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Red Hammer and Litopia-open submissions: and summer reading

Red Hammer and Litopia

Fancy facing critics online? In collaboration with Litopia Writers’ Colony, Red Hammer participate in Pop-Up Submissions – the net’s first live submissions event that takes place at 5pm UK time every Sunday.

Reference to Litopia

Watch Litopia Pop-Up on You Tube as your 700 pages are read to a panel and listen to comments and view the live chat stream. Will the panel vote to ‘shred’ your novel; ‘disengage’ from it; ‘turn the page’ to read more; or ‘it’s got me’ and hooked the reader?
You can join the Litopia site for free and receive basic services, or pay an amount each month or annually for the full services.

I have watched a couple of the Litopia Pop-Ups and the interesting comments range from unidentifiable point of view, waiting for the story to start, overblown language and so on. Seeing the criticisms scroll on the screen must be nerve wracking. I intend to watch a few more live shows before submitting my novel. Dare I face the Litopia challenge? 

I recommend giving this a go. View the site, go on to YouTube to watch the Litopia live shows or check out the archives. Even if you don’t yet have a novel to submit the process and the views from people in the business are worth knowing. 

Summer Reading. Yet another update – two more down.

Mr Penumbra’s Twenty-four Bookstore by Robin Sloan

A bookstore open all hours and what a bookstore! The books are so high they can’t been seen and are accessed by a ladder. But the shop is a front for a secret society which the narrator eventually discovers.
The society is trying to unlock a code with the secret of immortality and they are doing it manually, the old-fashioned way, while the narrator and his group of friends, (the rogue with the wizard and the warrior) use technology.
I would categorise this book as fantasy but I may be way out. Some describe it as a literary thriller. I’ll leave it for you to decide. 

Confessions of a Conjuror by Derren Brown.

This is brilliant. From the opening pages, he uses language to full effect with an accurate use of so-called ‘big’ words, words which satisfyingly fill your mouth and add to the rhythm of the sentences. Who else would call his actions ‘fatuous peacockery’? 

In the beginning
From the start, he declares that it is the minutiae of life which reveals the person which he puts into practice to reveal himself and we are granted a dip into his thought processes.
He relates his anxiety about losing his pens and dots them around his flat but still cannot find one when he needs it before dashing out of the door. I can relate to his ‘slight’ OCD and his curiosity about what would happen if he chose to crash his car.

In fact, I can relate to many of his observations.
Those observations, ordinary and psychological, of people and situations are illuminating, and he has the imagination to dive into another world whether it be the thoughts of the inebriated man at the bar or his own past. 

A card trick is the lynchpin of the dialogue and throughout an action, a conversation, a look, or a thought jogs a memory and flashes him to his childhood, his youth, his career in no particular order, and they each give him reasons to flash in another direction – very like Proust’s Madeleine scenario. 
His understanding of feelings and motivations e.g. when stepping into a lift while someone inside steps out only to realise it is the wrong floor, and reactions of both parties are identifiable and amusing. 

I was charmed by his wit, his lack of grandeur and his honesty: no name dropping for Mr Brown. 
The book is an atypical memoir and no ‘dumbing’ down of language. The structure is in chapter form with footnotes some of which cover more than a page and, I suspect, might be off-putting but if you admire the man’s skills and enjoy language and memoir then I recommend this book. 

Happy Reading Everyone. 

Oh, almost forgot. I am delighted to announce that I have been longlisted in the Cranked Anvil short story contest. Results out soon. 



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  1. First, well done on getting long-listed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, for you.

    Some interesting reviews, Lynda. I shall definitely drop by the Read Hammer/Lytopia site, it sounds interesting.

    I’m quite drawn to your Robin Sloan book. Either definition would appeal to me.

    However, despite having also heard other people recommending the Darren Brown, I’m still avoiding it. I do wish I could find Biographies appealing, but I can’t. Maybe because I so frequently have to read them for work… it seems to have given me an aversion to autobiographies, too.

    • Lynda Kirby Lynda Kirby

      The Robin Sloan book is intriguing and I’ll be interested in your opinion when you read it. Don’t view Derren Brown as an autobiography but treat is as a psychological treatise. Mind you, I don’t know if that’s any better. I agree that when you have to read certain books for work then it becomes a chore.

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