Friday, 1 August 2014

Letter to an Unknown Soldier

Still time, just, to be involved with this:

LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER, a new kind of war memorial, made only of words and by thousands of people.
Until 4 August, 11pm

There are only 4 days left to contribute to LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER, the digital memorial created by Neil Bartlett and Kate Pullinger as part of the 14-18 NOW programme of cultural commissions to commemorate World War One.

17,000 people have already written letters to the memorial, which is inspired by Charles Sargeant Jagger’s statue of a soldier reading a letter on Platform One at Paddington Station.

Letters are pouring in from people of all ages, from 4-90 years old, from grandmothers and Gurkhas, midwives, musicians, schoolchildren, students, teachers, politicians and prisoners.

Letters are being sent from as far away as China, Brazil, South Africa, USA, Australia, India and Egypt.

Distinguished writers, personalities and politicians who have written letters to the soldier include A L Kennedy, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry, Sheila Hancock, Sebastian Faulks, Dawn French, Lee Child, Andrew Motion, Lesley Pearce, Malorie Blackman and the Prime Minister David Cameron.

Our team of editorial moderators are reading every single letter that comes in. If you need some inspiration, they’ve come up with a wishlist of letters that they’d love to see. Their ideas include letters from the ghost of Archduke Ferdinand, a Time Traveller, a prisoner forced to enlist, a spy, and a woman fighting at the front disguised as a man.

All the letters are published online and the entire collection will eventually be archived in the British Library web archive.

LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER will remain open to receive letters until 11pm on 4 August.

Everyone can contribute a letter, either by visiting the website
or posting it to LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER, PO Box 73102, London EC1P 1TY.

Writing Buddies Enjoying Summer - July 2014

The Writing Buddies met on Friday 4 July 2014, at 2.00 pm, at the Mercure Dolphin Hotel, High Street, Southampton.  Penny sent her apologies and so Jacqueline chaired the meeting. Twenty four writers were present.

Good News

Congratulations to Calvin (Friends of Portswood Library) for his part in the organisation of the successful Armed Forces Day Exhibition at the librarly, which was opened by Penny and also attended by Jimmy, both holding book signings.

Tessa is trying to organise a writing group/forum, which is at present very much a work in progress. Please contact her via this website if you are interested in joining. She won a Swift Writing Award, in a short story competition, for her book Ladybird Fly.  

Jacqueline won second prize in a Union Learning Centre Competition (UNITE), in Writers' News.

Jimmy said his 2011 book Growing Up in Wartime Southampton, Other People’s Trousers has recently passed 1,000 sales. His book, A 1940's Childhood, has achieved sales of 2,200 in just six weeks.

Ann said she had a work in progress, a 2,000-word novel, which she writes by hand, edits, puts on the computer, and edits again. This she is doing chapter by chapter.

Lisa is working on a couple of projects. She re-told her Mills and Boon experience, the fact that they left it too long to come back to her, that their processes were not clear and that there was also no communication between departments. They then assumed that she had moved on, so no formal request was made for the manuscript.

Calvin is writing a short story and a book with James. They have completed about 5,000 words of a historical novel, so he is getting off to a great start to his writing journey.


Penny, Bill and Lisa have been looking into the feasibility of this for the group. Bill favoured setting up a YouTube channel, and Lisa said that she had some good quality equipment that the group could use. It was suggested that the monthly meetings could be video recorded, with the real benefit being that they could be linked into, and also listened to at any time.  
   Lisa said she could do the recording and editing, and switch to audio only when required. Penny and Lisa had said that the equipment process was easy, and it would be have to be operated on an 'opt out' rather than an 'opt in' basis.
The videos of individuals, promoting their work would take place in a separate room.

Public Liability Insurance
Penny has been searching for a policy that could cover the group. A policy giving up to £2M cover could be obtained for £252 p.a. Jacqueline said as treasurer she will start circulating Annual Accounts. A hand vote was done and five were for, and seven against, with the others abstaining. 

