Category Archives: Bookmarked!

Bookmarked! May 27

A little shoutout here: Aaron Dunlap has finished Mind+Body … and he’s looking for a good agent to help him get the blook published. In the meantime he’s going to run it through a proofreader and put it up on Lulu. Any of you know a good lit agent to recommend go email him here.

On with the usual Bookmarked! fare:

Article 1. This is a (relatively) old article on blooks, posted in the days leading up to the Blooker prize announcement. It’s different because the article’s focus is on Blurb, instead of the usual Lulu exultations.

For creative types, on-demand printing is a cost-effective way to reach an audience, says Jeff Hayes, chief analyst at InfoTrends. Self-publishers have long served this purpose, Hayes adds, but Blurb reaches well beyond frustrated novelists. “It speaks to this long-tail economy,” Hayes says. “If you’re the local painter or you make jewelry, how do reach those who are interested in what you do? The key is to make it easier for the individual publisher and the interested reader to connect.”

It is essentially about Michelle Kaufmann, who used Blurb to publish Prefab Green, a book featuring her architectural firm’s work – ‘100 glossy pages of text, color photos and detailed floor plans.’

Article 2. Alright, so this isn’t an article. But I can’t help but share it: The Book Inscriptions Project is a site that posts up (you guessed it) book inscriptions! Or rather the little messages people scribble in the margins of books, especially when the book is a gift. What they do (in their own words):

We collect personal messages written in ink (or pen or marker or crayon or grape jelly) inside books. Pictures count. So do poems. So do notes on paper found in a book. The more heartfelt the better.

It’s a lot like Postsecret, but – thankfully – not as vulgar.

Article 3. How long should your story be? How many words in a novel? A novella? Short story? Read on to see what editors expect.


1. In Search Of Adam is something I’d like to get my hands on … it is a blook (I’m pretty sure it is) but since it’s published by The Friday Project I don’t think I can get it in a brick and mortar bookstore over here. I can but hope – you never know if it gets bought over by Bloomsbury or Harper Collins or something. Go check it out here.

2. The City Desk is a really weird fiction blog. No narrative, no story … just an exploration of a (non-existent) city – its businesses and events and streets.

“After browsing for a while, I’m still not sure what it is, but I like it.” – Internet user named “Ickster,” at Metafilter

I think that pretty much sums it up.

3. My friend Ming has started a blook … a day by day journey to find inspiration as an artist. As of press time he’s at Day 6, and boy does he do beautiful pieces.
'noise' - by ming
I’m hoping he acheives what he’s looking for – because a lot of what he writes about inspiration is true for writers too …

Inspiration? I don’t pretend to know what that is. But I think it is breathing in the moment in all it’s richness, with all our senses, filling our beings with love, and beauty, and a silent wisdom.

A picture may well be worth a hundred words, but both are capable of evoking complex emotions in their own right. And come to think of it … a novel would be worth 1100 pictures … both an explosion of colours and thoughts and feelings.

Exhibition, anyone?

Saturday, 5 May, 2007

Bookmarked! May 5th

It’s been quite awhile since my last Bookmarked! post, and I’m glad to say it’s back with a vengeance.

Article 1. I’m going to start off with an article in Design Observer entitled Bandwidth of Books. In it Alice Twemlow quotes Gabriel Zaid’s So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance, where he tells us that we’re all growing exponentially ignorant, being in a day and time where we produce 1 book every 30 seconds.

“If a person read a book a day, he would be neglecting to read 4,000 others and his ignorance would grow 4,000 times faster than his knowledge.”

This sets a backdrop to the rest of the article: how the opening up of new media has freed prited publications to explore ‘increasingly idiosyncratic obsessions — the more quirky, obscure and esoteric, the better’.

Article 2. Darren Rowse recently interviewed Tim Ferris, author of The 4 Hour Workweek. Interestingly enough Tim talks about blogs and the unique position bloggers have when it comes to publishing bestsellers. Big question mark right there – but he goes on to explain what he did to build up hype for his book, as well as to dispel a myth or two bloggers seem to have about publishing.


Scott McKenzie emailed me two weeks ago to tell me about his blook, Rebirth. I was in the middle of writing the Ultimate Blook Guide on Novelr then, so I couldn’t do a Bookmarked! post, what with all the drafts pinned up in WordPress and so on so forth. But I’ve taken a look at it and Scott has done a few pretty unique things – for one he’s got a competition running to name a character in the sequel to Rebirth.

