Saturday, 30 October 2010

Broxtowe Business Womens Network

Next event
9th November 5.30-8.30pm
Eastwood Hall, NG16 3SS
Cost to attend: £10
Stand Opportunity: £15

For more information call: Stephanie Wilkinson
Economic Development Officer  0115 917 7777 x 3989

Friday, 29 October 2010

Nottingham Trent University ART Future Factory seminars

Have you come across Future Factory seminars?   These are free for businesses in the East Midlands.  I've been to a couple and found the mix of attendees interesting and topics relevant to me as a writer trying to understand the current marketplace.

Forever Together? – Why customers throw away your products given by Professor Tim Cooper

Wednesday 17 November 2010, 12:00noon to 5pm
Nottingham Trent University City Campus

To secure your place please contact Angela Scott in the Future Factory office on 0115 848 8675, or email:

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Writing and muscle strain

How well do you take care of yourself as a writer?

I ask the question only because I'm prompted by a morning spent paying attention to my body.

Here I have to declare an interest.  For 14 years I worked for part of my time at least as a complementary therapist and dealt with a string of people presenting various aches and pains, physical and emotional.

None of them were writers.  Or at least I don't think so, though they may have been keeping it quiet....

just like I was at that time.

But many of them were computer users which led to all kinds of knots in the muscles.

Do you use a computer for your writing?  Or are you a pen and paper lover?

Doesn't matter whichever you favour.  You'll still have shoulder and neck problems... though use of the mouse can outbid the pencil every time.

I'm confident in knowing you're likely to suffer these problems, simply because of my experience.  And your age has nothing to do with it.  Use of large rucksacks for schoolbooks is resulting in a generation of young people already at risk of muscle strain.

Now I'm not here to nag you - well I'd like to but again from experience it's probably a waste of time.  So I'll hold up my hand to say I'm as guilty as anyone about abusing my hardworking muscles but can I at least enter a plea on your muscles' behalf.

Give them some TLC from time to time.  We know about the dangers of eyestrain and all those tiny muscles around the eyes get their own back by producing you a 5* headache when you least need it.

All your muscles ask is an occasional stretch, a bit of a rub down and some rest.  Learn a bit about how you can help them and they'll carry on performing wonders for you... as they do everyday without you realising it.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Nottingham Folk Industry Day 2010

19 November, Nottingham

Join an action-packed and thought-provoking day of keynote speeches, workshops, presentations, discussion, showcase performance and debate across three strands. For more information and to book:

Monday, 18 October 2010

Jenny Swann talks about how she came to start Candlestick Press

Jenny where did the idea come from for the press?

I set up Candlestick Press in 2008 with the aim of broadening out the readership of poetry – I love (good) poetry, and I couldn’t believe that I was in such a small minority. So the idea was to find a way to bring poetry back into the swing of everyday life.

How did you come up with your concept of 'Instead of a Card'?

Lots of different factors conspired to bring together the ‘Instead of a Card’ poetry pamphlet. I had been working as poetry editor for another Nottingham publisher, Five Leaves Publications, and had seen a couple of poetry pamphlets through the presses… and fallen in love with them. There is something about poetry pamphlets, as opposed to full collections, that is so gorgeous – they feel nice, they make a great introduction to a poet you don’t know, without hitting you over the head with more than you really wanted at a first sitting.

And you can wander around with them tucked neatly into a pocket or a bag – for whatever reasons, I feel a great attachment to them as a vehicle for conveying poetry along with pleasure, delight, curiosity.

How do you use the idea to encourage people to have a go at poetry?
By packaging up our pamphlets with an envelope and bookmark, we found a way of encouraging people to buy poetry pamphlets – namely, as an alternative to the more mainstream greetings cards. Hence, for instance, we published ‘Ten Poems about Love’, knowing that most of our friends and acquaintances would much prefer to be given that for Valentine’s Day than another schmaltzy, over-priced card.

What developments have taken place this year for Candlestick Press?

So – that is the background to the Press. The foreground is that earlier this year, I teamed up with Di Slaney and we are now jointly running the Press. She is a woman after my own heart – someone who can add up, knows one end of a spreadsheet from the other, and keeps hens. Really, I couldn’t have asked for more in a business partner.

What are you currently working on?
As we approach Christmas, we are sending out frightening numbers (but nicely so! I love a little frisson of fear, myself) of our second Christmas poetry pamphlet, published in collaboration with the generous-spirited Carol Ann Duffy. She has agreed to select and introduce a Christmas poetry pamphlet with us for each of the ten Christmases that she is Poet Laureate.

(this is how I first met Candlestick Press, buying their 2009 Christmas collection Eileen)
And what's your next collection about?

