Saturday, 28 February 2009

Recommended reads

Today's choice is:
The Road Home by Rose Tremain

It's the story of Lev, an east European immigrant to the UK. At the beginning of the story he is travelling to London by coach to earn enough money to ensure a good future for his mother and daughter. His wife has died from leukaemia and he's lost his job at a local sawmill.

After a rocky start he finds somewhere to live with an Irish landlord who has a drink problem and a job in a trendy restaurant. Despite some personal crises he eventually helps his landlord overcome the drink problem and work himself into the good books of his boss.

Throughout the book he has to deal with the pull of home while sending money back and you just know that he'll have to go back eventually. But what will he achieve before he does so?

Rose Tremain paints a believable picture of England today and shows how difficult life for even legal immigrants is.

Won the Orange Prize for Women's Fiction in 2008

Joan Kosai, proofreader

Friday, 27 February 2009

James Michener on editing

"I find that three or four readings are required to comb out the cliches, line up pronouns with their antecedents, and insure agreement in number between subject and verbs. My connectives, my clauses, my subsidiary phrases don't come naturally to me and I'm very prone to repetition of words; so I never even write an important letter in the first draft. I can never recall anything of mine that's ever been printed in less than three drafts.

You write that first draft really to see how it's going to come out."

James A Michener

Wacky Words


How wonderful to be able to say this to someone when they're concocting a mad scheme. You really are omadhaun.

Or Foolish according to the C19th Irish.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Writing - will yours win the Oscar?

Today's guest article is from Babu Basu again

A guide to award winning writing.

And the Oscar goes to...

Time is short. People are busy. Our duty as writers is to produce work worthy of peoples’ time.

To many, writing is an unfathomable black art. It allows the world a glimpse into your soul. If people reject your writing, they are rejecting you (or so we believe). Professional writers know they can’t please all the people, all of the time, but by ‘eck, they’ll give it a try.

I’d like to thank...

Like actors, writers are prone to ego, self doubt and fear. Even the best writers are plagued by questions. “Will they like it?” “Will they understand it?” “Will they think I’ve lost my mind?”

Is your writing creation worthy of an Oscar or is right for a Raspberry?

Here are six things to consider.


Who you write for should determine tone, content and style. Assume the audience is intelligent with no specialist knowledge. Explain terminology and keep prose short and to the point. A dash of humour may work for most people and most situations.


Research should be thorough and varied. Numerous sources boost your understanding, creativity and credibility.

Passion + Balance

Engaging and powerful work has passion and a clear sense of direction. However, writing needs to be balanced otherwise it deserves to be dismissed by the reader.

Humanity + Honesty

Finally, never forget humanity and candour. Honesty will grab the reader’s attention, empathy will have them coming back for more.

See you on the red carpet.


Inspirational quotes for writers

“There's only one person who needs a glass of water oftener than a small child tucked in for the night, and that's a writer sitting down to write.” ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Wacky words

Here's this week's wacky word


I met this one first in H G Wells History of Mr Polly - one of my all time favourite books.

Means appropriately enough - long winded!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Writer's Little Book Club -Chocolate corner

I love chocolate. Well to be exact I love dark chocolate and my family and friends often buy me chocolate for birthdays and Christmas.

And I'm always on the look out for bargains because high percentage cocoa chocolate tends to be more expensive.
So imagine my surprise lately when I found a real bargain very close to home. Near us we have a branch of Home Bargains - one of those strange shops where you're never quite sure what you'll find there.

Sometime I go in there for 10p packets of crisps. Yes you read that correctly, 10p. They have enough in to satisfy the craving I get for salt sometimes.

And they have chocolate in there. But usually the low cocoa, high fat chocolate like Dairy Milk. Imagine my surprise when I found the other day some 75% cocoa content orange chocolate for 29p - only 40 gm to be sure but more than enough to satisfy an after lunch craving.

What's happened now though is that I go in and buy 5 bars at a time - telling myself that I'll save the bars to eat over a period. Do I? You've guessed it - of course I don't. So now I've banned myself from the shop for a week while I recover my chocolate sanity.

