A blog from Tonto Books, featuring musings from the publishing world and some occasional special guest appearances.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Johnny Lonely launch pics

All this week we'll be posting stuff relating to the Johnny Lonely launch. Today there are some photos from the big night. If you didn't get a chance to get to the launch, a reminder that signed copies of Johnny Lonely are available from Borders at Newcastle Silverlink and Gateshead Team Valley. Pete will also be signing in person at both stores in the coming weeks, more details to follow. Tomorrow we'll post Pete's interview with Radio Newcastle.

*LOST JACKET* A black zip-up jacket was left at the launch on Thursday. If it is yours please come along and pick it up from Brick Works!

Wrist ache

Standing room only

A natural performer


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Johnny Lonely Video

Here is a short film featuring Pete Tanton, introducing his new novel and reading a bit from it.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Johnny not so Lonely

Thursday 26 July saw the first book launch at Brick Works in Newcastle. The event was Pete Tanton's launch of 'Johnny Lonely', where we enjoyed hosting a packed party. Many of the arts event liggers turned up an hour early to meet Pete (who was fashionably just on time) and hit the refreshments early.
Our very own 'mariachi' provided the music and by 8pm, the building was at bursting point, forcing some outside into the street. Pete took to the stage at 8.15pm for his reading. Choosing a section when the band arrive to play the Artoberfest gig, Pete had us all laughing along as the scene evolved. He stopped reading at the right moment... we all wanted to hear more and I'm sure everyone would have hung around all night to listen.

The launch ended at around 10pm but the party carried on into the Ouseburn. Not for some though... Paul and I had to clean up for our writing course the following morning. Rock n Roll, eh?

It was great to see so many people celebrating the release of a book and the event was a success. With only a few copies of the book left at the end of the night, Pete urged everyone to purchase the book at Borders Silverlink and Team Valley in the North East. Borders are a big supporter of Tonto Press and are stocking the book as well as supporting Pete with signing sessions. Pete's first one will be in August - we'll post more info nearer the time.


Friday, July 27, 2007

On course part III

It's the last day of our creative writing course, and as part of our module on 'How To Get Published' we're recommending three essential titles containing contact details for agents and publishers, plus useful articles on how and what to submit. (We also recommend that writers check publishers' websites before submitting to obtain the latest up to date submission requirements). First up are the 'big red' and 'big yellow' books, the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2008 and Writer's Handbook 2008. Any aspiring writer needs at least one of these books, both of which offer excellent advice on getting started in the industry.

Additionally, for writers looking to break into the huge US market, there is the US publication Writer's Market, which also contains agent and publisher listings and useful articles.


PS - The Johnny Lonely launch was a great success - look out for pictures here on Monday!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Johnny Lonely Launch TONIGHT

Just a quick reminder. To those who have been following the publicity of our New Novelist winner Pete Tanton, the launch of his book is tonight (Thursday 26 July) at Tonto Press HQ in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The event starts at 7.30pm and there will be live music and readings by Pete, as well as refreshments. Johnny Lonely can be purchased at the launch.

Photos will be posted of the event.

Pete will also be appearing on The Julia Hankin show on BBC Radio Newcastle tomorrow at around 3.15pm.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On Course part II

More recommended books from our creative writing course: Raymond Carver's brilliantly simple short stories have long been considered inspirational by new writers, and the 438-page Carver anthology Where I'm Calling From collects many of his best stories and also contains a short version of his incredibly useful essay 'On Writing'. (The full essay can be found in Call If You Need Me.) Here's a quote from 'On Writing': 'If we're lucky, writer and reader alike, we'll finish the last line or two of a short story and then just sit for a minute, quietly. Ideally we'll ponder what we've just written or read; maybe our hearts or intellects will have been moved off the peg just a little from where they were before. Then, breathing evenly and steadily once more, we'll collect ourselves, writers and readers alike, get up, and go on to the next thing: life, always life.'

Another writer we recommend, particularly with reference to our module on 'dynamic description', is Mark Richard. I've already mentioned his short story collection Ice At The Bottom Of The World on this blog - it's currently out of print but well worth tracking down - amazon currently have used copies available from just £2.


