Thursday, 29 October 2015

Bears! Wood! News! Bears In The Wood News

In a surprising development it has been revealed that the forthcoming Star Wars The Force Awakens movie will feature a start, middle, and a climactic end. This pays a blow to fan speculation that one element might have been missing, said one fan of no fixed abode: "I was expecting there to be no ending, that the movie would go on continuously like a film by Andy Warhol. It is not very well known but Warhol was a big fan of The Force Awakens source material, though it is not known if he was cannon or non-cannon."

Bears! Woods! News! Bears In The Woods News

After promising early results the team at SETI have announced that there were too many celestial bodies after only one thing. "Sure, they start out all nice but pretty soon they want you to send images of our valleys and wide open spaces, and asking if the Sun has any sisters," said one disappointed but romantic scientist.

Bears! Woods! News! Bears In The Woods News

Launching the 'No-Hope Back Of A Soggy Cigarette Packet Economic Plan', the Chancellor called on opposition Members of Parliament to vote for his plans as his own party had disowned the policy. A senior economist explained the 'No-Hope Plan' to Bears In The Woods News after he stopped laughing.

Bears! Woods! News! Bears In The Woods News

A recent academic study has found that academics study. There has been rumour of a real-world application of the results, though it was further found that further research needed to be undertaken to further the links between real-world scenarios and academics who study.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Bears! Woods! News! Bears In The Woods News

A Special Bears In the Woods Special Feature: Inspired by getting one or sometimes more questions right when watching the BBC's Mastermind, University Challenge, and Only Connect, Mr Shelley Surely Shirley has announced they will be entering round one of Mastermind with what they hope is masterful specialist subject. "I am spending my time learning the answers in the subject 'questions where the answer is the greatest defeat in naval history'," Surely Shirley said. On test runs of ten questions, the record for Surely Shirley has been five correct answers, two passes and four incorrect responses.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Bridging gaps between things: Reading And Writing In The Digital Age (Ilkley Literature Festival)

It must be fair to say that given the title of my blog I'm probably going to be talking about music in all its forms and books in all their genre. Even when I try discussing something else those two things shoehorn themselves in, though most of the time I'm already there, keeping the door open for them to sneak in.

I give quite a lot of thought to writing. I am a writer in the same way a person with a camera on their phone is a photographer[1], capturing things that catch my interest for a limited audience of one, myself. My interaction with the books and music I write about is essentially just an attempt to capture that joy of knowing and sharing that looked.

Ilkley has a literature festival[2], and at the weekend I attended a session on reading and writing in the digital age. The Chair was Claire Malcolm[3], and Jen Campbell[4], Rachel Kerr[5], and Simon Savidge[6] were the panelists. There were some very interesting points made by all three panelists and the Chair, and given the interested parties in the audience (I have to assume there were other writers, bloggers, vloggers, podcast creators and curators in the Playhouse) all of these will be picked over elsewhere[7]. I shall write about the things that pricked my ears and led to conversations on the way home.

Instead of getting all Dickens-esque on you by stating there is nothing new, there is everything new, I noticed that the Chair and the panelists all discussed the internet in terms of making it easier to bridge the gap between different things. Online one can find groups with similar interests, similar desires, and therefore share similar tastes.

Interestingly, the power of bloggers and all also came up. Partly in how they help the conversations and partly in how authors can (again) bridge the gap between themselves and their audience. Rachel Kerr gave quite a few examples of how Unbound helps make this happen commercially; Jen Campbell and Simon Savidge gave the reviewer/commentator/interviewer/bookseller side of this interaction. Simon, who is always fantastic to listen too, gave the view as one of the many, us book addicts. Actually, all of them did.

I digress. At the end of the session there was a questions from the audience section. One writer asked how they could use the internet to market their work more effectively without "getting bogged down with Facebook and Twitter." The advice was that 'getting bogged down' is exactly what they should be doing, making connections with groups with similar interests and tastes. Jen Campbell had the best suggestion in that the writer should sell by not selling their work but selling themselves. 

Internet reviewers' responsibility when writing about older work was raised. It was generally agreed that when discussing such books one should mention the age at which it was written. Sat at home later it occurred to me that there is another side to this question, that of how historical novelists handled the times they write about.

Indulgent booksellers engaging in their favourite pastime of being negative. I had never seen Jen Campbell speak live[8] though knew of the vlogs and Twitter account, so it was good to hear her input as a bookseller. Possibly because I spend my time in record shops but I didn't know digital sales for ebooks had plateaued. Jen managed to conjure up an image of a typical bookseller singing the Frazer refrain of "we're doomed, doomed" while also selling more children's books. Jen celebrated the state of book sales and reading.

Imagine my incredulity when there was something a panel member discussed something I disagreed with. Luckily everyone was sat down and there was strong spirits available nearby.

Immense numbers of books are published ever year. Rachel Kerr suggested this was upwards of 200,000 and may be 'a bad thing'; Jen Campbell raised "Super Thursday"; and Simon Savidge and Jen both discussed the number of review copies they are sent both solicited and unsolicited[9]. Volume is a difficult thing, one can't encourage readers to find connections between books and authors whilst also calling for the number of books and authors to be restricted.

Individual taste also plays a part. Simon Savidge mentioned the individualistic nature of books (and ultimately book reviewing), and here there should be celebration. Celebrate all reading, from ghost written celebrities to writing about ghosts.

If volume is a problem show where and how it is a problem. All those books have a market, it might not be the size the publisher wants, but it's there, people want to read it. Eventually everything finds itself on the backlist, waiting patiently to be found and cherished somewhere, somewhen, by someone. 

In Ilkley there is Grove Books and Grove Music. Even though I was there for the literature festival I didn't buy a book. Instead I found a collection of Modern Jazz Quartet albums on CD. While I had one vinyl lp before the flood[10], and had heard other tracks by MJQ before, this was a bit of a find.

Precisely for the same reason that all but one paragraph in this entry starts with the letter 'i', one should always take a trip downstairs, through cupboards to Narnia, ask to take a look out in the back, or demand to see the special stuff. It might not look special to begin with...

1 - Here is a challenge for you, at what point is something a Something? Acknowledgement of one's work by others, receipt of payment for one's work, or actually doing something?
2 - Actually, since living in Yorkshire I've grown evermore impressed with the total amount of stuff that is on. Morley was the first literature festival I went too, there's crime in Harrogate, and books in Huddersfield, Halifax, Headingley, all over.
3 - chief executive of New Writing North, a great regional resource, twitter
4 - Booktuber, bookseller and book writer, twitter
5 - Unbound, twitter
6 - Blogger and organiser for the Green Carnation Prize
7 - I shall now attempt to bring as many of these posts together here, adding over time:
Simon Savidge - A Weekend in Ilkley (and Ilkley Book Festival!)
Jacqueline Saville on The Tip-Tap Of Monkey Keyboards
8 - I had seen Simon Savidge previously in Leeds, discussing his work and the Green Carnation Prize.
9 - Encouragingly, either collectively or individual of each other, they had good coping mechanisms.
10 - Lonely Woman, and yep, that flood.