Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Woo-hoo, a review

Without further ado: the first review of Slightly Peculiar Short Stories has appeared on Beattie's Book Blog.  It's a substantial, thoughtful  review by poet, novelist, and short story writer Maggie Rainey-Smith, who was trying out her new iPad. I'm grateful, too, to writer and new media savant Helen Heath for liasing between RMB, MR-S and BBB.

When The Glass Harmonica: A Sensualist's Tale was released early this year, it seemed much harder to attract reviewers for the ebook than it is now — perhaps due in part to the small numbers of ereaders about. Only six months later, I'm hearing of readers and writers who newly own a machine, or who speak of the inevitability of sooner or later obtaining one. While we've had some excellent feedback and potent reader summaries of The Glass Harmonica (check them out here), barring one, the full review has remained elusive. A copy each of The Glass Harmonica and Slightly Peculiar Love Stories (RMB's entire stock!)  are ready to fly into the hands of a reader willing to give full voice to their reading experience of TGH.

"As it plumbs the erotic life of the nineteenth century, this debut novel is filled with moments of startling insight and deep wisdom. Like the luminous music her heroine calls forth from the glass harmonica, Dorothee Kocks’s language vibrates with surprise and enchantment."
                         Teresa Jordan, author of Riding the White Horse Home and

If you're the one, please leave a message here or on Facebook, or email me via Rosa Mira Books.

Sun's shining, snow's melting, and dog's ready for an outing.

Warm wishes to my readers.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Now that you're here …

… in case you're hunting around for weekend reading, two of our writers have posted on the release of Slightly Peculiar Short Stories. Tania Hershman of the UK has four truly peculiar and tasty short shorts in the collection, while Wellingtonian Tim Jones's 'Said Sheree' (now there's clumsy construction, made clumsier yet by this intrusion) is a sly and funny one with especial appeal to writers. Tania has a celebratory piece on her blog, and Tim gives a hurrah on his here.

Meanwhile, writer and social media maven (yes, I had to look it up: ˈmāvən — a connoisseur or expert, origin 1960s Yiddish)  Helen Heath interviews me on her site about the why and wherefore of Rosa Mira Books, and SPLS.

Smudgy crab-apple without a messsage.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Love is in the air

Cover by Sophie Bond, spit and polish by Caroline Jackson.

In spite of  obstacles large and small these last few weeks, Slightly Peculiar Love Stories are airborne.

I hope you'll find a way to read them.

They'll do your heart good.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Gathering up

I'd like to write a big thank-you list of everyone who's been involved in any way with the production of Slightly Peculiar Love Stories, but I'm a bit anxious about it. What if I leave someone out? And it's likely to be someone so close I take their indispensable self for granted. Maybe I can do it without actually mentioning names.

First (or second — first there was the book idea and title that dropped together into my head one day, but who do I thank for that?) there are the 20 writers and those who introduced us. What a smart, professional, and conscientious lot they are — besides being seriously, subtly, or wildly talented. During the production phase, prizes have been won; books have been published and praised; residencies have been awarded and attended; the writing has gone on.

There's Creative NZ, curious and confident enough to supply funding for this production — I've thoroughly enjoyed sharing that with my cheerful, expert gang of page and cover designers, social media mavens, file formatters and tweakers, and web designers. Not all of them are plural. All of their names can be found in SPLS.

There was a little borrowed house in a warm bay where I swam throughout April and got the MS ship-shape. There have been FB friends who liked and cheered as needed; and Twitters who advised and encouraged; and the hundreds every week who have visited this blog. There have been my family and friends (there are worlds in these words). And the man who has witnessed some chaotic and some truly pathetic moments, but has never failed to offer what he could, from a cuppa or neck massage, to a full sit-down strategy session.

There are those who have offered ongoing help and encouragement, out of interest and benevolence.

There is this computer, which so graciously and mysteriously recovered its health and manners after its tragic breakdown and subsequent trip to Auckland this month.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, all.

Best of all there is an ebook about to be released — at 5.30 tonight, NZ time — Slightly Peculiar Love Stories at Rosa Mira Books. It's full of rich and diverse tales — the savvy, the sad, the sharp, the tender, the triumphant, the fearful, the wistful, the dark, the light, the cruel and the kind. Stories of love. All slightly peculiar. But then, so is love itself.

Woops! Meet Tania …

I thought I'd included all of our accomplished writers of Slightly Peculiar Short Stories, but Tania Hershman of the UK slipped under the radar. (Sorry, Tania!) In fact it's a treat to have four of Tania's stories in this collection; four complex, piquant mouthfuls that keep you savouring them for a while.

Here's Tania last Saturday, talking about short stories at the first short story festival in Bristol, ShortstoryVille.

Tania's first book, The White Road and Other Stories, (Salt Modern Fiction, 2008), was commended in the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers. Tania is Grand Prize Winner of the 2009 Binnacle Ultra-Short Contest, and European winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's Short Story competition.  

She's currently writer-in-residence in Bristol University's Science Faculty and has just been awarded an Arts Council England grant to work on a collection of biology-inspired short fiction. She blogs about writing at TaniaWrites.

Yes, we're still on track to release Slightly Peculiar Short Stories at 5.30 NZ standard time, today.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Alright then!

Tomorrow. Slightly Peculiar Love Stories will be released at 5.30 p.m. New Zealand time. Due to the peculiar run-up to this event, I've not made elaborate plans for the day, or even the hour, but intend to send out a newsletter and press release, and to keep commentary flowing on Facebook and Twitter. I hope you'll join us and chip in over the hour or two following the release, and share postings with friends and fellow readers.

