Sharjah International Book Fair 29th Edition

My photo
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
ExpoCenter 7th - 17th November, 2012. Hours | Saturday - Thursday: 10a.m. - 10p.m.; Friday: 4p.m - 10p.m.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Fake Plastic Souks: The Book Slog Blog

Actually writing a book is easy as pie. You just take 75-100,000 words or so and put them down on paper. The order in which you place them can be a bit of a bugger, but the principle’s simple enough.

Most writers will knock up an average of around 1,000 words a day, so that’s a good three months to crack off a novel. Allow for procrastination, cunctation and a few other ations and you could easily (and advisedly) take 5-6 months to finish the first draft of a manuscript. You can work faster than that – I wrote the original MS of Olives in just over four weeks, but I’ve been seven years in editing it. Some people will write their book in four weeks and create a work of tear-jerking genius without having invested a second more. These are not, you understand, people to whom I talk.

Having finished the MS, in my case usually with the reward of a snappy Martini or two, you can breathe a sigh of relief before getting down to the real work. Because actually spending months writing a book is nothing. The real work starts when you’ve finished the damn thing.

First off is the editing. Dashing down 80,000 words of story is all great fun, but then you have to review it and make sure you’ve spelled everything right, avoided awful continuity errors, remained consistent to your characters, maintained your storyline and honed your writing so that the dialogue works, the action fizzles and the moments when two people go ‘ping’ actually go ‘ping’ and not ‘splot’. There have been whole books – a great deal of them, in fact – written on this subject. Writer’s forums constantly buzz to questions of POV (point of view), the passive and active voice (oh, puhlease!), characterisation, plot elements and all that sort of stuff. And we haven’t even started talking about sentence structure, ‘showing rather than telling’ and the myriad elements that stalk the furrowed brow of the harried writer editing his/her manuscript (or MS, if you want to use ‘the lingo’).

Now, don’t forget, you’ve just written tens of thousands of words – editing them all over again is a real trial. By the time you finish, you sort of hate those words. The bastards have no right to be so demanding, so imperfect. But finally you’re done. The MS looks good to go. (It rarely is at this point, but let’s not pee in the firework box too early, hey?)

Now you have to write a synopsis of your book. This is a one or (at most) two-page summation of what your book’s about, what actually happens in the thing. Any agent or editor wants to see a synopsis to find out if the thing makes sense as a whole. So your synopsis not only has to represent the key movements of the plot, it should ideally show your ability to write as well. This is a hellish thing to ask someone who has just written a book, then edited it to shining perfection, to do.

But it must be done.

What happens to your character? Who influences the development of the storyline and who is just there for colour? Chances are, by the way, if you can cut a character out of your synopsis, you can cut him/her out of the story and are better off doing so. The synopsis is a straight story-line, a compelling narrative from a to c that validates quite why b was ever involved. Take your story down to five pages, then halve the word count, take it down to a little over two pages. And then you can start playing hardball with those cowering little words. Eliminate, and do it like a Dalek with a really bad hangover.

It’s like swimming through molasses with 10lb weights tied to your bits. It’s an awful, sorry slog of a task.

And we’re not done with you yet, matey. Now we want a ‘blurb’.

A ‘blurb’ takes your synopsis and hones it down to under 400 words or thereabouts. Here’s the blurb for Olives:

When Paul Stokes runs out of choices, his only path is betrayal.

The fragile peace is holding. Behind the scenes, the Israelis are competing for dwindling water resources as Jordan and Palestine face drought. Daoud Dajani has the solution to Jordan’s water problems and is bidding against the British for the privatisation of Jordan’s water network.

When journalist Paul Stokes befriends Dajani’s sister, Aisha, British intelligence agent Gerald Lynch realises Paul offers access to Dajani - the man threatening to drain Israel’s water supply and snatch the bid from the British. Blackmailed by Lynch into spying on Dajani, his movements seemingly linked to a series of bombings, Paul is pitched into a terrifying fight for survival that will force him to betray everyone around him. Even the woman he loves.

That’s not the only blurb for Olives, but let’s not complicate things. Note it’s not a contiguous description of events in the book – it’s a summation of the action and points of action that are intended to evoke interest in what the work’s about. (You can judge whether it works in the comments, and please be my guest!)

