Sunday 29 April 2012

A new publishing venture

It's been a while since I've posted anything, but I've been really busy with work and stuff. I've had time for some fun, too, though.

Last Sunday I stroked an owl's tummy and flew a Harris Hawk and a barn owl at the Raptor Foundation near St Ives, Cambridgeshire. And last night I went to see the musical comedian Boothby Graffoe. Two great occasions but for different reasons.

On Friday afternoon I spent a lovely but tiring afternoon teaching yoga to about 60 primary school children. Their approach (and consequently, mine) is completely different from that of my adult students. They just throw themselves into it.

But I've also been busy with my first e-book. I have published a booklet for the Kindle, called: The Little Guide to Teaching Yoga in a Gym, which is aimed at teachers who are facing the challenges that this very particular market brings. I can't believe how easy it was to upload. It really is just a case of following the on-screen instructions, click, click, click and it's done! Of course, now comes the tricky bit: selling it.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Do you remember Cadbury's writing competition?

One of my fellow Evening Telegraph columnists, the cheery Richard Oliff, has been reminiscing about the Cadbury's writing competition that he was entered into as a child. The memories came flooding back for me, too. When I was at primary school we were involved in this national competition, for which we had to write an essay called 'The Story of Chocolate'. Everyone who entered got a bar of chocolate, while the fortunate winners got a certificate and a selection of chocs in a tin that, once emptied, could be used as a pencil case.

There are changes afoot at the ET. At the moment it is a daily local paper, but its publisher Johnston Press is about to 're-launch' its paid-for publications in a move towards what it calls 'platform neutral content', whatever that is. The paper will be published online everyday (but I don't know if this will be with free or paid-for access), with a bumper, old-style printed copy just once a week. I don't know how this will affect me, but I suspect it means I shall lose my fortnightly soapbox.

It seems a shame that those who don't have internet access will lose their daily paper. Certainly comments on local radio this afternoon have tended to be critical of this move. Time will tell.

Thursday 12 April 2012

Sometimes it's best to leave things alone

I’ve been reading on the BBC website that William Boyd is to write a new James Bond novel. Jeffery Deaver and Sebastian Faulks have already trodden a similar path, and Charlie Higson has written a series of Bond prequels. And then there’s And Another Thing ... Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Part Six of Three (Hitchhikers Guide 6) by Eoin Colfer. Is it a good idea for a different author to take over an established body of work?

I’ve recently read The House of Silk: The New Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz. I loved it. It was just like reading Conan Doyle. But I’ve also read Death Comes to Pemberley by Baroness P. D. James, her follow-up to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. With the greatest respect, I found it curiously unsatisfying – neither t’other nor which. The mystery element wasn’t that mysterious, and the Austen element felt too self-conscious, as though the author kept telling me: ‘Look! I’m writing like Jane Austen!’ But what do I know? I doubt the Baroness will lose any sleep over my comments.

When I was at school, my redoubtable English teacher Mrs Hudson set us the homework task of rewriting Great Expectations from Estelle’s point of view: quite a feat for a bunch of 12-year-olds. It was an interesting academic exercise, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t enhance Dickens’ work!

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Police, camera, action!

So while my son and his band The Divisional were out on Saturday night playing a gig in town, I was watching the previous night's episode of Castle. (Yes, I know how sad that makes me look, but it's a guilty pleasure.) In case you haven't come across this gem of American TV, the premise is that Richard Castle is a crime writer who has managed to get himself attached to the police department of the implausibly glamorous Detective Kate Beckett. He 'helps' her to solve crimes.

Well, this week's episode was about the death of the singer in a rock band and was full of scenes of musicians and drugs, musicians and guns, musicians and unscrupulous managers. Gulp! Not much to worry a mother there, then!

Meanwhile, in the May edition of Writing Magazine there is an interesting article by police trainer Ian Sales on how the real police force operates. There is also a mock scenario like those used to train real detectives. What would we readers do in that first 'golden hour' after the discovery of a body? Can't wait for next month's solution to see how I've got on.

I enjoy a bit of TV detection. The trouble is, the more episodes you watch, the easier they become to solve - e.g., in Midsomer Murders the culprit is always the first famous actor you see. Once you've worked out the grammar of the show, you can forget about following the plot and just let the story unfold in a warm, comforting way.

Not that I could write one, of course!