Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Mark Liam Piggott's Blog

States of Independence

“Independent” has always been a word with positive associations: independent bands & labels, newspapers, bookshops and nations. A state of independence implies the freedom to make one’s own choices, to do things your own way (and make your own mistakes) without undue pressure being exerted from above.

Art and commerce have always had an uneasy relationship. Too often it seems the safe option is chosen to placate the shareholders, keep the board onboard. Bizarrely, it seems the larger the organisation, the more financial muscle it flexes, the more afraid it becomes to break out in new directions, to take risks.

New voices deserve to be heard and will be heard, no matter what the views of all those glorified newsagents, coffee emporiums and chat-show hosts who seem to believe they know better than writers and publishers what can be written, what sells, what works. Let the reader be the judge of that.

It can be frustrating as an author when you see your novel, that object of beauty that took so much time, effort and emotion, not being treated with the respect it deserves. Sometimes it feels like the major houses and chains don’t care about anything other than making money, flogging recipes, throwing cash at celebs in the hope they get some of it back. Independents seem to try harder and they seem to care more because, for one thing, their livelihoods depend on it to a greater extent; they can’t recoup their losses by flogging sandwiches.

I am delighted to be associated with Exclusively Independent because the publishers, bookshops and writers involved seem to share a common belief: that safety first isn’t always the best option. The only thing that matters is good writing – and there’s a lot of it about, as this latest EI list shows. But don’t take my word for it: come and see...

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Caroline Rance's blog

I have been putting off writing my guest post in the knowledge that it will probably appear with a photo of me at the Fulham event, looking like a red-faced version of the woman from Misery. Now we are back to the typical weather of a British summer, it's difficult to believe that only a few weeks ago London was so boiling that the audience (and us authors) did well not to keel over.

I didn't have such a long journey as some of my fellow writers, but it was long enough on a packed Tube at rush hour! I wouldn't have blamed everyone for staying at home with a cool glass of Pimm's, so it was wonderful to see so many people arriving to hear us speak - including my publisher, Corinne Souza of Picnic, whom I'd never actually met before.

The Hammersmith and Fulham News had plugged the event and featured pictures of us all, so we agreed that we would speak in the same order as the photos, and I was third to go.

I love reading out my work and was quite keen to do a couple of excerpts, but given the heat and the fact that there were still two authors left to speak, I didn't want to go on for too long. I chose one brief scene where Kill-Grief's heroine, Mary, encounters a sinister Hogarthian brothel-keeper.

I was really interested to hear the excerpts from the other featured books and the experiences of their writers. We're such a varied bunch, writing in such different styles and genres, that the event was an excellent showcase for the diversity of titles produced by independent publishers.

Back in April, I was delighted when I heard Kill-Grief had been selected as part of the Exclusively Independent scheme. It is so hard for smaller publishers to get their books in front of the readers who might enjoy them if only they knew about them, so it's a brilliant idea for independent booksellers and publishers to work together to raise the profile of interesting and sometimes unusual titles.

Huge thanks are due to Lauren at Legend Press and the staff of Fulham Library for organising the evening. Since my book was published, most of the events I've done have involved doing all the legwork myself, so it was lovely just to turn up and find everything under control. I'd love to be part of any future Exclusively Independent events – that's if I'm invited back, of course!

Monday, 27 July 2009

New Selection Announced!

Set for another cycle of variety, here are the new ten titles:

Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born, adapted by artist Jae Lee
The Dream Snatcher by Kara May
Twenty Thousand Saints by Fflur Dafydd
A Romance with Cocaine by M. Ageyev
Fire Horses by Mark Liam Piggott
Ice Cream Army by Jessica Gregson
Bumper Book of Betsey Biggalow by Malorie Blackman
The Divine Blood by Andrea H. Japp
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jasmine's Tortoise by Corinne Souza

A little bit of everything, as you can see. Some beautiful adaptations, first novels and charming childrens' stories.

Gardners will be sourcing the titles over the next couple of weeks, and then they will be featured in bookshops and Hammersmith and Fulham Libraries.


Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Submissions welcome!

It's that time again when Exclusively Independent is open for submissions!

Any genre, any age, any version, just anything!

To enter, just email an AI and manuscript to the address below. Publishers can submit up to three titles per cycle. The current cycle closes 5 August.

Working with an increasing number of bookshops each month, the project is going from strength to strength. We're really proud of the scheme, and hope to continue reaching readers up and down the country.


