Sunday, 27 February 2011

Calling Artists and Illustrators ...

**Artists and Illustrators, I saw this ... and thought of you ...

Orion Publishing Group:

Before submitting artwork, please carefully study our current list to see whether or not it would be appropriate – in subject, style and quality – for Orion. Samples may be sent to The Design Department, The Orion Publishing Group, Orion House, 5 Upper Saint Martin's Lane, London WC2H 9EA. Send photocopies or printed samples ... Do not send email attachments. Also send a covering letter indicating how, where and why your work might be suitable for Orion's publications.

**Alternatively, drop off on Tuesdays (any Tuesday – you do not have to telephone before or afterwards), at 2.00pm and pick-up after 5.00pm. The Art Director will take your work into the department meeting, look through it and discuss it. search under submission guidelines


B Format: Demy: Octavo: Royal

What does A or B Format, Demy or Royal mean?

These are book sizes and translate as follows:

A Format = 178mm x 110mm

B Format = 198mm x 129mm

Demy = 216mm x 135mm

Royal = 234mm x 153mm


Wordpool ~ Blackpool's Literature Festival ... Risk Assessment ...

I'm really quite pleased to think that Blackpool now has a literature festival in its 5th year. [Risk Assessment] I went along to the first meeting last week to volunteer my services. [Risk Assessment] There was a good attendance of positive, interested and creative people. [Risk Assessment] Organisers, Arts/Council co-ordinators and Librarians were well prepared, had clear plans, venues, themes, ideas and welcomed new ideas, fitting them willingly into the agenda. [Risk Assessment] Volunteers offered their services [Risk Assessment], venues [Risk Assessment] and materials [Risk Assessment].

I really couldn't count the amount of times and by how many people 'Risk Assessment' had been menitoned but it felt like safety precautions with OCD. Of course, everyone wants to be safe. That makes sense. But Risk Assessment seems to scare people in the workplace into senseless over-prioritising, worrying about being blamed, claims, being sued or even getting the sack [people can't be sacked can they?]. As Risk Assessment is taken to the 'n'th degree and there becomes no time or place left to expand, create, imagine or invent, what will happen not only to our children's thought processes but their survival skills?

During the Wordpool meeting, where everyone was squashed into an extremely tiny space directly next to a burning hot radiator, around a table, with a hot water dispenser in the middle, an imbalanced screen squashed up against us, [which could have fallen over onto the library visitors] limiting leg space and presenting the opportunity for cramp or even DVT; two medium-sized children were play-fighting on the floor. Nobody asked or suggested the children stop, be careful, move away to a safer place or be quiet ! And so, they carried on ... Hey ho.

Luckily, we all survived the first meeting of the year and I'm looking forward to planning the Wordpool Festival of Words during the week 5th - 12th November next.


Thursday, 24 February 2011

I Heart Everything ...

I thought 'I heart Everything' by Mike Perry was a fabulous title for a journal. Probably directed towards older children [honestly; I haven't seen the physical product -photo/info on Chronicle Books web page] but reminded me about being a writer ~ that a good way to break the block ~ is to write a journal.

See My Pages -Your Pags / Journals ~ Get Creative.


Wednesday, 23 February 2011


In the 3rd century BC, Aristophanes of Byzantium invented a system of single dots (distinctiones) that separated verses (colometry) and indicated the amount of breath needed to complete each fragment of text when reading aloud (not to comply with rules of grammar, which were not applied to punctuation marks until much later). The different lengths were signified by a dot at the bottom, middle, or top of the line. For a short passage (a komma), a media distinctio dot was placed mid-level ( · ). This is the origin of the concept of a comma, though the name came to be used for the mark itself instead of the clause it separated.

The mark used today is descended from a diagonal slash, or virgula suspensiva ( / ), used from the 13th to 17th centuries to represent a pause, notably by Aldus Manutius.


Comma - Date of Origin 16th c.

Greek kómma meant literally ‘piece cut off, segment’. It derived from the verb kóptein ‘cut’, relatives of which include Russian kopje ‘lance’, source of the coin-name kopeck, and probably English capon. Kómma came to be applied metaphorically, as a technical term in prosody, to a small piece of a sentence, a ‘short clause’, a sense which it retained when it reached English via Latin comma. It was not long before, like colon, it was applied to the punctuation mark signifying the end of such a clause.


Domenico da Comma [1264-1316]

'The inventor of one of our most familiar marks of punctuatin was born in Mantua and entered the Dominican order sometime before 1300, devoting the remainder of his life to scholarship. A near-contemporary of Dante, who travelled extensively among the universities and monasteries of the Euorope of his time, arguing for the usefulness of his little mark, he was at one point arraigned before the Inquisition on charges of heresy, on the grounds that no such punctuation was to be found in the scriptures, in the Early Church Fathers or even in classical literature, but he seems to have survived the experience unscathed.'

James Cochrane, Stipple Wink & Gusset.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Building up C c c ... onfidence

Part 2

My friend is a member of various dating websites. She checks out the photographs of possible male partners she finds herself attracted to and settles down with a glass of wine to peruse their profiles.

Having found one or two lucky contenders, she enters her details in the boxes and tabs down to type in her personal statement. ‘Fabulous at Fifty, she writes… Drop-dead gorgeous lady, oozing style and confidence. Curvacious … it goes on … and on! Her many talents include sport, cooking, entertaining and too many others to begin to mention. I interject here and ask her to make the list shorter. ‘Men won’t read all of it’, I suggest gingerly. She continues with the list; gardening, golf, walking, holidays … [that’s walking comma holidays, not walking holidays].

I tried an imaginary process for myself. As an exercise on paper, well on screen of course, I attempted to write my own personal statement for a dating site [purely for research purposes, you understand]. I faltered, dithered and finally decided that I was a woman with er … hem … er

It’s not as easy as it seems, Unless you ooze with confidence.

No wanting to give in at the first hurdle, I decided to try again. With real paper and a pencil [easier to delete]. I managed to concoct a short list of positive things about myself and a longer list of negative things about myself. I extended the positive list as much as I could and threw the negative list away [a positive gesture in itself!]. I wasn’t gorgeous, fabulous at 50 but a few encouraging characteristics began to emerge on the page.

I considered working on these findings in a similar way to dieting – where you write down all the things you eat during the day, then adapt to eating what’s good for you and train yourself to leave off what’s not. Looking at my list yesses didn’t tell me anything I didn’t really know; upbeat, focused, hardworking, caring, family centred person. Hmmm. I didn’t expect to be able to change my personality overnight but honestly, my positive list wasn’t helping.

The discarded sheet of negatives lay half screwed up on the floor, not having made the bin in the first place. I unravelled the bad news and absorbed the text … anxious, self-doubting, apprehensive, nervous energy … I taught my children to turn negatives into positives. So why am I not following my own advice? What have I got to lose?

I made a new list:
Q. What was actually making me anxious?
Q. Why the self-doubt?
Q. Why am I so apprehensive?
Q.What can I do with all that nervous energy?

Clearly, a psychotherapist could work all this stuff out but on the surface it all seemed so simple once I had dragged the thoughts from my mind and put them down on paper …

I realised I wasn’t achieving some goals I had set for myself. I’ve been talking the talk and not walking the walk.
The yearning to get to writing and complete my novel was making me anxious – partly due to having to be selfish in the time required to finish the novel, partly due to self-doubt. Writing a novel is a lonely project. You don’t actually know whether it will work or not until the novel is completed and you find that needle in the haystack – an agent – an audience.
Any new project; thesis; venture; business deal can cause apprehension. I’m ok with that.
Clearly all these unsettled feelings are hyping up my nervous energy levels. If I concentrate on the writing, this might alleviate anxiousness. If I focus on marketing my product, my energy levels will be consumed. That’s it! Then I’ll just while away a few worrying months, waiting for all those agents to come knocking at my door.

And this is where the dating agency comes in … What I learned from my friend, was her marketing skills. I need to make the stone, stonier, put the icing on the cake, over-egg the pudding ...

