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Welcome - The International Writers Magazine - February Editorial 2010

Chile News: 27th Feb
An earthquake of 8.8 magnitude struck the coast off Chile in the early hours of Saturday. Phone lines were down in Concepcion as of 7:30 a.m. and no reports were coming out of that area. The quake in Chile was 1,000 times more powerful than the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that caused widespread damage in Haiti on Jan 12, killing at least 230,000, earthquake experts reported on CNN International.

Feb 14th:
I celebrated Valentine's eve by going to see 'Ponyo' with best pal Kit at the Curzon Soho. Just about the best young kids' film ever I should think. Hilarious, surreal, sad and beautifully drawn. Mad plot. An experimental goldfish wants to be a girl and falls in love with a five year old boy, but her magic powers cause havoc with the weather. What better Valentine movie could you ever see? Add Jazz at the Soho Pizza and pleasant evening passed by. Memo to self to have more pleasant evenings.

Student Non-Fiction Writing Competition Details below
**I was invited to breakfast with GQ the other day for the launch of the British GQ magazine and the Norman Mailer Writers Colony new annual competition for non-fiction writing. The competition is open to all undergraduates and postgraduates at UK universities. Entrants must be over 18 years. (The Link seems to have been withdrawn from the website but check out the March 2010 Issue of GQ UK and it is on Page 232)

            It was held at the Arts Club on Dover Street and it was like walking onto the set of Mad Men. Everyone wore black. (Aside from Nicholas Coleridge the MD of Condé Naste, who of course doesn’t have to wear black, he is already the Boss.)

            My pal Kit wept when I told her what I wore. ‘You went into Condé Naste territory wearing a red sweater and khaki pants! Oh my God, I bet you wore those old Timberland boots and you didn’t even get your hair cut. Please tell me you got your hair cut. You are so dead, Sam. You’ll never get invited to anything ever again.’

            Actually it rather like being a lobster at a wake.  To be honest, as a slunk away up Bond Street I did peek in various chic brand shops and Fenwicks’ to see if there was anything I could possibly afford on a teacher’s salary in black and I noted that a Tom Ford suit, much like everyone was wearing costs around £1000.  I’d rather spend that on my upcoming research trip to Cape Town. Sorry, but I just don’t really know how to wear black  - not without getting covered in fluff. I guess I’ll just have to accept I committed social suicide. Again!

            Nevertheless the people at GQ were actually pretty interesting and were a bright attractive bunch. One is not envious at all - much. The common message I got – considering I was there for the launch of this student-writing thing, is that almost everyone there got their jobs doing work placements first. Something I keep on banging on about to all my current students.  Not only is it who you know but also more importantly who knows you.
If you are a student who likes to wear black (and is not a Goth – it’s the wrong kind of black, sorry) and have a yen for non-fiction – this prize is seriously worth its weight in gold. You have to be registered at a British University or College however. Essential that you read GQ first before you write anything and they are looking for serious, well researched crisply written material that can appeal to GQ readers and no you don’t have to be Martin Amis (although clearly it helps). Interesting that Lily Allen is one of the judges. Find out what she is twittering about maybe….


Luckily for me, my Editor at Hodders doesn’t care that I wear red and tan, or that I haven’t cut my hair. So I had a long meeting Beverley and clearly she had done her homework. Two hours is long time to go over a book and detail all the changes she wants before she will pitch it. I’m thinking that if I had to give each of my students as much time on their work they would a: clearly write better stuff  b: get very upset at the very tiny details that an editor picks up on and might even grow demoralised. You have to quickly come up with a response on how you are going to tackle the problems as focus is brought to bear on them. Make no mistake; I welcome this kind of detailed analysis of my work. An editor will only do this if they are serious about future acquisition, but right now, in this incredibly difficult market, you have to be damn sure the book you are selling is the best it can be. For an editor to give so much time up to make a book better is a privilege, believe me.
            I begin the rewrite as soon as I can, but first I have to think about cutting. Something that is particularly hard for me. Yet, only today with a prospective MA student who came down for interview we were discussing how easy it would be to cut some of Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn for example   And it would not affect the plot one bit.

If you think you can do it for someone’s else work, one should be able to do it for your own – right? So I have a lot of work to do in the next two months.


PS: If you go see one movie this month catch Youth in Revolt. Hilarious and surreal comedy about a geek boy trying to gain the love of a girl with the aide of a self-destructive alter ego. Wonderful indie film. If you liked'll love this.

