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My freelance writing can now be found at mikeatkinson.wordpress.com.
Recently: VV Brown, Alabama 3, Just Jack, Phantom Band, Frankmusik, Twilight Sad, Slaid Cleaves, Alesha Dixon, Bellowhead, The Unthanks, Dizzee Rascal.
On Thursday September 17th, I danced on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Click here to watch, and here to listen.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Shaggy Blog Stories raises over £1200 in the first 40 hours.
Yesterday, I said that for each copy of Shaggy Blog Stories sold, £3.63 would be donated to Comic Relief.
I was wrong.
As my share of the profits from the sales will initially be paid into my bank account, Comic Relief will receive it from me as a "personal donation". This means that they can claim an additional 28% of the money directly from the government as Gift Aid.
So in actual fact, Comic Relief will receive £4.442 for every copy sold, i.e. 49.6% of the cover price. That, my friends, is a remarkably high royalty rate.
At 16:00 on Saturday, 40 hours after the book was launched, 266 copies had been sold, raising £1181.57 in total. Considering that my initial estimate was around £500, it's a stunning achievement.
And of course, it's far from over yet. So I'm going to start keeping a sporadically updated running total at the top of the blog. Keep checking for updates.
Some very early editions of the book may contain a couple of rather glaring typos, since corrected. If you are lucky enough to receive one, then cherish it. They'll be worth a mint one day. You know, like stamps.
It has been suggested that a single signed copy of the book should be auctioned off for eBay. Now, obviously, posting a book between 100 different addresses would be a logistical nightmare, and would take months to accomplish.
So what I suggest is this. All 100 contributors (101 including our cover artist) are invited to sign their names on a sticky label, and to mail it to me at a postal address which will be supplied by e-mail. I shall then place each sticker inside the book, as close to the relevant entry as available blank space will allow.
We may not get the full 101. But I reckon we'll come pretty close.
After the rigours of the week, I knew that I was going to come crashing down to earth with a bump. I just didn't realise that half the morning room ceiling in the cottage was going to come down with me. As we discovered when we got there last night, in high spirits, and ready to celebrate the book launch with champagne and fish & chips:
Something had sprung a leak in the upstairs bathroom, and the water had been accumulating in the gap between the floorboards and the plaster ceiling, before bursting through some time during the week.
Well, that seagrass flooring was on its way out anyway. At least we can replace it on the insurance.
However, one thing that can't be replaced is the beautiful Antonia Salmon ceramic which was bought for our civil partnership, using the money that K's sister had set aside for a present before she died, shortly after the ceremony. K had chosen the ceramic himself, and regarded it as our memorial to her.
Various friends in the village spent nearly two hours last night fixing the leak, salvaging our possessions, and clearing away the rubble. Meanwhile, other friends looked after K, who was too distraught to remain inside the house. The evening finished with a dozen of us getting merry round D & T's kitchen table (chicken pie and home made chocolate cake also provided), thus allowing us to forget about the wreckage for a brief while.
Once again, we were reminded what an amazing village this is, and how lucky we are to live here. If we'd had the same problem in Nottingham (we live in The Park, which is a kind of posh person's ghetto), our neighbours would probably have invoiced us for their time.
K and I rolled back at midnight, shut the door to the morning room, opened the bottle of vintage champagne which had been earmarked to toast the launch of the book, and got steadily plastered in front of an Old Grey Whistle Test highlights DVD, stumbling to bed at 3am.
After all the work that has been taking place in the Nottingham house over the past couple of months - new kitchen, and now a new garden - the cottage has been our sanctuary. No longer. (K, in a major Drama Queen moment: "Both our properties are in turmoil!" It's OK; we know what we're like better than anyone. And yes, we've both read My Tornado Hell, thank you.)
I shall take this as an opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in suffering with some of the very people that Comic Relief is trying to help - several of whom don't even have morning rooms.