I won’t be competing on Dateline, Tee for 2, Harmony et al, after all they are for single people looking for romance and a GSOH. I’ll leave that to my friend ~ and I ~ will be in a dark, lonely place for at least 3 months whilst Edward, Verity, Rob and Katherine sort our their quest for more in my debut novel, Consequences !


Friday, 18 February 2011

Building up the Confidence to Market Yourself ...

Part 1

As far as I see it, generally, you're either an academic or not, a sales-person or not, a sporty / muscial / techno person, or not. Okay, there are possibly some grey areas, agreed. I probably place myself in the sales category ~ then realise I have contradicted myself immediately. I'm not an academic but have managed to secure [just about] a Masters Degree, I'm not sporty but have just skied Tortin, Verbier, one of the top ten scariest ski runs and I'm not a musician, yet have sung in three choirs [a wonderful feeling by the way].

So why, if I consider myself more of a 'sales' person, can I not face marketing myself / my product ... my novel. A friend once said it's fear. I presumed she meant fear of failiure ~ fair enough, I agreed. The process of retrieving your own self-addressed envelopes from the letter box and having a 'don't phone us, we'll phone you' hard copy in your hand is definitely more painful than opening up one rejection email amongst the battering of daily messages you promise to unsubscribe from]. In her opinion, my fear was a fear of success. Interesting?

Her reasoning, if I succeed, I will have to deliver the goods. I know that, I'm a sales-person, remember? But I know, I will have to deliver the whole product, me included. And there's another problem. I'm an energetic, focused, social person [so my CV says], who is clearly not as confident as I appear [that bit's not on my CV]. So, is this one of the reasons I haven't finished the novel ... because ... basically ... I'm shy ?

Part 2 continued tomorrow ... to be fair, it is 05: 20 What time ??


Thursday, 17 February 2011

Great news for me ...

Yes ! Amazing! I have managed to edit 50 % of my novel and move the story along at last ! Now, if I can stop interrupting myself with emails, facebook and twitter, I should be producing something by the end of the month ~ in terms of a chapter rather than the complete novel.

During the processs, I realised that my title was blocking me through some sort of 80's time-warp. That was the first thing to go, the working title: Touchstone. What was that supposed to mean anyway? Well, to be honest, it meant quite a lot, personally ~ but probably not so much to today's reader. Touchstone was a memory from my past. The novel had to move with the times and now has a working title of Consequences.

So I'm off to bed with the beginning of Chapter 8, Consequences ~ Just hoping the characters don't start talking whilst I'm asleep.


Ophiuchus ... Is this for real ?

Serious or Fun ?

Do we adopt Ophiuchus or dismiss the sign ???


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Take a Look at This ...

Amazing Dialogue ...

posted by Ron Deering


World Book Night ...

Yippee ... I have been selected to give out 50 of the free books for World Book Night.

World Book Night: 5th March 2011

It’s a little over two weeks before the big night and things are gathering momentum at an exhilarating pace. All 1,000,000 of the books have now been printed by Clays and are ready for distribution. Literally hundreds of events are taking place across the UK and Ireland with libraries and bookshops staying open late so that givers, authors and members of the public can celebrate WBN together.

The World Book Night Team

I've chosen 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' and have a place in mind to deliver some of the books, where I hope a number of people would really enjoy receiving and reading this title.

More tomorrow ... Just found myself asleep, wedged upright between desk and laptop, with fingers pressing the 'z' button.


Monday, 14 February 2011

I So Love This Book ...

Carol Ann Duffy ... The World's Wife

A Wonderful collection of easy access tales about women ususally excluded from myth and history. Powerful, funny, entertaining, thought provoking.

Choose from: Mrs Midas, Anne Hathaway, Medussa, The Kray Sisters, Mrs Aesop, Queen Kong ... or just read them all !

Our Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, was born in Glasgow in 1955 and grew up in Stafford. She attended Liverpool Uni, receiving a degree in Philosophy.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

White Paper, The Short Story and Buying Ebooks on line ...

How far has the short story come?