The Writing Buddies at Markets
The group has been attending Bert and Gert’s Market at Marlands and West Quay.  Future dates are:

6th September - West Quay Shopping Centre

13th September – Marlands Shopping Centre

Robert is attempting to write some fan fiction, Halloween, hell raiser, horror crossover including Jason and Freddy. He is encountering some third party ownership issues. He is trying to work with the movie people, but there are permission problems, regarding proof of concept. There is interest but there are author/director relationship issues, with one of the companies saying they don't accept outside submissions. Lisa gave him some advice regarding his approach (i.e. not pitching a movie), and warned that he could be charged for using their character. She asked if he could just ask for profit from that particular story, and warned that he might need a copyright lawyer, and even then there would be no guarantees.

Nita wanted to use some music, and when she sought permission she was told it would cost her £200. She was advised that it might be worth considering whether to pay an annual fee, rather than a one-off payment as it could work out cheaper.

Tessa suggested the group invest in buying a microphone, as some group members were having difficulty in hearing the meeting. Three table microphones were suggested and this will be investigated.

Jacqueline said that there are rules about having to deposit as many as five copies of a work with the British Library. She recommended to do it if requested but not to volunteer them; rules may be different if you are using I.S.B.N numbers.

Jenny mentioned a writing group at The Avenue, St. Andrews Church Hall, every Saturday morning, 10 – 12.30, and extended an invitation to all.

Guest Speaker – Tessa Warburg, The Thorn Press
Tessa owns The Thorn Press, a small press publishing company based in Southampton.  She gave some general advice on publishing.

Publishing is when the written word becomes generally available, even online. You can submit work via an agent (more expensive) or self publish (a lot more work and complex).
   There are a lot of self-publishing requirements, and to assist Tessa sub-headed several areas, with a extensive list of helpful website addresses and typical charges involved (in the form of a handout). 

The following apply more to self publishing, but also cover jargon an agent  may use. They are guidelines and you may wish to seek further clarification on certain areas.

I.S.B.N – are recognised as being unique for each edition, and small changes can be made using the same number, however larger changes would require you to use a new number.

As mentioned earlier you may be requested to sent one copy of your book to the British library and five other libraries. Remember you also need I.S.B.N. for e-books.

Editing – Editors make sure reasonable standards of English are used, and they check for spelling mistakes. They could not, however, check the validity of any information therein. A copy editor corrects spelling and grammar.

Design – this would be in respect to size, colour, weight etc. The range of possibilities is large, but not unlimited. Contrast a textbook (non-fiction) and a novel.  It must be able to be read in a reasonable way. Margins, indents, fonts, italics, varied spaces are essential, as the easier it is to read, the more likely it is to be read. These are all decisions to be made, but don't make it difficult for the reader to enjoy. A typesetting program is useful in doing this. Typesetting is not quite so important for e-books. A style guide takes you through the processes that are possible.
   For formatting, typesetting, aligning etc. there is an excellent book, Perfect Pages by Aaron Shephard.
Also consider a computer program Self Publishing with Microsoft Word.

Covers – are crucial, people do judge a book by its cover. Decide on a hard or soft (paperback) cover. Many would prefer a well-used reference book to be hardback.

Distribution – these costs can be substantial so be wary. Talk to others in the group about this, as they may have some recommendations. Are there carriage fees? Do you have to pay a 'setting up' fee etc.

Some distributors levy an annual charge to keep your book on their list. See if you have an option to offer discounts.
   It is now possible to publish e-books in colour, but you would need an optic printer, as small office/home type printers are not suitable, but this can be prohibitive as they are very expensive.

Self publishing is now available to everyone, but it does not mean you have to use it.  It can be really rewarding, but beware as there could be a financial loss, if the book does sell well enough to cover all the outlay involved. It requires a large number of skills, and there is a lot of additional work involved. You will need luck.  

The next meeting will be at the same venue, on Friday 1st August 2014, at 2 pm. The guest speaker will be Josephine Shaw speaking about correct manuscript layout.