Thursday, 23 June 2011



Academy Award-winning movie maker Errol Morris has premiered his latest super-production, Tabloid, in Toronto and London. And – as a star attraction – it will be featured at the world-famous Sundance Film Festival on July 15 ... but the picture still hasn't yet been distributed and released to the general public.

Splashed all over the internet, in TV interviews and the world press, Errol gleefully says it’s his favourite piece of work to date. Maybe, in a year or so, it’ll see the projectionist’s light of dark at a cinema near you when Errol’s Hollywood fishing results in an inevitable bite. He’ll doubtless pick up yet another trophy for yet another blockbuster. Maybe another Oscar for his mantlepiece collection. So far, though, not many folks have laid eyes on the film.

So it's with sincere apologies to that wonderfully talented and acclaimed gentleman and his dedicated team of movie professionals, intrepid researchers and skilled interviewers (the credits threaten to beat the record set by Ben Hur) that BeWrite Books today spills the beans by beating him to it with the first international ebook editions of the story that inspired this insightful and intriguing – sometimes shocking, more often hilarious – docudrama.

Proud, tickled pink and not a little smug, we release – in glorious ebook editions and in cahoots with Revel Barker Publishing – Anthony Delano’s warts-n-all, blow-by-blow insider account of the whole murky and side-splittingly funny shebang: Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon. It’s also available in paperback from RBP here.

Anthony Delano
US beauty queen Joyce McKinney hit the international headlines in the seventies when, love-struck by a straight-laced Mormon missionary, she – and a devoted minder – stalked him to England, kidnapped him (magic Mormon underpants and all) and manacled him to a bed in a remote country cottage where the magic underpants were immediately confiscated and Joyce had her kinky way with him on a regular basis and he, presumably, thought of Utah and hummed hymns he’d learned by heart from recordings of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

She skipped bail and fled home to America, under one of her many, many exotic aliases on one of her many fake passports, before she could be fully tried for what amounted to charges of the abduction and serial rape by a beautiful woman of a helpless, God-fearing man she'd held captive and chained to a special love bed she’d had shipped over the Atlantic. Imagine the sheer torture the poor evangelist must have suffered as he lay there, chaps.

Great tabloid newspaper fodder was that tale. And, wow, did it hit the headlines big time and long time! But Joyce herself is just one act in the circus ring. The real stars – both of the book and the movie – are the expert trapeze artists, jugglers and lion-tamers; the crafty, cut-throat and amazingly skilled and resourceful journalists who competed around the world, daggers-drawn (until the pubs opened and they were all pals again), to unravel the weirdest tale even the most hard-bitten had encountered.

Delano’s book (which Morris bought for three hundred bucks as a collector’s piece when the first edition was out of print) tells all in this extended and updated edition ... the tragedy and the travesty, the mystery and the almost unbelievably comic of la crème de la crime.

Joyce, of course, is now back in the world news because of the movie, this book ... and because her true identity was discovered accidentally when she boasted on TV of having a litter of puppies cloned from the severed ear of her dead pet dog. That is one time she wasn't telling fibs and little black lies. Even though she’d assumed yet another alias and changed her appearance to spread the cloning tale, baby-boomers clocked her at a glance.

Joyce McKinney is what we called in the world press hub of Fleet Street ‘good value for money’. 'The REAL McKinney', Derek Jameson, old Fleet Street editor and BBC radio star, said of the book. Her secrets – and those of the newspaper wolf-pack that followed, and continue to follow, her every move – are told in this unique and internationally released, mind-bogglingly quirky third title in the ongoing BeWrite Books Hack-Lit ebook series in collaboration with RBP Publishing of London.

In Fleet Street currency, this wonderful yarn is the price of two pints of best bitter beer in ebook, maybe four pints in paperback. Depends where you take your leisure. Lounge bar or tap room. Whatever: The Manacled Mormon is  'good value for money'.