Next February sees the publication of ‘Ten Poems about Tea’ with an introduction by Sophie Dahl (this was the brainchild of the Picador poet, Lorraine Mariner, who had been quietly collecting poems about tea for a couple of years).

So there’s never a dull day. And even if there were, it would be punctuated by cups of tea and poems!

Eileen's recommendation:
If you know someone who'd appreciate a Christmas card with a difference or you want to start a new tradition in your family, then head over to and do your Christmas shopping away from the scrum of the high street.
Thanks Jenny.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Why write a book?

Every author I've worked with, including myself, asks the question, 'why would people want to hear what I say?'

When I was talked into writing Writer's Little Book... with Big Ideas, I wondered about doing it.  Make no mistake, writing a book, however much you love writing, needs your determination and stamina.

So you might think, is it worth the effort?

Having done it and encouraged and helped others to do it I'd give you a resounding YES!

Well you might say, I would say that wouldn't I since I have  several books to sell.  (Thanks for reminding me of that and I'll give you the link to go and take a look).  But beyond that...

... stop for a moment and think. 

Of your life experience
Of your unique position in the world
Of your voice

Perhaps you're thinking, I'm not unique.  But you are because no other human being has ever stood in the place you are at this moment, looking at the world from your eyes.

Pretty spooky when you consider it like that isn't it?  I know it makes me think.

So even if you write on the same topic as 40 or 400 other writers, it's not going to come out exactly like anybody else.  Unless you copy word for word and we know that's not on.

Whenever I've started something new, a course of study, a new job, a new project, I've said to myself, 'If I can help someone else just one other person to deal with their life, make progress or find the courage to make a change,  then I'll be happy.'

Just one other person.  That's who you might reach with your book.  And you might be the only person who can reach them.

And if that's the case, what will happen to that person if you don't share what you know?

Whether you're going to lift their spirits, help them learn a new skill or open a door into a different way of life, that's what you're sharing.  Far beyond merely the words on the page.

If you have that book burning away inside of you, let it out.  Until you let it out you have no idea of its impact not only on others but on you.

Because the first person it will change is you.

And if you need help, head over to 

Friday, 15 October 2010


There's a great little poem into today's Writer's Almanac about punctuation.  If you've ever struggled like me to make your mind up, I think you'll enjoy this.

Nottingham Writers' Club: Sci-fi and Fantasy Workshop

Writing Sci-fi and Fantasy Workshop

16th October 2010 10:00 - 16:00

Steve Bowkett is an experienced teacher and author of over fifty books. The full day Sci-fi and Fantasy workshop is hosted by Nottingham Writers’ Club at the Nottingham Mechanics, 3 North Sherwood Street, Nottingham, NG1 4EZ. The cost is £10 which includes morning and afternoon tea and coffee.  Normal concessions also apply. For furher details visit or tel; 9817661.

Beeston International Poetry Festival, 16th - 28th October 2010

Beeston International Poetry Festival, which takes place between October 16th and 28th 2010 at various venues across Beeston, Nottingham.

Poets reading include Roy Fisher, Sarah Jackson, Vassilis Pavlides, Ernesto Priego, Andrew Sant, Michael Schmidt, Sheila Smith, Mahendra Solanki, Deborah Tyler-Bennett, and Gregory Woods.

The full schedule can be found at

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


15th October 2010 18:00 - 16th October 2010 17:00
Author talks, workshops, publishers, refreshments.

Speakers include the Nottinghamshire crime writers Stephen Booth, Chris Nickson and John Baird.


Mike Sharland – Literary Agent and Writer on over 600 TV shows.

Pete Davis – Founder of The Storytellers of Nottingham.

Jeremy Lewis – Editor, Nottinghamshire Today magazine.

Des Coleman – Presenter, Actor, Singer, Comic, Weatherman.

Catherine Cooper – Winner of the 2010 Brit Writers Award.

Bronwen Harrison – Composer of the original film score for 1066 The Movie.

Helen Hollick – Historical/Adventure novelist

Programme available

For further details email

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Lapse in blogging

When I signed on to blog this morning I was surprised and then felt guilty that I hadn't blogged since the 7th.  Now that's not a long time for some people on their blogs but I try to blog at least 5 times a week.

So since I'm always interested when people tell me they can't or won't blog, what stopped me?

I can put my hand up and say on a couple of days I thought, I'll do it later then ran out of time while chasing deadlines for clients.  One day, Saturday, I didn't switch on the computer at all; committed to friends in the morning then watching the Commonwealth Games in the afternoon..

Oh and because I try to make this wider than only my thoughts, I hadn't gathered any interesting information from anywhere to pass on.

I'm still trying to persuade someone to blog for me but for some reason she thinks it's technical and it's freaking her out.  She's another writer, an intelligent person but she seems to have this block about it.  I've long since got over that but still...

