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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wreck of American whaling bark found in Argentina

Whaling history unveiled

Ted Hayes on the site East reports that marine archaeologists from Argentina's National Institute of Anthropology may have found the remains of an 1850's whaler from the Rhode Island port of Warren.

The scientists believe they may have found the wreck of the Dolphin, a 325-ton, 110-foot whaling bark built in 1850 by Warren shipbuilders Chace and Davis.

The wreck is beached along the coast of Argentina at Puerto Madryn in Bahia Nueva (New Bay). Parts of it show signs of having been burned and it is partially visible at low tide. Much of the structure above the keel is gone, leaving a section of wreckage about 80 feet long.

Argentinian archaeologist Cristian Murray said that while some locals had known about the wreck for many years, it was first noted by archaeologists in 2002 when shifting sands revealed a larger area of wreckage than was previously visible. Field work at the site is mostly complete, and the focus now is on coming up with a preservation plan to prevent its deterioration, and positively identifying the wreck.

There is a good chance they are right, as the bark Dolphin certainly met her end on that coast.

In fact, her history was a disastrous one.

Built in 1850 as part of the huge expansion of the American whaling trade into all the Seven Seas of the world, the Dolphin started her maiden voyage on November 15 that same year, and returned almost exactly three years later, on September 5, 1853.

To make money, a whaler had to return with a cargo of about 3,000 barrels  (about 100,000 gallons) of oil, having killed about fifty whales.  The master of the Dolphin, Captain Charles R. Cutler, reported just 260 barrels.

It had been a very unlucky voyage.  In the logbook (now held by the New Bedford Whaling Museum) he wrote on June 8,1852: "We are getting no oil. God help us and send us many whales so that we may put once more to a Christian land again to my dear wife and family."

Nevertheless, he was given the command again, departing from Warren on May 17, 1854. As before, he steered for the Indian Ocean.  Part way through the voyage, he left the ship, probably because of illness.  The mate, who was left in charge, died. The vessel finally returned on January 17, 1858, but at least the report -- 824 barrels -- had improved.

Still, however, it was a losing voyage. The owners in Warren were making no money.

On her third voyage, Captain Samuel Norie was in command. She sailed on September 30, 1858, and within months was reported lost on the coast of Patagonia.

Her story will be told in a book by Walter Nebiker, the author of a comprehensive history of Warren whaling that is as yet unpublished.

Dolphin probably looked like the whaling bark in the lively scene above, which was painted by a seaman on the bark Washington of Greenport.  It is now held by the Oysterponds Historical Society in Orient, Long Island

The Gutenberg Bible

A bargain missed

One day, a rare book collector met a man who told him he had just disposed of a Bible that had been printed by "Somebody named Guten-something."

Well, said the bibliophile, I hope you got a good price: a good Gutenberg Bible is worth millions.

Not this one, said the seller. "Someone named Martin Luther had scribbled notes all over it."

From Tad Bonham, The Treasury of Clean Jokes. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1981. With thanks to Edward Duyker.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tracking down an agent and an editor

When is the best time to start searching for an agent or a publisher for a novel?

Is an agent really necessary?

Would self-publishing (through Amazon, for instance) be a better option?

These three interesting questions came up on the Facebook page “All Things Nautical” recently, attracting even more interesting answers.

Let’s look at the first one, first:

When is the best time in the novel-writing process to start sending out proposals?

The reaction was definite.  While it’s okay (and sometimes a very good idea) to send out a proposal and outline for a non-fiction book before the book is written (or even started), a novel must be Finished.  To tell a prospective agent or editor that the novel is not finished is usually a cause for instant rejection.

And, not only should it be finished, but it should be polished, too.  Which means no typos, no aberrant formatting, no redundancies. As one correspondent added, it should not only be finished, but scrubbed repeatedly by you and also at least one other competent and educated reader.

Another, who used to work at a publishing company, fervently agreed. The best favor you can do yourself is to find a good editor, technical reader, and proofreader before you submit your manuscript, she wrote. Some of the manuscripts that came in were perfectly “horrible to read”—and while the publishing company had its own editors who were perfectly capable of fixing all those awful errors, “the less work the company has to do, the better, in the eyes of the company.”

Others advised multiple submissions (usually consisting of first 3 chapters and a synopsis). However, the publisher’s guidelines may indicate that they will not accept multiple submissions (i.e. sending the same submission to various agents and/or publishing houses). The problem with this is that some houses take 6 weeks to three months to reply and a few never get back to you. Receiving a rejection after waiting weeks and then submitting somewhere else can mean you spend a year in just 3-4 submissions. Trying to do the right thing can be very frustrating ...

