Monday, 31 August 2009


I've been playing about with IGoogle to create my new homepage. Quite fun but like a lot of other things I could spend hours playing with it each day and not achieving anything.

What I like though are the elements of it that you can create as random. It's always easy to say that I'm not interested in certain things when the honest answer is that I don't always try them out. So the more random influences swim into my vision, the more likely I am to enlarge my interests and widen my knowledge.

Years ago I remember the jazz singer Cleo Laine saying in a radio interview that she didn't like olives but every so often she tried them again in case she'd changed her mind in the meantime.

Since she's still enthusiastic and lively at 80 her mind is definitely not closed to new influences.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Bookthrift Bookshop in Ashbourne

As usual on my trips out I look for independent bookshops. I've been in Bookthrift several times and always found them helpful and with an interesting range of books.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Tissisngton Hall

Enjoyed a day out at Tissington Hall in Derbyshire. Privately owned in a small village famous for well dressings.

The room I liked the best was the library. Not just because of the books most of which were collected many years ago but because it was a room I could imagine spending many hours in. It felt comfortable with window seats, which I've always wanted and never had.

New to me about the family - Alleyne Fitzherbert, diplomat and traveller took his title St Helens from the family house in Derby and Mount St Helens in America is named after him.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Inspirational quotes

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful
servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has
forgotten the gift."
~Albert Einstein

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Enterprising Women event Nottingham

Annual dinner of Enterprising Women to be held 8 September 2009. For more information call Derbyshire and Notts Chamber of Commerce on 01132 851 280.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Inspirational quote

"People are where they are because that's exactly where
they really want to be...whether they'll admit that or not."
~Earl Nightingale

Thursday, 20 August 2009

International PEN: support for writers to promote freedom of expression International PEN was founded in London in 1921 by Mrs. C.A. Dawson Scott. Its first president was John Galsworthy.

It's an acronym they chose for the group after someone pointed out that the words for 'Poet,' for 'Essayist,' and for 'Novelist' in most European languages have the same initial letter (P-E-N).

'In time of division between countries, International PEN is one of the rare institutions to keep a bridge constantly open' Mario Vargas Llosa

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Inspirational quotes for writers

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long
and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones
which open for us."
~Alexander Graham Bell

Monday, 17 August 2009

Bookshops:alive and well in Shrewsbury

Since seeing all those bookshops on my visit to Palma, I'm more consciously checking out bookshops when I go around the country.

A trip to Shrewsbury on Saturday (Flower Show and a look at the town) produced 3 that I saw, apart from the usual book chains.

And a bus trip to Buxton last week took me past the shop that calls itself the biggest bookshop in Derbyshire.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Effective Writing for the Web(No Nonsense Guides)

Announcing the publication of the first No Nonsense Guide Series established by my colleague Kirsty Farrelly of the Open Book Agency.

Because of the challenges her clients have faced in producing words to go on their websites, Kirsty has prodded me into producing this No Nonsense Guide.

What it contains:
  1. An easy 1,2,3 step method of thinking what you need to write to attract visitors.
  2. A structured way of writing text that will work not only for your website but also for other forms of online and offline communication with your clients.
  3. Strategies and tips to help you at each stage of the process that takes you from no words to ones that speak to your clients about what you can achieve for them.

The No Nonsense Guide to Effective Writing for the Web is a basic guide that takes all the fear out of writing for you.

Whether you're a beginner who doesn't know where to begin, or a more experienced writer who's got stuck, this book will move you on to writing effective and results driven words.

For more information go to INSERT WEBSITE ADDRESS

Monday, 10 August 2009

Anthony Trollope novels

It's probably unfashionable to say I enjoy reading Anthony Trollope. His style of writing isn't to everyone's taste but I find it full of sharp observation on human nature.

I've just read Rachel Ray - the story of a girl falling in love and sticking to her love despite opposition and the possible desertion by her lover. When they showed all the Palliser Series on television I raced through the books because I found them enthralling... and with regard to the political shenanigans, not much different from today's politicians.

Thinking about this blog I found a great site run by the Trollope Society.

What astounded me even before I wrote for a living was how disciplined Trollope was, writing for 3 hours before breakfast and going to work and completing all his books while working for the Post Office. That's definitely a rebuke to all would be writers who can't or won't find the time to write.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Inspirational quotes

'Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.'
~Chinese Proverb

Inspirational quotes

"When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly. "

-Edward Teller

Thursday, 6 August 2009

What is dumbing down in music? Part 2

Following on from my post about the Cadogan Hall, I heard about Charles Hazlewood's Play the Field festival to be held on August 29 2009 at his farm near Glastonbury. He has an article in Guardian Online about the need of musicians to engage with the audience and not believe that the audience is secondary in the equation of music, performer and listener.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Stanley Middleton -novelist of the heart

It was sad to hear recently of the death of Stanley Middleton one of my favourite novelists. I loved his novels, though superficially nothing much happened in them.

Like Jane Austen though, he found enough in the events of daily life to construct stories about real people. People who cared, hurt and resolved the situations they found themselves in. His novels were always so well constructed though never tied up in neat endings. Life isn't neat and people don't always behave to plan.

It's a loss to think that there are no more of his unassuming but wise books to look forward to.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

What's dumbing down in music?

Went to a concert at the Cadogan Hall featuring the Belcea Quartet. Very inspirational though I had to work at understanding some of the music.

The audience was what you might expect typically of a classical concert. Older, middle class and traditional. Behind me were a couple talking about the music now being performed at the Cadogan, which includes jazz and Rodgers and Hart. According to the woman speaking that meant that the Cadogan were 'dumbing down' to fill the place.

My instinct was to turn round and protest about Rodgers and Hart being less a work of art than the Britten quartet we listened to. Anyone who can encapsulate human emotion that captures the imagination and love of the listening public in the way Rodgers and Hart did in a 3 minute song can never be accused of 'dumbing down'.

No less than the match of the words and music in a Schubert song, a 'popular' song such as My Funny Valentine has wit, sophistication and real understanding of those quirky attributes that tie us to the ones we love.

'Dumbing down' Huh!

Monday, 3 August 2009

How to become the next J K Rowling

Today I received and email from a business colleague about a friend of his who is writing the next 'J K' success. He wanted to know what to do next.

My first thought was 'Oh no'. How do I inject some basic commonsense into this. I'm the first to encourage anyone to have a go at writing but I know from my own efforts that the first few pieces are often derivative.

It's a natural stage to go through and none the worse for that but we do need to go on from writing like someone else to writing like ourselves. In the long term that's what will work for us and what will give us the most satisfaction. I know that if I were trying to write like somebody else, I'd never know if it my own writing that was successful, or the writer I was copying.

My advice to anyone is the same regardless of what they are writing. Look at the market and understand it to see where or how you can fit in. Unfortunately, that's how most of us will be viewed by agents and publishers.

The true original will always rise to the surface because of the power of their writing. But we need to understand the reasons for rejection and deal with them. Sometimes they are nothing to do with our competence as writers, but more with the needs of publishers.

Here are two websites that are excellent sources of information for writers.

If you have the urge to write, then giving up shouldn't be an option. But I believe in giving yourself the best chance possible so arming yourself with skill and information is always a good thing.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Writing for the media

At a recent networking event, I listened to 2 journalists, one ex BBC and one current on the Working Lunch business programme. They were talking about what it takes for businesses to be featured in the media.

I thought it might be useful to summarise some of what they said.
  1. It's about the audience. Just as any business writing should be targeted to the audience's needs, so is any media coverage.
  2. Be interesting and most important. . . understandable.
  3. If you can't write the introduction to the story in a couple of sentences then it's a rubbish story. Like writing a clear, crisp elevator speech that reaches the heart of what you can offer people.
  4. What's the connection? To current events, what people need and how you can help them.
  5. Think about where is best for your idea/information to be seen. Many people think about only the top programmes and media. You might have faster coverage in industry magazines than in national newspapers.
  6. Journalists are now more prepared to use PR releases as they stand because there are fewer staff in newsrooms.
  7. Weekly newspapers are now in effect daily newspapers because of their online versions so are looking for more content all the time.
  8. And last but definitely not least, be passionate about what you have to offer. Enthusiasm sells faster than formal pieces.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Magic moments

'The clounds above us join and separate,
The breeze in the courtyard leaves and returns,
Life is like that, so why not relax?
Who can stop us from celebrating?

Lu Yu