We name this book…

 

Popping our cork. As it were.

 

….BUGGED!  The first of our two launches took place today in Manchester, where we were honoured to open the Manchester Literature Festival programme. Our readers came down from Edinburgh, up from London, east from

 

The littlest Bugger of all

 

Wales, west from Derby… they were Jenn Ashworth (right, with McTiny), Cathy Bryant, Dorothy Burgess, Emma Morgan, Susannah Hart, Emma Lannie, Liz Loxley, Ian Marchant, Lynsey May, Angi Holden, Alicia Ogg, Calum Kerr, Valerie O’Riordan and Phil Williams. Every one observed our dire warning to stick to a 3-minute reading – although for the prose writers this sometimes meant cutting their work in half. We made’em laugh, we made’em cry, and most importantly we made’em buy books.

We’re not finished yet – we opened Manchester Literature Festival, and we close the Birmingham Book Festival next Thursday evening at the Ikon Gallery. Programme Director, Sara Beadle writes:

“The Birmingham Book Festival was very excited by the initial idea of Bugged. It remains one of the most fresh and inventive writing projects we’ve heard of. The Birmingham Book Festival focuses on interesting ideas and writers who think, write and talk about the things that are really challenging in our times and relevant in our lives. This year’s programme is no exception, with the likes of Fatima Bhutto, Gareth Peirce, Dominic Sandbrook, David Shukman, John Lanchester, Jonathan Coe, and Lionel Shriver amongst a cast of many others. Aside from the authors we are featuring, there is also a broad workshop programme (including a dark afternoon within Ikon Eastside’s new installation,  Hitchcock’s Hallway), and events in partnership with The Drum, Punch Records, Birmingham Libraries, The RSA, SHOUT Festival and 7 Inch Cinema.”

“It is our pleasure to close our eleventh Festival with the launch of the anthology and we can’t wait to hear the results of this eavesdropping experiment. We are sure that an evening with Bugged and its writers will prove hilarious and no doubt moving, if the early indications are anything to go by. We have watched in admiration as the project has gathered momentum and are proud to be hosting a public celebration of its success.”

Want a copy of the book? Here’s how.

  • The best way is to buy it direct at the Birmingham launch. No postage!
  • Or… order direct from us to get the special edition version (chunkier, nicer, quicker – and the same price) until we run out. If you submitted work to Bugged – whether you are in the book or not – the price is £4.99, plus postage. If you didn’t, it’s £5.99 and serve you right! Email submit@bugged.org.uk and let us know how many you want, where to send them, and whether you want to pay by PayPal or cheque.
  • Once we’ve run out of special edition copies, buy the standard version (lighter in weight, but still lovely) at the same price from CompletelyNovel or Amazon – ignore the ‘out of stock’ warning, which appears because it’s a print-on-demand book. If you order from these sources, you’ll be waiting longer for your book – about a fortnight… but it’s still a gem!

Now then…. Birmingham, are you ready for us?

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…

The end of the beginning

The Finnish? Not yet!

Right all you hard-working Buggers, you can stop now. No really. What? You can’t stop? You can’t stop listening to people around you, and writing new material? Good. That was the point. Bugged was invented as a reminder that good writers notice the world around them. So don’t stop listening, don’t stop writing.

Give those big ears a rest

But you can stop submitting. Our deadline has passed, our inboxes are no longer overflowing, and our latest (but by no means last) selection includes new work from Lynsey May, Emma Purshouse, Sara-Jane Arbury, Marilyn Francis, Janet Rogerson, Susie Wild and lone representative of the male sex, Rob A Mackenzie. Click on the natty title August 15th to read a particularly fine selection of work to make you smile, blush or wince: and have a look here to see a colourful word cloud based on our blogs so far.

In the last six weeks, we received over 300 submissions. In the next six, we will make your work into a book that does justice to all who are included – and appeals to a wider readership. The blog has featured ‘the best of’ and the book will feature ‘the very best of’, but also will include new material from our core writers and much work that we couldn’t post on the blog for reasons of space or balance. It’s your job to help us spread the word – especially if you’re in it – and if you are, you’ll know by the end of August. You will all be itching to pre-order, and we’ll let you know how to do that soon. We’ve self-funded this project, paying commissioned writers, designers and publisher. Book sales are our only hope of making some of it back, so please buy the damn thing!

Helen and Emma - lucky girls eh?

Meanwhile, there are still prizes to be won; today, magnificent awards (left) for the first and last submissions. The first was Helen Addy, whose poem dropped on to our virtual doormat at 07.20 on 2nd July; the last was Emma Lannie, whose short story arrived three minutes before the deadline at 11.57 on Sunday. Ladies, expect something small and disturbing in the post this week.

