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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pacific Writer's Residency

Fulbright New Zealand and Creative New Zealand invite applications for the 2013 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency, which offers a New Zealand writer of Pacific heritage the opportunity to work for three months on a creative writing project exploring Pacific identity, culture or history at the University of Hawai‘i. The project may be in any genre, but priority is given to works that focus on developing New Zealand literature in the genres of fiction, poetry, drama, non-fiction (including biography, history, arts-related and cultural topics) and playwriting.

The residency is valued at NZ$30,000 and includes return airfares to Hawai‘i, accommodation costs and a monthly stipend. Previous recipients have included authors Sarona Aiono-Iosefa and Marisa Maepu, poets Tusiata Avia and Daren Kamali, playwrights Victor Rodger and Makerita Urale, and filmmakers Sima Urale and Toa Fraser. Hawai‘i has been identified as a strategic location for artists and is considered the hub of Pacific writing with numerous universities, library resources, networks, writers’ forums and publishers. It is also an important link to the mainland US and has a strong indigenous culture.

This year’s Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency is available in either the Fall semester (August to November) or Spring semester (February to May) of the 2013-2014 US academic year. The deadline for applications is 5:00pm, Friday 1 March.

See or contact Makerita Urale at Creative New Zealand for further information – / (04) 498 0729


The End of Literary Agents?

It's revolutionary

A major UK publisher is apparently so impressed by the success of self-publishing, particularly in their field of SF/fantasy, that they are accepting author submissions.

GalleyCat reports that Tor UK has decided to accept direct submissions from writers, including writers outside the UK and authors who have previously self-published their work.
The straightforward author guidelines are now online. The publisher will only respond to submissions that interest the editors. They ask writers to assume that the editors have passed after twelve weeks without a response. Check it out:
For direct submissions we only consider complete and unpublished science fiction, fantasy and horror novels, written in English of between 95,000 – 150,000 words … We don’t publish non-fiction, poetry, short stories or novellas. If your work falls into any of these categories we regret we are unable to help. Only emailed submissions can be considered (please see below for the email address). The email must include the novel’s title in the Subject line. The body of the email should contain a short synopsis and biographical note (including details of any previously published work), and the entire novel should be attached to the email as a single standard word-processing file, preferably Microsoft Word.
Ironically, the page on GalleyCat with this intriguing item is headed with an advertisement from a literary agency that wants to hire an intern ...

Mantel wins again

Hilary Mantel won the Costa Book of the Year Prize Tuesday afternoon for BRING UP THE BODIES, making her the first author to win the Booker and Costa for the same book.

Judging chair Jenni Murray said the unanimous decision took "less than an hour", telling the Guardian: "One book simply stood head and shoulders, more than head and shoulders … on stilts, above the rest. We had a really good discussion, like being at a high-powered book club, and I said, 'OK, let's have a vote on Bring up the Bodies' and every hand went up."

Accepting the prize, Mantel addressed recent pieces that she should apologize for winning so many awards: "I'm not going to apologize, I'm going to say thank you, particularly to the judges for not letting anyone tell them how to do their job...and I will make it my business to write more books that will be worth prizes."

From Publishers Lunch

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

They said it ...

"If only politicians and economists talked solely about what they understood - the silence would be wonderful."
--Financial Times

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why is a ship called "she"?

From the New Bedford Whalemen's Shipping List, 1860

Why vessels are called SHE

They wear bonnets
They are often painted
They are upright when in stays
Are best when employed
They look best when well rigged
Their value depends on their age
They are great news bearers
They paint to hide their age
They are harassed by great swells
They are frequently attached to buoys
Because they are often abandoned
Because we couldn't do without them!

Obviously written by a man in a much more sexist age...

Children's book awards

The American Library Association presented their Youth Media Awards on the closing day of their winter meeting in Seattle, on live webcast. 
The Newbury Medal went to The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate (Harpers), the story of a mighty gorilla's break for freedom.
The Caldecott Medal went to This is Not My Hat by NYT bestselling author Jon Klassen (Random House/Candlewick). When a tiny fish pops into view wearing a blue tophat, trouble is sure to follow. 

