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My Watchmaker’s Time by Joe Clarke

Watchmakers Time A5 CoverHR

Joe Clarke’s first novel, Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies, was almost 6 years in the making having undergone a series of rewrites in the process. His latest publication, My Watchmaker’s Time, followed along in a similar vein although taking a year or so less to complete. This week I had a quick chat with Joe about his new novel from Selfpublishbooks.ie.

“Once finished I had no real ambition to publish either works but subsequently gave in to family promptings,” Joe said, “I felt, at the time, that something as beautiful as the written word, especially in book form, was a fitting legacy and I am very proud of what I have achieved thus far.”

Following on and prior to his early retirement Joe also dabbled with poetry, writing scores of poems along the way.
“I love the simplicity of telling complexed stories in just a few rhyming verses,” Joe admits, “Occasionally I target the humour of topically funny stories via my email inbox or headline banners and make them real. I believe that poetry is as complicated or as simple as the writer cares to make it. I have written poems about life, death, love and hate with more than a sprinkling of adventure thrown in. When I eventually reach the milestone of having written 250 poems I will then seriously consider publishing them in their entirety. Prose versus Poetry is such a tight call for me simply because both play such a huge part in my life. I’d say the one starting with the letter ‘P’ wins hands down.”

 

What was it in this second novel that kept him engaged? “I really enjoyed writing My Watchmaker’s Time as it gave me the opportunity to think outside the box, steering away from the conventional,” he maintains, “The novel is made up of a series of short stories spanning centuries. It revolves around the life of Bryan Barnett, a pretty regular type of guy, who must seek his redemption through a series of tasks set up by a Higher Power. My favourite chapter tells the tale of Abe and Lucy, a pair of young ambitious hopefuls, during the great ‘Californian Gold Rush’ of 1849. Their original naivety in searching for gold saw them swiftly change direction when they accidentally struck rich. Setting up a series of hardware stores throughout the States brought more wealth than they at first had imagined. It’s a gripping story of rags to riches that more than just pulls at the heart strings. Really one to enjoy!”

 

How does My Watchmaker’s Time compare to Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies? Joe pauses on this. “To stand back and compare both books is very difficult to do, given their diversity. Aesthetically, both compare equally well although I will always have a special fondness for my first book, which is understandable, I suppose. I would like to once again thank Selfpublishbooks.ie for making my words come to life in the form of an exquisite book. Special thanks go to Shelley O’Reilly for the fantastic work done in producing such a stunning cover. Huge thanks also to my wife Terry for her support throughout. Without all of your help it would be but just a dream.”

 

So what’s next for Joe? “I am currently working on my third novel, The Case of the Missing Letter, a detective story with many twists and turns. It’s shaping very good at the moment but is still someway from completion. When inspiration isn’t there, you know, it just isn’t there and right now I am in that place, time for golf? I have no doubt that a few weeks away from the computer and on the golf course will do the trick, yet again. Funny old game this writing!”
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Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies

 

Mirrors Don't Tell Lies A5 Cover

Joe Clarke, golfer, traveller, fisher, has always had a healthy fascination with the written word. His first novel, Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies, has been reprinted this year by Selfpublishbooks.ie and we caught up with the author this week to chat about it.

 

Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies was my first novel,” Joe says, “It caught the bug from talking to another author friend in the States. I set about writing this book almost 5 years ago initially taking 5 months to complete. I have since rewritten it twice adding another 4 months on to this time-frame. With a love for detective movies, crime and the solving of same was always going to be the topic for my book. Pretty much with an open mind, no set agenda, I let my imagination run wild all the time developing the story and introducing characters as it went along. I have changed the original ending adding another chapter in the process.

 

“From my teenage years I had a love for writing although in those days I favoured lyric writing, hoping it would give me my big break but alas it didn’t happen. For a time I also contributed to the Drogheda United match day programme. In the subsequent years following on from my retirement I initially wrote poetry which I still very much love to do.