Second: how to hunt out that ideal agent.

Good advice was to phone a prospective agent, saving a lot of time and effort.  Nowadays, many agents will respond to emails. You can find this out by going to one of the publications that list agents and their fields of specialty and whether or not they will accept the manuscripts of "new" (i.e., debut) authors. Literary Market Place and Writer's Market are two. The best, perhaps, is Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents.

 Whether you phone or query via the internet, the call or the email should be short.  Remember the “elevator” advice—pitch your idea in exactly the time that it would take to get from one floor to the next if you were in an elevator with that agent.

But, is an agent really necessary?

Some said yes, one pointing out that agents have more clout and knowledge than authors when it comes to the major houses.  If you want to approach one of the Big Six New York publishers, you have to do so through an agent, as none will consider a manuscript sent in "over the transom." However, securing an agent can be as hard—or harder—than finding a publisher, and even then there is no guarantee that they will find a home for your book.

You don't need an agent to approach most smaller publishers. And a smaller publisher will often commit its entire publishing team to your book, whereas none of the Big Boys (or Girls) in New York will commit much of anything unless your name in Bernard Cornwell or Philippa Gregory -- in which case the sky is the marketing limit.

A small word of warning -- if you query a "small" publisher, make sure it is not just an imprint of one of the major publishers. These are listed on this very good site posted by blogger Scott Marlowe.

Personally, I think that unless you are very lucky in snaring an enthusiastic agent with good contacts in good publishing houses, you might be better at selling your idea yourself. An agent, however, is very useful in negotiating a contract, and keeping the publisher to the agreed terms. For anyone who does manage to sell a book without an agent, I strongly recommend joining the Authors Guild, which has a free -- and very quick -- service vetting contracts. It can save many pitfalls.

Self-Publishing as an option 

Well, there is that self-publishing (the “indie”) route. In these hard economic times publishers are very conscious that every book is a gamble, and they all would like that gamble to be a sure bet. Accordingly (unlike agents), they are more reluctant to take a punt on an unpublished author, no matter how good the writing might be. So, indie publishing is an increasingly attractive option.

Be prepared to do all the marketing yourself, though, as one correspondent warns. Companies that offer self-publishing services do not do ANY marketing, despite what they might say. Amazon is an exception, since it's the biggest book retailer.

No wonder they say that writing the book is the easy part!

TUPAIA shortlisted in design awards

PANZ Book Design Awards 2012 Shortlist: titles with impact

Art books, biographies, vivid history, children’s books, educational titles and the best typography will compete for New Zealand’s major book design awards, the Publishers Association of New Zealand’s PANZ Book Design Awards 2012.

On the judging panel are art director of
North & South Jenny Nicholls, design company partner Gideon Keith and bookseller Roger Parsons. With well over 100 books submitted, they’ve had a hard task just arriving at a shortlist of each category. Jenny said the judges looked for consistency of design from front cover to back cover. "The best designs had a sense of play," said Jenny. "Book covers, in particular, did not work when marketing departments overplayed their hand, sacrificing emotional impact – not to mention aesthetics.

"Design is less about self-expression, more about problem solving, than many would believe," Jenny commented. "When designers are let off the leash you’ll see the most exciting books."

In the
Random House New Zealand Award for Best Illustrated Book, two art-related books vie with the biography of culinary legend. A Micronaut in the Wide World (Gregory O’Brien: Auckland University Press), designers Keely O’Shannessy (cover), Katrina Duncan (interior) is about the art of Graham Percy. De-Building (Justin Paton: Christchurch Art Gallery) is a handbook of the collective exhibition of 14 New Zealand and international artists designed by Peter Bray. In contrast, the third book shortlisted is the beautifully designed Fleur: The Life and Times of Pioneering Restaurateur Fleur Sullivan (Fleur Sullivan: Random House) and the designer is Alan Deare of AREA Design.

The Hachette New Zealand Award for Best Non-illustrated Book sees a shortlist beginning with Janet Frame: In Her Own Words, her published non-fiction writing along with letters, reviews and essays (Denis Harold & Pamela Gordon, eds: Penguin), with Anna Egan-Reid as the designer. Pieces of Mind (Michael C. Corballis: Auckland University Press) designed by Sarah Maxey (cover) and Katrina Duncan (interior) is an introduction to what we’ve learned about the brain over the last 25 years. The third nominee is Tupaia: The Remarkable Story of Captain Cook’s Polynesian Navigator (Joan Druett: Random House), designed by Saskia Nicol.

