Monday 30 September 2013

PLR British Library Switch

I've mentioned before about Public Lending Right (PLR), which is where authors can claim an amount each time their book is lent in a public library. As of tomorrow the administration of this is switching from the PLR body to the British Library. More info below:


What is happening?

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced in March 2013 that the Public Lending Right body will cease to exist as a separate organisation and responsibility for managing the PLR Scheme is to be transferred to the British Library. The current PLR team will join the British Library and will continue to manage the PLR Scheme from their existing offices in Stockton-on-Tees.

Why is PLR being transferred to the British Library?

DCMS took the decision to abolish the Registrar of Public Lending Right and transfer his functions to another publicly funded organisation with the aim of reducing the number of publicly funded bodies and finding further savings in PLR's running costs.

When will the administration of PLR be transferred to the British Library?

The British Library will be responsible for administering PLR from 1 October 2013.

What do I need to do?

You do not need to do anything; your existing registrations for UK and Irish PLR will not be affected.

Who do I contact with queries, new book registrations, changes to personal details etc?

The existing PLR team in Stockton-on-Tees will be joining the British Library and will continue to administer both the UK and Irish PLR schemes.

How will my payments be affected?

Payments will not be affected; the PLR team in Stockton-on-Tees will continue to administer your UK and Irish PLR payments. The next Irish PLR Statements will be posted in November 2013 and payments made in December 2013. The UK PLR Statements will be posted in January 2014 and payments will be made in February 2014.

How will I apply for PLR in the future?

You should continue to contact the PLR team in Stockton-on-Tees for both UK and Irish PLR applications. The online service will remain available at

What contact details should I use?

The staff team is the same and they will remain on the 1st Floor, Richard House, Sorbonne Close, Stockton-on-Tees TS17 6DA. The telephone number will also be unchanged + 44 (0) 1642 604699. You can continue to log into your online account at We will have new email and website addresses from 1 October. However, you can still contact us using our current details for the foreseeable future. We will be in touch again to advise you of the new addresses.

Sunday 29 September 2013

First Edition

A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first printed book in the land that would eventually become the United States of America, will head to auction in late November where it is expected to fetch anywhere between $15 million to $30 million.

The Bay Psalm Book is one of eleven surviving copies of the tome and is one of the world’s most valuable books. It was originally printed in 1640. The copy going for auction belongs to Boston’s Old South Church, which has two copies in its possession. The Times reports that it is being sold in order to fund maintenance and public outreach for the church’s program.

Cheap at half the price. Until someone finds a 1639 edition of Where's Wally in the attic.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Reading the World

This is a nice concept:

Ann Morgan came to my attention in 2011 when she sent out a request to readers worldwide for suggestions for books to read in translation. A Cambridge University graduate in English literature, and now a writer and editor, Morgan had set herself the challenge to spend one year reading a book from each of the globe’s 196 independent countries. The idea came about when she realized that even though she had always considered herself a fairly cosmopolitan person, most of her bookshelves were filled with works by UK and US authors.

In January 2012 Morgan set up a blog, A Year of Reading the World, and, at a pace of four to five books a week, began reading, in translation, fiction, and occasionally memoirs, from countries around the world. With help from readers spread across the globe, far-reaching research and countless emails, Morgan met her challenge and got a book deal to boot. Harvill Secker will publish her book, Reading the World: Postcards from my Bookshelf, in 2015...

Makes me feel woefully under-read, although I do have two translations currently on my reading list. The time, though - where did she find the time?

Friday 27 September 2013



Beneath the bedded ash the ember curls and dies
Its memories drift towards the sky, reaching grey fingers
Up the blackened grate towards the early morning stars

Within the silent room the ghost of whisky lingers
Its breath testament to those who drank there earlier
Sharp warmth waiting to greet the breakfast comers
Searching out fresh fat to chew,
Crackling beneath the griddle.

What memories fold and steel towards those stars?
Whispered over tumblers in the late hour of the night.
Our minds' stained glass distorting light behind our eyes,
Colouring opinion, casting motes of floating
Dust adrift upon the ebb and flow of our remembered history.

Between those whispered words, hushed tones,
Cracks of lightning laughter quick to smite,
Comes the ticking of the clock
Measuring out both time and truth,
Illusive in the midnight hush:

No longer rights or wrongs but
Wicked witches casting spells
Against which we pitch ourselves
the heroine.

