Thursday, 26 January 2017

Pitch Party

Every now and then I struggle to come up with blog posts and that's when it's time for a pitch party. I take a look at the next couple months, what is the season, what am I up to personally, what I am reading, what do I WANT to be reading? I make a BIG list of blog titles with a rough idea of what I am planning.

Now, I know that I am conjuring possibly the wrong image for what actually happens. As much as I would like to wear a tiny party hat and put on some pop music and invite all my friends, picture instead me curled up on my bed with about 4 different notebooks and scraps of paper that I try to organise into ideas. There isn't even wine at this party, but there are books, and that's MY kind of party.

I know I will write a review blog every month, so that's locked in. I know the new year will be full of resolutions and December is wish list posts and Christmas themes. Summer is the holidays, Autumn, and spring all remind me of different books and make me think of different things to write about.

Having these pitch parties for my self are a great way of stimulating my excitement for my blogging and getting ideas down on the page. And if I don't get around to writing the blogs in the right timeline then I have a stock of ideas left over from last year to work off of.

It would be great to have ideas from other people, but this is just for me and I am on my own on this blogging adventure. I do this purely in my free time, and I only write for my friends and family who occasionally drop by to indulge me. (Hey, guys!)

Getting views on my blog is hard work, many people won't drop by to read unless I share a link on social media, which means I have to dedicate time to promotion. I am trying to build blogs that might spark views on their own without promotion, which is why my pitch parties are essential. How can I make this attractive to readers? Is this a blog I would want to read? How can I tag this to be viewed as much as possible?

If anyone has any ideas of blogs for me to write in 2017 please feel free to pitch to me! Until then, I will keep having quarterly pitch parties on my own and try to come up with new ideas...

Friday, 20 January 2017

Fredrik Colting - Are Classics Fair Game?

Swedish writer Fredrik Colting is sued by the estates of several authors for reproducing classic titles as children's books without permission.

Colting was also sued by JD Salinger, which settled in 2011 for producing a sequel to Catcher in the Rye. This was a bizarre settlement where Colting was not allowed to publish or distribute the book in the US or Canada until it entered the public domain (in 2080) but was free to do so internationally... On Amazon the cover has an attractive red sticker emblazoning: BANNED IN THE USA, which can only be improving sales at £3.56 on Kindle.

Now Colting is back again with a series of children's books, or KinderGuides, with retellings of stories such as The Old Man and the Sea, On the Road, Breakfast at Tiffany's and 2001: Space Odessey. They're sold as illustrated learning guides through Moppet Books and are being challenged for wilful copyright infringement of the material. They are described as "derivative works, taking [the] plot, setting, themes, sequence of events and principal characters from each of the novels wholesale."

So what's the problem here? As a creative writing student, one exercise we were given was to write in the style of another author. But this is a far cry from rewriting a fairytale like Angela Carter and more like rewriting The Bloody Chamber directly for your assignment. Plenty of simplified language versions of classics are published every year, re-prints, learning guides, cliff notes, prequels and sequels; but what lots of people don't realise is that there are rights contracts behind the scenes that are negotiated to allow those versions/companions to the original, which are then checked by the copyright holder for approval.

What Colting is creating is direct but simplified copies and WITHOUT having gone through the rights process. Having been burned by rights laws in the past I can't help but be surprised that he's gone for it again and in an arguably more direct way. His book 60 years later: Coming Through the Rye is a sequel and therefore his own work, but an an unapproved sequel it doesn't pass the copyright laws.

The argument from Colting in 2011 was in defence of 'fair use', which allows for "copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and "transformative purpose, such as to comment upon, criticise or parody a copyrighted work. Such used can be done without permission from the copyright owner." - definition from Richard Stim.

If I was being sued for copyright infringement I would have read up on it and then made an effort not to make that mistake again. The fair use argument could be applied but as he is neither criticising or parodying the works I can't see that it would pass this time either. I will always be on the side of creative and imaginative authors' original works, which means defending those titles from infringement like this. Hopefully Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, the estates of Ernest Hemmingway, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac and Arthur C. Clark demand more than Salinger did in 2011...

More coverage:

The Bookseller
Publishers Weekly

Also Publishers Weekly's original profile of the books:

Thursday, 19 January 2017

December Reviews

Love Letters to the Dead
Ava Dellaria
Hot Key Books 01/05/2014 Paperback
Movellas Haul

This book was perfect to get me out of my depressed, I'm-not-even-reading-right-now, slump. It was aimed at teenagers, so lacks the pretension that might make my head hurt, but has beautiful writing elements that would wake me up to my love of reading and language - something I needed to find again.
As an epistolary novel, the protagonist relates her daily struggles of high school to her heros. They are cleverly chosen, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Eirehart, John Keats; the people that you discover for the first time at that coming of age stage of life. As the story comes out, the people that she writes to the most come to the foreground and reveal something of the character and her friends in what they have in common. For example she only write to Amy Winehouse a few times, and she is inspired to do so because her new friend sings Amy Winehouse music. As it transpires Amy and the best friend have a lot in common, and it speaks to the moulding of the character as well as the protagonist discovering the musician.
It is very clever.
More than anything I will cherish this book because in a world where my depression had leaked into every aspect of my life, colouring even my happy times with darkness and bitterness, I reclaimed reading as mine. People see me as a reader, without books I wasn't myself.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Reading Resolutions 2017

I did not do so well on my reading resolutions last year, so I am going to set some realistic reading goals this year and try to do better:

1. Beat my last year's record of 24 books in 12 months. (previous year was 35 books so I really fell short. As long as I can beat THIS year's shoddy showing I will be happy.)

2. Read all of the unread books on my shelves. 

3. Purge books from my dad's house. 

4. Work on blog more. 

5. Read a classic every other month. 

Other Resolutions
Last year I achieved one out of three resolutions: Placed in a Ceroc competition. In fact I placed in several.

1. Lose 5KG

2. Come in first place in a fixed freestyle category. 

3. Get a new job.

4. Take a photo everyday.

Happy New Year