Oh, and apologies to Joyce, too (she prefers to be called Joy ‘like in the hymn, doncha’ll know?’). She, for reasons that escape us, hates the book and detests the movie. Says it makes her look bad ... as though anything could make her more devilish and outrageous than she makes herself. Lots of fun is Joy. Plausible she ain’t. At least not always. Pick out the truth from the whoppers yourself. It’s not exactly a challenging exercise to sift the wheat from her chaff in Delano’s book and to re-Joyce.

You can read more about the book and the author and read the first chapter and reviews in the bookstore section of the BeWrite Books website here. The ebook can be bought from us or any major online ebook store (but more often than not, cheaper from us). It’s available for reading on PCs and laptops, all dedicated ebook-reading devices like Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple iPad, etc, etc, etc, and also on iPods and smart phones. You can even read about it and buy the ebook through iTunes now. And you can buy it direct from BeWrite Books in all popular digital formats. Paperback from RBP again is here.

What’s Hack-Lit? Hack-Lit (named as such by no lesser an authority than the mighty Independent ‘serious’ daily newspaper in the UK) is books by ace international journalists with proven mass-appeal to millions of general readers on a daily basis. You see, within the old school of journos who ain’t dead yet, to be described as a ‘hack’ is praise indeed from a trusty colleague. I recently applied the term ‘sodbusters’ in a note to an old boss and brilliant investigative reporter called Brian Hitchen. He thanked me profoundly for the ‘pat-on-the-back’. If you’re an outsider and use the term, you’ll be punched in the nose and thrown out of the bar on your asterisk.

So become an insider with BB/RBP Hack-Lit. And if you’ve not enjoyed that privilege yet, Anthony’s Manacled Mormon is the key card to our members-only club. You’re welcome. But it’s your round. The tab's $5.95 or its equivalent in whatever pennies you count in your neck of the woods. OK?

And here’s a wee secret about those Old School hacks that not many folks know. They adapted to new technology in newspapers as though they’d been breast fed via USB cable. But can they handle a simple ebook? Can they heck as like! For evidence of that failing, read the wonderful Friday news at Gentlemen Ranters. It's the last pub in the street (Fleet Street that is) and where we Old School hacks from around the world gather over a virtual bar top to tell tales of yore ... the long and the short -- and, often, the extremely tall.

So cartoonist James Whitworth has run up this wee strip for our Gentlemen Ranters and for BeWrite Books' readers today. James himself is an old hand and he’s currently covering three BeWrite Books in Peter Maughan’s rib-tickling Batch Magna series of novels. The rib-tickler below shows exactly what James thinks of the technical skills of his old colleagues and bar buddies.

The son of a cartoonist, James Whitworth drew for the university magazine where he developed his style as well as a reputation for making deadlines with seconds to spare. After graduation, he dabbled in journalism working on the regional newspaper’s newsdesk and then writing features for a range of newspapers and magazines. He now creates the Rudge strip seen every week here, a daily news cartoon for online magazine Creative Boom and is the Jewish Chronicle’s topical cartoonist. He also regularly draws for the national and regional press. In his spare time, James is committed to keeping his local public house in Sheffield, UK in business. He is widely and loudly applauded for his success in all fields of endeavour. If you would like to contact James (perhaps to assist him in his charitable work to support local business), you will find him here


Best wishes as always. Neil Marr et al at BeWrite Books (And have a fun weekend folks -- the alternative is grim.)

Friday, 17 June 2011


Upside-down? What do you mean the world’s upside-down in the graphic here? From a cosmic point of view, there’s absolutely no reason why the earth’s poles shouldn’t be reversed this way to give what we call ‘the southern hemisphere’ a fair crack o’ the whip for a change.

The Antipodes has earned its top place through blood, sweat, tears, courage, talent, innovation and endurance against staggering odds over and over again. We inhabitants of the north are guilty of unwarranted and smug elitism.

But they’re stuck at the bottom of our globes and maps, almost as an afterthought, through ancient geographical and cosmological ignorance and petty politics. This artificial positioning encourages unmerited tolerance on their part and an exhibition of blatant snobbery on ours. ‘Down Under’ for the sake of ye gods! With typically easy-going, self-effacing humour and downright good manners, they don’t make a fuss over this in Oz and NZ. But the rest of the world is ‘Up Over’? I think not.

