Friday, July 31, 2009

Early morning post

I don't normally blog in the morning. I don't normally do much in the morning, but this one started off so well I thought I'd jot it down. First, I wake up, open Facebook, and see a lovely status update from a new writer friend, Nicola Morgan, who "doesn't normally read short stories", saying, to my delight, that she is "blown away" by The White Road and Other Stories! A convert... how fabulous. Once you start dipping into short-story-land, you're hooked.

Boyd Tonkin certainly is, bless you Boyd. In today's Independent newspaper, in an article entitled "Short-haul fiction, long-term benefits", he says:
Here's a star-spangled shortlist of leading writers who have published, or soon will publish, works of fiction since the last Man Booker contest: Kazuo Ishiguro, AL Kennedy, Ali Smith, Will Self, Chimamanda Adichie, Alice Munro. None of them could have featured on this week's long-list. Of course, the final name gives the game away. Canada's doyenne of the story that packs an entire life, and world, into 20 pages might already have won the Man Booker International Prize for career achievement. But the annual competition still shuns volumes of short fiction. Which means as well that first-rank debut collections, such as (this year) Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, never stand a fighting chance. Should that rule now change?
Yes, Boyd, yes! And then, if it couldn't get any better, he says:
In the Manchester-based Comma Press and Salt Publishing in Cambridgeshire, Britain has two high-performing specialist imprints with a robust commitment to the briefer forms.
Oh, Boyd! Sending much love to the Indy today. I will leave you with his parting shot:
"The only rule is to write originally and well - whether the result takes two, five or twenty thousand words."
Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. (New prize for 2-word stories, anyone??)
Read the full article here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Small/Big Moments of Joy

This came in the post this morning from my delicious publisher, Jen, at Salt.

Can you see what it says at the top? It's the new print run, and it says "Commended by the Orange Award for New Writers 2009"! Click on the pic and you get the enormous version.

My little/big thrill of the day.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

PS New flash published

This day is ending wonderfully with the first of three of my flash stories and one poem that are going to be published in Metazen,"an online fic­tion zine that pub­lishes short fic­tion and poetry by var­i­ous authors. Metazen is a fly­trap for metafic­tion, exis­ten­tial­ism and absur­dism. It har­bors all kinds of filth such as neu­rotic char­ac­ters, obscure philoso­phies, love for inan­i­mate objects and quests toward enlightenment". Sounds like my kind of place!

My flash is called Unnaming, here's a small taste:
The man, his name is Mick, or Mickey, or Michael, or Sir to some and Man to oth­ers, Son to his Mammy and Eejit to his wife. The woman, her name is Sonya. Mick and Sonya. Sonya and Michael. Her hus­band, his wife. Out.
If you'd like to, you can read the rest here. I believe you can even leave a comment if you are so moved. Have a lovely evening!

Still Hot But Smiling

Let's not dwell on the heat, which is all-consuming, distracting... oops, there I am dwelling. No, it is just here, it is only heat. Enough.

The niceness of the day is summed up by both a lovely new review on my Amazon UK page and by the astonishing fact that I sent three flash stories and a poem to a lit zine yesterday and they'd like to publish all of them! Well, very nice. Will post the links as they happen.

Third nicety is the discovery that the great and wondrous Margaret Atwood is coming to speak in Bristol, our soon-to-be new hometown, so tickets have been booked for that, how thrilling. Very very few of those sorts of names come through Jerusalem, be they writers, artists, musicians, and there is always a big hoo-ha when they do. I am looking forward to being in a place where these kinds of events happen more than once every few years. Where I might actually participate in something, too. Not with Ms A of course, although I have been invited to the 11th Conference on the Short Story in Toronto next June (can I plan that far in advance??) and she is scheduled to be there too, with some other wonderful names, so, well, there you are.

