Showing posts with label newspapers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label newspapers. Show all posts

Thursday 25 February 2016

Newspaper Research...

I'm very pleased I didn't need any newspapers to write my short story- it's now on its way, and after the final editing came out at 1,799 words, so 1,800 as the magazine requires. When I eventually get an answer (around 16 weeks from receipt) I'll let you know if it's a yes or no.

So with that story out of the way I'm free to get back to my longer works in progress.

At the moment I'm checking a few facts- dates of events that cannot be manipulated; such as the date the Treaty of Amiens was actually signed. It's only a background detail but if it was signed later in the year then everything in the story has to be shifted too.

This is where old newspapers come in useful.

Old newspapers are being digitised and added to the British Newspaper Archive each year. It's a partnership between Find My Past and the British Library, their aim is to digitise 40 million newspaper pages "over the next 10 years".

It's possible to search for free, but if you want to access the page and save/print the details there is a charge, but they do have a number of subscription options which is helpful.

Old Newspapers...
The last few days I've been checking for ancestors, and today discovered one of my grandfathers was fined (in December 1940) for "a black-out offence" the previous month - shows how seriously it was taken.

I did eventually discover in the Morning Post when the Treaty of Amiens (between the French and the English) was actually signed- 25th March 1802. Admittedly the article was that date the following year, looking back on events, but another article elsewhere confirmed the date too.

So the 25th of next month it will have been 214 years ago, and we can still read the views expressed at that time...

From 1850 onwards there's a lot more available than 1710-1830's, but those early newspapers and sheets that survived would probably be very delicate anyway.

While the annual subscription seems like a lot of money, when compared with the time and cost of travelling to places to scan through film, or maybe even microfiche in some cases, it doesn't start to look too bad for my needs.

As with any research there's the risk of distractions, so I'm limiting myself to an hour or two in the early or late evening, and I bookmark anything relevant in folders in my account, so I can come back to them again.

image courtesy of Naypong &

Thursday 19 November 2015

This Year's Bad Sex in Fiction Shortlist- 2015...

Yes it's that time of year when the shortlist of the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction shortlist is revealed.

Now I have to admit that I thought Morrissey's 'List of the Lost' was guaranteed to win, as it was so excruciating- and he did make the final cut, so he's in the running.

But now, having read the other shortlisted entries, I don't think he has much to be concerned about...

I do wonder (just for a few mad moments) if editors of literary fiction ever have a conversation with their writers about making a mediocre sex scene awful instead, just in the hope of getting a bad sex nomination.

Many will have heard the saying: There is no such thing as bad publicity.

We all know how difficult it can be to get a book noticed among the myriad of other books. So how better to boost sales than by getting onto this shortlist- and even winning.

(No, of course not,  I was just letting my imagination get the better of my common sense.) :D

So this year's contenders are:

  • Morrissey - List of the Lost

  • Aleksandar Hemon - The Making of Zombie Wars.

  • Richard Bausch - Before, During, After.

  • Joshua Cohen - Book of Numbers. 

  • Erica Jong - Fear of Dying. 

  • Lauren Groff - Fates and Furies.

  • George Pelecanos - The Martini Shot. 

  • Tomas Espedal - Against Nature.

If you have a strong enough constitution you can read the extracts in this Daily Telegraph (books section) article.

If I had to choose it would be either, Fates and Furies, or Book of Numbers.

The winner is announced early December.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Amazon Has No Right to Decide "Perceived" "Close Personal Relationship" for Reviews

You'll all remember last year's 'sock puppetry' scandal, when it was revealed that RJ Ellory had been leaving bad reviews on rivals books on Amazon; while others had been leaving good reviews on their books using alternative names/e-mail addresses.

Most writers would not be so unethical as to deliberately give bad reviews to fellow writers' books. Basically they would give an honest review good or bad, or if it's really bad, tell the author privately, if they can.

But now it seems Amazon have applied a sledgehammer approach and are taking it upon themselves to decide writers' close relationships with fellow writers of the same genre.

