Sunday, July 30, 2006

Try this.

Book trailer. Should work if you've got a windows media player loaded, I think. Or realplayer. Or something. I dunno. Don't ask me.

If you are a mac person, or on dial-up this may work better for you (PC users can use this link too).

Thanks to Ian Hocking and Clive Parsley, beta checkers supreme.

The music, if you're interested is composed by Ed Hughes and performed by the Bath Camerata.

(ADDED: I've now re-edited the video to take into account crimeficreader's very helpful suggestions - see comments, if you're interested.)

Trailered out.

I've had a few late nights working on the editing of my trailer. Once I get an idea I can't let it go. I think it's pretty much there and I'm really pleased with the result. In the end I decided not to use a Snoopy ring binder. So I was able to let go of that little obsession.

It's raw and minimalist, maybe a little like the book?

I will be revealing all soon. But I need to live with it for a while.

Oh, if anyone has any thoughts on how I can circulate a trailer to as many people as possible, I'd appreciate hearing them. There's the problem, you see. Once you've made the thing, what do you do with it?

In the meantime the relentless plugging must go on. And there's nothing you or I can do to stop it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I made it....!

... on to my own amazon banner at the bottom of the plog. This is the ad strip that suggests products by analysing the content of the blog. It has thrown up some weird items, including CDs by some tuba player called Roger Buba. Okay, I can see why it suggested a Roger, but I don't remember mentioning the tuba in my blog ever, or a Buba for that matter. Oh, shit. Now I have mentioned the tuba, so I am probably going to get some more of that tuba shit there. You know, I just can't imagine sitting down and listening to a whole album of tuba music. Shit. I mentioned the tuba again. This is really going to mess things up. I must stop mentioning the fucking tuba. Sorry. I swore. God knows what that will do to the amazon ad.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wanted: one Snoopy ringbinder.

This lunchtime I went shopping for a Snoopy ringbinder. I want one to use in the short film/video/trailer/promo type thing I am tentatively thinking about putting together for Taking Comfort. I did say tentatively, so don't go getting too excited.

My idea, or part of it at least, is to use footage of some of the inanimate objects that Rob Saunders picks up in the story. The first of these is a Snoopy ringbinder.

Well, could I find one? Could I buggery. That is to say, they didn't have any in WH Smiths or Rymans. I'll try Woolworths on Friday. But I'm not hopeful. It seems that the world of kids novelty stationery has unceremoniously dropped Snoopy and taken up Jacqueline Wilson instead. Or at least her characters.

Either that or I made them up. I suppose that's what novelists do.

Back to this film idea of mine. On the way in I bought myself a cup of Starbucks coffee. Not my usual choice I have to say, but it provides another of the props. (Bloody hell! The prices in that place. And the queue.) I think I will also use a handkerchief, unbranded, but stained with blood. And yes, it will be real blood.

It all feels a little bit weird. Especially as I am thinking of posing as Rob myself. In a flame-engulfed building - a local block of flats that I will probably... no, no, not going to do that. Please don't alert any authorities.

I have realised, however, that although the book is not autobiographical, I am an obsessive person. Now that I have had the idea to buy a Snoopy ringbinder, I will not rest until I get one. If anybody's got any ideas where I might find one, please let me know.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Some mate he turned out to be.

Stephen King, I mean. All he did was bombard me with bulletins about his latest book. Jeez, I hate people like that, don't you?

Ah, well. Must go. There's probably a message from Kurt.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Stephen King wants to be my friend.

Actually, Stephen King is my friend. Over on MySpace that is. So are Roy Kesey, Charlie Williams, Robin Slick. And a whole host of other good people including some bloke called Kurt Vonnegut. Jesus! I mean that's like saying, God is my friend, is it not? Oh, some people do say that, I suppose.

The internet is bringing down the barriers, is all I can say. Between the writer and the reader, the published and the unpublished, the great and the green.

Only today I had a little exchange with the novelist and publisher Susan Hill, over on the WriteWords website.

It's kind of freaky. But exciting. More of the same (freaky but exciting, that is) here. Well, I had to get a plug in somehow.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Everyone's talking about....

