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My PLR 2010-11

Posted by takingsky on January 23, 2012 at 6:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Yippee! I have received more than twenty times my usual fee from the Public Lending right people despite the tarrif going down. Instead of last year's £1.19, I received (or will receive) £28.98. A massive leap. You Don't Have to Say was borrowed 473 times and Going the Distance 31. It's great to know that 473 people read my book, or at least read the blurb and liked it enough to take home. Maybe half of them actually read it all. Who knows , anyway I'm pleased. 

Books read 2011/Top ten.

Posted by takingsky on December 22, 2011 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)


Here's what I've read this year:

And here is my top ten:

This year I have been mostly reading short story collections - of course - and it shows in my top ten. Having to leave out such wonderful collections as Perfect Lives and Touch and Ten Stories About Smoking shows what a great year it's been. And for novels - I've had to leave out A Kind of Intimacy and Pub Walks in Underhill Country, both quite brilliant. Lots more novels and collections didn't quite make it but were preeeety good too.The other thing I noticed was two were from Greywolf Press (USA). Anyway here's my top ten this year:

The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards (Short Stories). So recent I haven't written a review yet.

If it is Your Life (stories). Kelman at his best - funny, acerbic, male.

True Things About Me (novel).I did briefly talk to Deborah (Kaye Davies) at a reading to tell her how much I got carried away by this. I'm going to read her stories next. I might start a fan club.

Volt (stories). Perhaps my book of the year. Terrific and terrifying stories.

The Arrival (graphic novel). My one graphic 'novel' (although there are no words!) a year turned out to be one of the best.

The End of Innocence (non fiction). OK: nostalgia for me, photos of 60s bands..

Let The Great World Spin (novel).

Daddy's (stories). Funny, startling, taboo breaking, weird, daft.

The Terrible Changes (stories). Declaration of interest: he's a mate of mine and fellow member of the writing group I belong to. You should still look his stuff up because he's dead good. However it might not be wise to pursue this one because it's almost impossible to obtain. The picture at the top is a copy of the cover.

Brighton Rock (novel). Re-read in 2011 after a 40 year gap and loved it again.

What I'm Listening To Now

Posted by takingsky on October 3, 2011 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (2)


No rejections (= no writing) for a while again, so thought I’d put up my current soundtrack (the last one I put up was in 2008, and some tracks have survived throughout those years – Evie Sands, Slickers, Ken Boothe, Junior English). Two deeply sexist tracks – Under My Thumb and Heading in the Wrong Direction, but I can’t help loving them. Otherwise it’s the usual mix of nostalgia (Paperback Writer, Stoned Love), psychedelic stuff I missed first time round (Russell Morris’ The Real Thing – first time I heard it was this year, even though it dates from 1969), reggae (most of which I heard in the 70s). Plus tracks that have grown on me (It’s Only Love from ‘Help’ because of John’s voice, similarly ‘Steel & Glass’). Of the new stuff I love Deerhunter’s Desire Lines due to its wonderful extended guitar licks depicting a longing that will never be fulfilled, and Phoenix Foundation’s Eventually for the opposite: we will find what we need, it says. If I had to pick a favourite track – obviously only for this day, as they change daily, it would be ‘I Hear A Symphony’ – Diana Ross’s (& Motown’s) best moment, I think. But then there's 'She Don't Deserve You'... and then there's...

Under my Thumb -Rolling Stones

Chick A Boom - Joe Bataan

Beggin' - The Timebox

Evie Sands - I Can't Let Go

Drive In Saturday - David Bowie

Ray of Light - Madonna

Desire Lines - Deerhunter

She Don't Deserve You - Honey Bees

Best Dressed Chicken In Town - Dr. Alimantado

Run With You - Keren Ann

Paperback Writer - The Beatles

I'm Losing You - John Lennon

It's No Game, Pt. 1 - David Bowie

And Your Bird Can Sing - The Beatles

The "In" Crowd - Dobie Gray

Something To Believe - Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan

The Real Thing - Russell Morris

Celeste - Donovan

Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart - The Supremes, Diana Ross

Lay Down – Melanie (A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind 14 min version)

