Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Adventures in Cyberspace

I was interviewed recently by Julie Tomlin for Digital Women UK about my online journey. You can go straight to the interview here. It was interesting - and fun - to look back over the almost-ten-years since this blog first emerged, blinking in the blinding light of cyberspace, in Jan 2006. And you know what conclusion I came to when I looked back over this journey? This is a great time to be alive. The contacts I've made online with people who enrich my life in so many ways - people I would never have met if we lived in a different time - are part of a phenomenon unique to our generation.

When my Teen1 went to Cambodia and Goa earlier this year, I saw photos of sights at the same time as he saw them or soon after. In the Cambodian evenings and UK mornings, we would chat about how he was doing as a volunteer at Anjali House. Sometimes we'd be popping in and out of chats over an hour or so. (Didn't happen when he was in Goa, where he was with friends, but that was OK too.) Compare that to when I was in Grenada and my parents relied on the occasional hand-written letter or a rare phone call when I could make it to the Cable & Wireless office in the capital.

These days, this blog is pretty dormant. I gave up thinking I had to post regularly and took the pressure off, posting only when I have something to say that wouldn't fit into a tweet or FB status. Since I'm doing a review of my online journey, I just checked my stats for the first time in I don't know how long. 93,197 people have visited this blog and there have been 151,920 page views. That's a lorra lorra clicks.

While I'm here, I thought I'd do a quick round up of what I'm up to. I'm currently hosting the 12th 6-week online self-edit course together with Emma Darwin. Emma and I knew each other for about 6 months online before we worked out that we lived a few doors away from each other. The vast majority of my editing work comes to me online, either through my website or via Writers' Workshop. I recently ran a workshop for the delightful Chiltern Writers' Group who approached me online. The Festival of Writing in York sells all its places online. I have another workshop lined up in October for Verulam Writers' Circle who found me online. Also in October, I will be running workshops and Book Doctor sessions at a retreat in a 12th century monastery run by The Place to Write. The same people have asked me to do the same sort of thing at a different retreat in January 2015. Needless to say, this came via online contacts. I'm currently forming links between Stories for Homes and Journey to Justice. The latter is particularly interesting in this context because the project's aim is to build on the civil rights movement and other historical struggles to tackle injustice today. Just look at what we can do in terms of mobilisation now that was not available just a couple of decades ago.

Wonder what this will all look like in ten years time. Yes. This is a good time to be alive.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Get your self-edit toolkit here

Completing a full draft of a novel is an awesome achievement and one which should be celebrated but, on its own, it's not enough. Whether you intend to pitch to agents or self-publish your novel, you need to polish your MS until it sparkles and it's hard to do that on your own. A critique is one possibility. According to the 120+ people who have done the Writers' Workshop 6-week online Self-Edit Your Novel course, is another option and one that you won't regret.

Emma Darwin and I designed the course together. Hosted in a private group on the Word Cloud, each week, there's a short video introduction and a detailed tutorial. The homework we set is based on participants' own novels and we workshop the exercises together in the group. In other words, the course is designed to give you the tools of creative writing and then show how you can apply them to your own MS.

In a couple of weeks, the 11th course begins, adding to the wonderful groups we've had over the last years. The fruits for many of those on the earlier courses are beginning to be harvested. How amazing is it to hear that authors have gone on to success and credit the course for getting them there? It can't and won't happen for everyone, but we can guarantee that the standard of your writing will shoot up several levels as a result of those 6 weeks. If you're not sure if the course is for you because, say, you're not confident about your grammar, have a look at Emma's blog here. Check here for an example of the sort of detail we go into in the Prose Microscope week.

One of the advantages of the course is its flexibility and the way you can fit it into your Real Life (though some will say it tends to take over for those 6 sweaty, intense weeks). Also, the groups stay in place on the Cloud for EVER, and several have continued to function as online writers' groups after the course finishes.

But don't take my word about how good it is. I'd rather you hear it from some of our self-edit graduates. Jules Ironside blogged about it here. Below is a selection of quotes from various posts on the Cloud.

It's a really fab course - you won't regret a moment on it ... what I've written since has taken leaps forward in terms of writer's craft and how I feel about what I write.

Some of our group are still meeting ... and offering pieces to read and critique ... the SE course gave me the tools to look critically at my own work ...to stand apart from my baby and be a bit less emotional about it. Clear and supportive, but not namby pambying direction from Debi and Emma got me to the stage where I understood that writing is re-writing, rather than just spouting the phrase. So, absolutely excellent investment into your future as a writer! 