No longer simple kindnesses bestowed
But kingdoms and vast fortunes gifted
Whilst ungrateful greedy hands would
Snatch from us our mercy, offering only
Empty embers' ashes in return

Our youth no longer ordinary but
Fraught with Hogarth's excesses
Of hedonistic, narcissistic, nihilistic
Indulgent pleasures

First kisses love stories, first cuts a battlefield
Bled out over a lifetime, mingled with gin and
Absinthe, as absent hearts refused to return
And those that did grew fat and unforgiving

Ah! Such heady thoughts of heady days.

Conversation, like the fire, soaked up fuel
Grew higher.
Spat a little, blushed red hot
Smoked, smoldered and raged
Before dying.

Topics exhausted and sapped to ash
Colourful opinions drained to grey
As the bottle emptied
And the clinker built
As the dawn broke
And nought more
There was to stoke
From the gaping
Jaws of two tired friends.

To bed, then.

Let the last breath of whisky haunt the hearth.

Let the stars claim their stories from the grate.

Let a hundred more stories await us

For the telling.

© Marion Grace Woolley

Thursday 26 September 2013

Snaky Selkies

Selkie by PinkParasol

Strange thing. After my recent seal encounter and my poem about Selkies, I opened my book last night to discover the following.

This is an extract from Snake Ropes by Jess Richards, which was bought for me by Dad and Marilyn for my birthday earlier this year. I'll no doubt pop up a review once I've finished, but this just struck me:

Dry people live on dry land breathing dry air in dry homes. On land, they love fire. Their homes are full of fire and flakes of dry skin they can't even feel scratching off. Salt is for jars, for food, for preservative, while fish are sent away to the mainland to be eaten after they have been decayed, rotted, drowned in air.

The room with a candle lit is where the heart beats in each home. I have seen into the heart of every home on this island and taken things I want. Called a vision to me, and then the desire comes - to hold whatever I want, and make it mine. I am from the water, so my powers lie in fire. People believe me to be powerful, so I have become powerful.

Belief is an infectious disease.

No one would understand if I were to speak of how I miss the pull of the ocean's body. No one knows how it feels to have been something more instinctive, more vital.

They can see I am different, so they call me witch, but it is instinct that calls me, even on land. To become powerful, believe it, and others will follow. To fall into love: fall out of yourself. To become the best at anything: be the worst at something else. To feed others: starve. To punish: make some guilt.

On land, I still have traces on my body of the seal I was. The paleness of the moon reflects in my face. My hair is as black as a thickening of water. This land-mirror-beauty is nothing compared to the beauty in movement, in strength and power, the love and the ache in the wide black eyes of a seal. And yes, power. There's power in beauty, whether the woman wants to be beautiful, or not. Without my sealskin, I am trapped here being beautiful. Always searching, trying to find something more.

Something in one of these rooms shimmers at me. I see what I want, I take it. I go to their home when they are sleeping and steal it.

Then I don't want it anymore.

What is a diary, a letter, a child's toy, a box, a necklace, a coin or a flower when what I really want is my home. What good can come from the theft of someone's hope, their secrets or their love, someone's grief, when I can't get what I need?

Each night I dig the graveyard as if my hands have claws. How can this be allowed to happen, that dreams die down, rot among the corpses, to nothing? Look underneath the soil, where the roots hang down, tangled in bones. Where earth rains from my spade.

Out of the graveyard, buried among the dead, is my sealskin...

My sealskin was stolen when I was seventeen, washed up in a storm. The man called Bill found me. I fell out of my sealskin, and lay as a woman, trembling and naked on a rock on the shore. My sealskin lay beside me, though I didn't yet have the strength to climb back into it. He said my eyes were stars, my hair the night, my skin smooth as cream. Some such falseness. He couldn't see I would have been far more beautiful inside my sealskin, that the light from the sky bounced off the fur, that the curve of my back met the shape of the waves, that the surges and ripples of my muscles inside it could twist and turn my whole body spiralling through currents, into depths.

I reached for my sealskin. Bill's eyes burned me. He picked it up, said he'd take me to his home to recover, said that later he would help to get me back to the ocean again. My sealskin was soft and delicate, its fur dark and silver-tipped like glints on ice. He threw it over his shoulder. It was nothing to him, but when he carried me up the hill to his house, I stroked it on his shoulder with my fingertips.