I was about to post a teacup here (but, still peculiarly, Blogger tells me this service is currently unavailable), with the suggestion that those who are close to a bottle, teapot or tap, will fill their glass, teacup, mug, or nightcap at the appointed hour (or shortly after, when they wake up) and raise it with a hearty cheer for Slightly Peculiar Love Stories, its talented and charming writers, and its myriad already-beloved readers.

5.30 NZ Standard Time is also (and please correct me if you think I'm wrong):
6.30 a.m. in the UK (sorry about the early wake-up, Tania)
1 p.m. in Kong Kong and Manila
2.30 a.m. in Argentina (sorry, Elena!)
11.30 p.m. in Utah (sorry, Brenda Sue!)
8 a.m. in Israel and Athens

Oh, look, now I'm allowed to post the tea/rum/hot choc/champagne cup.

Friday, 15 July 2011

How bizarre, how bizarre

I'm back on my laptop (I'm going to think up a suitable name for him/her, too — one that signals a sensitive but resilient nature, and a certain tolerance for water — any ideas?). Despite a quote (from Auckland because Dunedin is overloaded with ailing Macs) for fixing $4000 worth of 'liquid' damage to my $1600 model, my lap companion evidently decided it would rather come home and behave nicely than be scrapped.

I have to say that its malaise closely resembled my own at the time — the whirring fan that, like my head, was all noise and no traction; the X on the battery symbol; the 'something wrong' with the hard drive. I have to say that it gave me time to recuperate and consider my working habits (work when I'm working, play when I'm playing and quit the fretting); the need for creative time; the need to do a comprehensive back-up now; and time to consider Rosa Mira Books' chief objective: to become deft (and a little quicker) in the production of exceptional ebooks — which means looking for ways to travel more like an arrow than an articulated truck. Figuring out what's essential and what's not.  I have to say I'm grateful. And will be taking neither the laptop's vigour nor my own for granted.

Thanks and hugs go out to all — writers, followers, friends and family, who have been so supportive in spite of it all, and without whom this project would be a) impossible and b) pointless.

This week I came upon some helpful tips for digital dummies like me:

1. If you use iBooks, or other reading app, on your iPad/Pod/Phone, do notice if there are updates (red dots) available for it on the app icon of your iPad/Pod/Phone, and download them. Makes all the difference to the layout, as it turns out in the case of Slighty Peculiar Love Stories

2. SLPS writer, Salman, sent me this nifty feature:  as he says, 'If you use Firefox, you can add this and read epub directly.' It's not refined in its features, but is a very quick way to open an epub document.

3. Less a helpful tip than a celebration of beautiful web design, and a chance to have your own: check out Sue Wootton's web page (and drool, poets). She writes, 'I recommend Doug Lilly. He's started to specialise in arts/writing/creative people's sites, at very reasonable rates.'

Okay, there's no reason now not to release Slightly Peculiar Love Stories in the middle of next week. I have a day in mind and will confirm it with details here, there, and everywhere as soon as I get the okay from my techie.

Shall we have a nice cup of tea in the meantime?

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Penelope, Prudence, Persephone?

No, I'm going to change my name to Patience. And I'm going to invite all the authors of Slightly Peculiar Love Stories to take on the same as a middle name.

Broken computer time has been doubled while (as it turns out) an insurance claim has to be made instead of a quick replacement. Meanwhile I nip onto the chaps' laptops when they're otherwise occupied (washing dishes, hauling firewood) for a quick catch-up and crucial emailing. I'm also going to name my current affliction 'ePublisher's Shoulder' and admit that it has been grateful for the rest. I've had an instructive week or two and it's not over yet.

Anyway, authors have received their copies; a couple of last-minute errors will be fixed; our website manager is poised to launch; a lovely handful of reviewers are ready to unleash their impressions on the reading world … please don't despair (I speak to myself, too).

This afternoon I was quizzed on Otago Access Radio by the effervescent crime writer and radio host Vanda Symon about Rosa Mira Books. Apparently I sounded very animated about both RMB and the impending launch. And so I am. (One of the abovementioned chaps then proceeded to discuss his vivid new children's novel, Wings, and the plight of bees.)

If anyone has any riveting and pertinent thing they'd like to post on this blog while we wait, please let me know.

Meanwhile, for your entertainment (and using a photo already, strangely, on this blog's file), here is a photo of a small portion each of the publisher and one Slightly Peculiar author. This is the kind of thing that goes on when people shut themselves away in off-season Atlantic seaside towns to co-write novels.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Last but not least (she's been busy)

P says: Okay, J's off carting wood-chips so I've jumped on his laptop to introduce you to Susannah Poole. I first read her story embedded in a longer work which impressed me with its freshness and lightness of touch. I was delighted to meet up again with Susannah via this thoughtful, upbeat story of student politics marrying . . . love?

Susannah says: I wrote my Slightly Peculiar Love Story before I was pregnant with the baby who is now (thankfully) asleep. The story is set in a world I used to live in, in what feels like a totally different lifetime. The nineties. Sometimes I wish I could go in a time machine back to this 'era' and be a fly on the wall. I suspect watching it would bring up a variety of emotions: embarrassment, sympathy, amusement. The closest I could get to a time machine was to write while listening to music that my friends and I played in our flats and through our walkman headphones during that time. At the moment the music I listen to is the music I play to my baby: a Mozart piece that seems to calm her into sleep and a Canadian children's singer named Raffi who my sister and I loved when we were kids. 

Well, Susannah tells me she's photophobic — no, make that photo phobic — so I'll add an illustration from the RMBlog photo album instead … leaping from the '90s to the 1800s, and trotting out the Valentine's Day card we had made for The Glass Harmonica which celebrates, among other things, love's electricity.
Click here to animate these two