Monday, 2 July 2018

What Makes a Good Beach Read?

With the summer upon us, and thoughts turning to vacations by the beach, what will be on your reading pile?

Personally, I still like a paperback, but when your hand luggage is weight restricted, you have to choose your books carefully!

eBooks are far more practical if you are away for a couple of weeks and will be feasting on books while you sip a Mojito by the pool or a chilled beer on the beach!

Grab your Kindle and make sure you pack it with some great reads!

As I write this, I have that classic summer song playing, 'Club Tropicana' by Wham. 
Have a listen as you read :)

"...Fun and sunshine, there's enough for everyone!"

I wrote previously on my 'Cocktail for a Perfect Holiday Read'.

Here's my latest recipe:

  • Into your solid, well-contained plot; blend a complementary mix of tasty characters

  • Add a generous shot of action

  • Muddle in some adventure

  • Drop in a dash of violence

  • Sprinkle in some sensuous sex

  • Shake vigourously to mix in all the subtle flavours of sub plot

  • Finally, serve chilled with a twist


I've just returned from my summer vacation, with thoughts of starting a travel blog!

I was part way through 'Warlock' by Wilbur Smith, and being the size of a small brick, there was plenty left of it to keep my occupied!

Recent favourite reads have been:

Time and Time Again, by Ben Elton

The Taxidermist's Daughter, by Kate Mosse

I've also loved the Giordano Bruno books by SJ Paris. I think I may be a little in love with Bruno, the spy/ex-monk! All three books are availibale as a box set:

If binge reading is your thing on vacation, the bumper 4 in 1 Sherdian and Blake eBook Boxset is perfect.

All four books in one:

  • The Bronze Box
  • Solomon's Secrets
  • Gabriel's Game parts 1 and 2

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Blogging FAQ - for Writers

Blogging is awesome when you are an author!

You get to do all the, "horrid marketing and business stuff"* by doing the one thing you were going to do anyway... write!

*Actually, I rather like all that marketing and business stuff. 

All marketing really is is telling people the story of what you do and why you do it. Being in business is a fantastic way to meet lots of interesting people - ripe fodder for narrative and character ideas!

My blog is the spine of my businesses. 

Everything I do extends from the blogs I write, whether it's for businesses wanting to be more creative, or with writers wanting to be my business-like.

There are six questions I'm commonly asked by new bloggers:

  1. How often should I blog?

  2. What’s the ideal length for a blog?

  3. What shall I blog about?

  4. How do you make the time to blog?

  5. What are the benefits of blogging?

  6. How do I get people to see my blogs?

Read more, and discover my simple, no nonsense solutions, HERE 


Friday, 30 March 2018

Writing Time Guilt

I'm a writer.

Writing is my job.

Or, more accurately, part of my job.

The fact I'm an author and a blogger qualifies me to mentor my clients on blogging or book writing. And the fact that my day job has been as a trainer, and more recently, a business advisor for the past 20 odd years qualifies me to mentor businesses on blogging and book writing.

In 2015, my world as a writer and my world as a business advisor collided and I started my own consultancy business.

These days I trade as 'Learn To Love Your Words'.

I need both things to run my business.


So, why I do feel such a sense of guilt about 'wasting time' on writing?

Madness, isn't it? Especially when I see it written down like this!

I suppose I'm posing this as more of a philosophical question, and one I'm not sure I have an answer to.

Why do I feel guilty about writing time?

Yet, blogging about something helps me to work through it - like a kind of 'self-coaching'!

At the start of 2018, I went through my diary and blocked out every Monday and every Friday for writing/admin time.

I set a recurring reminder in my outlook calendar too, so every Sunday evening and every Thursday evening my computer helpfully reminds me that tomorrow is writing day.

Somehow, permission from my computer doesn't seem to be enough!

Is this just the maddening musings of an author? 
Or, is there some underlying preconception at play here?... 
Or, can I just swathe the whole thought process under the rather convenient, yet terribly demotivating label of 'Procrastination'?

Somehow, giving it a name makes it into 'a thing'. Like suddenly diagnosing a disease. Then we give ourselves an excuse to have a victim mentality and throw an extravagant, imagined, pity party.

Sad monkey wants you to feel sorry for him

F that! 

I don't need, want or deserve pity for my inability to knuckle down and write, I need solutions. 

But not some Elastoplast or pill to pop, something I can work through myself!

It's not 'creative block'.

It's a time allocation block.

I can't help but ask myself where it stems from?

Is it a Cultural or Societal perception?

Part of me wonders if it was the years in my childhood of being told by authority figures (Teachers, Careers Advisors etc.) that being an author was not a 'proper job'.

In Thatcher's Capitalistic-Orgasm that was 1980's Britain (when I was at school), only jobs that made money had any value.

In fact, we still hold this 'class' mentality at the heart of our national psyche, and class is defined by financial means. The implication being that if you don't have financial means, you're worth-less. If you're poor, it's your own fault for not working hard enough.