The Scholastic New Zealand Award for Best Children’s Book pits a digger, bugs and a travelling restaurant against each other. The books are Bruiser (Gavin Bishop: Random House), designers Gavin Bishop and Carla Sy; The Travelling Restaurant (Barbara Else: Gecko Press), designer Luke Kelly with cover and internal illustrations by Sam Broad; and Two Little Bugs (Mark & Rowan Sommerset: Dreamboat Books) designed by Rowan Sommerset.

The Pearson Award for Best Educational Book choice will be made from texts on maths, marketing and an aspect of Maori-Pakeha history. The trio are Marketing: Real People, Real Choices (Michael R. Solomon, Greg Marshall & Elnora Stuart: Pearson), designers Cameron Gibb (cover) and Marie Low, Theta Mathematics (David Barton: Pearson) also designed by Marie Low; and He Kōrero – Words Between Us: First Māori–Pākehā Conversations on Paper (Alison Jones & Kuni Jenkins: Huia), designed by Sam Bunny.

The HarperCollins Publishers Award for Best Cover will be judged between two titles nominated for other PANZ Design Awards this year, Tupaia: The Remarkable Story of Captain Cook’s Polynesian Navigator, designer Saskia Nicol; Janet Frame: In Her Own Words, designer Anna Egan Reid. The third nominee is CSA: The Radical, the Reactionary and the Canterbury Society of Arts 1880–1996 (Warren Feeney: Canterbury University Press) designed by Aaron Beehre.

The Mary Egan Ltd Award for Best Typography finalists all gained recognition in other PANZ Design Awards categories: Fleur: The Life and Times of Pioneering Restaurateur Fleur Sullivan designed by Alan Deare; De-Building, designer Peter Bray, and CSA: The Radical, the Reactionary and the Canterbury Society of Arts 1880–1996, designed by Aaron Beehre.

The Gerard Reid Award for Best Book, sponsored by Nielsen Book Services, will be chosen from the winners of these six categories.

"Designers are standing up for themselves and speaking out," says convenor Jenny Nicholls. Whose skills speak most eloquently will be revealed when the PANZ Design Awards 2012 are presented at the Gus Fisher Gallery in Auckland on 5 July.

The brilliant designer of Tupaia, the Remarkable Story of Captain Cook's Polynesian Navigator, Saskia Nichol, is also shortlisted for Young Designer of the Year

Click the link below to watch a video of the 2012 shortlisted entrants!

Launch in California

You are invited to a Wine & Cheese Reception

celebrating the launch of a new book,

"Sea of Troubles: The Lost Ships of Point Sur"

by JoAnn Semones


Date: Thursday, June 21, 2012

Time: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with

a brief program at 6:00 p.m

Place: The Coastside Gallery & Wine Bar

330 Main St, Half Moon Bay , CA 94019

~ Please RSVP ~



... chat with a visiting lighthouse keeper

... meet the descendant of a famous ship builder


... Dave Cresson, Half Moon Bay History Association

... Dawn Hayes, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

... JoAnn Semones, Maritime Author & Historian


... wine & other libations, cheese & delectible tidbits

... entertainment by guitarist Mike McCall

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Polynesian Voyaging Traditions: symposium

    "The Traditional Science of Voyaging: Setting Our Course For The Future"


The Te Ūnga Mai charitable Trust was formed to commemorate our Voyaging Traditions and First Meetings between theTangata Whenua and Captain Cook and the Endeavour. Te Ūnga Mai has held significant annual events celebrating the first meetings since its formation in 2006.

This year Te Ūnga Mai is holding an event that recognises and celebrates the significance and historical connection between the 2012 Transit of Venus and the Transit of Venus observed by Captain Cook in Tahiti in 1769. It was after the observation that Cook sailed with his crew on the Endeavour and arrived in Aotearoa for the first time.

Sailing from Tahiti with Cook and his crew was Tupaia, a Tahitian of royal blood, highly skilled in traditional celestial navigation and voyaging. Tupaia successfully helped Cook navigate through the unfamiliar and dangerous waters of the South Pacific, eventually arriving in Aotearoa.

Celestial Navigation, Astronomy and Traditional Wayfinding over vast distances across the Pacific Ocean was mastered and practiced by Polynesian Voyagers thousands of years ago.
The Traditional Science of Voyaging is as relevant now as it was then, and it is time to recover and relearn those ancient skills. They are the skills that brought the Tangata Whenua across the pacific to Aotearoa.

Now is the time to perpetuate, and preserve the science, knowledge and practices of traditional sailing, astronomy, navigation, canoe design and construction.
To do so is an investment in the future of our youth and communities, a significant means to enhance cultural, educational and personal development.

