Friday, 28 August 2009

A Foot on the Ladder

Yes, after four months of job-hunting, I have actually been offered a position in a publishing house!

My mum's partner's son's wife (!) works in a book distributor. They recently bought out a small publishing house, and she kindly passed on my CV to them. They emailed me yesterday and have offered me some part-time work there. I guess it really is about who you know, not what you know.

I start on Wednesday afternoon. It seems so perfect for me - it's about half an hour's drive away, and I don't have to commute to London. I don't have to get up early. It's casual dress code and part time. Really is the perfect way to ease me from the unemployed life of leisure I've been leading recently, into the world of work.

I'm really looking forward to it. But I'm also extremely nervous. My biggest fear is that I won't be able to do the work they ask me to... But I'm sure it will be okay after I've settled. It's the not quite knowing what to expect that is making me nervous. Once I know my way there, I've met the people, I know the surroundings and what work I'll be doing, I'm sure I'll be fine.

The company I'll be working for is Whittet Books. They are a small publishing house, and I'll be working from a home office (I believe). They publish wildlife books, and I'll be working on one about squirrels! Sounds brilliant!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Waterstones Endorses Plagiarism

On Twitter yesterday, Waterstones held a quick contest: whoever 'tweets' the best piece of student advice gets five free books.

This blog post is not a bitter retaliation because they didn't choose my pieces of advice, but because the piece of advice that they actually chose was, in my opinion, very bad advice, and if students followed it, they could end up in a lot of trouble.

I'm fairly sure that Waterstones didn't realise this, but I messaged them several times and they have ignored me.

The tweet they chose as the best piece of student advice was from a university drop-out and read:

"My moto (chant this!): Copy and paste and you'll be caught out, but paraphrase and you'll get straight A's!!!"

(Here's another few pieces of advice: don't use multiple exclamations marks, and learn to spell 'motto'.)

My problem with this piece of advice is simple: it is teaching students the best way to PLAGIARISE.

I have been taught, right from school through to university, that if you quote OR paraphrase another person's words, you MUST cite the source. Regardless whether you are quoting or paraphrasing, you are still taking someone else's words and ideas, and they should be credited for them.

I am hoping that Waterstones did not intend to teach students how to plagiarise, but I think they really should know better. And rewarding someone for suggesting this piece of 'advice' with free books is a bit unfair when lots of people suggested much better pieces of advice.

Here are some good ones:

@jetowey - Get a bottle of antiseptic gel - not everything is as clean as it looks in the common room or bar

@lesleyparsons - The Three S's of student years... sleep, study, celebrate!

@Gem_Lou - Do your share of chores in halls - you'll be unpopular otherwise, & it might encourage others to do the same!

@Gem_Lou - Put bag with everything you need for lecture next day, sunglasses, paracetamol and water by your bed before night out!

@Jobelfield - Make friends, play hard, work harder!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Ugly Betty is Stealing My Job

So, while I was in the middle of designing my website (it's taking a lot more time and effort than I thought it would), I was half watching 'Ugly Betty' on television, feeling too lazy to channel hop and find anything better. And it reminded me that Prospect's grad blogger Jennysha had said in one of her posts that Ugly Betty is her idol.

Betty works as an assistant editor in a fashion magazine. Granted, I am not particularly interested in the fashion world, but it dawn on me today that Betty is on the same mission as me: climbing from assistant editor upwards in the publishing world.

With Miss Betty's world fame and popularity, has she inspired more people to enter the publishing world? Has she been persuading people all these years to become my competition?

Have people who have be Betty-lead to the publishing industry been getting the jobs I've been applying for, while I'm still sat watching the telly?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Woman in Black - Theatre Review

Thanks to the mobile phone company O2, I managed to get hold of a two-for-one offer on theatre tickets. I've been wanting to see 'The Woman in Black' for a very long time, so now was the perfect opportunity. I booked a week in advance and was delighted to get second row seats. However, on arriving at the small, cramped Fortune Theatre in London's West End, my partner (his first time at the theatre!) and I discovered that perhaps they were not the best of seats. The stage was three feet above us.