I think we all thought the reviews that were being removed before Christmas on were aimed at self-published or independent publishers, where friends and fellow writers were likely to post reviews-usually after reading the book.

But it seems 'names' are annoyed too.

Today's Bookseller online has a piece, 'Authors Angry over Amazon review crackdown' worth reading- if you haven't already.

I missed this Telegraph article over Christmas on the subject.

Amazon seem to have decided that they are going to judge whether the writer of a review is "perceived" to have a "close personal relationship" with rivals.

On what basis do they decide that one person appears to have a close personal relationship with the writer of a book they've reviewed?

Do they define it by the other person following and commenting on your blog, or website, or perhaps talking to you on Facebook? Or do you have to actually have met them in real life- and there's online photographic evidence?

Have Amazon never heard of workshops and writing conferences?
A lot of writers become friends at such events and keep in touch, even though they may have never met them before, or never meet them again, merely exchange comments on social media.

If I was considering buying a book on the basis of the reviews, I'm more likely to find the reviews posted are by fellow writers from within the same genre, or genuine fans of the writer's work- who aren't going to say it's good when it really is bad, and can highlight the strengths and weaknesses.

Why should Amazon decide my views on a book/genre aren't valid merely because they could consider I have a "perceived" "close personal relationship" with a writer of the same genre?

If Amazon want to be stupid then they will have to realise, some people will stop posting reviews and will post them on other numerous book sites, and sales may follow.

One writer on Facebook yesterday complained a good review on her book had been removed. It had been posted by the partner of someone she knew, though she herself didn't know the person who'd done the review, the book had been a Christmas gift and absolutely nothing to do with the author in any way. CORRECTION: The circumstances were a misunderstanding on my part and I apologise to the writer involved. It appears the reviewer stated that the book had been a present from his partner.
But the case still stands as the author had no connection with either the buyer, or reviewer.

If Amazon wants reviewers to declare if they know the person whose book they have reviewed, I would have no problem with that.

Publishers send review copies of new books out. Perhaps newspaper book sections should start carrying a warning, 'this review is the result of a free review copy'. But I don't see this happening anytime soon...

Have you found previously published Amazon reviews of your books missing?

What do you think of this situation?

Or just share your thoughts...


Tuesday 28 August 2012

One Man's Rubbish is a Writer's Goldmine...

Before my move into my office (okay it's only one end of the dining room, but it's as near an office as I can get) I had all my writing stuff split up in different areas.

Whenever I saw an interesting article which was relevant to one of my projects, or future projects, I'd cut it out of the magazine, or newspaper and put it to one side; or I'd keep the whole magazine.

Then whenever there was a mini tidy-up they'd get put in a bag or a box, because I didn't have anywhere to store them...

Over the weekend and the Bank Holiday Monday my OH was shifting the boxes and bags that had got shoved into corners, and was about to throw the lot into the recycling bin. I didn't quite scream 'STOP!!!!' but I retrieved the bits and pieces- including postcards, some old manuscripts, pictures and articles, and put them in another box- as another family member was at the computer and blocking access to my box files.

So I better get to filing all these pieces away before they disappear again...

Am I a hoarder? Probably.

Are you a neat and organised writer- desk clear and everything in its place?

Or like me, books and papers left on the desk, the odd lottery tickets waiting to be checked, and the odd five pence piece lurking- or whatever you leave lying about?

But at least my OH now knows not to assume that a bag of paper related items is rubbish...

Friday 6 July 2012

E-book Piracy and DRM (Digital Rights Management)

Writers are very aware of piracy.

We've seen what happened with the music industry and we want the publishing system to avoid the same thing occuring with e-books.

But the issue that divides many writers and readers is DRM- digital rights management.

Who hasn't borrowed a book from a friend, because they've suggested you'll like it?

With DRM on an e-book you can't do that, the system prevents you from loaning that e-book to your friend or friends. It also means you can't usually read it on any other device capable of reading the e-book- as you have actually bought it for your preferred reading system...

You can understand why the big six publishers chose to go with DRM. They are a business and you don't grow your business by neglecting the fine detail and allowing someone to steal from you.

