Monday, January 08, 2007

Tuesday titbits

Only an Englishman

For reasons connected with traditional English eccentricity, and possibly the midday sun, Paul K. Lyons has developed a web site called The Diary Junction. Here you find 'an internet resource for those interested in historical and literary diaries and diarists.'

I quote from the blurb:

Each diarist's data page contains a biographical summary, diary titles, and up to six internet links to: a more detailed biography; texts of, or about, the diaries; institutions holding the original manuscripts.

The data pages can be accessed in three ways: from listings arranged in five different categories: alphabetical, chronological, by nationality, by profession, or by descriptor; directly from the home page via a basic run-on alphabetical list; or via an internet search for a diarist's name coupled with the single word pikle. (No, I don't understand that last bit either. But I did mention the midday sun.)

The Diary Junction is a non-commercial site, by the way.

Ah. And the man who has assembled this vast library of data has also written a novel. It's called Reflections, and it's available free online.

Here's what the author says:
This is a book no publisher will publish, no reviewer will review. I do wonder if the British literature establishment is so self-satisfied, so inward-looking and so decadent that it has become a slave to past patterns, to descriptive writing, to genre publishing, and, of course, to marketing opportunities. But who am I?

Let me ask this: When was the last time you read a novel that set you alight with ideas about our world today and where it's going? Invest a little time, believe in Kip Fenn, and this one will.
I don't know about you, dear Reader, but it does my heart good to come across someone like this. Brings a little lump to the throat. And the sheer labour involved makes me sweat just to think about it.

I should, probably, have put this item last in today's list, because there's enough material in this one set of related web pages to keep you going for days, never mind a coffee break. And it's really very interesting.

Take a look at the novel, for instance. Hint: Make your browser window narrower, to shorten the line, and the content is much easier to read. The prologue is really rather intriguing, and far more so than many a self-published novel. The 'dust jacket' (in pdf) also provides a taste of what is inside, which is more than can be said for many of them.

All in all, the Paul K. Lyons empire is an impressive one.

Gerard Jones writes new book!

Gerard Jones, onlie begetter of the marvellous Ginny Good, is working on a new novel.

Gerard, as we all know, is a modest, self-effacing chap, reluctant to blow his own trumpet, so we should all, as an act of kindness, do a little proselytising on his behalf. Here's what Gerard says about the modern world of publishing. The links, by the way, are all his, and they all lead to various parts of his gigantic site, Everyone Who's Anyone.

Go ahead and love living in a slave-based police state all you want, wallow in ignorance and pusillanimous, self-aggrandizing, thought-executing slop to your heart's content, but people fifty years from now will know that there were a few great books written during the early part of the 21st Century...despite the preposterous puke that got "taken on" by avaricious lit agents, found its way into print, onto "bestseller" lists, got made into stupid movies and "won" asinine awards.

The only way anything worth reading or writing is ever gonna get past the Nazi gatekeepers of the all-pervasive propaganda network is for brave, free writers to publish stuff themselves...and even then nobody's gonna read any of it for decades 'cause it ain't gonna get no Nazi hype. But, so what? Virtue is its own reward. You have two choices: (1) write inconsequential claptrap for money or (2) make lasting literature for free. Ay, Caramba!

Right on, brother.


If you have the patience for, or the taste for, a good old-fashioned dog-fight (with catty overtones) in the publishing world, Galleycat can give you the details.

The Literary Saloon points out that Richard Posner has a new book out on plagiarism. The Pantheon Books summary of the book rightly refers to plagiarism as a 'notoriously ambiguous term'. Posner is evidently a lawyer, so let's hope he can inject some common sense into discussions of this issue.

A lot of people have remarked that the collapse of US book distributors AMS will have a serious, possibly catastrophic, impact on various small presses.

Martyn Daniels, UK Booksellers Association blogger, predicts the digital year ahead. Martyn,, by the way, is VP of Value Chain, 'a global provider of business performance solutions and digital publishing solutions.' A sentence into which I would personally introduce a couple of hyphens; but then I always was a bit peculiar.

If you want to keep up with digital developments, offers a weekly newsletter. The latest argues that 'Plastic Logic’s e-reader display manufacturing facility marks a major turning point in the development of e-reader and digital publishing technology.' Well, we've heard that before, but I do genuinely look forward to the day when it's true.

David Langford, of Ansible fame, points out that, if you put something in your Amazon shopping trolley/basket thingie, and then don't actually order it for several days, the price may go up. Cunning devils, these online traders.

Following an increasingly (?) common pattern (e.g. Constable & Robinson) , small UK publishers Profile Books have acquired Serpent's Tail. (Link from Clive Keeble.) Pete Ayrton, publisher of Serpent’s Tail, says: 'The concentration in the retail sector is making the survival of small publishers more and more precarious.'

Publishing News reports that The Friday Project has created a new fiction imprint, 'acquiring titles by authors who have created an online presence for their work.' Two novels have been bought as a result of the FP's partnership with author website The Frontlist.

Leo Stableford is another writer trying to get published in this hard, cruel world. He began blogging about progress, or lack of same, a year ago, and is still at it.