To know who you are, you must know where you came from...

The Programme

  • Monday 4th June
    • Aotearoa One | Schools/Public Sail | Celesital Navigation Presentation | 2 x Sails - am/pm
  • Tuesday 5th June
    • Aotearoa One | Schools/Public Sail | Celesital Navigation Presentation | 2 x Sails - am/pm
  • Wednesday 6th June
    • Aotearoa One | TOV Observation Sail | Celesital Navigation Presentation | Sail & Ceremony
  • Thursday 7th June
    • Aotearoa One | Schools/Public Sail | Celesital Navigation Presentation | 2 x Sails - am/pm
  • Friday 8th June
    • Aotearoa One | Schools/Public Sail | Celesital Navigation Presentation | 2 x Sails - am/pm
  • Saturday 9th June
    • Emerald Hotel 4pm - 8pm | 4 Guest Speakers | Public Event

The Symposium

The week will conclude with a Symposium to be held on the 9th June, at the Emerald Hotel in Gisborne, from 4pm to 8pm.

5 Speakers will be presenting at the Symposium

"The Traditional Science of Voyaging
Setting Our Course for the Future"

Tua Pittman | Cook Islands/Tahiti: Voyager & Master Navigator

Jacko Thatcher | Aotearoa: Voyager & Master Navigator

Joan Druett | Aotearoa: Author of "Tupaia: Captain Cooks Polynesian Navigator"

Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr | Aotearoa: Traditional Voyager/ Manager of Te Wananga Aotearoa Voyaging Programme / Chairman of Te Toki Voyaging Trust

Te Aturangi Nepia-Clamp | Aotearoa/Cook Islands: Traditional Voyager & Captain/Master Carver
The Speakers will make a presentation followed by a Question and Answer session.
Refreshments will be served afterwards.
The Sail and Symposium are Free Events.
Public Bookings to sail on 'Aotearoa One' are essential.
The Symposium is by Invitation and Open to the Public
Contact Details:
Te Unga Mai Trust Event Organiser: Eva Nepia-Clamp
mobile: 0210 246 8009
phone: 06 867 7371
skype: eva.nepia.clamp

Transit of Venus

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Orwell Prize won by Afghanistan War Book

A book about the death of a British officer in Afghanistan, once pulped by the Ministry of Defence, has won the Orwell Prize for political writing.

Dead Men Risen, written by Toby Harnden and published by Quercus, took the prize at a ceremony in Westminster and was the judges' unanimous choice.

It focuses on the death of Lt Colonel Rupert Thorneloe in 2009.

It was published in amended form after the first print run was destroyed by the MoD.

Read the full BBC story

Tony Blair to face yet another inquiry

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is to appear before the Leveson Inquiry into media standards

The BBC reports that Mr Blair will be questioned over whether his relationship with News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch and the company's News International subsidiary was too close.

Mr Blair travelled to Hayman Island in Australia to address News Corp executives in 1995, as part of a Labour strategy to communicate with newspapers that had unfavourably portrayed previous leaders Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock.

He is also godfather to one of the media tycoon's children.

He previously gave evidence to the Hutton inquiry into the death of government scientist Dr David Kelly - the source for the controversial BBC report about intelligence being exaggerated to make the case for war.

He told the inquiry in 2003 he would have resigned if the claims about "sexing up" the Iraq dossier were true.

In 2010, he said he had "no regrets" about removing Saddam Hussein from power during the Iraq inquiry, which was set up to investigate the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.

The Leveson Inquiry is currently examining the relationship between the press and politicians.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Guns with patriotic engravings

Believe it or not, there is a gun manufacturer out there that sells guns engraved with famous quotations from the Bill of Rights.

It is the RMK-9CI Pistol.

It boasts about being "snag-free" -- so that it can be drawn quickly without snagging on fabric.  From wherever you might have concealed it. Fashioned, in fact, for a fast draw.

It is made in America from entirely American materials.

It is engraved with "venerated words."

And it is called "Proudly American."

The quaint rationale for this is explained on the manufacturer's website:

In developing the 9C1 pistol and visiting with gun dealers for feedback, we found these small businessmen and gun enthusiasts patriotic and intensely passionate about American Freedoms, Liberty, and our enviable Rights. We also found this group more knowledgeable of our history and of America’s Constitution than average citizens. So much so we were embarrassed over our own ignorance and endeavored to learn more about our history and that document so meticulously constructed by the brightest minds among America’s Founding generation.