Some years ago, during my MA studies at Lancaster, when the Short Story seemed to regarded as the under-dog and maybe even worse, the weak novel writer's first attempt, I remember attending a Short Story [University based] Conference, full of somewhat depressing [although well done] White Papers on the non-future of the then ailing Short Story. Whilst a few lecturers and writers hailed the Short Story, including AL Kennedy, who presented highly enthusiastic ideas for writing them, were supporting the cause, I felt only gloom then doom for the Short Story. I felt like a member of a secret society, almost ashamed that I was interested in the possibility of writing short stores or fast fiction as some writers might prefer to call them now. The only possibity for publication included small-time magazines and competitions. Publishers just weren't interested in turning out volumes of short stories. The novel reigned.

But hey, since the shock of the Credit Crunch, sending us into a dark place, the Short Story seems to have pulsed through somehow, lightening the load in our speedy lives, offering us the opportunity to fit in some catch-up reading between travel, work, limited leisure time.

And how? Clearly, the development of E book technology. I admit, I'm not TV/ DVD /IPOD techny; I have an MP3 player which remains in its cellophane packaging but I do have a Kindle ~ and it's got to be the easiest techno unit to operate. Even my mother could use one !

I refer to my Kindle [as writers, we know we have to write about ... what we know] but obviously, include ipad and any type of e-book technology, when I say that a whole new interactive experience has been created for the reader. We can change font size, type, page size. For me personally, struggling with a mild form of dyslexia, the clear format [possibly the darkened screen helps too], means I can read faster and therefore hold my concentration for longer. I can shorten the pages so I'm not overfaced by too much text on one page. When I turn the gadget on, my page waits for me. I can highlight and add notes from the text - so no pen and paper or laptop required. It's lightweight ~ no more lugging the weight of a paperback around with you or paying extra on holiday baggage allowance.

According to Cathy Galvin's findings [Sunday Times 30 Jan 2011], 'Within the first 80 days of going on sale, the iPad sold 3m world wide and sales boomed on the iBookstore.' Galvin states: 'Google has announced plans to launch an ebook store, Google Editions, allowing independant publishers to sell their catalogues for the first time.' I checked out Google Editions ~ which seems to be promised internationally but only to be available in USA at the moment. It looks like Google will allow readers free downloads and an 80% charge for ebook download to e-readers. Take a look at this article for an update:

Short story writers have much to gain ~ Where a novel might sell single thousands of copies, the short story sold for e-book publications might sell many times that [no printing / distribution costs either]. The industry are expecting sales to treble by 2105. It's great to see an opportunity for the Short Story writer at last. And I can't wait to upload / shuffle / read ... E-technology is bringing the Short Story to life at last.

* Search under 'Fast Fiction' at e-retailers or maybe Amazon iBookstore.
* Costs around 99p - £1.99

Enjoy, Gillian

Friday, 11 February 2011

Mills and Boon

Whilst in London the other day, happening to be in Selfridges, I couldn't help noticing a 'pop-up shop' by Mills and Boon ~ all shiny and colourful in their new coats [okay - sleeves]...

Sorry, forgot to take a photo - but you can see the display at:

'The Together Shop' features the newest range of Mills and Boon romances, as well as a limited selection of rare first edition titles from 1930s archives ...' Marieclaire.

It's like vintage fashion but for reading ... I dare you to read one .


Friday, 4 February 2011

The Gift ...

I was sooo lucky at Christmas, spoiled rotten by my daughter ... amongst my many thoughtful and fun gifts, was this ...

The Gift, by our very own Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, is the story of a girl's journey through life, and the desires that shape it. Beautifully illustrated and created by London artist/lasercut artist, Rob Ryan [ Shop: 126 Columbia Road London] ...
A pure Gift.


Facelifts ...

Character, Conflict, Complication, Point of View, Setting, Monotony ... Monotony ?

Give your [short] story a Facelift:

As advised by Margaret Wilkinson ...

'Don’t abandon your short story just because it’s been rejected a few times. If the idea was enough to inspire you in the first place, chances are it has the potential to inspire an editor or competition judge too. Perhaps all it needs is a bit of a makeover? If so, here are a few tried and tested tweaks to try.'

Check out her tips, see if they motivate you to tweak that story ...