The Authors’ Cricket Club – you can’t make this stuff up

I like to think we writers are generous people. As you know, the proceeds from sales of Tangerine Tango, the cute book with contributions from yours truly, are going to support research into Huntington’s Disease.  And I’ve known for a while that there’s a rock group composed of American writers that raises money ($2 million) for the American Library Association Scholarship program and other charities. Although the group disbanded recently, due to the death of their founder, the Rock Bottom Remainders included such writing luminaries as Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan and Scott Turow.

In England, on the other hand, fund-raising by authors is more sedate. Much more sedate.

About a hundred years ago,(stay with me here) there was an English cricket team composed of people you may even have heard of, like Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), P.G. Wodehouse (Right Ho, Jeeves) and J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan). Earlier this year Leicester author Nicholas Hogg (The Hummingbird and the Bear) teamed up with writer and literary agent, Charlie Campbell (Scapegoat), to resurrect The Authors Cricket Club. Among the writers they recruited were Alex Preston, author of This Bleeding City and The RevelationsTom Holland, author of Rubicon and Persian Fire, The Battle of Britain-author James Holland, and Matthew Parker, who wrote The Sugar Barons. Sebastian Faulks (Birdsong), and First Story founder William Fiennes (The Snow Geese) also play for the team.

Dan Stevens

And to make the whole thing more photogenic, they’ve also recruited Dan Stevens, star of Downton Abbey, who is also one of the judges of the Man Booker prize this year. (He has a degree in English Literature from Cambridge, so he’s not just a pretty face. Although he is a pretty face.)

They’re helping to fund First Story, which supports and inspires creativity, literacy and talent in UK schools, and Chance to Shine, the campaign that sets out to bring competitive cricket – and its educational benefits – back to at least a third of the country’s state schools initially over a 10 year period.

So far they’ve played the Actors’ cricket team, the House of Lords and House of Commons Cricket team, and the Publishers’ cricket team.

And now they’re writing a book about it. Each team member will contribute a chapter about a particular fixture, with author Kamila Shamsie (Burnt Shadows) set to write about the team’s game against Shepperton Ladies and William Fiennes to write about the match at the picturesque Valley of the Rocks pitch in Devon. Hogg will write about the club where he grew up playing, with the season building to the fixture against the Actors team at Lord’s, 100 years since the Authors last played.

It’s almost enough to keep you awake during a cricket game. Almost.

 

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Give someone a Tangerine for the holidays: 1

As my regular readers know, some of my personal essays and a poem were published recently in a great little book. Great, because the writing is good, and little, because, well, it’s small. A perfect size, in fact, for a holiday gift for a hostess, mother, stocking stuffer or just for fun. (Only $8.35!)

To give you some idea of the kind of book it is, I thought I’d share some of the pieces with you between now and Christmas. The book’s available at Amazon in either paper or digital form. Here’s a sample of writing from the editor, Lisa K. Winkler, my internet friend. Here you go.

There’s nothing like an ice cream cone.  And this summer, there are more flavors than ever to choose from. Creative expression has pervaded ice cream, exposing our palates to culinary experiences akin to dining in ethnic restaurants.

Cheeses- feta, goat, ricotta or blue can be found mixed with fruits and vegetables. Savory spices such as paprika, basil, rosemary, curry, pepper and even garlic are offered next to traditional chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.  In New Jersey, the Garden State, I’ve seen “Fresh Corn.”  For those who skipped breakfast, maple syrup and bacon flavors abound, and for those thinking salad, there’s olive oil.

Then there are the flavors invented by creative vendors whose names tell the customer nothing. Why don’t the stores tape an explanation of these flavors to the front of the case? Instead, customers have to ask what each is, wasting the scooper’s time and annoying the impatient Little League team waiting in line.

One stand offers a flavor named for the town’s zip code.  And “Special Flavor,” which changes all the time. Last visit, it was peach.  And the imaginative names, like Dirty Diaper, Elephants Never Forget, and Kong. 

GC: Wow – buy the book to read the rest – which includes a recipe for chocolate fudge sauce. Yum.

You can find Lisa on her website, on Facebook and on her blog

It’s the Look…

Those of you who read me regularly will know by now that Lisa Winkler of Cycling Grandma is the editor who included me in her anthology of women writers, Tangerine Tango. Her recent post about a blog game called the Look Challenge, caught my attention. Read on and you’ll see why…

Gratitude: The “Look” Challenge, Hurricane Sandy

It’s National Novel Writing Month, a 30-day, 50,000 word, novel-writing challenge.

I’m not participating but Tangerine Tango contributor Dawn Landau is.  Not only is she writing with abandon dawn to dusk, she tagged me in the blog game called the  “Look Challenge.”  Bloggers, who are writing beyond their blogs have a chance to offer a sneak peek of their work.

The rules require that you search your writing for the word “look” and share a few lines. Dawn suggested I provide excerpts from the book.

Here’s what I found:

From Gabi Coatsworth’s essay about her memories shrimping with her father:

“I used to wonder sometimes if the sea would ever come back again. I would look out of my bedroom window, under the eaves of Granny and Grandpa’s house, and sometimes the sea would be right up, covering the pebble beach, and at other times I couldn’t see it at all, it was so far away. All I could see was sand, stretching away to the end of the world. It felt a bit scary, but there is one wonderful thing about sand like that. In the summer, after we’d had supper, my father would take us out shrimping before bedtime.

We’d walk down the drive toward the main road in front of the house. Holding hands in a straggling chain, we would cross the road after repeating the incantation: “Look right, look left, look right again. If all clear, quick march.” This last was, I suspect, my mother’s variation on “cross the road”. She had been in the army, after all.”

From Chris Rosen’s experience in her first hot air balloon:

“Miss Bean, our two-year-old shelter dog, started barking furiously on the deck while I was finishing making the pesto. Looking out towards the mountains, I saw why. A beautiful hot air balloon was floating over the valley and heading towards us! If it wasn’t for our trees, they might have landed on our hill.

I remembered our hot air balloon ride…”

And from Patti Winker’s  memory about clotheslines:

“Most might find it hard to feel nostalgic about any kind of laundry, let alone having to lug heavy baskets outside to dry on lines. Line drying the wash is hard work and not often reliable. Mom watched the sky, constantly on the lookout for ominous dark clouds Read the rest here.

Maybe you’d like to join in? Here’s the idea:

The Look Challenge

Search your manuscript for the word “look” and copy the surrounding paragraphs into a post to let other bloggers read. Then you tag five blogger/authors.

You only have to provide some of your own writing, not for the others (but “Thank you,Lisa”).

So I’m tagging five other writing bloggers:

A. J. O’Connell

Carrie Nyman

Tricia Tierney

Linda Howard Urbach

Alex McNab

via eBook Friendly: Want to give someone an eBook? Here’s how

I was pointed in the direction of this extremely useful video by eBook Friendly, a blog about e-books that I’ve been following for a while. It always has interesting and helpful posts, but I particularly liked this one because it answers a question I’ve been puzzling over: How to give someone an eBook?

Now I know how to give all my friends with Kindles a copy of Tangerine Tango ($2.99) for Christmas… just a thought 🙂

Interview with author Lisa Winkler – editor of Tangerine Tango

In addition to writing a regular blog, Lisa Winkler is the author of On the Trail of the Ancestors, A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America.  She’s also the editor of a new anthology of writing by women called Tangerine Tango (yes, of course I’m in it!) and I was impressed with the energy and dedication she brought to putting the project together, so I asked her about it.

GC: Congratulations on publishing Tangerine Tango. Is this the first book you’ve produced?

LW: Thanks, Gabi! I’m so proud of the book. This is my second book.  On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America was published last February. That is a very different book than Tangerine Tango. It tells the journey of a teacher I met from Newark, NJ who rode his horse from New York to California to honor the contributions of African-Americans to US history.

Tangerine Tango is a collection of essays and poems by 12 women writers.

GC: Tell me something about how you found your authors.

LW: Most of the writers I have befriended through blogging and I asked them to contribute.  By reading and commenting on each others’ blogs I feel as if I have all these wonderful friends!

GC: The book is attractive looking. Did you design it yourself, or did you have help?

LW: I had help. I am so lucky to have met Solveig Marina Bang. She is a designer and copy editor, based in India, who turns my word documents into art!  We go back and forth debating grammar as well as design.  She created 9 covers for me to select from—I loved this one immediately.

GC: Which parts of the publishing process did you handle yourself? (ISBN numbers, editing, etc)

LW: I have self-published with CreateSpace, Amazon’s publishing company. They assign the ISBN. I edited the essays and shared the edits with the writers. Then Marina and I pored through the entire document scores of times, and the writers proofread it too. I think there were over 20 drafts before it was ready to submit for publication.

GC: Was publishing the book pretty straightforward?

LW: Well the paperback was unavailable for a few days because of some glitch between Amazon and CreateSpace. In order to solve the formatting problems I had to wait for them to fix the issues with the Amazon paper copies. People who ordered from CreateSpace directly weren’t affected, but it was a nuisance from a promotional point of view. On the bright side, while it was unavailable, Amazon was advertising used copies for $999!

GC: Is the problem cleared up now?

LW: Yes, thankfully, and it’s been selling well.

GC: What piece of advice would you give to other indie authors looking to publish?

LW: It’s a risk and investment. There are tons of paper books being published both traditionally and self-published. Then there are eBooks. There’s a lot of competition. Don’t expect to make fast money. There’s no guarantee even if you’re traditionally published.
GC: Would you be prepared to do it again? Is volume 2 in the works, for example, or do you have something different on the horizon?

 

LW: I’d love to do this again! It would be another title; maybe with themes, maybe not. I’d love to double the size of the book and the number of authors. I think I’ll wait at least a year though to see how this one does, and if I do another book, I want to research other companies.

Re-post: The Seven Deadly Words of Book Reviewing, by Bob Harris (NYT)

Bob Harris, if I have the right one, used to be the deputy editor of the New York Times Book Review, and subsequently contributed to their Arts Beat blog. I ran across this post of his from 2009, and since I try to review books I’ve read, but generally feel my reviews could be better written, I found it very helpful. Below you’ll find the beginning of the article, with a link to the rest of it. When you write a review of Tangerine Tango (to which yours truly has contributed several pieces) you’ll know how to do it really well.

Like all professions book reviewing has a lingo. Out of laziness, haste or a misguided effort to sound “literary,” reviewers use some words with startling predictability. Each of these seven entries is a perfectly good word (well, maybe not eschew), but they crop up in book reviews with wearying regularity. To little avail, admonitions abound. “The best critics,” Follett writes, “are those who use the plainest words and who make their taste rational by describing actions rather than by reporting or imputing feelings.” Now, the list:

poignant: Something you read may affect you, or move you. That doesn’t mean it’s poignant. Something is poignant when it’s keenly, even painfully, affecting. When Bambi’s mom dies an adult may think it poignant. A child probably finds it terrifying.

compelling: Many things in life, and in books, are compelling. The problem is that too often in book reviews far too many things are found to be such. A book may be a page turner, but…read more