Friday, 25 July 2014

Valley Press Friday Digest, #13

After last week's digest, which I think we can all agree was a new low, you'll be arriving at this one - lucky number thirteen - secure in the knowledge that some kind of improvement is inevitable. I'm hoping that the following will see you through the next seven days: I have rustled up one genuine bit of news, one submissions update and one poem. Enjoy!

First of all, I'm pleased to announce my first confirmed, 'on the dotted line' signing for 2015: the second novel by Nora Chassler, a writer currently based in Scotland, raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It's the latter that provides the setting for the new novel, which - after literally a month of debate between author, publisher, and pretty much everyone I know with a pulse - is officially, definitely titled Grandmother Divided By Monkey Equals Outer Space. I won't tell you anything else about it just yet, other than to say it is a work of literary fiction with an intense focus on character and the little details of life; you are in for absolute treat when Valley Press publishes it next March.

[Nora's first novel was published by Two Ravens Press, who have a small bio for her here - Nora also has her own website here. That's Nora in the photo above.]

This leads us nicely onto the topic of submissions, which have been coming in steadily since they were re-opened at the start of May - I've probably been getting about two enquiries a day. I've sent out plenty of bad news and one or two bits of good news, but I plan to really tackle the pile towards the end of August. Nora is the first 2015 author to get to an announceable state, but I have an unprecedented eighteen books lined up for 2015 in one form or another - and I'm going for a total of twenty, so two more submitters are going to be getting some good news over the next month or so. I plan to 'leave everything on the field' next year, as they say, so watch this space to see how it goes.

I've spent much of this month working on Helen Burke's new collection, as profiled in Digest #9. At time of writing I've completely finished editing and organising the poems; it's now just a matter of arranging the notes section and deciding which illustration goes where, and then getting the author's go-ahead of course. I'll finish this post with one of my favourite short poems from the book - see you all next week.

Baxter’s Crime

Baxter, the dog, is being dragged down the lane.
I feel sorry for Baxter, in fact, most days –
I feel a bit like him.
Pulled this way and that.
Someone behind me with a lead that I can’t see.
Baxter has no idea what his crime is.
(Nor have I.)
Just that he is a dog who takes his time, perhaps.
He investigates. Sniffs too long in all the wrong places.
I can never hear the words – just that she is shouting,
snapping and snarling.
I imagine the teeth are bared – the hackles grizzly and raised.
But Baxter I feel is undeterred.
He will go on being Baxter.
He will go on going on.

There is no cure for being free of mind and will.
Baxter, my friend, my alter ego.
Baxter – I love you.
Go on being, Baxter.

(Run amok – remain a dog with pluck.)

You bark at your side of the wall
and I will bark at mine. 

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