Now you have a ‘blurb’ you can work it into your ‘pitch’. A blurb and pitch are two different things, although they are necessarily interrelated. The blurb is the text you’d slap on the back of a book. A pitch is what you’d say to a top London literary agent if you got one minute of his/her attention. The best way to do this is crash their lunch at the Athenaeum holding a Scalectrix controller wired to a lumpy belt around your waist and screaming ‘I’ll take you bastards all with me’ before you start pitching. This might seem extreme, but don’t worry. Agents are used to authors doing this. The worrying trend emerging is agents are now doing this to editors as the world of conventional publishing slowly collapses into itself like Michael Moorcock's Biloxi Fault.

Not even the Athenaeum, it must be said, is a safe haven these days...

Anyway, now you have a book, a synopsis, a blurb and a pitch. You've also likely got RSI and a rocky relationship. Next comes the hard bit. I'll come on to that tomorrow...

Fake Plastic Souks: Olives - The Book

I might as well apologise now. I'm going to be posting about books and writing all through the Sharjah International Book Fair.

My thoughts are pretty much focused in that direction, so I'll be sharing my path to publishing my own work, what it takes to self-publish from the UAE and Olives, the book I'm finally unleashing on an unsuspecting and unprepared general public during the Fair.

Writing posts usually destroy traffic to the blog. But what the hell. It's my book and I'm proud of it...

Guests (like us!) invited to the Sharjah Book Fair through social media encounters! « 10 Days in Sharjah

There are tons of authors and scholars that are part of the enormous (30th Anniversary) Sharjah International Book Fair. Below is a list of those invited as guests of @shjintlbookfair who were met online through various social media. For us it was 100 Thousand Poets for Change that caught #shjibf’s attention. (Thanks for noticing us!) As a result, there was a wonderful event in Sharjah for 100 TPC run with @ArabicBookClub, under the patronage of @Bodour.
We are very honored and thrilled to be guests of the Book Fair. Looking forward to meeting all the interesting people and browsing through themassive map of booksellers that are at the fair!  The Catalogue of books available is 344 pages long! And the Sharjah Book Fair gets about 400,000 people passing through during its 10 day stretch. It is going to be amazing. Here is the Schedule, which does not officially include everything that will be going on…and check the official Sharjah Book Fair Blog for happenings and updates…stay tuned here for my own take on this trippy trip. There will be daily photos (I hope) so come back often.

