12 Guidelines You Need to Compile a #Fiction #Charity #Anthology


You're not Alone : Macmillan Cancer Support

You’re Not Alone: Charity Anthology

Continuing the guest post series on Daily (w)rite, today it is my pleasure  to introduce to you Ian D Moore, author of Salby Damned, who is here to give us a few tips on how to set up an anthology to support a charitable cause. He speaks from experience, having recently produced the anthology You’re Not Alone: An Indie Author Anthology, due out soon.

Take it away, Ian!

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In the last few months I’ve helped compile a charity anthology inspired by my mother-in-law who battled cancer for 8 years and finally began to succumb to it. A distressing time for everyone around her, that made me feel pretty useless, not being able to make her better or to help in any way. I began to think about what I could do in order to help. I chose my writing as the means to make a difference, perhaps not to the inevitable passing of a woman I had become so fond of, but certainly to anyone in the future unfortunate enough to have to go through what our family had at that time.

Should you be trying to compile a fiction anthology for a charity of your choice, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  1. Pick the charity you want to support before you go looking for people to help you. My mother-in-law’s cancer prompted me to consider what I could do to make a positive difference. Motivation is a key factor in compiling any anthology.
  2. There has to be a leader in any group, the creator. They have final say. Form a team to assist you. You’ll need editors, proof-readers, cover designer, formatting wizard and an overall editor-in-chief. Put the essentials in place before you begin.
  3. Discuss the maximum word count of your stories, based upon maximum word count for the completed work. Remember the cost rises to produce larger works, affecting sale price and profits to the charity.
  4. Formatting rules: Set basic rules for contributors. Font style, size, no page numbering/borders. Keep the text justified. Initially, format for kindle.
  5. Stay legal with regard to copyright: It’s important for you, the Project Leader, to do your homework with regards to copyright law and the wishes of the charity. Each submitting author retains copyright for his or her own story. It cannot have been published anywhere else – no exceptions. The Project Leader holds full copyright for the completed, assembled work.
  6. Liaise with the charity for any rules that they have, such as logo use or content. It took weeks for me to get permission to use both charity logo and the name of the charity to promote You’re Not Alone. Permission MUST be protected.
  7. Story content: No excessive profanities, scenes of a serious sexual nature, religioun or faction related material or enhanced political agendas within any given entry. Be aware of possible misinterpretation by the reading public.
  8. Story order: Try to arrange them in an order of readability that will make subtle changes to the mood of the reader – the ultimate critic.
  9. Once you have your stories, format the whole document. Insert styles menu headings, titles, fonts etc. E-mail your file to your kindle device, using the kindle address – to see how it will look to the reader.
  10. Cover design: If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to design your own cover. For You’re Not Alone, we had the amazing artist Christine Southworth to draw our cover, and the inestimable expertise of Nico Laeser to digitise the images. Make your cover relevant and striking. Your book cover is the first impression that any reader will see.
  11. Set up a pre-order on Kindle: You can make changes to the cover and files as you go along. Meanwhile, drum up interest via social media and advertising in order to get sales generated before the launch.
  12. Approach the bloggers of this world – they can drive sales traffic. If you ask, in most cases they will be happy to help promote any good cause. Worthwhile having a few copies of the finished product to use as giveaways – bought and paid for, of course.

What can you do to help?

Macmillan Cancer support: Charity Anthology

You’re Not Alone: Book Cover

Spare a thought for Macmillan Cancer Support: They provide nursing staff to the 1 in 4 of us likely to suffer from some form of cancer in our lives. Help us to raise money and awareness.

You’re Not Alone is available to pre-order on Amazon Kindle here. Available in print via Createspace from 11th July 2015. Every penny of profit made on either purchase will be donated to the charity.  Follow us on Facebook, and please help us spread the word on social media by taking a second to join our Thunderclap Campaign.

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Ian D Moore, editor You're not Alone

Ian D Moore

Ian lives and works in Selby, North Yorkshire. A father/stepfather to four children and full-time truck driver for a national televised haulage firm, his life tends to be pretty busy. To date, he has published Salby Damned. He has taken took time out from writing the sequel to get involved in the creation of You’re Not Alone: An Indie Author Anthology in the hope of raising a lot of money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

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Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan Cancer Support

Having lost family members to cancer, I know the suffering that not only the patients, but also their family members go through.

Is anyone you know affected by this disease? Would you like to lend a hand to Macmillan Cancer Support? Would you take part in the Thunderclap Campaign?

