Tag Archives: reading

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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Literary Mixtape: What’s Happening This Week

#10

What do we make of Marcel (Proust)?

#9

More children are using libraries

#8

Self-Publishing 2013 with Catherine Ryan Howard

#7

The Book Thief film adaptation

#6

Sylvia Plath: Reflections on her legacy

#5

The National Emerging Writer Programme

#4

A new look into Jane Austen

#3

On Richard III being found in a Leicester car park.

#2

How much should you budget to self-publish your book?

#1

Get a free copy of Poetry Magazine!

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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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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 13 Worst Reviews of Classic Books

This post is reblogged entirely from its original as a Publishers Weekly article, available here.

 

A quarter century ago, Pushcart editor Bill Henderson put together Rotten Reviews Redux, a collection of the meanest and most scathing reviews of classic books and the writers who penned them. The vitriol returns in a 2012 edition of the book with a new introduction from Henderson. We sorted through the book to find 13 of our favorites.

“The final blow-up of what was once a remarkable, if minor, talent.” The New Yorker, 1936, on Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

 

“Whitman is as unacquainted with art as a hog is with mathematics.” The London Critic, 1855, on Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

 

“That this book is strong and that Miss Chopin has a keen knowledge of certain phrases of the feminine will not be denied. But it was not necessary for a writer of so great refinement and poetic grace to enter the overworked field of sex fiction.” Chicago Times Herald, 1899, on The Awakening by Kate Chopin

 

“What has never been alive cannot very well go on living. So this is a book of the season only…” New York Herald Tribune, 1925, on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

“Here all the faults of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Brontë) are magnified a thousand fold, and the only consolation which we have in reflecting upon it is that it will never be generally read.” -James Lorimer, North British Review, 1847, on Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

 

“That a book like this could be written–published here–sold, presumably over the counters, leaves one questioning the ethical and moral standards…there is a place for the exploration of abnormalities that does not lie in the public domain. Any librarian surely will question this for anything but the closed shelves. Any bookseller should be very sure that he knows in advance that he is selling very literate pornography.” Kirkus Reviews, 1958, on Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

 

“Her work is poetry; it must be judged as poetry, and all the weaknesses of poetry are inherent in it.” New York Evening Post, 1927, on To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

 

“An oxymoronic combination of the tough and tender, Of Mice and Men will appeal to sentimental cynics, cynical sentimentalists…Readers less easily thrown off their trolley will still prefer Hans Andersen.” Time, 1937, on Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

 

“Its ethics are frankly pagan.” The Independent, 1935, on Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

 

“A gloomy tale. The author tries to lighten it with humor, but unfortunately her idea of humor is almost exclusively variations on the pratfall…Neither satire nor humor is achieved.” Saturday Review of Literature, 1952, on Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

 

Middlemarch is a treasure-house of details, but it is an indifferent whole.” -Henry James, Galaxy, 1872, on Middlemarch by George Eliot

 

“At a conservative estimate, one million dollars will be spent by American readers for this book. They will get for their money 34 pages of permanent value. These 34 pages tell of a massacre happening in a little Spanish town in the early days of the Civil War…Mr. Hemingway: please publish the massacre scene separately, and then forget For Whom the Bell Tolls; please leave stories of the Spanish Civil War to Malraux…” Commonweal, 1940, on For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

 

“Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer.” Le Figaro, 1857, on Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

 

 

There’s hope for us all!

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The Emancipist by Veronica Sweeney


(This article is also featured on Writing.ie)

Veronica Sweeney has been a published novelist for twenty-eight years. She wrote her trilogy, The Emancipist, after nine and a half years of research. It was first published in one volume by Pan MacMillan in 1985 and reprinted consistently for twenty years by publishing houses such as Century Hutchinson, Simon & Schuster, Avon Books, Bantam and HarperCollins. It is now being printed by Selfpublishbooks.ie as a trilogy.

“I was surprised that the publishers didn’t want a trilogy,” she says, “It was published as one book, which I had to cut in order to make the single large volume … much was left out, and I was very happy to discover Kindle, so the eBook contains material left out of the original.”

 

I ask Veronica which books or authors inspire her. “I like the works of Ruth Rendell and PD James – they produce great stories with fine writing. I love Terry Pratchett, clever writing with a heart. Other than these I read everything from Jane Austen to Eric Fleming. No Fifty Shades fan here, then? “Not much into modern romances,” she replies, “too predictable!”

 

Veronica expands her answer, revealing a characteristic charm of her work: “Publishers have always complained that my work is ‘quirky’, and I like books that are slightly different and have the author’s own voice without being too formulaic. I love it when I want to read a sentence twice because it’s so clever or insightful. I like having to admit, ‘Jeez, I wish I’d written that!’”