I haven't done any writing today, but writing-related things. Yesterday I sat for an hour very early in the morning in certain government offices waiting for something which was not, of course, granted, but taking in my fellow applicants, the shoddy surroundings, certain bizarre juxtapositions which started my mind wandering. I am hoping that the (very early) hour was not wasted, that it may lead to a short story. It is maturating right now. Will see what emerges. I also finished the screenplay adaptation of a short story of mine for the Waterford Film Festival competition (see link on right, Waiting to Hear from...). It is such fun adapting your own stories - the story is there but you need to make changes so it works visually. I also submitted a new story to the Manchester Fiction Prize, so fingers crossed. Only a week or so left for that - get your entry in.

In other news, the plagiarism discussion in which various of us had been very careful not to "name names" has now progressed, a name has been mentioned and the person in question has been asked to explain, if he can. If you'd like to find out more, visit the thread on How Publishing Really Works.

The fallout for me with all this discussion has been a heightened sensitivity, perhaps even insecurity, when I write as to whether I am really writing my own story, or has something from somewhere else slipped in. I just have to trust that I am, but try and still remain aware. It is a delicate balance.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Day Got Better

It was not a great day. It started off hot, like all the other days recently. And the forecast says only: "Hotter than average", and "getting hotter." Outside is doing its impression of an oven. Dazzling sunlight. Not conducive to work. Not conducive to focus. So... after dealing with bureaucracy, trying to phone, trying to get people to reply, I retired to my cellar. But still, despite the several-degree-temp-drop, I still couldn't get down to anything.

Faffing ensued. Much faffing (phaphing?). I assembled some prompts for myself, odd phrases from poems and things like that, to kick start me. But - nothing. Just frustration. More Facebook, more online scrabble. And much, much less writing.

Ok, I decided to abandon it all and watch an episode of Eureka, a wonderfully odd sort of sci-fi series from the US. Love it! I thought that might stimulate the creative juices (watching TV is always "research into narratives and character development"!). And, well, it did. I got the prompts back out and wrote a poem, and felt cleansed. Ahhhh.

Then this afternoon, more and more heat. The air con had no choice but to become active, it was unbearable. Crabby. Very crabby we both were. And then plagiarism reared its ugly head - again. Not my work, but a friend's. Again. Awful, awful, awful. Again. Will this despicable person never learn?

A trip to the post office, where there was no queue but much aircon, made things better: two literary magazines, Electric Literature and Ninth Letter, and a review copy of J Robert Lennon's short story collection, Pieces for the Left Hand. Nothing cheers the overheated heart like great reading material!

And then tonight, the best of all: an email from the editor of an online mag saying that he doesn't normally do this, but he's "been enjoying my writing so much" and would like me to submit something. Love this. Love this enormously! It has happened a few times, and it is just the nicest thing, most surprising and delightful. The online mag, which I won't name in case the editor doesn't want it known that he has ever done this kind of thing, likes experimental fiction. Right up my street. Will keep you updated!

It's cooling down now and I'm cheering up. Night is falling. I love the darkness. Have a lovely evening.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Many sources of great lit and a question about horror

Lots to read, as ever! There's a new blog post up on the Short Review blog as part of Dzanc Books' 2009 Best of the Web anthology launch that I highly recommend you pop over and read. It's a guest post by M. Thomas Gammarino, one of the authors picked for BoTW, talking about his story, The Fridge. It's here.

Another source of lit: the latest copy of Irish lit mag The Stinging Fly landed in my postbox this week, and it looks great, with short stories by Aileen Armstrong, Jon Boilard, Philip Cummings, Catherine Finn, Alison MacLeod and Heather Richardson, poetry from Arlene Ang, Carolyn Jess-Cooke and others, and a fabulous article by Colm Liddy called "My Struggle ... to Grow Up and Be a Writer", which talks about how getting his first book deal affected him. I haven't read much of this Summer issue yet, am saving it!

And me-centred news: two flash stories have been accepted by the London magazine for their August issue, which I think will be science-themed, something that always thrills me. Lovely way to welcome me to England when we move at the end of August (although not to London, but who's quibbling?!)

