Judge this book by its cover

Ladies, gentlemen and people of more dubious upbringing – ta-dah! Behold, our book cover. On the outside, the names of our ten commissioned writers/editors. Inside, 44 others – and if you are one of the 300 who fell by the wayside, we hope at least that you might find your overhearing on the cover. Well done to all of you, and especially to those writers who do appear in the book: Helen Addy, Sara-Jane Arbury, Andrew Bailey, Mollie Baxter, Julie Boden, Ruskin Brown, Cathy Bryant, Dorothy Burgess, Helen Calcutt, Marilyn Donovan, Lucy Douglas, Jude d’Souza, Ian Duhig, Jo Field, Marilyn Francis, Sarah Gallagher, Roz Goddard, Susannah Hart, Angi Holden, Andy Jackson, Sarah James, Lucy Jeynes, Charlie Jordan, Calum Kerr, Emma Lannie, Pippa Little, Liz Loxley, Rob A Mackenzie, James Mason, Lynsey May, Emma Morgan, Ray Morgan, Benjamin Morris, Lynda Nash, Samantha Newbury, Kate Noakes, Alicia Ogg, Valerie O’Riordan, Emma Purshouse, Jacqui Rowe, Rosie Sandler, Sandra Tappenden, Val Thompson, Susie Wild and Philip Williams. These names include published writers, regional laureates, award-winning bloggers and some entirely new faces. All were included solely on merit, and by joint decision of the two editors. 

Whether you’re in it or not, take a moment to add yourself to our map. If you have a Google account (or five minutes to create one) then log in, go here to see our lovely map dotted with little bugs, and add a placemark of your own to tell us where you did your overhearing. It’s lovely to see all the dots building up, and gives a real sense of us as a nation of eavesdroppers, snooping across the whole of the UK.

Wild writing, wild tights

This week work from Emma Lee, Tamara Cohen and Janet Smith has been showcased. Meanwhile we’re delighted to hear that Susie Wild, who has a small-but-perfectly-formed-poem in our book, has also launched her collection of short stories The Art of Contraception. She and her publisher Bright Young Things have kindly agreed to let us have a copy for one of you to win.

This one is only available for those of you who are NOT in the Bugged book – so here’s your mission… your life story in six words please. Attach it to this blog as a comment, or to our Facebook page – hell, you can even fit it in a Tweet to @BuggedProject – and get it to us before Sunday to win a copy of Susie’s book.

(PS some of you want to run a promotional event for the Bugged book, or even just an evening at the local library to share it with an audience. We’ll be posting a press release and an e-flyer to send to libraries, here on the website in the next few days. Brace yourselves….)

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A fresh pair of ears

There's one on the other side too

Here at Bugged Towers our software is playing up, so we can’t post any more writings just now – but will do soon. Meanwhile, a warm welcome to the right ear of William, a new friend of Bugged, who arrived a few weeks ago and just had his hearing test. He’s fit for eavesdropping and ready to go.

Our own gestation process is going well. We are just under a month away from delivery of a bouncing baby book. Print-on-demand (POD) publishers CompletelyNovel are acting as midwife. For us it’s an experiment – can new technology get a good book into print quickly, cheaply and well, to support writers and give them a worthy new outlet? POD is sometimes associated with vanity publishing – but we think it has lots of potential to do more. With professional editing and design, can it offer a worthwhile platform for new writing? It’s certainly fast and cheap – the book will be out whilst our July eavesdropping is fresh in the memory, so the bright shiny seeds you planted in summer will be in your mum’s Christmas stocking.

So – that’s what’s in it for all of us who took part in the big eavesdropping of this summer. But what’s in it for them, eh? Anna Lewis from CompletelyNovel tells us:

“The team at CompletelyNovel.com is thrilled to be helping Bugged to create the anthology which will proudly carry the work of many of those wonderful eavesdroppers who joined in with the competition this summer. We immediately loved the idea of Bugged – we’ve had many a laugh over the summer when snippets of people’s conversations have wafted up through our open office windows from the trendy coffee shop below. A recent personal favourite was when a young teenager earnestly asked her mum, “Yeah but if they are barristas, right, why aren’t they wearing wigs?”

“We’re strong supporters of new writers, as well as being general book nuts, which made it even better that Jo and David decided to publish with us. CompletelyNovel.com is an online community which offers writers a place to share their work with others as an online book and sell as a paperback too. We’re passionate about projects in the literature space which both challenge writers and celebrate those who get out there and do something a bit different. We will soon be organising our second 24 hour Book Project, and next year we will be hosting the 2011 Author Blog Awards. If any of you crafty eavesdroppers would like to find out more, please check out our website!”

