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:
A copy of Ten Little Astronauts (paperback and/or digital, depending on the reward level chosen).
Their name in the back of every edition, recording them as one of the original supporters.
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.
Open Words Arnudels (Ted Health’s house) SP1 2EN Cathedral Close Salisbury June 11th starting at 1.30-4.30
Yes Open Word is back with 2 dates and loads of fun. We start this weekend at Arundels. This is our first event in a garden. Bring picnic blankets, chairs and lots of poetry. We will be having an open Mic so looking forward to your poems.
Poetry guest Paul Canon Harris
Paul is a poet and versatile writer based in Bournemouth. Published work includes two poetry collections, and non-fiction works on spirituality, leadership and communication. Recent poems have featured on Yellow Buses and in the PR for an aid convoy to Aleppo. He broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 2 and other stations and performs poetry at festivals and venues in the UK and abroad.
Guest Musician Steve Faulkner
Steve is unique amongst performers in the Folk genre in that he has never, ever been even nominated for any award of any kind. He remains unconcerned by this, as awards for performing arts seem to him to be, “Comparing Chalk and Cheese and then giving the prize to an Avocado.” Hailing from Poole in Dorset, Steve is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist with his own take on Traditional, Folk and Acoustic music. Playing Fiddle, Bouzouki, Low Whistles, Bodhrán and to everyone’s surprise (including his) Double Bass and Bass Guitar, he has worked over the past 20 or so years in a number of groups across the UK and Europe with wide ranging musical appeal as well as giving solo performances. Appearing on a discography of five album and one EP release, Steve can go from lively in-yer-face frontman to sensitive accompanist at will and anything in between.
With special guest MC
Dave reading from one of his books.
David is a regular at Teapoets and other open Mic around the South East. He has been guest at many open mic’s around the South East England David’s poetry has a strong connection to our world and his poetry helps us relate to our earth and ourselves in new ways.
The Travelling Bookstall will be available along with books by the performers and MC.
Big Up Words are going to publish a series of blogs where writers talk about their publishing journeys. Damon L. Wake’s book 10 Little Astronauts is going to be published by Unbound.
I think there’s a moment in any academic project when you question everything you’ve done so far. For me, that moment came when I was sitting in a café with someone on the same Creative Writing MA as me at the University of Winchester. She picked up my work, read a bit, and said “Huh. So you’re handing in Agatha Christie fanfiction in space?” That was the moment I realised that I was taking a massive, massive gamble with my entire course. It was the moment I considered binning the whole thing and starting again, and it was the moment I decided to press on regardless. Partly that was because I was confident that the setting did work with the story, partly because I didn’t have time to come up with anything else.
Fortunately, in the end, it all went pretty well. As strange as it felt to submit a mash-up between And Then There Were None and Alien as a serious academic project, the novella was awarded a Distinction and, shortly afterwards, accepted for publication. But more on that later.
The thing about space is that it works extraordinarily well as a setting for a mystery thriller. In space, no one can hear you scream. In zero gravity, no one can hear your footsteps either. The truly colossal distances involved in travelling between stars—far enough that an S.O.S sent at the speed of light will still take years to be heard—guarantee that nobody is coming to help. The hostility of the environment itself means that the characters must work together to survive, even as paranoia threatens to drive them apart and a large part of the inspiration behind Ten Little Astronauts.
I’d thoroughly enjoyed ‘And Then There Were None’ but found it took a long time to get started. There’s a lot of scene-setting—several whole chapters—dedicated to explaining how the various characters came together and why they can’t escape after it becomes apparent that one of them is a serial killer. The tension only reaches its peak after a whole series of murders has whittled the cast down to just three or four.
By shifting the setting of my novella to interstellar space, I managed to move the discovery of the first murder to the very first page. Having been woken from suspended animation, chosen from a crew of thousands to respond to, a fire on board the ship, none of the ten astronauts knows any of the others. However, having discovered the body of an eleventh person at the scene of the incident—an incident that has also disabled the ship’s computer—they know that one of their numbers is an imposter who intends to kill them all. With no life support, and the masses of frozen crewmembers causing the air temperature to plummet, the ten astronauts have to split up to repair the damage despite knowing that anyone, in any group, could be the murderer.
Having sunk an enormous amount of time and effort into Ten Little Astronauts for my course, and since it had been well-received academically, I decided to submit it to Scott Pack—an editor at Unbound—as part of a one-to-one meeting at the Winchester Writers’ Festival this summer. He passed on my manuscript, and within a couple of weeks, I got an email back saying that they had decided to launch the book!
Unbound are a crowdfunding publisher—pre-orders from readers are what fund the initial run of first editions, with trade paperbacks distributed to bookshops by Penguin Random House after that—and they set me up with a video for the book. They let me pick the location, and since I’d done a good chunk of my research for it on board HMS Alliance at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, I got in touch with the museum staff to see if they’d be happy for us to film on board. Visiting the submarine while writing had helped me pin down the atmosphere of the spacecraft in the book, so I was thrilled when they agreed to let us shoot the video itself inside.
HMS Alliance background to Damon’s Unbound video.
Since the crowdfunding campaign started, I’ve been doing everything I can to get the word out about the book. I’m hardly a big-name author, so the biggest challenge by far is letting people know it exists. Unbound recommended offering attractive rewards for supporters of the book, and because I’ve been making and selling chainmail jewellery for a few years now, I’ve been offering one reward option that includes a necklace. The necklace is made of anodised aluminium—the same material as the International Space Station—which I think helps keep it relevant to the sci-fi story even though the technique is a thousand years old! I take the necklaces themselves to craft fairs, which makes for a natural conversation-starter when it comes to the book.
If you’d like to read some of Ten Little Astronauts now, you can find a sample over on Unbound’s website. And if it sounds like a book you’d enjoy, please consider putting in a pledge: as well as getting a copy for yourself, your name will appear in the back of every edition to show that you were one of the great people who helped make it happen.
This week we will be having a small party to celebrate the start of Nanowrimo tomorrow.
Getting ready for a ‘Come Write In’ session
Beth is bringing cake, Haribos and origami bats for us to make. I will be helping people register and push on with their plotting. Sunday is the start of a month of dashing as fast as possible to 50k. Beth and Cat have been working hard and we have found some banks who are going to support our fundraising efforts by holding book selling stalls or helping us bag pack. Suddenly Beth’s goal of raising £1500 is coming closer.
Don’t forget to register for Nanowrimo. Beth needs 30 writers from Hampshire to register so we become our own region! Then we can help Beth set up the young writers program in England AND don’t forget our writing party-The Night of Writing Dangerously
And yes the Travelling Bookstall will be at the Library as well.
The Night of Writing Dangerously is a cross between a raucous dinner party and a write-a-thon. Bring your glad rags and your lap tops to Lunar Hare and we’ll provide food and a drink to help you write the night away. We’ve also got some fun party games for your 15 min stretch times. This is a Hampshire Scribblers event to raise funds for the young writers program.
This Saturday from 2-3.30pm at Andover Library we’ll be continuing our novel preparation and Cat Randle will be going over some ways you can fund raise money to attend The Night of Writing Dangerously and other fun events we’ll be putting on during National Novel Writing month.
And we’ll have the Travelling Bookstall ready for you as well.
We’ve got a fun year coming for Big Up Words. We’ll need you to come and play of course. First thing is
National Novel Writing Month
Some of you may have heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but for those of you that haven’t, here’s the low down. NaNoWriMo is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing! Writers begin on November 1st and work towards the incredible goal of writing a 50,000 word novel by 11.59pm on November 30th.
The Hampshire Scriber’s writing sessions are all on Saturdays in Andover Library from 14:00 – 15:30 and each has a unique theme:
October 17th – Planning or Pantsing what will I write about?
October 24th – How to attend the Night of Writing Dangerously
October 31st – Official NaNoWriMo Kick Off Party! (Halloween themed!)
November 7th – Blanket Fort Building
November 14th – Steampunk/Fantasy themed afternoon
November 21st – #Writefit
November 28th – Teddy Bear Picnic
December 5th – Thank God We Made It (TGWMI) Party! (Crowns and stars theme!)
All ages are welcome! Beth Hanson is now Hamshire’s ML. Our job is to prove we’ve got enough keen novelist to create Hampshire as its own part of the Nanowrimo verse. So Big Up Words will be helping Beth run fun FREE workshopsin Andover library over from October 17th until December 5th. We’ll also be fundraising, our goal is £1,500 via sponsored writers and business sponsorship.
How can you help? Grab a sponsor and write a novel, help us fund raise or come along and help us help the novelist reach their goals.
You’ve been invited by Test Valley Arts Foundation to the launch of their first anthology, “Celebrate Youth Writing 2015”. The new book is full of poems, short stories and initial chapters of novels written by young writers aged 11-21. The launch will take place on June 16th starting at 7.30pm at The Lights. Everone who buys a ticket will receive a free copy of the e-book.
The books entries are varied and their themes range from playful comedy to poignant tragedy, from superheroes to the ordinary heroes of World War 1 trenches, from science-fiction-style alien invasions to animal stories.
The launch at The Lights will have a showcase of poems, sketches, and 4 short films by Testbourne School, monologues from Long Overdue theatre company, a dance from Ruby Slippers School especially made for the show and orginal music, all inspired by the anthology.
“We want to have a fun, party-style feel to the launch. We’re very keen to show how exceptional these young writers are. The stories in our book are teaching us what’s important to young people in the 21st century.” said organiser Cat Randle
20 young writers aged 11-21 were chosen out of entries from all over Hampshire.
Tickets to the celebration are on sale at The Lights. The books will be on sale from 7.00 onwards. The event and anthology are sponsored by BeWiser and supported by Test Valley Arts Foundation, Cat’s Writing Room and Bees’ Nest Books.
Yes the last ever poetry cafe will be at The Snug at The Lunar Hare, SP10 3AN.
We decided to move because our poetry community doesn’t need another poetry cafe. What we need are poetry workshops, critique sessions and a support group.
Alan and Helen at The Lunar Hare have a background in theatre. They understand the arts at the grass roots level needs support to thrive. Everyone one had to have started somewhere. As long as support them with tea, coffee and cake then they are happy to have us use The Snug.
What this means for Big Up Words is a little less fundraising and it will allow us to ask groups like Test Valley Arts foundation to bring up people like Dave Hubble and Matt West, who run excellent writing workshops. Plus Jonathon Jester of Yo Yo Goblin has offered us a workshop on how to perform in our Time Ring.
So our move makes sense…join us next Saturday for a intimate session of wonderful afternoon poetry.
Two comic Hampshire poetry giants, Syd Meats and Ivor Bundell are the March guest for the Andover Afternoon Poetry Cafe.
Ivor Bundell former secretary for Big Up Words is the founder of Secret Poetry at www.secretpoetry.co.uk. It is a website which publishes free downloads, an occasional e-zine and sells poetry online. Ivor was M.C at the Poetry cafe pilot at the Bridge in 2012. He’s best remembered for his humorous poetry about carrots.
Ivor has produced three albums with his brother Kevan and a solo album entitled ‘Heart & Stone’. A poet, singer-songwriter and near novelist, Ivor hails from the Meon Valley and writes about the natural world and local history.
Guest musician Syd Meats is Romsey songwriter and poet. In Syd’s early career he worked for the BBC writing songs for Nottingham BBC local radio.
In the 90’s he fronted surreal indie band Meet The Vicar, and also wrote and performed a one man show Meats Saves The Planet which was a mixture of songs and spoken word. During this period his brushes with the famous included having a cup of tea in the same room as Barbara Windsor and speaking to Ernie Wise on the phone twice.
His musical Christmas guest spot at the Teapoet Collective was called a triumph. In a recent street performance in Andover, he re-wrote the town’s history to include a Viking founder with the unfortunate name of Eric The Hippopotamus. Not only have Syd’s songs been heard on local and national radio, but they have also been used to teach English in the Sudan and Natural History in the UK.
“We’re really excited to have such a fantastic talent coming to Andover,” said organiser Cat Randle.
Andover Afternoon poetry cafe is held on the second Saturday of the month at The Rendezvous Cafe, 8 Union St, Andover, SP10 1PA. The first half of the afternoon is reserved for local poets, entertainers and acoustic musicians. The guest spots are after a tea break with cakes supplied by The Great British Tea & Cake company.
“We picked the Rendezvous Cafe because it is has excellent disabled access. We are able to accommodate wheel chairs because it’s all on the level. I’m amazed at how well it’s doing. The big surprise was the special needs poets. One lady, Rosie, has come to every cafe and last time got up and performed a poem from memory. She even wrote us all our own copy so we could understand what she was saying. It was brilliant! “ said Cat Randle.
The cafe organisers are grateful for the support of Pat West councillor grant and Hampshire County Council.
Andover Afternoon Poetry Cafe, March 28th from 1.30pm to 3.30pm at the Rendezvous Cafe, 8 Union St, Andover SP 10 1PA.
Syd Meats having a cup of tea.
Ivor Bundell musing on Meon Valley