Saturday, 31 December 2011

e-marketing & Utilising Social Network Sites To Promote Our Work

Due to all my time constraints at the moment, the lovely Ros offered to blog on behalf of the Ragleth Writers Group this month. This is what we got up to;
Ragleth Writers enjoyed a specially extended workshop meeting on 14th November, hosted at Affcot Lodge.
We had some very interesting updates from all members and we had all achieved much of what we had set ourselves at the previous meeting.  We also welcomed a new member who needs some support to finish her book.  But the main business of the day was to explore what we could do as authors to promote and market our work.

Helen Leathers is an experienced and inventive marketeer (along many other things) and she provided a very helpful checklist to enable us think about exactly how to present and market our books.  This methodology can be reused for each piece of work and provides prompts, structure and information.  We were able to question Helen and learn a great deal about marketing and new technologies (although some of us remain a little bemused by all these new opportunities).  
The latter part of the meeting was utilised to actually do some of the activities we had highlighted for example reviewing each others work on line. We then set ourselves tasks for the next meeting which will be on January 9th 2012, to be held at Ticklerton Hall, courtesy of Judith and Ray Gordon.
Happy Writing!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Tough Love

“Too long!” no-nonsense, Judith declared after I’d tentatively read out the first chapter to my book, fluffing a couple of lines on the way as I realised that the sentences were not flowing.

Her comment wasn’t even a surprise…I’d bored myself along the way!!

Pad ThaiThere was some sugar coating to follow. Apparently, I had offered too much of a good thing! The chapter was likened to, (I’m paraphrasing), a delicious full course menu that had so many rich, heavy offerings that I had turned a wonderful meal into a nauseating experience!! Yes! That was the sugar-coating! Hmmm!

The comments from the group were constructive and well-meaning, so rather than being crestfallen and dejected I actually felt as though I couldn’t wait to revisit the chapter I had written over a year ago and tear into it. However, due to the constraints of my new life challenge running the Affcot Lodge, it’s still in its original form waiting to be mercilessly chopped, I mean carefully edited....Actually, no! I think I was right the first time!

That sort of honest critique is exactly what is needed from a writers' group. Comments from peers you can trust, with no hidden agendas are priceless. Even though you may not always like everything you hear!

My original intention had been to write about an anonymous man who commits a random act that has dire consequences on the unrelated people who are affected by his actions. However, I then proceeded to give this person a whole back story that was totally irrelevant to the plot (schoolgirl error #26 of story-telling).

I knew that working at the Affcot Lodge would be a ‘distraction’ (to say the least) but the group meeting turned into a farce for me as every few minutes my attention was required by the relatively new staff. Could I change a barrel, speak to an insistent rep on the telephone, fix the coffee machine or other such urgent matters. It was frustrating, to say the least!!

The Ragleth Writers deserve better! We have such a talented group of writers that my undivided attention is called for. More than that, I missed all the good stuff!!  

Our numbers were sorely depleted this month. Unfortunately the wonderful Carole Anne Carr has decided that with all her home and work commitments she could not offer her full support to the group and has therefore stood down, but we continue to follow her writing career with great interest. Hopefully we will still get to see her whenever she can spare the time – she will be sorely missed.

Find out more information about Carole here

Lovely Debbie, with all the health problems she has had to endure over the last few years, now has another challenge to overcome and our love and best wishes are with her at this time. We hope she will be back with us as soon as possible.Catch up with her blog here

Ros, too, has had her share of challenges and hopefully she will be able to join the next meeting.

Helen has successfully published many of her non-fiction books but has been spurred on by the group to develop a fictional story from a germ of an idea that has been lying dormant in her mind for some time. Unfortunately I missed the reading, but the rest of the group were very impressed with the premise of the book.

If you'd like to know more about Helen, information can be found here
And they say that truth is stranger than fiction and that is most certainly the case with the work from one of our other members. I’m not sure that he would want me to reveal too much, bearing in mind that he is writing from true life, but when the book is complete, the harrowing and strange tale will be compelling.

John read out from the first chapter of his latest book, a follow-up to Cuelsin, which is now available on e-book format through Autherium. His unique descriptive style automatically transports you to Eastern Europe, even before you know for sure where the scene is set.