The six weeks was the most writing-related fun I've ever had ... the best investment in your writing you'll ever make ... The course does much more than teach you how to edit. It teaches you to be an all-round better writer. Yes, in six weeks.
Richard B
Do this course. Your writing will level up and you'll get more weapons. 

It has given me the confidence to pull the whole WIP apart and weave it back together, hopefully with better materials! 

Do it. Get the money - sell the car / kids / a kidney, it doesn't matter ... JUST DO IT!! The skills learned on this course don't just apply to the WIP you work on, but to ALL your writing - it's invaluable, and I have never, ever regretted doing it. 
I have not had so much intense fun in ages (but then I'm an engineer...). No hesitation in recommending it unreservedly. Forget low energy lightbulbs, all my light bulb moments were high energy incandescent! And Debi is a saint, generous and patient and tough and wise. Emma is a font of wisdom. And on my group the course buddies were awesome.
It was revolutionary for me. Can't believe how much I learned and am still learning. Still have the support of my classmates over in our little group too so well worth it!
We had Young Adult, Historical, alternative universes, magic powers, crossed continents, burgeoning super-spies and family sagas; a veritable Waterstone's of WIPs - and yet they all worked together ... more arc-lights than lightbulbs, and yes, although it's an editing course, it's very much a be a better writer course ... you don't just get the guidance of one uber-editrix, you also get however-many-other-people-are-on-the-course editors too. Do the course. Do it. Do it. Do it (everybody now,) Do it. Do it. Do it...

I couldn't imagine more perfect teachers. Not only are you both writers that I admire and not only do you both know your craft inside and out, but also you know how to share your 'toolkit' and teach others how to pick up and use the tools ... you never made us feel stupid for not knowing or asking questions, but have always been ready to come to the rescue with answers, links and encouragement ... combined with humour, kindness and the right amount of challenge.

... your energy and care for detail has surpassed anything I could have possibly expected. Your fierce support has been like medicine to our lows and your praise when we have got things right has given us wings. On this occasion, even with the help of this course, words are inadequate to relay my depth of gratitude. 

In the past six weeks, I've been shown the error of my ways a number of times, but always with patience, humour and honest truth and a knowledge of the craft and an insight in how to impart it so as to enable us to improve. 

It blows my mind to look back at how far we have all come in six weeks. I started out as a leaky wee boat, but now, not only am I floating, I am sealing all the cracks instead of simply bailing out water. 

See here for a breakdown of how we cover the subjects during the 6 weeks. Go here to book. The course runs 4 times a year, so there are plenty of options. Maybe use the date as a deadline to finish that first draft? Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stories for Homes - making a difference

Watch out, I'm about to get philosophical on y'all.

So what's it all about, eh, this life business? What's our purpose in being here? We all know that the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything is 42 but that can't be all there is to it, can it?

With such a diversity of belief systems (or lack of) among us all, I reckon there's one thing we can agree on: we're here to make a difference. In the week that Nelson Mandela died, we're all aware of the enormous difference one single person can make. Here's what Madiba said on the subject:  

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” 

Madiba was unique, of course, but on a much smaller scale perhaps we can emulate his example. We're at our strongest when we join together, rather than act alone. I've seen people doing that recently. The Authors for Philippines project raised over £50,000 for the Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan appeal and is just one example of a good deed in a naughty world.

But the difference I'm posting about today is the Stories for Homes project which was the result of a community of people united for one purpose: to create a world-class anthology of short stories on the theme of 'home' with all proceeds going to the housing and homelessness charity, Shelter.

You can see the background to the project in this blog post in July, which celebrated the launch of the e-book - available here. Our community of supporters have made a promotional video, supplied unique artwork, come up with genius ideas, created a press release, contacted local and national media, emailed, blogged, Facebooked and tweeted. We've had authors, editors, proofreaders, designers, techy wizards, artists, journalists and more on board. There are far too many places where the anthology has been promoted for me to link to here. Check the hashtag #storiesforhomes on Twitter for a full list.

And readers, of course, we've had readers who have bought the book, knowing they can enjoy great writing while simultaneously sending money in Shelter's direction. Because we all know books need readers.

We started here, back in June:

The e-book was published in July and we watched as it leapt up the Kindle charts and the royalties flowed in. In less than four months, we raised almost £600. The reviews have awarded the collection an average of 4.8 stars and we knew we had achieved our aim. Truly, this is a world-class anthology and. most importantly, Shelter was receiving some serious money.

And now, five months later, we're here:

The paperback was published a week ago (available here) and has already raised £213 in royalties at the time I'm posting. Add this to the money already raised from sales of the e-book and we've already made over £1000. We have a launch event at my fave indie bookshop, Bookseller Crow on the Hill, coming up this Friday. (Other events will be taking place across the country.) Another talented person has joined our community and created this wonderful window display.

But hang on, let's just take a moment to remember what all this is about. All the following info comes from Shelter's news page. 80,000 children will be homeless in the UK this Christmas. The highest number of families are in emergency accommodation for a decade. In over half the country, less than 10% of properties are affordable for a typical working family. 45% of people renting in the South West are living in homes that are damp, cold, overcrowded or in a bad state of repair.

Shocking, isn't it? But behind the stats lie real people, real stories. You can see some of the people Shelter has helped here. It's in order to help Shelter help those who need their support the most that the whole Stories for Homes project was brought into being, inspiring dozens of people to take part and hundreds more to buy the book.

Please play your part. Buy the book. Post a review on  Amazon. Come to the events. Tell others about the project.

Make a difference.

Going back to the point I made at the start of this post, I leave you with the Stories for Homes dedication page.

Thank you.

UPDATE 18/12/13
Since writing that post, I can report that we handed over a symbolic cheque to Shelter at the launch for the money raised so far!

    Can you see the amount on that cheque?

    This includes 45 copies sold at the launch. Many of them were signed by all the authors who came from far and wide - including one who flew in from Germany. 

    We even had souvenir bookmarks.

In the days following the launch, we shot up the bestselling charts. At one point, we were number 5 in the bestselling paperback anthology charts, nestled between George Orwell and Doris Lessing. When you check out the massive marketing and publicity budgets behind the other books on the list and compare it to our shoestring-would-have-been-a-luxury budget this feat is all the more remarkable.

Cyberspace has been flooded with SfH book blasts. See the comments here on Squidge's Scribbles for a full list. The momentum has built, more events are planned, more books will be sold, more money will be passed to Shelter to help them to help those who need their services the most.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The Editrix

Further to my last post about Stories for Homes, the awesomely talented Jody Klaire is creating profile pics of all the contributors. Here's mine! Note that the Editrix's pen drips blood.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Stories for Homes launch

This is just a quick post to let you know that the Stories for Homes anthology in aid of Shelter is now available in both e-format and as a paperback. The first launch event will be 13 Dec at my fave indie bookshop, Bookseller Crow. Details here.

Leaflet credit Debs Riccio

I'm going to be blogging about the project in full on 11 December, when we intend to have a Book Blast of focused publicity in an effort to get #storiesforhomes trending on Twitter.

Monday, September 16, 2013

FoW13 - the day after the weekend before

I did warn you I might not be able to live blog the festie this year. And so it came to pass. I quite literally was on the run the whole weekend and could never grab enough time to turn on my netbook for anything other than Powerpoint presentations for my workshops.

So herewith a brisk round-up to the best of my ability. The photos might suggest that my course and workshops consisted of me making other people do all the work. Reality is that it was only when they were scribbling that I had the opportunity to take any pix. The photos might appear a bit same-y as a result, but I'm going to post them anyway as I think/hope it will be nice for people to spot themselves and others.

Day 1. Friday begins with a minor panic when trains out of Kings Cross are all delayed or cancelled. Twitter was awash with panicking writers on their way to York. But, hey, we made it.

And so straight into the self-edit mini course, with a lovely group of enthusiastic and engaged writers.

There was just enough time to pick up my room key and drop off my bags, then I raced through the driving rain (unlike the glorious sunshine of previous years) to the Roger Kirk Centre for drink, food, drink, chat, drink, hugs.

WW photo

Julie Cohen and Nicola Morgan showing how it's done.
 The Friday Night Live competition, where seven brave souls read 500 words of their WIPs to 3 'judges' and an audience of 400 was won by Gabrielle Kent.

 WW photo

 Day 2. Saturday begins with a keynote address by Adele Parks. Among her pearls of wisdom was an example of the perfect elevator pitch, which I referred to over and over again in my 1-1s.

Then it was straight on to the prose microscope workshop. This was one I stepped into at the last minute to replace (as if I could) a workshop that would have been run by the fabulous Emma Darwin, who had to pull out at the last minute. This was a smaller group, maybe twenty or so. (They even had tables to lean on.) I do like the fact that so many people used pen and paper for the exercises.