Monday, July 23, 2007

On Course

We're running a creative writing course this week - the last in this format for the foreseeable future as we concentrate on the publishing side of the business. One of the books we always recommend on the course is On Writing by Stephen King. Even if you have never read any of King's fiction, we think you'll find this to be just about the most sensible, accessible, and inspiring guide to creative writing available, and well worth £6.99 of your hard earned. You can get it here.

Just about the only thing we don't cover on the course is grammar and style, but we do reccommend Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, which is an indispensible little guide that every writer should have on their bookshelf. It's just £4.99 from amazon.

Stephen King also recommends Strunk and White. If, like me, you've never managed to get through a King novel you might enjoy some of his shorter fiction. US Esquire magazine is currently printing King's 21,000-word novella The Gingerbread Girl. US Esquire remains one of the best places to find good short fiction. Try this: The Night Johnny Ace Died by James Lee Burke.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Please publish me... I'm sure it will be a classic

In the news today:
A string of publishers failed to spot blatant plagiarism of one of English literature's most famous authors, in a cheeky test to see if she would have secured a book deal.

The manuscript apparently got several rejection letters and only one publisher spotted the scam.

Read all about it.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Your chance to star in a Rocketbelt movie

The Rocketbelt Caper by Tonto's very own Paul Brown is just about to be sent to print for release in September. The book is an incredible story with all the ingredients of a crime movie.

And speaking of which... there IS a movie going into production!

Follow this link to see how you can audition for a role in Pretty Bird.

Myentertainmentworld, a film and TV casting website, say this on the website:

Paul Giamatti and Emily Mortimer have signed on to star in the indie comedy Pretty Bird for actor turned writer/director Paul Schneider. The film will star Giamatti as Curt, a lovable loser who believes he can invent a rocket belt that will bring him fame and fortune. He enlists the help of friends and trouble arises when they actually succeed and they begin turning against each other. Mortimer will play Mandy, the "Director of Marketing" for their operation. Giamatti will also produce the film along with his wife Liz. It's been a while since we've seen Giamatti doing some comedy, which we all know he's really good at. This should be a nice change of pace and he also has Fred Claus due this winter. Giamatti is currently filming the John Adams miniseries for HBO and will begin work on Pretty Bird this August in New Jersey.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Johnny Lonely has lots of friends...

How the fictional eponymous hero of Pete Tanton's Johnny Lonely created a profile on popular "social networking" website MySpace remains a mystery (Pete swears he had nothing to do with it!) but here it is. But Johnny seems to be making friends - or "virtual friends" - and quite a motley selection of them, some with rude names and in various states of undress! If, unlike me, you have any idea what any of this means, you'll want to add yourself to Johnny's friends list at www.myspace.com/johnny_lonely. Explanations of how this whole Myspace / Facebook thing works are welcome to be posted here as comments!

Meanwhile, UK readers are beginning to post their reviews of Johnny Lonely on amazon.co.uk. Alison Hicklenton says it's, 'A great read and a great starter for all sorts of discussion.
In years to come students will be talking about this book as being as seminal as Louis Sachar's "Holes".' Dr Halcyon S Leonard ('REAL NAME' according to amazon) calls it, 'A wonderfully observant and penetrating picture of suburban America.' And Rhoanne May says, 'The writing is honest, original, clever and witty. I do hope this will be the first of many books from Pete Tanton!' The current rating is given as 4.5 stars out of 5, although my rudimentary mathematics knowledge says it should actually be 4.83 out of 5, which is quite a recommendation.

Johnny Lonely is officially released on 30 July, but both amazon and Tonto are shipping it already, so snap up your copy now!


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Johnny Lonely launch event details

It's already been mentioned, but here's confirmation of the launch event for Pete Tanton's New Novelist-winning debut Johnny Lonely. The launch will be on Thursday 26 July at 7.30pm, at Brick Works studios in Ouseburn, Newcastle upon Tyne. Come along and enjoy a glass of wine or two, live music, and a reading from Pete. We hope to see you there. You can get venue directions here.

Guerilla promotion courtesy of Pete's son's school!

And thanks to Marianne for her blog posts over the last week, and for her hard work during her work placement. Her blog even merited a mention from Grumpy Old Bookman. As you can see from her posts, she was virtually running the place!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Marianne's Blog Day 5.

Hi everyone!