Judith chaired this month's meeting, managing to keep a rein on the topics of conversation that can all too easily meander off the plot, so to speak. Especially with one of our members...naming no names!! She also read a section of book 5 (book four has not even been written yet) that will tie up all the threads woven through the marvellous three books (so far) in the Chronicles of Eternity Series.
 Find Judith's Books here

I am now looking forward to our next meeting, which is scheduled for 3pm on Tuesday 9th August at Affcot Lodge. I very much hope to be more involved with the next one so I can appreciate all the talent we have within the group.

See you there, folks x

Sunday, 29 May 2011


There are not enough hours in the day! How many times do we say or think this, as we try and juggle work and family commitments, feeling guilty about never getting the balance quite right.

As some of you may know, most of my waking hours are consumed by attempting to get Affcot Lodge ready for the looming opening date of 25th June. That's less than 4 weeks…gulp! What if we're not ready? We've got to be ready it's as simple as that! 

And then what? It seems that my new life challenge will be to ensure the smooth running of large pub/restaurant with12 B&B rooms!! I relish the prospect, even though I’m sure I’ll have to overcome many teething problems. It's amazing how your life can change so dramatically without warning. Two months ago becoming a publican was the last thought on my mind but this unexpected opportunity has been placed at my feet for some reason so I intend to make the most of it. If nothing else, I'm sure it will be a rich source of material for my second novel and I'll make sure that there is a notebook behind the bar to note any gems of inspiration!!

"Life is something that happens to you while you're making other plans."
Margaret Millar

The downside, of course, is that my writing has had to take a back seat and I’m upset that I’m not giving the Ragleth Writers Group my full attention. This wonderful group of people will be supportive of my predicament, I know. And the reason I am so sure of this fact is that, as well as being very talented individuals, they are also trying to juggle their love of writing with their own health/family/work commitments too!

During our last meeting we concentrated on how we sell our work, or more importantly, how we sell ourselves. People don't just buy books they buy authors!

It is imperative that we get ourselves out there, raise our own profiles. Socialise. Book signings, Twitter, Blogging, Facebook all help. Know your target audience and aim your promotion at that genre. Also, as John Welsh discovered, make sure our books are in the correct section of the bookstore!

We were joined last month by Martin Nicholson, a fascinating author of the Biggles Companion and surely foremost authority on postcards of South Africa as well as being an avid amateur astronomer. His photographs using telescopes based in America are truly stunning. I think he liked us too and hopefully we'll see him again at our next meeting.

Judith gave us a wonderful reading from her latest novel A Capital Time transporting us back in time to a brutal and hedonistic ancient Rome. She immersed us straight to the heart of the action where the noises, smells and tastes are as real as if they are being experienced firsthand.


After three meetings the group is going from strength to strength and I'm in awe of the resilience and determination each member possesses -I'm proud to be a part of it! Life will throw hurdles in our way and sometimes we will feel like giving up but as long as we are prepared to negotiate our way through the trying times, helping each other wherever possible, the stronger we will become.

Looking forward to our next meeting on Monday, 13th June. See you there folks x

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Second Meeting 6th April

We have a new member!

It was lovely to welcome Carole Anne Carr to our small, but perfectly formed, group. She is an inspirational and talented lady who has packed so much into her life, enjoying a staggering array of career choices; deputy headmistress, actress and C of E minister, to name just a few of them! Carole sums it up perfectly by admitting to being a “Random shopper in the University of Life!”

But it is her love of writing historical children’s fiction that is keeping her busy these days. That and her love of writing and reading blogs – which, incidentally, recently led her to an unexpected blessing. Through her blogging connections she has come across an agent who is keen to represent her…and why wouldn’t he? Carole’s a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered! Even though Carole says the target market for her stories is 10 year old boys, Ros, one of our other members (and most definitely NOT a 10 year old boy), devoured the book. Check out Carole’s website.

The theme of this month’s meeting is setting goals. Sometimes, there are so many other things going on in our lives that writing takes a back seat – at times even feeling like a guilty pleasure! But it is important that we find the time to write, keep ourselves motivated and maintain the momentum or else it can all too easily come to a juddering halt. 

The support of loved ones is invaluable but, at the end of the day, the onus is, literally, on us! When we’re not up to writing, for whatever reason, we can’t call a temping agency for a stand-in. No-one else is going to do the work for us. It would be great to call in a temp and say, ‘Just finish that chapter for me, would you? It needs to be done by 5pm, thanks!’

