A big thank-you to Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

Every time my blog goes bonkers, it’s because Chris Graham over at The Story Reading Ape’s Blog, has re-blogged one of my posts. I thought it was time I said thank you.

I’d been at it all daytsra-white-bg on Sunday, essentially trying to write a blog post but in reality, procrastinating like mad. Eventually the post emerged, a quirky list of… yes… what I’d been doing instead of writing a blog post. I uploaded said musings, shut down my PC and came down to the kitchen to make my tea.

As I messed around with ingredients – salmon baked in a tinfoil parcel, watercress sauce, broccoli and rice, since you ask – I could hear in the next room, my iPad dinging merrily away as my WordPress App announced a succession of readers liking or commenting on my blog. That’s nice, I thought. I have to say, it was above averagely active – a veritable melody of dings – especially for a Sunday evening. And especially for, if I’m honest, an inconsequential, albeit mildly amusing post.

Salmon baked, watercress sauce warmed through (I know, I should have made it from scratch), broccoli blobbed with butter (don’t say it… don’t), I repaired to the lounge to take a snoop at who was liking my Peevish Procrastination Post.

What greeted me was unexpected, but wholly delightful.

It turns out that round about the same moment that I’d uploaded my list of procrastinations, the lovely Chris Graham over at Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog had re-blogged a post of mine from a couple of weeks ago – Ten Top Tips to Instantly Improve Your Writing. The surge in hits and that concerto of dings was all down to the readers which Chris had so very kindly pointed in my direction.

If you haven’t come across Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog before, I recommend you take a look. It is a veritable cornucopia of writerly musings, humour, advice and great material about books, authors, the world at large and reading in general. Chris scours the blogosphere seeking out posts he thinks his rapidly expanding readership will enjoy, and he’s a great supporter of indie authors.

When he picks a post of yours, stand by for a busy few hours! I like to respond to every comment on my blog and that’s not usually a particularly demanding commitment. But when you get a re-blog from Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog, things go a bit crazy – in a good way. I had fun, responding to comments from new readers, and it was wonderful to see new subscribers sign on too. I had to cut the sound on my iPad and go dark for an hour for Poldark (as any warm-blooded woman would, you understand, don’t you?) – but I was back later and again this morning, to enjoy the blogging conversation with more visitors from Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog.

Apart from the two occasions when I’ve been fortunate enough to be Freshly Pressed courtesy of the team at WordPress (another post on editing, strangely enough, and one on Marmite and sex – oh, just check it out, you know you want to), The Story Reading Ape’s blog has been responsible for the biggest surges in hits and subscribers to A Writer’s Notepad, since I began blogging.

So, this post is the least I can do, in offering a big thank-you to Chris, and an urging that you check out The Story Reading Ape’s most diverse and engaging Blog for yourself.

Versatile Blogger Award!

versatile-blogger-award-picA few weeks ago, fellow blogger D.L. Kamstra very kindly nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award – thank you Dana!  I’ve been meaning to find time ever since then to create my post and pay-it-forward on the goodwill.  At last, I’m getting to it.  By the way, Dana’s blog is lovely; quite new (it’s only been going 3 or 4 months), it’s a gentle and open-hearted meander through her experiences as a novice writer.

The idea with the award and others like it is that you link back to the blogger who nominated you, then forward to any number of nominated blogs, and you also offer up a few snippets of information about yourself.  It’s about getting people to look at blogs they might otherwise not encounter, I guess.

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger award:

  • Display the Award Certificate on your blog
  • Write a post and link back to the blogger who nominated you
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers (ahem… 10 – see below)
  • Inform them of their nomination via comment on their blog
  • Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

I know not everybody subscribes to the whole blogging award thing, but I look upon it as an opportunity to share some of the blogs I find interesting with others – and what could possibly be bad about that? I’m going to propose some new ones here, which didn’t feature in my earlier post, when I got nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award. The award specifies 15 nominations but I think that’s a bit OTT, so I’ve restricted myself to 10, because that seemed quite enough…  I haven’t just plucked them out of thin air either – these are all blogs I follow and enjoy.  So here we go – I’ve aimed for variety in my recommendations, so I hope there’s something there to inspire you.

My nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award are:

  • http://authordylanhearn.wordpress.com/Suffolk Scribblings – Dylan has just published his first novel – a cracking dystopian political thriller – and he blogs about his experience as a writer, stay-at-home father and rural resident in a lovely light-touch style.
  • http://armitageagonistes.wordpress.com/Armitage Agonistes – This is my first experience of ‘fandom’ blogging and whilst I wouldn’t class myself as a fan follower, I love how Perry handles her subject, as it were, and manages the whole fan blogging thing.
  • http://ninamishkin.com/The Getting Old Blog – Nina is erudite and full of wisdom and she writes beautifully about the good things in life.
  • http://singlechicksblog.com/Single Chicks Blog – Two girls with a wry take on being single – I love it!
  • http://thebettermanprojects.com/The Better Man Project – Evan beautifully expresses his thoughts, ideas and learnings on how to be a better… person.
  • http://eliglasman.com/Eli Glasman – Eli writes from the heart about his life as a writer coping with Crohn’s Disease.
  • http://reiterreport.wordpress.com/The Reiter Report – Thorsten writes thoughtfully about big issues which impact us all…. life, the universe, and everything.
  • http://colombiadiaries.wordpress.com/Colombia Diaries – The author writes a fascinating blog about her family’s travels around Colombia whilst dealing with debilitating chronic illness.
  • http://linklater2020.wordpress.com/Reflections – A gentle photographic blog reflecting life through images of much-loved possessions at home.
  • http://wordsavant.wordpress.com/Word Savant – Jane blogs about the creative process, freeing the writer within, and the challenges of becoming a writer.

The Versatile Blogger Award wants to know seven interesting things about me.  The above mentioned One Lovely Blog Award also required that I offer up seven interesting things about me, and I duly complied – you can judge for yourself the degree of ‘interest’ if you click back to the post.  That there might be fourteen interesting things about me is something, quite frankly, I doubt. So prepare to be not very interested in the following additional seven:

  1. In 1979 I was ‘married’ in the car park of a motorway service station, by a salesman from the RAC. My boyfriend (who subsequently became my real and actual husband a few years later) and I were travelling off on holiday in an ancient and fragile Ford Escort. In order to purchase rescue/recovery insurance to cover both of us driving the car, in those more moralistic times, we had to be married. As we weren’t, the man from the RAC helpfully obliged us with a brief ceremony – perhaps about 20 seconds long – as I imagine he did several times a day to other unwed couples, in enthusiastic pursuit of his sales quota.  He did well for the RAC, as I’m still with them.
  2. My 5 favourite films are, in no particular order, The Big Chill, The Shawshank Redemption, The Lake House, Source Code and The Lives of Others. I make no apology for The Lake House – I love it, and that’s that.
  3. I’m a fan of the paperback.  I love audiobooking and I think Kindle is brilliant, especially when you want to take a suitcase full of books on holiday. But if I enjoy a book, I need to possess it in its physical form.  I blogged about this here a while back – two years ago today, as it happens.  What this means is I often double-up.  If I’ve enjoyed an audiobook or a Kindle read, I will buy the paperback, simply to have it on my bookshelves, and re-enjoy the words.
  4. I take my coffee strong, black and absent of any sweetener.  I’m a sucker for the UK’s Costa Coffee franchise and I even blogged about the pleasure of going to my local Costa Coffee here.
  5. I’m a theatre junkie.  I don’t venture into the West End (of London) very often as it’s a miserable experience and theatre ticket prices are off-the-scale.  My venue of choice these days is the beautiful Richmond Theatre close to London, but I also frequent one or two other regional theatres.  Productions I’ve enjoyed recently include the spellbinding Ballet Boyz, 1984, RSC’s production of Julius Caesar performed by an all-black cast, September in the Rain, Blue/Orange and The Judas Kiss.
  6. I watch too much TV. If I have a spare Sunday afternoon, I like nothing more than curling up on the sofa with an old Columbo movie or catching up on one of my too-many guilty pleasures – The Voice, Dancing on Ice – yes, I know, I know…
  7. The most practical, valuable, indispensable, stress-reducing and life-enhancing gadget I own is this spider-catcher. I have nothing more to add.

One Lovely Blog Award!

one-lovely-blogIt’s been wonderful, seeing ‘follows’ on my blog increase so much since I was Freshly Pressed.  Another delightful outcome has been that one of my new follows, Robb Walker/Robert Miller and his blog Shadows and Java has nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. Thanks Robb, I really appreciate the shout.  Robb’s blog is worth a visit, particularly if you’re into horror, fantasy, science fiction and geekery.  He’s hinting he might participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo too. Go Robb!

The One Lovely Blog Award requires I offer you 7 facts about myself and nominate another 5 recipients.  Robb also offered 5 writing quotes, and since this is a blog about writing, I thought I might try something like that too.

So without further ado:

Seven facts about Julie:

  1. I started writing fiction just over 3 years ago, having put it off long enough.  But I’ve been marketing/copywriting for business for years – mainly for technology companies.  It’s a far cry from psychological storytelling.
  2. My first short story, Singled Out won Writing Magazine’s monthly prize in June 2010 and was printed in the magazine.  Strangely, but only because it’s absolutely the best name for my first novel, I’m recycling that title – but this time for a very different piece of writing.
  3. I don’t eat chocolate.  I love it – I just don’t eat it.
  4. I don’t drink tea.  Yes, that’s right.  I’m a Brit who hates tea.
  5. I’m a paper-crafter. I love playing around with inks, rubber stamps and other crafty stuff, and seeing how much the people I care about enjoy receiving a hand-made card.
  6. I’m left-handed.  Apparently, that means I’m better at divergent thinking – whatever that is.  I’m good at brainstorming, but mind-maps are a mystery to me. Go figure.
  7. Be still my heart. There are only four degrees of separation between me and George Clooney.

Five writing quotes:

  • ‘Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve’ – JK Rowling in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
  • ‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass’ – Anton Chekhov
  • ‘Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings’ – Stephen King
  • ‘He didn’t want to please his readers. He wanted to stretch them until they twanged’ – Martin Amis
  • ‘It would have been nice to have had unicorns’ – Tom Stoppard in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

My five ‘pay it forward’ One Lovely Blog nominations:

Wow… thank you!

sunshine rosesA quick thank you – to the hundreds of people who’ve read, commented on and are now following A Writer’s Notepad; many of you, I assume, as a result of its appearance on Freshly Pressed yesterday.

My sudden but very positive lurch into the world of active blogging and the pleasure of the conversation, has (despite the friendly alert from Ben at Freshly Pressed) taken me somewhat by surprise.  I’ve gone from 10 views on Wednesday to 450 yesterday and 1,000 and counting today.  I know that’s small-potatoes by the standard of many blogs, but it’s manna from heaven to me (oops, cliché alert). I’m doing my best to keep up with your wonderful, encouraging comments and over the weekend I will take a read through all your blogs too.

It’s worth mentioning, I also have a Facebook author’s page (optimism… optimism…), so if you’re a Facebooker,  find your way there and ‘like’ it if you will. There’s a Twitter feed too.  Both are signposted in the right hand column.

For would-be writers, you might like to know I curate a ScoopIt page (also called A Writer’s Notepad) with tips and advice for writers sourced from across the internet.  It’s building up to be quite a resource.

So, fellow bloggers – writers, would-be writers and all who have something to say and the words to say it with – thank you for engaging with me through A Writer’s Notepad and opening up the blogosphere and drawing me in.

Best Blogs for Budding Authors

A while ago I blogged on some of my favourite books about writing.  Today I’m highlighting a few of my favourite blogs about writing – the craft of writing, techniques to learn, pitfalls to avoid, advice on developing as a writer, tips on building your public profile as an author, and, of course, on getting published.

My favourite of all is Moody Writing, a very active blog posting superb articles on every aspect of the craft of writing; fresh, coherent and packed with good sense and great advice.

I also value craft tips for writers from Sue Healy, who shares a wealth of journalistic and writerly experience.

For practical business sense for authors, I’ve found Write to be Published author, Nicola Morgan and her blog, Help! I Need a Publisher to be worldly-wise, informative and helpful.

Lastly for now, there’s Writer Unboxed, a collaborative blog with contributions from multiple authors; great for getting a variety of perspectives on every aspect of the writer’s experience.

I learn from these generous bloggers every day.  Doubtless there are other blogs which could also prove invaluable to the novice writer and if you know of one, I would love you to share it with us all, so do respond with a comment and a contribution if you can.