It is this evolution that inspired us to engrave the Bill of Rights on the 9C1 handgun, not as some gimmick, but instead to inspire and encourage others as we were so inspired and encouraged.

It is our intent and hope that FMK products perform over the long haul at a high level, not to do disservice to those venerated words

Other "venerated words," according to the website, include famous aphorisms, such as Ted Nugent's "I don't like repeat offenders, I like dead offenders."

According to Andrew Rosenthal, in the opinion pages of the New York Times, Tucker Carlson’s news site, The Daily Caller, has announced that it’s giving away a gun a week until Election Day.

Patriotic gun-toters, take note.

New fiction prize

Grace McCleen, Patrick McGuiness, Rachel Joyce

A poet, a radio playwright and a writer who grew up in a Christian sect have made it on to the shortlist for this year's Desmond Elliott Prize.


The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen joins Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Patrick McGuinness' The Last Hundred Days.

The prize for new fiction was set up in memory of the celebrated literary agent to enrich the careers of new writers.

Bookmakers have given Rachel Joyce a narrow lead to take the £10,000 prize.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sample chapters on facebook

Publishers Lunch  reports that it will soon be possible for authors and publishers to feature sample chapters on facebook.

For a while now (they say) Hachette Book Group has been talking at conferences about their internal work to harness Facebook as a way for readers to sample and share books. Wednesday the company formally launched their ChapterShare Facebook app, which makes good on that promise.

The app lets authors themselves as well as HBG staff post chapters onto Facebook pages from forthcoming books. Facebook friends can read and share the samples, as well as pre-order the titles. The first two excerpts are opening chapters from James Patterson’s forthcoming novel NYPD Red (October 8) and Michael Connelly’s The Black Box (November 26). HBG coo Ken Michaels notes in the announcement, "Publishing is evolving from a B2B business to a B2C business, and apps like ChapterShare allow us to connect directly with consumers. Publishers need to become application developers in order to connect writers and readers more closely. We saw a need for an application that could unlock more of Facebook’s power for writers and used our unique publishing expertise and systems to build it." (Michaels will expand in this theme in a presentation at Publishers Launch BEA on June 4.)

The Spirit of 1812

FEW Americans remember the War of 1812, and if they do they are likely to forget that it marked the coming of age of their navy. “The Star-Spangled Banner”, written by an amateur poet on the back of an envelope during its battle of Baltimore, makes a bigger impression these days. But it was the heroic performance of America’s frigates against the world’s most powerful fleet that saved the young republic from possible extinction, despite the burning of the White House by the British in 1814.

Two centuries on, the navy is hoping to reclaim the memory of its greatest glory, and to polish its own reputation in the process. While the war (which lasted till 1815) may not feature prominently in a potted history of America, the service sees the conflict as a reminder of its enduring importance. It has spent some $12m on a three-year-long bicentennial celebration, to promote stirring events and exhibitions across the country.


Berries that go moldy...

From summertime Martha's Vineyard

(Accompanied by a really awful pun)

Berries are delicious, but they're also rather delicate. Raspberries in particular seem to mold before you even get them home from the market. There's nothing more tragic than paying $4 for a pint of local raspberries, only to look in the fridge the next day and find that little luxury inedible.
Well, with fresh berries just starting to hit farmers markets, we can tell you that how to keep them fresh! Here’s a tip I’m sharing on how to prevent them from getting there in the first place:

Wash them with vinegar.
When you get your berries home, prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider probably work best) and ten parts water. (1/4 c. vinegar in 2-1/2 c. water)
Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse if you want (though the mixture is so diluted you can't taste the vinegar,) and pop in the fridge. The vinegar kills any mold spores and other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit, and voila! Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft. So go forth and stock up on those pricey little gems, knowing they'll stay fresh as long as it takes you to eat them.
You're so berry velcome!

Breaking in a Kindle

The Internet is so Convoluted ...

I succumbed to the eBook revolution (after all, I write about it all the time) and bought a Kindle Touch.  It's a nice gadget, light to hold, and surprisingly responsive for a six-inch (diagonally) rectangle of plastic and mysterious innards. The only problem was that I could not get it to work.

Kindles work with WiFi. "Whispernet," they call it.  They are also supposed to work with the supplied USB cable, but while my new purchase charged very efficiently when connected by USB cable to my desktop, it wouldn't buy or download books.  Or even recognize my presence.

The problem, it seemed, was that my Kindle had to be registered via WiFi.  There is an option on "My Amazon" to register online, which I took, but it didn't make any difference.