In other words the publisher doesn't want to put a book out that can be ripped off within hours of it being released into the market and losing income.

Perhaps the important difference is whether you're talking DRM on fiction or not. Fiction books are going to make more money for the pirates than non-fiction.

This article by Rod Younger of  Books4Spain, suggests that reasonable pricing of e-books and accessibility would reduce piracy.

Now I agree e-book pricing (non-Kindle) is daft. But until the agency pricing issue is resolved once and for all, and a balance is found, cost will be an issue.

Sadly some Kindle authors have had their books pirated, but keeping a watch is important and helps.

I recommend you read this piece by Rosie Fiore freelance writer and author of the book 'Babies in Waiting', that I came across on Twitter today, 'dear stinkle01, you're a thief.'

We've all seen the 'reasons' given by those who download pirated e-books; look at any newspaper article online on the subject and you'll see those same excuses left by commenters.

Too many think that they have a right to get the books for free, like music. Well they don't.

We have to start educating children in primary school to understand that piracy is wrong, so they don't grow up thinking they can get everything for free.

Those who pirate will carry on doing so until they are caught. Those who knowingly download pirated e-books are not going to suddenly turn round and say 'ooops, I've been naughty, I promise I won't do it again.' and start buying the genuine article.

DRM has its drawbacks for the genuine e-book buyer, but it does help the author who has worked hard to get a publishing deal and is trying to earn a living from their work.

Take away DRM without a robust system of protection to replace it, and you're as good as saying to the pirates, take what you want...

Monday 11 June 2012

Decorating the Office Area...

After the leaking pipework that caused big problems over the Jubilee weekend, my office area is now a step closer.

Although the proposed office area of the dining room is still full of loaded plastic boxes, I'm glad to say the surface of the concrete floor has dried out, and further inspection of the wooden skirting board has proved that the wood is dry, so apart from a small bit of wallpaper damage and the piece of soaked carpet, it shouldn't be too long before the move is underway.

As it was warm and generally sunny yesterday (Sunday) we put the boxes outside and I started sorting through them. Sat atop a box in a large carrier bag I found the bubble wrapped, framed, coloured coaching scene print that I'd bought for £3 in a local charity shop a couple of years ago.

It's actually a 20th C reprint, and the colours are more muted than the original, which you can see here. I would have photographed my framed copy but the room light would have shown up in the glass reflection...

When I'd originally shown the print to my husband, he hadn't been keen on it, so I'd left it wrapped up, and it was forgotten about. But as we'd been able to move the sideboard to it's final place there was now a big expanse of wall above it that just pleaded for this picture to be hung.

So my OH reluctantly drilled the holes for the screw fitting (already affixed to the back of the frame) and it is now on the wall; and when the rest of the room is finished I'll be adding some other small prints I have of London scenes.

I have to admit that there are a few more prints from this set I'd like, but I won't have the room. And as my OH is the one with the drill, a little pictorial restraint is required... :-)

Earlier in the week I bought some big purple box files for storing newspaper cuttings, pictures of people from the past and the present, old building images, museum info and so on. So more storage is being gathered ready for those items currently packed away.

I'm getting quite excited about my small office area, and being able to have the items I need close at hand. It will make life much tidier for everyone.

Have you found any literary or decorative gems in a charity shop?

Monday 19 December 2011

E-Book News Before Christmas...

As there are sure to be numerous e-readers being unwrapped this Christmas, I hope some of your books are bought to be read on them...

According to some commentators downloading e-books seems to have become a Boxing Day activity...

2010 and into 2011 has seen ups and downs in the e-book world. First the furore over some publishers moving to the 'agency model' for pricing of their e-books-which resulted in temporary unavailability of their books on the websites of Waterstones, The Book Depository and Amazon until agreements were brokered...

Earlier this month the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) announced that they were closing their investigation into e-book sales (and probably also the agency model issue). They began this investigation in January this year, and not long after that the European authorities raided the Euro based offices of some publishers, for their own enquiries into possible competition violations.