I never saw it again.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Kofi Awoonor

Kofi Awoonor, a well-loved Ghanaian poet, was killed and his son wounded at the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday. Awoonor, 78, was also a statesman — he served as Ghana's representative to the United Nation from 1990 to 1994. He was in Kenya for the Storymoja Hay literary festival.

There are currently entries coming in on the Hay Festival blog, commemorating him, and an obituary in The Wall Street Journal by fellow poet Kwame Dawes.

You can listen to him read one of his poems about 'love, death and evil' on the BBC:

Weep not now my love
for as all die, so shall we
but it is not dying that should pain us
It is the waiting, the
intermission when we cannot act,

When our will is shackled by tyranny.
That hurts.
Yet somehow, I know
the miracle of the world
will be wrought again,

the space will be filled
in spite of the hurt

by the immensity of love
that will defy dying

and Death
Goodnight, my love.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Method Writing

Well now, isn't this interesting?

I've been a little unwell the past few days. I'm feeling much better now, but whilst I was tucked up in bed I turned to iPlayer movies. Generally the free movies on offer via the BBC website are pretty poor, but there were a couple that caught my eye.

I watched the great Alan Bennett's 2006 adaptation of The History Boys, which was very well done indeed. Excellent casting.

Then I turned to something called Heavenly Creatures, a 1994 film about two real life teenage girls, Pauline Yvonne Parker and Juliet Marion Hulme, who conspire to murder Pauline's mother. A debut role for both Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet.

The film was based on the diaries of Pauline Parker, which led to the grils' arrest after the crime was committed in 1954.

The film itself was, despite its IMDB rating, fairly average, or perhaps a little less polished by today's standards. What I found intriguing about it came whilst Googling the case afterwards.

Above is an interview conducted by Ian Rankin (he of the word mondegreen) with Juliet Hulme, better known today by her nom de plume Anne Perry, now a hugely popular international crime writer.

I've heard of method acting, but method writing?

I currently have five books on the go, and I'm making slow progress reading all of them due to writing one of my own. However, there were a couple on her bibliography which I found tempting:

  • Heroes, a short story published in Murder and Obsession in 1999, which garnered her the 2001 Edgar Award for Best Short Story. Intriguing as the girls' relationship was often described as 'obsessive'. Incidentally, she later published a novel called Slaves of Obsession.
  • Her first ever novel, The Cater Street Hangman.

I've just ordered the first. I shall wait for the second to become available on Kindle.

It's a little too fascinating not to.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Merry Mabon
The Autumn Goddess by Anon
And a veritable Vernal for those in the Southern Hemisphere.

Entering that wonderful time of colourful arboretums, open hearths and frost-pinched, bright blue mornings. 

Sadly writing this from my bed, dedicating the day to the great god of air, Salbutamol, giver of life. Asthmatics and bronchitis don't mix. Usually I get one cold a year. This year I've had two nasty ones in as many months. One before I went to Ireland, and one when I got back. Moral of the story? Move to Ireland.


I'm more out of breath after climbing the stairs than a 90-year-old in a French sauna. In all honesty, given longer life expectancy and better diet, most nonagenarians look like Mo Fara in comparison. I swear, I was never this unfit when I smoked.

In an attempt to shift the elephant that has been sitting on my chest, I've taken to drastic measures. I've been swallowing lung butter, which is indeed a euphemism for phlegm in its own right, but also a concoction of manuka honey left covering slices of raw onion overnight. It goes all runny by morning. Chuck in some turmeric and swallow as many tablespoons as you can in a day without barfing. 

I've also taken to neti potting my nose. This is a fabulous invention, although disturbingly like (and I can't honestly draw a comparison here) stuffing a small penis up your nose. It's basically a nose irrigator using saline solution. Fabulously awesome.

So, yes, splendid equinox all round. Still, enough whinging. I'm a total bloke when it comes to being ill, although recent studies suggest that Man Flu does indeed exist.

I am embracing the recent change in weather. Chances of sunburn are significantly reduced, meanwhile chances of hot chocolate, roaring fires and mulled wine are on the rise. The best thing about winter is the long dark nights in which to write. I'm a night writer, so the more night there is, the more my imagination flows. 