Oh, did I not mention that we're having a new garden (PDMG II) installed in Nottingham? The work started on Monday, the first task being to rip out all the thick concrete from the sizeable yard area that's being converted. Great week to write a book, eh? During most of Wednesday afternoon and for much of Thursday, as I worked my way through the submissions, the typesetting and the proofing, a loud pneumatic drill was being operated just beneath the study window. Although to be honest, I was so focussed on the task in hand that I barely noticed.
Oh, and we've been Instapunditted. Hello America! Buy our book!
Friday, March 16, 2007
Shaggy Blog Stories: a collection of amusing tales from the UK blogosphere.
Well, we did it. With mere minutes to spare, and with no time to format a contents page... but we did it. In seven days flat, from start to finish.
This afternoon, I received some fantastic news. The book's publishers, Lulu.com, have very kindly offered to donate their share of the profits to Comic Relief. Lulu, I kiss you.
To order your copy, all you have to do is click on the following VERY IMPORTANT URL:
The cover price is £8.96, of which
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for: our list of esteemed contributors. We decided to settle on exactly one hundred of you... and, in strict order of appearance, these are they.
1. An Unreliable Witness
2. Emma Kennedy
3. Oh, quelle surprise, Princess Pushy has gone and stuck herself at the front...
6. Petite Anglaise
7. Sally Morten
8. Richard Herring
9. Edvard Moonke
10. The Overnight Editor
12. Chase me, ladies, I'm in the cavalry
13. Tim Worstall
15. Diamond Geezer
16. The Bedside Crow
17. Smaller Than Life
18. The Web of Evil
19. Drifting in and out of consciousness
21. Jamie4U - yeah Gay Pride and all that shit!
22. bob’s yer uncle
24. Argy Bargey
25. A Free Man In Preston
26. This Is This
27. JonnyB’s Private Secret Diary
28. (Contains Mild Peril)
29. Real E Fun
30. Tokyo Girl Down Under
32. [from fuck-up to] fab!*
33. Tired Dad
35. The H factor
36. Confessions of a Psychotherapist
37. Betty’s Utility Room
38. NHS Blog Doctor
39. Naked Blog
40. Mommy Has a Headache
41. Random Burblings
42. Momentary lapses of insanity...
45. This Is The Goo I’ve Got
48. Kaliyuga Kronicles
49. Grantham New Town
50. Tippler Does Brussels
52. Doctor Oddverse's Different Dictionary
54. Andrew Collins: Where Did It All Go Right?
56. Deacon Barry
57. Chicken Yoghurt
58. The Fishwhacker Swindle?
59. The World of Yaxlich
60. My Blog Ate My Homework
62. Living for Disco
63. Everything Is Electric
66. I am livid
67. Office Space
68. Boob Pencil
69. Diary of a Goldfish
70. My Boyfriend Is A Twat
71. Chocs Away, Old Girl!
72. What I Wrote
73. DramaQueen, Fag-Hag, JAP
74. Blue Cat
75. Reluctant Nomad
76. The Cartoon Blog
77. Swish Cottage (closed)
78. David Belbin
79. The Singing Librarian Talks (or Writes…)
80. Invading Holland
82. John Soanes
83. 1000 Shades of Grey
84. What’s New, Pussycat?
85. Tranniefesto: A Crossdressing Adventure
86. Struggling Author
87. Other Men's Flowers
88. The Big Side Order
89. Neil Writes the Blog
90. Beyond The White Cliffs
91. Girl with a One-track Mind
92. Just A Blog
93. An Observant and Desperately Ironic Teenage Perspective
94. meish dot org
95. Tales from the Canalside
96. Speaking as a Parent
97. Keir Royale
98. A Sideways Look At Womanhood
99. Mitzi (URL withheld)
100. The Albert Tatlock Persuasion
Before we go any further, I have a few people to thank.
