Friday, 24 June 2011

Decisions, decisions...

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, Creative Content are publishing “The Lowdown: A Short History of the Origins of the Vietnam War,” by David L. Anderson.

We’d love your help in picking out the cover! Please use our poll to vote for your favourite image, or leave feedback in the comments section. Keep in mind it's for digital - the images will be smaller than this.

The poll is now closed - thank you to all who took part! It was a close thing between two of the designs, but winner is Cover number three!
The voting broke down as follows:

Option 1: 37.5%
Option 2: 7.5%
Option 3: 42.5%
Option 4: 12.5%

Thank you for your feedback!
Option 1 Runner Up!

Option 2

Option 3 THE WINNER!



Option 4


 "The Lowdown: A Short History of the Origins of the Vietnam War" by David L. Anderson will be published in eBook and audio versions on July 29th.



Friday, 17 June 2011

That special something....


In an excerpt from her upcoming memoir, “A Tiger’s Wedding: my childhood in exile” (publishing June 25 in audio, eBook and limited edition hardback), Isla Blair talks about auditioning for drama school, and the difficulty of finding someone with that “special something”....

I sit on the auditioning panel at RADA and I know how frightening the audition experience can be. What I hope it will never be is a humiliating one. The applicants come with a spring in their step and hope in their beating hearts as they embrace the day they pray will change their lives. It is surprising how few people who come to audition have got that special something that makes you sit up, the thing that you know could move, uplift, or make an audience laugh. Sometimes they are too moved or amused by themselves to include us, the audience; sometimes they are too afraid, or too schooled and coached. Only rarely do you think, “Yes” – and a green pencil marks their application paper. At this stage it is usually unanimous amongst the  panel.

Recently on an “auditions day”, applicants trudged through the snow to make the appointment that would last just a few minutes. Your heart breaks for them. The ladies’ loo had an aroma of nervous tummies, perfume for confidence, mouthwash and hairspray. Some of them were lined up in the corridor, pretending nonchalance and cool when in fact you knew their pulses were racing, their palms sweating and their insides were in a churn. One girl came in barefoot thinking, I daresay, that she was being bohemian – just as I had when I was at RADA, with my black fishnet tights and a ridiculous rubber elephant tucked under my arm. I wanted to hug her and smooth her hair and tell her everything would be well, but of course it wasn’t. She wasn’t very good.

All of them are full of dreams, as I had been, and ambition and the desire to act. How those same hearts would sink when the letter with the RADA logo came through the letter box with the R for   rejection. What they should know is that most of them WANT to act which is different from NEEDING to act. Of course, we, on the auditioning panel, are sometimes mistaken in our judgement; sometimes we are very, very wrong.

When I auditioned for RADA there were about 800 people auditioning for 40 places – now it is just under 4,000 for 28 places, so one has to be quite strict even to allow them in to the next round. There are four auditions to get through at RADA, each one leading to a more expansive one until a whole day is spent work-shopping with other hopeful candidates and several members of staff. But at least you want the applicants to have a pleasant experience auditioning, so we try very hard to be friendly, we chat, they do their pieces, and we chat some more. My heart aches for them, as I know how I felt that hot June day waiting for my future to be decided by anonymous strangers sitting in the dark of the little theatre.

"A Tiger's Wedding: my childhood in exile" publishes on June 25th in eBook, audiobook and hardback editions.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Taboos

To celebrate Business Etiquette Week, our blog this week is on taboo conversational topics in different countries:

China:

The Chinese are generally very open-minded, but there are a few subjects that remain taboo. The reasons for this are fear of repercussions from government officials, or even the police, and loss of face. The most obvious of these taboos are the 3 Ts: 

Tian An Men – the student repression of 1989.

 Tibet - its independence and cultural preservation...

... and Taiwan - which is considered by the Chinese to be a rebel province and not a country. These are three subjects to avoid at any cost. It’s also a good idea to steer clear of the communist past, Mao Tse Tung, the Great Leap Forward – which was an economic and social plan implemented by Mao between 1958 and 1960. It was intended to transform China from an agricultural to a modern industrial communist society – but it failed, and many starved to death during that period.
It’s also best to avoid the Cultural Revolution, politics in general, democracy, human rights, censorship and Fa Lun Gong – which  is a spiritual practice that is regarded as subversive. 

The best policy is to simply avoid any subjects that might be embarrassing for your Chinese counterparts. Be especially careful after few ‘gan bei’ in the bar!  If you’re really curious, there are many books on these topics - but don’t bring them with you to China. 

From “The Lowdown: Business Etiquette – China” by Florian Loloum.


Mexico:

You might be wise to steer clear of religion. Mexico is nominally a Catholic country, with total separation between church and state. There are a significant number of Protestants in some areas of the country, and other religions are practiced freely. As in many other countries, people who profess a religion may rarely go to church. Mexico’s patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, is widely revered, and many businesses close on December 12th in her honor. Be very respectful if the subject does come up! It is highly likely that your business contacts will assume you are Catholic and these days, when the Catholic church is coming under some scrutiny, it may be best to avoid sensitivities by not touching on subjects of religion at all.   Travel, cars, sports and movies are useful, anodyne topics.