Writing Wizardry

Writing Wizardry

You know how lawyers and accountants always hate networking because people always want free advice from them. Or doctors being shown bumps and lumps at dinner parties.

Well I'm different because I love it when people come to talk to me about writing. You see that gives me clues all the time about what writers find challenging, or difficult. Which leads my brain to ask the question how do we at the Writer's Little Book Club help them to overcome that obstacle.

We've already started Babu at the Bar where my colleague Babu Basu does a video session about emails we've received. Obviously we can't answer too many in that format so I thought I'd start a blog thread about writing challenges.

My great niece has recently been enrolled into the Puffin Club by her grandmother to encourage her to read. Not that she really needs much encouragement in our family because we're all great readers.

I'd love it if we can make The Writer's Little Book Club as much fun as the Puffin Club. So I thought you might like this tip for a very common writing challenge that faces us all at one time or another.

We all get stuck, bogged down and at a loss for words sometimes. But when it goes on, sometimes it takes a bit of a blast to lever us out.

How about using this tip - If being stuck with your writing was an animal what would it be?

The first time I tried that out, I came up with a rhinoceros standing on the path in front of me. Whoa I thought. So then my solution was definitely not to take it on! Instead I slid away from it - in writing terms I stopped trying to tackle the block head on and started to creep around the edge of the project instead. Did a part of it that was almost a copy and paste job.

And you know what - it worked - never thought it would but in my next writing session, the problem I'd seen with the writing just had disappeared and the words flowed.

Try it if you like - see what it does for you.

Carl Jung quote

"The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases."

Carl Jung

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Writer's Little Book Club and Words For You

What's the difference between the Writer's Little Book Club and Words For You.

I've had one or two people ask me so I thought I'd explain.

Words For You

Words For You is my writing business which I've been running over six years now. If you head over to you can see more about that side of what I do.

Writer's Little Book Club

Writer's Little Book Club came out of the work I did last year for some of my clients, helping them with various stages of the writing process. My first 'book client' so to speak was Becky Shaw whose book "Wonderfully Strange" about her experiences of the mental health system is due out any time now.

After I'd worked with her, I was asked to put on a workshop for 3 people who all wanted to write but hadn't got very far down the road. They enjoyed the workshop so much that they egged me on to put it into book format. Which is what I've done.

So the first book is out; Writer's Little Book... with Big Ideas.

This is intended to help you get going if you're stuck for inspiration, push you on if you're suffering from writer's block and show you all the different parts of the process.

Because the group of us who got together to write the book have such a wealth of experience, and love reading, writing and selling books, we decided to form the Writer's Little Book Club. My daft idea is to make it like a Puffin Club for adults with all sorts of training, activities and support.

We're still canvassing ideas from readers of the book so keep coming back to the site, to find out what we've added.

We look forward to being in contact at some point. We're intending to push all the training through the Club so join up - it's free.

We planning to have some fun with it while being very serious about helping you advance your writing.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Recommended reads

I've had a lifelong interest in perfumes but over recent years have stuck to only one or two because I couldn't find others I liked.

After receiving this book at Christmas, I'm now on the hunt again for more wonderful scents.

Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, Perfumes,2008.

If you're interested in perfume or smell in general, you'll never think about it in the same way again after reading this. It's a lot of fun.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Writers' Workshops - how to write a book proposal

Advance notice of the workshop we'll be running at the Writer's Little Book Club in April.

This will be a practical 3 hour intensive get your hands dirty course for those who are serious about having a book that sells.

Come if you want to understand:

  • how publishers and literary agents think about book proposals

  • what you need to include

  • how you can give yourself the best possible chance

Register your interest at

Course will be led by Eileen Parr and Kirsty Farrelly

Writing quotes - inspiration

"The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas."

Linus Pauling

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Writers' workshops, Nottingham - how to research your market

Advance notice of a workshop we're holding in April

How To Research The Market for your Book

This is a practical look at researching your market. Part of the workshop will take place in a leading bookshop in Nottingham. It will be led by a veteran of the book retailing trade Kirsty Farrelly who will give you the inside scoop on how publishers and booksellers look at books.

