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Showing posts from 2024

Beating the Ghost Drum Louder -- by Susan Price

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    Last month, I wrote about how I finished the rewrites for Ghost Drum, back in 1986, on an Amstrad word-processor, and how it's now being re-published, after nearly forty years, as a Faber Classic. I was chuffed enough about that. Happy days, I thought. A few days ago, my Faber editor got in touch to say that, in that month, their entire initial print-run of 2000 had sold, and they were re-printing. Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs. Both Hatchards and Waterstones, I'm told, have asked for 'minor tweaks' to the cover -- and that's the new version above, duly tweaked. It has a darker, more dramatic background than originally. 'Sales', I'm told, have also asked for changes to the cover -- which hardly ever happens in subsequent print runs, says my editor, and so is a clear sign that Sales have confidence in, well, sales. The new cover is to have-- wait for it-- Embossing! And-- wait some more-- 'spot UV.' I had no idea at all what 

Leaping into 2024 with Katherine Roberts' original publisher Chicken House

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2024 is a leap year, which means we all get an extra day in February to write our next masterpiece. This extra leap day, proposed by Julius Caesar more than 2000 years ago to keep our calendar in sync with the seasons, is traditionally added at the end of the month on February 29th. I make no apology for mentioning it now because there is a rare open submission event happening on that extra day at Chicken House, the original publisher of my debut novel  Song Quest . For 24 hours only, debut authors of fiction for young readers are invited to enter their (finished or unfinished) first novel into Chicken House's Open Coop. Open Coop 29th February 2024 Although there wasn't an official Open Coop back when I submitted Song Quest (Chicken House itself was still an idea in an egg at the time), I followed a similar route to publication by sending in the early chapters of my book myself. In those early days I had no agent and knew nobody in the business, so I simply worked my way thro

Book Recommendations - Yay or Nay? by Allison Symes

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Image Credit:  Images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. What is your policy on recommending books? I have a couple of policies. Firstly, I only recommend a book to someone I know well enough where I have a reasonable knowledge of their reading tastes.  I want someone to enjoy what I recommend. Secondly, and if it is a book I’ve found useful for my writing, I will share my thoughts on it on social media. I occasionally recommend books on Goodreads . I write a weekly blog on that so if a useful book has gripped me, I will mention it there. Fiction can be more difficult to recommend, I think. Tastes differ. While I love fantasy, not everyone does. Even for those that do, there are different kinds of fantasy writing.  I always go for the humorous type rather than the deadly serious (with the exception of The Lord of the Rings , which encompasses everything. Yes, there is a deadly serious story. There is also humour. The hobbits, Pippin and Merry, make me smile, especially in the

The Story of One Photograph - by Elizabeth Kay

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Hunted cover by Elizabeth Kay I often use photographs I have taken myself for artwork in books because there are no copyright issues, and I do watercolours of them. For my reluctant reader,  Hunted , I used my own illustrations for the cover and to head every chapter. I have a strong interest in wildlife, and most of my holidays have been booked with this in mind. But what a difference the right camera makes. A week before I was due to go to the Pantanal, in Brazil, I went into our local camera shop to try and find out why I was not getting the quality I wanted with my Panasonic. I am not techie with cameras, and had always bought ones with good automatic settings. The shop owner, who knew me well, handed me a Nikon Coolpix P900 and said, “Go for a walk up the High street with this, take a few photos, and tell me what you think.” I returned with one word: Sold. It has an 83X zoom, and is very easy to use. That was seven years ago, and I have never wanted another camera. It is still on

It's the Year of the Dragon -- Misha Herwin

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  Welcome to the year of the Dragon. Here’s hoping that for all of us it will be a happy and productive one. I don’t know why but dragons have always held a fascination for me. One of the first stories I ever made up was about a dragon called Roostance who lived under my bed.   Roostance was fat and did all sorts of things he shouldn’t while his sister, or was she his friend, who lived under my sister’s bed, was a much better behaved creature. Anuk listened to these stories when we were both supposed to be asleep and much later she drew me a sketch of a happy little green dragon which I have on the wall of my office. Dragons also play a part in The Adventures of Letty Parker. During the day they masquerade as downspouts and door knockers but at night they take wing and fly through the city in search of dark deeds which they will relay to the gargoyles squatting on the roofs. Then of course there are the Dragonfire books. The first ones I self-published and in which all the lead

In a White Room with Black Curtains Near the Station -- Dianne Pearce

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This fabulous song by Cream has been in my mind this week, primarily because of the first line of the lyrics, which is the title of this post. I work as an editor, and over the past week have edited a mystery novel, one collection of short stories that are acting as a novel when put together, and five mini pieces from five different authors as part of a small workshop I held, and they were one mystery, two sci-fi/speculative, two memoir/non-fiction. And as part of this week's editing I have encountered a few times what I have come to think of as "the white room," and with that, because that is just how my mind works, the Cream song quickly follows (I do love that song, so maybe any excuse? I mean, those lyrics are great!) Other than containing the white room, the Cream song doesn't actually apply here, but maybe it will help us remember the concept. And perhaps a famous author we have all heard of was also inspired by the Cream song, because she is the correct age to

A Week of Three Libraries -- Julia Jones

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A coot scurried away across the basin, feet paddling furiously, a wary eye peering astern as I left the library building and paused at the edge of the dock, looking over its quiet space. I was naturally pleased to see the coot but was almost more interested in the colour of the water. Last time I was here Limehouse Basin was an unpleasant emerald green, algae visibly choking life beneath its surface. That word ‘e utrophication’ that I’ve relatively recently learned, sounds like suffocation, asphyxiation, atrophy, all in one killer blanket. There’s no beauty in water which looks like mown grass.  View from CA library It was worth upsetting the coot to stand still in the February drizzle when I'd finished work and welcome this (temporary?) improvement in the water colour. It’s still not blue or grey – or even caffe latte East Coast brown but it’s better than it was. (Feb 8th 2024)  Inside the Cruising Association library I'd been picking through the shelves like a godwit plung