Right now I am working on a new short story that I wrote the other day with the Manchester Fiction prize in mind. I was pretty surprised when 1600 words came out all in one go. Now I have to tweak and polish, haven't read it since, am a bit nervous in case I hate it. Always a risk! And inspired by the Waterford Film Festival competition for a short screenplay, I am adapting one of my published stories into a film (something my mother's been telling me to do for ages, okay, fine, I'm doing it), which is such fun: the story is there, but I have to think hard about how it can be told visually, with images instead of all those words. Loving it.

A question for all my dear blog readers: I am, as I mentioned a while back, attempting to only submit fiction to paying markets. I keep a close eye on Duotrope's What's New page and notice that the markets that pay, and often pay a lot, are the ones with titles like "End of Days: An Apocalyptic Anthology", "Fight On! Weird Enclaves and Black Pits", "Dark Moon Anthology: Zombie Short Stories", "Middle of Nowhere: Horror in Rural America", and "Zombology VI: The Undead Versus the Living Dead" - and that's just this week!

What does it say about the state of fiction markets that the horror markets pay their writers seemingly so well, but the literary markets, on the whole, don't?? Why not? Most importantly, what does this say about readers and what they are willing to pay for. Answers please.

Friday, July 17, 2009

This Day

Ok, so first, on this day I was born, yup, my birthday. I like birthdays. I don't have a hang-up about age, it seems to me that life gets better and better, and I have no idea what the year might bring but I look forward to it all! This is a quiet birthday, which suits me fine, that's just where I am right now. It's been a hell of a year, ups and downs, so a quiet day making birthday cupcakes and being with J and the cats. Lovely.

This day is also How Publishing Really Works' Anti-Plagiarism Day, with writers and bloggers across the blogsphere drawing attention to this topic, giving their experiences and their thoughts. Because it is my birthday I don't want to dwell on my recent and distressing experience of being plagiarised, but I want to talk about being inspired by someone else's writing.

As synchronicity would have it, over at Nik's blog is a great interview with Shaindel Beers, poet and fellow Salt author, whose wonderful collection, A Brief History of Time, I mentioned here. She says the following:

Nik: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?

Shaindel: My former colleague at College of Lake County, Larry Starzec (a phenomenal writer, please find his work) would tell his students, “Writers read with larceny in their hearts.” He’s right. Any time you read and find something that knocks your socks off, think how can I steal that? (Of course, meaning, how can I do that?)
This, for me, is the essence: You read something you love and you think: "How can I do that... in my own way? How can I be inspired by what this writer has done and employ that in the service of telling my story?"

I have this experience all the time when I review short story collections for The Short Review. One of the first collections I reviewed was Roy Kesey's All Over. As I said in my review:
Reading Roy Kesey's collection made me happy. Re-reading it soon after made me even happier. This is not because Kesey's stories are hopeful or optimistic. It is because this is a writer so clearly in love with language and rhythm that it is a delight to experience what he does with words – both those we are familiar with and those I suspect he invented.
What his stories did for me was show me what was possible in a short story - that it was possible, permissable, even highly desirable to write minimalist stories and make the reader work, sometimes very hard! Inspired, I "stole" this idea, this concept, and wrote a very minimalist 800-word story. This story, Vegetable, Mineral, won a flash fiction competition. I didn't take Roy's characters, I didn't lift his plots, I didn't copy his structure or his tone or his pacing. I "stole" something, though - something that perhaps he in turn had taken from a writer who inspired him. And what I took from Roy Kesey has stayed with me. If I hadn't read his book, perhaps I would have found this elsewhere - or perhaps my writing would have taken an entirely different direction.

Another example: when I was reviewing Paddy O'Reilly's collection, The End of the World, at the same time I was struggling with one of my stories that just was not working. I had been banging my head against this story for years, trying it this way and that, loving the premise but unable to find the right way to tell it. Then I read a story of Paddy's which is told in sections, each section with a subtitle - and something clicked. This was the way to tell my story. So I "lifted" the structure from Paddy's story and applied it to mine, and instantly something released in me, and I could write the story in a way that felt right, and which ended up surprising me.

I took from Paddy. I lifted structure - but if you put our stories side by side, I highly doubt that anyone would say, "Gosh, aren't these stories similar!" Because everything else about the stories is different: the subtitles themselves, the content, the characters, the voice, the story.

I had no thought at the time that Roy or Paddy might object - I was being inspired by them in a way that I would hope my writing might inspire. Their wonderful stories sent me in new directions, my own directions - their writing lifted me to a different place.

But... we must be careful. If I had taken more than this from their stories, if I had wandered over some invisible line, then this might be too much. Together with two writing colleagues, we have been stimulating ourselves to write by "borrowing" titles from other works and creating new works. We realised that if the title was too specific to that author, was recognisably theirs, then we would run into trouble. So we accept that after we've written the story or poem or whatever, we are going to have to change the title. We are allowed to be inspired, to let it take us places... but we are not allowed to take their creativity and pass it off as ours.

Reading is, to my mind, a vital part of the writing life. To imagine that we write in a vacuum is self-delusion: just as I am inspired by every street I walk down, every TV program I watch, every person I come into contact with, I am affected by everything I read. However, I have no desire to write someone else's story; I want to write what only I can write, given all my unique experiences, thoughts and impulses. I don't want to steal anyone else's story - what creative satisfaction lies in that?

So, the message of today is: be inspired. Always be inspired. But write your own story.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tomorrow is Anti-Plagiarism Day

Just a quick reminder: How Publishing Really Works is organising a day for bloggers and writers to discuss plagiarism - what it is, examples of plagiarism, how we can avoid doing it ourselves, how we can protect each other from it and more. Do join in, and pass the URL of your contribution on to the HPRW blog. This is important.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Me and my poem

How nice it is - well, it's only happened once, so I can't generalize - but how lovely to wake up today to an email saying that my first published poem is in the latest issue of Contrary Magazine. It's called Baby in A Jar (thanks to Nik for the inspiration!). It is a great boost, especially on the morning after the day when I couldn't get down to doing any writing, when I went a little stir crazy, especially by evening (thanks to my Twitter friends who came up with helpful suggestions for what I could be doing instead!)

Anyhow, Contrary is a wonderful magazine, I have long been a fan of their poetry and short stories which all tend to have the dashes of oddness that I love. I am in the company of Arlene Ang ("Flowers prelude the smell of beer." Read her poem, Day of the Dead), Rebecca Lehmann ("The Managers are giving silver dollars to our childrenand telling them if they are good, they can have our jobs once we're dead". Read The Factory: An Elegy in Six Parts). Contrary also features reviews. So much to read, and so beautifully presented. A great source of lit.

Here's hoping today I'll be more productive. Have a good one.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This morning I discovered

This morning I discovered that I use the word "perhaps" far too much in my writing. So I deleted all of them.

This morning I discovered that I could write the ending to a story whose middle I didn't know, and then the ending became another story, something that wasn't and now is.

This morning I discovered that the middle of a story whose beginning and end I have only needed to be one line, and it tied them up and there it was, done.

This morning was a good morning. Last night I said "First thing, I'm going to take my coffee and my laptop and go into my study", and this morning I did that, for the first time, straight down into the cellar. Now I can go back up again, a good morning.

Writers' service announcement:

I found this great blog, Mira's List, where Mira lists Grants, Fellowships and Residencies for Artists, Writers and Musicians, updated very regularly. What a gem! (Am rather intrigued by the 6-month residency in France that she just posted: "Short story projects are preferred but not essential." How often do you read that, gentle reader?!)

Also - Upcoming Deadlines - always good to get entries in early:
(Inspired by Teresa, I have added a list to the right of the places I have submitted to that I am waiting to hear back from. Makes me feel busy.)

Aug 1st: Bellevue Literary review competition, 5000 words, writing related to themes of health, healing, illness, the mind, and the body. Prizes: $1000 Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, $1000 Carter V. Cooper Memorial Prize for Nonfiction $1000 Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry. Postal and online entry. Fee $15, for extra $5 you receive subscription to their excellent magazine. Open to international entrants.

