Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday roundup

Once upon a time, when I was a lad, it was very hard to find any information about the book world at all. Today, courtesy of the Web, there is an abundance. Thus it is that, in an ideal world, I would have explored each and every one of the web sites mentioned below in some detail. But time does not permit; and, given the number of potentially useful sources of information, I think the best plan is simply to make you aware of their existence and to allow you to do your own exploring.

Simon Craig, author of Randy Bastard, has been going through some sites where writers can post their stuff for others to assess. He tells me that there is some good work on, and in particular draws attention to Ergo Sum, by my almost namesake Michael Alan. The first chapters are certainly quite impressive.

A similar site, which has been mentioned here before, is The Frontlist. Here Simon Craig fancied Avon Street, by Paul Emmanuelli.

Nadine Laman recommends Jerry Simmons as a source of help and advice on the writing business. He's the author of Inside the Business of Publishing.

Speaking of Nadine, this is really one very talented lady. Go to her web site and watch the 'movie trailer' for her books. This was made with her own photographs and with her 15-year-old son's music. He plays the piano and synthesised the flute. It was all done with Windows Moviemaker, a program which Nadine didn't even know she had on her computer till last Friday. Anyone can do this stuff, says Nadine. No, Nadine, I really don't think so. I think it's pretty damn talented.

And as if that was not enough, John Barlow is at it too. The paperback version of his novel Intoxicated is out now, and you can find another really cool thingy about it on YouTube.

This is all giving me a severe sense of inferiority. I thought all you had to do was write the books.

If you live in the UK, or even if you don't, The Grange, at Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight, is offering some residential courses in creative writing. In March and November, Mitzi Szereto will be there, doing her thing about erotic fiction.

Deborah Gelbard's novel Global Dawn features a character whose 'desire to raise planetary awareness worldwide by exposing people to a universally aligned data resource carries echoes of NASA’s Digital Earth project.... Like The Rule of Four and the Da Vinci Code, Global Dawn features powerful discoveries uncovered by deciphering mystic codes and formulae embedded in classic, artistic finds.' Not so much New Age as Digital Age, perhaps.

The death of Howard Hunt attracted quite a lot of newspaper space recently. A one-time CIA man, he was one of the many involved in Watergate. But he was also, in his time, a damn good espionage writer, and in the 1970s I read many of his novels with a good deal of interest and pleasure. Thanks to Martin Rundkvist for the link.

Here, as promised yesterday, is news of Homunculus. The novel now has its own web site, which opens up, on its very first page, unless I mistake me, with a complete reprint of my review of the book. Crumbs. The review upset a few people at the time (so vulgar) but Mr Paxton seems happy with it. And there is excellent news: Mr Paxton has completed another book! It should be a treat.

Now here's a novelty: a man who doesn't want to be too famous. I jest. He just doesn't want to compete with 60 million bloggers. John Ward sent me an email/newsletter sort of thing entitled Not Born Yesterday. This is subtitled 'Looking at a better past, laughing at a barmy present, trying for a brighter future.' It's a UK based-commentary on the state of the world. It's often very funny, but it's also pretty vitriolic in its criticism of the present government -- which is admittedly very easy to get vitriolic about.

There is no NBY website, and John tells me that it's 'an invite-only email at present, going to just over 500 folks in the media, creative arts, government, senior business, opposition and difficulty. However, the more people who want to receive it the better.'

John Ward's email address is He says that he is 'happy to send NBY to anyone with a desire to stop risk-aversion, media cruelty, bandwagon marketing, substance-free social policy and kill-joys.'

John is prolifically funny, but he also has views, and he is not, generally speaking, friendly towards those in authority. I recommend him to Brits. Read him while you can, because the forces of darkness will probably silence him before long.

Underneath the Bunker has been redecorated, so to speak, making it easier to read. This is, you will doubtless recall, the home of Europe's premier cultural journal. I don't think I'm going to comment on the contents, because any kind of irony always gets me into trouble. But I will give you a hint: not all is as it seems. And the Links page is very subtle indeed.