Perhaps the Kindle and/or the USB cable were faulty?  Working on that theory, I took both back to the supplier, Dick Smith Electronics.  The kid who had sold it to me (and they are always earnest kids) tried both out on a store computer, and managed to "buy" a free Kindle book, load it to the store computer, and then transfer it to my Kindle via the USB cable.  Well, this seemed too complicated and ponderous, so I bought the cheapest router in the store, a D-Link 600 for 59 bucks (NZD).  The young man warned me that it could be "tricky" configuring it with my ISP's coordinates, but I was up to the challenge.

Or so I thought.

The D-Link 600 comes with a CD that runs a manual and a wizard.  Of course I tried the wizard first.  Worked through it, hit manual configuring and phoned my ISP (Telstra) to make sure the internet protocol 4 numbers for my modem connection were the same for the router.  The nice techie said yes, and we went through it together.  Then we both gave up.  It was too tricky even for the expert on the other end of the phone.

So, after a long pause for contemplation, I had another go, this time reading the manual.  It barely made sense, but I did gather that I had to configure a "static" connection.  So I loaded the CD into my laptop (giving the desktop a break), and had another go.  Same negative result, so I hit networking on the laptop, and lo, it passed me onto a D-Link site.  How it did it, I do not know, but I scanned through the paragraphs until I came to "static."  Ticked the box, and lo again, a page came up asking for my ISP's figures.  I typed them in, there was a pause, and then it said the router would reboot.  It didn't.  So I pulled its plug for a minute, reconnected, and it worked! 

Amazon's verifier tends to be slow.  It took three attempts to get them to recognize my wireless password, but then -- and lo yet again -- it allowed me to register and purchase.

So miracles do happen.  Now for the eBook universe.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Orange ends sponsorship of women's fiction

This is the end of an era but no arts project should stand still and we are now looking forward to developing the prize with a new partner.  --  Kate Mosse Orange Prize co-founder

From the BBC
The mobile services company, which has sponsored the prize since it was established 17 years ago, is to focus its brand on the film industry.

Novelist Kate Mosse, the prize's honorary director, said she was in "active discussions with a number of potential new sponsors".

The £30,000 prize recognises English language fiction written by women.

The announcement comes a week before the winner of this year's Orange Prize is to be announced in London.

Mosse, who co-founded the prize in 1996, said: "Our partnership has delivered everything - and more - than we hoped for. A celebration of international writing by women, one of the most significant arts awards in the UK and also a major force in education, literacy and research.

"This is the end of an era but no arts project should stand still and we are now looking forward to developing the prize with a new partner," she said.

She added: "These are very challenging but also exciting times in publishing and we hope that the Prize for Fiction will continue to make as significant a contribution going forward as it has over the last 17 years. To that end, we are in active discussions with a number of potential new sponsors and look forward to the start of another exciting chapter for the prize."

In an open letter on the Orange Prize website, Mosse invites potential sponsors to get in contact.

Another migrant voyage

To Auckland by the Ganges

While I will probably wait until the book arrives in New Zealand libraries, it sounds very interesting.  Migrant accounts abound, but this one was written by a journalist of the time, so while it might not be as honest and candid as a personal diary, it should command the attention of the reader.

Herewith the blurb from the publisher, Whittle (UK), which despite an odd last sentence warning you that you are not going to find out what happened to this bloke after he settled in war-torn New Zealand, makes the book look an attractive buy.

In 1863 there was only one method of travelling from Britain to the other side of the world by sailing ship, on a journey that could take up to four months, and when the vagaries of wind and weather could put travellers in peril during long voyages. The offer of grants of land in New Zealand was a means of enticing emigrants to the fledgling colony, particularly people who had a skill to offer.

One such emigrant was David Buchanan, a journalist and editor of several prominent Scottish newspapers, who opted for a new life in the hope that the health and fortunes of his family would improve. He travelled with his surviving son and three daughters, having lost his wife giving birth to their ninth child.

Using his journalistic skills, Buchanan maintained a daily journal of the voyage which was published twice-weekly in his former newspaper, the Glasgow Herald. His account blended accurate details of the vessel and its handling with anecdotal tales and experiences providing interesting snapshots of mid-nineteenth century life. His devotion to detail suggests a passenger's keen eye upon the operation and progress of the vessel by the ship's crew. Of especial interest is the description of daily life aboard a mid-19th century sailing ship, and the interaction between passengers and crew. The clear class distinction between cabin and steerage class passengers, as well as the many pitfalls and potential injuries to passengers and crew that are described make illuminating reading.