Aug 7th: Manchester Fiction Prize, 5000 word short story, unpublished and not entered for any other competition. First prize £10,000. Postal and online entry. Fee £15, payable online. Open to international entrants.

Aug 1st-31st: Norton Hint Fiction, 25 word stories. I wrote about this here.

Aug 15th: Flatman Crooked competition, Judged by the wondrous Aimee Bender, 7000 word short story. 1st place receives $1000.00 and publication in the final anthology of ‘08/’09 season. Top 10 finalists will also be published in the final anthology and get special recognition on the website. Fee $15, payable online. Open to international entrants.

Aug 31st: Juked Fiction and Poetry Prizes. Any length short story; up to 5 poems, ten pages in total! First prize for each genre: $500 and publication in our upcoming print issue, Juked #7. Fee $15, payable online. Postal or online entry. Open to international entrants.

Sep 30th: PANK magazine 1,001 Awesome words. One of my favourite lit mags is holding its first contest. Any form or formlessness, 1,001 words or less. 1st Place: $750* and publication in PANK 4.
2nd Place: $500* and publication in PANK 4. 3rd Place: $250* and publication in PANK 4. Fee $15 for one entry, $25 for two, every entrant gets a copy of PANK #4, payable online. All entries will be considered for publication in PANK. Online entry. Open to international entrants.

What are you waiting for??

Friday, July 10, 2009

In these Faster Times...

A new website launched today, and I know some of those involved so I thought I would give The Faster Times a plug here.
The Faster Times is a collective of great journalists who have come together to try something new. As we launch this July, we will have more than a hundred correspondents in over 20 countries. We have someone on the ground in Kenya and someone else reporting from Lebanon. Our arts section will cover not just film and books, but also theater and dance and photography. We will launch with seven writers on books alone. These writers are not “citizen journalists” but among the most accomplished and recognized names in their respective fields.
The website seems to be a sort of Huffington Post-ish let's-write-about-everything type of site, covering World, Politics, Business, Science, Food, Arts, Books, Parents, Sports, Travel and Advice on their top menu bar above the logo... and Health, Tech, Nonsense, Love and Death, Design, Insider and Surprise Me on the menu bar just under the logo.

Intrigued as I am by "Nonsense"(!), I am obviously most interested in the "seven writers on books alone" part! So I wander to the Books page, and here I find that one of the main sections is Indie Books. And here is an article by the Indie Books editor, Rozalia Jovanovic, on why she loves small presses:
When I began to articulate why I am endeared to small presses, the output of which I’ll be concerned with in this column, I was hard-pressed to find a hole-less rationale. But I am clear that the work that most challenges me as a reader, the writing which I find most satisfying, is often enough the product of a Dalkey Archive, Serpent’s Tail or Verse Press. This has something to do with my empathy for the sound assertion of individuality.
She goes on to say that she is "wary of group rhapsody. Whether religious, political, or social, the self-effacement required of collective euphorias makes me cagey....Indie publishers have long been known for their struggles against group rhapsody. ..." Read the rest of her article here.

This, alongside links to articles with titles like "Talented Writers Dropped by Large Publishers are a Boon for Small Presses", and, on the main Books page, a link to Kevin Brockmeir's 50 Favourite Short Stories ( The Twenty-seventh Man" by Nathan Englander is the only story I've read) makes me think I am going to be reading the Faster Times fairly often.

Ah hang on... I just found that they have a Science+Art section! Ok, now I'm hooked: The Return of the Odor Artist ("The life of an odor artist is, more often than not, an unfulfilled one. "), a link to New Scientist article An Astronaut Confronts Gustav Holst's 'The Planets'. Mmm. Lots and lots of reading to do. How will I find time to write?

Good luck, Faster Times, in these days of swiftly-changing loyalties, I hope you thrive.

Addendum: Just seen that they have linked to The Short Review's "wonderful" interview with Matt Bell from their Publishing page. How lovely!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A few things, some nice, some not so nice.

