I have been working like the proverbial buzzing thing of late, and as a result I’ve got a little behind with replying to emails and suchlike. But now I’ve got Very Important Work done I can both put my fine-toothed comb away and start getting back to people. Apologies if you’ve been waiting a while.
And I’ve seen this (from here) and it made me laugh a little.
I have been doing work. Mostly editing work for my book (out early June, folks, get it in your diary), and while there’s not much I can say about the book just yet what I can tell you is that I am exceptionally excited about how it’s shaping up – I saw the cover art for the first time the other day and I love it.
AND I’ve had all the quotes back from people who’ve read it. These are people whose work I love and who, I don’t mind admitting, I’m a little bit in awe of. And they liked it. Wow.
More soon. Promise.
And everyone seems to be getting married, or just got married, or agreeing to marry each other. I won’t mention any names, but you know who you are and I wish you all, all the very best.
And I have read a book on the Kindle. Well, not a whole one. I started the brilliant In Search of Adam (see my review here) in its paperback guise and, once my Kindle arrived, downloaded the eBook and continued reading on that. And I can happily report that the experience was a good one.
I will still buy books (I’ve never viewed eReaders as a replacement for actual books) but I would have no problem at all reading more on the Kindle in the future. It works. And it’s convenient. And I can put PDFs on it, which means that if, for instance, I want to read through a lengthy ms away from my office I can and don’t have to take hundreds of pages with me (or print them out).
First up, thanks to all who entered. I loved reading everyone’s entries and I know Kate did too.
But there could be only one winner (who would win a signed copy of this)
And the one person Kate has chosen is
(drum roll please…)
“I think immediately of Jerusalem.
I remember singing it for the first time when I started at junior school. I wondered how everyone else seemed to know the words. Someone sensitive to my bewilderment nudged me and pointed up to the huge, blown-up hymn sheets hanging from the ceiling. I was so short-sighted (undiagnosed at the time) that I hadn’t spotted them. My eyes were, sadly, unable to focus on the words. It was all a blur.
However, I listened hard to the lyrics and loved them. Every time we sang it, I was moved by the way it began with ‘And did those feet…’. We were told not to start sentences with ‘and’, so I was amazed that this was allowed. The fact that it used this device and also referred to ‘those’ feet, suggested that something had gone before. Something had already happened before the hymn began. It was a sort of mystery that I was being drawn into.
It also made me feel patriotic in a way that brought tears to my myopic eyes, both then and now.
I loved the way it built up, line upon line, and stirred emotions. My favourite line was ‘I will not cease from mental fight’. It made me think I could accomplish anything. Despite the myopia.”
The Kate Long competition will close at 5pm GMT. A winner will be announced later this evening, all being well.
Thanks to all those who’ve entered – and to all those who might sneak in at the last minute…
The competition where you’ve a chance to win a signed copy of Kate Long’s new novel is still running here, but in the meantime…
I’m a fool to myself. I really am. I buy so many books or, if I’m lucky, get sent them and then take a bloody age to read them. So, firstly let me apologise to those author friends of mine whose books I’ve bought but not read. I will do. I promise.
My excuse, as is often the case, is when it’s something I’ve a fair idea I’ll love, I want to put it off until I find the time where I can enjoy it properly. And here’s the thing: when it’s a good book, when it IS something I love, I DO find the time.
And love In Search of Adam I did. So very much.
Jude’s only six years old when she finds her mother dead; she’s killed herself and the note she’s left reads: ‘Jude, I have gone in search of Adam.’
And so begins Jude’s journey. It’s a struggle against all the odds (including neglect and abuse) and what’s so wonderful about the story is that it’s never, ever sensationalised or sugar-coated. It is what it is: real, heart-breaking, brave, captivating and, as Dave Hill says on the back of the book, ‘handled with outstanding sensitivity’.
What I also loved was how brave and clever the formatting is – at times the words on the page represent perfectly the scattered, confused thoughts of a desperate young girl
This could be my book of the year. Caroline Smailes’ second novel, Black Boxes, almost claimed top spot last year and her third, Like Bees to Honey, is published in a couple of months; I am looking forward to it so, so much.
You can read me interviewing Caroline here.
