How to be Environmentally Friendly

Every night on the news we see devastating pictures of habitat loss and extreme pollution, it can really make someone feel small and insignificant (in comparison to nature, aren’t we?). Hopefully some of you think ‘what could I possibly do to change it?’ Well the good news is every little bit helps. No, really. We as humans are harming this earth, not only for us and our children and grandchildren to come, but also for the animals that we share the globe with. Animals can’t speak and protect themselves, so it’s up to us to step up and help the defenceless! Below are a few things you can do to help conserve animals and their homes.

Throw your rubbish away when you’re at the beach!

Did you know that 6 million tonnes of debris enters the ocean each year? Now imagine the effect all your food wrappings and plastic bags are having on the animals in the sea. It might not seem like such a big deal when you leave a cigarette butt on the sand but did you know that cigarette butts can take 10 years to break down in the ocean? Plus all of the other people that smoke! Plastic bags take more than 100 years and plastic bottles up to 400 years! Plastic litter from the beach and boats will kill around 1 Million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles a year. So next time you’re at the beach take your rubbish home with you, and make sure your friends do the same. Perhaps walk the ten or so metres to the nearest bin and dispose of your cigarette butt properly. The world is not your bin and the ocean will appreciate your efforts. Continue reading

Rise of the e-Book and What it Means for the Aspiring Writer…

Getting published is difficult, I know. When I began my quest to get published, I initially focussed on the traditional publishing houses, with little success. It was when a friend suggested I try approaching some e-publishers that my labours were truly rewarded.

The aspiring author is likely to face multiple rejections and heartbreaking critiques in their quest to achieve publication. Thankfully, the trend towards the “environmentally friendly” e-book has opened a window of opportunity for those struggling, aspiring writers.

Once considered the poor cousin of the paperback, the e-book has risen in popularity. Amazon sales indicate that kindle and e-book sales now outrank paper-back sales. This has lead to a staggering increase in the number of e-publishers. This is good news on many levels for unpublished authors.

As e-publishers specialise in e-formats, their subsequent production costs are lower. This makes them much more likely to take on a new, unsigned author. Most traditional publishers prefer to take on new authors only if they are represented by a professional literary agent, or have been previously published. This is because taking on a new author is a higher risk for them, as producing a run of paperbacks is a more expensive venture than producing a pdf or other digital format. Additionally, as it costs less to run an e-publishing business, e-publishers can afford to be a lot more genre specific. There are e-publishers who specialise solely in horror, paranormal, sci-fi, erotica, romance, and fetishism. You name it, if there is a market, then there is probably an e-publisher ready to cater to it. This is liberating for the aspiring author, as it allows them to submit to a publisher that caters to their own specific genre market. This in turn gives the author a greater chance of being accepted and given a contract.

Once published by an e-publisher, the benefits seem to keep coming. Authors are often given higher percentages on royalties for e-book sales. Then, once an author has published a few times with a reputable e-publisher (there are some cowboys out there, be warned!), the author will then have a greater chance at being represented by an agent and getting a subsequent contract with a traditional publisher if they wish. It seems like a win-win situation doesn’t it? Alas, there is the flip-side to the e-book revolution. E-book piracy is a rising problem – stealing the royalties that you’ve tried so hard to earn. Competition is incredibly fierce. Advertising and self-promotion is bitter and difficult, as a large portion of the promotion is left up to the author. Additionally, your readers must have the initial money to buy the technology to access the e-books. If they don’t have a kindle, or computer, then e-books are inaccessible. This removes a percentage of your potential readership. Then there is the loss of the tactile experience that holding a book gives, the smell and touch of its pages and the joy of holding a book with your name on it.

I am lucky, my publisher produces both e-format and paperback, giving me the best of both worlds. However, for the author starting off, submitting to a reputable e-publisher is an eco-friendly and realistic option – and the most likely way to get your foot into the door of the publishing world.

Words by Nicola E. Sheridan

Behind the Screens Diary of a Student Filmmaker

A Few Guidelines…

If you’re a writer and don’t have children of your own or even a smallish furry domesticated animal to project your procreative instincts upon you come may to regard your words as your babies. You will need to get over it. And fast. Sometimes a favourite scene or a treasured line needs to be sent to the cutting room floor for the sake of expediency. And though it may seem like a cruel exercise in infanticide, as a student filmmaker you are limited for time and resources and if you go over your allotted time limit you will be marked down. Your tutors are not going to sit through a three hour epic, no matter how lovingly crafted, when they have specifically asked for a five minute short.

Have a fall-back option. Say hypothetically you are working on a documentary about a collection of vintage… (let’s call them cars). You have spent countless hours travelling, filming and editing until the owner of said collection decides/realises your preliminary results are unprofessional (though what did he really expect?) and removes access to your subject material before crucial aspects of filming is completed. What do you do? Always have a plan-B in place.

Actors are vain, insecure, and needy; they have huge egos/deep insecurities and are often quite good looking. Though these characteristics may be infuriatingly undesirable in a friend or partner, but if you’re a director they will be the puppets on your strings as they’re also very easy to manipulate. The trick is to alternate between effusive praise and cruelly hacking away at their self esteem which fills them with a confusing mixture of self loathing and furious need to prove themselves, leading critics to praise their “complex and layered” performances.

Be persistent and don’t be afraid to put your ideas out there. If you were a film producer and a nerdy young di- rector came to you with an idea for a film about a short, wrinkly 3000 year old alien obsessed with gardening that gets stranded on earth and just wants to go home it would be difficult to see the potential of such a project. But if Steven Spielberg had doubted himself E.T may never have become one of the most beloved movies of all time.

Filmmaking is a collaborative process. This means that sometimes you’re going to have to work with people that you are not going to like/have no talent/or are doing a screen unit for fun and don’t really care about the finished product. This is to be expected. The flipside to this coin is that you will also meet and work with others with many and varied skills with whom you find you have “creative chemistry”. Nurture these relationships.

Take yourself seriously even when no one else does. If you’re as talented as you think you are, they’ll get it eventually. If not, it may be wise to commit the following phrase to memory.

“Would you like fries with that?”

Originally printed in Metior Issue 1, 2011

Words by Clinton Little

When Writing My Book

Head Hopping

Hi, my name is Nicola Sheridan, I am a contracted author currently enduring the editing process of my first published book ‘Magical Gains’, the first in a trilogy of paranormal romance novels. Throughout the process of writing my book, I have come across a number of problems that I have learnt to solve, and which I will be sharing with your through my ‘When writing my book…’ column. For this issue, I will be discussing ‘head-hopping’, a writer’s inability to plan or construct their story before writing, leaving one to guess and make up as they go along. Continue reading