Ian would like to give away a paperback copy of this book to one of the commenters on this post, so please make sure your profile link leads to your contact details.

Not a blogger, but have a comment on cancer, supporting those affected by it, or about editing a Charity Anthology? Head over to the post on Damyanti at Daily Write’s Facebook Page, and join the discussion there.

Would You Consider South Africa a Gift to Writers?


The guest post series in this blog has been on a hiatus, but today I introduce with great pleasure Melissa de Villiers, the South African author of The Chameleon House, a collection of short stories recently long listed for the Frank O’connor award. She answers questions on various topics of writerly interest.

The Chameleon House: Melissa de Villiers

The Chameleon House: Melissa de Villiers

1. Tell us about your writing journey. When and how did you start writing fiction?

I grew up in a house full of secrets. My maternal grandfather, for instance, lived an hour’s drive away down the road but we never knew or met him – my mother had cut him out of her life as a young woman and there was so much she never seemed to want to tell us about her background. As a child, I’d make up stories to explain the questions that went unanswered.

Also, I grew up under the last years of the apartheid system, which imposed its own code of silences. Making up stories – the wilder and more absurd, the better – became a kind of private test to see whether I was starting to become a typical ‘product’ or not – whether I was getting sucked in.

2. What aspect of writing a short story do you find tough, and which one do you find easy? Why?

Starting out is the worst. That’s when the sense that you might fail can press down, or even threaten to become so overwhelming that you never start at all. You have to hold your nerve, laughing hysterically at your own insane self-absorption and just get on with it.
Easiest? Cutting back – that final cull once you’ve finished a draft.

3. If you had to give just three pointers on ‘writing technique’ to aspiring authors, something general creative writing books don’t tell them, what would they be?

  • Live a full and varied life and write about life. You need to keep your well of ideas brimming.
  • Don’t wait for inspiration to strike – treat writing like a job. Turn up ‘for work’ every day and just do it, even if it’s only for an hour and has to be fitted around career, children, and other commitments.
  • Writing fiction isn’t primarily about ‘self-expression,’ though that might be a useful by-product. Rather, you’re making a construction for people to read – an artifice based on effects. You need to be crafty, patient and careful as you manipulate the possibilities. It’s hard work. I like what Zadie Smith had to say on the matter: “You want self-expression? Go ring a bell in the yard.”

4. If you had to choose three of your favorite authors and their best works, which would they be? Why did you choose these in particular?

  1. The strength of Penelope Fitzgerald’s fiction is that it leaves out just as much as it leaves in. Her last novel, The Blue Flower – probably her masterpiece – is spare, droll and utterly distinctive. And written when she was 79! A lesson to all us procrastinators.
  2. The British-Sri Lankan writer Romesh Gunesekera’s first collection Monkfish Moon is a book I’m very fond of. The style is lyrical yet the stories are war-haunted, tinged with the sadness of lost things. It’s wonderfully done.
  3. Suchen Christine Lim’s The River’s Song is my favourite Singaporean novel. The song of the river is also the song of Singapore’s underdogs – ‘unsung and uncelebrated.’ It’s a brave and skillful book.

5. Tell us more about The Chameleon House, your recently launched short story collection. Is there a target audience? What did you have in mind when you chose the stories to go into the collection?
My stories mostly deal with a South Africa in transition, in the years immediately following the end of the brutal and bloody apartheid system. Many of the white characters are still in a state of some confusion and denial about the whole process – they’re monsters, really. South Africa’s a gift to writers in some ways. The political landscape requires strong reactions to things – you’re never far from a drama.

6. Which is your favorite story in the collection and why?
I’m fond of ‘A Letter to Bianca’ because somehow the first draft came very quickly – that’s most unusual for me. Ironically, the heroine is someone with a paralyzing case of writer’s block.

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Melissa De Villiers

Melissa De Villiers

   

Melissa de Villiers is a writer and journalist. She grew up in South Africa but now lives between Singapore and London. Her debut short story collection ‘The Chameleon House’ has  been longlisted for the Frank O’connor award.
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         Have you read any of the books Melissa mentions? Have you read her book The Chameleon House? Do you have questions for her?

Ever take Cues from Your Subconscious?


Hakone Open Air Museum

The Subconscious and You

My best writing comes to me when I’m not planning it.

The other times, I’m working at the craft, practicing my scales so that when the music happens I’m there to witness and record it as best as I can. Sometimes I don’t do well at the first attempt and my subconscious keeps throwing it at me till I get it right. A lot of my writing is built around similar themes– don’t quite know what they are yet, only that when the raw inner voice comes out and plays, my stories seem preoccupied with similar things.