Sugar the Road -Ten Years After

She's Heading for the Wrong Direction - Junior English

Chris Montez - The More I See

I Feel Fine - The Beatles

Sandie Shaw - (There's) Always Something There to Remind Me

50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain - Ten Years After

Come See About Me - The Supremes, Diana Ross

Too Much Rain - Paul McCartney

Chris Montez - Call Me

If You Could Read My Mind - Johnny Cash

Save Me Dear - Wu Tang Vs The Beatles

Ken Boothe - Everything I Own

Beetlebum - Blur

Have Mercy - The Mighty Diamonds

Loving Pauper - Gregory Isaacs

Helpless - Kim Weston

She'll Drive The Big Car - David Bowie

I Heard it Through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye

I Hear A Symphony - Diana Ross

World Doesn't Care - Joy Zipper

Man Out of Time - Elvis Costello

The Night - Frankie Valli, The Four Seasons

Eventually - The Phoenix Foundation

Frosted Ambassador - The Olivia Tremor Control

I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash

The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game - Marvelettes

Easy_Skanking - Bob Marley

Jimi Hendrix Experience - Hey Joe

Groovin' With Mr. Bloe - Mr. Bloe

Johnny Too Bad – The Slickers

Out of Control - Chemical Brothers

Stoned Love - The Supremes

One - Johnny Cash

Stereola - French Disko

Can't Buy Me Love - The Beatles

2000 Light Years From Home (Stereo Version) - The Rolling Stones

Steel And Glass - John Lennon

Station To Station - David Bowie

Stay - David Bowie

It's Only Love - The Beatles

Hung Up - Madonna

Mysterious Ways - U2

Hideway - The Olivia Tremor Control

Masterpiece - Jr., Grover Washington (A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind 13 minute version)

He Would Have Laughed - Deerhunter

Sad And Beautiful World - Sparklehorse

No Need To Cry - British Sea Power

You Don't Have to Say

Posted by takingsky on May 10, 2011 at 9:19 AM Comments comments (2)

I made the longlist but the short list for the Edge Hill prize for Short Story collections is out today and I'm not on it. Depressed. Listening to The Unthanks 'Give Away Your Heart': it's so apt. The lyrics, virtually on repeat go 'disappointment is everywhere':

Congrats to those that made the list though: Michele Roberts, Polly Samson, Helen Simpson, Tom Vowler and Graham Mort. 

Staff Development

Posted by takingsky on February 23, 2011 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Story: Staff Development

Mag: Sunday Times Short Story Award

Editorial Comment:

My comment:

Well the longlist is up and I ain't on it. To be expected of course, but this year I had allowed myself to entertain some hope because this story made it into the Best British Short Stories 2011 anthology, coming out in April.

The big names are there - Hilary Mantel, Anthony Doerr, Michel Faber, Gerard Woodward, Yiyun Li etc, plus some (not many) unknowns. Congratulations to them all. Next year...

My PLR for 2010

Posted by takingsky on January 19, 2011 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Last year in my writer's group Gaynor said oh, I had 800 quid for my PLR payment (Public Lending Right - authors get a few pence for each time their book(s) is (are) borrowed). I said, I got £1.45. This year it's even less: £1.19. All for the book I edited 'Going the Distance' (editors receive 20 % of the lending fee of 6 pence). No one took out Taking Doreen Out of the Sky. However next year I'm hoping it will go up as I have 'You Don't Have to Say' to add to the calculation. Hopefully that book will be taken out now and again.

Books read 2010/Top ten

Posted by takingsky on December 13, 2010 at 5:44 AM Comments comments (0)


As usual I have been adding books read to my Goodreads profile, so to avoid repeating myself here’s what I read in 2010:


My top ten – well, this year there seem to be a lot more novels. (I’m a short story man of course). I did read quite a few good story sollections, Dead Girls (by Nancy Lee), Dead Boys (by Richard Lange), Legend of a Suicide (David vann), Gold Boy, Emerald Girl (Yiyun Li), Both Ways is the Only Way I want it (Maile Meloy), The Shell Collector (Anthony Doerr) etc. – all these were excellent but not quite knock out enough to reach my top ten.


Here’s the books I liked most this year:

The Stars in the Bright Sky, Alan Warner’s follow up to ‘The Sopranos’:


The Old Spring – a warm/funny book about a day in a pub.


I’m cheating here and putting Flannery O’Connor’s two books of stories as one choice. I probably enjoyed this one best:

(maybe because I read it first, and the O’Connor impact was at its greatest), but also enjoyed very much:


A nonfiction book (!!) has made it to the top ten. Very odd for me, but then it is about local writer Shakespeare:


Winesburg, Ohio. Yep, been doing a lot of catching up this year, reading books I should have read many years ago (see also Flannery O’Connor):


Hard Rain Falling, a great great novel, perhaps my top book this year:


Or maybe it’s this one (top book of the year), Henry Green’s uncollected writing rounded up:


Another novel. Kelman’s latest definitely makes the list:


Constantine’s new collection of stories:  was mostly fabulous. He’s a great story writer and some of the stories here just zing with life. I think Under the Dam just marginally pips this one though.


Finally a wonderful anthology that introduced me to some new writers. Not that I liked everything in this massive book though:


December 21st - well that was a top 11, and I've just finished a book that has to go in this list to make it a top 12. It's a Simenon novel from 1948 called 'Stain in the Snow':




River Walk

Posted by takingsky on October 5, 2010 at 4:01 AM Comments comments (0)

Story: River Walk


Mag: Bridport Competition 2010


Editorial comment: none


My comment:

This is rejection by default, again. Officially the results haven't been announced yet but I know some writers have received notices that they are longlisted/winners, and congratulations to them, but it means I've failed to make a mark once more. I did get £20 runner up for a story in 1984, but nothing since.

