Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Anne Stevenson and John Lucas on the same bill - best poetry night ever


That the great Anne Stevenson was reading felt, to me, like an extraordinary piece of good fortune. I had spotted that John Lucas was reading a month earlier and I went for that reason - his name leapt out and I didn't look to see who else was on. Thanks, Universe! The event was one in the Lumen series organised by the poet Ruth O'Callaghan. Among the poems Anne read were some from Astonishment which I managed to bag the last copy of. She hadn't brought many  copies and they went like hot cakes.In a rush of maternal affection I lent mine to Only Daughter who had also come to the gig. She lives in London so I will have to wait a bit until she comes home to visit for my turn to read it. Unless she posts it. 

The wonderful John Lucas read from his new collection Things To Say, which is published by that most admirable of organisations, Five Leaves Publications.
Astonishment 2012I was a bit slow once I got home with my precious signed copy (John and I go back a long way) and I have yet to wrench it out of the hands of Son 3, who took an immediate fancy to it. He is a poet himself - of the songwriting persuasion and you can hear him here if you like folk (there's even a small contribution from the seagulls of Brighton). I recommend him. (Yes, I am biased).

Friday, 17 October 2014

Independent authors have Stuff like this to help them sell books


I'm an independent author therefore I too have stuff like this. It is a handy author page where anyone who wants to find out what you write and who you are can do just that. They can also find out what readers have said about your books.


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Man and Flamethrower

Two weeks ago, on  a day of blinding sunshine I glanced out of a window at work and was so arrested by this that I stood for ages watching this man and even made a short phone video because I felt compelled to. The smoke coming up as he patiently burnt the white paint off the tarmac must have been full of the most poisonous particles and gases and he has nothing to protect him except a tiny pair of goggles and some fat gloves. The black lines that look like shadows are where there were painted lines before. The shadow he casts and the shadow cast by his attached cylinder of gas, just out of the picture and only apparent because of the shadow - look substantial but he looks fragile and bleached out and so do the shadows that the flamethrower left on the ground. I hope someone paid him a lot of money to do such a toxic job but I bet they didn't.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Day 2 - Bandages

As a child, reading about King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, Robin Hood and, from my parents' bookcase, Tell England, (which I read, though scarcely understood),  I used to fantasise about being wounded in battle. A head wound, with white bandages, was what I wanted. I didn't think that it would hurt as much as wounds elsewhere - I had suffered painful scrapes to my knees and elbows but never my head. I had no idea at all what would actually happen in terms of bone, tissue, ligaments and muscle. An arrow or a bullet would graze the side of my head and blood would flow and I would  fall (gracefully, of course) and be lifted by a brave comrade and carried to safety. A period of unconsciousness might be involved but that sounded pleasant, like drifting off to sleep and then hazily waking again. Hmm.

This is Day 2. I am writing about a process which began with surgery to get rid of my varicose veins. So at last I have wounds, and plenty of bandages. Both legs.  The back view is not so pretty (bloodstains!)

Friday, 1 March 2013

The digital savvy of the Geneaologist

Angel Delight

Olympia teemed with genealogists...

many of them  professional - offering research expertise to those tracing family histories. Enthusiasts crowded the vast hall and it hummed with purposeful pilgrimage. As you can see, I had fallen into a raspberry Angel Delight.

 I am impressed by how clued up these people are. Among the stalls offering research facilities there were sophisticated marketing niche stalls. Some  offered bespoke kit for people who are archiving family history documents - sleeves, made of clever polythene which won't damage photographs or leach their chemicals out,  for example. Some offered  ... well I'm not sure how to describe them but they were quite computer-y looking and one was selling a handheld scanner the size of an iPhone that would enable you  to come away from an archive visit with digitally scanned images of all the old documents you needed to prove your ancestor was Rob Roy or whatever.

Since then I've been struck by the interconnectedness of this network. Their websites are smart, they have Facebook pages and blogs and are on Twitter. The hashtag  #wdytyalive was zinging with lively tweets.

So I was wondering which group is the more digital media enhanced - writers or genealogists?
One writer who leaps to mind as an icon for the coming age of digitisation of all we hold dear (goodbye, dusty tomes!) is Kate Pullinger. Her blog is essential reading for any writer who is happy to face the future digitally brave.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Who do you think you are? LIVE

The young Bobbie Neate, with racing driver Graham Hill

On Friday Saturday and Sunday, Feb 22, 23, 24 

Bobbie and I will be manning a stall at the WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? - LIVE! SHOW at Olympia.
Bobbie, of course, will be signing books.Who is Bobbie? You ask.

Well I've been pretty involved in the story of how author, Bobbie Neate  wrote the book Conspiracy of Secrets and now that it is published (by John Blake Publishing) and out there garnering admiration and praise from astounded reviewers, I am taking part in its doings once again as an organiser of publicity and events for it. It is great fun and I am really looking forward to being at Olympia.
The people attending the show will be serious family history enthusiasts and so we hope that Conspiracy of Secrets will be a big draw - because what Bobbie did was delve bravely back into her past, unearthing, in the process, the most astonishing secrets which had been deliberately concealed all these years. The book is amazing - part detective story, part memoir and part biography. So if you are going to the Who Do You Think You Are? show, please come and find our stand - it is number 201 and we will be delighted to see you.
Wish us luck!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Ouch, Amazon, That Hurts!

A cream tea did much to ease my pain
Why would Amazon start listing my book as being published by Vesta Publishing when it isn't? But they do - see previous posts - and so I have been taking them to task. They helpfully emailed me the other day with the information that there is a handy 'suggest changes to product details' button at the foot of the page. I was pleased and also felt a fool because you would think I might have scrolled down to the foot of the page to see what else lurked. Although I don't find those pages inviting. Do you?
I made my change. I clicked 'submit your changes' and I arrived at a screen which said...

 If you don't hear from us right away, 
don't despair; 
we tend to review corrections for more popular items first, 
but we take them all seriously 
and will reply as soon as possible

Ow ow ow! OK, I am not a popular item as well as being too foolish to check for ways to amend the listing at the foot of the page. But  all the same - OWW!!!