Bloomsbury Young Readers author Nick Lake won the Michael L. Printz Award for his inspiring story of a boy who survived an earthquake, In Darkness.

Recognition for longterm achievement went to Tamora Pierce, who won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature."

Check the American Library Association site for a complete list, and (I think) a replay of the webcast.

If you want to check out the winning authors and books for the past three years, perhaps with a view to purchase, have a look at the Publisher's Lunch site, Bookateria

Monday, January 28, 2013

Booker longlist announced

The longlist was announced for the biannual Booker International prize, to be awarded May 22. The candidates are:

UR Ananthamurthy (India)
Aharon Appelfeld (Israel)
Lydia Davis (USA)
Intizar Husain (Pakistan)
Yan Lianke (China)
Marie NDiaye (France)
Josip Novakovich (Canada)
Marilynne Robinson (USA)
Vladimir Sorokin (Russia)
Peter Stamm (Switzerland)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stephen King on guns

GalleyCat on reports that Stephen King has published a 99-cent Kindle single -- on guns.

Stephen King has published a 99-cent Kindle Single called “Guns,” a short essay about gun violence in America that “constructs his argument for what can and should be done.”

In the essay, King wrote frankly about Rage, a novel he released under the pen name Richard Bachman about a boy who takes a high school classroom hostage with a gun.

Four different teenagers cited the book after attacks on their schools and King decided to remove the book from publication.

He explained in his new Kindle Single:
My book did not break [these teenagers], or turn them into killers; they found something in my book that spoke to them because they were already broken. Yet I did see Rage as a possible accelerant, which is why I pulled it from sale. You don’t leave a can of gasoline where a boy with firebug tendencies can lay hands on it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

eBook prices reach a new low

Price makes a big difference, as publishers are discovering

On December 29, Algonquin reduced the price of their eBooks to $1.99 for a one-day promotion.  At the time I watched with intense interest as Island of the Lost zoomed up the Amazon bestseller list in response, being rated at # 79 at the end of the day.  Since then, it has dipped to the low thousands, but there has been another reward, in the shape of a burst of four- and five-star reviews, showing that people do read books that they might have bought on impulse, scenting a bargain.

It seems that Algonquin is by no means the only publisher to realize that lowering the price has a beneficial effect on sales. Digital Book World reports that the average price for a best-selling ebook is now $7.66, down from $8.09 a week ago and $11.79 in late Oct., the last time that the price of an ebook best-seller increased.

They say: Price experimentation from new titles that have jumped onto the list helps explain part of the decrease. Breaking Night by Liz Murray (Hyperion) is currently (as of this writing) priced at $9.50 at major ebook retailers, but a price decrease this week to $1.99 helped bump it onto the list. And Brad Meltzer’s The Fifth Assassin (Hachette) has been discounted slightly to $12.74 from $12.99. The titles are each good examples of the kind of discounting that works — and the kind that does not.

In the case of the Murray book, a 2010 title, a steep discount coupled with some promotion (likely, though we can’t confirm it from our tracking of on-site promotions) rejuvenated sales of a title that’s nearly three years old. Following its price decrease some sales were sustained at the higher price point; the title has been on the Kindle top-100 best-seller list for three days of full-price selling following the price drop.

The tiny drop in the price of the Meltzer book made no discernible difference.

Military science-fiction?

Publishers Lunch also reports that a new move follows the discovery that readers of military history also like science fiction and fantasy.

 Osprey Publishing will launch Osprey Adventures, devoted to subjects outside their traditional military niche, including myths & legends, horror, secret societies, and conspiracies. Project manager Joseph McCullough said in a statement "we've learned that a large proportion of Osprey's military history readers are also fans of science fiction and fantasy." He added: "Furthermore, many of the hobbies with which Osprey books are traditionally associated also encompass more fantastical subjects. By creating new products that cater to these interests, Osprey will continue to serve many of its core readers with their broad interests, while also expanding its reach into a new consumer demographic."

