The Chelsea Hotel in New York argues, with some justification, that everyone who's anyone has stayed there at some time or other, and the latest to get a mention on the hotel blog is Alexander Masters, who won the Guardian First Book Award in 2005 for his biography of a homeless man.
At first the Chelsea blogger thought there was no connection between Alexander Masters and the hotel. But he was wrong. The novelist Joan Brady has this to say:
In re Alexander Masters, he is in fact the great nephew of Edgar Lee Masters, who lived at the Chelsea for many years. I am his mother. His father was Dexter Masters, Lee's nephew. That is, he is not unrelated to the hotel at all. Furthermore, all three of us stayed at the Chelsea for over a month in 1970 or 1971.Which is all perfectly clear, I hope. Though it reminds me somewhat of the statement made by Mary Gordon, the cousin of the nineteenth-century poet Algernon Swinburne, when she described their relationship as follows:
Our mothers (daughters of the third Earl of Ashburnham) were sisters; our fathers, first cousins -- more alike in characters and tastes, and more linked in closest friendship, than many brothers. Added to this, our paternal grandmothers -- two sisters and co-heiresses -- were first cousins to our common maternal grandmother; thus our fathers were also second cousins to their wives before marriage.Concentrate, concentrate. It is, as I say, all perfectly simple. And it explains a great deal about why Algernon was so peculiar.
The Bookseller Crow
The Bookseller Crow on the hill looks like an enterprising independent bookshop in south-east London. What's more it has a blog. Click on the Bedside Crow. The bookshop owner is, it seems, a gentleman trader from the shires who struggles to make ends meet in sarf London, aided, he reports, by a wife who has three separate jobs. Well quite, quite. One understands.
I'm not sure whether the gentleman trader's wife knows, but he has taken an interest in books which have pictures of girls in knickers on the front. And there are quite a lot of them. I hadn't noticed this trend myself, so perhaps I ought to get out more.
I mentioned the other day that I'd forgotten the name of another agent's blog that I was going to recommend. So Carla Nayland kindly wrote and pointed me to one, Pub Rants, by Kristin Nelson. No, that isn't it. Neither is it one of those other blogs by agents that Kristin lists for us. But all are worth a look, especially if you're looking for an agent yourself. And, eventually, I noticed that one of those blogs linked to by Kristin actually mentioned the blog I originally had in mind: Agent 007.
Agent 007 offers a link, among other things, to Seth Godin's advice for non-fiction writers. His first point: 'Book publishing is an organised hobby, not a business. The return on equity and return on time for authors and for publishers is horrendous.' I like that. It's a point made here time after time, of course, but Seth Godin is one of the world's top marketing men, and it's nice to have someone who punches with that weight share your opinion.
My view: being an agent is the toughest job in the business.
L. Lee Lowe has posted another short story on his blog, Into the Lowlands. Now, whether you think this is terrific, so-so, or bloody awful, the fact is that it's there, some people are aware of it (you and me for starters), and it's one way to do things. If you write a stunner, you can bet that someone will send an email to someone else, and so on.
Bill Walsh writes a novel
Amazon sent me an email which I was about to delete without reading, when I realised that it claimed that I had previously bought a book by Bill Walsh. Have I indeed, I thought. News to me. But when I followed it up I realised that it's true.
Bill Walsh is the author of Lapsing into a Comma, talked about here on 25 March last year. But unfortunately -- or fortunately -- the Comma Bill Walsh is not the same Bill Walsh as the author of Matilda, a book to be published by Penguin Ireland in April 2006. That Bill Walsh is a retired plasterer, whereas the Comma Bill Walsh is the Washington Post copy chief.
So, nice try, Amazon. But next time try checking a few facts.
Things could be worse
Is life treating you badly? Need cheering up? If so, go see the Word Pangs guy. He's got some links which will have you chortling in no time.
I jest, of course. Actually there's some serious stuff here. For those interested in the writing/depression link, for instance, there is a 1994 article from the New York Times which is more than relevant. And there's another link to the Wikipedia entry on writers who committed suicide. This will certainly set you back on your heels somewhat. It did me, anyway. And it doesn't even mention Tom Heggen.
Word Pangs also has some very funny stuff as well. You will be pleased to hear.
The Western Mail gets excited this a.m. (Link from Booktrade.info.) Seems there's this small Welsh publisher, Crown House Publishing, who published a book by Janey Lee Grace, a presenter on BBC Radio 2. Title: Imperfectly Natural Woman. Subject: tips on living a green and holistic lifestyle.
Initial print run was 10,000. It came out in January, and no one took much notice. But then Janey mentioned it on the radio and it took off. Currently it is no. 2 in sales on Amazon.co.uk. The first 10,000 are gone and the firm is reprinting.
Hmm. Maybe steam radio is still pretty effective.