It is as if I’m the chimpanzee being taught a puzzle in a lab. The humans at the other end are trying to stretch my capabilities, and measuring them, while at it.

This is easy to make peace with when I’m writing flash fiction. I’m reasonably confident these days of churning out five to six a week. Two or three of those might even be good.

Trouble appears when I write a longer piece– it is as if I’m a novice singer, running out of breath when belting out an aria. Some of them begin well, then falter, and take a dozen drafts to catch the high notes I want to hit, or rumble into those base notes I don’t want to lose.

Between passes at that story, days or weeks or months might pass, and there I am again, and the story might just hold together without crashing — like a house of multicolored cards held up in air just so. You see the masters doing it all the time, juggling so many cards in air and making such brilliant villas, mansions, palaces. It’s magic. I’m happy when I can hold together the bare bones of a hut, just so long as it stays in air, without bleeding color or losing balance.

The novel. The novel is a different beast– with it I feel like a dog in front of a mirror. I don’t know what I see, only that I see it. And I’m yet to see a dog juggle.

So many mixed metaphors in this post– but it reflects exactly how I feel these days trying to enter into my novel to begin on the third draft. This palace might crumble before it stands up– but at least I’m learning the art of juggling the bricks to keep the damn building floating in air. And it looks like I’m not alone– other writers compare writing to juggling as well:

“I always imagine it like a whole load of plates spinning, and you’ve got the plan, the research and the plot, and you’ve got to kind of keep them spinning and constantly moving between one and the other.”

The complete article about writing and the subconscious, here.

Who knows, maybe I’m meant only to write at shorter lengths. Not that that is easier to do (well).

I have to discover whether I’m meant for longer stories. The real bitch of it? The only road to discovery lies in writing at greater length.

What about you? What role does the subconscious play in your life, as a writer, reader, artist, gardener, mason, engineer, or whatever it is that you do? Do you ever take cues from your subconscious?

 

Do you walk in Beauty?


Do you walk in Beauty?

Blooming in Beauty

Life is fleeting. Before I know it a day, a week, a month, a year: whoosh, gone.

In theory, I understand that if I’m mindful, let each moment live itself, and my self live that moment, time would expand. Because what is time after all– it’s a concept, it’s a function of motion, it’s the ticking clock in our bodies.

When I read Byron in school, can’t say I liked him much– I found his writing pansy, unreal, and puked in my mouth a little at passages like these from She walks in Beauty:

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

What crap, I used to think, idealizing and infantalizing a woman, making of her something less than flesh-and-blood. A part of me still agrees. But as days slip through my finger like the finest sand, I wonder if some of it isn’t what I want to be: soft, calm, spend my days in goodness (as much as possible- the cynic in me says!) with a mind at peace, and a heart filled with innocent love.

Softness, calmness, peace, innocence, love (compassion) all come with mindful practice, with awareness of each moment, with forgiving oneself for each moment of violence and cynicism (in thought, and in action.) Man, woman, child– the most important thing is that tranquil space inside the mind, the silence and slow-soft rhythm of breath, a rhythm that flows and beats through all of us, human, animal, plant, rock, river, planet.

For the past year or so, been trying (unsuccessfully) to remain aware of that rhythm at all times. The body is most in harmony with it when writing fiction, when in sympathy, empathy and identification with someone ‘other’, a being of my imagination, so the ‘I’ floats away, and becomes a gentle drumbeat.

That’s what has drawn my body and soul into writing fiction, this practice that feels almost like meditation. Compared to this, the ‘thrill’ of acceptance or publication is short-lived, mundane. On some days, reading a good line by another author makes everything else seem trivial.

What about you? Does fiction take you outside of you? Does it bring you harmony and rhythm? Do you walk in Beauty?

#Writers , have questions for a Literary Agent? #askagent


Continuing the  guest post series in this blog, it is with great pleasure that I present Helen Mangham, a partner-agent at one of the best-known literary agencies in Asia: the Jacaranda Literary Agency. She answers questions on various topics of writerly interest: feel free to leave your questions for her in the comments section.

1. How and why did you become a Literary Agent?
Graduating with a degree in history it seemed the only jobs I was specifically qualified for were history teacher or working in a Museum – but neither appealed to me. Publishing attracted me, back then I wasn’t quite sure what a Literary Agent did, but it sounded interesting. I saw a job advertised at Curtis Brown, London and applied. I didn’t know then that it was one of the oldest and most famous literary agencies in London. Luckily I got the job!