Monday, 20 July 2009

Alec Sillifant's blog

I have discovered the perfect diet and it doesn't require a drastic eating regime. All you need to do is get a book published, be lucky enough to be have it short-listed by the brilliant people at 'Exclusively Independent', go to Fulham Library on a rather hot July evening and give your first ever address in public about your work. I can personally vouch that I sweated off at least six pounds in five minutes even though I was rather informally dressed in shorts and baggy T-shirt. Had I had the nerve, or skill, to speak for longer I reckon I would have got that six pack I've been after since I was 15.

Joking aside, behind my shaking hands and fevered brow, I really enjoyed the experience. I even managed to learn some things from my fellow authors too who all seemed calm, cool and collected during their talks. In fact I spent most of my time (I went first - must be down to some kind of social self destruction element in my character) as they spoke thinking: 'Of course, why didn't I mention something like that?' Still, if there is ever a next time...

After the scary spotlight bit was over and I was a little more relaxed the question and answer session was really interesting with some really good enquiries about the industry and working practices. I must admit I gathered some new intel myself from the other authors that I hope will help me in the future as well as the audience members. Finally milling round and shooting the breeze with individual audience members saw my heart rate drop considerably and I relaxed into a situation I am far more comfortable in. Maybe I should have asked the good people of Fulham to come in one at a time from the start?

While I'm here I would like to thank all the people that came to Fulham library to listen, to organise and to help. (Thank you also for the drink, water for me, as I tried to replace all the fluid leaking through my skin) On a hot night like that the temptation to be sitting outside sipping on a cold drink instead must have been hard to resist but I am grateful you came. And I can't leave out Lucy and Clare, from Meadowside Children's Books, for coming along to offer their support not to mention biking a load of my book across London on my behalf. Would you get that kind of dedication from a mega-publisher? Also to the lady that bought a copy of 'Jake Highfield Chaos Unleashed' - I know, shameless plugging - and asked me to sign it (the first outside of family and friends); you'll have to let me know if Freddie enjoyed it.

'Exclusively Independent' is a brilliant idea for authors from smaller independent publishers. It gives the kind of exposure that usually requires a fairly fat cheque book to buy and is a great 'leg up' in a very competitive marketplace. I believe there are plans to expand the scheme further in the future and I for one shall be watching its progress with interest. I am really chuffed to have been included and for that I must thank everyone involved, especially Lauren with whom I had a bet to see which of us would be the worse speaker on the night and I am sorry to report I won.

As for my book, it is about to go digital with 'Scrollmotion' which is very cool. That would appeal big time to 'Angel' one of the main characters in my tale but as for me I will have to wait until I can get my seven year old son to show me how download it.


Friday, 10 July 2009

Peter Cave's blog

‘Of course, the one thing I ought not to be is short of words,’ thought I – for there were four other authors sitting on my left, each with lots and lots of words, and no doubt they would lend me a few, were I to be short.

At Fulham’s splendid Exclusively Independent event, I am suitably humbled: these others know how to write long works of fiction, whereas my two ‘philosophy puzzle’ books consist of short tales and thoughts and provocations and musings, even answers, over what is right or wrong, whether a tortoise can ever be caught, and if ‘tis better to be a dissatisfied Socrates than a satisfied pig (a quotation from John Stuart Mill). In view of the heat, some dissatisfaction was assured – and how (just how!) I regretted having sat on the far right, when the one big fan was situation on the far left. And ‘fan’ in this context is, of course, merely a mechanical apparatus.

Naturally, I explain how each word in my books is a gem – though maybe not the order of words. So, while my fellow authors read out sparkling passages, I meander around some philosophical puzzles. Ophelia Optimist and Penelope Pessimist worry about how to avoid the big brown bear about to chase them.

‘What’s the point of running?’ asks Penelope Pessimist, ‘We cannot outrun the bear.’ ‘No need to do that,’ replies Ophelia Optimist, ‘I just need to outrun you’. And with that, she was off.

Are the looks on the audience’s faces looks of intense thought, or of bafflement, or of just a desire for the wine? Being the last speaker, I bet on the wine. Well, I certainly needed a drink. In fact, I needed a drink so much, that I could not bring myself to try to emulate my fellow authors by reading out even one of the touching paragraphs of mine that I vaguely had in mind.

The audience came up with some interesting questions – all of a practical nature, regarding how to write, or how to find a publisher or an agent. We all lapsed into burbles of misery – except with regard to our own publisher. Tact has its place. Candi offered some wise words concerning approaches. Caroline, Alec and Mike all sounded sensible. My offering seemed merely to be that of: wine can help in one’s writing. And so it was, that the wine came and then a drink with Debbie and Alec and Claire, while others scooted off.