I am back at work in my cool cellar/study, just the right temperature when it's 27 degrees outside. Since the lovely news about the Binnacle Ultra-Short comp, I have done a u-turn on my previous decision to stop writing flash fiction. The universe seems to be telling me that I'm pretty good at it, and I do love writing flash, so I'm going to keep on doing it.

I started today by writing a 25-word piece for Hint Fiction, a new anthology forthcoming from W.W Norton. If you link to the Hint Fiction page from your blog, they allow you to submit three pieces instead of two. Details:

Tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2010, W.W. Norton will publish an anthology of Hint Fiction. What is Hint Fiction? It’s a story of 25 words or less that suggests a larger, more complex story. The thesis of the anthology is to prove that a story 25 words or less can have as much impact as a story 2,500 words or longer. The anthology will include between 100 and 150 stories. We want your best work.

It’s possible to write a complete story in 25 words or less — a beginning, middle, end — but that’s not Hint Fiction.

The very best Hint Fiction stories can be read many different ways.

We want stories we can read again and again and never tire of. Stories that don’t pull any punches. Stories that make us think, that evoke some kind of emotional response.

I heartily agree that "a story 25 words or less can have as much impact as a story 2,500 words or longer"! I've written one, will try and write some more. Have a go. Read the full guidelines here.

Now for the not so nice part. A few weeks ago I was the victim of a plagiarist, who took all of the aspects of one of my published stories that made it my unique creation, added a few things of his own, passed it of as his, and not only was it published but it won a prize. I know this person, he had been a trusted writing colleague. The person in question did not admit any wrongdoing, but the competition removed his "story" from their site. He has done this before and since, to others I know and perhaps more that we are not aware of.

It was, to say the least, a deeply distressing experienceI felt physically ill, couldn't write for quite a long time afterwards.

Several of us involved in this incident decided to do something. It isn't possible to safeguard your work from predators like this, unless you simply decide never to submit a story again. Once your work is out there, there is not much to be done. But... it is most certainly worth discussing what plagiarism in fiction means, and how we can make sure that we are not crossing the line between being "inspired by" - which to me is an essential aspect to creative writing - and theft.

To that end, Jane Smith on the wonderful How Publishing Really Works blog is having an Anti-Plaguarism Day on Friday July 15th. She says:

On that day I’m going to blog about plagiarism, and I’d like you to do the same: on your own blogs, on message boards, on Facebook or Twitter: anywhere where writers congregate. If you don’t have a blog of your own but would like to get involved then email your piece to “hprw at tesco dot net”, with a subject line of “HPRW anti-plagiarism day”, and I’ll post it here. Send me links to your blog posts or message board discussions and I’ll edit them into my piece.

You can write about anything you like, so long as it’s based on plagiarism: what it is, what’s allowed and what’s not, famous cases of plagiarism, how it feels to be plagiarised, and what effects plagiarism can have (on both of the writers involved): anything which is plagiarism-related, honest, well-researched and properly informed.

Read her full post here. Let's inform ourselves so that if anything like this happens to anyone, we can spot it, stop it, be aware. I hope no-one ever has to go through this.

Back to more positive things! I am off to write more Hint Fiction.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Finally... I can tell you!

OK, so you know how it is when you submit something to a short story competition, and you wait and wait for the date they said they'd announce the winners, and then on that day they kindly let you know that you have to wait another month because they had so many entries, so you wait another month and then they send an email saying they had almost 1000 entries and they would be letting the honorees know within the next 24 hours and you think, 1000, blimey, no way I've made the last 50 and you cross it off your very organised Submissions spreadsheet thingy .......

......and then.

.......then you get an email from the competition organisers. They tell you.

That's you've won. The Grand Prize. The Grand Prize in the Binnacle Sixth Ultra Short Story Competition.

Then you faint (almost). And your heart starts pounding. And you keep thinking, Oh come on, that's just silly.

And then you wait some more. And finally, finally, today, three weeks' later, they put up the results! So it is real. Grinning. Much grinning.

