Archive for the ‘Five Leaves’ Category

I love being ignorant. It means there’s something I don’t know which I can learn.

Five Leaves' new camcorder

Scary? I don’t think so!

This is a surprisingly recent realisation. Someone expressed astonishment that I’m not scared of electronic gadgets (in this case, Five Leaves’ new camcorder) and asked, “Do you actually enjoy working out how to use them?”

There were so many exclamation marks in her voice that the proofreader in me had a red pen out of my rucksack before she’d got to the question mark. My immediate response was, “No, I just get on with it, and I find it relatively easy, so there’s no problem.” Later, on the way home, I thought about it some more.

C++ Pocket Reference

THIS is scary… (all will become clear)

I’d spent a little while playing with the camcorder at home, getting to know its basic controls. I captured this clip of #1 hairy brat… as you can see, he was impressed with my movie-making prowess. (Why isn’t there a way to embed the video into my blog post? Another area of ignorance on my part… excellent!) [edited: see below 🙂]

I thought that was enough to prepare me for recording the speakers at a Five Leaves event. After all, I was just going to put the camcorder on a tripod, point it in the right direction and press ‘record’. Um. No. Not that easy at all. It did lots of automatic adjustment stuff depending on where the speakers were, which resulted in an annoying variation in brightness. I didn’t zoom to the right shot for some of the bits. And, horror of horrors, I couldn’t ask the speakers to start again from the beginning so I could get it right. LOTS to learn. Goody goody…

From Revolution To Repression launch event flyerJust in case you’re interested in the event I was filming, this is the flyer (click on the image to see an enlarged version).

You can see two of the videos by following these links:

Gennady Estraikh answering the question ‘Why did Stalin murder Yiddish writers?’

Ross the Boss reading part of a story by Peretz Markish

[edited: Or you could scroll down to the bottom of this post where you’ll find all three videos embedded! I found out how to do it and am happy! It’s actually quite easy – you don’t use the embedding HTML generated by youtube, you just paste the URL into the post as plain text, and WordPress magic does the rest.]

The book, From Revolution to Repression: Soviet Yiddish Writing 1917-1952, edited by Joseph Sherman, is full of fascinating fiction and poetry, and has a couple of essays about the history of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the decades after the Russian Revolution.

Ignorance = happiness

“So, Pip,” I hear you ask… “why is your life so much better now than it was when you were earning a fortune working in the computing industry?”*

My answer is: because I’m almost always working on something I don’t know very much about. And I love it. I’m always being challenged, but in a good way. I’m not expected to do everything brilliantly (even by myself these days, thanks to 12 months of CBT and a repeat prescription for antidepressants!), which removes a lot of the pressure, and means when I succeed it feels like a real triumph.


A teaser for the next blog… do you like this logo? what does it mean to you?

When I started working with computers I loved it. All those amazing things you could make them do, all the ins and outs of arcane programming languages and development frameworks. Designing software that would do exactly what the clients wanted it to do. It was an intellectual challenge, and it was fun. But after a while, I realised I was just doing essentially the same thing over and over again. I knew how to do it all. Yes, there were new languages and new frameworks, but the learning process was the same as the last time. And gods, it was BORING.

Variety isn’t quite enough. There has to be novelty too. And the best way to achieve that is through the deliberate pursuit of ignorance, then the resolution of that ignorance. My ex-husband says, “Stupidity is worse than ignorance. At least ignorance can be cured.” And for once, I agree with him.

* I have no idea why you would be asking that question either… but go with the flow…

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I went to London yesterday, just to keep an eye on the boss… this is what he got up to.

I was given charge of Five Leaves’ new camcorder, and this is my first ever youtube video… I obviously have a lot to learn, but I’m quite pleased that it’s watchable.

From Revolution to Repression event flyerFive Leaves was launching its newest book, From Revolution to Repression: Soviet Yiddish Writing 1917-1952 at an event commemorating the execution of 13 members of the Soviet Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee by Stalin’s regime. Five of those murdered were writers, who are represented in the book alongside other notable Soviet Yiddish writers.

The event was fascinating, even though I know next to nothing about Soviet Yiddish writers and the social, political and historical context of the time. I know a bit more now… and am greatly looking forward to reading the book.

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I can’t contain myself any more… I know Ross will be annoyed that I’ve leaked this information, but I’m just so excited!

Five Leaves is going to release reprints of all of Rose Fyleman’s wonderful books about fairies! Our Bromley House Editions reprint of ‘The Rose Fyleman Fairy Book’ has been so successful that we plan to follow it up with reprints of over fifty books of delightful stories about fairies and other supernatural folk.

The first of these – ‘A Princess Came To Our Town‘ – will be released in December 2012, and we’ll be publishing a book every month thereafter for approximately four and a half years. We’re thinking of offering a subscription to these collectable volumes – contact us if you’re interested.


