Monday, 15 December 2014

The Hemmingwrite E-paper Word Processor & Hugh Howey's The Shell Collector

If you've followed my blog for a while, you'll know I suffer from migraines. One of my main triggers is computer screens, which is not good news when you're a writer. I have to severely limit the amount of time I spend writing, blogging, and so on.

Over the years I searched for an e-ink word processor; a screen that doesn't flicker, meaning I'd be able to use it for as long as I wanted. Just when I'd given up hope of it ever happening, I stumbled across the Hemmingwrite.

To be clear, the Hemmingwrite is being promoted by co-founders Adam Leeb and Patrick Paul as 'A distraction free writing tool with modern technology like a mechanical keyboard, e-paper screen and cloud backups.' It's a portable word processor with a wifi connection to upload your work to a variety of cloud storages, such as Dropbox, Google Docs, and Evernote.

It will be distraction free. No Internet to suck away your time. The thought of being able to just sit down and write is appealing. Of course there are drawbacks. If you like to have your notes, visual cues, and ready access to the Internet for research while you're writing, it won't work for you. However, if you're looking for a way to just sit down anywhere you choose and write, the Hemmingwrite could be a winner. But for me none of that matters. The only thing I'm interested in is the screen. If it means I can cut out hours of first-draft writing time via my laptop, it's a must-have. Less migraines. More time to write. I can't lose.

The Hemmingwrite is currently available to pre-order at $349 via a Kickstarter project, and has already achieved its funding goal. The downside is it won't start shipping until Autumn 2015. So, it's a year away.

What do you think? Is the Hemmingwrite something you'd be interested in? Do you have a problem using traditional computer screens? Did anyone else have a Bother word processor like I did, which basically did the same job, albeit with floppy discs to save your writing?

Hugh Howey's The Shell Collector

At the end of November, Hugh Howey put out a call for a street team for his upcoming release, The Shell Collector. I didn't hesitate in signing up - part of volunteering was reading The Shell Collector in advance of publication in exchange for writing an honest review. I wasn't turning that opportunity down.

My Review

I've been a massive Hugh Howey fan since a friend insisted I read the best-selling dystopian series, Wool. I asked the same question so many people ask me, 'Why is it called Wool?' I received the same answer I always give, 'Read the book!'. To answer that question would be to give away one of the greatest openings to a book I've ever read. So, The Shell Collector was always a book I was going to read. What I didn't expect was to feel such a strong affinity for it.

Unlike his other darker works of fiction, where the remains of humanity live in underground silos (Wool, Dust, and Shift) or sand-dive for the ancient relics of long-buried cities (Sand), The Shell Collector is a much lighter read. There's still the ecological disaster - the story takes place in the near future, where the oceans have warmed and seashells are virtually non-existent - but there's also mystery and romance. Howey manages to skilfully blend all three genres.

It would be easy to say the relationship between the principle characters - Ness Wilde, CEO of Ocean Oil, and Maya Walsh, avid shell collector and environmentalist - is what this book is about. In a way that is of course true, but The Shell Collector is so much more than a romantic mystery. It's an environmental warning and call for action. Not unlike the other dystopian futures he has created before, the future he envisions here is not totally beyond the realms of possibility. The warnings of the climate change scientists have come true, with dire consequences for the world's oceans.

It's also Howey's homage to the oceans and his own experiences with both the sea and shell collecting, and it's for that reason that I felt such a strong affinity for the story he weaved. Having lived next to the sea for most of my life, I felt connected to this book in a much deeper way than his others. He took me back to what it felt like to search for and collect seashells, and left me feeling incredibly lucky to live within a five-minute walk of the Atlantic ocean. It felt like the book I was waiting for him to write.

Rating: 5 stars

Have you read any of Hugh Howey's books? Are you considering reading any?


  1. I should not read your posts. I looks like another set of books to add to my must read list. As for the Hemmingwrite, you already know I don't need one, but it sound as if it is just the thing for someone who cannot work with a PC monitor. If you have a desktop PC, have you tried changing the background colour on your monitor? Some monitors allow you to shift the colour temerature/greyscale to quite different colours with the controls built into them, but not if you only have a laptop.

  2. I haven't read any of Howey's books.
    Sorry it's such a wait for the Hemmingwrite, but hopefully you can get one as soon as they are available.
    Have you ever tried typing on an iPad? They have several Word-type apps and the screen isn't anything like a computer screen.

  3. The Hemmingwrite looks really cool. I have trouble with my eyes if I stare at computer screens too long, so I could see enjoying writing on this. Plus, you don't have to wait around for it to start up and open up the document and all. You can just write.

    Thanks for the review! I have Wool on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I need to get on that soon.

  4. A cyberspace-free writing zone? I definitely could use that at times. Intriguing that it would help with migraines.

  5. I also like the idea of a cyberspace-free writing zone. Yes, I'd be interested down the road! Although dystopian books aren't my thing, The Shell Collector intrigued so much it's on my TBR list. One beach near us had to be replenished with sand four times last summer. Still, it's difficult to find someone here who admits to climate change.

  6. And now I want to go shell collecting. I'm a half hour from the coast. We used to collect the small hermit crab shells and make necklaces with them.

    I'm so excited for you to have one of the new processors. Sorry you have to wait, though.

    Merry Christmas, Ellie!

  7. The Shell Collector sounds wonderful. And I'm glad you may have finally found a computer screen that won't drudge up your migranes.


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