For me, there's no excuse so as my school reports told me for 7 years 'Eileen can do better'.

Speak again tomorrow.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Candlestick Press and National Poetry Day 2010

Off this evening to attend the Candelstick Press Poetry Day event at Waterstone's Nottingham. (6.30 to 8pm, Free entry)

Poetry on the theme of Home, real, imagined or emotional.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Books, writers and designers

I had the pleasure of spending some time today with a very talented designer with a passion for books.

Kate Ferrucci is the Creative Director of Quarto Design a recent addition to Nottingham business.  Recent because Kate has moved here with her Italian husband who works at Nottingham University as a geologist.

Her experience in America and Italy has given her an international take on design and her deep interest in those working with their hands created a fascinating story.  She's worked with limestone workers and musicians to create oral history projects, then turned into books.

We swapped ideas about design for authors, particularly that all important cover which should pull in prospective readers like a magnet.

Kate hasn't promised me any commission but take a look at her website and find out more about what she can offer.  I was impressed and learned a heap of things just talking to her.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Creativity and blocks

This morning I've been reading some more chapters of my client, Sarah Dale's manuscript. Since the chapters I'd been checking were about taking lunch breaks and exercise I thought I'd better take her advice.  So I've just allowed myself a short walk by the local canal.  After yesterday's rain, and boy did it throw it down, it was a pleasure to see all the sunny colours reflected in the water.

Sarah discusses the effect of burnout on creativity and she's quite right in what she says.

Can't remember if I told her but I taught stress management back in the 1990s, mostly to parents in schools and even then, they were meeting themselves coming back with all the demands on their time.

And that remember was pre the pressure of the internet and WiFi and so on and still they couldn't cope.

As Sarah again proposes, creativity isn't limited to those who are regarded as 'artistic'.  I place it in quotes because so many of us have refused to believe we're creative because we don't produce pictures, or play an instrument or write Booker Prize winning novels.

Having worked through my own challenges in that area, I can vouch that creativity isn't only for the 'artistic'.
Anyone who can solve a problem can show creativity; anyone who can stimulate a child to learn is creative and anyone who can sew a seam straight is in my book creative.

I'm still working my way through Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way and finding it valuable in opening up my vision of what's possible if and when I remove any limits from what I think is possible.

Here's one exercise she recomends.  Think of 5 careers you might enjoy.  Then watch as you start to get prompts about them.  Once you blow off the dust from your dreams, who's to tell what might happen.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Writing, music and creativity

I came back from Scarborough Jazz Festival as I always do, astonished at the dexterity and creativity of the musicians.

Now I don't assume that they get there without hard work on their part.  Most musicians don't spring fully formed as soon as they put a trumpet to their lips or sit behind a drum kit.  But even taking into account that hard work, then comes the leap beyond.

Amazes me every time.  And what fascinates me as much as listening to the music is watching the musicians. 

Don't you love watching a group in full flow, passionate about what they're doing and bouncing off each other?

Doesn't matter what type of group either.

Over the weekend here were a couple of drummers whose sheer pleasure at providing the foundation for others produced the widest grins on their faces.  Wonderful to watch.

Of course being a writer I then try and apply what I see in them to what I do. 

Writing's a solitary occupation usually so there isn't that shared joy.  But I know the satisfaction when the words flow in a way which is beyond the practical and normal.

One group I found very interesting, though a lot of the audience seemed indifferent, created improvisations as a response to Turner's sketchbooks.  Slides of the sketches were shown as the music was played and some explanation was given on how the music was created.

What clouted me on the head as far as writing goes was the one piece that had been restricted in musical terms to two tonalities.  The saxophonist explained that the sketch was only two tones and he decided to match it.  And found far from restricting his inspiration, it had produced more freedom than he'd expected.

That I can relate to.  As a practical writer for businesses I often find myself restricted to a short web page or a word limit for an artist statement say.  That forces you to pay attention to every word.

Strips away all the unnecessary fluff and focuses on the key points to communicate. 

I know a lot of writers who find that difficult but for me it's stimulating and challenges me to produce better work than I think I could.  This quote from Igor Stravinsky also challenges me every time I read it.

 “The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution.”

I've had fun over the years in applying arbitrary restraints in exercising my writing muscles. 

For instance, write three pieces based on the same topic.

Or choose an arbitrary number of words like 173 and write a story that has a beginning, a middle and an ending.  Not necessarily in that order though.

It just turns writing into fun.... A game that a child would play.  And we need that innocent eye sometimes in what we do.

On a more serious note, anything that frees up how we write has to have a positive impact on our development.

How do you free up your writing?

Oh and if you l ike jazz and you've never considered going, it's always amazing value, cracking music and a wonderful atmosphere.  2011 is 23-25 September