It's coming towards the end of my placement now and I've just finished reading and editing the Jonny Kennedy manuscript, I feel a huge sense of satisfaction and I've only contributed a very small amount of time and effort towards getting this manuscript in a finished form, compared to the amount of time that Roger (the author) and Paul and Stu (the actual editors) have spent on this book, so I can only imagine the sense of accomplishment they must feel when one of their books is finally published.

Although I had heard about Jonny Kennedy before coming to work with Tonto Press I hadn't actually seen the channel four documentary, so for me reading about his life story and terrible condition was a completely new experience, and now that I've finished the book I feel that I have gained a really good picture about Jonny's personality. As a result I now cannot help but think of Jonny with admiration and respect - I certainly don't think I could have coped as well as him, and have handled life with such humour, if I had been born with Epidermolysis Bullosa.

In the book that is due to be published in September there is a selection of photographs of Jonny chronicling his life from when he was a baby right up to the months leading to his death. There are also several pictures which show Jonny with his mother and different friends, and below is a sneak preview of a picture of Jonny with his mother when he was a baby. The second picture below also shows Jonny with his much loved cat Terbie, and of course one of his signature hats. These are exclusive pictures that haven't been released yet, so I hope you appreciate how lucky you all are to be seeing them now!! Only joking, of course I hope you enjoy seeing them as well! And thanks for reading my blog over the past week, you've been a great audience!!

By Marianne Lund.

Another brick in the wall

CityLife has a piece on the opening of Brick Works with quotes from Stu. See a PDF here.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Marianne's Blog Day 4.

Hi everyone!

It's day four of my placement and I started the day by having a look at several different manuscripts that had been sent to Paul and Stu via email, which included short stories, outlines and chapters of books. This was really interesting as it gave me insight into the kind of topics that people choose to write about and what condition these are in when they are sent to publishers.

After this I spent some time planning the budget for the Johnny Lonely book launch, which is taking place on Thursday the 26th July at Brickworks building. I was also thinking about how to arrange the rooms allocated for the launch to best accomodate all the people that will come.

I also spent time writing the latest addition of the Tonto Press Newsletter which informs everyone about the upcoming book launch and also how you can now pre-order their books that will be published in September, on Amazon. These are 'The Rocketbelt Caper' and 'Jonny Kennedy; The Story of the Boy Whose Skin Fell Off'. In the afternoon I also continued reading through the Jonny Kennedy manuscript.

I have also decided to recommend my favourite book, dvd and cd to you all, so here goes!

One of the best books I have read in a long time was by Arundhati Roy and was called The God of Small Things, it is not religious like the title implies, but is set in an Indian town called Ayemenem and tells a very poignant and tragic story of a pair of twins and how their lives are torn apart through traumatic childhood experiences. This book is beautifully written, perfectly evokes the climate that is described and made me cry several times! This book also won the Booker Prize in 1997 and I always look out to see if the author has written anything else, but as yet she hasn't!

The dvd that I am going to recommend is called Overboard and stars Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. This is a slightly dated film but is absolutely hilarious and is very firmly one of my favourite films. Both Hawn and Russell act their parts brilliantly and it is a typical slushy romantic film, but it's also very funny! It's one of those films that you can actually watch again and again so I would say that it's not only worth watching, but also worth buying, here's a link to Amazon so you can do so now!

At the moment I have Snow Patrol's album Eyes Open in my cd player so I'm going to recommend that cd to you today. I think the lead singer, Gary Lightbody has a fantastic voice, really smooth and easy to listen to. In particular I really like the third song on the album 'Chasing Cars' and also the sixth song, which I can't remember the name of but it's lovely and the start of it sounds like a lullaby. I also like the fact that all the songs don't sound the same, which can happen with a cd from only one artist.

By Marianne Lund.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Marianne's Blog Day 3.

Hi everyone,

It's day three of my placement and again I spent most of the morning reading through Jonny Kennedy's manuscript...I am, slowly but surely making my way through it and hopefully by the end of Monday I will have finished it! Me, Stu and Paul also got together with all the other people that are in the twelve studios that make up Brick Works and went for lunch at the local pub.

This was the first time all the people working in this building have got together since the opening several months ago so it was really nice for me to be able to meet other people and hear about the different jobs they are doing. For example there are several different artists, web, interior and graphic designers, screen writers, film and video production and also Lens Based Media. So it was really interesting to hear about the different projects they are doing and the upcoming work they hope to do. After lunch we came back and cracked on with our work and I have continued to concentrate on Jonny Kennedy's manuscript. The more I read this book the more I enjoy it and as soon as it hits the shops I'm going to be out there buying the book!

