the opportunity to take part in my first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) with the University of Nottingham starting on 17th March. It’s only a short course but I am quite excited to have this opportunity, particularly since it is on a topic of cognitive poetics, a form of literary criticism that uses the principles of cognitive science, something I find quite fascinating. I am eager, as always, to use any tool I can find to bring to bear on to improve my writing — in this case to be able to gain a better understanding of how we read and model fictional minds.
The course, taught by Professor Peter Stockwell, promises to take me on a journey through key questions of literature and reading: why do we feel anything for fictional characters? Why do we get angry, moved, irritated, annoyed or sentimental about imaginary people in imagined worlds? Why do the lives of imaginary minds living in fictional bodies seem to matter so much to readers? The course blurb also promises I will find the answers to these questions to be both surprising and empowering and I am really looking forward to it. Not without a little trepidation though and I’m really hoping will be accessible in terms of content and not too overly hi-brow for my already overloaded brain. I’ll let you know how I get on with it.
This week I’ve joined the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) embracing my status as an Indie author. It is a valuable resource particularly as there is so much to learn about this developing channel– pitfalls to avoid, avenues and opportunities which help me bring my work to an ever-wider audience.
It is with the view to those very avenues and opportunities that I have signed the ALLi petition at Change.org addressed to American Booksellers Association, UK Booksellers Association, Canadian Booksellers Association, Libraries and the Australian Booksellers Association. The petition calls on these organisations to understand that many independent self-publishing authors are producing work of proven value to readers and asks that literary organisations, events managers, book stores, libraries and reviewers now find ways to include them.
I’m trying to help The Alliance of Independent Authors, who started the petition, by getting five more people to join me.
Will you sign it too? Here’s the link:
It’s an issue that I think really matters. You can also read more about it by clicking here.
Wishing my Northern Hemisphere readers the blessings of springtime and crisp and vibrant Autumnal days for those south of the Equator. Wherever you are, I wish you peace and of course, good words.