Amazon labels children's books

Amazon Gives Their Children's Imprints Names

From Publishers Lunch
Amazon has given their children's book publishing more distinctive imprint names to work with than just "Amazon Children's." Picture books are being published under the Two Lions banner and teen books are listed under the Skyscape name. The imprint names and logos are introduced in the Amazon Children's Publishing catalog from their Brilliance Audio unit, which distributes those titles.

Amazon's children's publishing program incorporates the more than 450 titles they acquired in late 2011 from Marshall Cavendish as well as the titles they have been acquiring directly. As with other Amazon imprints, some of those acquisitions include books that were originally self-published successfully through KDP, such as Jessica Park's FLAT-OUT LOVE and Rebecca Donovan's THE BREATHING series.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wikipedia reaches unprecedented heights

Gerald R. Ford Library Hires Wikipedian in Residence


Gerald R. Ford may have governed during a time of economic stagnation, but his library has just laid claim to a cutting-edge distinction: becoming the first presidential depository to employ an official "Wikipedian in residence."

Michael Barera, a master's student at the University of Michigan's School of Information who has been editing Wikipedia articles for five years, started the job last week, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. He is charged with improving the Wikipedia presence of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, which is housed at the university's Ann Arbor campus.

In 2010 the British Museum became the first organization to engage a Wikipedian in residence, which was seen at the time as an acknowledgment of the fact that Wikipedia articles about libraries, museums and other institutions were sometimes drawing far more traffic than the institution's own Web sites. Since then, according to Wikipedia, some 30 others have followed suit, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Israel Museum and the Palace of Versailles.

Copyright 2013 The New York Times

They said it ...

The Bible tells us to love our neighbours and also to love our enemies, probably because they are the same people
--G. K. Chesterton

Based on what you know about him in history books, what do you think Abraham Lincoln would be doing if he were alive today? (1) Writing his memoirs of the Civil War. (2) Advising the President. (3) Desperately clawing at the inside of his coffin.
- David Letterman

I like long walks, espcially when they are taken by people who annoy me
--Sir Fred Allen (old All Black)

I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters.
- Frank Lloyd Wright

Their paranoid fear of a possible dystopic future prevents us from addressing our actual dystopic present
--TV host Jon Stewart on opponents of gun control

Nothing reassures parents more than surrounding their kids with the kind of guys who have a lot of weapons and nothing to do on weekdays
--TV host Stephen Colbert on putting armed guards in schools

There were flames flying around everywhere ... I just felt calm and I know God would look after me.  He didn't do a very good job with the house, though
--Clive Hartley, survivor of a Canterbury bushfire where his parents' house was razed.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Murder, She Wrote

The female of the species is obviously more deadly ...

The Feminist Press is reprinting mysteries from the mid twentieth century under its Femmes Fatales series.  Included are books by Vera Caspary, Dorothy Hughes and Gypsy Rose Lee.

In somewhat similar news, HarperCollins is introducing a new trade paperback line of mysteries called Bourbon Street Books.  They will feature a number of reprints, prominent being Have his Carcase, Strong Poison, Busman's Honeymoon and Gaudy Night, by the immortal Dorothy L. Sayers.  The introductions to these are written by her worthy successor, Elizabeth George.

From the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, March 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How low can the percentage go ...

... before bookstores crumble?

Digital Book World meditates today on the percentage of eBooks sold vs. traditionally printed books, and the possible implications for stores.

The figures are soft, but indicate that 50% of fiction sold is digital, while around 25% of nonfiction is read on eReaders. Interestingly, only 10% of illustrated nonfiction is being taken over by digital publishing, despite the rapid improvements in interactive technology.

The question for bookstores, is how low their share of the fiction market can drop before they buckle under, or adapt to become specialist outlets, focused on good nonfiction, illustrated children's books, and beautifully produced classics.

The second option seems sensible to me. As mass market books are taken over by digital publishing, the most flexible traditional publishers will shift to producing beautiful hardbacks, focused on nonfiction and classics, and book collectors and bibliophiles will come into their own.  And having beautiful bookstores (like the one above) to match would be both logical and a delight.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Woman and the Ship

Who is this woman?

