Wednesday, 18 July 2012

How to create a must read short story collection

Pangea just went global with a terrific interview at Nokia Connects by Joel Willans.

The wire and shadow image is just beautiful, and I like the debate about the future for readers and writers of short stories.

"... unless people really start appreciating short stories and demanding them from bookshops, and getting to know the names of the good short stories writers who are writing now, and asking for the works of those excellent writers, publishers will continue to overlook them in favour of the endless tedious novels they churn out."

What better rallying call to buy Pangea? If you come to Blackwell's on Park Street next Thursday, 26th July, you can meet some of the authors, two of whom will be reading: Vanessa Gebbie and Tom Remer Williams.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

An interview about Pangea and writing goals

Every Day Fiction Chronicles are hosting a week of interviews with Pangea authors who also write flash fiction. Yesterday, Vanessa Gebbie and Oonah Joslin talked about what inspired their stories in the anthology. Today, it's my turn.
 “LoveFM” was written in response to a contest with the theme, ‘the summer of love’. I knew I didn’t want to write a love story (I’m a bit perverse in that respect) so I set out to write a story which turned the idea of love and romance on its head. In “LoveFM”, the narrator is in love, but not with his girlfriend. The story involves Elvis and a trailer park, and is more than a little twisted.
Tomorrow, Pangea will be guesting over at Nokia Connects, a blog with amazing global reach (over eight million 'likes' on Facebook, 300,000 followers on Twitter - my head spins just reading those statistics) to which Joel Willans (another Pangea author) is a regular contributor.

The full list of the blog tour is here.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

International blog tour for Pangea

On Thursday 26 July, at Blackwell's in Bristol, we're launching a new short story anthology, Pangea. I'm delighted to be hosting the first leg of the Pangea blog tour, and below you can read Reflections on the making of Pangea, by the co-editors. The rest of the blog tour looks like this:

July 12: ‘Working with other writers’ at Words in Place, California, USA. Gay Degani and Sarah Hilary discuss themes of support, discovery and feedback

July 18: ‘How to create a must read short story collection’ at Nokia Connects, worldwide. Feature by Joel Willans

July 30: ‘Promoting Pangea’ at Deborah Rickards blog, Bristol, UK. Debs Rickard reports from the launch of Pangea at Blackwell’s

Aug 9: 'Weddings fairs & trailers parks’ at Women Rule Writer, Ireland. Nuala Ni ChonchĂșir interviews Sarah Hilary about the inspiration for her stories

Aug 17: Pangea at Michelle Elvy's blog, New Zealand

Aug 20: Pangea at Valerie O'Riordan's blog, Manchester, UK

Aug 27: 'Pangea in India’ at Indira Chandrasekhar's blog, Mumbai, India

Sept 2: Pangea at Oonah Joslin's blog, Northumberland, UK

Sept 9: Pangea at Tara Conklin's blog, Seattle, USA

Sept 16: ‘Cultural writing and inspiration’ here at Crawl Space, Bristol UK. Fehmida Zakeer and Liesl Jobson chat about their stories

Sept 23: Pangea at Calum Kerr's blog, Southampton, UK

Sept 30: Pangea at Vanessa Gebbie's blog, Brighton, UK

Nov 2012: Feature article in ‘The New Writer’ magazine, worldwide


Reflections on the making of Pangea

The co-editors of Pangea - Indira in Mumbai, Rebecca in the UK - talk about how it all came together, and the search for a publisher for Pangea.

Indira: In retrospect, I am glad Rebecca and I retained a certain naivety, an openness of perspective when embarking on the Pangea Anthology. The project had a level of intensity that might have dissipated our resolve if we had dwelled too much upon it before we began. When starting off, because of the many interesting stories on the Writewords online groups from which we were choosing work, I hadn’t anticipated how much more we would need to search in order to pick the stories we wanted. Editing the work was also a demanding exercise. Not only did we have to maintain the integrity and variation in voice and style of the stories in the anthology, Rebecca and I had also to be aware of each other’s sensibilities. In the end, that part was surprisingly seamless and straightforward, given that we didn’t know each other face-to-face but were working online from different corners of the world – this may seem trivial if you are sixteen, but we aren’t – and I think we both found a rhythm and understanding when going through the work, that made it a pleasure to do. Indeed, the experience was rewarding enough that despite the work, and the difficulties we faced, we would both consider working together on an anthology of short stories again.

Rebecca: The one thing that worried me about the Pangea project was that we wouldn’t be able to find a publisher for it amongst the independent publishers who accept submissions without the need for an agent, because so few publishers take on anthologies. In our search for a suitable publisher, we looked at and discounted four hundred and twenty seven indie publishers either because they wouldn’t have taken on our manuscript anyway, or because we thought them unsuitable according to the system we had set up. Of the publishers that looked possible, we checked out details such as how many books they published per year, how the books were distributed, what their book jackets looked like, how long the company had been in business and how long writers had to wait for a response. [There are hundreds of small publishers out there who publish no more than a dozen books a year and who warn you that they take several months to get back to you.]

We also watched out for publishers who only dealt in e-books; you frequently come across attractive publishers’ websites that are open and encouraging to writers, only to discover that they don’t get their books printed. There are also hundreds of publishers out there who go to great lengths to pretend they are traditional royalty paying publishers when they are in fact vanity publishers, but there is usually something about their websites and the way they talk about themselves - or don’t talk about themselves - that gives them away. A few of them are very clever however and do appear to be authentic, and during the search for a publisher for Pangea, we always consulted Editors and Predators to see if David Kuzminski, who runs the site, had singled them out as suspicious. David Kuzminski is in his own words ‘… a published writer in the fields of both non-fiction and fiction, both on and off the Internet. He believes strongly in the future of the Internet as a media of choice for future publishing. Having faced the same challenges as others in seeking publication outlets, he created ‘Editors and Predators’ as a way of reaching out to other writers with information and words of encouragement.’

In the end, we singled out just twenty publishers to approach, created a ‘marketing plan’ for those who demanded one, and sent off the whole of Pangea or bits of Pangea according to the different submissions’ instructions. It wasn’t too long before we had a response from Thames River Press and began to work with them to get the book published.

Rebecca and Indira: We were fortunate in that Thames River allowed us to use our own designer for the book jacket and we have lovely art from Steven Brunner and a fabulous design from Dan Baum, Steven’s partner. We’ve talked about the process of getting the cover on the Pangea blog. I think the exciting aspect of communicating with the artists was that, apart from the publishers, it was the first time we were talking about what Pangea stood for to anyone who had not been involved in the process. So to have a professional artist and designer appreciate the essence of the book and create a book jacket we both found satisfying – that was exciting.


Thanks, Indira and Rebecca, for getting us off to such a great start. Hearing the ins and outs of funding a publisher for Pangea makes it even more exciting - and impressive - that we're launching the anthology in a few weeks. Do please come on Thursday 26 July from 6.30pm at Blackwell's in Park Street, Bristol.


Follow the Pangea Blog Tour to its next stop, Words in Pace.
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