But as soon as the show started, we forgot about our slightly craning necks and was swept away by the story. An old man arrives and begins to dryly narrate from a manuscript. A young theatre producer/actor interrupts him and teaches him how to make his story come alive in the Victorian theatre. The story that unravels is a very dark and horrifying ghost story, one that the old man thinks he only relives in his nightmares...

I don't want to give too much away. My older sister had seen the play years ago and warned me that it was scary. I find ghost stories the scariest kind of narrative, so I was a little nervous. The first half did not scare me much at all. Even when The Woman in Black swished past my aisle seat, I didn't jump - I saw her much more as an actor than a ghost.

However, after the interval the fear was turned up more than a notch. With an impeccable sense of timing, lighting, sound, and brilliant acting, the whole audience was screaming and giggling to relieve the fear. I squeezed my partner's hand pretty tightly in some parts, and I admit I screamed at one point.

The theatre was the perfect place to tell this story. It was part way between reading a book and watching a film: the audience's imagination had to be engaged, to imagine Victorian streets and galloping horses, but many of the visuals were there, the sounds were there, the people were there in the flesh. The ghost could have reached out and grabbed you, if she wanted to...

The story was chilling, and reminded me a little of Henry James's 'The Turn of the Screw'. The acting was brilliant. I highly recommend seeing 'The Woman in Black', but be prepared for a sleepless night or two after the experience...

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Call for Submissions: Hint Fiction

I've seen this around on a few people's blogs and have been meaning to re-post for a while. Looks like a great opportunity! I'll get my thinking hat on for a few stories.

hint fiction (n) : a story of 25 words or less that suggests a larger, more complex story

Anthology Guidelines

Tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2010, W.W. Norton will publish an anthology of Hint Fiction. What is Hint Fiction? It’s a story of 25 words or less that suggests a larger, more complex story. The thesis of the anthology is to prove that a story 25 words or less can have as much impact as a story 2,500 words or longer. The anthology will include between 100 and 150 stories. We want your best work.

It’s possible to write a complete story in 25 words or less — a beginning, middle, end — but that’s not Hint Fiction.

The very best Hint Fiction stories can be read many different ways.

We want stories we can read again and again and never tire of. Stories that don’t pull any punches. Stories that make us think, that evoke some kind of emotional response.

Take a look at the winners and honorable mentions of the Hint Fiction Contest for examples.

Payment is $25 per story for World and Audio rights.

Reprints? Sure, but unless you’re one hundred percent confident in the reprint, why not try to write an original piece?

For formatting purposes, you must include a title (which actually works in your benefit, as the title helps give a better “hint” of the overall story).

Writers can only submit up to two stories, both embedded in the same e-mail. Don’t worry about a cover letter. We don’t care where you’ve been published or what graduate program you’ve attended — all author identification will be stripped by a third party so we will only see the stories and nothing but the stories.

To make everyone’s lives easier, embed the stories like this:





Your name.

Submissions will open August 1 and close at midnight Eastern time August 31. Submit only to this address:

(An auto responder has been set up so you can get immediate confirmation that your submission has been received. On the off-chance you do not receive an automated response within an hour, submit again. If on the off-off-chance you still receive nothing, e-mail me at my personal address and we’ll get it figured out.)

Please note that due to the expected volume of submissions, we will be forced to respond with form letters.

Thank you, and good luck.

***For a limited time, if you link to these guidelines on your blog or Twitter, you can submit a third story. These must be posted between July 1 and August 15. Include the link at the end of your e-mail. If you don’t include a link, the third story will be deleted unread.***

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Maybe You're Not a Writer...

I was watching the brilliant TV show 'Six Feet Under' last week, and there was a particularly interesting conversation between the character of Claire, who was previously an art student but now works in an office, and her Aunt Sarah.

SARAH: Maybe you're not an artist.

CLAIRE: Why would you say that?

SARAH: Did it hurt your feelings when I said it?

CLAIRE: Ah, yeah!

SARAH: Maybe I'm right. Maybe if you were an artist, you'd have laughed when I said that. Like if you told me I was purple, I would laugh because I know I'm not purple. But when I said you weren't an artist you felt bad, maybe because you know there is a grain of truth in it.

So, if I told you that you weren't a writer, how would you feel?
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