Cover Stories: McCall Smith's premiere; Laureate's doctorate; self-publishing help

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* The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency will reach our television screens at Easter, and last week the Scottish book trade had a preview of Anthony Minghella's drama, featuring Jill Scott as Mma Ramotswe. Author Alexander McCall Smith revealed that some of the proceeds from sales of 15 million copies of his series will support Botswana's first opera house. The 60-seater theatre will be on the site of a former garage which features in the film as Speedy Motors, where Mma's great admirer, JLB Matekoni, plies his trade. Meanwhile, McCall Smith's own opera, Dream Angus, has just been premiered. He wrote the libretto, Stephen Deazley the music. Others in the series of short works for Scottish Opera include Gesualdo, which teams Ian Rankin with Craig Armstrong in a story of renaissance murder, and The King's Conjecture by Bernard MacLaverty and Gareth Williams.

* Children's literature has been in the spotlight this week, with Dame Jackie (Wilson) commenting on children growing up too fast and the child-centric activities of yesterday's World Book Day. So it's good news that Britain's first Children's Laureate, author and illustrator Quentin Blake, enjoyed some limelight when London's Institute of Education gave him an honorary doctorate for outstanding achievements in education.

* YouWriteOn, theArts Council-sponsored site for writers, has formed a partnership with indie publisher Legend Press to offer packages for writers seeking to self-publish. There are three levels, Basic, Advanced and Premier, covering everything from editing and text-setting to cover design and book registration, with sales and marketing packs tailored to individual needs. Launched on 29 February, the initiative is designed to encourage serious would-be authors to "take a leap". More information from: