Friday, 26 July 2013

Sex Sells- but for Publishers is Sex a Sell Out?

Dear Readers,

Thank you for your feedback on my recent questions about representation and women by publishers, and in the media industry.

The numbers speak, and it does seem that there is more appeal in 'Sex' than in any other topic that has been posted on and written about on this blog.

I hear you, and I am aware that, now more than ever perhaps, it is necessary for women to speak up and speak out about how we have been mis-represented throughout western history by male culture.

We now have the tools to do this- through social media and online publishing, and also traditional publishing. There has never been a better time for women authors, and artists than now in terms of getting our work into print, and into the minds and hands of readers.

So your feedback and comments are invaluable, thank you again to those who have responded.

This will help in shaping the program of publishing books which shall be announced shortly, on this site.

All the best,


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Mothers, Art and the Inner World: Women Artists Reclaiming their Creative Birthright

Readers, would be happy to have your thoughts on this, whether on this site or on facebook.
I am proposing to publish a book based on the most popular article in the Daily Fugue, which is Sex, Art and the Inner World: Women Artists Reclaiming their Creative Birthright.
This article has had four times more page views than the next most popular, which is my exclusive interview based article on artists Mary Kelly and Kelly Barrie- also a very popular article, and my short article on Tracey Emin, also with many page views.
I am wondering is it because the word Sex is in the title?
And also the word combination Sex, Art? This would be an inaccurate impression in fact, as the artists are making art about them selves, and their self based experience, of their inner world, and in the examples in the article using themselves as the models for their figurative nude studies.

However some of the artists I wrote about do make art about sexuality from a female perspective, their own, for example Del Kathryn Barton and Tracey Emin. It is part of life, and the life of the inner world, that women have discussed openly in public forums and in art and writing since the women's art movement of the 1970s. It is a sign of health in a culture and society that women can do this openly, and that it is taken seriously. So that is a good reason to publish in this area.
What are your thoughts on this topic?

Meanwhile working title of the proposed publication is "Mothers, Art and the Inner World: Women Artists Reclaiming their Creative Birthright". This will cover contemporary women artists, mothers and non mothers, whose focus is on identity, subjectivity and the self.

All the best,

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


Post by Ruth Skilbeck

FuguEditions is the name of my publishing imprint, and I will post the link to the new website in the coming days. 

My first publication will be The Writer's Fugue, and I will then be publishing the books in my series Australian Fugue, five interlinked novels that explore aspects of identity, growing up, impacts of trauma  in living in conflict areas (Northern Ireland), friendships, making a career as a young writer, family secrets, and more from the perspective of a woman growing up in the contemporary world, in England, Ireland and Australia. 

I will also be publishing full length books on the most popular topics in this blog, The Daily Fugue which I have kept for over two years now. By far the most popular post has been my story on Sex, Art and the Inner World: Women Artists Reclaiming their Creative Birthright. Featuring Australian, British and international contemporary women artists whom I have interviewed and written about, here in this blog, and in some cases in articles published in arts periodicals and peer reviewed journal. These include Tracey Emin, Diane Mantzaris, Fiona Foley, Del Kathryn Barton, and more.

So going by the popularity of this article there is a worldwide interest in this timely topic. I am working on this publication now. Progress details will be posted including updates on the artists works and exhibitions. 

More information on FuguEditions soon.

All the best,


The Writer’s Fugue: Journey into Indie Academic Arts Publishing

The Writer’s Fugue: A Journey into Indie Academic Arts Independent Publishing
 by Ruth Skilbeck, PhD

Dear Readers,

It has been a while since last I wrote, and longer since I wrote regularly of my search to find my motherline, and of my adventures as a commuting part-time-elevated-from casual-lecturer, at universities in Sydney to the northern city of Newcastle of New South Wales. Why the silence? I have been busy working on plans for a new writing and publishing venture, which I have made hints about, in the course of the blog, though not sure when I was writing then what form these ideas and research into online and new publishing would take.
Some of you will know that I have been writing a five fugue novel series, with series title Australian Fugue. The latest of the books in the series is about how I found my mother-line, and tells the story of my mother’s family’s secret past. In the book I reveal the secret I have uncovered.
Some of my readers will know that I researched and wrote my PhD in creative writing and cultural studies (literature and philosophy in old disciplines) – on The Writer’s Fugue: Musicalization, Trauma and Subjectivity in the Literature of Modernity (that was awarded by UTS-Sydney in 2007). I have continued to publish my essays and articles in the arts press and academic journals – and my work appears in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies; The International Journal of the Arts in Society; The Journal of the Motherhood Initiative; Pacific Journalism Review, The International Journal of the Image (in press). But I hesitated over where and how to try to publish my books – as book publishing is changing so rapidly by the day it seems, I have not been sure what was the best way to try to publish.

I have been extensively researching the options for academic and creative writing book publishing. It seems to me that the most interesting and innovative things are happening in the areas of author-publishing, not self-publishing in the old mode of ‘vanity publishing’ but instead authors starting up their own publishing imprints and houses, to publish their own works, and promote these online. The term is ‘indie authors’ and an industry has rapidly grown up around this new form of publishing, as indie authors hire and manage teams of editors, book designers, website designers, to help them make their books, and promote them to readers around the world.  Many have heard of the successes of some best-selling fiction authors who have done this, such as J.F. Penn, historical fiction author,  Libby Fischer Helmann, best selling crime writer  and recent successes widely reported in mainstream media of E.L James author of erotic fiction Fifty Shades of Grey, recently made into a feature film, and many others writing in new and hybrid and traditional genres, and in literary fiction. Increasingly indie authors are negotiating deals with major commercial publishing companies- though some choose not to, and a new trend is best selling and successful authors moving into indie publishing so they can have more control over their books and works. Indie authors now regularly are found in the bestselling author lists, and many have huge audiences around the world that they connect with through the conversational modes of social media, and through the new ebook and book distribution platforms such as Amazon, Google, Goodreads (more on these in future posts). Now indie authors are able to publish ebooks and to make beautifully designed books of their works available through platforms such as Smashwords As the number of readers using ereaders, is growing around the world, the distinctions between indie authors own imprints and the imprints of commercial publishing companies had blurred, with many readers even preferring to read works by indie authors- to see what they are doing and how they are doing it.
In my research, I have found out that many commercial and large publishers will not now take on new authors unless they are independently published, and have already established their own readerships.
What I am interested in doing, and am going to be trying out, as well as publishing creative wriitng is publishing academic works.
So far, I have not come across any academic authors who have published in this way.

My first book publication will be The Writer’s Fugue, my redesigned PhD. It’s been up for a while as a virtual presence on Google though I didn’t put it up there, and don't know who did, and its page numbers are overestimated, in reality it is closer to 280 pages, not the 556 that some unknown agent has recorded. It is up there on the internet as a ghostly presence and I will soon be replacing it with the real thing. An ebook and book, with a proper cover designed by myself, rather than the absence that currently marks the place. Though it serves the purpose of a prompt and reminder that I must not waste any more time!
Already I have encountered a number of challenges to do with publishing a PhD as a book as an indie author, or independent author, to give this more gravitas.

I will discuss these challenges, and share my progress in publishing my first book The Writer’s Fugue, and how I am addressing these challenges in my coming blog posts. Meanwhile I am starting up my own publishing house, and imprint, and will reveal that here soon.

From now on I will be using my blog to share my progress in independent publishing, and you can expect daily posts on news and views on my research and experiences in the processes of creative indie publishing, and independent academic publishing.  I am trialing daily posts, and will do this over the next few weeks – anticipated time frame. This will focus on my first publishing venture The Writer’s Fugue, published as a book, that I will write about in the Daily Fugue.

I will be sharing the information I have researched for readers and writers and artists- like myself, and hope that it will be useful to you.

Happy writing and reading, and all the best,


Comments and contributions to the topic discussions are very welcome.
You can post these on the blog, in the space below.