Alongside these books we’re planning to work with local creative artists to develop associated merchandise, including fairy dust; sets of wings that not only glitter and sparkle but will enable you to hover just above the ground; magic wands topped by stars made of fairy toenail clippings which will calm the crossest boss; and much more. Here you can see a photo of Five Leaves publisher Ross Bradshaw demonstrating an early prototype of the Fairy Hairdryer.

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I’ve just written a paragraph about how I don’t have time to do everything I want to do. But I’ve done that before on this blog, and I don’t see why I should keep making you read about how stupidly busy I make myself… that’s not what you’re here for. [I hope I’m not speaking to a big empty room…]

So, today I thought I’d tell you about some oddities I’ve come across lately.

Just hanging around

Just hanging around

I was walking through Jubilee Campus the other day, and saw these two strange characters hanging around. It’s normal to see students loitering outside the buildings – usually smoking – but you don’t often see spades that have nipped out for a bit of ‘fresh air’…

Then I saw the resident heron being mobbed by a couple of nasty crows. You’d think that a heron, which is a big bird, wouldn’t be in the least bit bothered by this… but he was obviously panicking about the whole thing. He kept trying to put them off by pretending to fly away and then sneaking back, but the bullies weren’t having any of it. They chased the poor bugger mercilessly. The last I saw of the drama, the heron was sitting on the edge of the island in the lake looking VERY grumpy, while the crows were sneaking up on him in a pincer formation…

A duck that thinks it's a mallard

A duck that thinks it's a mallard

There are two ducks at Jubilee who think they’re mallards. One of them has most features of a mallard drake, but his neck and chest are brown mottled with white. The other is a female, shaped like a mallard, but her feathers are completely brown and white. She’s still managed to find herself a boyfriend though, so there’s obviously no racism among ducks.

States of Independence, March 17 2012I spent much of last Monday putting the new States of Independence webpage together. I uploaded it to the Five Leaves webspace… but it didn’t appear. All that came up was last year’s page. OK, I thought, it’s cached somewhere. I waited ten minutes, and sure enough, the cache refreshed, and the correct page appeared. But, for some reason, Google still has an image of the old page cached. So people are getting completely confused about dates, and I’m wondering what it’ll take for that particular cache to refresh…

“So, Pippa, what’s States of Independence all about?” I hear you cry… SoI is a mini-book-festival – a packed day of events celebrating all aspects of independent publishing in the East Midlands and beyond. It’s held in Leicester at the De Montfort University (Clephan Building), and runs from 10.30 till 4.30. There will be talks and panels and book launches and, for the first time this year, a performance of a play. And everyone who’s anyone in the independent publishing world will be showing off their wares – we have 23 stalls booked already, so bring plenty of money. One thing you won’t have to pay for is entry to the event – it’s all free!

Get Stuffed: The Home Taxidermist's HandbookI’ll finish with this little gem. 50p from Oxfam, and packed with entertainment value. It contains instructions for many projects that ensure your furry/scaly/feathery friends can live in your home even after they’re dead. It includes such things as ‘Gerbil Salt and Pepper Pots’, ‘Koi Carp Tie Rack’, and my personal favourite, the ‘Dachshund Baby Cushion’. Yes, indeed.

If there’s enough demand, I’ll devote my next blog post to this amazing book…

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I’m sitting watching The Wonders of the Universe, featuring the ever-grinning Professor Doctor Saint Brian Cox, and he’s rabbiting on about how long turtles have been laying their eggs on the same beach – longer than the continent in question has been in existence. And I thought to myself, that’s about as long as it is since I last blogged.

“What’s happened since then?” I hear you cry…

well, quite a lot.

Most excitingly, I’ve been shepherding the relaunch of Five Leaves Publication’s Crime Express imprint.

Crime Express Proofs

Four damn fine books. Buy them.

I’ve been proofreading (and a bit of copy-editing), liaising with the typesetter, cover designer and printer. I’ve been setting up events with the authors. I’ve talked to bookshops about stocking the books, I’ve sent out press releases, I’ve approached magazines and websites about reviewing the books, I even set up a Facebook page (please ‘like’ it – it needs friends!)… and what fun it all is!

It’s also totally nerve-wracking, especially when I had to email the printer to say, “yes, print hundreds of copies of these books.” My experience as a typesetter tells me there are always mistakes… and the best I can hope for is that they’re not too disastrous. I think the most galling mistake that slipped through was a typo in my own biography in last year’s student anthology!

The new Crime Express books aren’t officially available until April 1st, but you can get them (post free in the UK) from Inpress Books along with the previous books in the series. I’d strongly recommend them. All of them. They’re brilliant.

Anyway. I’ve resolved to write short but sweet blogs from now on. Easier to read, and much easier to persuade myself to write. So I’ll sign off for now, but promise to write more very soon about all the exciting goings-on in the life of the Old Bat.

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