Oh, and what about my touching paragraph? Well, given that the heat of the evening led us to feel a certain pointless about life, I think, maybe the paragraph (or two) is worth giving now. Here they are – from my Can a Robot Be Human?

‘What’s the point?’ Let us remember that there can be no point beyond all points. Points must come to an end just as must explanations.

All the things we value, however rare, however small, that give point or meaning to our lives – the friendships, loves and absurdities; those soundscaped memories entwined with shared passions and glances that magically ensnare and enfold; the intoxications of wines and words, and wayward musings and music, with which we wrestle into misty slumbering nights, our senses revived by sparkling waters, much needed at dawn; the seascapes of wild waves, mysterious moonlights and images and widening skies that stretch the eyes – do indeed all cease to exist; and curiously the most enchanting are oft those
within which we lose ourselves and also cease to be – yet that they, and we, existed at some time remains timelessly true, outside of all time.

For lovers of eternity, that is as good as it gets.

Peter Cave

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Candi Miller's Blog

IT was a hot and steamy night….

inside Fulham library’s large reading room last Thursday. 28 degrees on the city streets outside, indoors even hotter as members of the public prepared to sweat it out with the five authors in the Exclusively Independent line-up. On arrival, I was seized by one of a large contingent of library staff and taken to their leader, the enthusiastic Debbie Wale via a table full of wine bottles where I had something fortifying thrust into my hand. (I think the kindly librarian heard my knees knocking when I caught sight of the audience, already seated with several insouciantly scarfed. (My son whispered: “You can tell from the drapery that they know a lot of words.” Sigh; the boy’s no comfort to me.)

I had to ask my host to point Lauren Parsons out to me (I live in the Midlands, so we’ve never actually eyeballed.) Lauren turned out to be the pretty young thing at the front, clearly doted on by the handsome young man at her side.

And by me; what a good show the gal put on! Her welcome was clear and sincere and somehow she managed to get five wilfully independent authors to stay on theme and distract the audience from the heat. We wordsmiths got laughs, we got rapt attention, we got interesting questions.

We’ll definitely come again.

Thank you Lauren and Legend Press for yet another innovative idea. I felt proud to be one of your authors.

Candi Miller

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Additional Images from the Second EI Event

Additional Images from the Second EI Event

Here are some more photos for you, from the Exclusively Independent Event last Thursday. Some action shots as promised!

Again, thank you to Adrian Lewis for doing such a fantastic job.


Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Second Exclusively Independent Event

Second Exclusively Independent Event

Last Thursday saw the second Exclusively Independent Event at Fulham Library. Taking part in Celebrating Fulham Week meant that we had a collection of listeners from across the area, and what a fantastic event it was!

Despite the beautiful weather, the turnout was extremely welcoming and each author had roughly ten to fifteen minutes to do a reading from their books, and engage with the audience.

Above is a photo album showcasing a selection of photos, from Adrian Lewis. Check back here tomorrow to see the rest of the images, a few actions shots in there I'm sure! Many thanks to Adrian for taking the photos, do check his website to see his work at

A big thank you to Alec, Candi, Mike, Caroline and Peter for sharing their work with us. And of course to those at Hammersmith and Fulham Libraries for all of their help arranging the event.

Here's onto the next one!


Monday, 6 July 2009

Submissions Call Now Closed!

The Submissions are in!

The submissions for the July cycle of EI have now all been entered.

AI's and Manuscripts have been sent in, covering a wide range of books. We have some really interesting titles this time around, and now it's time to get stuck in!

As before, the panel have roughly two weeks to delve into the submission pack, and select their favourite ten. We will meet to discuss eachothers' list, and finalise the ten 'Independent Picks of the Month'.

Watch this space for when the new selection is announced!


Thursday, 2 July 2009

Fulham Event

Tonight is the second event for Exclusively Independent. Starting at 7:30pm, this time we are at Fulham Library as part of 'Celebrating Fulham Week'.

Our last event was at Hammersmith Library back in March, and the reception was so positive we decided to do it again.

As I mentioned in a previous post, you can listen to Authors Candi Miller, Michael Marr, Caroline Rance, Peter Cave and Alec Silifant, as they dazzle you with their work and share their experiences in the industry with you. I will also be presenting a short speech, but I wouldn't have your hopes too high for that part of the evening!

See you there!