We all know that there is one story that needs to be completed. To fulfil my oath this year, I need to complete Blood Rose before 1st January. Another 30,000 words should do it. On good form, I reckon I can manage that within two months, though literature is no place for mathematics.

So, here's to a productive Autumn. As of tomorrow I'm going to attempt to pick up my 1k a day regime if I can. Though, feeling like this, 500 is likely to be enough pressure for the time being.

I am totes excited about this one. It's amazeballs. Can't wait to get back to writing it.

Also, I miss oxygen.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Aimé Césaire
Aimé Césaire

I'd like to thank my friend Martine for introducing me to the poetry of Martinican wordsmith Aimé Césaire, whilst on my recent visit to Ireland.

My French is non-existent, however she had a collection that had been translated, with the french on the left and English on the right. All I remember is that the cover was white with black writing, so I shall ask what it was called and add a link shortly.

He's sort of like Edward Lear for adults. Martine says that he received criticism as his poems are a collection of words, one after the other, without obvious meaning or sense. That may indeed be what they are: a collection of words. Though they are beautiful words, and that is the difference. Unusual words, stylish words, blunt words and wondrous words. Even the words I don't understand have a quality about them which makes me enjoy not understanding them. I think he's quite brilliant.

Here's the first poem Martine showed me. Decide for yourself.


flight of cays of manchineels of pebbles of a stream ballista intimacy of the breath
all the water of Kananga capsizes from Ursa Major into my eyes
my eyes of Indian ink of Saint-Pierre assassinated
my eyes of summery execution and of back against the wall
my eyes which riot against the edict of mercy
my eyes defying the assassins from under the dead ash
of a thousand pure challanges of Jericho roses
O my eyes unbaptized unrescripted
my eyes of a frantic scorpaena and of a dagger without a roxelane
I will not let the ibis of the incredible investiture go from my blazing hands.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Selkie Blues by Sgorbissa
Sorry for the silence!

I have been roaming, just back from an Autumn Road Trip of London and Ireland. My good friend Jo is off to Rwanda, and my friends Ruairí and Martine are off to Laos. Feeling a little abandoned, and appear to have returned home to the same grotty cold I had when I left!

Felt inspired during my travels to play about with poetry. First poems in over a year. A form of writing much loved, long neglected. 

You can find my Poems from the Road on my website. Here's one inspired by seals.


Rush of wild air, tainted with mermaids' hair
Dragging you down to a thick salty world
Of watery seaweed webs
Catching your gut with its chill punch
Claiming your mind for its own

Sharp clams strike blood against the rock
Tearing your toes as further you go
Walking towards your washy tomb

From birth to the given day
You've never turned away

Come to me, big brown eyes
Speckled skin like the flying thrush
Spattered on silver-grey silk
As you rush between the waves
Laughing at the clumsy clods of earth
That walk the land
That stand and point and picture you
With battery boxes and buttons

One moment there, the next gone
Vanishing with the tidal song

Sing it to me now
Let me hear as you now hear
Dive me deep beneath the surf
Till sky and sea merge
And I cannot tell my up from down

Until I drown

Sea water, saltwater, sacred water
I'll breathe the tears I cry
For one chance to follow you
For one chance to float beneath the summer moon
To eat my meals off soft belly
Chewed between flippered fingers
Laughing like the Selkie

© Marion Grace Woolley

Wednesday 11 September 2013


Loving these handmade notebooks and wooden pens from Pagan crafts duo Serendipity. Only on Facebook at the moment, but you can check out their gallery and send them a message to enquire about bespoke pieces and prices.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

BBC Writersroom

I mentioned a while back NewsJack, which is a great opportunity for new writers looking to break into radio comedy.

Another site worth checking out if you're in the UK is BBC Writersroom:

Responsive, proactive and an open door to writers, BBC writersoom is always looking at new ways to find and champion talent for all BBC platforms. 

We know how hard it is to be a writer and we believe in finding ways to inspire and inform you, to keep you across changes, giving you access to commissioners and production departments but most importantly to the skills and and experience of established writers.

We are not here for the short term, we understand how long it can take for a writer to find that first and second commission, but if we think you have talent then we will do everything in our power to support and develop you for the long term. Read more here.

They have open submission times throughout the year for assessing scrips, as well as a guide to writing scripts and an extensive archive of example scripts to look through. they also advertise other writing opportunities to help you learn and develop. As well as their website, you can find them on Twitter: @bbcwritersroom, Facebook and on their blog.