By Marianne Lund.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Marianne's Blog Day 2.

Hi everyone,

Today has been another interesting day, I spent most of the morning reading more of 'Jonny Kennedy; The Story of the Boy Whose Skin Fell Off' and as I got further into the manuscript I learnt even more about Jonny, his condition and the life he led. Jonny successfully and at times poignantly recaptures his childhood for us and several experiences that stand out for him in his mind, which really demonstrates to the reader the extroardinary life Jonny led.

In the afternoon I began proof-reading another book that Tonto Press plan to publish in the near future, which is called 'The Rocketbelt Caper; A True Tale of Invention, Obsession and Murder' and is written by Paul himself. I enjoyed this as it gave me an example of a much more finished version of a book before publication and showed me a different stage of the publishing process. In particular I was looking out for any spelling and grammatical mistakes, but I only found one, which just shows how close it is to being ready for publication.

Later on me, Paul and Stu also travelled down to Durham for the annual meeting held once a year by Independent Northern Publishers. This was very insightful for me as I was able to meet other publishers and see what issues the meeting was focused on and what issues the actual publishers wanted to raise and discuss. I also gained more understanding about how tight funding is for all the publishers in the Northeast which is decided by the Art's council and also which types of literature get preference over others. This was an invaluable experience for me and I enjoyed the opportunity of seeing what priorities different publishers have.

By Marianne Lund.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Marianne's Blog Day 1

Hi everyone,

My name is Marianne Lund, I'm a second year English student at Newcastle Upon Tyne university and I'm working at Tonto Press for one week on a work experience placement, and this is my first day's blog! To start with both Paul and Stu talked me through what kind of things I would be working on over the five days which was useful as it gave me some focus and a time line for the different jobs I would be doing.

So the first thing Paul and Stu wanted me to look at was the manuscript of the book 'Jonny Kennedy; The Story of the Boy whose Skin fell off'. This is a biography as Jonny didn't actually write it himself, instead his friend Roger Stutter wrote down, over the course of ten years, everything that Jonny told him about his life. There is also a very touching foreword by Nell McAndrew, who met Jonny several times. I found this very interesting because I was already aware about Jonny because of the Channel Four documentary a few years ago which chronicled his life and death. I also found it rather exciting that I was the third person to ever actually read the manuscript, apart from obviously both Paul and Stu who have been working with Roger, but more importantly I began to appreciate the amount of work and time that goes into preparing a manuscript before it is ready for publication. I spent the whole day working on this book and I only managed to get to page 28! However I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and trying to find ways to improve it and I think it will be extremely successful when it is published because it is such an unusual story, with surprising amounts of humour in it. I also think that this book will help raise more awareness about the agonising disease Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) that Jonny suffered from which is not currently widely known about in society.

In the afternoon I also sent an email around to all of the English students at Newcastle university informing them about an upcoming Creative Writing Course that Paul and Stu are putting on which starts on Monday the 23rd of July and lasts a week, until Friday the 27th of July. I thought lots of students might be interested in this but probably wouldn't know about it so this was an ideal opportunity and way to publicise the course.

Students tackle a group writing exercise on the last course

Towards the end of the afternoon I went through all my suggestions about the manuscript with Paul and Stu. At this point they told me more about Jonny's life and his personality, that they had learnt about from working for so long with Jonny's close friend Roger and I found this very interesting. Overall it was a very enjoyable day and i'm looking forward to being able to finish reading the manuscript over the next few days of my placement!

By Marianne Lund.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Jonny in the Journal

The Newcastle Journal ran a piece on Jonny Kennedy and our forthcoming biography Jonny Kennedy: The Story of the Boy Whose Skin Fell Off last week (Final words of boy whose skin fell off).

Although we were delighted to receive the coverage, we couldn't help noticing that a similar story ran in the very same paper almost 4 months ago (Jonny's thoughts are to be published in a book), and another in the Journal's sister paper the Sunday Sun on the previous day (Our Jonny lives on). None of these articles had anything to do with Tonto, which just goes to show that even the most carefully orchestrated publicity campaigns can sometimes have little bearing in what does and doesn't get coverage! The book will be released on 24 September, and you can read more details here.