Showing posts from January, 2019

Art imitates life imitates art while most of us just try to figure out what's going on

From Skin Wars - Life imitating art imitating life. Oscar Wilde, famously quoted as saying 'life imitates art far more than art imitates life', must be spinning in his grave about now. Certainly, one hundred and thirty years ago his statement was probably true. In fact, it was probably true twenty years ago. Now, however, life has once again taken the reins and is moving and changing at a pace too fast for even the most trendy hipsters to keep up with. Social landscapes are constantly changing. Now sex and gender mean different things and it's becoming more commonly accepted that there are dozens of the latter. Technology that seemed decades or even centuries away now looks plausible in the next few years. Fake news is so common, even from previously trusted sources, that the real trick is finding true news. The political landscape pushes the boundaries of even the most on-trend Tom Clancy or Bill Patterson novel (in fact, the latter has even joined forces with a

I Think I May Have Foreseen the Coming of Trump Thirty Years Ago - Andrew Crofts

It seems I may have had some sort of visionary experience at the end of the 1980s and foresaw the whole Trump phenomenon. In the course of filming an interview the other day, I rooted out a book I published in 1990 with Hutchinson Business Books titled “Hype – the Essential Guide to Marketing Yourself”.   By today’s standards it was a pretty mild affair, although I did talk a bit about the advantages of self-publishing, which in those days was still called “vanity publishing”, and which I remember got me a ticking off from the fabulous Libby Purves in the Times . This was not only before the Internet took off, it was also before we were familiar with the term “reality tv” and before we started to sink into the celebrity culture swamp, which has since risen to our chins. I guess if I was writing it today the publishers would suggest a title like “How to Build a Platform for Yourself”. Anyhow, in a summary on the very last page of the book I find I wrote

Diana Athill's Extraordinary Life, By Dipika Mukherjee

I “found” Diana Athill rather late in my reading life, and I have V.S. Naipaul to thank for it. A week after Naipaul’s death, Athill wrote an essay about being Naipaul's editor. She described  admiring Naipaul’s work but disliking the man , and there was such certitude in her storytelling voice that I was immediately hooked.  I hunted down Stet . Part historical overview of British publishing, part break-room office gossip, it was riveting. Athill had been a well-regarded British editor for fifty years, and her own literary career took off after her retirement; this book was published when she was 83 years old. When I read Stet ,  Diana Athill was already a hundred years old, yet meteoric in the British literary scene. She became my hero; this rare, ageless female writer, one who discusses literary nuances and sexual romps with great pleasure. Athill’s editorial training is evident in every crisp, well-crafted sentence.  When she announces her inability to care abo

Wolves, Katts and Bone Dogs: Ideas From Folk-lore by Susan Price

The Wolf's Footprint, Susan Price Years ago, when I wrote The Wolf's Footprint, I took the children being abandoned in a forest from the beginning of Hansel and Gretel and added a pinch of Russian folklore: the idea that if you drink water from an animal's footprint, then you turn into that animal. It's always been popular in schools -- indeed Kate Stilitz turned it into a musical. You can read about that here. It continues to be my best-seller as an Indie book -- in the UK, the US, in Canada, Australia and Europe. If I knew what it was about the book that appeals so much, I'd put it into everything I write. Its popularity decided me to spend 2018 in re-publishing some of my books for the same age-group of eight to ten. Like The Wolf's Footprint, they're a mixture of original story-telling and folklore. The three I managed to get done -- with the help of my illustrator, Andrew -- are:- Odin's Monster Master Thomas Katt and T

Money Laundering - Jo Carroll

I can't quite believe I'm writing this - it's one of those situations that 'happen to someone else'. Well, buying and selling property is something many of us have to do from time to time. We don't have to like it, but sometimes we do have to do it. It is, we are told, one of the most stressful processes - but mostly we just get on with it, with the help of a whinge or two to friends and family. Last year I tried to sell my house and buy a flat. It was time to downsize. Buying the flat - that was the easy bit. I found somewhere lovely, the offer was accepted ... so all I had to do was sell the house. Maybe I should have been better prepared for the house to not sell. But, after a few sleepless nights counting pennies, I boxed and coxed money, bought the flat and found a tenant for the house. That, at least, gave me breathing space. And all was hunky dory. My lovely tenant renewed her contract, I had an income and a lovely new flat. But - out of the blue -

Lev Butts Lists the Best of Self-Publishing VII

We are on the downhill side of my list of ten great self - published   books . By now, hopefully those who doubt the worth of self-publishing are beginning to rethink it, and those who have long supported self-publishing are feeling appropriately justified. This list could not come at a better time for self-publishers. It seems that every time self-published authors begin to gain new grounds in respect, something happens to undercut those gains. Just last month, for example, The Georgia Writers Association ended a long tradition of allowing self-published authors to be nominated for their Georgia Author of the Year Award . This is a curious decision considering a goodly portion of the Association membership (though clearly not the board of directors) are indie authors. This decision is also ironic and sad considering that seventeen years ago, the Association received accolades for being so inclusive of indie authors . I find this particularly disheartening considering

Pay per (Re)view? Ali Bacon discovers how hard it is for small publishers to get press coverage.

This month has delivered another hard knock as regards the realities of life with a small publisher. I’m talking about book reviews, not on Amazon or Goodreads or the fabulous efforts of book bloggers (to whom I'm eternally grateful), but the world of the main-stream press, or the bits of it I thought would be accessible to the author of a small but perfectly formed (though I say it myself!) piece of Scottish historical fiction. Print copies don't come cheap I like to think neither myself nor Linen Press took anything for granted as far as reviewers were concerned.   Before Blink was published we made a list of potential review media from the general (Guardian, TLS, Scotsman) to the more niche photography journals. Rather than send review copies unsolicited, each of the reviewers  was sent  (as were many personal contacts, bloggers and bookshops)  book, author and cover info. I was buoyed up by the fact that we got replies from several large circulation publicati

Three weird things I've learnt from the internet - Katherine Roberts

If you're an indie-minded author, you're probably used to discovering how to do stuff for yourself. If you want writing or publishing advice, you can read a blog (like this one), or download an ebook that promises to make you into a million-dollar bestseller in three days... and hopefully you're wise enough to know the difference. But there is a whole world of free advice out there that can help a writer survive day to day - because it's not all about dreaming up stories, you know. Here are three random things I learnt from the internet this year, all of which have saved me money and/or time, and possibly helped save the planet, too. 1. How to get a fly out of your ear. Last summer (which was gloriously sunny and warm, remember?), I went cycling one evening and returned home with a buzzing noise in one of my ears. At first I thought a fly had got tangled in my hair and tried to brush it away. Yet the buzzing persisted, on and off, throughout the evening, at whic

Wrapping up, opening up by Sandra Horn

                                                              R.I.P.  THE CLUCKET PRESS I have a very poor sense of time passing – no good to ask me ‘when was that?’ because I won’t have a clue. I usually end up saying’ some time ago’ and I’m always surprised when someone tells me exactly when it was. So recently, when I opened a copy of The Mud Maid and saw that we brought it out in 2005, I was astounded. Fourteen years since we launched the Clucket Press with it, our first DIY book.   Now that we are winding the dear old Clucket Press down and I’m looking for other ways to fill my time constructively and creatively (no golf, no Bridge, thanks) I realise how much I owe it. It’s not just the creation of the books and the fun – and frustration, sometimes, it must be said -   of working with others in the process, but also the way it was crucial in my making the transition from full-time, very demanding paid work to retirement. There were new challenges and excitements ever

Techno-Gremlin - Jan Edwards

Being connected to all things digital is such an integral part of our world that we barely notice it anymore. Be it computers, phones or any other method we merrily log onto this or that and take it for granted that the entire world will be there at the touch of a screen. I am not an IT illiterate but neither am I any kind of expert so the fixing these things often boils down to trial and error. Generally I flounder about trying this and that until it works again with little idea of how I reached a solution. Added to all of that is – as those who know me will attest - my unfortunate effect on anything electrical. Specifically anything that contains batteries but on occasion things of  more general technology. Every laptop I have ever owned has required at least one new battery whilst in my clutches and I can’t begin to count the watches that have died on my wrist. Though even I was surprised when, on a longish car trip, stopped the watch of a friend sitting next to me! It resta