Mexico’s relationship with the US is a sensitive topic, and the evident desire of many Mexicans to speak fluent English, to study in the US, and to take their children to Disneyland should not be confused with an appreciation of US culture, to which most Mexicans have an ambivalent attitude.  The treatment of Mexican immigrants in the US can be a touchy topic, as can the wall being built along parts of the northern border.  

By way of a footnote, just as you should not assume that there is universal admiration for the US in Mexico, you should not assume that there is universal admiration for Spain, the country that colonized Mexico and from which Mexico won independence.  Most people in Mexico are of mixed Mexican Indian and European origin, and many Mexicans are prouder of their pre-Colombian heritage than of any Spanish colonial origins – just have a look at the 100-peso banknote!

From “The Lowdown: Doing Business in Mexico” by Christopher West.


India:

With religion, as with many other aspects of Indian life, there’s a high degree of day-to-day tolerance and acceptance of differences. Pragmatism is a way of life and in a country where so many people are so poor, keeping the commercial machine running for the greater good tends to take precedence - so it would be unusual for you to be aware of any conflicts as you go about your day-to-day business. In practice, Indian people will know that you don’t have sensitivities to their religious issues. They won’t expect you to have a view. In social discussions, like at a dinner party, you need to be careful – particularly if you’ve had a few drinks. It’s best to avoid the subject altogether, except in the context of being respectfully curious about religious ceremonies and practices. 

As always, it pays to be careful when discussing politics – India’s position as a nuclear power is a sensitive issue and so are ecological issues, the condition of the poor and the status of the girl child. 

From “The Lowdown: Business Etiquette – India” by Michael Barnard


Russia: 

Don’t discuss where and how your partner got his money. Some Russian businessmen of today may have acquired theirs illegally. Avoid the subject. And don’t suggest that your partner might have been associated with racketeers and Communist bosses of the past. You may not do it on purpose, but let’s say you innocently start telling your Russian companions at the table a story you read on the flight, over about some ruthless gangsters in a small Russian town.  They might take it as a hint that you’re suggesting something about them. Be careful about even a casual mention of things like gangsters and the mafia.

If you want to start a conversation, discuss things like restaurants, cruises, ocean waves at Mauritius or buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Tell jokes about your in-laws, but not about outlaws.

From “The Lowdown: Business Etiquette – Russia” by Charles McCall and Slava Katamidze

Photo by Robert Bejil


Friday, 3 June 2011

Interview with Felicity Young

Today we’re talking to  Felicity Young, author of  “A Certain Malice”, our latest eCC Creative Content eBook publication.

What first made you want to write?

The answer to this question merges in to the next, I guess. I’ve always had a natural inclination to write and knew it was a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘will.’ It was only when my three children became teenagers and life became less hectic that I decided the time was right.

“A Certain Malice” is set in Australia. Is that where you’re from?

No, I was born in Germany to British army parents. We changed countries every two years, living between Germany, Canada and the UK. When I was nine I was sent to boarding school in the UK and shortly after that my father was posted to Australia. I joined my parents for school holidays which meant four to six long flights a year. 

Those long boring plane trips were a great aid to developing my creative imagination. I would spend most of my time plotting aircraft disaster/hijack scenarios, with myself as the heroine, naturally. By the time I was sixteen I had flown around the world twelve and a half times and composed dozens of stories.

My parents migrated permanently to Australia when I was sixteen and I now have dual citizenship.

What inspired you to write “A Certain Malice”?

We moved to a small rural town about twenty years ago. The town’s locality and the characters we came to know were largely the inspiration for the story as was listening to the tales of my police superintendent brother-in-law.

There’s enough forensic detail to satisfy the most avid CSI fan. How did you research the autopsy scenes?

Books, the Internet but some of the more visceral parts were dredged up from my nursing memories. I had to assist with an (very basic, thank goodness) autopsy once and will never forget it.

Police sergeant Cam Fraser is a great protagonist, and “A Certain Malice” has a really interesting cast of supporting characters; it would be wonderful as a TV series. Who would be your dream casting for Cam? 

At the time of writing,  I imagined an Australian actor called Gary Sweet playing the role — but he might be a bit long in the tooth now!

What is your routine when you’re writing? Take us through a typical day.

I do some kind of work 24/7. I start earlier, as early as 4.30AM if there’s a deadline looming, and work until about lunch time with frequent short breaks for stretching — I get very stiff if I sit at a computer for too long. Then I break for lunch, work out on my cross trainer, do some chores and then return to my desk at about three or four-ish, depending on how busy I am. I find I’m not very creative in the afternoon so will do things such as edit or take care of publicity stuff.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to try their hand at crime fiction?

Don’t neglect the craft of writing for the sake of a clever plot. A good crime writer is also a good writer.

Is there anything that your readers would be surprised to know about you?

That I’m a 160cm, 53kg volunteer bush firefighter?

What are you working on now?

I’m just finishing the second book in a new historical mystery series that features Britain’s first female autopsy surgeon. The books are being published by HarperCollins in Australia (2011 and 2012) and Berkley Press (Penguin Group USA) and will also be available in the UK. 

 More information about Felicity Young can be found here: www.felicityyoung.com


Also by Felicity Young: