Thursday, 25 September 2014

September Reads

Once again, not a very impressive list this month. Just the one to report. I'm not sure why my reading has fallen recently. Maybe I am just not very enthusiastic about some of the books on my TBR list. I haven't been excited about reading something in a while. Sometimes it helps to know that I will review it later, but mostly I am just apathetic to a lot of the books on my shelf.

I have not been reading so much on my commute. I have been very happy to listen to podcasts and try to grab some more sleep than to strain my eyes reading so early in the morning.

But enough with the excuses, there is only one book to review so here it is.

After Me Comes The Flood
Sarah Perry
Serpents Tail 26/6/14 Paperback
Book Haul (Profile)

After a long drought John decides to close up shop in London and visit his brother in Norfolk. The heat in this book is brilliant, the minds of the characters are literally crackling in it. After some car trouble, he ends up stumbling on a strange house full of an odd collection of people.

He remains in the house as a guest, a somewhat intruder into their lives. They are isolated in the house and while the world waits for the storm to break John spends the summer unraveling the histories of his strange companions.

This is a story of torturous heat in more ways than one. The tension must break. In the weather and in all of their lives, John is not a catalyst but as he becomes further and further tangled in their story, he records it all down. This story telling technique is very old fashioned, but Perry has used it to incredible strength in her debut novel.

The book struggled to get off the ground at first and frustratingly the feeling of impending events does not abate until well into the second half. I think for many readers they would not get very far, but I hope most people will persist past the 50 page rule because Sarah Perry makes big promises of action in this novel - and she delivers.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Your Manuscript

When I speak to aspiring writers about what I do during my internships, I am often faced with anger. Everyday I lift a pile of envelopes and read the contents. Then there are two piles. Yes and No. and who am I to decide?

There is more that goes into this choice than you think. I have to decide first of all if the writing is good enough. Can they spell, is it well presented? What is the story line? Who would buy this (publisher wise) and does it fit in with the books already being published?  For example,even if I like it, but I know none of the agents at this agency would take it up: it's a No. 

But seriously, who are these interns? Who in a writers eyes aren't qualified to decide on an author's fate like that. Well we are and we aren't...I would say, after a year of learning and reading and judging, I am pretty qualified to decide which pile things go into. I also went to university for three years to understand how writers edit and work and change their manuscripts, I also heard of advice on how to improve writing and how to practice. I really do think I am qualified to decide. But I didn't have this much experience from the beginning, it had to be learned and as always, reading is subjective, no matter how much you try to remove yourself, your opinion is what counts. 

Why do they give what seems like the most important job to interns? For every book that is published there are 200 which didn't make it. That is 200 underdeveloped, badly timed and misdirected manuscripts just for each book. But more than anything else, the manuscript just isn't good enough. Agents have to work on the books they have already accepted, they cannot spend hours and hours reading many BAD manuscripts day after day. We are the filter system. 

Here are some mistakes that people make
Some writers didn't do the right research, 
only sent it to one agency, 
sent it to a publisher that doesn't accept manuscripts, 
didn't send a synopsis, 
wrote a bad/arrogant cover letter/didn't put their contact details anywhere, 
didn't follow the guidelines.

Advice to get published.


2) Read Simon Trewin's 'letter to an unsolicited author'. You can read the final chapter here. or the full version in the Writers and Artists' Yearbook 2014.

3) Find an agent. by sending your work to as many as possible.
 - make sure you follow the guidelines of each agency. 
 - write a new cover letter every time. 

4) If you get rejected, (which you will) send it in again a few weeks later. Don't mention it in your cover letter and just try again. WARNING most agencies will have a submission log, if you spam them they will know about it and automatically reject you. If you have been rejected more than twice go back to the manuscript. is it really ready?

5) submit the best product you can. re write, edit, change, improve. Or, submit something new.

6) Understand how publishing works, understand that the person reading your manuscript has read 10 already today, understand that you can and should try again. 

It takes a lot of work to get there but if your book is worth being published someone will recognize it. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Squidgy Smooshy Smashy Tomato Recipe - Blog Extra

Cherry Tomatoes, I generally use a full packet and then use any leftovers for lunches. The amount of tomatoes dictates the quantities for everything else.
Olive Oil (A good slug to lightly cover the tomatoes and the tin)
Sugar a light sprinkling over all of the tomatoes
Salt again a light sprinkle. You can afford to go heavier on the sugar than the salt.