What a month January turned out to be. Haiti crumbles and at least 200,000 people are dead, an already derelict economy destroyed and yet people still smile, still have hope, still pray and the world turned up to help in a big way (if slightly chaotic manner). Let us hope that in planning for a new future for that blighted island that they build cities and towns that people will love and thrive in. I sincerely hope so.

You can still help in Haiti

Meanwhile here in the UK we have survived the snow (less drastic but all the more real to us) and they say the recession is over. But as Richard Quest suggests on CNN it is a ‘jobless recovery’.  A scary thing indeed.

Nevertheless one has to book favourite restaurants again and that’s a sign. That and the endless queues in the coffee shops. Guildford on Saturday was ridiculous. Lines around the block for every coffee shop.  Clearly there are not enough Café Nero’s and Starbucks in this one town.

I am looking forward to going to Cape Town at Easter, for research and my nephew’s wedding. Haven’t been ‘home’ for so long it’s stupid, but there you go, time to re-assess I think.  I am looking forward to being there anyway and seeing all the changes.

Meanwhile I have been writing my new novel and somehow crept up to 51 thousand words on the latest count and although I have been gloomy about it for a whole six weeks I finally had a breakthrough and figured out how to end it. Of course you will laugh and say, don’t you teach your students to plan the whole thing first?  Well I do, but it was increasingly obvious to me that the plot didn’t work about 30,000 words in and although I ploughed on – I just couldn’t see how to resolve the situation. But - as is so often the case, I woke up just after midnight a few nights ago and I could see a clear path and spent a couple of frantic hours making notes and bang, it was there and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted.   There’s still a ton of things to write and scenes to get right, but I can resolve it and that is what is important. Being a writer is a strange thing, no matter what, your subconscious is always working. The hard part is making contact with it sometimes. My target is May now to complete the first draft and edit the other book.The other part of being a writer is discipline right?

Talking of discipline, Tabytha Towe who has been writing about her life for us on Hacks since she was sixteen (eleven years of her life documented) is attempting a detox. So if you read her article, please send her encouragement. She needs it desperately. We need to get that girl off the booze.

Another of our editors, Kit Thomas is planning to go to the US and Canada for six months volunteering.I am hoping she will keep a blog to stay in touch.  So many people right now are redefining their lives.  A recession will do that.

Meanwhile enjoy this months Hackwriters. There’s more to come and here’s to you dear reader. If you enjoy an article, let the writers know. Like Lions in the zoo they need encouragement to wag their tails.
Oh Yes and check out my friend and writer John Lewell's new photography websites. Pretty impressive stuff:
Try out these new
photographic web sites

© Sam North Feb 15th 2010
Editor –
Previous Editorial

You probably need cheering up now, especially as headlines say that 2 Million people in the UK have probably had Swine Flu and two billion have been exposed to it in the world. - As of 29 January 2010, worldwide more than 209 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including at least 14711 deaths (WHO figures). But what if it gets worse or mutates? What effect this cold winter on the virus? I have said before but say again, download my book Another Place to Die if you want to be ready for when the flu pandemic goes critical and mutates. They have announced that this variant of Swine Flu is resistant to Tamiflu, who is to say this vaccine they are now giving us will work on the next variant? There is plenty of milage in this virus yet. For most it is mild, for some it is a very painful assault on the respiritory system indeed. *Many thanks to those who have ordered my book recently. It is selling pretty well now. (Over 1400 copies sold to date- not too shabby for a book only available on-line. Thanks too to those who spread the word on it. I really appreciate that. Often being a writer, especially for one whose books are only mostly available on-line it is very isolating, but now I know it is selling every month it really feels as though the two years writing it were worth it.

If you want to help Hackwriters keep going, buy my children's novel Mean Tide. A young adult ghost story set in Greenwhich, London.
All receipts go into the magazine.
Mean Tide by Sam North
'Extraordinary novel about a child's psychic awakening'

Lulu Press - ISBN: 978-1-4092-0354-4
Review: 'An engaging, unusual and completely engrossing read'
- Beverly Birch author of 'Rift'

Sent to live with his psychic Grandma by the river in Greenwich, Oliver (12) discovers a whole world of disturbed people who are probably even crazier than the ones he left behind. When he finds a dog with its throat cut on the beach, everything changes.
The Curse of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
by Sam North

ISBN: 13: 978-1-4116-3748-1
302 pages - Lulu Press USA
'Chocolate will never be the same again' - Sunday Express
Buy from your favourite on-line retailer

Amazon UK
Amazon USA
Barnes and Noble
& Waterstones
Book also available from The Nineveh Gallery, 11 The Pallant Havant, PO9 1BE. UK 

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