Showing posts from January, 2015

The Family Book Goes Online by Eleanor Updale

One of the great things about stumbling into the world of electronic books is to be freed from the lazy categorisation imposed by publishers.  I know it's not entirely their fault - the chain bookshops and supermarkets started it with their need for products that could be heaved onto the 'appropriate' shelves by staff devoid of knowledge or interest - but (as with discounting) late 20th century publishing houses yielded without a fight, and it is now so normal for a book to be a narrowly 'targeted' commodity that writing for a diverse readership seems downright perverse. For years I have been running a spectacularly unsuccessful one-woman campaign for 'The Family Book'.  I truly believe that there is a place for writing that can be enjoyed by anyone, of any age, at their own level.  It's not really such a mad idea, surely?  We all know what a 'Family Film' is, and the best of them are among the greatest movies ever made.  But books?  Si

Serendipidity and Green Sheep by Diana Kimpton

Serendipidity is one of the delights of being a writer. It’s the name given to making a fortunate discovery by accident, and I’ve found that it can help with my research or point me in a completely different direction. More importantly, it gives me the feeling that fate (or whatever else you like to call it) is on my side – that the book I’m working on really wants to be written. I met serendipity for the first time more than 20 years ago while I was working on my first book, A Special Child in the Family . I was umming and aahing about whether to include school issues in this book for parents of children with special needs when a couple I had never met before turned up on my doorstep. They were on holiday in my area and, having read about my research project in a women’s magazine, they hoped I might be able to help them. As they sat in my living room describing their son’s school problems, I watched the wife nervously twisting her hankerchief in her fingers and heard the

Flirting with the devil: N M Browne

Recent events have got me thinking about self censorship. I am hardly alone in that, nor are my thoughts particularly insightful, but bear with me if I share them anyway. As the product of my largely liberal education, I am in favour of free speech. There are inevitably a few politicians I would love to gag, a couple of radio pundits, and pretty much everyone on day time television who would greatly improve the quality of my life by never speaking in public again. ( This goes for a few people, I actually know too.)   I hate everything that suggests that a woman should only be concerned about her hairy underarms, wrinkles, cellulite, and ‘greys’, that suggests that without shiny straight hair and perfect toned physiques we are somehow failures, that we are less competent, more emotional, manipulative and hard to understand than the other half of the human race. If I were a person of colour, disabled, gay or transgender I would no doubt be as sensitive to any speech which denigrated

Dictators, little gods, laughter, and Virtual Weapons

I'm opening this post with a seriously silly Christmas image of my totally anarchic Cornish family, very expertly photoshopped (they don't actually look like this!) There's something Lizzie Borden and rural America about it, and I do feel that one of the adults might be about to run amuk with an axe! I haven't yet played with Photoshop, but must, one day.  The possibilities it presents for serious mockery, or even libel, are endless.  The subject of serious mockery inevitably leads to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. We lived in Paris for two years, and have good friends there, so it felt very personal. Ruthless dictators, and the nastier of the invented deities, have one thing in common: they cannot bear to be laughed at - which is why we have cartoonists brave enough to do it. What a murderous, unfunny thug Hitler was, and such a gift for another Charlie - Charlie Chaplin.  Charlie Hebdo picks on everyone, not just Islamic extremists, and its style is bru

The Secrets of Claudia Winkleman's Charm - Andrew Crofts

A couple of months ago I wrote about the hiring of Midas PR to launch “Chances”,  the erotic memoir which I had ghosted for an anonymous European lady who was going under the names of Penny. Last week the mighty Midas machine picked up speed and I found myself writing articles and doing a succession of interviews to promote the book, culminating in an encounter with Claudia Winkleman on her late night Radio2 arts show. Whenever I mentioned to anyone that I was going to be meeting Miss Winkleman I always received the same response - “Oh, I love Claudia Winkleman”. It didn’t seem to matter what age or gender the person was, or whether they were likely to be fans of reality shows like “Strictly” or cultural offerings like “Film 2015”, her puppyish glamour had somehow worked on all of them. It appears the woman is fast-tracking towards being a national treasure. What, I wondered, could be the secret of this magical spell she was casting over the nation? Listening to so ma

The Epub is Open! Mine's a Pint, Please by Ruby Barnes

When it comes to e-books I'm definitely a Kindle kind of guy. I read on my old basic Kindle, on my iPhone Kindle app and sometimes on my laptop Kindle app. When it comes to e-book formatting of new releases (the bulk of that sort of work at Marble City Publishing Ltd falls at the door of Mark Turner who is me anyway), I use the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) process to proof e-books. Those kindle editions of the Marble City books are as clean and shiny as I can get them. Hyperlinked contents pages (when they are needed), back matter with links to other titles, hyperlinks and QR code to the publisher social media platform etc. But wait! There's a whole world of people who don't worship at the altar of Kindle. The ePub file is their staple diet. Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play and a bunch of others all fire up on ePub files. Their readers deserve just as much care and attention put into the finished ePub product. For indie-authors and independent publishers there are seve

