Me Blackberry Fool, You Apple Tart

March 12, 2018



"Me Blackberry Fool, You Apple Tart" by Amelia Slocombe is chick lit, which is not usually my genre of choice - but it caught my eye because one of the characters is a lawyer in a London law firm, which happens to be what I do for a living too.  I have also made a bit of a thing of trying to be a bit more open-minded when it comes to books which I have a tendency to dismiss as "not my thing", especially when it comes to free fiction by self-published authors (as in this case).

Having said that, I have read (and thoroughly enjoyed) books like "Bridget Jones' Diary" - which I suppose is the "Ur-Chick Lit text".  Or could it in fact be a "post-feminist novel concerned with feminism in contemporary western societies" with allusions to the writing of Simone de Beauvoir, Helene Cixous and Julia Kristeva, as suggested here (or in numerous other academic commentaries)?  Hmmm, somehow I suspect that these issues were not at the forefont of Helen Fielding's mind when she wrote it - and if you picked up a book describing itself as chick lit only to find that it was in fact a rather po-faced tract about post-feminism, you might feel you had been ever so slightly slightly missold.  

Anyway, assuming that the main point of "Me Blackberry Fool, You Apple Tart" is not really to explore the crisis of masculinity in western society but to make its readers laugh, I think it succeeds very well.   Isla, the main character, works ridiculous hours for a probably fairly ridiculous salary in the finance practice of a City law firm.  I don't have much experience of finance law myself (frankly, I would rather stick pins in my eyes than spend most of my waking hours drafting loan agreements) - but I can vouch for the parts of the book dealing with various goings-on in Isla's office (and outside it when it comes to the office party etc).  Happily, these focus rather more on the weird (but in my experience all too plausible) behaviours of some of Isla's colleagues and less on the finer points of the Loan Market Association's standard clauses for facility agreements (even though I am sure these are a thoroughly satisfying read if you like that sort of thing).

Isla's best friend, Rachel, works in the marketing department of a firm that sells plumbing and toilet accessories - but makes up for the lack of glamour inherent in this job by having a (rather useless) boyfriend who also happens to be the best friend of a Premier League footballer.  And this is really the lynchpin of the plot, as the footballer takes a bit of a shine to Isla, who is already in a long term relationship.  Anyway, I won't reveal any more of the story, but it is very readable, the plot moves ahead at a decent pace and most importantly, it is genuinely funny.  I also enjoyed some of the secondary characters, like Isla's Dad (a man devoted to the infinite culinary possibilities of mince) and Rachel's mildly psychotic Mum.

Although it is firmly in the chick lit genre, it's a bit different in the sense that it consists entirely of exchanges of emails and texts - so you could see it as a sort of contemporary version of the epistolary novel.  A few reviewers appear to have had a problem with this, arguing that the characters (particularly Isla, given her very long working hours) couldn't possibly have had the time to write such lengthy messages to one another - and that this alleged lack of plausibility completely ruined the entire novel for them.  But for me, it was far more important that the characters and events portrayed in the novel came across as believable and funny - and because they were, I was quite willing to suspend any disbelief I may have had about the length of some of the emails.

At the time of this review, "Me Blackberry Fool, You Apple Tart" was available as a free ebook from Smashwords or as a paid-for ebook or hard copy edition from Amazon.   If you want to see what others thought of it, it has quite a few positive reviews on Amazon and also on goodreads.

Finally, hats off to the author for managing to get this article about her novel into the London Evening Standard no less (in a world where most newspapers have cut back their coverage of fiction quite substantially, most authors, whether self-published or not, would kill for that kind of publicity - alright, maybe not actually kill, but you know what I mean).  From a self-publishing perspective, this interview with her may also be of interest.

 

To Kill the President: a (non) review

January 14, 2018



Just finished "To Kill the President" by Sam Bourne.  It wasn't bad - and although we never meet the President, I'm fairly sure I know who the author had in mind.  But who cares what I thought about it?  Here's what the Leader of the Free World made of it (allegedly), when it was drawn to his attention:

@realDonaldTrump tweeted:

Sam Bourne is a total loser and hater who made up a story to write this really boring and untruthful novel. More FAKE NEWS!