The posts will keep coming, including work from our remaining core writers Jenn Ashworth and Stuart Maconie. We’ll be posting links, showing you the websites and publications of some of our contributors. There will be writing tips to keep you going if you’re a new writer, and to challenge you if you’re an old hack. What else do you want to see? A Top Ten overhearings? A map of Buggers across the UK? Resources for writers? Let us know in Comments. Don’t go away…. don’t leave us here in cyberspace….

Racing Towards the Finish

It’s 7th August which means that there’s just over a week to go before the deadline for submitting work to Bugged, which is noon on Sunday, 15th August. So there’s not much more to say other than if you are still working on something to submit, do make sure you send it to us on time.

There are two new posts here today. The  first features work by Phillippa Barker, Angi Holden, Rebecca Audra Smith and Tim Woodhouse – three poems and a short story. You can read their work here Best of Bugged August 7th.  The second is a piece by another of our core writers, playwright, essayist and long-time “Archers” scriptwriter, Mary Cutler, which you can read here Core Writer August 7th. There’s work by just two more core writers to come, and we hope to be featuring those in the next posting. And more selections from your submitted work of course.

Thank you to all those who have also contributed to our competitions, and we hope you’ve enjoyed taking part in those, and congratulations to the  winners. We hope you’ve enjoyed your prizes.

Early birds and bright sparks

Be prepared for eavesdropping....

So, the early birds are sitting smugly on their laurels, whilst the procrastinators rush round the house looking for a pen and shouting ‘Less than a fortnight to go!’ Today’s selection includes the Goldilocks writers – those who submitted not too late, and not too early. We have poems from Suzanna Fitzpatrick and Rosie Sandler, and a short story from Catherine Fearn, in our excitingly titled August 3rd selection. And there’s another thrilling prize to be won, so read on, dear Buggers….

There’s also new work from two more core writers – David Calcutt (co-host of Bugged) and Leila Rasheed (fresh from her honeymoon, so well done for focusing). We thought long and hard about the title for this document – we decided on Core writers – August 3rd. Leila’s piece has inspired this visual response by artist Helen White….

Now – that prize. Here at Bugged Towers we have snagged a copy of The Five-Minute Writer, which is full of useful spark exercises for all kinds of writing. As usual you have to earn it. We were tickled to notice that the BBC news site, which shows a constantly updated list of ‘most searched for topics’ was displaying the following three subjects this morning: KNITTING – POETRY – WATERCRESS. So your challenge is this: send us (via Comments on this website) a paragraph including those three words. The one that makes us laugh, cry or spill our beer with its creative brilliance, will get the book. Deadline for this little mission… ooh, let’s give you till Saturday shall we?

You can now book for the first Bugged launch in Manchester on October 14th here (it’s free, but it would be nice to know how many are coming). There is plenty of other great stuff in the programme for the Manchester Literature Festival, so look through the other events too. The Birmingham launch is on 21st October – more news of that soon.

There’s still plenty of time to send us your piece of writing based on an overhearing. If you need instruction, the basics of Bugged are here – ignore the bit about July 1st, you can eavesdrop any time. But don’t forget to submit via our Submissions Form – we can’t accept even the greatest masterpiece otherwise!

Arrivals and Departures

There are many, many good things arriving on the Bugged website today.  Not just one, but two selections of new work, and a competition.  The first selection is from the latest batch of submissions from writers from all over the UK, and in this one features work by Cathy Bryant, Maggie Doyle, Lynda Nash, Suzanne Phillips and Rodney Wood. You’ll find their writing here Bugged July 29th . And the second is more work from our core writers, and there you’ll find a script by playwright Steph Dale, another story by David Gaffney and a story from the first of our editors to complete her piece, Jo Bell. You can read their work here – Core writers – July 29th

And now for the competition. One of our editors – not the one who’s work appears in this post – has a new novel coming out next week. It’s fantasy adveture story called The Map of Marvels, and tells the story of a boy who goes on a series of fantastic, magical, and sometimes terrying  journeys. And, as many of your overhearings have involved you going on some kind of journey, we’d like you to send us a single sentence describing a journey of some kind. It may be an actual journey you’ve taken, or a dream journey, or one you’d like to take. But the idea is to send us just a single image from that journey, in one sentence. The competiton closes on Tuesday 3rd August and the writer of the one we like the best will be sent a copy of The Map of Marvels. And if you suspect that this competition is just an underhand way of plugging the book – it is.

Finally, we’d like to say thank you to Bugged Writer and photographer Janet Jenkins who’s been inspired by the project not only to write overhearings but to take photographs of them as well. It’s one of her photos that illustrates today’s post. Birdbugged. Thanks again, Janet.