SF writer Charlie Stross has some interesting if all too familiarly depressing things to say about the writer's life. Thanks to Dave Goodman for the link.

Scott Stein is giving a party to celebrate publication of his new novel, Mean Martin Manning.

Looking for a present (other than a book) for a bookish friend? Kimbooktu probably has the answer.

If you're a Brit, you really will see this as the end of civilisation as we know it. The British Library is going to start charging. Bloody hell. And this is the place where Karl Marx did all his homework. I knew this, but I'd tried to forget it, and then Clive Keeble reminded me.

Publishers Lunch reports that Sarah Ferguson (Duchess of York to you) has sold Hartmoor, a historical novel 'written with' novelist Laura Van Wormer, to Sally Richardson and Hope Dellon at St. Martin's, for publication in winter 2008. Agents: Peter Sawyer of the Fifi Oscard Agency and Loretta Barrett (world). And before you start sniggering, let me say that, if I were a smart agent or publisher, this is exactly the sort of book that I would be commissioning too.

Clive Keeble pointed out to me that when Haynes sold Sutton Publishing to 'NPI', it was effectively selling the firm to back to the bloke who started it. And now Publishing News explains all the complicated financial goings-on, and the purchase of several other publishers, and the ambitious plans.

Are you an alien visitor to this planet? Yes, I thought so; most readers of this blog are. Well lucky you: Clary Antome has things for you, including Reading Tips.

Tao Lin has published a book of poetry called You are a little bit happier than I am. And it was reviewed by Publishers Weekly. Now there's fame for you.

Abebooks has opened some new science fiction and fantasy rooms: interviews with authors, articles, events lists, and so forth.

L. Lee Lowe has posted a second podcast of his YA fantasy novel Mortal Ghost. You see? More clever devils using technology to make the rest of us feel bad.

Penguin have launched 'a collaborative creative writing exercise using a wiki.' That's what it says in the official press release. Don't blame me if you don't understand it. Try a simpler explanation on the Penguin blog, where you can also find links to the Million Penguins site and yet another, accompanying, blog. When I just tried the main site, it didn't work, because of overload. Not surprising, since every blog in the known universe has mentioned it.

The Million Penguins idea is to get anyone and everyone writing a single novel. The question posed by Penguin is: can a community write a novel? I think I know the answer to that. It's bad enough when an agent and an editor get involved, but in this case anyone can write bits of it, and anyone can edit it, cos it's a wiki. Get it? Oh, all right then. Put some more carbon paper in your portable.

Finally, Duncan Fallowell has done his own piece about the absence of due attention to W.H. Auden. Duncan is pretty cross and is frightfully rude about those terribly nice people at Faber. All quite uncalled for, as I'm sure you will agree. Oops. Said I was going to eschew irony.


Anonymous said...

You do some impressive reporting, Bookman. There is a lot of work being put into your blog - so thank you.

Anonymous said...

On the first link I went to in 'Under the Bunker," the blogger was complaining, "Only 717 views and 16 friends when I dropped by this afternoon." Forgot to notice if it was MySpace or Xanga. I'm such a groundling.

I have to second late life's comment, above--always enjoy the results of your hard work.

Sean Hannifin said...

Outstanding blog! I am learning a lot, many thanks for your dedication!

"The Frontlist" and "" look very interesting. I read your On the Survival of Rats in the Slush Pile, and it would be interesting to perhaps see the submission process change into a system those websites seem to encourage, in which a bunch of people read a bunch of first pages for free. The publishers can then consider with a more careful eye what emerges from that, what has already shown itself to be somewhat popular.

Paul M. Cray said...

I went to Mitzi's course at The Grange last March. Very highly recommended. They ought to do a fly-on-the-wall documentary on The Grange in particular and Shanklin in general. The whole setup is like a living embodiment of "Fawlty Towers" out of "The League of Gentlemen" with an added seasoning of Greek-style New Age nuttiness. (

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