Ten minutes later, I was chairing the thriller/crime genre panel with industry experts David Haviland (author and agent with Andrew Lownie), Alison Hennessey (senior crime editor at Harvill Secker) and Suzie Doore (editorial director at Hodder and Stoughton).

At least the sun was shining today.

Straight after lunch, an hour of 1-1s was followed by a rammed workshop for exploring the magic of Psychic Distance. If you missed it, do check out Emma Darwin's blog. Actually, check out Emma's blog anyway. It's packed with writerly insights into PD and much, much more.

Then another hour of 1-1s, a quick dash to my room to shower and change for the gala dinner.

Some of the wonderful Cloudies who were there. L-R: John Taylor (Johnonceupon), Neil Evans, Katherine Hetzel (Squidge), Sophie Jonas-Hill (Tenacityflux), Mandy Berriman (Skylark) and Imran Siddiq (Flickimp). Don't they scrub up well?
Anouska Huggins and Isabel Rogers with essential props
Inevitably, the absence of Harry Bingham was keenly felt though not everyone knew the reason why he wasn't there this year. It was up to me to get up on stage, welcome everyone and introduce Harry's virtual contribution to FoW13 - a video that left everyone sniffling. You can see the reason why here. (Warning: have a box of tissues close by.)

While on stage, I also tried to link people together so the net wouldn't be rattling for weeks after with people regretting they hadn't linked up. Stand up the WordClouders, Tweeters, online self-edit course grads and contributors to Stories for Homes. This also gave me the opportunity to thank the awesome Writers' Workshop Dream Team: Laura, Nikki, Deborah and Lydia for their mega organisational skills. They made it look easy. It's not. My bad though for not publicly thanking Susan Franklin, Mark Clementson and Ellen Hanns for running the 1-1s with their usual iron-hand-in-velvet-glove-ness. I hope they know how much they're appreciated for their efficiency, warmth, support and unflappability.

Kate Johnson (johkat) was the very popular winner of the Opening Chapter competition.

No caption necessary.
William Angelo (Athelstone)
Nikki Holt, Katherine Hetzel and Hannah Kaner. proving it's possible to be both glamorous and a writer (and/or organisational tour-de-force, in the case of Nikki).
Day 3. And so to Sunday. Rain and gale force winds lashed York as I raced over the walkway for two hours of 1-1s, followed by lunch, followed by the final workshop of the weekend: Dialogue. The lecture hall was packed. Brains should theoretically have been fried by a combination of hangovers and too much information crammed into too short a time, but the reverse turned out to be true. Fresh as a whole field of springtime daisies, the dialogue between us all perfectly illustrated the workshop's theme. You all rock!

The closing address was by S.J Bolton. I was too far away to get a decent photo of her but this was one of the slides she used. I posted it on Twitter and we all agreed it was a faithful representation of what a rejection looks like to those of us with thinner skins than are good for us. Sharon Bolton is known for her gripping horror novels. To me, that slide looks like horror flash fiction.

I went over to the Blackwell's book stall, where the staff had done their usual sterling job of - um - selling books throughout the weekend, hoping my suitcase would be lighter on the way home. And, whoop-de-whoop, they told me they had sold out of both Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana. Just as well both will be coming out as e-books.

And then, all too soon, it was over. Just over fifty hours that felt like weeks, months even. Inside our literary bubble for the weekend, time stretched as we crammed in so much information, so many experiences, such a maelstrom of insights, hugs, laughter and tears. (Yes, there were some of those too.) And a fair bit of alcohol.

Goodbye then #FoW13. You've been a blast. Thank you, thank you, thank you to each and everyone of you. You're all stars. Forward to FoW14.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Festival of Writing. York 2013

It's all happening. Over the coming weekend, I'll be in York, running a 4 hour mini course, 3 workshops, 24 Book Doctor sessions, chairing a genre panel and dispensing lots of writerly warmth.

I was pretty rubbish at my attempts to live blog the festival last year, but you can get a flavour here. (Scroll down.) Then, of course, there's the Festie 2012 book, available here. Given that my schedule this year is even more packed than last time, I make no promises to live blog but I'll do my best. If you can't make it to York and would like to find another way to improve your writing, you might be interested in the 6 week online self-edit course I run with Emma Darwin. Next one starts 22nd October.

See you when I see you. Oh, and if you're on Twitter, the hashtag is #FoW13.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Stories for Homes

I am so excited, I hardly know where to start. I always like a nice, clean, linear chronology, so I'll start at the beginning.

Three months ago, I was invited to a housewarming by the parent of one of Teen 1's lovely friends. Over a glass of wine (OK, I may be tweaking the truth there a tad) Sally Swingewood told me about her personal struggles to find a decent home and her plans to raise awareness of the housing crisis, as well as money for a housing charity. Her plan involved a book. Of short stories. On the theme of home. It would be highly polished and professional. The stories would be of the highest quality but the authors should include both published and emerging writers.

Did I want to get involved?

Is the Chief Rabbi Jewish? Am I a natural redhead? (Scrap that last one ...)

If you know anything about me, you'll know I couldn't possibly resist. I have my own experiences of what it means not to have a secure home. Combine that with a project that involves writing and I'm yer woman.

I gulped when Sal said she wanted to launch the book in July though.

July? Really? But that was just three months away. Three months to set the ball rolling, get submissions in, sift and edit them, assemble them into a book, format it, do more editing and several layers of proofreading, design a cover and write blurbs, do all the techy stuff to do with e-conversion. Could it possibly be done?

Well, yes, it could, but only if a whole community of volunteers got involved. Before we knew it, we had a website, Facebook group and Twitter a/c. The submissions began flooding in. We put them into piles of 'yes', 'no' and 'maybe'.

And that's when we noticed something very odd indeed. The 'no' pile was tiny. There were a good number in the 'maybe' pile, many of which wouldn't have needed much work to perfect them. But, oh my lordy, the 'yes' pile was HUGE! I've edited and contributed to other anthologies. I've judged competitions large and small. But never - and I mean, never - have I come across such an incredibly high standard.

Sal and I had never met before that party night but, as we began working together, we realised we had two bodies and one mind. We agreed on everything - including the need to constantly refuel with the three Cs: coffee, cake and cigs. Over marathon sessions, involving multiple spreadsheets, a whole pack of index cards and an arcane coding system, the book took shape.

Fast forward to now. Our army of volunteers has worked tirelessly and continues to do so. Stories for Homes will be on Amazon as an e-book by this time tomorrow morning. (This is the link!) The royalties will go direct to Shelter who are fully behind the project. In a couple of months time, we should have a paperback version and a Real Life launch party. There's a virtual party scheduled for this Wed, taking place simultaneously on Twitter (#SfHlaunch) and Facebook. There will be a video - with music by one of the authors. We also plan to pair those authors who didn't make it into the anthology with editors to help them to perfect their stories. There's talk about a second volume.

Oh, and if you're wondering about my own experiences which I referred to above, you can see the details here. You can also add your own Real Life housing story if you wish.

Huge thanks to all of you who have made this anthology possible. I don't dare name people because it's inevitable that someone would be missed. But you know who you are and you know that none of this would be possible without you. It's a stunning collection and it's been a pleasure an honour and a privilege to be involved.
UPDATE: the promo video by Imran Siddiq featuring music by Dan Maitland can be seen here.

UPDATE: buy the book here! It's only been there for a few hours and it's already racing up the kindle charts.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Is this the FINAL word on Brit Writers?

Some of you may remember when many of us were warning unwary writers about Brit Writers. As a result of people raising questions, Harry Bingham of the Writers' Workshop, Jane Smith of the blog, How Publishing Really Works and author Claire King were threatened with legal action - see here for Harry's response, here for Jane's (huge number of comments) and here for Claire's.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can see the whole sorry tale here. That's a link to a post on my blog in November 2011 but it includes links to all the other posts on the subject that were around at the time.

Anyway, this is the upshot. BWA has gone out of business, as we predicted. They'll no doubt try to shift the blame onto us and others who had the nerve to expect something in exchange for the hundreds of pounds they paid over to this bunch.

There's a huge lesson to be learnt here. There are sharks out there who are only too willing to take advantage of the dreams and vulnerability of people who are desperate to be published. Swim with care, peeps.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

I have some news

Blimey, I've just realised how long it is since I last posted anything personal. An aversion to anything remotely resembling self-promotion is hard-wired in my DNA, so although I have some good news to share, I'm going to bury it in a post that promotes other people's creations as well.

So ... I'm delighted to announce that I've signed a contract with Dzanc Books who will be publishing Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana (originally published by Orion) as part of their rEprint series. Dzanc's ethos of supporting writing - and reading - at every level is close to my heart and I'm really happy to be with them. It's also really exciting to know that these novels will be out there again and available to a whole new readership. You can see more about Dzanc in this article in Publishing Perspectives.