Little Chef

Posted by takingsky on October 4, 2010 at 6:11 AM Comments comments (0)

Story: Little Chef


Magazine: Smokelong Quarterly


Editor's comments:


Thank you for your submission of "Little Chef" to SmokeLong Quarterly. We are going to pass on this story, although it's lovely. I appreciate you sending it to me and hope you will submit to SmokeLong again soon.


My comments:


Well it would have been nice to get in there, and a good comment but I'm truly not bothered today as my launch went well, and I read 'Little Chef' as part of it, and a lot of people have said they liked it.  

Background Noise

Posted by takingsky on June 11, 2010 at 6:54 AM Comments comments (3)

Story: Background Noise


Mag: Blackbird


Editor's comments:

Dear Alan Beard,

Thank you for your interest in Blackbird, and our sincere apologies for the uncustomary delay in response. Unfortunately, "Background Noise" doesn’t meet our needs at this time. Due to the high volume of submissions, we can only publish a small amount of what we receive. We wish you the best of luck in your future writing endeavors.


The Blackbird Staff


My comments:

Sent this in Jan 09 - 18 months for a reply. Ah well, I had one accepted today as well - 'Staff Development' (previously called 'Separate Things'), so I'm happy.

River Walk

Posted by takingsky on May 14, 2010 at 11:07 AM Comments comments (0)

Story: River walk


Mag: Agni


Editorial comment:

Dear Alan Beard:

Thank you for sending "River Walk." Your work received careful consideration here.

We've decided this manuscript isn't right for us, but we wish you luck placing it elsewhere.

Kind regards,

The Editors

P.S. Without submissions like yours, we'd lose the sense of discovery that keeps AGNI fresh. Please click here for a discounted subscription rate offered as a thank-you to our submitters:


My comment:

might well take you up on that, although my mag subs are a bit heavy..

Staff Development

Posted by takingsky on April 29, 2010 at 10:46 AM Comments comments (0)

Story: Staff Development

Mag: Narrative Winter Contest

Editorial comment:

Dear Alan Beard,

Thank you for entering “Staff Development” in the Winter 2010 Story Contest. We received and read entries from writers from all around the world—stories, essays, memoirs, graphic stories, short films, and audio readings about nearly every possible subject and in almost every setting imaginable. Each entry received careful consideration from our editors.

At the end of weeks of discussion, the editors selected three winners and five finalists. We regret that your story was not a winner or finalist this time, but we are grateful to have had the opportunity to consider your work, and we hope that you will keep Narrative in mind for your work in the future.

An announcement of the winning stories will soon go out to the magazine’s readership, and the winning stories will be published in the magazine in late May or early June.

Thank you, again, for letting us read your work, and please accept our best wishes.


The Editors


My comment:

You have to try don't you..

One for the Album

Posted by takingsky on April 16, 2010 at 6:23 AM Comments comments (0)

Story: One for the Album


Mag: Narrative


Editorial comment:

Dear Alan Beard:

Thank you for sending your work to Narrative. We are always grateful for the opportunity to review new work, and we have given "One for the Album" close attention and careful consideration. We regret, however, that "One for the Album" does not meet our needs at this time. We hope that you will keep us in mind in the future.


The Editors


My comment:

I will keep you in mind for the future, thank you very much.

Little Chef

Posted by takingsky on March 2, 2010 at 3:53 AM Comments comments (5)

Story: Little Chef


Mag: flashquake


Editorial comment:

Thank you for your interest in flashquake. Our decisions were difficult, but we have decided not to use your submission(s). We have included below our editors' comments on your work; we hope you find them useful. Please note that we are closed to submissions until December 1, when our Spring issue reading period opens.

Alan Beard


Little Chef

Editor 5 Vote: No

Ed. 5 Comments: I couldn't sympathize with any of the

characters and the final line seemed a little too pat for the story, as if the whole story had been written just to deliver that one line.

Editor 6 Vote: No

Ed. 6 Comments We've seen a thousand variations on this

theme, and while this one is well written, it's not far different.


My comment:

bollocks. I don't normally get depressed but this week the three rejections seem to have really hurt. I want to go and lie down somewhere and emerge a new shiny person, or better still for one or two stories to be accepted. That would cheer me up.

River Walk

Posted by takingsky on March 1, 2010 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Story: River walk


Mag: Fish Short Story Competition 2009/10


Editorial comment:


My comment:

I was getting excited about this because it made the longlist, but the shortlist was published today and I'm not on it. Depressed.