And what is this ship?

The second question was posed by Charley Seavey to the Maritime History List, marhst-l, which is administered by the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes with technical support from Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario. 

"What ship is this?" he asked.

After various educated guesses from others on this list, Charley answered his own question himself..

"It turns out it is BB23, the ill fated USS Mississippi," he said, going on to speculate that it was possible that this was taken in May 1909, when the battleship cruised up the Mississippi River to demonstrate contemporary naval technology to the citizens of the south-central United States.

B23 was sold to the Greek navy, along with her sister ship. They were sunk by Nazi bombers in WWII.

I was more interested in the woman. As I ruminated to the list, There is something very odd about her outfit. She has a formal blouse and gloves, and a pinafore day dress over the blouse, with odd bits of lace embellishment. The feathered hat doesn't seem to fit the picture, either.  It's a mixture of daytime and evening, formal and casual.

I wondered if it was made up for a postcard.  Or maybe, I thought, she was a captain's wife with an odd collection of clothes in her luggage.  The pinafore dress is shortened, which was common with captains' wives.

"Any idea who she was?" I asked, adding, "The ship was christened by Mabel Clare Money."

Interesting question, Charley ruminated.

"I also just realized I can't see her feet- I wonder if maybe there is some kind of early photoshopping going on here. Anyway I am going to forward Joan's message to a fashionista friend of mine and see what he think."
Well, the fashionista friend was fascinated.

"Not photoshop," he said; "just a slip or petticoat or underdress with a wider skirt than was usual at this period. The shadow goes with her feet. I learned from the Kyoto Institute of Fashion that hems were not always trailing behind except in reception gowns, and tht clothes were quite practical in the 1890-1910 period in allowing women to walk without dirtying the hem. The shoes could be seen. That hat is over the top.  I've seen things like it from about 1896, but I'll dig around in hat history.
"Thanks for the thrill. I wish I knew who she was."
Well, I wondered who she was, too.  So I hunted down a picture of the woman who christened the ship, Mabel Clare Money.  And here she is:
Same woman? What do you think?

Blurb your novel - and win

To view this email as a web page, go here.

Contest Entry Period is Now Open
The 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest entry period opens January 14, 2013. All entries can now be submitted, through CreateSpace, and must be received no later than January 27, 2013. Log in to enter today ! For best results, we recommend using Firefox or Chrome browsers to complete your entry form.

Exciting changes for the 2013 contest include:
  • Up to 10,000 entries will be accepted
  • One Grand Prize winner will receive a publishing contract with Amazon Publishing and a $50,000 advance
  • Four first prize winners will each receive a publishing contract with Amazon Publishing and a $15,000 advance
  • Get contest details and review the official rules
Log in to enter today . This could be your year!
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NBCC shortlists

The National Book Critics Circle announced finalists in six categories. The Nona A. Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing was awarded to William Deresiewicz (and, for the first time, the citation comes with $1,000 in cash thanks to a "generous donation" by board member Gregg Barrios) while Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award for their "pioneering work in feminist thought." The winners will be announced on February 28 at the New School.

The full list of nominees:

Reyna Grande, The Distance Between Us (Atria)
Maureen N. McLane, My Poets (FSG)
Anthony Shadid, House of Stone (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies (Blue Rider Press)
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, In the House of the Interpreter (Pantheon)

Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Knopf)
Lisa Cohen, All We Know: Three Lives (FSG)
Michael Gorra, Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece (Liveright)
Lisa Jarnot, Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus (University of California Press)
Tom Reiss, The Black Count (Crown)

Paul Elie, Reinventing Bach (FSG)
Daniel Mendelsohn, Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture (New York Review Books)
Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey (Wave Books)
Marina Warner, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights (Belknap Press)
Kevin Young, The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (Graywolf Press)

Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Random House)
Steve Coll, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (Penguin Press)
Jim Holt, Why Does the World Exist? (Norton)
David Quammen, Spillover (Norton)
Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree (Scribner)

David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press)
Lucia Perillo, On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths (Copper Canyon Press)
Allan Peterson, Fragile Acts (McSweeney’s Books)
D. A. Powell, Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Graywolf Press)
A. E. Stallings, Olives (Triquarterly: Northwestern University Press)

Laurent Binet, HHhH. tr. by Sam Taylor (FSG)
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (Ecco)
Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master's Son (Random House)
Lydia Millet, Magnificence (Norton)
Zadie Smith, NW (Penguin Press)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Backyard cricket

Just to confuse my American readers ...