 

I asked Joe what his favourite part to write was. “Chapter 19,” he says, without a doubt, “when protagonist Tom Doyle who is a much accredited, well-respected retired Scotland Yard detective suddenly gives in to his softer side when he once again, after 5 years, meets up with his only daughter Susan and two grand children Elle and Toby who he knew nothing about.”

 

Sounds intriguing! Joe talked a little about what made him rewrite and reprint this book. “Since I finished the re-write of my first book my family have asked me to publish it but I always felt that the expense simply didn’t justify it. However, when I checked it out I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it wasn’t nearly as expensive as first thought. Having had no prior experience with publishing I adopted a very nervous and cautious approach. Daunting would probably describe the initial phase but with the help and assistance of Sharon, my fears were quickly allayed. As you can imagine it was a big learning curve for me but I must say that I found the whole process a pleasant experience.”

 

I asked Joe what the physical book was like: “The finished product was beyond my expectations and I am obviously most pleased with it.”

 

So what’s next for the mystery writer? “My next publication ‘My Watchmaker’s Time’ is already written and is currently being proofed. I expect to have the final file ready in three weeks and intend to then publish it through Selfpublishishbooks.ie. I then intend to write my third novel but haven’t yet decided on a plot. Watch this space!”

 

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Maureen Fox: Memories & Articles

 

Maureen Fox was a journalist with the – then – Cork Examiner, now the Irish Examiner. At 15 she was expelled from school, her headmistress predicting that she would come to no good in life. After she joined the Examiner, in 1970, she became within a few years one of the most popular journalists in the South of Ireland, imaginative, creative and with great skills of communication.

She was glamorous, perfectly made up, wearing beautiful silk suits and towering high heels and often drove around in a bright yellow Triumph Spitfire sports car. In her writing she was open, direct, often controversial. She supported feminism and staunchly defended peace in Ireland and in the wider world.  She cared for the needy, the disabled, the elderly and many more. Animals were her dearest friends. She died in December 2010 in France. After her death one of her readers wrote to the Examiner, “There must be very few people who did so much good in their lives and left such a legacy of love and goodness to those in need.”

This book contains chapters about her exciting life and her journalism and offers a selection of her most characteristic and often controversial articles, written between 1971 and 1995. A special chapter deals with her immensely popular columns Paws Awhile, allegedly written by her dog Ponsonby.

The book has been compiled and written by Jan van Putten. He was an award winning journalist in The Hague before becoming a professor of political science in Amsterdam. Jan and Maureen met in Moscow in 1987 and married two years later. Jan moved to Ireland in 1990. Between 1991 and 2006 the couple lived near Lismore, Co. Waterford. As “Himself”, Jan figured in many of Maureen’s columns.

Maureen Fox: Memories & Articles is printed by Lettertec, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork and is published on a self-publishing basis.

 

The book can be purchased on-line through www.amazon.co.uk

or

by sending your order with your cheque to: “Puttenfox”, 9 Rue Haute Notre Dame, 56130 La Roche Bernard, France.

or

by sending an e-mail to puttenfox@orange.fr and setting up an electronic transfer. The price of the book, if ordered through “Puttenfox” is €11.95 including postage and packaging.

“Maureen’s writing, the issues she dealt with and the sincerity of her opinions touched a chord with many thousands of daily readers in a way that was entirely exceptional. In these Memories and Articles Jan van Putten savours a selection of her output and deals with her life in a way that reflects the honesty with which Maureen always approached her subject. There is joy and sorrow, triumph and failure, lightness and, above all, Maureen’s inimitable laughter and deep appreciation of life and everything that goes with it.”
Des O’Sullivan, Journalist.

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A Modern Irish Cook Book

Selfpublishbooks.ie have published Goodall’s latest compilation of Irish cooking by (and for) Irish cooks.