Leo Stableford also led me to a site called 101 Reasons to Stop Writing (only 101?). This contains a lovely quote from Flannery O'Connor: 'Everywhere I go, I'm asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.'

And you thought radio was dead. Over at, there's a list of the bestselling secondhand books of 2006. By the look of it, this refers to the UK market only (but there's probably an American equivalent somewhere). It turns out that 10 Agatha Raisin books feature in the top 50. And who she? Answer, she's the heroine of some whodunits written by Marion Chesney aka M.C. Beaton. And how did she suddenly come into demand? Answer, Penelope Keith played her in some BBC Radio 4 adaptations. Chesney, by the way, is another of those old-fashioned types who produce books by the lorry-load.

Robert Eggleton's Rarity from the Hollow has won an award. When I said, in a previous post, that this book was finding some readers, a cynical fellow expressed a doubt. Oh ye of little faith.

Good grief! The Wicked Witch of publishing has acquired a cat. And he's a witch's cat if ever I saw one. Looks to me like one of Greebo's offspring. And Greebo, by the way, has killed at least two vampires. ('It seemed to Greebo's small cat brain that it was trying to change its shape, and he wasn't having any of that from a mouse with wings on.')

The Middle East still seems to be mysterious to most of us in the west, including, unfortunately, most politicians. But some writers do their best to inform us, and the latest is Robert Irwin.

Writing can be a frustrating business. Here's one writer who let it get the better of him, and faces five years in the slammer as a result. The villain of the piece, a travel writer called Carl Parkes, used to blog -- until he got put inside because he couldn't raise $400,000 in bail. (Link from Lynne Scanlon.)

Randy Radic, another writer who is a convicted felon, used to have an ebook called The Sound of Meat available at Cool Publications. But Cool has been sold and the new owner has, er, trimmed the list, and so Randy's book is now available from his web site.

Some of us are nearly old enough to have experienced the world of pulp fiction at first hand; others have yet to discover its charms. Either way, the place to hie thee is the iPulp Fiction Library, where all is as it used to was; with a few changes to bring it up to date. The latest addition is Chambliss:.500.

J. Robert Lennon and his wife, Rhian Ellis, have started a new blog on 'the subject of writing and literature'. It's called Ward Six, after the Chekhov story (but you guessed that, you wildly literate person, you).

And, er, that's it for today.


Simon Haynes said...

Sean Lindsay from '101 reasons to quit writing' interviewed several writers & industry folk to find out why they were still at it. There's some insightful stuff in there, most of it on either side of my own interview.

Andrew O'Hara said...

As I recall, the main objection to Mr. Eggleton was not his book, but his, um, 'marketing,' which was apparently the copy-pasting of his own review anywhere and everywhere he could post it.

To quote one reaction on Security Watch, "Doing a quick search of the book, I could only find so-so press reviews, and awful reactions not to the book, but to the spamming."

After reading some rather bullying remarks attributed to Mr. Eggleton when people have asked him to cease, I'm left with little interest in the man's book, which may even be good (though it's questionable when you have to force it on people). Bottom line, I suppose, is that it's possible to find someone somewhere to give you an "award" if you are obnoxious enough and refuse to go away.

Susan Hill said...

Flippin 'eck, I had never heard of this Marion Chesney person so I clicked on your link to her page. Talk about an output to rival that of B Cartland.. Regency love stories, murder mysteries, romances, detective stories, all under about 10 different names None of which meant anything to me either but you have to admire the woman`s industry (or maybe it`s a man - with all those made-up names, who can tell ? This is a really old-fashioned 1930s sort of author and I didn`t think they made them like it any more. Rather pleased they do though I wonder where they all sell now the libraries barely buy a book any longer.

Anonymous said...

Ah, my perpetual hero. I'm blacklisted by The NY Times AND The London Review of Books. Yippee! I've arrived. Thanks. G.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Susan -- They may not make them like they used to, but the prolific writers of library fiction are still around. You'll find a few still on the lists of publishers like Robert Hale, responsible, I believe, for putting out some of the Chesney books. Hale also has some prolific guys in its Black Horse Western stable. One Aussie is writing them regularly under five pen-names; another under four. The story of the second, Keith Hetherington, is told in the current edition of the online mag Black Horse Extra. Click on my own pen-name above and it should take you there.

Iain said...

Ophra Wimsfree and the Mayonnaise Man

For the benefit of the uninitiated, let me join the GOB in plugging the above book, the work of Gerard Jones, and, like Ginny Good, available free. (The difference is that GG comes as an audio book, while OW is accessible only to those who have learned to read.)

Now I'm recommending it without even having read it, simply because I have faith that the author of Ginny Good would not present us with a turkey.

You paid good money for The Da Vinci Code, likewise for the latest Harry Potter (though you'd die under torture sooner than admit it). The least you can do is to have a look at infinitely superior work which you can read without getting off your backside, and without paying a penny -- though Gerard Jones would be very pleased if you would.

Paul Perry said...

"via an internet search for a diarist's name coupled with the single word pikle. (No, I don't understand that last bit either. But I did mention the midday sun.)"

This pikle thing is quite a useful technique. By ensuing that various pages have a unique "non-word" in them, you can use Google to search them all at one time, whether on the same site or not.