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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Eleanor Catton raises eyebrows

Bro Steve phoned early yesterday morning to say that talkback radio was on fire.

That is, the redneck channel 1ZB.  The hosts (perhaps) and the callers (definitely) were all upset that Eleanor Catton, a Booker prizewinner who also happens to be a Kiwi, vented about the prize being considered "New Zealand's" accomplishment instead of her actual personal award.

I can certainly understand that.  Sports stars have much the same problem. Look at the All Blacks! And what about Sam Neill?  Is his huge reputation as an actor his own accomplishment, or New Zealand's? And what about the Olympics, and the constant irritating announcement that "we" have won so many medals?

It varies from case to case, of course, but Eleanor Catton might have a good point that her hours of struggling with words ended up as "New Zealand's Booker Prize." Which just ain't fair.

Oddly, she also attacked the so-called "Tall Poppy Syndrome," where New Zealanders who make it overseas are cut down to size back home.  This is a long-held theory, but how is it, then, that New Zealanders who have made an international reputation (and not just in authorship) are being feted at the upcoming Taipei International Book Fair - and being sent there with wholehearted publisher and governmental support?

I strongly suspect that some tall-poppy-hacking journalist took her remarks out of context and out of order.  For instance, it was also reported that she had a go at our "neo-liberal" government, which is fair enough, politicians being up there for public hammering, that being what they campaigned for.  "But," bleated our prime minister (who almost certainly has not read the book), "we were voted in by an approving public, with a resounding majority."

Something else that was mentioned by Eleanor Catton in this seemingly disjointed speech was the fact that her Booker-winning book, The Luminaries, did not get the Big Prize (Book of the Year) in last year's New Zealand Post Book Awards.  Instead, it "just" got the fiction award.

Really?  I'm all for free speech, but this does sound as if some journalist made a leading question, or worse still, put the words into her mouth.

But never mind. Life goes on.  And HERE is what it is all about.

And here is the brilliant Tom Scott's cartoon, which says it all.

(For those who don't know what "hua" means, it is a gross insult, shortened from the Maori for "boiled head.")

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Does a change of cover work?

I had a really interesting communication from MC. Muir, the author of the stirring Under Admiralty Orders series, featuring one of my favorite Napoleonic Era heroes, Oliver Quintrell.

When she first asked Linda Collison's Facebook group ALL THINGS NAUTICAL about the jacket of her new book, the image on the left is the one she showed us.

My comment was that it is very striking (which it is) but that it doesn't shout, this is a book set on sailing ships.

Now, just weeks after release, she has changed the cover to the one below -- with a huge increase in sales.

So SAILS make SALES. (Forgive me, as it has been a long day.)

Interestingly, I found the same situation when I asked my fellow authors at Old Salt Press about the jacket of my latest, Lady Castaways.  I wanted a very plain jacket with a forlorn woman looking out to sea as she sat on a rock.  The consensus was to have one of Ron's ship paintings on the jacket.

Were they right?  Time will tell, as they say.
So which do YOU prefer?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Free upgrade to Windows 10

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp will give away its upcoming Windows 10 operating system as a free upgrade to users of the most recent versions of Windows and Windows Phone, as the world's largest software company tries to retain customers in the mobile era.
The action is a marked change for the company, which has always charged for new versions of Windows, one of its main profit drivers.
The 'free' strategy is designed to put Windows in as many devices as possible. The company would then make up for any lost revenue by selling services such as Office over the Internet, or cloud.
"It's a necessary evil as CEO Satya Nadella and Microsoft have recognised the 'golden goose' and major revenue opportunities will happen after the upgrades have taken place," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.
"Microsoft needs to lay seeds for its cloud-centric strategy and Windows 10 is the epicentre of that strategy. It's all about making it attractive for the ecosystem to upgrade onto this next-generation platform."
Investors were not impressed. Microsoft shares fell 1.5 percent to $45.67 on Nasdaq at mid-afternoon.
Windows 10, expected on the market this autumn, will be available for one year as a free upgrade to users of Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1, Myerson said.
The move was "inevitable," Forrester analyst Frank Gillett noted.

