Welcome to the book blog of writer and creative writing tutor, Diane Paul.

Thanks to the publishers and kind PR people who send me books and releases about their clients' books for review. Press releases and review copies of fiction and non-fiction are always welcome. (No sci-fi, fantasy or erotica please.)

Due to the barrage of requests from self-published authors for reviews, I'm unable to deal with them all, although I'm sometimes drawn to non-fiction for the subject matter. And because I love print books, the smell, the touch of the paper and the sight of the words, I don't have an electronic reader or review e-books.

E-mail to: bookblogforbookworms@keywordeditorial.com for the postal address.

My writing website: http://www.keywordeditorial.com/

Saturday, 24 September 2011

National Book Swap keeps books in the public eye

The Guardian and Observer Book Swap

Choose a book you enjoyed reading (or even one you didn't enjoy reading - reading is subjective after all) and leave it somewhere, anywhere for someone else to pick up and read - a park bench, the steps of a public building, the back seat of a bus or a restaurant loo will do fine. Be inventive.

The Guardian is urging us to do just that in a national Book Swap giveaway of 15,000 books. There's no charge for them and the campaign runs until the end of October. You can get a free bookplate sticker from The Guardian and The Observer on Saturday and Sunday or download one online from www.guardian.co.uk/books/interactive/2011/sep/15/guardian-and-observer-book-swap-sticker. Insert a sticker in your giveaway book and write a message for the finder, then drop the book wherever you choose to leave it. If you happen to pick up a book someone else has left, leave it for another finder and upload the details of where you left it at www.guardian.co.uk/bookswap or on Twitter (#guardianbookswap). You also have to upload a photo of the book where you found it and to read and review it on www.guardian.co.uk/bookswap. If you don't have a spare book, you can get loads from local charity shops.

Origins of Book Crossing

Seems like fun but book swapping is nothing new. The idea, known as Book Crossing was dreamed up by Ron Hornbaker in 2001. His website, http://www.bookcrossing.com/ has spread its message to more than 113,000 people worldwide. If you want to 'release' books into the 'wild' you have to register on the website and you can go hunting for books listed and their whereabouts. Official BookCrossing Zones can be found in coffee shops, cafes and restaurants and other places. An annual convention in April attracts BookCrossers to literary events where they can release books. In 2012, Ireland will host it in Dublin. London took its turn in 2008.

Bookswap at Endcliffe Park for Open College of the Arts

Here is a copy of One Day by David Nicholls left on the wall of Endlciffe Park in Sheffield. Inside is the message left on the sticker by Elizabeth Underwood from OCA. 'I've chosen the place because lots of people climb over the wall into the park,' she says.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Short stories in peril campaign

Many writers, like Ian Rankin for example, began their careers with short stories on BBC Radio 4 and now it looks like the opportunities for short story writers are in jeopardy. The Beeb has reduced its short story quota on Radio 4 from five a few years ago to three and now to one a week.

The Society of Authors has taken up the cudgel and launched a petition on the National Short Story Week website and anyone who wants to sign it should log on to (www.ipetitions.com/petition/noshortstorycuts) At the last count it had attracted over 6,500 signatures, so let's keep it going.

Author Sarah Dunant was hoping they would reconsider. She says: 'When it comes to fiction radio excites and exercises the imagination in a way no other medium can manage. Nowhere is that more perfectly illustrated than the short story where, within 15 short minutes, one can be transported into a different world. It is a cheap yet invaluable example of radio at its best. It feels both mad - and sad - to think that Radio 4 would somehow be better without it.'

Sarah Dunant

BBC Controller Gwyneth Williams said the number of short stories on Radio 4 would be diminished from 150 to 100 from April 2012, some of them would premiere on Radio 4 Extra and that she hoped to broadcast short stories more on Radio 4 Extra.

Society of Authors' Short Story Tweetathon

To back up their campaign, and to celebrate the short story, The Society has launched a Short Story Tweethathon (#soatale) on Twitter for five consecutive weeks, beginning last week with Ian Rankin. Five first line contributions will be tweeted by Simon Brett, Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris and Sarah Waters. Tweeters can complete the next four sentences, to produce a short story in 670 characters. Every hour, the best lines will be selected and the resulting short stories will be published on the Society's website where rules and stories can be viewed (www.societyofauthors.org/soa-short-story-tweetathon-soatale)  The BBC are currently showcasing shortlisted entries for their own short story competition.