Lest you think otherwise, this has been far from a one-man show. I have enjoyed the services of a crack editorial team, who have spent many hours helping me select the 100 entries, and generally pitching in with advice, support and encouragement: Anna, Jack, Peter and Petite. Scaryduck has given much helpful advice, and is responsible for the domain name. Anna (again) and Deborah have helped with the proofreading. Peter (again) wrote the blurb for the back cover. Dymbel and Siobhan, professionals both, have advised me with the layout. My darling K has been the very soul of patience, and has been on hand with glasses of red wine at strategic moments. And can I just thank Anna a third time? She has been in on the idea right from the very start, within minutes of the thought popping into my head on Wednesday afternoon. Without Anna, I doubt that this project would have happened.
VERY SPECIAL THANKS to the hugely talented Lucy Pepper, for the stunning cover art.
And last but not least, a big THANK YOU to the literally HUNDREDS of you who have submitted entries, and pimped the project on your own sites.
For my part, this has been the most mammoth undertaking of my entire life. Seriously. Since Sunday afternoon, I have literally done nothing else but work, eat, sleep, go to the loo, and put the hours in on this project, until 2am every night. (OK, I took half an hour off for lunch on Monday. But it felt weird, and wrong.) I have read over 300 submissions. I have received and processed well in excess of 1500 e-mails. I have learnt a vast amount in a very short space of time. It has been stressful, but also hugely, HUGELY enjoyable. Even tonight, I was beavering away right up until the deadline; believe it or not, the book only "went to press" with 45 minutes to spare.
I tell you what, as well. Make no mistake: this is one absolute BELTER of a book: a showcase of British Blogging at its finest. Most of the entries, and indeed many of the submissions which didn't make it to press, have made me laugh out loud. Sometimes, I have been in stitches. Yes, that might have been simple hysteria. But never has hysteria felt so sweet.
A word on the editing process. In certain cases, I have had no option but to tinker with your words; sometimes to make a piece fit neatly on the page, without awkward overspills, and sometimes just to make your words look better in print. Grammar, punctuation, stylistic tickles, that sort of thing. But rest assured that I haven't done anything which would compromise your own individual voices. If you're anything like me, who is still fairly new to the freelancing game, you won't even notice what I've done. Blog posts are often immediate, chatty, full of asides, bashed out in snatched moments during the day. The demands of the printed page are subtly different. It goes with the territory, darlings. (Ooh, hark at her, Miss High And Mighty Editor all of a sudden, who does she think she is... )
And now to the next stage of the project.
PLEASE, PLEASE, pimp this baby HARD. We need the sales. Lots and lots of them. Link to the book from your blogs. Copy and re-use the cover art (450 pixels at the top of the post, and a sidebar-friendly 200 at the bottom), or grab it off Flickr. Get your friends, family and colleagues to buy it. Digg, Redddit, del.icio.us, all that guff: USE THEM. Badger your local media: come on, it's a story. Work every contact and connection you have. This book needs to be the biggest story in blogland. Christ, I'm turning into Bob Geldof.
Here, have a press release. Scaryduck wrote this. Use it.
Bloggers publish book for Comic Relief.After days of surfing on nervous energy, I suddenly feel very tired. Back to the office tomorrow. It's been a blast, hasn't it?
100 bloggers have published a book to raise funds of the BBC's Comic Relief appeal on Friday 16th March.
'Shaggy Blog Stories' features hilarious contributions from Richard Herring of 'Fist of Fun' fame, BBC 6Music presenter Andrew Collins, comedian Emma Kennedy, and James Henry, scriptwriter from Channel Four's 'The Green Wing'.
Authors Abby Lee, David Belbin, Catherine Sanderson and The Guardian's Anna Pickard have also contributed pieces to the book.
The vast majority of contributions, however, are the work of many of the lesser known and unfamiliar heroes of British blogging; going under pen names such as Diamond Geezer, Scaryduck, Pandemian and Unreliable Witness.