… I am not very good at thinking up names for characters. Those of you who knew me pre-Rebirth will recognise some of the character and place names and I’ve been contacted by an ex-colleague who was ‘pleased’ to find out I’d named a stately home after him.

I chuckled as I read that.

Friday, 6 April, 2007

Bookmarked! April 5th

This has been a rather slow week for me, relatively speaking. I’ve been looking up a few articles and brooding over them – as well as a rather hilarious look at Penguin group’s attempt at a Wiki novel. So here’s the Bookmarked! post for April 5th:

I’ll start off with a mention of Mugglenet’s April Fools stunt – apparently each of the members posted up a ‘preview’ of Harry Potters and the Deathly Hallows – and the results were spectacularly hilarious:

“I always had an inkling that there was more to Hermione; her immediate knack with magic, and her irregular mood swings towards supposed ‘friends,’ Harry and Ron. I should have known she’d switch to the Dark side eventually. I just wish she hadn’t killed the whole of Ravenclaw in the process – I suppose it was just her annoyance at not being sorted there initially.” –Ciaran

“I couldn’t believe Snape was the long lost love child of Aberforth and that goat. It explains so much, including Severus’ appearance. And we now know why he told Harry to never call him a ‘cow’-ard, because he was in fact part goat.” –Micah

“I knew it! I knew it! When the Muggles came and totally obliterated everyone at the final battle, I was totally ready for it. Although, I admit killing every major character in the series was going a bit overboard, especially when Neville got hit by that bus after all was said and done. I didn’t know JKR had it in her!” –Tom

Quite a few of my friends actually did believe it, and they were reduced to pale-faced ghastly zombies for a day, wailing “How could they?!”

Those Mugglenet writers better run for cover for at least a full year. Heh.

On a more serious note, there’s been much talk lately of the recent Eyetrack study conducted by Poynter’s Institute. The findings state – get this – that online readers actually read 77% of an online (news) story, compared to 62% in broadsheets and 57% in tabloids.

News has always been suited for online reading, being that it is short, easy to digest and (usually) doesn’t require much thinking. The fact that the online world is threatening traditional newspapers and magazines isn’t the least bit surprising to me. But what I do find surprising is that readers actually complete more of a story on the internet rather than off it. What about the various distractions? The email and the Myspace pages and the RSS news feeds?

This is one myth that we’ll hear more about, sooner or later.


A Story Blook has actually been around for quite some time. The author’s recently gotten back from a hiatus and I’d say this is a perfect time to head over and to check it out – it’s grown to have quite a few short stories, all twisted to some extent.

Thursday, 29 March, 2007

Bookmarked! March 28th.

string.jpgI am jumping with excitement as I’m writing this (can’t WordPress slurp up my words any faster?) and I’m attributing it to the discovery of absolutely good stuff that’s got me astounded along with five cups of coffee. Let’s go straight to this edition of Bookmarked! … and I’m going to start with blooks.


Richard left me a comment a few days ago, alerting me to the application of the tips I’ve suggested to make reading fiction more accessible online. The blook in question? Undead Flowers. Read it! I was down with flu for the last few days, and I couldn’t go through the story there properly, but once I did … whoah! I was completely addicted to the pacing, the characters, the right amount of intrigue and interest and mystery … Richard has really done outstanding work over there. What’s it about? A storekeeper of a flower shop in a town out of the way. His customers? The undead. I say once again: read it.

The next blook is Mind+Body, which starts on a roll (first episode link here) and never lets up. I think I should be able to finish it – roughly 45 episodes to go, but still in progress. Genre? Young adult. From what I got by some random snooping around, the blook is about Chris Baker, who wakes up one day with his father dead and him half a million richer. His father worked in Quantico, doing research – and then Chris find out that he himself was one experiment. Sounds very cliched, but I’m not going to commit myself to any review at the moment – the writing’s good, the story seems sound. I’m already enjoying myself, even though it’s just the first few chapters.

I’ve saved the biggest for last. The Germaine Truth is not a blook. I can’t even call it a novel in blog form, due to its highly epic nature. What is it, then? I’m not too sure myself. It is a story, but it is spread over a whole plethora of sites, blogs and forums. There’s even a radio for the town, a mock newspaper covering the latest happenings to the characters, and support forums for the fictional products that the fictional companies in the town produce. I’m awed, but am also slightly daunted – I’ve no idea just where to start on such an sprawling work. Go check it out, anyway – it’s a perfect example of the internet allowing fiction to go further than ordinary, paper bound books.


