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Nirvana Moment on Bonfire Night

Wikipedia declares a general definition of Nirvana as “synonymous with the concept of liberation (moksha) which refers to release from a state of suffering after an often lengthy period of committed spiritual practice

Perhaps you could describe the practice of writing as a “state of suffering”. If you are a solitary writer, you may have to isolate yourself at some point to actually get on with the ‘job’ of writing. This isolation could be seen as a “state of suffering” as could writer’s block; lack of self belief; worry that your work and words are not good enough. Then when you actually release your words, in book, script or thesis format you may have your greatest moments of suffering, lack of acknowledgement of your work by your peers, a bad review, poor grades, As a proofreader and editor I have nursed many people through the pain of getting their words and ideas into a happy and healthy format and liberating them from their isolation and self doubt. Support and a good review can give you that writer’s Nirvana Moment.

I have been lucky enough to have that Nirvana Moment with my book, Soft Footsteps, this weekend. I have worked with Ajit Jaokar, the owner of the futuretext publishing group for many years now. I was thrilled to see this wonderful review on his Open Gardens blog. A short extract is below:

Click on image to be redirected to the Kindle Download

Maggie Baldry has long edited many futuretext books including my latest book (to be launched in Jan 2012). However, she had an idea to be a writer and came up with this excellent idea for a book . As Maggie discusses below, I was one of the inspirations for Maggie’s book. I loved the ethos and idea of this book – and Maggie is a great writer and believes in this book. Very glad to be a part of it”

Soft Footsteps celebrates the achievements of women who are leaders in their professional and creative lives, historically and in the 21st century.

The 21st century Soft footsteps of change are pioneering women because they have all been involved in projects that are making best use of new media platforms and leading edge technology. Their work provides pathways within the new media industry for other people to follow, hence, the title of the work; Soft footsteps. Soft footsteps will reveal how individuals with passionate ideas, a strong work ethic and self-belief can create successful and satisfying careers doing work that they love.

I was totally fascinated by the stories of all of the ladies featured in the Soft Footsteps book. It was a labour of love combined with a spiritual practice for me and I hope it will be a source of inspiration for others.  It is probably just a coincidence that Ajit’s blog was posted on Bonfire Night, but it was most definitely a Nirvana Moment for me. It lit up my evening like a spectacular firework display. I would say to anyone else who wants to write and they are still at the “state of suffering”, keep committed, keep writing and enjoy and celebrate any Nirvana Moment.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Soft Footsteps

 

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Distractions, creativity and workflow

At 19:30 GMT on a Sunday evening, what are you doing?

Would that be a favourite time to write for you?

Or are you an early bird, a night owl or a mid day magpie writer?

When proofreading my authors’ books the work discipline is naturally enforced with the production deadlines for publishing and marketing but when venturing into my own creative writing there always seems to be some ‘obstacle’ in the way that prevents me from settling down into a disciplined work flow.

For example, this evening, I was pulling together some research about the 1970s for a fantasy novel I’m planning to write but so far I’ve managed to let myself be distracted by the Strictly Come Dancing Results show, laundry, Twitter, Facebook and other networking and social media metric sites. This is without the most delightful distractions of my lovely family and pets. What should I do? Give up writing and stay with the day job? Lock myself away like a hermit?

No, I have made a decision… starting tomorrow the networking sites that are not working for me will be pruned away and I will concentrate on the 1970s fantasy novel. Saying that though I am so pleased Audley Harrison is still in Strictly …  

From the BBC Strictly Page Team Audalie
 
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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in 21st century, History

 

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Review – Meet Franklin Bean by Emmy Swain

My review of this book on Goodreads

Meet Franklin Bean

“At this time of year we are all considering which Christmas gifts to buy. Look no further than Emmy Swain’s magical children’s book.. The tale is intended for children but it’s a universal story about how weird it can be to move to a new place and meet new people, yet this weirdness can be coped with and make you stronger when you meet a special and amazing dog like Franklin Bean. Emmy has written a captivating and enlightening story, which is beautifully illustrated by Levi Whitworth. Looking forward to hearing more about John’s adventures with Franklin Bean. “Cool frijoles”

Plus my personal note to Emmy

“My dear you are a word magician. What an enchanting and uplifting story.”

Want to know more, I would highly recommend visting Franklin Bean.com

This review is also posted on my dedicated review blog : Maggie’s musings

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in 21st century, Reviews, TaTUM

 

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Radio Ramble

From Wikipedia RNI campaign bus

As a youngster I was a big fan of the pirate radio stations, Radio Caroline and Radio Northsea. I was just a naughty kid listening to the radio late at night when I should have been sleeping, I didn’t know that Radio Caroline helped get the Conservatives elected in 1970. Nor at that early age did I care about the other suggested events reported on that particular Wikipedia page. Now we have huge television screens, 3D/HD, on demand, 24 hour a day television, if you want it. I enjoy television but there is something about radio. Radio 4 plays are always enjoyable, challenging and brave enough to showcase new talent.