... movie trailers for books. But really it should be book trailers for books, shouldn't it? In other words, an extract from the book, which is what you have here. Or simply the blurb, which you can find here.

I have to confess, though, I am fascinated by the idea of trailer-style ad for Taking Comfort and have even cobbled together something using the basic microsoft movie software that came with my Dell computer. I can't show it to you because (a) it's very rough and (b) I use lots of copyright imagery that would cost me (or Macmillan!) a fortune - well, a couple of hundred quid - to buy. Oh, and I haven't got permission for the music track I laid over it either.

It was fun to do because it kept me from doing what I really needed to be doing, i.e. getting on with the current book. But even if the basic idea is a good one, which I am not wholly convinced about, to get it done properly will cost real money.

I can't help thinking though: just because you can do something doesn't mean you necessarily should do it.

We'll see.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It had to happen.

Someone came here looking for sex. Mind you, they didn't stay long. 0 seconds.

Crimeficreader was right, it seems.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

'No sex' versus 'sex'?

Try this. It's mad, but fun. You position a cursor along a number of scales of things you may or may not look for in a book, for example 'no sex' versus 'sex' or 'easy' versus 'demanding', then press go and up pops a book recommendation.

Sorry Debi, more displacement activity. Just what you needed.

I've been manipulating it like crazy but haven't yet managed to get it to recommend Taking Comfort.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Performing Arts and Public Libraries.

Claire and Luke (my kids) were in a playlet yesterday, a modern take on the Little Red Riding Hood story. It was the end of term show for the Performing Arts class they go to at the local YMCA.

I have to say we did not have any high expectations; in fact we were in a bit of a bad mood about the whole thing. The play seemed to have too many words, which the kids only seemed to have a sketchy knowledge of. That was Saturday morning, with the show only hours away. Plus we somehow had to produce a wolf costume for Luke, who was playing the part of Sidney, a vegetarian wolf cub who came bottom of his sheep worrying classes. ("Sheep have enough on their minds without me adding to their troubles" was one of his lines.)

In the event, it somehow all came together and was great fun. I made a little pair of grey wolf's ears for Luke, cardboard covered in grey-painted cotton wool. The rest was up to the audience's imagination. The kids somehow seemed to know their lines - or enough of them at least. I can't say the play made a whole lot of sense, and it did require Luke to pipe up "The End" at the end to get the audience to applaud. An inspired little ad lib on his part, I thought.

As we were going in, we spotted a friend, Ian, who was walking along Tottenham Lane with his two little girls. They were on their way to a Teddy bear abseiling event at the clock tower of a local church. There was a certain amount of trepidation regarding Teddy's safety but I tried to reassure Ian that he would be all right.

Completely out of the blue, Ian said: "Roger, just let me say, one of the best books I have ever read and I mean that." He then added that he had bought a copy for his Mum, who apparently likes Ian McEwan, which makes him think she will like mine.

Thanks Ian - you, and the kids' play, made my day, which was a long one as we had one of Luke's friends over for a sleep over.

And so on to libraries...

Last night I discovered this resource. Amazing what there is on the internet. This appears to be a list of all the UK public libraries, or regions that have libraries, giving access to their on-line catalogues. So, inevitably, I picked a few at random and entered Taking Comfort.

I was disappointed to discover that my home region of Tameside don't have any copies.

Haringey have six copies, two of which are on loan.

One picked at random: York seems to have one copy, on loan, and to be in the process of acquiring another copy. Good for York! (To see the Taking Comfort entry, just click on OK on the page that shows - if you can be bothered, that is.)

I really wish I hadn't discovered this, because I can see it eating away hours of my time. Oh, and I really should get on and register for public lending rights! (Debi will probably give me a hard time for not having done it already!)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Uxbridge report.

Had a great evening in Uxbridge Library last night meeting with members of the Uxbridge Writers' group, and I think a few other people from other local writing groups who turned out.