نبذة عن المؤلف
الموقع الألكتروني
سارة شيريدان
كاتبة أسكتلندية: معظم كتاباتها روايات تاريخية. مهتمة بالكتب والأفلام والتاريخ. تُكرس حياتها للكلمات، صحفية أحيانا ومدونة.
http://www.sarasheridan.comScottish writer: mostly historical novelist. Curious about books, films & history. Dedicated word nerd (a big swot). Occasional journalist & blogger. Jammy.Sara Sheridan
آنا بيركي
أديبة مقاتلة،تسعى لإنقاذ العالم باستخدام مناهج إبداعية للفنون والثقافة. مولعة بالأحذية والسفن واختام الشمع، ومؤسسة@EdinCityofLit
http://www.AnnaBurkey.comLiterary Ninja, saving the world with creative approaches to arts & culture. Fond of shoes & ships & sealing wax; set up@EdinCityofLit.Anna Burkey
أنيتا سيثي
صحفية وكاتبة تقوم بالتغريد من جميع أنحاء العالم & writer, tweeting from around the worldAnita Sethi
مايكل روثينبرج
ناشر ومحرر بيج بريدج ومؤسس 100 الف شاعر من أجل التغيير
http://www.100tpc.orgPublisher and editor of Big Bridge and founder of 100 Thousand Poets for ChangeMichael Rothenberg
ثيريسا كاريون
مولودة في نيويورك لأم من جاليسيا وأب من كوبا. مؤسسة مشاركة لـ 100 ألف شاعر من أجل التغيير و محررة مشاركة ومصممة لموقع
Conceived in Venezuela, born in New York to a Galician mother & Cuban father, co-founder 100 Thousand Poets for Change, co-editor/visual designer Carrion
ستيوارت كلارك
فلكي وصحفي ومؤلف ومتحدث رسمي. مؤلف ثلاثية ملوك الشمس ومتاهة السماء المظلمة والتي حولت تاريخ علم الفلك إلى دراما حية
http://www.stuartclark.comAstronomer, journalist, author and speaker. Author of The Sun Kings and The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth trilogy, the history of astronomy – dramatised!Stuart Clark
ليزا ديميستر
مديرة مهرجان الكُتاب الناشئين ومؤلفة كتاب Neon Pilgrim، تتنقل بالدراجة ونباتية of the Emerging Writers’ Festival. Author of Neon Pilgrim. Gets around by bike. Vegan.Lisa Dempster
فاطمة فخري
إيرانية-أمريكية، مسلمة، تنادي بحقوق المرأة، ليبرالية، كل ذلك في نفس الوقت! مؤسسة مسلمة ميديا ووتش (@ mmwtweets) ، ومؤلفة.
http://fatemehfakhraie.comIranian-American. Muslim. Feminist. Super liberal. All at the same time! Deal with it. I’m the founder of Muslimah Media Watch (@mmwtweets) and an author.Fatemeh Fakhraie
صوفي كوك
روائية ومؤلفةكل من رواية البيت الزجاجي، وتحت الجبل : التي نشرتها دار راندوم هاوس، كاتبة قصة قصيرة ، شاعرة، ومصورة، ونادلة روكابيلي
Novelist (The Glass House; Under The Mountain: pub. Random House), Short Story Writer, Poet, Photographer, Rockabilly BarmaidSophie Cooke
سارة ماري جرادي
مماطلة عفوية. تحب الكتب، والعمل في مجال الفنون ومهوسة قليلا بالخَبز.
I am a spontaneous procrastinator. I love books, work in the arts and baking is a minor obsession.Sara Marie Grady
بيجي هيوز
نحلة عاملة في خلية أدب ادنبرة وتقوم بالتغريد لـ@byleaveswelive، مديرة مشاركة في@wpbookfestival, ومحررة مشاركة في@anonpoetry وتحب شرب الشاي’m a worker bee in Edinburgh’s literary hive. I tweet for@byleaveswelive, co-direct@wpbookfestival, co-edit@anonpoetry and love tea.Peggy Hughes
هانا ميجيل
ناقدة أفلام وكاتبة و تظهر أحيانا في البرامج التليفزيونية وعلى الراديو. يمكن قراءة بعض القصص ومعرفة المزيد عنها من خلال زيارة مدونتها critic, writer, occasionally allowed on the radio and television. If you go to the blog you can read some stories I done.Hannah Mcgill
بول ديفيد بيران
مدير مركز التوعية بجامعة هارفارد والذي يعتمد على تشجيع المجتمع في الجامعة على الفهم النقدي لمنطقة الشرق الأوسط وذلك للمعلميين وعامة الناس Outreach Center draws on the Harvard community to promote a critical understanding of the Middle East region for educators and the general public.Paul David Beran
آنا اميليا ماد
http://drawmedy.wordpress.comAnna Amelia Mudd
نديم نمير دملوجي
مسافر في جميع أنحاء العالم من خلال منحة لدراسة الآثار الاستعمارية لمغامرات تان تان.
http://tintintravels.tumblr.comI am travelling around the world with a grant to study the colonial implications of The Adventures of Tintin.Nadim Namir Damluji
يحيى سمير لبابيدي
شاعر مصري، وكاتب مقالات، مؤلف كل من كتاب Signposts to Elsewhere (2008) Trial by Ink (2010) Fever Dreams (2011)
Egyptian poet, essayist, aphorist & author of: Signposts to Elsewhere (2008) Trial by Ink (2010) Fever Dreams (2011)Yahia Samir Lababidi
مهدي فليفل (مهدي محمد سعيد فليفل)
كاتب ومخرج
www.mahdifleifel.comWriter and DirectorMahdi Fleifel (Mehdi Mohamad Said Fleifel)
محمد علي محمد الشناوي Mohammed Ali Mohammed El Shennawy
باراق ريما RIMA
جنا طرابُلسي
محمد السيد توفيق توفيق
http://www.tawfi2.comArtistMohamed Elsayed Tawfik Tawfik
نضال منجد نظيف الخيري
http://nidalelkhairy.blogspot.comArtistNidal Munjed Nazif El-Khairy
مجدي محمد عبد الستار سعود الشافعي
فنان قصص مصورة وكاتب من القاهرة
Comics artist/writer from Cairo.MAGDI MOHAMED AbdelSattar Seoud El-Shafei
اباراجيتى نينان
ArtistAparajita Ninan
دوراج باي
ArtistDurga Bai
سوباش سينج
ArtistSubhash Singh
مارسي لينكس كوالي
تعيش في القاهرة بمصر حيث تكتب عن الأدب العربي باللغة الإنجليزية
http://arablit.wordpress.comM. Lynx Qualey lives in Cairo, Egypt, where she writes about Arabic literature (in English).Marcia Lynx Qualey
مؤسس مشارك لدار نشر نافايانا of Navayana publishing houseS. Anand