Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Other People's Careers

Because writing is such a solitary profession, and we’re all making it up as we go along, we seek others in our field. We feel less alone through the sharing of information. Deep down, we feel that everyone else has a special secret we don’t. If we learn the secret, if we learn how to unlock whatever it is that makes it work for them, everything will be all right.

The truth is that we can observe, learn, and brainstorm for everyone around us, but because we are individual, we still have to adapt it to something that works for us. We have to decide where we are willing to compromise with time, people, and subject matter. We have to decide WHY we’re doing what we do. We can’t have a career just like Writer X, because we aren’t Writer X. We are unique, even when we share similarities.

Learn as much as you can. Talk as much as you can. But figure out what is your special process, pattern, and desire for your career. Don’t write something because someone else sold something like it. Write it because it is the story you yearn to tell. Don’t set up a blog or a website like someone else’s because someone else did so. Do it because it’s something you want and need to do.

Decide how much of your writing time you are willing to sacrifice to marketing and networking. Just because someone else finds it useful to spend 85% of his time marketing and 15% of his time writing, it doesn’t mean you need to subscribe to the same ratio.

Remember, we’re all making this up as we go along: writers, editors, agents, publishers.

Sometimes, we just get lucky.

And what isn’t made from luck is crafted from dedication.

Devon Ellington

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Edinburgh Bookshops Under Threat

Bargain Books Under Threat Edinburgh-based David Flatman Ltd, the firm behind the bookstore chains Bargain Books, Bookworld and bw has gone into administration. It blamed competition from the internet and supermarkets for its decision to shed over 40 jobs and place a threat over another 360.

A spokesman said that sustained competition had “made it increasingly difficult to maintain its large network of high street stores.”

The job losses meant eight of the firms existing fifty book stores closed immediately upon announcement, four at the end of February, with the threat of more if a suitable buyer cannot be found, although there has already been substantial interest from possible buyers.

The company, which still has its headquarters in Edinburgh, has a current turnover of around £30m. After its creation in 1977 the business made its name by selling established authors and titles at competitive prices.

But huge increases in online book sales from sites like Amazon, has put pressure on the Bargain Books and it’s sister stores. Amazon remains dominant with around 75% of the UK online book sales market.

Joint administrator Tom MacLennan said: "Bookworld, Bargain Books and bw are long-established brands in the UK book retailing sector. The business has almost single-handedly developed the market for high street discount book selling."

Whilst competition from the internet and supermarkets has triggered the administration, a turnover of £30m clearly indicates that there is strong demand for discount stores on the high street.

The stores up for immediate closure include Dumfries, Greenock, Stirling, Inverness, Edinburgh Princes Mall, Harrow, Tunbridge Wells and Romford.

Those being closed at the end of February are in Glasgow, Bristol, Perth and Manchester.

The news comes hot on the heels of Waterstone's owner, HMV, announcing it has been struggling to fend off competition from the internet and superstores.

Related Links

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Leith FM Attempts to Nab Pirate Ship

Radio CarolineCommunity radio station, Leith FM, is to make an audacious attempt to bring the home of pirate radio to the town’s docklands area. Radio Caroline, which once upon a time broadcast from the ship, Ross Revenge, and which launched the careers of such household names as Tony Blackburn and Johnnie Walker, could soon be moved from its current home in the Thames, to Leith Docks.

The cost of such a project is said to be around £50,000, but if successful, it is said would not only provide the local station with magnificent new broadcasting studios, but also deliver a tourism boost for Leith as it would be moored close to the Royal Yacht Britannia, already a major tourist destination.

The chairman of Leith FM, Stewart Lochhead, said; "If we were to get the Radio Caroline boat, not only would it do Leith FM good, but it would give the area a bit more of a bohemian edge, bringing a different kind of tourist to the area.

"I remember the days of Radio Caroline in the 60s and this would be a great move for the station," he continued. "Our current offices are a touch cramped and to broadcast from the Radio Caroline ship would be something very special.”

Raising the funding for such a project could be difficult, however. Leith FM was only recently awarded a five-year broadcast licence and is not expected to be on air full-time until May 2007 when the annual Leith Festival begins.

Ross Revenge, which is currently lying unused on the Thames, would have to be towed north. It is maintained and owned by the Radio Caroline Support Group, who in the past have stated their intention to move the boat to a permanent quayside location in the UK.

Radio Caroline still broadcasts online and digitally from on-land studios in Maidstone, Kent. Proprietor, Peter Moore, said; “The ideal solution would be to keep the boat in the south of England, but if a good enough offer came along we would have to listen.

"It's an expensive business moving such a vessel all the way to Edinburgh, and I've not been approached by anyone from Leith FM about this as of yet."

Relevant Links

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Edinburgh Festival Loses Another Director

The director of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the most successful arts festival in the world, is to leave the post to work in direct competition with his current employers.

Paul Gudgin, a director since 1999, is to step down and will work on developing a festival in South Korea, and possibly with others in Australia, Canada and elsewhere in the UK. He is the latest in a line of high profile directors to leave one of the city's famous festivals.