Also contributing to 'Shaggy Blog Stories', and hoping to raise funds for the Comic Relief Appeal is local writer INSERT YOUR NAME, LOCALITY AND BLOG DETAILS HERE.
The book is the idea of blogger Mike Atkinson who writes the 'Troubled Diva' weblog. 'Shaggy Blog Stories' features comic writing from not only the cream of British blogging, but also the best up-and-coming and undiscovered writers publishing their work on their own websites.
Giving himself a "ridiculously short" seven days from idea to finished product, Atkinson admitted that he was overwhelmed with the response, which gleaned over 300 submissions for publication.
With a pool of talented writers, and the latest publishing-on-demand technology, Shaggy Blog Stories bypasses the usual snail-paced publishing industry, and offers a mail order service to customers who will receive their finished copy within days of placing their order, and only a couple of weeks after the original idea.
"Blogging creates complex, worldwide networks of friendship and contacts on the internet", says journalist Alistair Coleman, one of Shaggy Blog Stories' contributors. "By creating a buzz about this book, we can reach out to hundreds, thousands of readers who'd be willing to part with a few quid for this very good cause. Mike's got some excellent writers on board here whose work deserves a wider audience. Everybody wins."
For details of how to order the book, visit www.shaggyblogstories.co.uk.
For the background story on the creation of Shaggy Blog Stories, take a look at www.troubled-diva.com.
The VIRTUAL LAUNCH PARTY is now in full swing in the comments box. It's an all-dayer, so don't worry, we're well stocked.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
The online launch party for Shaggy Blog Stories will take place here on Troubled Diva, a couple of minutes after midnight.
Dress code: slumber wear.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Shaggy Blog Stories: the deadline for submissions has been reached.
OK, time's up. If you haven't mailed me with your submission for The Book by now, then I'm afraid it's too late.
I shall be spending the next two days catching up the with ever-growing "unread" pile, and slowly assembling the manuscript. The goal is to release the finished book for sale at midnight on Thursday night/Friday morning, i.e. at the start of Red Nose Day itself.
At that point - but not before - I'll be posting a link, which will take you straight to the dedicated page on lulu.com where you can purchase the book for yourselves. You can then post the same link on your own sites; e-mail it to your nearest, dearest, and that awfully nice couple you met on holiday last year; and generally Spread The Word All Over The Land.
As part of the same announcment, I shall also be revealing the full list of contributors, in the order in which they appear in the book. This will be a list of blog names only; I won't be listing the authors by name, and I won't be listing the titles of the individual posts. You'll have to buy the book to find all of that out.
This brings me to the most awkward and regrettable detail of the project.
If I had any longer than seven days to complete the work, then I would absolutely pay everyone the simple courtesy of letting them know, by advance e-mail, whether or not their contributions have been successful.
However, I simply cannot spare the time to send out over 300 e-mails, when I'm going to need every last minute to get the book ready. Think about it: 300 e-mails. How long is that going to take?
And it wouldn't just be a matter of sending the e-mails out, either. Think how long it would take to deal with 300 excited/disappointed bloggers all replying at once, with woo-hoos or boo-hoos, and all manner of supplementary questions. No. Can't be done.
So, and it pains me to do it this way, most of you will have to wait until midnight on Thursday to find out whether or not you're in the book.
I know, I know. But at least you won't have Kate "empathetic" Thornton waiting behind you with a camera crew, claws outsretched, as the boys in VT cue up something suitably ecstatic ("Let Me Entertain You") or plaintive ("Fix You"). Such cruelty has no place in our gentle World of Blog.
For similar reasons, I shall not be posting a sample of "hilariously" crap submissions - NOT THAT THERE HAVE BEEN ANY CRAP SUBMISSIONS YOU ARE ALL TALENTED AND SPECIAL - for everyone to have a good snigger over:
There was this Englishman, this Irishm...
...no, wait, can I start agai...
...oh, PLEASE PLEASE Mike, can y...