Call Me Big-Headed - by Susan Price

     "In the Ghost World, beyond Iron Wood, lay all that was Ghost Dance by Susan Price left of the Northlands; and in that timeless Northlands' forest there is a gyrfalcon. It has been a gyrfalcon so long, it has almost forgotten that it was once a mortal baby, and then a shaman's apprentice and a shaman, and a Czar's black angel.      And that is the end of this story (says the cat).      If you thought it tasty, then serve it to others.      If you thought it sour, sweeten it with your own telling.      But whether you liked it, or liked it not, let it make its own way back to me, riding on another's tongue." This is from the ending of Ghost Dance , the third book in my Ghost World Sequence. I've just finished turning it into a paperback, so now all three books are available as paperbacks again. I wrote these books a long time ago, and it's been a rather odd experience, going back to them. When you first begin a book, and th

Sometimes we all need a plan B - Jo Carroll

Sometimes we need a plan B. I'm travelling in Malaysia at the moment. The weather, though hot, has been thundery at times. But I am undeterred. I take the bus from place to place, potter down back streets and find stories. I came with a sort-of plan. The Internet has brought great changes to travelling, and only the young and endlessly optimistic arrive anywhere with nowhere to stay these days. Which means I have a rough itinerary and some hotels booked. And then I had the email to say the resort (an optimistic term for collection of huts on a river bank) in the rainforest is flooded. They have given me my money back. I haven't realised how much I was looking forward to the rainforest until I knew I couldn't go. There must be a way, another place to stay ... I googled but found nothing. It took a while for common sense to set in. I've been there before - my hut (I know I have to share it, but you know what I mean) is about thirty feet above the river in the dr

And Now A Long-Distance Dedication from Lev Butts

Please don't hate me. Dear Casey Kasem, I was supposed to reveal the last two books in my "Lev's Top Ten" list this month, and I had every intention of doing so except that I was struck down this past weekend with what others have told me was the flu, but I am certain was some kind of mutant/zombie virus. Seriously, I looked just like this I fought bravely, and it was touch and go there for a little while (I was at one point reduced to eating an unholy mixture of canned chicken noodle and cream of chicken soup), but I pulled through. Three days later. Just in time to return to work. As I write this, it is 11:38 PM on January 21, 2015, which means over there across the pond, it's roughly Oh-My-Frakking-God-It's-Early O'Clock January 22, 2015. I have just quit getting ready for bed because I realized that my post is due in just a few short hours. About three hours before I get home from work tomorrow, in fact. So my countdown is going to

D is for Dementia, by Ali Bacon

Sometimes it feels as if the modern age is defined by health problems, conditions that stem from our living longer, or in a different kind of society, or sometimes it’s just a case of being able to use technology to redefine something that always existed. And so we now have anorexia, depression and obesity,which had different names or no names at all in previous generations.  After my granny had lived with us for a few years, she began to be ‘wandered’, a state that progressed to confused, difficult and eventually downright aggressive. We knew here was a physical cause but could not have explained it. Now it's called dementia and we know a great deal more about the many forms it can take, although there's still not much we can do about it. And as a modern concern it's cropping up more and more in memoir (my moan about this one was nothing to do with the subject matter) and in fiction.   In fact the first novel in which I saw this addressed directly,  Margar

On Useful Shorts and Fillers by Pauline Chandler

Writing takes up so much time, doesn’t it? You spend hours creating your novel, then, unless you’re a best seller, you wait months for a publisher’s decision. Even if you catch the editor’s interest, you still have to wait for the marketing department to say ‘Yes!’  I’ve never been good at waiting, nor taking publishers’ advice: ‘Write something else,’ ‘Get on with the next thing’, ‘Plan your next novel!’  All very well, but it all takes so much TIME! And there are no guarantees. For every novel I’ve had accepted, I’ve had another turned down. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. So much time wasted on more piles of paper, abandoned, left to languish dustily on the shelf.      Does anyone write only for the love of it, content to write without ever being read? Can writers actually exist without readers? I don’t think so. The thrill for me has always been that someone has read and enjoyed my writing. It’s about contact, isn’t it? Communication. To elicit that magical elusive &#

A Paean for Books by Sandra Horn

It was a good haul this Christmas! As I added another book to the tottering pile(s) by my bed – Sandra Horn (waiting to be read, read but not finished with, books I read and re-read and re-re-read) (and heaven forefend I ever get so ill I have to stay in bed and someone calls the doctor! They’d have to be moved! They’d get jumbled up! Aaargh!!) Where was I? Oh yes, as I added another book etc. I thought of my dear Little Nan. She was Little Nan because there was a Great Nan for many years, and even when there wasn’t any more, we couldn’t get out of the habit. Little Nan was born in the workhouse at Madron in West Cornwall; the illegitimate child of a tin miner. She grew up in appalling poverty and, I believe, the   squalor that sometimes comes with it. She had lost all her teeth to gingivitis by the time she was fourteen. She was severely anaemic and was treated with raw liver. I don’t know how effective it was, if at all, but half a century later the mere thought of it made h