Garlic four cloves
Dried Chilli Flakes
Tomato Puree 1 tbs (Generous)

Any Pasta

In a roasting tin (with steep sides) place the cherry tomatoes with the olive oil. cover the tomatoes in the oil. Add the sugar and salt to the oily tomatoes and stir around again. Put into the oven on a low heat, about 150.

Melt the butter in a small pan and crush 3 garlic cloves into the pan, cook gently, do not burn the garlic! When the garlic is translucent add the chilli flakes and oregano and cook for another minute. Set aside until tomatoes are ready. Before adding the tomatoes, stir in the tomato puree and make a kind of garlicy paste.

Cook the pasta Or for a lighter dish, I like to use rice noodles. You can also use linguinie or spaghetti.

You're looking for a wrinkly look on the tomatoes. Or full squidge, as I like to call it. There should also be quite a lot of liquid released into the roasting tin. After 15 minutes if they're not quite collapsing, wack the heat up to 200 for another ten minutes to give them a push.

When they're done carefully tip all of the liquid and tomatoes into the garlic pan. Stir and manipulate the tomatoes to smoosh them and release even more delicious juices. Stir until thickened.

I like to add a tiny knob of butter in at this stage to give it a shine. You should also spoon in some of the starchy water from the pasta/noodles


Man Booker Shortlist

The announcement was made this Tuesday! This is the Man Booker Shortlist 2014. Fingers crossed for the winner. (14th October 2014)

Very interesting list, I was surprised that Mitchell didn't make it on. But I am very pleased to see Karen J Fowler on there.

How to be Both by Ali Smith - Hamish Hamilton (Penguin)
J by Howard Jacobson - Random House

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

To Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen J Fowler

Thursday, 4 September 2014

One Lovely Blog

I recently got tagged in a One Lovely Blog award by Somerville66 (Liz Lloyd.) you can click on her name to see her post on One Lovely Blogs! Thanks Liz! xxx

Here are the rules for the One Lovely Blog Award:
Thank the person that nominated you and link back to that blog.
Share seven things about yourself – see below. 
Nominate 15 bloggers you admire – also listed below. 
Contact your bloggers to let them know you've tagged them for the ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD If I've nominated your blog, please don't feel under any obligation to join in.  I am just pleased to recommend your blog here.

Here are seven things about ME:

I grew up in Istanbul, Turkey. Until I was 11 when I came to the UK to take my exams. My mum still lives in Turkey with my step-dad while my dad, my sister and I all live here. I speak very bad, broken Turkish, and I forget it while I'm in England but I try to learn it when I'm home for holidays.

I am a publishing Intern in London and have been working in publishing gaining experience for 12 months! 

I had a pretty eclectic schooling let's go backwards: I went to Hurstpierpoint college, a boarding school in sussex, for four years, one year at Oundle school in Peterborough, 2 years at Reigate St Mary's Prep school, a year at MIA - an American academy in Istanbul which one day was mysteriously closed by the police for having no permits and IICS an international school in Istanbul. CRAZY.

I love to dance. I can tango, but my favorite is modern jive, or Ceroc dancing, which is loads of fun. I like it because they play pop music with a beat and so it is always really good fun. I also love to go to the Rivoli ballroom, they have a Jive night there once a month with live music and dancing.

I love to cook, I follow recipes most of the time but I can judge things to my own taste as well. I really like to feed other people and see them say how lovely it is. I'm my worst critic and am always trying to get better. I'd have to thank my other half for being one reason why my cooking has improved over the last few years. He always needs feeding when he comes over, so I have become more experimental and more daring and had a lot more reason to practice. He is also on a paelo diet so I have to really get creative to make something delicious we both like.

One of my favourite and most cathartic things to do is to reorganise my bookshelves. I always feel a huge sense of accomplishment when they are newly ordered and have had the dust shaken off them. I don't have a lot of space so I also have trinkets and nicknaks filling the shelf too. Maybe I'll do that today...

I can't get enough of period dramas. Any thing from Lark Rise to Candleford to the Illusionist. I was raised on a TV diet of Pride and Prejudice and Tess of the Durbervilles. Now that I am older I love to read those stories too but when it comes to movies, I cannot resist a spot of old time fashion.

Here are my recommendations! Go look at them. Immediately.

Chic It Yourself
Up The Hill And Round The Bend
A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Catherine Bennett
Dark Readers
Damn Interesting
Books, Biscuits, and tea
little paper pages
The Hungry Reader
So Many books So Little Time
the thrifty garden/home
eat like a girl
Writers and Artists Blog