2. What book, published in recent times, do you think should be more recognized, and one that you think is overrated?
For over-rated, I’d have to say ‘Freedom’ by Jonathan Franzen.  Franzen is undoubtedly a brilliant author and this book is a tour de force and technically impressive, but personally it left me cold as I couldn’t empathise with any of the characters.  I also think it is too long!   A book that I stumbled across a few years ago and loved was ‘The Glass Room’ by Simon Mawer, a complex historical novel set in Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s and spanning six decades, it is a tragic, multi-layered and at times profound novel. Whilst not exactly under-rated – it was short listed for the 2009 Booker Prize – I think it deserves to be more widely read.

3. When it comes to non-fiction, a lot of agents are looking for ‘experts’ in their fields. What defines a person capable of writing on a certain subject?
I don’t think you necessarily have to be an expert to write on a subject. But you do have to be passionate about that subject and write about it from an original perspective. For example, you could be the world’s leading expert on a given subject, but still make it sound dull, or alternatively you could be enthusiastic enough to make it come alive. Look for something new to say.

4. Tell us about some notable books you’ve sold recently (publisher, title, author).

  • ‘Beijing Comrades’ by Bei Tong translated by Scott E Myers to Feminist Press, New York.
  • A debut memoir by Kenyan author Jess de Boer ‘The Elephant and the Bees’ to Jacaranda Books, UK (no relation to us!)
  • Krishna Udayasankar’s fourth book ‘The Immortal’, to Hachette India.  Also, another new book by Krishna Udayasankar:  ‘3:  The Legend of Singapore’ to Ethos Books, Singapore (for Singapore and Malaysia)  and also to Hachette, India (for India).
  • ‘Holistic Health Guide for Women’ by Dr I. Mathai to Via Nova, Germany
  • ‘Start-Up Capitals, Discovering Global Hotspots of Innovation’ by Zafar Anjum to Random House India
  • ‘Miss Draupadi Kuru’ by Trisha Das to Harper Collins, India.
  • Also, an as yet untitled book on Asian Parenting by Maya Thiagarajan to Tuttle.

5. What’s your advice to an aspiring author submitting to Jacaranda? What do you pray for when tackling the slush pile?
Tantalise me, but don’t overwhelm me with information. Send me a short synopsis of your book, and a couple of sample chapters. Was your story inspired by real life or just a genre you love? If non-fiction tell me why you think it is different to other books out there and who it will appeal to? Please don’t expect me to be able to get back to you within ten days – I have to prioritise work for existing clients over potential ones!
I pray to open a manuscript and find myself reading for pleasure and not critically. If I’m engrossed and my literary agent hat falls off that’s a good start!

6. What’s one thing you are sick of seeing in queries?
Getting published, especially in these risk averse times, is incredibly difficult. With this in mind, a prospective author should ideally revisit, rework and edit their manuscript several times, as well as show their work to other people and get opinions on it before sending it to an agent.

7. What do you hope to see when you google a prospective client?
The right answer is an impressive ‘online presence’. An author web-page, a blog with lots of followers, an active twitter account and a facebook page for their book. I’m thrilled if I do find that, but I’m not depressed if I don’t. We can help authors to create their own websites and build online presence.

8. What sets Jacaranda apart from other literary agencies?
Obviously being based in South East Asia sets us apart – there are still not so many agents in this part of the world. Having an agent in the Philippines definitely sets us apart! We’re small and work across continents, with authors from as far afield as Australia, America and the US as well as our bedrock of S.E Asian writers.

9.  Tell us about your experience at the last Frankfurt Fair.

We had a packed schedule with only two or three free slots over the entire three days – hardly time to grab lunch, which we ate on the go! But that’s a good thing – we made lots of valuable new contacts, among both publishers and foreign agents. The most memorable moment for me was being on the Hachette India stand when it was announced that Malala Yousafzai had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – the youngest recipient ever! There was whooping and cheering and lots of high fives!