Shark in Wellington Harbor

There's a shark in Wellington Harbour

And when I say "harbour," I mean a lagoon known as Frank Kitts Lagoon, where there is a boathouse and paddle boats, and people run, jog, and walk along a path and boardwalk right alongside it.  It is part of our downtown scene.

And this morning's paper says that this shark has come in, along with some stingrays, and is having a nice swim in amongst the kids and the paddleboats and joggers and so forth.  There's a video of it, if you hit the link.

Apparently it is beautiful.  Must go down and have a look....

Monday, January 26, 2015


The Kindle edition, that is ... the print book has to wait until March...

It was not just the men who lived on the brink of peril when under sail at sea. Lucretia Jansz, who was enslaved as a concubine in 1629, was just one woman who endured a castaway experience. Award-winning historian Joan Druett (Island of the Lost, The Elephant Voyage), relates the stories of women who survived remarkable challenges, from heroines like Mary Ann Jewell, the "governess" of Auckland Island in the icy sub-Antarctic, to Millie Jenkins, whose ship was sunk by a whale.

So runs the blurb. This collection of tales -- some spine-chilling, others amusing -- features the feats of women under sail, when in extreme circumstances.  I've touched on a few before, mostly in articles I wrote for the journal of the San Diego Maritime Museum, Mains'l Haul.  These have been greatly lengthened as I revisited the various heroines, and with new research I found out much more about these remarkable women than I had known before.

Others are completely new.  Grim tales, some are too. It amazed me how many women were shipwrecked in the sub-Antarctic, and how few were castaway on lush tropical islets.  A couple of the stories are the stuff of nightmares, but hopefully the reader will emerge from the book, as I did, feeling vast admiration for the resourcefulness of these beleaguered women.

Kindle edition available now from Amazon

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Edgar Shortlist Revealed

The Mystery Writers of America have revealed their shortlist, and guess what, our good friend HEATHER VOGEL FREDERICK is included!

The Mystery Writers of America have revealed the nominees for this year’s Edgar Awards. The annual prize is named after beloved writer Edgar Allan Poe, awarded to the best authors in the mystery genre since 1945.
These awards recognize the following categories: novel, first novel, paperback original, fact crime, critical/biographical, short story, juvenile, young adult, play, and TV episode. We’ve got the entire list of nominees for you after the jump.
Best Novel
This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Wolf by Mo Hayder (Grove/Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
The Final Silence by Stuart Neville (Soho Press)
Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown)
Coptown by Karin Slaughter (Penguin Randomhouse – Delacorte Press)
Best First Novel by an American Author
Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman (W.W. Norton)
Invisible City by Julia Dahl (Minotaur Books)
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)
Bad Country by C.B. McKenzie (Minotaur Books – A Thomas Dunne Book)
Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh (Crown Publishers)
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver (Minotaur Books – A Thomas Dunne Book)
Best Paperback Original
The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani (Penguin Randomhouse – Penguin Books)
Stay With Me by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Barkeep by William Lashner (Amazon Publishing – Thomas and Mercer)
The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson (Llewellyn Worldwide – Midnight Ink)
The Gone Dead Train by Lisa Turner (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books)