Sir Brian McMaster, the artistic director of the main Edinburgh International Festival, recently left after 15 seasons, and over at the International Film Festival, Hannah McGill was also installed recently as a new director.

Mr Gudgin who was a key figure in warning that the "thundering hooves" of other festivals, fears of which are now enshrined in an official report, will soon be rivals to the annual event.

Published last year, the Thundering Hooves report, backed by all the city's festivals, warned that the millions of pounds they attract to Scotland's economy were at risk from new arts festivals in Britain and abroad.

However, the annual festival of comedy, theatre, music and drama, had the most successful festival in its 60-year history under Gudgin, selling 1.5 million tickets in 2006, the fourth year in a row it has passed the million-ticket mark.

Mr Gudgin will remain with the Fringe until the launch of the 2007 programme on June 7. It is anticipated that the post of director of the Fringe will be advertised in the next few weeks.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

A Book to get Excited About!

FINN, a Novel by Jon Cinch

Not since Harry Potter have I been so excited about a new book release. But, the buzz on the publishing streets says this one is going to be big - very big. Available on February 20th from Random House and Recorded Books.

About the book (from

In this masterful debut by a major new voice in fiction, Jon Clinch takes us on a journey into the history and heart of one of American literature’s most brutal and mysterious figures: Huckleberry Finn’s father. The result is a deeply original tour de force that springs from Twain’s classic novel but takes on a fully realized life of its own.

Finn sets a tragic figure loose in a landscape at once familiar and mythic. It begins and ends with a lifeless body–flayed and stripped of all identifying marks–drifting down the Mississippi. The circumstances of the murder, and the secret of the victim’s identity, shape Finn’s story as they will shape his life and his death.

Along the way Clinch introduces a cast of unforgettable characters: Finn’s terrifying father, known only as the Judge; his sickly, sycophantic brother, Will; blind Bliss, a secretive moonshiner; the strong and quick-witted Mary, a stolen slave who becomes Finn’s mistress; and of course young Huck himself. In daring to re-create Huck for a new generation, Clinch gives us a living boy in all his human complexity–not an icon, not a myth, but a real child facing vast possibilities in a world alternately dangerous and bright.

Finn is a novel about race; about paternity in its many guises; about the shame of a nation recapitulated by the shame of one absolutely unforgettable family. Above all, Finn reaches back into the darkest waters of America’s past to fashion something compelling, fearless, and new.

Mr. Cinch has created this very unique Official FINN Website which is utterly brilliant.

But it certainly takes more than some flashy website to attract readers. And since I wasn't privy to an advance copy, I'll take to take everyone elses word for it. Here's what the industry players are saying:

"A memorable debut, likely to make waves...A few incidents duplicate those in Twain, but the novels could not be more different; instead of Huck's unlettered child's voice, we have an omniscient narrative, grave, erudite, and rich in the secretions of adult knowledge; terse dialogue acts as an effective counterpoint. All along, Clinch's intent is to probe the nature of evil."-- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Clinch lyrically renders the Mississippi River's ceaseless flow, while revealing Finn's brutal contradictions, his violence, arrogance and self-reproach. If Clinch's debut falls short of Twain's achievement, it does further Twain's fiction." --Publishers Weekly starred review

FINN is a Booksense Pick for March.

FINN has garnered praise from other wonderful authors like Sara Gruen, Robert Hicks and Mary Gaitskill. And you gotta take Bookslut seriously!

What else could you ask for? I expect to see everyone at their local bookstore this month, picking up their copy of this much anticipated novel.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Stevenson Classic to Inspire Scots Youngsters

THOUSANDS OF FREE COPIES of a classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel were handed out across Edinburgh last week.

Around 25,000 copies of Kidnapped, first published in 1886 and set in 1751 during one of Scotland’s most turbulent periods, were distributed to libraries, schools, cafes and community centres in a scheme to get more Scottish people reading.

The tale of teenager Davie Balfour's adventures was chosen for the ‘One Book - One Edinburgh’ campaign because of its appeal to children and adults, as well as its strong ties with Edinburgh. It is the biggest literary project organised in the city since it became the world's first Unesco City of Literature in 2004.

Organisers hope the books, which are being left in public places to read and pass on, and monitored on the internet, will boost the city's literary heritage profile. The project has been backed by best-selling crime writer Ian Rankin and First Minister Jack McConnell.

Mr McConnell said: "It is our aspiration to enable all children to develop their capacities as successful learners, but we also want children to enjoy the pleasure of reading for fun too.

"I am confident that One Book - One Edinburgh will encourage more local youngsters to be interested in books and other publications."

Edinburgh's Lord Provost Lesley Hinds said: "It is wonderful that one book can bring the city together to read."

The £70,000 project has been funded by the Scottish Arts Council, the National Lottery, Edinburgh Council and other private sponsors. The campaign is a flagship project for the Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature Trust.

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