While I'm sharing, I'll also say that my agent loves my latest novel and has begun pitching to publishers. There are no guarantees he'll succeed, of course, but having his validation is cause for celebration as far as I'm concerned. 

Now we've got that over with, let me tell you about Stories for Homes. This project is the brainchild of Sally Swingewood - a visionary, mega-talented and hyper-caffeinated friend who is producing an anthology of short stories (and maybe the odd poem or non-fiction piece) on the theme of 'home', with proceeds going to Shelter. Sally is looking for all kinds of help with the intention of launching the anthology in July. That caffeine is going to be essential. The deadline for submissions is 31 May. Get involved!

And here's a different kind of creativity. A close Twitter friend, known as @FemalePTSD, has come up with a genius invention: the Anxiety Wristband. This simple but effective grounding device can be used to ... Oh look, why not just go to her site and let F tell you about it herself. Once again, any money raised will go to charity. F also blogs here. Please note, there's a trigger warning attached to her blog which deals with her struggles with PTSD resulting from gang rape. I just want to say that she's quite possibly the bravest person I know and she uses her blog and Twitter to share her journey as a way of supporting others in a similar position.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Psychic Distance - the comic version

The mega-talented Jody-Klaire took part in one of the 6 week online self-edit courses I run with Emma Darwin. In common with most of the people who take this course. J-K was blown away by John Gardner's concept of Psychic Distance, which he explores in his book, The Art of Fiction. In fact, this exploration of how close - or distant - you can get from your characters' voices and internal landscapes is so powerful, we devote a whole week of the course to it.

Now J-K has created a comic version of Emma and me explaining the concept and she's given me permission to reproduce it here. If you want to learn more about Psychic Distance, check out Emma's blog post here. Or join the next course!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Secret Agent? Not any more!

Sometimes, something new comes along and everyone slaps their foreheads and says, 'Of course! What a brilliant idea. Why didn't anyone think of this before? It's a complete game-changer.'

In this digital age, it seems astonishing that, until now, every author seeking an agent or publisher has gone out and ... bought a book. Now, I'm sure I don't have to say that I have nothing against books (as if!) but, in this case, it doesn't seem like the ideal tool for the twenty-first century.

The book in question is, of course, the Writers' and Artists' Year Book. It comes out annually and consists of alphabetical listings with little more than contact details. Canny authors know to cross-reference the information with that on agents' websites. Even cannier ones might think to do a Google search, seeing if there's anything else out there on the web about an individual agent. They'll hope to glean hints and titbits that might be useful when it comes to pitching a novel. If they're lucky, they just might be able to find out how long an agent has been in the bizz, maybe find an author they represent, that kind of thing. If Canny Author is really on the ball, they might search Twitter ...

Fine, huh? Time-consuming. Random. Fiddly. But fine. It's what we've always done.

It's not great though when you come to think about it.

Well, the clever folk at Writers' Workshop did come to think about it and have come up with an alternative that is truly breathtaking. Welcome to - drum roll, please - 

a searchable database of every literary agent, agency and significant publisher in the UK. 

I could tell you about the functionality. I could go on about the numbers of ways you can search the database. I could mention that, for a £12 annual subscription (less than a copy of WAYB, by the way), you'll be amazed that no one has thought of this before.

But you know what? In the great tradition of show, not tell, I'm not going to tell you any of that. Instead, I'm going to suggest you get there and have a look for yourself. Wander round and see what's on offer. If you want to know some of the thinking that went into producing this new resource, check out this post on Word Cloud.

I'll defend Real Books until my dying day but, when it comes to an unwieldy and restricted reference tome like WAYB, I reckon Agent Hunter is the face of the future. Anyone disagree?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Drum roll!

This really is the Festival book! 

For an explanation of what's going on with the fonts and formats etc, see this Cloud post.

I said in that post that producing this book has been a huge learning curve for both Writers' Workshop and yours truly. I hope you'll all agree that the end result is something all the contributors should be proud of.

Now it's down to all of you to blog, tweet, FB etc to spread the word. Wishing you all a zillion sales and hope this is just the first of many experiences of being published.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A sneaky peak

I said there it would be here soon.

Now I'm showing you what it looks like! Huge congratulations to all the contributors. May this be just the first of many successes. 

There are some errors on the Amazon page which Writers' Workshop has spent the last three days trying to get them to fix. Getting published can be a frustrating experience, as well as a joyous one. I'll be posting the link as soon as it's all sorted.