Uxbridge library is huge, by the way: four storeys (and lots more stories, no doubt). There are lifts and everything, plus a spacious atrium with a glass roof. I was impressed. I'd like to say I filled the place, but hey, I'm not Neil Gaiman. I was very pleased with the turn-out, and it seems that some people even had to travel by tube to see me. I'm not sure I'd travel by tube to see me, so the fact that others did was, well, frankly, astonishing.

Of course, it's always daunting, not to say terrifying, to be confronted by rows of expectant faces. And yes there were rows, though I'm not saying exactly how many. This public performance aspect of having a book out is all very strange to me. It's weird hearing my own voice burble on, and realise that people are listening to me. I do have this urge to subvert my own efforts, which usually comes out in self-putdowns. It's an English trait, I think. And, to paraphrase Borges*, I can do a much better job of undermining myself than anyone else could.

Thankfully, Siobhan Curham was on hand to say wonderful things about the book. And Clare Harris, the Hillingdon Libraries Literature Officer, was also very generous in her comments. Immeasurable thanks to both of you.

I chose to read this bit.

I've never read it before to an audience and I have to admit I was very uncomfortable about reading out Rob's sexual preoccupations but I felt I had to do it, somehow. If there was an audience I could read material like this to, it had to be one made up of other writers, I felt.

Exhausted, drained, buzzing, elated, hungry afterwards. And today, knackered. Bit of a headache too.

No more readings on the horizon. The book enters its tailspin phase. Who knows if I'll be able to pull out of it...

*Thanks to Jeff Haas for bringing this wonderful Borges' quote to my attention: "Any time something is written against me, I not only share the sentiment but feel I could do the job far better myself. Perhaps I should advise would-be enemies to send me their grievances beforehand, with full assurance that they will receive my every aid and support. I have even secretly longed to write, under a pen name, a merciless tirade against myself."

Monday, July 10, 2006

Next stop Uxbridge.

Tomorrow night I'll be doing another reading, this time for a writers' group who meet at Uxbridge library. The group is led by Siobhan Curham.

First time I've spoken to a group exclusively made up of writers, though I know there were some writers present at both the Hornsey Library and Northampton gigs.

I'm very grateful to Siobhan for inviting me along. She says the group have some good writers, some of who are working on their first novels. So I imagine they will be keen to know more about Macmillan New Writing.

They may also be interested in this website. It's another way for new writers possibly to get their work in front of editors. Work is peer-reviewed - the top submissions each month are then read by an editor at Picador and a top agent.

Hmmm. Doubtless it will have its critics, and maybe it isn't a perfect system, but given that people tell me it is harder and harder to get agents to even look at work, this may be an interesting route. One to watch, anyhow.

Another customer.

We went on a sort of sponsored-ish walk at the weekend, though we didn't really walk very far and we failed to get any sponsors. I know, I know, we're rubbish, especially as it's in aid of the Luke's school's playground appeal. I think the simplest thing will be if we just make a donation.

On the way round, one of the mothers, who for some reason was going in the opposite direction to everyone else, called out to me, 'Oh, I've bought your book. I haven't read it yet, but I will do!'

So thanks to her, and thanks also to Julia who left a comment below to the effect that she was intending to buy a copy. Good grief, if this trend continues, I might make it into double figures!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Good luck to them.

There are a couple of people selling signed copies of Taking Comfort on ebay now. One of them has even scanned in the title page with my scrawl on it; 'TO MUM, WITH LOVE...' Only joking. It actually just has my signature and the date 6/4/06. It'll knock you back 30 quid.

I know from that date that it must have been one of the books I signed for Goldsboro Books. You can buy an equivalent item, signed and dated with the same pre-publication date, direct from Goldsboro for £12.99. Hmm. £30 or £12.99? It's a tough call I know. But personally I'd go for Goldsboro Books as David and Dan are such great guys. Oh, and I won't get a penny out of the ebay resale.

Win a Twirl mug

I had a cup of coffee out of a Twirl mug at the weekend. It was a wonderful experience. Remember, you have the chance to win just such an item - or should I say icon - in my on-going quiz. See The other Bob's books for details.