In addition to the cultural and creative impact of the BBC short story cuts, the Society of Authors is concerned that the new scheduling will restrict linked themes and creative programming and that the proposed time slots will limit the audience. BBC Director General Mark Thompson and Chair of the BBC Trust Lord Patten are reviewing the proposed cuts but more signatures are needed.
Log onto Twitter every Wednesday at 11am if you would like to take part in the Tweetathon. Retweet via http://bit.ly/SoAtale

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Litfests for Manchester & Sheffield

Two Literature Festivals about to launch in October – 'Off the Shelf', Sheffield’s Festival of Words and Manchester Literature Festival.

Carol Ann Duffy

Sheffield 'Off The Shelf'
Sheffield celebrates its 20th year, with Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and ‘The Bees’, a new collection of poems; fun with a Bookswap; Fiona MacCarthy talking about ‘The Last Pre-Raphaelite – Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination’; a debate on ‘The Future of the Book’ with Noel Williams from Sheffield Hallam University and Lesley Gunter from Sheffield Libraries for new technology and Richard Welsh from Sheffield’s children’s book shop ‘Rhyme and Reason’ with novelist Rachel Genn supporting the book. That’s just for starters and among the big names are Will Self, Jeremy Paxman, Sir Michael Parkinson, Claire Tomalin, Rob Brydon, Joe Dunthorne, Jeanette Winterson, Polly Toynbee and many more.

Jeannette Winterson
The Festival runs from 8-29 October 2011 – further info http://www.offtheshelf.org.uk/ 
tel: 0114 273 4400.

Manchester Literature Festival

Manchester’s Litfest runs from 10-23 October 2011 with an international cast of authors. A lineup of guests includes Sarah Dunant, Tahmima Anam, Jeffrey Eugenides, Antonia Fraser, Michael Frayn, Alan Hollinghurst, David Lodge, Sue MacGregor, Colm Toibin and again Claire Tomalin.

The second Manchester Sermon delivered by Andrew Motion will be a highlight, together with poems by Jean Sprackland responding to the Ford Madox Brown exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, a rugby-themed event with Tom Palmer at Media City and the launch of the Midland Future Manchester creative writing competition.

Everything from Nordic crime fiction to dub poetry takes place here – details from 0161 236 5555, http://www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk/  

Writers' Workshop hosts Festival

The Getting Published Event

Literary agents receive about 50 unsolicited manuscripts a week and of those, very few are found to be of a publishable standard. If you've written a book and you're looking for an agent or an expert to tell you how to strengthen it, you have a chance to get your manuscript looked at during the Writer's Workshop Festival of Writing in London.

Leading agents, publishers and book doctors will be on hand to give you a short, expert and truthful introduction to all you need to know about what to do next. And, if your writing is good enough, it may be presented to agents.

Keynote speaker is Caroline Dawnay of United Agents. David Headley of DHH Literary Agency, Penny Holroyde of Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency and Juliet Mushens of PFD will also be on hand. The 'Slushpile Live' event sounds informative - when agents and publishers talk about how they view your work. And for a 15 minute session with a Book Doctor, you have to send your work in advance.

The Festival is run by author Harry Bingham. Harry has written five novels, two non-fiction books and The Writers' & Artists' Guide to Getting Published. The event takes place on Saturday 15 October 2011 and tickets cost £185.

You can log on to the website at http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/ for more information and booking forms.

New scriptwriting course for Open College of the Arts

Open College of the Arts

I haven't abandoned the blog altogether, just bending to the demands of an overloaded work schedule and didn't realise I'd been away for so long.

In the meantime, the Open College of the Arts (OCA) have launched a new scriptwriting course called Narrative and Dialogue, on which I'll be tutoring. I'm really pleased about this as I've been tutoring on the Writers' News scriptwriting course for about ten years and it's something I enjoy.

 Search for screenwriting mentor

At the same time, I've been looking for an experienced screenwriter to mentor me through the development of a screenwriting project, something I haven't tackled before. The one I thought I had fell through when her workload increased and I can't get started until I get some direction with the plot and structure. Please get in touch if you have this kind of experience or know of someone who might be interested.

Narrative and Dialogue

Narrative and Dialogue is a Level 1 course and a core requirement for the OCA's BA Hons Creative Writing degree. It's an introductiory course that focuses on scriptwriting to help students learn to write in any form that requires plot, structure, dialogue and character and that can 'tell a story'. It's equally valid for scriptwriters as it is for writers whose primary interest is the novel, short story or narrative poetry.

You can find out more from the OCA at enquiries@oca-uk.com or phone 01226 730495. Their website is at http://www.oca-uk.com/ and you can read their blog at http://www.weareoca.com/