…..Or would it? In some perverse way, don’t we love the mental anguish and torture we sometimes endure to fill that blank page that stares back, taunting us, when the words don’t flow as they should?

Isn’t it all worth it for the times when the words effortlessly present themselves to us and we curse our fingers on the keyboard for not being able to keep up with our racing thoughts, trying to commit them to print before they disappear as quickly as they came?
Marketing is another hot topic for discussion - traditionally NOT a writer’s strong point. When it comes to promoting our own work we tend to be a little backward in coming forward, sometimes viewing the whole process as being boastful. But, if we don’t champion our own writing then why should anyone else?  A couple of members who have had experience in this field throughout their working career (John & Ros?) are hopefully going to come up with some marketing ideas for our next meeting.

Another new member will be joining us on our next meeting on the Thursday 5th May.
Martin Nicholson is a self published writer of non fiction books and ebooks so we look forward to meeting him very soon.

Monday, 21 March 2011


Really pleased with the feedback after our first meeting – we all seemed to take away something positive from the experience!

Debbie has been busy typing away, to all hours, with a renewed enthusiasm for her novel.

Judith and John have been hard at work getting their already published novels on to Kindle.

Ros, co-author of an academic book, is seriously considering the plot for her debut novel.

Helen, author and creator of non-fiction books, e-books and meditation Cd’s (and all-round human dynamo) has set up the Ragleth Writers twitter account and is now developing our new website –  

As for me, although I wouldn’t describe myself as a technophobe, I would admit to being techno-challenged, and so setting up this blog and opening a twitter account (even posting photographs from my phone - see below) were no mean feats. And it does go to show that you never know what you can achieve until you try. It’s so easy for us to just say “No, I can’t do that,” and stay within our comfort zone but just imagine what we might be missing out on? That challenge we dread is rarely as complicated as it first appears. We’re all capable of so much more - we just need the motivation and support to fulfil our true potential.

As an aspiring novelist, the long-winded business of trying to get work published can be a demoralising affair. The constant stream of rejection letters can be very disheartening - not to mention, a fire hazard! I knew I was in trouble when it was too much of an effort to procrastinate!!

But those days are gone. The Ragleth Writers’ Group will help me stay positive and encourage me to push myself that little bit harder every day! ...Well, most days! Let’s not get too carried away…it’s not a magic group….is it??? 

So, let me re-cap:

Not only do The Ragleth Writers have an incredibly talented group of writers, but also; a twitter account, a blog and now a website (in development).

Wow! All that…after just one meeting! What on earth will we be doing after our second outing?

At this rate, I’m thinking that a world take-over is not that far down the line? Global domination, here we come!! Mwahh!

View of The Ragleth

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

First Meeting - 8th March 2011

Whether we’re luxuriating in our own office or cramped in a tiny space under the stairs, we writers are happy as long as we’re able to release all those pent-up creative juices!

However, as much as we love our little cocoon, writing can  be a pretty solitary existence – apart from all those imaginary voices in our heads (or is that just me?).

And so the hunt was on to find like-minded folk who could spare a couple of hours each month to share any pearls of wisdom that they have gleaned on their literary journey. The main aim was to attract friendly local writers who would be generous in spirit as well as with their time, who would also be prepared to offer support, constructive critique and encouragement to the other members.

I must admit to being a little nervous before the meeting. The ladies (and gentleman) who would be attending were relative strangers to one another - drawn together by their love of books and writing.

But I'm pleased to say that I needn't have worried. Our first meeting exceeded my expectations with everyone quickly establishing a friendly ease with each other, enabling an instant flow of ideas, feedback and support. 

Reading aloud our own words, laying bare our soul for critique, can be a daunting experience so it is essential that we feel confident to express ourselves. Not only do I think, as a group, we instilled that confidence but I think the strength of feeling went even stronger. I felt there was an instant camaraderie within the group, a positive energy that was championing the member's personal expression (and genuine anger directed at the thoughtless online critic that had caused our girl to feel doubt about her brilliant work). Honest, constructive criticism is essential from our members. As Debbie calls it, "Pollyanna" feedback where you're told your work is nice or good from well-meaning family and friends is not very helpful but being cruel for the sake of cruelty is uncalled for. The Ragleth Writers will not tolerate meanness.     

And so we start our journey...I can't wait for the next chapter.