Absolute Classic Rock My getting ready music; doing the housework music; singing and dancing, when I’m in the house alone, music. I adore Absolute Radio but it was stations like Radio Luxembourg (Fab 208) the precursor of the pirate radio stations Caroline and Northsea that made me a lifelong radio fan.

Originally I just used to listen on my little transistor, frequently warming up batteries on the radiator to extend their life. Then for my 12th birthday Mum bought me my beautiful bright orange Dansette Record Player and Radio and I could listen to my favourite radio stations whilst doing my homework or reading. But still saved my little transistor for late at night whiling away the wee small hours with Santana, Led Zeppelin and the sweet talking DJs,

Radio Northsea used to close with Move Over Darling by Doris Day. An evocative song sung by a beautiful lady who also starred in the film of the same name. The Calamity Jane star’s romantic role and a song that still makes me feel that it’s time to go to sleep.

From Pirate Radio Hall of Fame : Tony Allan, broadcasting on Radio Caroline during the seventies. Photo by Martin Stevens, reprinted from ‘Offshore Radio’ published by Iceni Enterprises.

Tony Allan was one of the great stars of pirate radio. Sadly he died in 2004 but if you’d like to read and hear more about the life and work of this wonderful man I would suggest you visit the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame .

Special effects in film and television are very clever and there are many great stories and breathtaking visuals for us all to enjoy but there is something about radio that stimulates my imagination; makes my heart sing and makes me feel like a teenager again.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in 21st century, History

 

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1969 – Pivot Point

In the previous post of this retrospective, I talked about my own sense of loss at the end of the 60s. To me it was a ‘golden decade’.

As the 60s was coming to a close – I felt scared of going to the High School and scared of the sense that my magical childhood days were slipping away. Like Black Beauty, I was no longer free to gallop amongst the trees, fields and grass but I now had to become a ‘work horse’.

Looking back I do realise that I had an incredibly protected and privileged childhood. My creativity was encouraged by my lovely Mum, even when I painted my bedroom ceiling dark blue with silver and yellow stars. I was trying to recreate the constellations, with an emphasis on Orion. This was my “Patrick Moore” phase.

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The 1st Moon landing had stirred up much interest in the stars, as did The Sky at Night with Patrick Moore. Patrick Moore wrote some wonderful books including the annual astronomy year books.

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In September 1969 I started at the Girl’s High School. It was uncomfortable. A shy 11 year old, who blushed every time anyone spoke to her (teachers or pupils). I was used to the atmosphere of a cosy junior school, with one class teacher who taught you all subjects. Basically a kindly “Auntie” type figure. Safe and reassuring. Now there was a form teacher, who also taught French and Latin and specialist teachers for all of the other subjects. The lessons and homework were not a problem but I always felt like an outsider. During break times I would normally have my nose in a book. There was a long bus journey home, again I would read my way home. On arriving home, I would have tea, do my homework, watch some telly, bath and then more reading until bedtime.

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I’m sure I’m not the only kid who felt disconcerted about the transition from junior school to high school but there were many great books, music bands, films, pirate radio stations and television programmes that helped me get through this phase.

from Wikipedia

Patrick Troughton was no longer the Doctor, an event that was also a source of much sadness for me and we had to wait until 1970 for Jon Pertwee to introduce his dandy version of the Doctor in full colour. Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) and Monty Python’s Flying Circus were first aired, both of which I was not supposed to watch, but I sneaked down to watch them anyway.

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The Beatles had already split up, their final live performance at Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row, London, on 30 January 1969. Many bands and artists were getting ready to fill the void left not least Jethro Tull with Ian Anderson’s resonant flute playing and the most commercially successful and influential rock bands of all time, Pink Floyd

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Book-wise, the library at the High School held some delights I hadn’t found before. My interest in astronomy and the constellations named after characters from Graeco-Roman myths led me to reading as many books as possible about Greek and Roman mythology and the works of Homer. Heroic deeds, strong women, magic powers, shape changers, it’s all there. If you’re a writer and you’re looking for inspiration. I would highly recommend looking back at the Greek and Roman classics.

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Image from Wikipedia :: Ummagumma  by Pink Floyd released in 1969

For me 1969 will always be a creative pivot point. A time when I truly started to immerse myself in as many books, bands, films and television programmes as possible. By the end of 1969 my sense of loss had changed to a sense of adventure, alongside discovering the total joy that was pirate radio.

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…to be continued…

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in History

 

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Soft Footsteps : 6 questions

Can you answer these questions?

Click on image to be redirected to the Kindle Download

  1. Who was the first woman writer to be published in the English language?
  2. Which woman was the first “man of the year” in 1969?
  3. Who is the most famous actress in the history of the world?
  4. Who is convinced that ignorance and terror can be ended by global connectivity?
  5. Who can tell you about successful social enterprise business planning?
  6. Who is the creator of the PulseWire Web Portal?

Can’t answer these questions? You need to buy this book and download it to your Kindle device. It will answer these questions and inspire you.

Hush now, it’s a steal at £2.46 GBP.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Soft Footsteps

 

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Patrick, George, Mr.Watzisname, 11 plus, Men on the Moon and a Black Horse

In the last post, Getting lost with Doctor Who via Mary Poppins, a brief description was given of my early memories and encounters with books and television.