It is summer in New Zealand (or supposed to be, though the weatherman doesn't appear to know it), which means backyard cricket time.

Backyard cricket has stumps, a bat (maybe even two bats), and a ball, but otherwise the resemblance to the real stuff is very superficial.

But, as the Dominion Post points out, it does have rules.  And here they are.

Six and out. Hitting the ball over the fence, onto the roof, into a hedge, or some other area where it is hard to retrieve the ball, counts as six runs, and the batsman is out.  The same applies if you are on board ship and you hit the ball into the sea.

One hand, one bounce.  The batsman can be called out if a fielder catches it with one hand after only one bounce.  Two bounces, and it doesn't count.

Tip-and-Run.  If the batsman hits the ball, he, she or it must run, regardless of how far the ball flies.  This, incidentally, is the rule that causes the most arguments on the backyard pitch.

Hit-and-roll.  This is a new rule, that should add a lot of fun. It happens when a fielder stops a ball.  The batsman must lay the bat down on the ground, facing the fielder.  The fielder then bowls the ball at the bat.  If the ball hits the bat, the batsman is out, and the fielder takes the batsman's place.

Changing the rules.  Rules can only be changed by the oldest and/or bossiest person on the pitch.

Automatic wicketkeeper. Any handy fence or hedge.  Though a rubbish bin will do, at a pinch.

Dogs.  Dogs do not bowl or bat.  But they make very good fielders.  Or wicketkeepers, if you lack an automatic one.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lousy Book Covers

Everyone is talking about it

There is a hilarious new blog, called Lousy Book Covers, in which the commentary is as amusing as the author-designed jackets chosen by the blogger for each day's featured post.

It's well worth a scan, for the grin.  And there are some truly awful covers there.  But the one featured below?

"Take Back Tomorrow, and see if you can get a refund," suggests the blogger.

Question from me.  I actually rather like the graphic, which seems quite compelling, so why the thumbs down?

Tips from experts most welcome.

Amazon winning in Japan

From Digital Book World

Just three months after launching its ebook business in the country, Amazon is reportedly winning the war for ebook market-share in Japan, even besting Sony and Rakuten (Kobo), which are both based in Japan yet operate internationally.

The race for ebook market-share in Japan by international players got started in earnest this summer when Kobo made an early push to sell 100,000 of its devices in the country before rival Amazon even launched. There were reportedly problems with Kobo’s technology, however.

And yet Japanese readers are supposed to be resistant to the notion of reading on a gadget.  It just shows you what relentless marketing can do ...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hobbit scores big with New Zealand

Kiwis have voted for the Hobbit as their favorite movie of 2012

It seems a bit premature, considering it has only just come out, but that is what the Dominion Post  reports.

The title was bestowed upon Sir Peter Jackson's fantasy blockbuster by nearly 6000 Kiwis who voted in the TelstraClear People's Choice Movie Awards.

Over 80,000 votes were cast in 17 categories throughout December.

Despite opening mid-way through the voting period, The Hobbit proved close to film-goers' hearts with Sir Peter also taking out the award for Best Director.

Daniel Craig's return to the big screen as James Bond helped propel Skyfall to the winner's podium as the year's Best Action. Craig's co-star Javier Bardem took out Best Actor for a scene-stealing performance as the film's villain.

Best Actress honours went to Michelle Williams for her turn in My Week with Marilyn, while Jennifer Lawrence - recently voted the world's most desirable woman by international poll on the website AskMen - won Best Hero as Katniss in The Hunger Games.

The Sarkies brothers' black comedy Two Little Boys, starring Bret McKenzie, was voted Best New Zealand Movie.