As outlined on Goodall’s website,  this book contains a great variety of recipes — from light bites such as Spiced Beef Blinis to heartier meals like Tagliatelle & Smoked Trout — not to mention delicious desserts like Trifle Cake. The recipes are chosen by the Goodall’s team from a selection submitted by Ireland’s Food Blogging Community, about whom you will find out more in the book.

I spoke to editor, contributor and foodie blogger, Margaret Smith, about the book. I asked her first where the idea came from. “It came out of a conversation I was having with Roisin, the marketing manager for Goodall’s, on how would you describe modern Irish food or cuisine to someone from outside of Ireland?”

What did they come up with? “We had a healthy debate,” Margaret says, “and from that sprung the idea that maybe we should include other people in the conversation.  We decided to put it out to the food bloggers of Ireland to see what their take on it would be.  We also thought it would be a lovely idea to capture these recipes and some lovely photos and put it into a book.  We thought of it as being a snapshot of what people are cooking in their homes all over Ireland.”

Judging by the product, they certainly achieved their ends! Margaret was delighted to contribute two of her own recipes to the book: “My own fail safe way of cooking a roast chicken with lemon, herbs and white wine and a canapé dish of blinis with spiced beef and a horseradish cream.” Delicious!

Margaret is a regular food blogger and cooking class leader herself — just take a look at her website: Umnumnum is an apt name!

She’s been a regular aficionado of the kitchen since she was in her twenties: “I have to say I became a little obsessed with it.  I love to eat and entertain and experiment and have been happy do that for twenty years or more  now.”

I ask Margaret what meal she enjoys cooking the most: “My favourite meal to cook changes quite often as I like to try new things.  At the moment a Thai green chicken curry is top of the list for flavour and it’s so easy and can be put together in 15 mins.  A beef stew is my ultimate comfort food though for days when I feel I have been put through the mill!”

What caught her interest in self-publishing? “We wanted to self-publish the book as a way to control the content and we also wanted to do it in a very tight time frame. The finished product was great and I think everyone was very proud of the book.”

The other positive about this new publication is that all profits from it go to Cork Penny Dinners and Dublin Food Bank. Please donate here or here if you can.

So what’s next for Margaret & Goodall’s? Her answer is tempting. “There are a few more exciting projects in the pipeline for Goodall’s but they are a bit hush hush at the moment so watch this space!!”


 (Click here for a brief preview inside the book!)

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What’s with ISBNs?

Some of our readers were wondering how they might go about getting an ISBN. And what is it, anyway? Why is it important?

An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. Up until the end of 2006 it was a 10 digit number, but from 1 January 2007 all ISBN numbers are now 13 digits long.

It is used by publishers, booksellers and libraries, for ordering, listing and stock control purposes. It enables them to identify a particular Publisher and allows the Publisher to identify a specific edition of a specific title in a specific format within their output.

In the past, ISBN numbers were 10 digits long but a new global standard, using 13 digits, has now been introduced. Under the new system which started on 1 January 2007, the 13 digits are always divided into five parts, separated by spaces or hyphens.

There is no legal requirement in the UK or Republic of Ireland for an ISBN and it conveys no form of legal or copyright protection. It is a product identification number. If you wish to sell your publication through major bookselling chains, or internet booksellers, they will require you to have an ISBN to assist their internal processing and ordering systems.

The ISBN also provides access to Bibliographic Databases such as BookData Online, which are organised using ISBNs as references. These databases are used by booksellers and libraries to provide information for customers. The ISBN therefore provides access to additional marketing tools which could help sales of your product.

If you are interested in obtaining an ISBN or would like a better idea of what’s involved, just click here.

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The Writer Magazine is back!

Just over a month ago, this blog reported that the Writer Magazine was on hiatus after 125 years in business. (The Writer magazine was founded in 1887 by Boston Globe reporters Robert Luce and William H. Hills who outlined nine goals for the magazine, including, notably: “To collect and publish the experiences, experiments and observations of literary people, for the benefit of all writers.”)