It’s a genuine thrill and pleasure to welcome the lovely and talented Kate Long back to the blog. I interviewed her about her previous book ‘The Daughter Game’ here, and today she’s going to talk about how she learned to love words.
Yes. There’s more.
There’s the chance to win a signed copy of her latest novel, ‘A Mother’s Guide to Cheating’.
About a snail
That jumped in t’fire
And burnt its tail
I’ll tell thee another
About its brother—
Silly owd bugger.
Buttercups our gold:
This is all the treasure
We can have or hold.
And the morning dew;
While for shining sapphires
We’ve the speedwell blue.
There was something fascinating about the listing of jewels like this, gorgeous as the illustrations in my Ladybird Cinderella, and the idea they could be found just lying about in a field for anyone to pick up. Which is, of course, the point. Then there was the more sinister:
Like a little candle burning in the night;
In this world of darkness, so let shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.
The image I took from this was that we were, in the eyes of God, merely mouse-sized, to be found cowering in the gloom alongside giant skirting boards. That picture for me was as vivid as if I’d seen it in a book (engraved by Tenniel, I shouldn’t wonder). Though it’s supposed to be a cheery, encouraging sort of song, I never sang it without a sense of dread.
The next memory I have comes from when I’m in the juniors: I’m lying in the bath prior to having my long hair washed, and my mother says, ‘You look like the Lady of Shalott.’ ‘Who’s she?’ I ask. So that evening Mum gets out her Collected Tennyson and reads me the sad tale. It’s fair to say I didn’t understand it all, but I was absolutely fascinated by what happens at the end:
And now they pick the Bishop’s bones:
They gnaw’d the flesh from every limb,
For they were sent to do judgment on him!
I galloped, Dirk galloped, we galloped all three
But even in his dying fear
One dreadful sound could the Rover hear,
A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell,
The Devil below was ringing his knell.
bow down and hear our cry,
our earthly rulers falter,
our people drift and die;
the walls of gold entomb us,
the swords of scorn divide,
take not thy thunder from us,
but take away our pride.
The quarry from the lion’s claw;
From the dread caverns of the grave,
From nether hell thy people save.
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
Well, I’ve just emailed the acknowledgements and thanks that’ll go at the end of my book to my publisher, and I’m desperately hoping I’ve not missed anyone out.
It is all starting to feel very real.
But. More importantly…
What I wanted to say here was a thank you to you – the people who read this blog. I’m not going to go all corny on you but I do want you to know that I appreciate you a great deal. You make me happy.
Apologies to Facebook friends and Twitter chums who might have already seen this but I wanted to share this here as well.
I was talking to a good friend (big reader) the other day about Kafka. His was the standard response to someone mentioning him, ie he quoted the first sentence from The Metamorphosis (When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin).
He didn’t know much else about him so I said I’d lend him my copy of his complete works. I found the book and, as I tend to do, I had a little flick through it. And I’m glad I did because I was reminded of how short a lot of his stories are. They’re short shorts. They’re pieces of flash fiction. And, mostly, they’re brilliant.
In the process of my flicking I came across a story I’d not read before. It’s called On The Tram and I utterly love it. And as I’m a sharing kind of person, here it is (courtesy of Walradio):
On the Tram
I’ve been impressed, to be honest.
I’ve no complaints with the screen – that electronic ink stuff really is very clever. It’s very similar to reading off the printed page.
I’ve been reading (and thoroughly loving) Caroline Smailes’ In Search of Adam so I thought it’d be a pretty nifty experiment to continue reading it on the Kindle. And it’s been a joy. No complaints at all on that front. No complaints either on the Kindle’s size or weight – it’s very similar to holding/carrying around a book.
The only things I’ve felt negative about thus far have been the limited choice of titles in the Kindle Store, but I’m sure that’ll get better in time. I’ve also found the keyboard a little bit too small, BUT it’s not a typing gadget it’s a reading one and the only way to make the keyboard bigger would have been to either reduce the screen’s size (which would have been stupid) or increase the overall size of the Kindle which would have made it too big to carry around practically (see: iPad).
So that’s about it I think. For now, at least. I’ll post more thoughts when I have them. In the meantime, for the curious, Scott Pack has been keeping a Kindle diary – see his posts here.