Okay, enough on blooks. James Van Pelt writes in his blog about what reading his way through the sluch pile has taught him:

What I learned over and over and over again, through weeks of reading slush, is that professional, readable writing is recognizable in the first paragraph. Getting to the second page without running into a single groaner was such a relief that I’d sometimes read the first page of such a story to anyone who was near just so they could hear competent prose.

He also talks about how reading poetry helps with writing prose:

Writing well at the sentence and paragraph level is what I keep pounding into my students and workshop members. That’s why I think studying poetry can be so helpful: poetry is all about sentence level decisions. At any rate, that’s what I learned. My guess is that if you have a chance to read slush or to read for a contest you might learn something different, but, no matter what, do it. It’s a great, educational, professional move.

That being so, it can be extremely frustrating to read batch after batch of horrible stuff – but I’m feeling up to it. Maybe a pop by Urbis on the way out? It’s the first thing that comes to mind when you feed ‘slush’ and ‘web’ to my brain.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the links … because I’ve certainly enjoyed putting them together.

Thursday, 22 March, 2007

Bookmarked! March 21st

There has been a explosion of all things marked with the word ‘blook’ right after the wake of the 2007 Blooker Prize shortlist announcement. My inbox is being flooded, and I’m picking through the debris to find links of some value, which i would not have otherwise found. Let’s take a look:

The first is an article called Narrative Expectations from a blog called Tales From The Reading Room. Alright, it may have nothing to do with blooks or writing on the web, but the examples given are so enjoyable it took me a good 3 seconds to stop chuckling.

The next is what John Baker calls essential reading for anyone who seriously wants to write fiction. It’s the full text of an essay by Susan Sontag about our responsibilities as a writer, the nuances of the job, and the place of the novel (and the novelist) in a world of ‘spurious cultural geography’.

On the one hand, we have, through translation and through recycling in the media, the possibility of a greater and greater diffusion of our work. On the other hand, the ideology behind these unprecedented opportunities for diffusion, for translation – the ideology now dominant in what passes for culture in modern societies – is designed to render obsolete the novelist’s prophetic and critical, even subversive, task, and that is to deepen and sometimes, as needed, to oppose the common understandings of our fate.

Long live the novelist’s task.

Read it here.


I’ve discovered 3 blooks this week – the problem is that most of the time they’re not called blooks, but rather ‘blogged novels’ or ‘novel in blog form’. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that there is general antithesis to the word ‘blook’? Hmm. Anyway, here they are:

Death Sucks, a blook completed October last year (mistake corrected, thanks Ray), about a vampire kitty cat. The fonts are too small for comfortable on screen reading, but what got me started was the author’s commentary and excerpt at his blog Flogging The Quill: where he writes that blooking is not for the faint of plot .

Another fantasy novel in blog form: The Legacy of Tsazcuth, nevermind the weird name. Very readable fonts, and the first episode grips you from the get go. I’m planning on finishing it and then posting a review here – the entire blog seems to be receiving good feedback. And I’m eager to see why.

The third blook for this week is Stonyfields, a book Gloria Hildebrandt completed offline but couldn’t get published. She left me a comment alerting me to the possibility of blooking as a way to get completed novels that aren’t being read out there. In return, I’ll read her novel. It’s the least I can do.

I’ll close with an article from Kateblogs. It’s called It’s a Long and Winding Road, and she writes about how blooking isn’t a shortcut to getting published.

Lets face it, rejection hurts. Whether it is personal or professional. No one wants to be turned away, and while initially it may be easy enough to shrug off any feelings of hurt or disappointment, in time it can become frustrating, and disheartening.

A writer and blogger I read regularly is in this very situation. Despite being talented and determined he remains unpublished. I can fully understand why he feels dejected. Not only is he unable to earn a living doing something he loves, there is also the personal aspect. Writing comes from within, we leave part of ourselves on the page intermingled with the words. When those words are rejected, it can feel personal. Added to which is that fact that talent is not necessarily enough. Luck plays a big part, and sadly, so does knowing the right people.

… don’t worry about rejection generally, collect your rejection letters with pride. I know it’s hard to do that, but treat them as a joke, and think that you are one step nearer the day when a letter comes through the door saying YES!

Quite an optimistic look on writing, a shot of which is something we all can do with.