We instil this idea into our children from the moment they join formal education. It's about passing exams, not learning to learn.

It's about achieving results in areas that can be easily quantified and scrutinised.

Arts, humanities, creativity are overlooked in the pursuit of academic excellence.

Is it my own inability to appropriately prioritise?

I seem perfectly able to prioritise the other part of 'my job' - in fact, the admin/writing days, invariable become admin only days.

However, I manage to blog in that time, and after all, my whole philosophy around blogging is that it's a creative non-fiction writing process. 

My mentoring practice is centred on the notion that there are too many bad blogs because people approach blogging like an academic exercise. Filling it with jargon and sticking only to factual information. 

Much of my work is helping mentees to 'unlearn' the approach to writing instilled in them through years of academia and corporate speak. 

Embrace the creativity, enjoy the process, because when you enjoy something, you make time for it. 

I want them to 'learn to love' their words.

Is it the instant gratification of blogging?


When I had this conversation with a friend, she pointed out the instant gratification of blogging. 

The instant gratification inherent in the way we live our lives. 

Constructing an entire book takes time, stamina, discipline, commitment.

On some level, I'm fulfilling some of my creative writing urges through blogging.

Is it a financial consideration?

My Amazon book sales are, if I'm honest, woeful, and have been for the past year at least. 

I don’t do enough to market my books. 

But why should I? 

I can get one consultancy client, do a couple of hours work with them and earn the equivalent of 200 book sales.

When you look at the cold hard financial facts like that, investing my energy in my consultancy business is a no brainer.

But... then I remind myself that I don't write books to make money. 

In fact, anyone who writes books to make money is doing it for the wrong reasons (and is likely to get a rude awakening and be sorely disappointed).

"Anyone who writes books to make money is doing it for the wrong reason."

Is it a lack of accountability?

I've tried declaring to the world that 'I've started writing a book', in the hope it will motivate me to crack on with it.

My mother's tiresome, weekly, "so, have you given up writing then?" question is met with a roll of the eyes now, rather than a sense of shame. I'm immune to her opinions and assumptions at my age!

As I spew out this stream of consciousness to anyone tolerant enough to read it (thanks for sticking with me), as I mull over it, and transmit the results through my fingers into the keyboard, I'm forced to conclude that... it's a bit of everything.

It feels like a cop-out, but it's a multifaceted dilemma. 

My guilt stems from:

Societal perception - I 'should' spend time doing 'real work' - like invoicing, running workshops and record keeping.

Prioritisation - I'm not respecting my own boundaries and using the time in my diary for 'more important tasks'

Seeking gratification - It's easier to blog, because it's more immediate.

Financial Consideration - I tell myself "I'm not yet financially secure enough for the luxury of writing". (I need to change the story I tell myself).

Accountability - Do I just need someone (other than my mum, who I rarely listen to anyway!) to kick me in the butt!

And the solution?

I'm still figuring that out!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

A Phone Moan Poem

Ironic, I suppose, to share this on a blog (although I am writing at a computer) - fully aware, that most people reading this will be reading it from their phones!

I'm of a generation where making plans involved thinking days, even weeks in advance. Deciding on a time and location and sticking to it. Changes involved picking up a phone and hoping someone was in, and within earshot of the phone (on its special table in the hall, or screwed to a wall in the kitchen). Most of the time plans only changed because they had to, it was too much of a faff to be fickle.

We were unavailable. 

We had to be patient. 

The lack of immediacy in communication was in no way seen as a sign of rejection or a cause for argument.

Life went on.

It was fine.

If I wasn't self-employed, truth be told, I probably wouldn't bother with a smartphone.

My mobile really isn't a good way to contact me.

I don't do phones.

Most of the working week it's on silent as I'm in meetings, with a client, or don't want to be disturbed because I'm catching up between clients and meetings! And at weekends, it's not unusual for me to simply forget to switch it on.

I realise this confession makes me a freak of nature in this day and age!

I'd like to point out that I'm not in my 70's (half that age, actually, give or take).

I don't do phones, and here's a poem about it...

I Don't Do Phones

I don't do phones.

Halfway through speaking,
their phone begins beeping,
"I really must take this,"
I sit silently, and take it.

I don't do phones. 
When someone decided
attention, divided;
is somehow connecting,
yet it feels like rejection.

I don't do phones. 

There's an App for this,
there's an App for that
you can't make an App for happiness.

I don't do phones. 

...I am being mildly facetious, of course, but still, there is an important message here. 

Look up from your phone occasionally. 

Life is better experienced through your senses than a screen. 

(EPIC FAIL. Amazing view and you take a Selfie!)


Live it, and live it with the people you are with in that moment!

(EPIC FAIL. With company and you're both looking at your phone!)

Share my poem, let's spread the word!

(I don't do phones - a poem by Amy C Fitzjohn)