troubled diva  
 

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.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

TwitterTitters - it's the new Shaggy Blog Stories!



Two years ago, I came up with the idea for Shaggy Blog Stories - a paperback collection of comic writing from British bloggers, in aid of Comic Relief.

One year ago, Sarah Peach published You're Not The Only One - a blog-book collection of "intimate and personal stories", in aid of War Child.

This year, and once again with Red Nose Day in mind, Linda Jones and Louise Bolotin have continued the tradition with the newly published TwitterTitters: "a tweetin' hilarious collection of new comedy writing". The difference this time round is that the project has been publicised and managed through Twitter, rather than through blogs.

Fear not, though - this isn't some sort of loo-friendly collection of 140-character bon mots, but a proper book with proper writing from proper people (myself included, hem hem), who just happen to have Twitter streams. There's a forward from comedy writer Nat Coombs (creator of Chelsey: OMG!), and a brand new piece by Dave Spikey, of Phoenix Nights/8 Out of 10 Cats fame.

I'm delighted that Linda, Louise and their team have picked up the baton on this one, and dead chuffed that my submission has made the final cut. All that remains is for me to urge you to buy a copy, from http://www.lulu.com/content/6281246.

There's more about the project here, and also via @tweetree on Twitter.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Shaggy Blog Stories: the official podcast.

As Shaggy Blog Stories approaches its 500th sale (just one more copy to go), the long-awaited Shaggy Blog Podcast is finally available for purchase.

Featuring readings by 14 of the 100 contributors, and with a playing time of 67 minutes, the Shaggy Blog Podcast can be purchased for a measly Two Quid, of which £1.60 will be donated to the Comic Relief charity.

A list of contributors can be found on the ordering page, along with a free two-minute preview.

Inevitably, the recording quality does vary somewhat - one of the contributions was even phoned in from Namibia - but the quality of the readings themselves is uniformly great, and That's What Counts.

Hope you enjoy it. Perfect pool-side listening for the holiday season!

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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!

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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:

www.shaggyblogstories.co.uk

This will take you directly to Lulu's ordering page for the book.

The cover price is £8.96, of which £3.63 £4.64 will go to Comic Relief once external manufacturing costs have been deducted.

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...
4. little.red.boat
5. Sarsparilla
6. Petite Anglaise
7. Sally Morten
8. Richard Herring
9. Edvard Moonke
10. The Overnight Editor
11. Scaryduck
12. Chase me, ladies, I'm in the cavalry
13. Tim Worstall
14. Sashinka
15. Diamond Geezer
16. The Bedside Crow
17. Smaller Than Life
18. The Web of Evil
19. Drifting in and out of consciousness
20. Kitchentable
21. Jamie4U - yeah Gay Pride and all that shit!
22. bobís yer uncle
23. Pandemian
24. Argy Bargey
25. A Free Man In Preston
26. This Is This
27. JonnyBís Private Secret Diary
28. (Contains Mild Peril)
29. Real E Fun
30. Tokyo Girl Down Under
31. Hydragenic
32. [from fuck-up to] fab!*
33. Tired Dad
34. Crinklybee
35. The H factor
36. Confessions of a Psychotherapist
37. Bettyís Utility Room
38. NHS Blog Doctor
39. Naked Blog
40. Mommy Has a Headache
41. Random Burblings
42. Momentary lapses of insanity...
43. DanFlynn'sblog
44. Acerbia
45. This Is The Goo Iíve Got
46. Rise
47. Quinquireme
48. Kaliyuga Kronicles
49. Grantham New Town
50. Tippler Does Brussels
51. NewsElephant
52. Doctor Oddverse's Different Dictionary
53. Non-workingmonkey
54. Andrew Collins: Where Did It All Go Right?
55. Blogadoon
56. Deacon Barry
57. Chicken Yoghurt
58. The Fishwhacker Swindle?
59. The World of Yaxlich
60. My Blog Ate My Homework
61. Moobs
62. Living for Disco
63. Everything Is Electric
64. Fuddland
65. Blaugustine
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 WritesÖ)
80. Invading Holland
81. Ganching
82. John Soanes
83. 1000 Shades of Grey
84. Whatís 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.

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.
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?

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.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Shaggy Blog Stories: a collaborative blog-stunt for Comic Relief.

I have had a Big Idea!!!

Next Friday (March 16) is Comic Relief's Red Nose Day day in the UK. What Iím proposing is to assemble and publish Ė in the space of just seven days - a paperback anthology of blog writing, that can be sold to raise funds for the charity.

The book will be called Shaggy Blog Stories: a collection of amusing tales from the UK blogosphere.

Hereís a short version of the Big Idea.

1. All UK bloggers are invited to select one post from their archives, suitable for inclusion in the book.

2. Because it's Comic Relief, the watchword here is Funny. So I'm looking for posts with a pronounced comedic content.

3. Please e-mail your permalinks to me at mikejla@btinternet.com. Alternatively, you can mail me with a tickled-up version of the original text.

4. The absolute final deadline is 6pm UK time on Tuesday evening (March 13) - but please send your stuff to me as soon as you can, as Iíll be assembling the book on the fly.