You can read my past blog post about this subject at the time here and here.

The OFT have closed their investigation citing "because the OFT believes, following discussions with the European Commission, that the European Commission is currently well placed to arrive at a comprehensive resolution of this matter and will do so as a matter of priority." Read the Bookseller article here.

Perhaps the OFT discovered during the course of their investigations that it was too big an issue to handle by themselves (but that's just my opinion).

If you have the time it is worth reading the article by Juliette Garside from The Observer and Guardian website. Apple's need to avoid drowning in the Amazon ocean has also brought them into the investigation too.

I've certainly noticed a difference in prices for print versions of books compared to digital this Christmas. But whatever the Commission's results,  2012 is certainly going to be an interesting year for digital.

And if you do get an e-reader for Christmas, enjoy. :-)

Saturday 10 December 2011

Interested in Female Lifestyles in the 1930's?

If you enjoyed the recent centenary edition of Woman's Weekly then I think you will like the publication I discovered today.

Popping into WH Smiths to look at some knitting magazines, I passed by the display shelves where Vogue magazine lurks and was immediately attracted to a cover picture on a lower level of a glamorous and beautifully made-up young woman in a black hat, and wearing pearls. She clearly came from early last century.

It was difficult to tell if it was a magazine or just a soft paperback cover book from its appearance, but then I picked it up and realised it was the latter.

It was this book, although this is a link for the hardback copy it has the same cover image; the version in the newsagent's is much less expensive- £5.99. 'What Every Woman Wants: Lifestyle Lessons from the 1930's' by Christopher and Kirsty Hudson, Atlantic Publishing.

The contents are facsimile pictures and pages from The Daily Mail of the 1930's. The contents include cookery, household hints and lifestyle; while fashion and beauty feature throughout in the pictures, as well as individual chapters of their own. And not forgetting the advice given by the paper's Women's Bureau to their many correspondents.

Actually looking at some of the make-up advice being given, you realise that bronzing really isn't a modern cosmetic creation...

As with the the Woman's Weekly centenary issue, there was occasional dubious health advice given then too; but of course we know so much more about diet, and enlarged tonsils- I always wondered why I liked beetroot so much, and now I know why.

Even if you don't buy it for yourself, it's one of those items you'll love browsing through for nostalgia...

Monday 28 November 2011

The Leveson Enquiry...

As I've been staying indoors due to the cold air making me cough so much, I've seen some on the Sky and BBC News coverage of the Leveson Enquiry in the afternoons.

As a writer, freedom of speech is important. We're all aware that there are writers in the world who are imprisoned, even tortured or killed for writing the truth, having an opinion or just disagreeing with those in power.

So I suppose you could say the fact that the Leveson enquiry is taking place and is broadcast on national tv, shows our country is reasonably healthy in the freedom issue.

Most writers- whatever their form of media- know the rules. Admittedly, one writer's personal red line won't necessarily be the same as the next man or woman. Individual moral codes can't be legislated...

I was speaking to a freelance journalist earlier this year, and our conversation moved to phone hacking as it was in the news at the time.

The view expressed was that it was not just the one newspaper, and that laziness was a contributing issue.

Today there are databases. Information can be gathered with a few clicks of the computer mouse. There's no longer any need or time for journalists to go out into the community and look for the news.

In fact many local newspapers have either closed down, or are satellites of the big newspaper groups.

Celebrity sells. Publishers wouldn't pay millions for the biography of an ex-politician, reality star, or high profile actor, if they couldn't guarantee sales in the hundred thousands... Nor would the shelves of  newsagents be littered with magazines, emblazoned with lurid celebrity related headlines, that keep being bought.

The people who have given evidence to the enquiry- both ordinary and well-known (including Harry Potter author JK Rowling) have clearly suffered from abuse by a minority.

When it is all over and the recommendations are made for the future, I hope it doesn't go too far in restricting what can be written. Investigative journalism is very important in uncovering misdeeds and bad practise.

But something must be done- good journalists should not be tarred with the same brush as the bad journalists.