Sites mentioned in this post:

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Writer's Fugue book publication and Modern Soundscapes conference

Later this week, I am presenting a paper based on my forthcoming book, The Writer’s Fugue, at the Modern Soundscapes annual conference of the Australasian Association of Literature, 10-13 July 2013, at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney.

Below is the abstract of my paper. I will post details of The Writer’s Fugue, forthcoming ebook and book publication, soon.

Beyond ‘Querelle des Bouffons’: ‘Pre-modern melody’ and ‘new Western harmony’ in discourses of modern ‘subjects’ and literary subjectivity

By Ruth Skilbeck

In the mid-Eighteenth century in Paris a noisy dispute over the social significance of sound erupted between philosophers, Rousseau and Rameau.
The politicized aesthetic conflict emerged in 1752, following the arrival of an Italian opera company in Paris. It divided the city into support for Italian opera- based on melody, and French based on the principles of new western harmony, that is on rules and conventions. The Italian style, supported by Rousseau was seen as symbolizing free artistic expression- of emotion and affect. The French style was seen to symbolize appearance, and the following of rules and conventions. The loud argument reached such a pitch it became known as the Querelle des Bouffons. Yet the real significance of the philosophical argument on the brink of industrialised modernity was far wider than personal musical preference. Later philosophers such as Adorno have commented.  He suggests the sound of new western harmony epitomized in symphonic music – is the sound of many voices subsumed into one homogenous whole beneath the direction of a single conductor- and modern “subjects” are subjugated in this symbolical order. Yet at the same time, melody and its call to individual voices, freedom of expression and emotion, has endured in modernity and is articulated in modern literary subjectivity – in poetic writings that draw on deep pre- semiotic rhythms and sounds (Kristeva 1981). This paper will focus on how melody has endured in modern literary subjectivity, how it has been theorized by critics such as Bakhtin, Kristeva, and Said, and artistically expressed in literary practice with examples of modern poetic “fugue” writings by de Quincy, Proust, Joyce, Celan and Plath. Using examples of theory and practice, the paper will discuss how, in subliminal counterpoint to “new western harmony”, melody that is deep in our being as breathing and heart beats, has continued to resonate in poetic form and artistic expressions of subjectivity, throughout modernity.

Dr Ruth Skilbeck is an independent author, artist and scholar. She wrote her PhD, taken through the University of Technology Sydney, on The Writer’s Fugue: Musicalization, Trauma and Subjectivity in the Literature of Modernity (2006)

Modern Soundscapes
Annual Conference of the Australasian Association of Literature held in conjunction with the Centre for Modernism Studies in Australia
University of New South Wales July 10 -13, 2013

What is a modern soundscape?
This conference aims to address this question by drawing together researchers engaged with the history and theory of sound and noise from the fields of literature, film, and media studies, as well as architecture, music and the visual arts to consider the multiple soundscapes that have shaped and continue to shape the history of modernity. Jonathan Sterne contends that dating from around 1725 ‘sound itself’ becomes ‘an object and a domain of thought and practice, where it had previously been conceptualized in terms of particular idealized instances like voice or music’. This historical claim challenges the assumption that modern culture is essentially a visual culture, substituting the ear for the eye, and creating a space for a new sonic history of modernity to be written, theorized and contested. Thinking through sound has long been a literary preoccupation. Reflecting on the potential of the “auditory imagination” T.S.Eliot wrote, it “is the feeling for syllable and rhythm, penetrating far below the conscious levels of thought and feeling, invigorating every word; sinking to the primitive and forgotten, returning to the origin and bringing something back, seeking the beginning and the end. It works through meanings, certainly, or not without meanings in the ordinary sense, and fuses the old and obliterated and the trite, the current, and the new and surprising, the most ancient and civilized mentality.”
Thinking through the resonant opening created by poetic form Eliot imagines potential creative fusions that cut across space, time, culture and forms. Taking inspiration from Eliot’s expansive vision, we invite papers that engage with sound as a catalyst for thought, critical and creative practice, and historical reconsiderations of modern soundscapes from the eighteenth century to the present.