And our Antipodean brothers and sisters get the mucky end of the stick, too, when it comes to the artificially inflated cost of every-day goods – whether imported or home produced. Taxed to the hilt, a couple sharing four jobs and domestic chores to make ends meet ain’t rare.

So (while the world’s upside-down for a wee bit) please excuse Tony, the rest of the BB team, our authors, our readers and me if we’re not exactly leaping in the air with glee at the opening of the new and long-awaited Ingram/Lightning Source print and dispatch base in Melbourne, Australia on Thursday. The base wasn’t so much launched as sprung upon us.

You see, we were sent the contract, conditions and costings charts AFTER the fact and without even a line of official advance notice of the plant’s opening date. This is the courtesy you earn after just over a decade as loyal and good clients of the international print and distribution combine in the brave new 21st Century world of big business. And the LSAus terms are anything but fair dinkum.

Hard to believe that our first LS accounts manager (we contracted the company in its very early days and stuck with them through hard times of their own) used to take an ARC of every BeWrite Books release home with her to read, and then passed editorial comment and critique by us before we gave the green light for print. For her not to send BB at least one personal email a week about progress and development was rare.

And now we’ve been kept so deep in the dark by a new regime that we’re not yet certain if this new Oz deal even plays by the time-honoured rules of cricket. Hold off on popping the corks on those champagne bottles for a wee while Bruces and Sheilas. We might allow bad weather to stop play.

We’ll update this blog in a couple of days when we’ve had time for our legal adviser to check everything out and put in some careful study on a proposal that’s come like a bucket of icy water in the face, like a sneaky googly ball. And it spells in BIG CAPITALS 'significantly increased cover prices' ... up with which, we will not put.

Our well laid and long term plans to immediately set the entire BeWrite Books catalogue and all new titles with LSAus is, perhaps, doable. But it comes at a cost ... to the poor reader, the southern consumer. Yet again, s/he will be cross, possibly even feel double-crossed. My immediate reaction in a note to Tony and some Australian BB author friends yesterday was, “This is not expansion, it’s exploitation.”

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe I don’t quite understand yet. (At least, our lawyer would suggest I add that disclaimer.) Whatever, this blog post will probably land BB in bad books with Ingram/LS when it does the rounds tonight. Quite honestly, I don't give a wombat's ... and after a long phone chat with Tony, I can assure you that neither does he.

All we’re sure of so far is:

a) this is not what we expected and had been allowed to hope for since the Oz depot was first mooted seven years or so ago

b) we won’t see Australian production for at least two months ... if ever

c) print book lovers will be sorely disappointed

d) we’re struggling to tell our three Rs from our elbows and can’t honestly say which way is up.

Watch this space folks. Fingers southern-crossed.

Never fear, we’re on the case and – one way or t’other – she’ll be right. That’s BeWrite, mates, playing from a square bat. But it’s a bat of old and battered willow and it doesn't take abuse at all kindly.

Bestests. Neil, Tony et al

Thursday, 9 June 2011



BeWrite Books proudly releases today the latest in its ever-growing collection of exclusive sole-authored anthologies from some of the finest poets of our day … Carolyn Oulton’s A Child, a Death and the Making of the Fairy Tale Woman.
     These exquisite, intriguing, unique works explore the coming and the going of life … and much of what happens in the snowflake of existence we briefly experience in between.
    Carolyn Oulton’s academic background – she is a lecturer in English literature, with a special interest in Victorian fiction – meets the domestic and encounters all the uncertainties of our time on earth with poems that don’t so much open the mind but open within the mind.
      Here, Virginia Woolf meets Timothy Leary. You Might Want to Picture This:

Ok, you’re down by the sea
where it starts to thin
and fray around the edges;
past the ghost train, the rides
that will only take you at a certain size,
losing your footing on the shingle,
and a stone in the turn-up of your trousers, and
the tide, for all you know,
could be in any direction at all.