Whilst I was discovering my literary and televisual delights, my sister J was also discovering her own musical delights via the Beatles. We had this blanket, very similar to the one pictured here. At that time everyone had their favourite member of the Beatles. J’s favourite was Paul, Ringo was the joker of the group and John was, even then, the more avant-garde Beatle.

My Beatle was, the ever gentle, George Harrison. George reminded me of Patrick Troughton.

In fact I can remember thinking that George was Doctor Who’s son (Patrick Troughton’s incarnation of the Doctor). There was a gentleness and other worldliness about George and Patrick that I loved then and still do, now. This was a magical time in my childhood, with all of the buzz of the Beatles, the cosmic and quizzical Patrick Troughton as Doctor Who and growing up in the sixties.

A memorable book that was read to me at school was the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. There have been some name changes to some of the original characters. Fanny is now called Frannie and Dick is now called Rick. But despite this desire to censure names due to slang references to female and male body parts, the magic of this series still lays in waiting to introduce children to the world of imagination and magic. Wikipedia gives a brief introduction to the main characters below:

The main characters are Joe, Beth, and Franny, three siblings. Franny is the youngest, Beth is next in age and Joe is their big brother. They live near the Enchanted Wood and are friends of the residents of the Faraway Tree. Other characters include:

  • The Angry Pixie : He lives in a house with a tiny window and has a habit of throwing cold water or any liquid at hand over people who dare to peep inside.
  • An owl lives in the house after the Angry Pixie’s. He is a friend of Silky’s.
  • Silky the fairy : Silky is so named because of her long, silky, golden hair.
  • Mr.Watzisname- : He cannot remember his name (for a very good reason) and sleep and snores all the time. During a particular episode at the Land of Secrets, Mr. Watzisname discovers that his name is ‘Kollamoolitumarellipawkyrollo’. Funnily enough, this is forgotten by the end of the episode (even by the man himself) and he goes back to being Mr. Watzisname.
  • Dame Washalot : She spends her time washing her clothes and throwing the dirty wash water down the tree. If she has no clothes to wash, she washes the dirty laundry of other people and even the leaves of the Faraway Tree!
  • Moonface : Moonface is named because of his cute little round face that looks like the moon. His house is likewise round, and filled with curved furniture. There is a slippery-slip in the middle of his house, which is a slide which lets you slide down to the bottom of the Faraway Tree instead of climbing down!
  • The Saucepan Man : lives with Mr. Watzisname. His name stems from the fact that he is covered all over with saucepans and kettles. Sometimes, he cannot understand what his friends are saying because he is quite deaf, which is further aggravated by all the noise from the pans and kettles which he carries all the time.
  • The Saucepan Man’s mother- lives with Dame Washalot. She runs a cake shop.
  • Dame Slap- runs a school for bad pixies which in adventures, the friends accidentally land in.

Where we lived, in North Yorkshire, our home was surrounded by trees and fields and I spent a large part of my time up trees, playing make-believe and pretending that I was living in the Faraway Tree. A bright and carefree time.

Then, came the first of a series of exams. The 11 Plus. Suddenly from being allowed to play with paint, plasticine and enjoy stories of magic, our worthiness was measured, based on our abilities in Arithmetic and English. Success at the 11 Plus meant you were considered suitable for further academic education, with a possibility of being considered for university. Failure meant you were considered suitable for a more vocational and practical education and perhaps with a consideration of further education at a Polytechnic. Looking back I wish I gone for a vocational and practical education, it would have been a lot more fun. Safe to say this is the time when I started to dislike school. Instead of being a place of stimulation and creativity, the daily schedule became mechanical. I remember thinking that my class teacher was trying to turn us all into Cybermen, soul less, joyless and identical. Apart from a few brief escapes (including pop festivals and holidays) 1969 – 1981 was a period of my life when I felt very much like I had been programmed to function in a certain way, behave in a certain way, work within a limited environment with fewer chances to enjoy the magical time of my early childhood. There were many joyous times, but from an educational and work perspective, those areas of my life were something that were endured, rather than enjoyed.

Back to the end of the sixties. My 11 plus was passed and the Junior School gave me a book as a reward. The book was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. This book is written in the 1st person from the perspective of the horse, Black Beauty. Wikipedia displays an admirable and memorable quote as below:

“…. there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham….”
Black Beauty, Chapter 13, last paragraph.

At the age of 11, this was the first book that made me think. It is not a children’s book or a fairy tale. There are many sad moments and I can remember this book making me cry. It is the first book I read that was not “sugar coated” .

My final summer days at Junior School marked the celebration of the Moon Landings, one giant step for man, etc. Although there was a lot of excitement and news coverage, I would still rather have jumped into the Tardis than have been a crew member on Apollo 11.

As the 60s was coming to a close – I felt scared of going to the High School and scared of the sense that my magical childhood days were slipping away. Like Black Beauty, I was no longer free to gallop amongst the trees, fields and grass but I now had to become a ‘work horse’.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2011 in History

 

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