Upon reaching New Zealand Buchanan and his fellow passengers had stepped into the unrest of the Maori Wars, which were closely reported in British newspapers such as the Glasgow Herald. David Buchanan and his family may have settled and led a prosperous life but whatever befell him, he is due our gratification for providing an interesting and valued account of experiences on a voyage during the dominant era of sailing ships.

A comma out of place

Which is right?

I went to see the movie, “Midnight in Paris” with my friend, Jessie.

I went to see the movie "Midnight in Paris" with my friend Jessie.

I went to see Woody Allen's latest movie, "Midnight in Paris," with my oldest friend, Jessie.

Read all about those misplaced commas:



Rules about when to use and not to use commas are legion. But certain errors keep popping up ...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Martha's Vineyard bookstore to reopen

New Owners Give New Hope to Edgartown Icon

Janet Hefler reports in the Martha's Vineyard Times that Edgartown Books on Main Street will reopen its doors under new ownership at 9 am on Friday, May 25. Jeffrey and Joyce Sudikoff of Los Angeles closed on the purchase of the business and building last Friday. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Mr. Sudikoff was the founder and chief executive officer of IDB Communications Group Inc., and a former part owner of the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. He and his wife own a home in Edgartown, where they have been summer residents since the 1970's.

The Sudikoffs hired Susan Mercier, the former manager of Edgartown Books, as their new manager.
"I'm just so happy for the town and for the Island," Ms. Mericer said in a phone call with The Times on Friday. "They are so in tune with the needs of a small community and what an important role an independent bookstore plays in that."

Ms. Mercier left her position as manager in 2010 for personal reasons. "I left a piece of my heart in that bookstore," she said. "I'm excited that most of the booksellers are coming back, so it will be the same incredible staff that I get to work with and spend my days with."

In January, Edgartown Book's former owners David and Ann LeBreton announced plans to sell the store and operated it for limited hours this spring. The LeBretons bought the bookstore formerly known as Bickerton & Ripley a decade ago, after its 20-year business life in a smaller Main Street space.

Ms. Mercier said the bookstore is getting a facelift this week, with new paint inside and out. As for inventory, she added, "We're not changing anything now, but we will be carrying periodicals, and we hope to start a delivery service and other services in the store."

Cursing Stone found on Scottish island

What, you may ask, is a Cursing Stone?

According to Katherine Forsyth, an expert in the history and culture of early Celtic-speaking peoples, based at the University of Glasgow, it was a device (or mnemonic?) used by pilgrims.

"Traditionally, the pilgrim would recite a prayer while turning the stone clockwise, wearing a depression or hole in the stone underneath."

All the others have been found in Ireland, but now one has been uncovered in a Scottish graveyard. The BBC reports that it was discovered by chance on the Isle of Canna. 

And, according to the experts, it is Scotland's first known example of a bullaun "cursing stone".

Dating from about 800 AD, the stones are associated with early Christian crosses - of which there is one on the isle.  About 25 cm in diameter, and engraved with an early Christian cross, it fitted exactly into a worn hole in a large rectanguar stone that is at the base of the Canna cross.

It was found in an old graveyard by a National Trust for Scotland (NTS) farm manager.

NTS manager of Canna, Stewart Connor, said the importance of the stone became clear after he was notified of the discovery.

He said: "We knew of the importance of bullaun stones and that it could be a really significant find.

"Our head of archaeology confirmed a possible link to the stone at the cross and I was so excited that I went back out at 9pm that night to check whether it fitted the stone with the hole and it did."

Textbook Giant brought to knees by economy

Houghton Mifflin files Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Textbook publisher hurt by government cutbacks

Jonathan Stempel (Reuters) reports that  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers Inc, whose textbooks have been a staple in American schoolhouses for decades, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday after agreeing with creditors to eliminate $3.1 billion of debt.

The "pre-packaged" bankruptcy would give control of Houghton Mifflin to its lenders.

It comes as cash-strapped state and local governments defer or cancel education-related purchases, reducing demand for textbooks for students from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Traditional book publishers also face pressure from the online availability of published material, including e-books.

Houghton Mifflin has a 41 percent market share in the K-12 educational material and services sector, and its education business accounts for about 90 percent of revenue.

The Boston-based company lost $2.18 billion last year, including a $1.67 billion writedown, as net sales fell 14 percent to $1.3 billion.

Houghton Mifflin and two dozen affiliates filed for protection in U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan.

In a court filing, general counsel William Bayers said the reorganization has support from 90.3 percent of creditors and 76 percent of equity investors eligible to vote.

Houghton Mifflin expects to emerge from bankruptcy by June 30. The company said it has $2.68 billion of assets and $3.54 billion of liabilities, and employs 3,300 people.