Popular UK poet Sue Guiney says: “In A Child, A Death and the Making of the Fairy Tale Woman, Oulton has created a life, with all its humour and tragedy, dreams and fears, in language mixed with beauty and simplicity. Both quiet and powerful, this is poetry that carries you along in waves, like the sea that crashes through it. It stays with you, reverberating in your ear and your heart.”  

A Child, a Death and the Making of the Fairy Tale Woman is Oulton’s third volume of poetry. This latest collection from BeWrite Books is a beautifully crafted, post-modern dialectic in which she confronts topics from pregnancy in On Leave, Baby Imminent and childbirth in The Pool to death in Scissors, Paper, Stone.
      And feminism. She questions the existence of the modern woman in After Reading a Victorian Conduct Manual in the British Library, suggesting a universal similitude between all women, irrespective of time or place. Drawing on her specialist knowledge and extensive research in the Victorian field, she calls for an atavistic re-emergence of values in Doubtful Icons and Tabula

How do you do.
Correct response: How do you do.
No question mark.
Most people I know have forgotten this by now.

The modern pastoral Railway Hill comfortably co-exists with A London Collage, a retrospective monologue written as a result of the London bombings, lending a fatalistic slant to this work.

Allison Grinney, well known poet and poetry reviewer, says: “Oulton addresses some commonplace short-comings within the human condition. She sanctions that it’s fine to fall short; one is not expected to know the name of the ‘purple thing newly come out on the hill’ (Time Capsule), the point is to notice it.

     “As a human being, she says, one is learning constantly and ad infinitum. She notes the shift in priorities following the birth of a child in The First Wasp and how the newly acquired responsibilities seem daunting to the parent. She relates a personal, one-sided conversation with the new born child in Catching the Light and a poignant, yet fresh look at death in Your Grandfathers Feet.
Carolyn Oulton
       “These poems reflect the incessant coming in and passing away in the circle of life.
      “Oulton touches upon the inadequacy of language to describe these new feelings in Away, as if language has the potential to corrupt: ‘... and I knew it, some things / should not be touched with words’. She’s interested in the grass roots of language: ‘... You’re inheriting words that were mispronunciations / of hers that we all now use ...’ (Details of the Child).
      Adept at the art of juxtaposition, in After and Between Days she juxtaposes death surprisingly with orange pips. The success of this collection is in its fresh and vital imagery.
      “Written in the vernacular, these poems are accessible and are reminiscent of the prose of Virginia Woolf inasmuch as they document the poet’s rapid thought processes in a subtle stream-of-consciousness; this results in a bravely intimate read.
       “There is no doubt that the poet has laid herself, and her soul, wide open. Oulton’s resolute faith is important and it is acknowledged in poems such as Sticking in the Wind and In Real Life.
      “This work is multi-faceted and should be regarded as a palimpsest of sensations as Oulton layers humour in To Tom in a Whisper, over pathos in Last Dance, over the pedestrian in After Melissa Gave Me a Leaf on the Way to School. This collection of poetry is more than the sum of itself and Oulton achieves all of this without an abstract noun in sight.”

Carolyn Oulton’s previous poetry publications are: The Rain (Sol 2000) and Left Past the Moon (National Poetry Foundation 2001). She has recently also published Let the Flowers Go: A Life of Mary Cholmondeley (Pickering & Chatto).

BeWrite Poetry Editor is Sam Smith. Cover art, internal text design and technical creation of print and all digital editions is by Tony Szmuk.

Available AS OF FRIDAY JUNE 10 at all major online stores or on order from your local brick and mortar book store if there's not a copy on the shelf. It is also available from the publisher, BeWrite Books, in paperback and all popular ebook editions HERE or by clicking on our ‘open book’ icon in the top right margin of this article. By visiting the bookstore section of the BeWrite Books site, you can read more about Carolyn and about the book and freely read extracts from A Child, A Birth and the Making of the Fairy Tale Woman.

And a PS to poetry lovers. Please take a look at the BeWrite Books blog post below this (POETRY IN MOTION). Included in the article is a short video by BeWrite Books technical and design editor, Tony Szmuk, in which he demonstrates the presentation of a BB poetry book – complete with the complex layout sometimes required for poetry. It features Carolyn’s A Child, a Death and the Making of the Fairy Tale Woman and next month’s new BB poetry release, Stick Figures, by Kirsten Holmes.

Best wishes. Happy week. Neil Marr

Thursday, 2 June 2011



A Poet Struggles with New Technology
Poets often passionately resist ebook presentation of their work, thereby largely limiting its exposure to print copies signed and sold at readings and other cozy events.

As a result, poetry books, traditionally, suffer low circulation, sometimes confined to author circle gifts or sales you can count on the fingers of two hands.

Most publishers won’t touch poetry because of its fiscally dismal track record. And poets (not all of them up-to-snuff by any means) flood the internet with online offerings. We, however, feel it of vital cultural importance and will do all we can to promote the popularity of top-drawer poetic works, selected and nurtured by one of the best poetry editors in the world, Sam Smith.

But, financial modesty apart, like all artists poets crave universal appreciation. To achieve this they must embrace the new ebook technology rather than resist it ... even if it does sometimes mean a few minor concessions to layout style. But the need for radical adaptation to accommodate e-poetry books ain’t necessarily so.

Those poets concerned about how their work may appear in ebook form should watch  this short video. BeWrite Books tech and design director, Tony Szmuk, is demonstrating here how two upcoming BeWrite Books poetry anthologies will appear in industry standard ePub editions on an iPad.

You'll clearly see how Tony’s careful text design and file preparation can faithfully reproduce even the mildly eccentric layout favoured by some:

Other reading platforms and devices – from PC and laptop screens, through the range of 100+ ebook-dedicated reading devices, to iPods and mobile phones – have different features. Some are  as sophisticated as the iPad virtual page scrolling (with the option for elderly and worn-looking pages and even audio effects to reproduce the turning of a page and crinkling of paper, if you want to go the whole hog), others,  more so.

 Yet others, like my old Sony PRS 505, for instance, have no fancy bells and whistles, but the pages display exactly as shown in this short film. 

And if you have a stylish soft-leather cover for your reader, as I do, it feels, looks and even smells like one of those precious volumes the local library won’t let you take home.

But we’ve noted recently that there’s a real ‘tablet’ revolution rumbling out there – better, lighter, cheaper devices are popping up in the news and in the stores almost daily; especially ‘android’ tablets that can read books from anywhere in pretty well any digital format simply by downloading a free or cheap extra viewing channel.

And, always ahead of the game, we’re now looking at embedding appropriate (but always author-approved) audio and video in some selected BB ePub editions now that the tablet technology is available and the new ePub 3 programme will very soon be open to us. I guess we’ll call these e-ebooks … ‘enhanced electronic books’.

Gosh, chums, the possibilities are endless. Readers will be able to not only read a BB poetry anthology but to click on the title of a favourite poem and hear the author or a talented actor read it out loud. The possibility for fiction and non-fiction is likewise mind-boggling. Anyway, forgive my burst of teenaged enthusiasm … back to the point:

Tony produced this video especially to show BeWrite Books’ poetry editor, Sam – a talented, hugely experienced, widely published and popular poet in his own right, but in some ways very much the traditionalist – the result when a book of poems is carefully and expertly handled page-by-page (a la BB) rather than through an automated file conversion process.

Did it change his mind? Bet your boots it did. folks ...

Sam Smith
Sam said yesterday: “Consider me sold! The video convinced me. I now think we poets have to rise to the challenge of ebooks, to see them as an opportunity to create a new kind of poetry delivery.

“Already at BeWrite I have suggested that poets left-justify their text and avoid fancy and complex fonts so that there will be least interference with the layout/line breaks when a Kindle user with waning eyesight, say, changes the text size himself at the touch of a key for easier reading.

“But what will lend itself even more perfectly to ebook publication is prose poetry, Howard Good’s recent Heart with a Dirty Windshield, for instance, is an excellent example.

“That said; check out the creative layout in Kirsten Holmes’ forthcoming collection Stick Figures as painstakingly prepared by Tony and as can be seen in this impressive and short video.“

“Poetry already has many different delivery points – print, oral, concrete poetry, slams, jazz poetry, cabaret poetry, the net … Now to make best use of this new opportunity.”

Magdalena Ball
Fiction author, poet and reviewer, Magdalena Ball, recently saw her Repulsion Thrust poetry anthology published by BeWrite Books in print and all ebook editions.

She said: “I had always been a traditionalist myself, believing that nothing could ever compete with a beautiful stitched book you could hold in your hand. My house is full of them. They’re stacked three-deep on overloaded bookshelves.

“But since I got a proper e-ink ebook reading device, the only difference between reading a beautifully formatted e-book or a similarly formatted tree-book is that the e-book is more portable ... and a reading device can contain an entire library.

“Wonderful poetry loses none of its power or beauty in electronic format.  Of course, poetry doesn’t lend itself to automated ‘meat grinder’ conversions easily, especially if highly formatted.  That’s why a traditional publishing company like BeWrite Books, which is well ahead in ebook technology, is critical.

“There’s no substitute for BB’s proper hand-formatting of each title so that the words follow author intention, regardless of which viewer is being used.

“So quite simply, as a poet, I’m thrilled that there’s a medium which is re-invigorating and exciting the reading public, and I don’t see poetry as being any less appropriate for the ebook revolution than any other genre.

“As a reader, I’ll take my poetry in both print and electronic format, and will continue to lose myself in the rhythm, structure and power of the words. It’s all good.”

Tony Szmuk
Tony Szmuk – himself a life-long lover of fine poetry and literature in several languages – said: “Sam was a hard sell. He, Neil, Hugh McCraken and I have been arguing the toss of the relevance of poetry to the digital age with him for a year or more.

“But, traditionalist that he may be, Sam has a sharp eye for future developments, as his own poetry and much of his fiction reveals. He admitted to never having seen poetry displayed on a dedicated ebook reader, so this video was intended to show him.

“We were thrilled by his enthusiastic reaction. Quite honestly, we’d rather lose ebook poetry than risk losing Sam over a policy disagreement. So sighs of relief could be heard around the world when Sam said ‘let’s give it a fair crack o’ the whip’.

“The secret is quite simply this – understanding and co-operation.

“It takes me much, much longer to prepare poetry for ebook editions than it does for fiction in digital form, both in terms of text design and technologically. The poet can help by understanding some of the difficulties – some of the things currently available technology can’t handle – and, without in any way compromising his intent, finding creative ways to lay out his words in practical way.

“Meeting the challenge of ‘complexity’ takes me time, but I love it and don’t begrudge a moment’s effort. The currently (but not for long) ‘impossible’ is quite another matter. That’s a frustration to me and, ultimately, a disappointment to the poet ... until the technology catches up, as it tends to with breathtaking speed and vigour.” 

The two upcoming BeWrite Books poetry anthologies featured in Tony’s video are:

*Carolyn Oulton’s A Child, a Death and the Making of the Fairy Tale Woman, to be released next week (Friday June 10) in paperback and all ebook editions. It will be ‘officially’ launched at the Folkstone Book Festival in the UK in November.

*Stick Figures by Kirsten Holmes will be released on July 22, again in paperback and all digital formats.

PS: Sam Smith will be appearing at the Ilfracombe Arts Festival, UK (June 24-26).  Afternoons in ‘Transform’, then along with several other poets and songsters in the Britannia Inn at 8:00pm on the Friday. At 7:30pm on the Saturday he will be reading in the Epchris Hotel. For more details check out: THE FESTIVAL SITE.

Best wishes, love and luck to all. Neil Marr