@realDonaldTrump tweeted:

Great reporting from...

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Jon Evans and the techno-travelogue thriller

December 4, 2017




Jon Evans is that rare beast – an author who has had a fair amount of commercial success but appears to be entirely happy to make most of his work available for free online.  Many of his novels have been conventionally published in a number of territories and have attracted impressive reviews from the likes of The Times, The Economist and The Washington Post (although as will be apparent from this timeline, his path to publication was far from smooth and resulted in the usu...


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Copyright registration: is it worth it?

September 2, 2017



On author sites like youwriteon.com (which I reviewed here), you sometimes see adverts for services like this one:
http://www.copyrightprotectionservice.com 

These companies typically charge a fee for "registering" your copyright for a period of years.  Some of the sites even look a bit like official agencies (they are not - they are businesses who are in it for a profit).

So is there any value in registering your copyright with them?  I dare say some authors are tempted to part with their hard ...
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All Out War

August 12, 2017


All Out War” by Tim Shipman seeks to answer the question “why did the UK vote to leave the EU?”  As you might expect, there were many reasons – but what the book conveys quite well is that there was no inevitability about the outcome (there were, after all, only about 700,000 votes in it, on a turnout of 33.5 million).  If even a relatively small number of things had played out differently, Brexit might not be happening.  Here are just a few examples:
  • 16 year olds:  Had 16 year olds...

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Moderators: engage brain before applying rules!

July 16, 2017


Just over a week ago I posted a comment on an interesting article in The Bookseller entitled "When does a writer become a professional?".  My aim was to provide some evidence to back up what the author of the article was suggesting about how you don't necessarily need to be earning a living from your writing in order to feel OK about taking it seriously - for me, it all depends what your criteria for success are.  

I explained that I had decided to offer my work for free (because getting reade...
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Fedorov's dust

April 30, 2017



Having written a novel which draws quite heavily on ideas about the "Technological Singularity", I thought I knew a fair amount about it already.  But a recent article in the The Guardian by Meghan O’Gieblyn entitled “God in the machine: my strange journey into transhumanism” exposed some gaps in my knowledge and encouraged me to revisit the subject – which I haven’t really been back to since I self-published the novel in 2012.

The Technological Singularity is an idea most closely as...

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Ship of Fools

March 26, 2017
Went on the pro-EU march in London at the weekend - which may be something of a futile gesture, as Theresa May seems set to give notice to leave under Article 50 this week.  But if it helps to deter some of those in government from pursuing some of the more extreme forms of Brexit which are being seriously talked about (such as walking away without any sort of deal at all with the EU - absolute madness in my view), then it will have been worth it.  There were quite a few good placards but my ...
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Single to Morden by Spike Evans

February 27, 2017



As regular readers of this blog would know (if only there were any), I like to maintain the pretence of being a reasonably conscientious reviewer of free fiction by self-published authors.  This normally entails doing a review that consists of several paragraphs (at least).   And more often than not, it affords another unmissable opportunity to give commercial publishers a bit of a kicking for not doing a better job of finding (and publishing) new fiction (happily allowing me to extend the re...

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Google ate my story!

December 18, 2016




According to a report in The Guardian, Google has recently attempted to improve the language capabilities of one of its Artificial Intelligence programs by feeding it over 10,000 free ebooks downloaded from Smashwords (out of a total of well over 50,000 free ebooks).  Apparently the idea was to help the AI produce more natural-sounding sentences.

Being The Guardian, the report was a bit po-faced about the whole thing and the journalist seemed to think that the authors ought to have been remune...

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About Me


Paul Samael Welcome to my blog, "Publishing Waste" which will either (a) chronicle my heroic efforts to self-publish my own fiction; or (b) demonstrate beyond a scintilla of doubt the utter futility of (a). And along the way, I will also be doing some reviews of other people's books and occasionally blogging about other stuff.
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