Christmas present with a difference! Last days to fund 10 Little Astronauts

This year we supported Damon Wakes unbound book 10 Little Astronauts. He is literally days away from completing his goal and we need ALL your help. Please tweet, share, instagram, post and buy gift cards to help him reach 100% funding.

This is what Damon is saying

Last Chance to Support Ten Little Astronauts

It’s the eleventh hour. Aragorn is making his “It is not this day” speech. The rebels are approaching the Death Star. Neville Longbottom has destroyed the final horcrux and Harry Potter is preparing to battle Lord Voldemort. I’m not familiar with Twilight, but I’m sure there’s some confrontation between Heartthrob McSparklepants and a bad guy of some kind.

The point is, there are just days left to fund Ten Little Astronauts. At 63%, it’s the bulk of the way there and it has a solid chance of reaching its target, but only if the people who want that to happen make it happen.

At this point, you’re either behind the book or you’re not: there’s no time left to “get around to it.” 213 people (at current count) have pledged for a copy of their own. Countless more have shared it, told their friends about it, and generally helped it along in less direct ways. If it’s not your kind of thing, I get it. If you can’t afford to chip in for a copy right now, I definitely get it. But if you’d like to help my career as an author all the same, doing something – anything – to spread the word about it before that Christmas deadline would make a spectacular difference to the book’s chances of success at absolutely no cost to you.

For the benefit of anybody who’s coming across this for the first time (possibly having been pointed here by a friend):

Ten Little Astronauts is a sci-fi murder mystery novella based on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. It takes the basic premise of that popular classic – ten people trapped together with the knowledge that one of them is a murderer – but shifts it into interstellar space.

The book is being published by Unbound, who crowdfund all their titles. This means that readers pledge for – essentially pre-order – a copy, and potentially extra rewards if they choose to contribute more to the funding of the book. Those pledges are what cover the cost of designing, editing and printing the thing. Ten Little Astronauts already has enough support to make it into print – other books that were accepted onto less ambitious lists have funded with less than half the number of readers behind them – but if it reaches 100% of its goal by Christmas, the paperback will be of higher quality and it’ll be distributed by Penguin Random House. Obviously, this would be a massive boost and help ensure the book has the best possible chance of success once it’s printed and out there.

For the benefit of anybody who wants to get some cool stuff:

There are rewards for supporting Ten Little Astronauts beyond getting a copy of the book itself, and even beyond the extras available to people who choose to contribute more than the minimum. Anybody who pledges, no matter the amount, will get:

People who pledge soon may get:

  • A place in a prize draw. When the book reaches 225 supporters, I’ll be sending a signed copy of Myths, Monsters, Mutations to one of those first 225 supporters at random. If we reach 250, I’ll most likely be doing much the same thing.
  • A badge. If Ten Little Astronauts reaches 100 Paperback pledges by the end of Monday 18th, I’ll be sending out a Ten Little Astronauts badge with every single paperback. We’re already (currently) at 83, so there’s a very good chance we’ll get to 100: the real question is whether enough people will share it around for that to happen before Monday.

Over 200 people have taken Ten Little Astronauts well over halfway to its target. It’s up to you to help take it those last few steps. If it sounds like your kind of book and you’d like a copy for yourself, please put in a pledge to get one, and invite your friends to do the same. If it’s not your cup of tea and/or you can’t afford to pledge for yourself, please share this post. The audience for this book is out there: the only challenge is reaching them in time.

The Right Direction

I’ve posted about stage directions that are best cut. What should be left?

Whatever is necessary. This will vary from play to play. Some are more visual than others – indeed, that’s true of moments within a play. The important thing is they earn their keep. Basic directions clearly, but anything more needs to serve a purpose.