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helen Mangham Literary Agent

Helen Mangham, Jacaranda Literary Agency

Helen has been a Partner Agent at Singapore-based Literary Agency Jacaranda since 2012. Here she is helping to build a dedicated list of Singapore Writers alongside an eclectic international list. As part of her role with Jacaranda, Helen attends the Frankfurt and London Book Fairs and meets with international publishers from across Southeast Asia, Australia, the UK and US. Helen came to Jacaranda with over eight years of publishing experience. She started her career in London, at Curtis Brown Literary Agency. She has worked with the publicity departments of a number of the UK’s leading publishing companies, helping with publicity campaigns for a number of high profile books including Michael Chabon’s ‘The Mysteries of Pittsburgh’, Andrew Morton’s controversial biography of Princess Diana, Whitley Streiber’s ‘Communion’ and the autobiography of Elton John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin. Other authors she has worked with include Deborah Moggach, John Julius Norwich and Chinua Achebe.

Are you writing a book? Looking for an agent? Have questions for Helen? Fire away in the comments! And if you don’t have a question, comments are great, too.

#IWSG: What if you need to hibernate?


Blogging tips

Blogging during Hibernation

This new year’s eve, I fell asleep before midnight.

Of course, I’m aging. But more than aging, I’m hibernating.

Since Christmas, I’m doing a complete rewrite of my MS, and I aim to get it done by the 31st January. So I’m not really responding to messages, making  (or receiving) calls. Not blogging (much) either: I click Likes still, when I sometimes read posts during writing breaks, but not many comments.

It’s like I need to stay in the world of my MS to bang out about 2 to 2.5 k words a day: and it’s like meditation, if you’ve ever watched a hen incubate an egg with those faraway, lost look in her eyes, you’ll know what I look like these days. Pretty darn unattractive. You’ll find me on Twitter: @damyantig : I’m a sucker for  #wordsprint ever since I started this binge, and #1k1hr .

But this morning my calendar told me today is the 7th Birthday of this Blog. If I ignore that too, I’d be a bit of an asshat.

So I’m peeping up to say HI to everyone, to wish everyone a good new year ahead. And I’d be an even bigger asshat if I didn’t say THANKYOU to all the readers and commenters of my blog. And didn’t say SORRY for disappearing (pretty much) from the blogiverse for the last few weeks.

So Thankyou for being my friends, and Sorry about disappearing.

I also re-added myself to the Insecure Writers Support Group, cos let’s face it, right about now, in this temporary break from my fictive dream, I do feel a little Insecure. What if everyone forgets I exist? What if this blog becomes a forest of *crickets*?

From within the world of my novel, these seem like pretty trivial concerns. (That’s because they are, Damyanti– the world has gone through tragedies too many and too diverse to name in 2014– and you’re worried about your blog? #firstworldproblems #sigh)

But as ever, I need your advice: What do you do when you need to hibernate? Is it terrible that I want to take this month off to finish my MS? I know I can’t, I’ve made commitments, but what if I could? Have you ever taken a hiatus from your blog? Taken a hiatus in January? Thoughts on Hibernation? Hit me with them!

Do you Own Your Memories? #writing


Damyanti:

Writing about family. Always a dangerous topic. Someone, I don’t remember who, said that writers should write like orphans, like they have no family– that the family they belong to isn’t theirs.

I’ve written about my family, once or twice, and the reaction of those who read it has been, “But that’s not what happened! She’s twisted it up! How dare she?”

What they don’t realize is writing is its own truth– each story has its truth, and it has no relationship to facts, and what are facts, after all. Things happen, and depending on who saw them happen, you have different perspectives.

History is littered with perspectives, mostly those of the winners. I write sometimes from the loser’s perspective, from the point of view of ‘wrong’ (what’s right or wrong, anyway? who decides what’s right?).

I read this post today, and I’m reblogging it because it gives a perspective different from mine — You own everything that happened to you.

To me, I own nothing, from the clothes on my back to the stories I write– one day all of this would be ashes and dust, and not even a memory of me would remain.

What do you think? Do You own your memories? Do you write about your family? Would you be hurt if your family members wrote about you?

Following on Social media

Do You look Back?

Originally posted on Adventures in Juggling:

Working this week on me being the sole proprietor of my thoughts, my memories, my words, my opinions with my therapist has been hard. A lifetime of being told these are not mine, not real, not true, not worthy of being shared takes it toll. It’s one of the reason why I stopped writing decades ago, much to the disappointment of a high school writing teacher who just recently reconnected via Facebook upon discovering that after high school I stopped writing altogether. I did stop, until I started blogging more than ten years ago. First in secret. Then with a faceless audience who seemed to like the words and thoughts I put out there. Then it grew and grew as did the audience some who know me very well and some who like to imagine that they know me even better than I know me and now, well sometimes it’s…

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