...well FOOK OFF THEN WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT COMEDY ANYW...
...no I WON'T come FOOKIN quietly, I...
I shall now return to my duties for the rest of the evening. Please remember me in your prayers.
Shaggy Blog Stories on BBC Radio Five Live.
If you'd like to hear me talking about the Shaggy Blog Stories project on the wireless, then go to the Five Live Pods and Blogs page and click on the "Listen" link on the right hand side of the page.
Or you could just click here instead, I guess.
My spot begins at 00:53:13, and lasts for five and a half minutes. Apart from not knowing the difference between days and weeks, I think it went rather well. (K was secretly listening from outside the study, and commented that I had my "radio voice" on. Where does that come from?)
In the comments last night, Milady de Winter suggested the following:
Right - those of us who DON'T get shortlisted should start a renegade charity book and see who raises more £££.It could be like Hear'say versus Liberty X all over again, couldn't it?
Monday, March 12, 2007
Shaggy Blog Stories: a progress report.
A long time ago, whilst I was busily tying myself up in some other ridiculously over-ambitious collective blog-based stunt, someone (it might have been him) cheekily dubbed me "the fairy godmother of British blogging".
At the moment, sifting through the ever-growing stack of submissions for Shaggy Blog Stories, I feel more like the Simon Cowell of British blogging: "Congratulations, you've made it into the book" replacing "Congratulations, you are going to London". Only I don't have to hug anyone, or get glasses of water thrown in my face.
Occasionally, in my more delirious moments, I feel like the Anneka Rice of British blogging. At the Nottingham blogmeet on Saturday afternoon, I was tempted to run into the bar in a canary yellow jumpsuit, squawking "OK gang, we've got SEVEN DAYS to WRITE A BOOK!"
To say that I've had an "enthusiastic response" would be an understatement. I have received around 200 submissions over the last three days, and have read about 100 of them so far. 45 of that 100 have definitely made it into the book, taking the page count up to just over 100 and counting. An editorial team of four has been recruited, to assist with the decision-making process and to ensure that the whole kaboodle isn't dominated by one individual's personal taste.
Not surprisingly, some of the best known names in British blogging will be included in the book. However, we are judging on the merit of the submission rather than the reputation of the blogger, and the book will certainly not end up as a roll-call of the "in crowd". One of the great joys of doing this is that, as with Post of the Week, I am constantly discovering brilliant material on blogs which I've never seen before. About once every 45 minutes during yesterday's marathon 10-hour stint, I would find myself doubled up in hysterics, slapping my thighs, and shouting "YES! YES!". This is what we call a Fringe Benefit.
I have also, reluctantly, had to face reality. If I leave the submission deadline as Wednesday at 6pm, then I will never be able to read everything that has been sent. Therefore, I'm bringing it forward by one day.
THE NEW SUBMISSION DEADLINE IS 6PM (UK TIME) ON TUESDAY MARCH 13.
When making your submission, please bear in mind that the sheer weight of numbers means that, statistically speaking, the probability of making it into the book is less than 50%, and decreasing by the hour. So you do need to be comfortable with the idea of rejection. Having said that, please be assured that your piece WILL be given a full and fair reading.
(Here's a tip, though. Try to imagine what your piece will look like on the printed page, to someone who has never read you before. Does it work out of context, as a stand-alone piece in its own right? Does it need editing, maybe to remove some of the more chatty asides to your regular readers?)
I've had a sneak preview of Lucy's cover art. 'Tis genius. You'll love it. DAMN, this book is going to be GOOD.
And finally, a Media Alert: I'll be talking about the project on BBC Radio Five Live's "Pods and Blogs" show, which goes out at the ungodly hour of 2am on Tuesday morning. It's OK, there's no need to wait up specially: I'll link to the "Listen Again" archive link when it becomes available.
My thanks to everyone who has linked to the project thus far, and to everyone who has submitted material and/or offered help in other ways. I *heart* you all.