I write about Bellefleur for 100 Bookpeeps

Blythe Robertson started 100 Book Peeps as a way to raise money for his part of Bookfellas, a project that hopes to get men and boys reading for pleasure.

Bookpeep’s aim is to get 100 people to write something about their favourite book and raise money. It makes for very interesting reading: all kinds of books are in the list. My choice was Bellefleur by Joyce Carol Oats which I first read as a teenager. I’ve still not read anything quite like it. Read the Book Peeps post.

Making books, then and now

Peggy Hughes posted this rather lovely film on how book were made a couple of weeks ago. Watch it and be amazed. (It’s 10 minutes long.)

(If the video doesn’t show above, if you’re running an ad blocker, for example, you can find it on YouTube.)

I did my own search to find a video on how books are made now. I expected to find something that took out most of the steps in the above that amazed me and made the process look safer, but still somewhat magical. I failed: most of the videos I found were marketing materials for large book printers and don’t cover anything before the moment of printing. The one below starts with the printed page and covers perfect binding – it’s not as fabulous as the one above but makes up for that by being under three minutes long.

(Or go to YouTube to watch it there.)

And as a bonus, here’s how Random house do their thing, from editing, to covers, to marketing. This is also close to 10 minutes long.

(Find it on YouTube)

What editors want, and a reminder to just do it

Today I was reminded of two important things by posts I saw on Facebook and Twitter.

Firstly: there are no shortcuts. This came from an article about what editors want to see that Kirsty Logan shared. It reminded me that I have a long list of magazines I need to read because I think I want to submit stories to them. But more importantly, it reminded me that there’s no quick way of finding markets, or writing stories.

Secondly: stop agonizing and get on with it. Chris Scott, who took my lovely profile photo, shared a video with advice to artists. Watching it reminded me to stop worrying about whether my stories are original, or whether my novel’s the best thing since The Cloud Atlas*, and just get on with the task of writing.

(If you’ve got AdBlocker or a similar service, the video probably won’t show. Watch the video on YouTube instead.)


* Note to self: I’m not trying to write the best book in the history books, I’m just trying to write my first novel. It’ll be flawed and that’s OK.

Genre and world building: Paolo Bacigalupi, Lauren Beukes and Jesse Bullington in conversation

When I found out that there would be a conversation Google hangout with Paolo Bacigalupi, Lauren Beukes and Jesse Bullington yesterday I got really excited. It was at  the perfect time to watch with dinner so I bookmarked the page and updated my calendar. Then I promptly forgot all about it and went about my evening as if the internet did not exist.

Luckily, the conversation is available on YouTube. The writers cover several different topics but the first 15 minutes are about world building, a topic that I find endlessly fascinating. They then move on to character, another compelling topic. The video’s almost 59 minutes long and there’s a spoiler or two, but it’s all interesting stuff.

(And if the iframe doesn’t show, go straight to YouTube.)


Three sci-fi writers, one interesting Google Play hour

Last week, I found this hour-long, interview with Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds and Peter F. Hamilton. I’m always interested in questions around idea generation and methodology but I also enjoyed the way this was recorded. Everyone’s in a different place, in front of a laptop, and people from all over the world are invited to ask questions. This was my first hang-out: it’s a nice format.

I leave you with Iain Banks on whether writing gets easier or more difficult with time (it starts at 39:58):

I think writing is like anything else, the more you do it the better you get – up to a certain point, extreme old age or something – and maybe there’s partially a confidence thing as well: you learn to trust your own abilities.

The History of English in 10 Minutes – OU animation

I’m pleased to have found this amusing summary of the history of English, re-tweeted by The Book Bench, on twitter. It is 11:20 long, so get a cup of tea and settle in for a bit of an educational session from the OU.

(And if you want a much longer version, in book form, there’s alway Melvyn Bragg’s The Adventure of English.)

The joy of books – watch them dance!

Another book-related animation to gladden the heart. It is a perfect excuse for posting something and also announcing my resolution to buy most of my books from physical – maybe even local! – book shops this year. (Sorry Amazon, but they need my support.) Enjoy the dancing books.

The film was made by the owners of a bookshop in Toronto. I saw it on Twitter earlier today, where a Colossal post featuring it did the rounds. Can you imagine the amount of work it took to record it? All those books, organised, photographed and re-organised.

Name the novels in the short film – or enjoy it because it is pretty

As part of their books season 2011, The Guardian and Observer are running a competition where you can win a Kindle and the six novels in their animated film. The film gives first lines and you guess (or know) the book. It’s a very nice little film with some clever little clues (some more subtle than others) in the way the titles are presented. I’m sharing it not because it’s a fabulous competition but because I really like the film.

The competition is open until November 6th.