5. The book will be published through www.lulu.com - a site which specialises in self-publishing, and which doesn't require any upfront costs or pre-planning. Once they have the text, the book is more or less immediately ready to sell.

6. All money raised by sales - ie. minus the fees charged by the website - is donated to Comic Relief. I would expect to raise between 3 and 4 quid per book, as Lulu's charges hover around 4 or 5 quid (depending on page count).

All with me so far? Good. Now, hereís how you can help.

1. By publicising the event on your own blog, and asking your readers to pitch in with contributions. Please link directly to this URL: http://troubled-diva.com/labels/rednoseday.html (Digg users can also do their Digg-stuff here.)

2. By contributing to the book itself.

3. By buying the book next Friday.

4. By pimping the book on your own blog, once it goes on sale.

If youíd like to contribute, then please follow these guidelines.
1. Brit bloggers only! You should be currently resident in the UK, or else an ex-pat Brit living abroad. (So, yes, foreign ex-pats in the UK are also welcome to join in.)

2. Please send me ONE POST ONLY. Itís your choice, not mine.

3. Posts should contain TEXT ONLY Ė we wonít be using pictures.

4. Posts should not include copyrighted material, e.g. song lyrics.

5. Short posts are preferable, i.e. under 1000 words. Absolute top whack maximum is 1500 words, if it's a really really good one.

6. Although a couple of us will be proof-reading, it would greatly assist if you could check and re-edit your posts for grammar/spelling/punctuation before submitting them.

7. When e-mailing, please tell me the author name you'd like me to use. I know that many of you like to be anonymous on the web, and that's fine - but as Google doesn't index the printed page, this might be a suitable occasion to use your real name.
If youíre concerned about copyright: donít be, as Lulu donít retain any. The copyright rests with you. They don't own your words.

If youíre concerned about not being ďgood enoughĒ: donít be. This is a quick-fire wheeze, not a major work of literature.

(Having said that: if I receive more material than I can squeeze into the book, then Iíll be enlisting the services of a small editorial team, to help me select the best posts for inclusion.)

And if youíre concerned about the workload Iím taking on: bless you, but donít be. Iíve got clear evenings all through next week, and Iíll be taking Thursday off work to prepare the manuscript for publication.

My thanks to Lucy Pepper of Blogzira, who has kindly offered to design the cover - and also to Anna Pickard of little.red.boat, for her advice, encouragement and support.

So, people. Weíve got SEVEN DAYS to produce A BOOK! Are you up for it? Of course you are.

Hooray for collective collaboration! Book deals for all!

Now go forth and publicise.

Permalink: http://troubled-diva.com/labels/rednoseday.html



Links to this post: rARsh!, Tired Dad, Edvard Moonke, The skewed worldview of Lubin Odana, Blogzira, Mock Duck, the craic girl, Living for Disco, huskyteer, little.red.boat, I am livid, JonnyB's Private Secret Diary, Tokyo Girl Down Under, Naked Blog, Everything Is Electric, Peach Arse, Becky's T-Blog, David Belbin, pandemian, Merlot and Missives, Miss Tickle, Smaller Than Life, Reluctant Nomad, Cartside, Advancing the sum total of human knowledge and endeavour!, Rise, A sometimes blog, Mat Bowles, Darren's Journal, The Sad Case Of Mr. X, My Boyfriend Is A Twat, Time For Tea And Cake, TheCatGirlSpeaks, Boob Pencil, Chicken Yoghurt, Tim Worstall (by proxy), This Is The Goo I've Got, Kitchentable, enduring ramblings, Nicole In London, you and me and the devil makes three, Random Reflections, An Unreliable Witness (which deserves to win some sort of prize), petite anglaise, blue cat, The Oracle, 1000 Shades of Grey, Struggling Author, Comfy Pants Production Co, meredic, DundeeMedStudent, Just A Blog, Stately Moans, [from fuck-up to] fab!*, Niles's Blog, There's life Jim, but not as we know it..., Grantham New Town, The Beauty Offensive, Rites of Passage in 60s/70s NE England, So Many People (you're telling me), Wu Wei, Argy Bargey, Quinta das Abelhas, Better Oot Than In, Goodballoon's paunch, Tampon Teabag, Music Man, The Cartoon Blog, eachman.com, Black-dove.org, Chocs Away, Old Girl!, problemchildbride.com, I'm A Seoul Man, Betty's Utility Room, (Contains Mild Peril), Ignorminious' Misty Mind, The Bargain Basement, Longstory, Incessant, pointless barking, journeying, Rullsenberg Rules, Savage Popcorn, papersurfer, The Girl with The Golden Mind, Blaugustine, For Which Relief Much Thanks, The Curmudgeon, rachel-catherine, The Windsor Castle Hot Air Balloon Festival, the further adventures of boz, Tomato And Basil Sandwiches (aren't you just loving some of these blog names?), TGI Paul, Between The Pavement And The Stars, the (French) mountain dweller, Medication Time, itisi, A Simple Equation, what's new, pussycat?, Clairwil, L'oeil de Mouche, Pickled Politics...

...and probably many more - but I'm going to have to stop linking to them, in order to give my full attention to the submissions. Many, many thanks to all linkers.

NEW: Click here for progress updates. And please note the revised deadline, which is now Tuesday at 6pm.

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