The dubious honour of Biggest Wanker went to English actor Tom Hiddleston who played the villain Loki in The Avengers.

Other notable winners included foul-mouthed, pot-smoking Ted, which took home Best Comedy; box office juggernaut The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, winner of Best Drama; and Looper, which won Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

Nine-year-old American child star Quvenzhané Wallis won Breakthrough Performance of the Year for her portrayal of Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

For the full list of winners, hit the link in the title

Shakespeare, Euro-Laureate?

Leading British academics are seeking to persuade the European parliament to adopt Shakespeare as its European laureate in time for the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.

Keen to promote Europe's shared cultural heritage, they are also planning a European Shakespeare Ode, inspired by the Garrick Ode – a poem created in 1769 by David Garrick, the greatest actor of his day, who sparked a major resurgence of interest in Shakespeare during the 18th century. It was Garrick's staging of a spectacular three-day celebration that firmly established the Bard's literary reputation and made Stratford-upon-Avon a centre for literary tourism.

Now history could repeat itself in 2016. Just as Garrick revived interest in Shakespeare across Europe – with Goethe among those who were inspired – plans are being drawn up to reaffirm Shakespeare as a truly international figure in the 21st century.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Comfort for traumatised cats

As you may or may not know, the Christchurch earthquakes keep on a-coming

It's tough enough for people, but really taxing for pets.

Today, Jane Bowron, who sends us messages from the quaky zone down there, posted a lovely story to the DominionPost.

Don't you hate it (she said) when friends colonise your other friends?
A pal with a small child was visiting and asked, when her little girl became scratchy, if she could put her down to sleep in the spare room. To make the room more child friendly I dug out my old bear and his life-long companion, Lambie, who has a turnkey in his under-carriage which plays Mary Had a Little Lamb, when you wind him up.

I've had those stuffed toys ever since I can remember, so they are beyond tatty, the bear with different buttons for eyes, stuffing oozing out and bald patches all over his ravaged carcass.

After the visit the bear and the lamb stayed put as it seemed cruel to return them to the gloom of the bottom of the sewing basket.

After all those years of faithful service, a room with a view was the least I could do for them. To my astonishment the cat has taken a passionate interest in them, sequestering himself in the spare room cuddling up to them, only coming out to feed and give me a piteous "Hey, No Fur, you're so last year" glance before rushing back to his new friends.

"Excuse me," I told him in no uncertain terms.

"Thems and mes go way back long before Benecio Johnny Come Lately came on the scene."
It fell on deaf ears. Yes, it appears the motley crew has become, to use a hackneyed expression, a tight-knit community."

Read the rest of Jane's meditations on tight-knit communities and earthquakes by hitting the link above.

American Sea Writing

A fortunate purchase

Linda Collison, author of sea-adventures about a female sailor, Barbados Bound (aka Star-Crossed) and Surgeon's Mate, posted a note on the facebook page "All things nautical" saying that she had made a happy buy.

"I bought this used (but new) for less than five dollars," she wrote.  "A great bedside book that illustrates America's maritime experience."
I was delighted to see this, as contributing to this collection was one of the nicest times in my editing experience.  Originally, I was contacted to suggest quotations from women at sea.  I remember sending samples of Mary Brewster, wife of the captain of the whaleship Tiger, who left journals I had the privilege of editing for Mystic Seaport, which were published in a grand volume called She Was a Sister Sailor. I also sent in long extracts from the amazing journals kept by Mary Rowland, wife of Henry Rowland of Setauket, Long Island, who sailed with him on the brig Thomas W. Rowland on increasingly distant voyages during their 24-year marriage.
Mrs. Rowland was the Mary who was chosen by the editors.  The quotations that were published were from the journal she kept on her fourth voyage, which began in October 1855. With her two small daughters, she experienced not just the up-and-down life on a relatively small craft at sea, but the exotic port of New Orleans.
Included is a quote I often repeat to audiences, just to watch their horrified faces, and know that shivers are crawling up their spines ...
And now besides these plagues we have still other ones on board, white crawling worms about an inch long come out of the cargo of figs and raisins and large numbers make their appearance in the Cabin and more particularly in my room. They keep hid during the day time and like the Cockroaches & musketoes make their Debut at night, they crawl up on the ceiling overhead and then fall down in a short time but Oh dear they like to hide in my mattress best of all places ....
There are lots of great stories in this wonderful volume.  If you see it -- even if the price is more than five dollars -- it's a steal.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Are you in NYC?

A Must-see Show, if you are there ...

Cyanotypes by ROBERT A SCHAEFER JR, plus wonderful works by others

Tuesday January 8, 5:30 - 7:30

24 West 57th Street, NYC

Tsunami bomb

The world gets a new term, courtesy of WW2 New Zealand

One of New Zealand's best kept World War ll secrets, a tsunami bomb to attack Japan, is making headlines again 14 years after its cover was last blown.

London news sites the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, in stories appearing around the world this week, say the United States and New Zealand conducted secret tests during 1944 of a "tsunami bomb" designed to destroy cities by using underwater explosions to trigger the waves.

US Navy South Pacific commander Admiral Bull Halsey wrote to the New Zealand Government, asking them to work on it.

"Inundation in amphibious warfare has definite and far-reaching possibilities as an offensive weapon," he wrote.

It didn't come close.

An Auckland University engineering professor in charge of the project, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Leech, predicted 11-metre high waves up to four kilometres from an explosion with 2000 tons of high explosive.

The experiments were a failure, with few explosions producing more than a ripple.

"If you were in a small boat, you could have ridden out some of the waves," said one of the survivors of the covert group, Toby Laing of Nelson, who was left with a lasting legacy.

"It was 'bang, bang, bang' all day long, that's why I'm so deaf now."

Stupid names are out, thank heavens

Jack and Olivia win the baby-name stakes in New Zealand

Top girls' names:


Top boys' names (where the Old Testament has a lot to answer for)

Oliver (hopefully not with a sister Olivia)
William (guess why)

You can see the full list on with a bit of a hunt

Ironically, this item in our newspaper was right next to an item about a father delivering his fifth child -- a daughter, a poor infant whom they named Jireh.  She'll be mistaken for a boy (with an OT name) for the rest of her life.

Nook sales slump

Personally, I would blame Amazon

A very puzzled press release from Barnes and Noble reveals that Nook sales were down by nearly 13% over the holidays.

As Publishers Lunch comments, "In the last quarter BN management had said Nook was selling more units, just at lower prices, but in this important period, Nook sales fell "due to lower unit volume and average selling prices." Overall, Nook segment sales were $311 million for the nine-week holiday period, down 12.6 percent. A year ago, the Nook business rose 43 percent over the holidays.

"Digital content sales rose only very modestly--up 13.1 percent--as "device unit sales declined during the holiday period as compared to the prior year." Content sales have been growing at a smaller rate every quarter for over a year now. During last year's holiday period, digital content sales grew 113 percent.
"As of now, BN executives still don't know what happened. CEO William Lynch says in the announcement, "Nook device sales got off to a good start over the Black Friday period, but then fell short of expectations for the balance of holiday. We are examining the root cause of the December shortfall in sales, and will adjust our strategies accordingly going forward." Previously, the company said Nook sales "doubled" over that initial holiday sales weekend, so the falloff must have been steep thereafter."

The answer may well lie with Amazon's aggressive promotion of their new eReader, Kindle Fire.  According to the site Chitika insights, iPad slumped about 7% from its normal 80% dominance of the tablet/eReader market, while Amazon Fire gained about 3%.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

January "Quarterdeck" out already

They're swift off the mark at McBooks Press

Every month, they put out a newsletter called "Quarterdeck," featuring maritime fiction and nonfiction that is not necessarily published by them.  The able editor, George Jepson, keeps a comprehensive eye on the genre, and is always interested in new voices.

No sooner has the new year dawned, than the January issue has magically materialized.  It's well worth a read, particularly a most engaging interview with Bernard Cornwell.

You can download the newsletter and subscribe (if you wish) HERE.