It's for writers who are serious about their book and want to see it published.

To register your interest go to

Wacky words

Sometimes you come across words that just make you laugh. This is one I found recently


It's a great one to astound someone with isn't it. Means the habit or action of estimating something as worthless

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Rewriting for writers: when it's necessary

Would be writers often get very hot under the collar about changing their text. Especially if they've sweated over it for a while. So it's always encouraging then to hear about writers we might revere who have struggled like us.

I was reading an article in the Guardian at the weekend, taken originally from The New Yorker about Norman Mailer and his struggles with one of his books.

In a letter to his editor, he talks about knowing that there are parts of the book he describes as 'dead places' and needing attention.

It's his intention to clean up those parts and he's very firm about it. In a humble way I agree with him. No matter what text you write, there are very few times that it can't be improved, sharpened and re-focused.

But to do that you need a bit of distance from writing it and then put on another hat to become that editor who can quite firmly tell you to lose part of what you've written and the whole thing will stand out clearer and sparkle more.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Inspirational quotes for writers 18 February 2009

"Everyone walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any."

Orson Scott Card
Author of Ender's Game

Writers' block - 3 tips on how to banish it

Today we have a guest post from another member of the team. Babu Basu is a professional writer for business, with a background in business and a talent for writing comedy. He tackles the challenge that lurks in wait for all us writers. What happens when the words won't come.

Getting in the mood to write

Even the most prolific writers are besieged by writer's block or the overwhelming feeling of, "I really can't be bothered."

Fear Not My Friends - here are 3 tips to banish the fiend.
  1. Step away from the keyboard.

It may sound crazy, but sometimes the best way to get creative is to stop being creative.

Distract yourself with washing, ironing, tidying up, absolutely anything. Whilst you're off doing something productive, your subconscious mind kicks in. Before you know it, the answers you're looking for will present themselves to you.

2 Be passionate and get that goat.

Write about what riles you. What gets your goat or inspires your soul? Writer about what moves or frustrates you and I promise, the words will come flowing out.

3. Make mistakes.

If you're scared to write because of grotesque grammar or spurious spelling, give yourself a break. We all make mistakes! And if you need it, a good editor can even out your errors and clarify your message.

Happy writings


Erewash Partnership event Long Eaton 12 February 2009

Had a great time at the Erewash Partnership event on 12th February in Long Eaton on Thursday. Been so busy since I haven't had time to blog about it.

Met lots of local business owners, The Mayor of Erewash, Cllr Barbara Harrison, and sold some books. Including to The Mayor. Thank you for the support Cllr Harrison.

The book display created interest - I was well placed for people walking backwards and forwards to the buffet. So if we didn't catch them on their way to lunch, we caught them on the way back.

Babu Basu, one of the Writers Little Book Club team was with me and we have a fantastic photo of us with the Mayor, and the book of course, which we'll be posting on the website,

It's fun going out to talk to people about the book. It stimulates a variety of conversations and nearly everybody wants or knows someone else who wants to write a book.

Of course I think that anyone in business should think about it as a way of rasing their profile. These days there are so many ways on and offline to promote it. Digital printing makes producing it a doddle compared to years ago and it doesn't have to be a weighty tome.

Small, to the point and on one topic is what Seth Godin advises and if it works for him, who are we to argue.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

How to get started as a writer

Whenever I talk to people about writing they always ask me how I got started. Most of them assume that I've done it all my life.

In fact I started my writing business 6 years ago when I was looking for something to take me into a retirement career. If that sounds a little odd, a retirement career I mean, I guess I'd better explain it. I wanted something that I could carry on doing, that I could do at home, and that I could make money from.

I don't know about you but I'm not that keen on a starving writer in a garret scenario. So where did I go to learn? Well whenever I try to learn something new then I look for people who are already successfully doing what it is I want to do. Then learn how they do it.