Well of course, they get a much bigger audience through our book than through a single-author book. But they do seem to be putting their money where their mouth is. They’ve been very helpful, genuinely supportive, and are offering us a discount for Bugged writers…. but you’ll have to judge if it works when you see the book. We hope that all of you will join in this experiment and help us to spread the word. We’re almost ready to show you the cover – next time, my lovelies…

Singing for your supper

The swanky gilded edition could be yours

No new writings for you today, as we are up against our own deadlines – but once again, one of our Bugged writers has come up with a prize worth having. Our Bugged book will include a short story by Roz Goddard but she’s better known as a poet, a former Laureate for Birmingham and the instigator of many fine projects. Her latest publication is a sumptuous pamphlet from Nine Arches press called The Soprano Sonnets. The poems respond to The Sopranos TV series, but we can vouch for the fact that they make perfect sense without any knowledge of it. Roz is kindly giving away a special-edition version of the pamphlet, signed and numbered. Here’s how to win it: inspired by Tony Blair’s recent autobiographical shenanigans, Roz asks you to write a couple of lines on the theme of ‘Cancellation’. Send’em in to us, as comments here on the blog or as Facebook comments, and we’ll pick a lucky winner on Sunday.

Most of the funding for Bugged comes from our own piggy banks, but Manchester Literature Festival (14 – 25 October) is one of the two festivals that have sponsored and supported Bugged from the beginning. It’s a brilliant programme this year as Cathy Bolton, the festival’s director, told us:

“Writers will be traveling to Manchester from as far afield as North Africa, China, Scandinavia and the United States to take part in the fifth Manchester Literature Festival. Our distinguished line-up includes Bernard Cornwell, Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, Caryl Phillips, Michael Rosen and Lionel Shriver. The programme features a Historical Readers’ Day and events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the pioneering Manchester writer,

Jeanette Winterson: a veritable hit

Elizabeth Gaskell. We’ll also be presenting some unique MLF commissions including the inaugural Manchester Sermon to be delivered by Jeanette Winterston at Manchester Cathedral, showcasing some of the UK’s hottest new talent, and inspiring the next generation of readers and writers with a tempting selection of family-friendly activities. Events take place in a wide range of  prestigious and unusual venues across the city.

“We are delighted to be kicking-off this year’s festival with the launch of the Bugged anthology on Thursday 14th October. As part of MLF’s Freeplay programming strand we provide opportunities for writers to explore the spaces where new writing meets new technology. The festival was particularly keen to support the Bugged project…. Manchester audiences are always keen to creatively engage with the festival, and we’ve been thrilled by the quality of contributions to the Bugged project.”

We’re delighted that Cathy is delighted. For full programme details please visit the website: www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk or email admin@manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk to order a copy of the festival brochure. We’ll have a similar piece from Sara Beadle of Birmingham Book Festival in the next couple of weeks. Unless of course it’s cancelled – get writing, dear Buggers…

The Eavesdropper’s Digest

And about bloody time too, you are no doubt thinking; what have they been doing? Well, we’ve been formatting the Great Book of Bugged, which is almost fit to print now. If you didn’t make it into the book, we know you are disappointed but we love and adore you with a passion we can barely express. Whether you’re in the book or not we’d love to link people to your work – if you have the technology, why not make a video? Sarah James did and it’s here…

Mil Millington is threatening to do a video too. His piece The Select has a cast of thousands, not to mention a lot of horses, so we are all agog to see what he comes up with. Perhaps he is intending to film his second piece from the book, It’s Always 11.15, which is set in a classroom and contains no horses at all, just an imagined frog.

In the meantime our last core writer has come up with the goods. Stuart Maconie, brilliant DJ on Radio 2 and 6 Music, best-selling author and keen fell-walker, surprised us and apparently himself by coming up with a long poem. ‘It’s a bit serious,’ said he apologetically. We don’t mind that a bit. Part of the pleasure of Bugged has been to see established writers coaxed into new forms, and new writers encouraged to ‘come out’ at last, by the demands of an overheard phrase. Click here on Not a Girl – Stuart Maconie to read it, and to see how different it is from Stuart’s style in his books like Pies and Prejudice. And click here to see what he’s up to at the moment, as he films for a new DVD of Lakeland walks.

We’ve got something else you might like too. We asked what you’d like to see on the blog, and several of you suggested a sort of digest of all your overhearings so far. We hate to see you cry, so here it is: in a radical departure from our previous titling style, we’ve called it Bugged – overheard comments and there are some corkers in there. Have a look and see if your own is on it. Do pass them on, use them to prompt a new piece of writing, or if you run writing workshops yourself, use them there as a spark to new writing. We’ve missed a few off, but there should be enough here to get you thinking.

We’re keeping Bugged alive in other ways too: David Calcutt and Jacqui Rowe are reading their pieces at the next Poetry Bites evening in Birmingham, Julie Boden is seeing if she can incorporate it into her work with schools and orchestras in the West Midlands, and some of you are planning ‘Bugged’ evenings where everyone who took part can read, and others can read anything based on overhearings. Got any other bright ideas? Bring’em on if so…