Editor Jeff Reich sent an email to his subscribers to break the news: “I’m sorry to announce that The Writer magazine will go on hiatus after the October 2012 issue, which is in production now. Kalmbach Publishing Co., which owns The Writer, is currently looking for a buyer for the magazine, and our hope is that The Writer will re-emerge under the careful stewardship of a new owner.”

Yesterday, Publishers Weekly announced that, ‘[a]fter a dozen years with Kalmbach Publishing Co. in Waukesha, Wisc., The Writer magazine will return to Boston, where it has been acquired by Madavor Media.

‘In addition to The Writer, Madavor acquired BirdWatching. “We are excited to include these brands in our lineup and to find innovative ways to expand them in new markets,” said v-p, group publisher Susan Fitzgerald, “We will continue to deliver the quality and authoritative content readers and advertisers expect.” She is committed to keeping the print edition of the magazine, and Madavor is retaining both Jeff Reich and Elfriede Abbe from Kalmbach as consultants. It will also follow through with a book of The Best of the Writer, to be published by year’s end.’

As reported by GalleyCat, authors who have graced the pages of the magazine include: Ray Bradbury, Patricia Cornwell, Jonathan Franzen, Gail Godwin, Pete Hamill, Stephen King, Sinclair Lewis, W. Somerset Maugham, Terry McMillan, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Perry, May Sarton and John Updike.

The magazine’s website is full of resources and writing aids, such as writing prompts, tips on getting published,  advice for the many common stumbling blocks of bad writing, and support in not losing hope.

Click here for The Writer Magazine website.

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A Farewell to Arms & its 20+ Endings

Today the Bookseller reported a new edition of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms including all twenty-nine alternate endings, which will be published in the US in October this year. According to the Telegraph the final number is forty-seven — the reason for this discrepancy seems to arise out of the sheer volume of rewrites (ranging from total overhauls to tiny adjustments); Hemingway himself claimed that he went through thirty-nine variants before he was satisfied.  When he was asked by Paris Review interviewer George Plimpton what had been the reason for so many endings, Hemingway replied: “Getting the words right”.

The final line Hemingway decided on, which has concluded every edition of the novel since its original publication, reads: “After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.”

The Guardian wrote that Hemingway’s US publisher Scribner — an imprint of Simon & Schuster — has managed to come up with forty-seven alternate endings, which range from the grumpily nihilistic (“That is all there is to the story. Catherine died and you will die and I will die and that is all I can promise you”) to one suggested by F. Scott Fitzgerald, in which Hemingway wrote that the world “breaks everyone,” and those “it does not break it kills. It kills the very good and very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

The endings, including that suggested by F. Scott Fitzgerald, will be in an appendix in the new 330-page edition, whose cover bears the novel’s original artwork, an illustration of topless lovers:

The Huffington Post reports that the new edition will also include “details of the alternative titles Hemingway had for A Farewell To Arms, including: The EnchantmentLove In WarEvery Night And AllOf Wounds and Other Causes.”

According to the Daily Mail, one ending has (the protagonist) Henry’s son live, though its mother still dies: “He does not belong in this story. He starts a new one. It is not fair to start a new story at the end of an old one but that is the way it happens. There is no end except death and birth is the only beginning.”

Another waxes so romantic it is nearly saccharine: “Finally I slept; I must have slept because I woke. When I woke the sun was coming in the open window and I smelled the spring morning after the rain and saw the sun on the trees in the courtyard and for that moment it was all the way it had been.”

Hemingway tries being uncharacteristically spiritual, as well, writing: “The thing is that there is nothing you can do about it. It is all right if you believe in God and love God.”

However, it’s the ending that the writer finally landed on that still feels the most appropriate, the publishing house’s head says. “Ultimately, I think we have to be glad that he went with the ending that he went with,” Susan Moldow, of Scribner, told the New York Times.

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