 

As for inspiration, Veronica names only one thing: “My mother read to me all through my childhood – following the words on the page meant that I could read at the age of three. She also read me poetry – there were loads of books of poetry in the house. So I think I grew up with the cadence of words, and their power. She bought me a book on stories from Shakespeare, which inspired me to read the originals. I read all the plays of Shakespeare at thirteen and I think … that this was a pivotal time for me, the inspiration of a rattling good yarn beautifully written. Something to aspire to, but unattainable of course!”

 

Veronica is an established novelist with an international reputation, but when she recently made the switch from traditional publishing to self-publishing, she knew she was taking a risk. “But I needn’t have worried,” she said, “It’s been fun … and – I can’t stress this enough – to be able to choose my own covers and design after twenty-eight years as a professional novelist has been the best part.” Lettertec, the printing press in County Cork with a self-publishing imprint Selfpublishbooks.ie, is producing The Emancipist in three separate volumes this year.

 

I ask Veronica how self-publishing caught her eye: “Amazon Kindle first of all – it’s levelled the playing field for writers at last. We’re back to the early days of the printing press, like Erasmus! Get a good idea and take it to the printer – before publishers and agents became involved!

 

“The whole process was very speedy,” she adds, “I think it took about two weeks, and that was mostly me being very fussy about the cover.

 

Any other reason? “Despite the advent of reading devices such as Kindle and Nook, so many people really like the physical feel of a book, and The Emancipist was the obvious choice, as it’s my favourite of all my work, the one people are always asking me about – and complaining because it’s the size of a house brick! The new version from Lettertec, being in three volumes, solves that!”

 

I also asked Veronica if she had any advice for writers thinking of self-publishing. “Anyone going the way of self-publishing for the first time really should pay the bit extra to have their book checked by a professional editor … The way I work is to finish the seventh, eighth, ninth draft, then put it in a drawer for several months and then come back to it. Self-publishing is no place for wishful thinking … the writing has to be tight and professional, or no one will buy your book but your family.”

 

How was the printed product? “Far better quality than any book I’ve had published. Some paperbacks seem to be printed on newspaper. This version of The Emancipist is a real collector’s copy, limited edition. The first run of Pan MacMillan’s was 100,000 copies! But I’m very proud of my limited run Emancipist – it’s the book I always wanted to see.”

 

Every author has her favourite. Veronica happily imparted hers: “Shannonbrook [Book Three of The Emancipist] … by then Aidan is in middle-age, and very much a product of all that has happened to him. He’s successful, but still believes he can control his environment. … When I did the book tour of Australia, half the women I spoke to said he was a thorough rat and a rogue, and the other half said he was so real that he must exist!”

 

She gleefully adds: “It was fun to create his children, who give him a great shock in refusing to be what he expects.”

 

What’s next, Veronica? “Editing – again – Books Two and Three before sending them to Lettertec, and after that I’ll be uploading my Australian thriller, Dark Obsession – though the title will now be His Dark Obsession – to Amazon Kindle. But there’ll be more books printed by Lettertec, deciding on which ones depends on which ones my readers ask for!”

 

Book One of The Emancipist – titled The Big House – is available now. Books Two and Three will be available in early December, ready for Christmas.

 

To find out more about Veronica and The Emancipist, check out her website veronicasweeney.net

 

 

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Man Booker Shortlist Announced!


On July 26th, this blog announced the Man Booker Longlist titles, and today, we have the shortlist.

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon)
 set in post-second world war Malaya.

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (And Other Stories)
– in which a young woman entangles herself in the life of an English poet and his family in the south of France.

Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)
– sequel to Man Booker prize-winning Wolf Hall.

The Lighthouse by Alison Moore (Salt)
– a man trying to find himself on a walking holiday.

Umbrella by Will Self (Bloomsbury)
– the story of a victim of the sleeping sickness epidemic at the end of the first world war.

Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (Faber & Faber)
–  set amongst the opium dens of 1970s Mumbai.

Click here to view the shortlist in pictures.

According to the Guardian, “After last year’s controversial focus on ‘readability’, the judges for this year’s Man Booker prize have concentrated on the ‘pure power of prose’ to pick a confident, eclectic shortlist of titles.”

As reported in the Independent, one of the books on the shortlist, Swimming Home by Deborah Levy, was rejected by traditional publishers and only hit the shelves thanks to a publisher which relies on subscriptions from readers.

Chair of the judges, Sir Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, said: “We loved the shock of language shown in so many different ways and were exhilarated by the vigour and vividly defined values in the six books that we chose – and in the visible confidence of the novel’s place in forming our words and ideas. We were considering all the time novels, not novelists, texts not reputations. We read and we reread. It was the power and depth of prose that settled most of the judges’ debates. […] Without the renewal of English the novel does nothing very much.”

The winner will be revealed at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall on 16th October. The winner will receive a £50,000 prize, in addition to the £2,500 awarded to all shortlisted writers and, importantly, a huge boost in sales for their work. Last year’s winner, The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes, has sold more than 300,000 print editions in the UK.

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