With a history dating to 1832, Houghton Mifflin said its products serve 60 million students in 120 countries.

The company also publishes the "Curious George" and J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" children's book series, and games such as "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"

Houghton Mifflin also agreed in January to distribute titles from an Inc publishing unit.

Supping with the devil

More signs of a Kindle-dominated future

I bought a Kindle Touch yesterday -- the one without the fleeting adverts.  Nice machine, but fiddly to set up, rather like a Navman (think GPS).  And the guy in Dick Smith Electronics told a lie.  He said I could download books via USB cable.  Well, it is perfectly possible to register it on the Amazon site via my computer, but apart from that ... 

I either need to buy a router to fit our cable modem, or spend a lot of time at Macdonalds. Or in the free wifi waterfront of Wellington, though it is a little chilly right now.

Hard on the heels of that, I read that Waterstones in the UK is making a pact with Amazon, and gearing up to sell Kindle . . . which means that they will have to provide wifi in their stores.

According to Publishers Lunch, Waterstones announced "a far-reaching partnership" with Amazon "to launch new eReading services and offer Kindle digital services through its UK shops."

Note that first, however, they have to install wifi in their stores, something they have not done before.

Waterstone's managing director, James Daunt, has all kinds of good things to say about the deal. Not only are the various KIndles "the best digital readers," but there are all sorts of advantages to "browsing a curated bookshop."  (Curated?  What an odd choice of word! Sounds close to censorship, put like that ...)

Accordingly, it is "a truly exciting prospect to harness ... the respective strengths of Waterstones and Amazon to provide a dramatically better digital reading experience for our customers."

His announcement on YouTube is getting a lot of hits, indicating a great deal of interest in what is basically a turnaround.

Back in December, Daunt was quite negative about Amazon, saying that they "never struck me as being a sort of business in the consumer's interest. They're a ruthless, money-making devil."

Amazon ceo Jeff Bezos is perfectly ready to forget and forgive.  He says, "Waterstones is the premier high street bookseller and is passionate about books and readers - a dedication that we share deeply. We could never hope for a better partner to bring together digital reading and the physical bookstore." While Amazon has had a number of retail partners for the Kindle devices, this is their first ereader alliance with a book chain.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Just a modest debut for Facebook

Facebook shares ended their first day of trading at $38.23, barely above the company's initial pricing of $38.

Shares in the social network rose more than 10% to $42 within minutes of trade beginning, before quickly falling back.

Later gains were wiped out too at the end of a volatile day's trade, as the firm's debut on the Nasdaq exchange was also delayed by a technical glitch.

Mark Zuckerberg, 28, who started Facebook while at university, remotely opened trading on the Nasdaq earlier.

He appeared via a video link from a celebration at the firm's headquarters in California.

Read the rest of the story on BBC

Downton star to make Broadway debut

The BBC reports that Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens will make his Broadway debut this autumn, playing a suspected fortune hunter opposite The Help's Jessica Chastain.

Stevens, who plays aristocrat Matthew Crawley in the ITV period drama, will appear in The Heiress from October.

It is an adaptation of the Henry James novel Washington Square, which became an Oscar-winning film in 1949.

Stevens will take the role of Morris Townsend, played by Montgomery Clift in the Hollywood drama.

Chastain will play Catherine Sloper - the part that won Olivia de Havilland her second Oscar for best actress.

The play, written by the husband and wife team Ruth and Augustus Goetz, tells of a plain young woman whose stern father suspects her latest suitor of wooing her for her inheritance.

David Strathairn will appear as the father, the role taken by Ralph Richardson on screen.

The Heiress, directed by Moises Kaufman, will open in October at a Broadway theatre yet to be announced.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Banned Books Week planned

The Thirtieth Time Around, and still battling

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) is urging booksellers to participate in the 30th annual celebration of Banned Books Week, which will be held from September 30 to October 6. Last year’s celebration was the biggest ever, with more than 800 people participating in an Internet read-out from banned books and more than 90 who recorded their videos in bookstores. Press coverage of Banned Books Week activities more than doubled.

“Booksellers have given a lot to Banned Books Week and received a lot in return,” ABFFE President Chris Finan said. “They have been instrumental in carrying the message that the threat of censorship exists even in America. At the same time, they have made it clear to people that bookstores play a vital role in protecting their freedom.”

The American Library Association recently reported that there were 326 book challenges in 2011. The most frequently challenged books were ttyl by Lauren Myracle; The Color of Earth by Kim Don Hwa; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; My Mother’s Having a Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones; Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.