If you're new to scriptwriting, check out my previous post on Celtx, free formatting software.

Monday 9 September 2013


Hmm, thought I'd already made a post about these guys. Guess not.

Celtx. If you don't know the name, get ready to make a happy face. I haven't downloaded the latest version for a while, but they made their name as a freeware version of Final Draft. £200 versus... uh, nothing.

Full pre-production suite for film scripting: formatting, prop lists, storyboarding. Really good stuff. Excellent place to start if you've always fancied trying your hand at scriptwriting, but not enough to fork out a large amount of cash.

I think they've made some major advances to do with apps and online workspaces since I last logged in, but you can find out all about what they have to offer on their website. There's also a community forum, or ask a question at Ask Celtx. If you prefer social media, check them out on Facebook and Twitter: @Celtx

Best of all, they run an annual competition called Celtx Seeds where they offer substantial start-up capital to budding amateur filmmakers. Not just helping you get your ideas down on paper, but supporting you in producing them.

What's not to like?

Happy scripting.

Proud to Promote

Sunday 8 September 2013

Where Do Your Words Go?

Going to share a little story with you about my aunt.

Earlier on this year she wrote an article on parenting. I won't say which article, so that I can talk about her experience openly, but it was a good article which was picked up by a renowned UK newspaper, The Telegraph. This is what makes the story so interesting, that it was a respected broadsheet.

It was my aunt's first major breakthrough in article writing, and she was understandably proud of her achievement. However, not having sold an article to a major syndicate before, she had no experience of how these things should be administered.

A few months later, she was somewhat surprised to receive a plaintive e-mail from a small magazine halfway around the world.

The magazine focused on parenting. They had seen her article, thought it as wonderful as The Telegraph had, but were unable to cough up the £250 license fee the paper were requesting in order to give them the nod to republish. They claimed they had offered £50, but were told £80, and even that was a little more than a struggling regional publication could afford. Was there any chance she might rewrite it for them?

The part that baffled my aunt was that she had not signed any contract with The Telegraph. Yet here they were, apparently selling on her work to a third party for more than they had paid her for it.

Cause for concern.

As a member of The Society of Authors, my first thought was to contact them to see what their advice was. They're pretty quick at replying to enquiries from members, which is one of the perks of being a member. My concern was that, when the paper paid her for the article, she had been under the impression that this was for the right to print it. Whereas she accepted that they had sole right to do so, she did not expect that they also had the right to profit by selling on her work, and was further worried that they hadn't even told her of the offer. The SoA responded thus:

In future, best advice is always to confirm what rights have been granted in a follow-up email or letter, so there is no risk of confusion at a later date.  But be that as it may, even if copyright remains with your aunt, if republication elsewhere is conditional on the Telegraph’s consent (which I think your aunt concedes to be the case), the Telegraph are entitled to make that consent conditional on charging a fee.  Rotten, but there you go.

On the other hand, whatever rights the Telegraph may or may not control in the article they published, there is nothing to prevent your aunt writing a different article on the same topic for someone else.  So she could respond to the [smaller] magazine that she would be willing to write them an entirely original piece in return for a fee of (whatever she sees fit, presumably a bit less than £250 but of course all ending up with her…).

Very useful information, worth remembering.

In my aunt's case, she did send that follow-up e-mail to clarify the terms. Here's what happened:

It seems that the commissioning editor for my article slipped up and forgot to send me a relevant letter which I should have agreed to.   Their terms are quite clear in this, but of course as I had not seen them I had not agreed.   Rather a pity really as if they had sold my article to the [smaller] magazine it looks as if I would have got 50%!

That sounds a lot fairer, though the point still stands: there was no contract, therefore no agreement.

The point of this post, for anyone considering selling articles, is to always get something in writing, and make sure you read it. Don't take things on trust and, if there isn't a contract, ask for one.

She did rewrite the article for the smaller magazine, who then turned around and told her they were unable to pay anything, even the £50 they had originally offered!

So, it's not only about getting your contracts in print, but also your commission agreements.

Don't undertake work before you see the money, or at least a signature guaranteeing it, unless the object of having the article published is purely to promote your reputation. Unfortunately, for many writers, that's about as good as it often gets.