Best Fact Crime

Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America by Kevin Cook (W.W. Norton)
The Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art by Carl Hoffman (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Other Side: A Memoir by Lacy M. Johnson (Tin House Books)
Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William Mann (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)
The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation by Harold Schechter (Amazon Publishing – New Harvest)
Best Critical/Biographical 
The Figure of the Detective: A Literary History and Analysis by Charles Brownson (McFarland & Company)
James Ellroy: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Jim Mancall (McFarland)
Kiss the Blood Off My Hands: Classic Film Noir by Robert Miklitsch (University of Illinois Press)
Judges & Justice & Lawyers & Law: Exploring the Legal Dimensions of Fiction and Film by Francis M. Nevins (Perfect Crime Books)
Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe by J.W. Ocker (W.W. Norton – Countryman Press)
Best Short Story
“The Snow Angel” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Doug Allyn (Dell Magazines)
“200 Feet” – Strand Magazine by John Floyd (The Strand)
“What Do You Do?” – Rogues by Gillian Flynn (Penguin Randomhouse Publishing – Bantam Books)
“Red Eye” – Faceoff by Dennis Lehane vs. Michael Connelly (Simon & Schuster)
“Teddy” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Brian Tobin (Dell Magazines)
Best Juvenile 
Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion Books – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)
Nick and Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith (Quirk Books)
Saving Kabul Corner by N.H. Senzai (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)
Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)
Best Young Adult
The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano (Penguin Young Readers Group – Kathy Dawson Books)
Fake ID by Lamar Giles (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Amistad)
The Art of Secrets by James Klise (Algonquin Young Readers)
The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Coming soon from Old Salt Press

Coming this month, Alaric Bond's eighth novel, The Guinea Boat.  Set in Hastings, Sussex during the early part of 1803, Guinea Boat tells the story of two young lads, and the diverse paths they take to make a living on the water.  Britain is still at an uneasy peace with France, but there is action and intrigue a plenty along the south-east coast. Private fights and family feuds abound; a hot press threatens the livelihoods of many, while the newly re-formed Sea Fencibles begin a careful watch on Bonaparte's ever growing invasion fleet. And to top it all, free trading has grown to the extent that it is now a major industry, and one barely kept in check by the efforts of the preventive men.

And also watch for my interview with the author.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Zealand's TIBE pavilion

From the Publishers' Association of New Zealand

Tokotoko Taiwan

The New Zealand Pavilion for the country’s Guest of Honour presence at the Taipei International Book Fair (11 – 16 February) is intended to provide homage to literature around the theme ‘open hearts, open minds, open books.’
The design incorporates strong Māori cultural elements which serve to connect the indigenous culture of the Taiwanese people with New Zealand.

Architect Andrew Patterson says the form of three Māori orators’ sticks or Tokotokos reflect that in the Māori tradition of oral literature, the Tokotoko is a symbol of the authority to speak.
The three Taipei Tokotokos are cardboard, laser-cut into contemporary New Zealand patterns and stained with red ink to provide space for listeners around a central orator, so in this case the authority to speak lies as much with the listener as the orator and a conversation ensues. The space features 18 publisher stands and accommodates up to 100 people as a reading area or a seated author event, and up to 230 people as a standing event space,
For up-to-date news on New Zealand’s Guest of Honour programme including the latest on the Visiting Author Programme visit our TIBE blog here

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Self publishing for kids

From Galley cat @

Lulu Jr., the children’s division of the self-publishing platform, has teamed up with educational software firm FableVision Learning.

This is a new venture called My Awesome Publishing Company!, a self-publishing platform for kids.

The online book publishing platform teaches kids how to create a book from idea to print edition. 

The tool guides young writers through writing, production, marketing and distribution until they ultimately publish their own book.

The company is pushing it to both educators as a way to engage kids in the classroom. 
The tool works on both mobile devices and desktops. 
Kids can start a project on say a classroom computer and then work on it on their iPad at home, for instance.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Baby names that didn't make it

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs rejected many names with rank and royal connotations in 2014, but also five people that entered / when registering the name of their child, one that entered 3rd and another 09.
There was one rejection of Senior Constable as a name, one rejection of Corporal, six rejections of Justice and one rejection each of Justyce and Justis.  The many royal references rejected included Prince, Princess, King, Majesty and Royal-Rule. There was one attempt to name a child Christ.


Senior Constable 

One wonders what is going through people's minds....