I am in the most wonderful company: my great friend Vanessa Gebbie is the Editor's Choice in Prose, and there are my other wonderful writer friends in the honorees list: Vicky Grut, Ruth Almon, Oonah V Joslin, Nora Nadjarian, Nik Perring and Anne Brooke. Congratulations to all! Much grinning all round.

Keep Helping Salt - Reviews

Salt's Just One Book campaign (see Twitter) to boost its sales so that my wonderful publisher can survive did definitely help! But there's more to be done. This is the latest from Chris Hamilton Emery:
Trade Summary

June's UK trade figures are in from our distributor, Gardners — 47% of our UK trade sales are now with the Waterstone's chain, 21% with Amazon. We had no sales at all in June from Borders. Trade sales for the first six months of this year are still down 4% on 2008, but we are beginning to close that gap. Total trade figures for June were up 21% on the previous June (the summer months are often exceptionally tough for Salt), growth was largely driven through the JustOneBook campaign. But conditions remain extremely difficult in the trade. 8% of turnover was library sales. Independent book shop sales accounted for less than 7% of trade turnover, very disappointing after a big sales push with the indies and three separate promotions.

The Challenge

Our challenge is to grow our trade sales over the coming months to keep the business on track. We need to find better ways at reaching the indies as we're still convinced that they are good partners for Salt's list. Despite the success of the JustOneBook campaign, this month's trade sales will be critical. We could easily eat into the revenues we've raised from sales made direct to our fans. One bad month in the trade can wipe out our campaign.

So.... this is the important bit. Listen closely:
How You Can Help Us

We need to keep Salt in the public eye. Here's how you can help. If you've bought a book from Salt and you enjoyed it please continue to support us by doing two important things (they're both free):

1. Firstly, tell your friends about the Salt title you enjoyed. Recommend it to them. Tell your friends on Twitter what you thought about it. Blog about it, if you like. Pass it on in anyway you can. Spread the word.

2. Secondly, please post a brief review of the book on Amazon to help the author. Amazon reviews do work.

Thank you for all your support. It really does matter.

Very best from me and Jen

Ok, you know what you need to do. I'm not talking about my book, please recommend and write reviews of any Salt book you've enjoyed, be it short stories or poetry. To get you started here's the link to a search for Salt Publishing on Amazon UK. This doesn't work on Amazon US (lots of books on saltwater fishing!) so here are a few choice links to start you off there:

Vanessa Gebbie's Words from a Glass Bubble. (Read The Short Review's review)

Elizabeth Baines' Balancing on the Edge of the World (Read The Short Review's review)

Charles Lambert's Scent of Cinnamon (Read The Short Review's review)

Carys Davies' Some New Ambush (Read The Short Review's review)

Alex Keegan's Ballistics (Read The Short Review's review)

The White Road and Other Stories I think I may have already mentioned!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your support!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Updates - and The Short Review July Issue

First, apologies for my silence, it's been several weeks of no Internet or - gulp - dial-up, and not much time while we travelled to sit down and focus on writing a blog post. I had also hoped to be able to announce that nice news I keep blathering on about, but.... nothing yet!

I had a very promising second meeting with an agent yesterday, the upshot of which is that I need to keep writing but she likes what I've done so far. Good news, more work ahead. And we've found a lovely place to live in Bristol, which will be our new home from end August, with the ideal studio workroom for me already set up and separate. Even better than a shed - if I am allowed to say that!


The July Issue of the Short Review is out. First, congratulations to the six short story collections shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. See the Short Review blog for the shortlist.

With this month's issue, we bring you the most authors we have ever reviewed - with anthologies containing stories from up to 50 authors outnumbering single-author collections. There is a plethora of criminal behaviour, nostalgia for the era of punk, tales of those in waiting, a little erotica and more. Interviews with Daniyal Mueenuddin, whose collection we reviewed in last month's issue, Mary Akers, Jason Allan Cole, Mark Illis and Alex Keegan. Find something to read.

Also on the blog: Ailsa Cox takes us behind the scenes of the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, whose winner will be announced on July 4th. Read more.

Happy weekend of short stories! More from me when we get back home on Sunday.