Some examples:-

  • Tells the part of the story that can’t be put into words. At the end of the first scene of Christopher Hampton’s The Philanthropist  a disappointed writer puts a gun to his mouth, presses the trigger and shoots himself. At the end of the play the disappointed puts a gun to his mouth, presses the trigger and…lights a cigarette. Read the second the second act of Noises Off to see this done for a whole act.
  • Replaces words. Theatre is a visual medium so actions are often more effective than words. Imagine X handing Y a document. Y reads it through and looks at X. A long pause. X proffers a pen. Y doesn’t take it at first. Eventually he snatches, signs and tosses it to X . You could have a dialogue along the lines of  – ‘I don’t want to sign this’ –  ‘Tough, you have to.’ – but silence conveys more menace.
  • Has a subtext. The character means something by his action which he isn’t saying. Here’s Harold Pinter in The  Caretaker. Ashton has invited Davies, a tramp, back to his brother’s room.Ashton: Sit down.
    (He has to find a chair as there isn’t one)
    Davies: Sit down? … I haven’t had a good sit down…
    I haven’t had a proper sit down…
    (He doesn’t sit down)

    The stage direction indicates that Davies doesn’t want to accept that he is the inferior in the relationship

  • Shows character. In the cherry Orchard one character has squeaky shoes. Why? So you’ll remember who he is  when he reappears after his first brief appearance.

Far Away

London theatre isn’t all £50+ tickets. One of the cheaper venues is the Young Vic, which this November is reviving Caryl Churchill’s Far Away with tickets at £10  and £15.

Churchill is a prolific writer and to me this results in some of her work coming across as staged ideas. At her best, though, she is one of our finest playwrights and Far Away shows her in top form.

So why should a writer make time to see it?  Entries to our Play-in-a-day competition showed many writers attracted to the surreal. The problem was tying their world to the one we know. The characters in Far Away behave naturalistically in non-naturalistic circumstances.

The structure is well worth studying. Three scenes, with a common character, Joan. First she’s a questioning child, second a milliner, third a soldier. We aren’t told what happened in between. Nor do we need to, as Churchill’s theme carries it through.

Finally the writing. Again three contrasts. An adult explaining away something a child shouldn’t have seen; Two workers banter as they design the most ridiculous hat; A family taking a break from a war. Each scene entices you in by hinting at what is happening. (How to solve the problem of writing exposition –  don’t write it). What we finally learn in Joan’s final speech describing her journey to safety that the world has gone mad.

Or is it just us?   The final lesson is how to how to end in ambiguity.

 

Don’ts For Writers

Browsing in Andover’s Free Bookshop – for those who don’t know it, yes, the books are free – I came across a copy of the US magazine Poetry. Among other attractions was an update of Ezra Pound’s Don’ts For Poets.

Here are three from William Logan that apply to all writers:-

  • Don’t do what all the other little Buggers are doing
  • Don’t think you don’t have to read. You read in order to steal. Read more, steal better. (I’m tempted to repeat that one, it’s so important)
  • Don’t think what you have to say is important. The way you say it is what is important. What you have to say is rubbish.

September 1st Deadlines

Two submission opportunities close on 1 September.

Lion Tamers Theatre

The Liontamers Theatre Company is looking for submissions for our 2015 North West tour.

Cast Size: Strictly between 2 and 4 cast members. We can allow for doubling
however we must be strict on having no more than four actors. We will
particularly welcome scripts with strong female characters.
Technical Requirements: Again no specific limitations except the need to be suitable for a touring
environment where short get in times limit us.
Length: Full length. To appeal to venues we must have the option of including an
interval. (Bar sales, crikey!)

Please e-mail your play to karlbarnsley@theliontamerstheatre.co.uk.

Bush Theatre Submissions Window

What Are We Looking for?
We are passionate about encountering new playwrights through our unsolicited script submissions. We receive unsolicited play submissions twice a year in dedicated windows, these open in the summer and autumn respectively.

How to Submit
Our Summer/Autumn submission window is open from 9am on 2 June 2014 and closes at 5pm on 1 September 2014. During this period, please email your proposals to scripts@bushtheatre.co.uk and include, as a separate attachment, a fully completed cover sheet which you can download here
We are unable to receive or read unsolicited scripts that are:
• sent to us by post
• without a cover sheet
• not full-length plays (1 hour +)
• previously produced
• from writers from outside of the UK and Ireland
• sent outside our submissions windows.
• that have been previously submitted to us

What Happened Before Macbeth?

Three witches predicted Duncan would be king. The prophecy came true, but now rebellion is threatens to topple him. Worse, the witches have a new favourite. But who?

Come along to Chapel Arts, Andover, at 7.30 on 12 September 2014 to see the premier of Duncan Dreams, a prequel to Macbeth, written by Roy Chatfield, performed by John Baxter and directed by Ian Flintoff of Shakespeare United.

To reserve a place go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/duncans-dreams-a-one-act-play-by-roy-chatfield-tickets-12395618629

This is one of a series of free events presented by Big Up Words at Chapel Arts. Others are:-

9 September – Poetry open mic for poets to read poems inspired by WWI

To book to read clickhttp://doodle.com/wip3azs9sbnc7bt3

 To reserve a place to listen click –  http://bit.ly/1owhvCl

11 September – When The Lights Went Out. Twenty-five poems by twenty-five writers who experienced the war at home or in battle.

To reserve a place go to

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/when-the-lights-went-out-25-world-war-1-poems-by-25-world-war-1-poets-tickets-12203907215

 

 

When The Lights Went Off In Europe

A young mother watches a newsreel
Moonlight floods the trenches
A soldier dreams of his girl
A firing squad shoots a deserter
A munitions worker celebrates good wages

Rupert Brooke to Wilfred Owen; Robert Graves to e e cummings –
25 poems by 25 poets giving their experience of a world at war.

A free event at Chapel Arts, Andover, at 7.30, 11 September 2014.  To reserve a place go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/when-the-lights-went-out-25-world-war-1-poems-by-25-world-war-1-poets-tickets-12203907215

This is one of a series of free events presented by Big Up Words at Chapel Arts. Others are:-

9 September – Poetry open mic for poets to read poems inspired by WWI

To book to read click – http://doodle.com/wip3azs9sbnc7bt3

 To reserve a place to listen click –  http://bit.ly/1owhvCl

12 September – Premier of Duncan Dreams, a prequel to Macbeth, written by Roy Chatfield and performed by John Baxter.

To reserve a place go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/duncans-dreams-a-one-act-play-by-roy-chatfield-tickets-12395618629

Yale Drama Series Open For Entries

The Yale Drama Series is seeking submissions for its 2015 playwriting competition. The winning play will be selected by the series’ current judge, distinguished playwright Nicholas Wright. The winner of this annual competition will be awarded the David Charles Horn Prize of $10,000, publication of his/her manuscript by Yale University Press, and a staged reading at Lincoln Center Theater.

1. This contest is restricted to plays written in the English language. Worldwide submissions are accepted.

2. Submissions must be original, unpublished full-length plays written in English. Translations, musicals, and children’s plays are not accepted.

3. Playwrights may submit only one manuscript per year.

4. Plays that have been professionally produced or published are not eligible.  Plays that have had a workshop, reading, or non-professional production or that have been published as an actor’s edition will be considered.

5. Plays must be typed/word-processed, page-numbered, and in US standard play format. http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/standardprofessionalplayformat.pdf gives details of what this is.

The Yale Drama Series Competition strongly urges electronic submission. By electronically submitting your script, you will receive immediate confirmation of your successful submission and the ability to check the status of your entry.

If you are submitting your play electronically, please omit your name and contact information from your manuscript.  The manuscript must begin with a title page that shows the play’s title, a 2-3 sentence keynote description of the play, a list of characters, and a list of acts and scenes. Please enter the title of your play, your name and contact information (including address, phone number, and email address), and a brief biography (optional) where indicated in the electronic submission form.

If you would like to submit an electronic copy of your manuscript please go to:https://yup.submittable.com/submit.

Closing date is 15 August.