Because I wanted to write for businesses inititally I ended up with a correspondence course from American Writers and Artists Institute. And boy did I receive a shock when the course arrived.

This was a serious, down and dirty and hands on course. At first I was put off by some of the language. You know that Americans are more in your face than we are.

Then I realised, thank goodness that what they were offering me was priceless because if I could master what they were teaching me, I could write anything. Up to and including books. So I knuckled down and did my homework, my assignments and finished the course.

After that I took myself off to Florida to one of their workshops, or bootcamps as they called it. And they worked us hard for 3 days. But being in the room with so many other writers was such a buzz. And it showed me that it didn't matter what you looked like, where you were from, how old you were, writing as a career was open to you. If you had the will and the determination to succeed.

I met some great people there, some of whom I'm still in touch with. And there were some good speakers. Plus I still follow newsletters and updates from AWAI and their colleagues.

If you want a good resource for writing then I thoroughly recommend them. Reading their material teaches you the structure of good sales writing and even if you want to write novels, it shows you how to write strong prose.

I've recommended this material over on my Words For You blog which is my writing business website, but I'll repeat it here.

Early To Rise is a daily update about writing, sales, marketing and all sorts of other things. Of course it offers things to buy, but read it with an eye to the writing, as well as the marketing tips.

Copywriters Roundtable is a fortnightly email from one of the speakers at the Bootcamp. I like it because John Forde is a great communicator, funny and with a very open mind. His latest email received this morning includes 25 random things about his readers.

Whatever you want to write, you should be reading across a wide range of things including marketing material. If you're putting in the effort to write a book, then surely you want it to have an effect out in the world. If so, then learn how to make your book count.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Writing for those who don't read

I was reading the Guardian weekend paper yesterday and came across an interesting statistic. That 96% of all published books do not appear as audio books.

That started me thinking. Because having just launched my Writer's Little Book... with BIG IDEAS I had already considered supplying audio and video versions of some of the training we're going to be doing for the Writer's Little Book Club.

Not being very technical I don't keep up with all the gadgets out there on the market. But I have recorded CDs in the past and I know that using a professional studio is not that expensive these days. So I shall start to think more seriously about this untapped market.

Since I believe that if you have the will to write a book, then the means can be found no matter what the challenges. I've worked with dyslexics, I've worked with people with mental health problems and with people who don't especially enjoy writing. Some of the latter don't like writing because they're more image based and some because they have hang ups from school. Not being able to spell shouldn't be a handicap these days.

And there are many people in business, trainers in particular who shouldn't even consider putting pen to paper, or fingers on keyboards.

That's because they are much more vibrant when they're speaking. So I always recommend to them to record what they want to say.

I'm going to discuss this whole topic with my team and see what we can produce. Doing it the audio way will be much faster than going to print. Even when you have digital printing.

I'll let you know what we decide and if you have any c omments, then let us know.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Writer's Little Book... with BIG IDEAS - post launch

28 would be writers all gathered together in one room.

What a fanstastic feeling with all the creative energy. Plus some of them were also designers, theatre people and trainers. And I've had some very supportive messages since the event.

Which is always good. But what I want is to know how they're progressing using the book.

How many of those in the room will have finished books by the end of this year? Not counting my team of course because I assume that they all will finish their books.

I'd like to think that at least 5 will have some solid results to show. My first author Becky Shaw is about to launch her book Wonderfully Strange. Since we started on her book this time last year, then based on her progress I expect there to be 5 who've made progress close to finishing.

If you can write 1,000 words a day, then in only 2 months you can have the first draft of a 60,000 word book completed.

My team has been a fantastic support to me so I want to point you in their direction as well as telling you how to secure their support as part of my team.

Sharon Roberts - for motivational and presentational training, plus business development.

Babu Basu - for comic writing in and out of business

Kirsty Farrelly - for web trouble shooting and book design and selling.

and of course I musn't forget our great photographer Ed Jasion

Sorry if you couldn't get to the launch - you'd have loved the energy in the room. But make sure you sign up to the free Writer's Little Book Club - that way you can be part of a community and gain support and encouragement for your own writing.