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End of the Month: July in a Nutshell

Another month has zipped by, and so Nell Peters is here with her popular roundup of events. A belated happy birthday to Nell (who shares the same birthday as me), and thanks, as ever, for another fab post.

Over to you…

Good day! Both Jenny and I are a year older since we last met, and while the Football World Cup didn’t actually come home, sales of waistcoats rocketed. That’s July in a nutshell and I’m not even going to mention tennis or Donald Trump …

Someone celebrating their birthday this fine day is JK (Joanne Kathleen, as I’m sure you all know) Rowling, who clocks up fifty-three years. The Harry Potter series of books hit the shelves in June 1997, with publication of HP and the Philosopher’s Stone, and the last (seventh), HP and the Deathly Hallows was released in July 2007. Rowling’s imagined biography for her main character saw him born on 31st July 1980 in Godric’s Hollow, whereas the actor Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry P (again, as you all know – I have a talent for stating the obvious), was born in Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, London – where sons #2, 3 and 4 were born – on 23rd July 1989, about nine weeks after #3. I’m sure if Daniel’s mother had known then the significance of the last day of the month, she’d have held on. In keeping with the 31/7 theme, the play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, with contributions by JKR, was published worldwide at midnight on this day two years ago. And what do you give the woman who can have anything she wants for her birthday? I like to think at least one of her friends will give her some tasteful Harry Pottery. I’m so sorry …

A name caught my eye as I was researching people born on 31st July and immediately appealed to my pathetic sense of humour – take a posthumous bow Arthur (John) Daley; not the ducker and diver, but an American sports writer and journalist born in New York City in 1904. He wrote for The New York Times (his only employer) for almost fifty years, producing over 10,000 columns with an estimated twenty million words – and in 1956 was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his troubles. He reported on the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and when he was chosen to repeat that role in Berlin in 1936, he became the first Times correspondent to be sent overseas for a sports assignment. In later years, he covered the Olympics in Rome, Tokyo, Mexico City and Munich. Daley lived in Old Greenwich, Connecticut with his wife, Betty and their four children, two of whom followed in his footsteps to become journalists on the Times. He died of a heart attack on January 3rd 1974, as he was walking to work, and is buried in the ambitiously-named Gate of Heaven Cemetery, New York.

Poor old Arthur didn’t make the Montreal Olympics in 1976, but I did. I managed to miss all of the long, hot summer that cooked the UK that year, but Montreal summers are always hot, with crippling degrees of humidity because the city is a series of islands. Being around three months pregnant and very sickly, I quite regretted shelling out for a ticket for the opening ceremony, as I sat through the rather lacklustre proceedings, feeling like death.

Montreal had experienced the coldest winter on record during 1970/71 (152 inches of snow, yikes!), followed by a period of violent political unrest. The terrorist Front du Libération du Quebec (FLQ) exploded ninety-five bombs in the city – the largest of which blew up the Stock Exchange – and kidnapped the British Consul, James Cross, along with the Minister of Labour, Pierre Laporte. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau responded by imposing martial law, and armoured personnel carriers patrolled the streets, with troops detaining hundreds of people without charge. The FLQ released Cross but murdered Laporte, and the city was a pretty scary place to be for a very long time – even when I arrived in ’74 – particularly if you spoke with a British accent.

You might think, then, that the Games of the XXI Olympiad – to give them their official title – would be embraced as an opportunity to turn a corner, to go some way to ease the tragedy of the 1972 Munich Olympics, and demonstrate that sport could transcend all. After all, the Games were the first to be hosted by Canada and, to date, the only summer Olympics held there. But no; multiple strikes, organised corruption, theft and sabotage, along with rocketing costs, left the city with a debt of (Canadian) $1.6bn which would take decades to clear, not to mention an unfinished stadium. And to add to the fiasco, as the Games were about to open, twenty-two African nations withdrew, because the International Olympic Committee refused to ban New Zealand for sending the All Blacks rugby team to tour in apartheid South Africa.

But the British did turn up, and one of the women toddling around the stadium, dodging cement mixers and wearing the rather hideous uniform – red skirt suit, white shoes, bag, scarf that looked like a hangman’s noose, topped off with what one of my grandmothers would have described as a muck-spreading hat – was Princess Anne (without her horse, in case you were wondering?)

My only claim to fame is that I’ve watched the Olympic Torch procession up close and personal twice – first in Montreal in torrential rain and then in sunny Norfolk in 2012, prior to the London Olympics. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Zara Phillips won a silver medal on her horse, High Kingdom in the Equestrian Eventing final on 31/7/12. This was on the same day that two car bombs killed twenty-one people in Baghdad and a second power grid failure in India in two days left 670 million people without power. That’s an awful lot of redundant toasters.

I doubt Zara ever met our niece, who was a volunteer chauffeur during the London Games – as a teacher she was on summer hols and didn’t have to take leave. Not speaking a word of Russian, she was the perfect choice to ferry around a Russian ambassador, who didn’t speak a word of English. What a jovial pairing that must have been (he did, however, manage to invite her to some lavish official function – an offer she tactfully and wisely refused.) Worst of all, she had to wear the awful pink and purple clobber assigned to all staff and volunteers. Who ‘designs’ these outfits, I wonder – colour blind orang-utans with no dress sense?

As I write this in advance, I hope I’m not tempting fate by mentioning that this July has brought hot temperatures and little rain to the UK. And some record heat levels were recorded elsewhere in 1994. It was 39.3°C in Pleschen, East-Germany on this day; Arcen Limburg, Holland recorded an average over the month of 22.0°C – the warmest July since 1783; and Stockholm averaged 21.5°C, their hottest July since 1855. Phew!

Loretta Young

Lots of weddings have taken place on 31st July over the years; American actress Loretta Young married advertising executive Tom Lewis (1940); singer-songwriter and musician Ray Charles married Eileen Williams (1951); singer Natalie Cole married songwriter Marvin Yancy (1976); Bee Gee Robin Gibb married author and artist Dwina Murphy (1986); actor Patrick Dempsey married make-up artist Jillian Fink (1999); Lady Davina Windsor married surfer and the first Maori to marry into the Royal Family, Gary Lewis at the chapel in Kensington Palace in London (2004); and then a double whammy in 2010 when singer-songwriter Alicia Keys married award-winning rapper Swizz Beatz in Corsica, and Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former US President Bill and wife Hillary, married investment banker Marc Mezvinsky in New York.

We had a family wedding on 31st July 2015, when our oldest niece (aforementioned Olympic chauffeur) tied the knot in Stratford-upon-Avon, from whence her OH hailed. It was a lovely old country house-type venue and no expense was spared, as the sun shone down on the bridal party and their many guests. Our immediate family had a couple of wardrobe malfunctions in the footwear department – #2 son forgot to pack his smart shoes and so had to wear trainers with his formal suit, but that paled into insignificance compared with #1’s experience. Can you imagine why anyone would order a pair of very expensive shoes off the internet and not try them on to make sure they were a good fit? The first time those shoes met his larger feet was in the hotel room as he and his wife were getting ready for the ceremony – he was giving the bride (his cousin) away because her dad had died four years previously, so no trainer substitutes for him.

The wedding was in two parts – the first conducted by a celebrant in the ruins of an old chapel in the grounds. Son managed to escort the bride from house to chapel wearing the crippling shoes, but they were removed at the first opportunity, and when he walked the bride into the official proceedings within the house, he did so in his brightly-coloured socks. That was also the case for the photographs – at least there were no visible holes. Nor did anyone seem to notice that #2 and 3 were wearing almost-identical blue suits – #2’s newly-purchased and #3’s hired. Despite an enviable honeymoon in the Maldives, the ‘happy couple’ had separated before Christmas. Slightly bizarre that the outfit I purchased far outlasted the marriage …

#2 son’s wedding was booked for 30th July 2011, but, alas, was called off a few months beforehand – there seems to be some sort of wedding curse going on here! That year for us was four funerals and no weddings … Looking on the bright side, cancellation meant the dreaded stag do would not go ahead – they’d planned a long weekend on a canal barge. The very thought of several inebriated young men, staggering around on deck in close proximity to murky waters, turned my blood cold – not helped by my friend Allison insisting on referring to it as The Boat of Death. The wedding may not have happened, but the couple are still together, as are another couple who actually did get married on that day.

Step forward once again Zara Phillips, who wed rugby player, Mike Tindall. Without any nuptials to attend, the OH and I nipped up to Edinburgh for a few days, not realising the wedding would be taking place down the road in Canongate Kirk – in fact, several people staying at our hotel were going to the bunfight. As I hadn’t packed my embarrassing hat, we decided not to gatecrash.

Speaking of which, hat’s me lot – sorry again! Thanks, Jenny!

Toodles!

NP

***

Thanks again Nell!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

 


Why all writers need to learn how to sell: Blog Tour with Niraj Kapur

Today I have something a little different for you. A blog from Niraj Kapur’s blog tour for his book, ‘Everybody Works in Sales.’ How true for anyone who makes their living writing!

Many thanks for dropping by today, Niraj. Over to you…

Why all writers need to learn how to sell

I’ve had several screenplays optioned, written 17 TV pilot episodes, been a writer-for-hire for shows on CBBC and Channel 5’s Milkshake. My first movie came out in 2012, I spent 3 years pitching in Hollywood and now my first non-fiction book, Everybody Works in Sales – How What you Need to Know to Achieve Success in Your Career was released on March 20th.

Many people, especially young writers, think all this writing work is due to me having exceptional talent. If you told my friends that, they would burst out laughing. Even the agents who have represented me over the year or the producers I’ve worked with will tell you I’m not brilliant. Sure, I’m have some talent, that’s important, however, the reasons I’ve had so many commissions is that I know how to sell and more writers need to learn this skill if they want to achieve more success.

Everybody Works in Sales.

Everybody.

If you work for somebody, you earn a living by selling their product or service.

If you are self-employed, you earn a living by selling your product or service.

When you buy from Amazon, they always recommended other products similar to the ones you are purchasing or have already purchased – that’s selling.

When you download a song, movie or TV show from iTunes, they always recommend more similar products. That’s selling.

When you register for most websites, they sell their products or services to you through a regular email.

When you attend an exhibition at the NEC, London ExCel, Olympia, Manchester or even a local market, everyone is trying to sell you their product.

Other examples of selling include:

  • When you’re having a job interview.
  • A child begging their parents for a present.
  • Persuading your friends which restaurant or bar to go to.
  • An advertising agency pitching for a client’s business.
  • A fitness trainer at the gym recommending how you work out.
  • An internet entrepreneur promoting their course.
  • A musician searching for that next gig.
  • A parent setting up a business to work around the school run.
  • A manager asking his staff to work on a project.
  • An employee asking their boss for a pay rise.
  • A broadband company trying to sell their packages.
  • A politician persuading you to vote.

We all have to sell. Most people don’t know how to sell or don’t want to sell because they associate selling with sleazy car salesmen or call centres who annoy you by calling you at home or your mobile. Everybody Works in Sales is designed to help you learn the skills you need.

Many writers believe if they write a good book or an interesting blog, they will find work. I wish it were that easy. No seriously, I really do, it would make my life easier as well.

Since many writers I’ve met are shy or introvert, it makes selling more challenging, but not impossible.

Here’s a bad salesperson – they’re not concerned with anyone around them, they knock down people in their way, only care about themselves and are ready to take on the enemy/the customer.

Photo by Luiz Hanfilaque on Unsplash

Here’s a bad salesperson – they’re not concerned with anyone around them, they knock down people in their way, only care about themselves and are ready to take on the enemy/the customer.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Is it really that simple?

After 3 years travelling to LA pitching events and meeting producers, manager and agents, here’s how writers find work.

  You have a strong writing voice

  You’re not a psycho

  You’re not needy

  You keep your promises (selling)

  You’re likable (selling)

  You research the person you meet (selling)

You are able to adapt your work to your audience (selling)

You ask great questions (selling)

These rules are the in the UK. Yes, you also need luck and having contacts does help.

The business world is more complex than this. The world is writing is simpler when it comes to selling.

I wish you good luck on your journey ahead.

Everybody Works in Sales is designed to help you do better in your career because we all work in sales. Available now on Kindle and paperback https://www.amazon.co.uk/Everybody-Works-Sales-Achieve-Success-ebook/dp/B079T6HFQS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519641721&sr=8-1&keywords=niraj+kapur+everybody+works+in+sales

Everybody Works in Sales

We all work in sales. If you work for somebody, you earn a living by selling their product or service.

If you are self-employed, you earn a living by selling your product or service.

When you buy from Amazon, they always recommended other products similar to the ones you are purchasing or have already purchased – that’s selling.

When you download a song, movie or TV show from iTunes, they always recommend more similar products. That’s selling.

When you register for most websites, they sell their products or services to you through a regular email.

When you attend an exhibition at the NEC, London ExCel, Olympia, Manchester or even a local market, everyone is trying to sell you their product.

We all work in sales, yet few people know how to sell. Until now.

Containing 27 valuable lessons, plus 17 interviews with experts, Everybody Works in Sales combines unique storytelling and personal development to ensure you have the tools you need to do better in your career.

Purchase from Amazonhttp://amzn.to/2ET89nn

About Niraj Kapur

Award-winning executive, Niraj Kapur, has worked in corporate London for 23 years.

From small businesses to a national newspaper to FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies, he’s experienced it all and shares his insight, knowledge, big wins and horrible failures.

Containing 27 valuable lessons, plus 17 interviews with experts, Everybody Works in Sales combines unique storytelling and personal development to ensure you have the tools you need to do better in your career.

Niraj has also had several screenplays optioned, sitcoms commissioned, kids’ shows on Channel 5’s Milkshake and CBBC. His movie, Naachle London, was released in select cinemas across the UK.

He’s working on his next book while advising companies and coaching individuals on how to improve their sales.
@Nirajwriter

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/nkapur

***

Many thanks Niraji,

Jenny xx


Mark Norman: Folklore Thinking

Today I’m joined by one of my fellow members of the Exeter Author Association; folklore expert, Mark Norman.  So go and grab a cuppa, then come back and have a read…

Hello. My name is Mark Norman. I am a folklore researcher and author based on the edge of Dartmoor, in the South West of the UK. Although I sometimes stray into the world of fiction, most of my writing is non-fiction, being based around my research. So today, I would like to introduce you to the world of folklore, and my writing within that area.

Folklore essentially boils down to being an examination of the traditions and beliefs of individuals and communities: literally, folk-lore or the beliefs (lore) or the people (folk). It can be seen to span various broader disciplines such as psychology or anthropology, but I prefer to think of it as a part of social history and it is therefore as a history discipline that I tend to work most.

Although I am a committee member of the Folklore Society, the UK’s oldest academic organisation for the study of the subject, I am not affiliated to any institution, being an independent researcher. I am therefore free to focus on whatever aspects of the subject I choose to explore.

My interests within the field of folklore are quite broad, but the areas that I mostly focus on are the more regional aspects of folklore within the area that I live and most particularly, the phenomenon of ghostly apparitions of phantom Black Dogs. This is the aspect of folklore upon which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle drew when he wrote what is arguably one of his most famous Sherlock Holmes stories, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

My most involved publication to date is my book, Black Dog Folklore, which was published in 2015 by Troy Books. To date, this book is the only academic investigation of the subject by a single author. I hold what is thought to be the UKs largest archive of Black Dog sightings, traditions and eyewitness accounts (probably over 1,000 now) and around 700 of these are included in a gazetteer in the appendix of the book.

Publication of Black Dog Folklore was the culmination of around ten years of research, on and off; an undertaking which could have continued for longer had I not taken the decision to draw a line under the research at the time and decide that the book should come out at that stage. One of the difficulties of working in an area of cultural history such as this is that one story will inevitably lead to many more. New information comes to light all the time and stories change and develop. So, although the book is out on the shelves, the work on the subject most definitely continues.

Aside for this full-length study, I publish a lot of short-form articles for magazines, websites and in other places where I am invited (or sometimes cajoled) to contribute. Amongst these, for example, are pieces for Mythology magazine on Christmas traditions, an article on dog bones discovered at an archaeological dig and related to my research for Folklore Thursday website, an article for a personal site on the folkloric links of The Hound of the Baskervilles and a piece on the links between Sirius (the dog star) and dogs in folklore. I was also asked by the producers of one of Sir Tony Robinson’s documentary series’ to advise on some Black Dog lore in the area being discussed.

I have been asked to contribute to, or contribute myself to, various books and anthologies. Most recently I co-authored a chapter on fairies in Devon for a new book called Magical Folk published by Gibson Square and a chapter proposal I was asked to make for a new academic book published by Palsgrave Macmillan is being looked at currently. My fiction short story The Padding Horror which sets some of my research against a fictional backdrop of Victorian Dartmoor in Lovecraftian style was published in the UK as part of a charity anthology called Secret Invasion, to raise money for the mental health charity MIND and is published this month in America in another anthology called Fairy Tales and Folklore Reimagined.

Another large chunk of my writing time is taken up in script writing. I am the creator and host of The Folklore Podcast which is quite widely listened to around the world. In fact, just a couple of hours ago as I write this, I learned that it is currently ranked at #141 in the US iTunes charts for History. The podcast is released twice a month, with one episode being a guest interview and the other a presentation written by myself. It is admittedly a lot of work to script this frequently alongside other projects and so sometimes I share my research across other projects that I do to help with this. For example, as I speak relatively frequently at conferences or public events, I will sometimes adapt talks for podcast episodes or vice versa.

As far as future book publications go, I am currently planning to release a volume of extended essays on a range of folklore subjects. The backbone of these will be from past scripts I have written for the podcast episodes, which will then be expanded and researched more tangentially to form longer studies suitable for book chapters. I am also looking to work on another longer study of an area of folklore in the same style as Black Dog Folklore. There is another well-known piece of widespread folklore which has not been seriously studied or collected together since the 1930s to which I am hoping to turn my attention.

It is certainly the case that books and writing form a large part of my life. At home I live with my wife Tracey who is also a writer (see her recent blog on this site about her play WITCH for example) and, with a colleague, we also produce and narrate audiobooks. I am also on the judging panel for a national book awards for non-fiction titles and with what remaining time I have left in the week, I work for Libraries Unlimited, the umbrella organisation for Devon Libraries.

I hope that you have found this short insight into my research and writing interesting. I am always happy to talk about my research and you can contact me easily via my social media pages below. If you are interested in the subject, please do get in touch.

BOOKS

Black Dog Folklore is available at https://thefolklorepodcast.weebly.com/store/p24/blackdogfolklore

Magical Folk is available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0783R465X/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Fairy Tales and Folklore Reimagined is available at http://btwnthelines.com/dd-product/fairy-tales-and-folklore-re-imagined/

Secret Invasion is available for charity donation at www.justgiving.com/secretinvasion

WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA

The Folklore Podcast: www.thefolklorepodcast.com

The Folklore Podcast: www.facebook.com/thefolklorepodcast

Research and writing: www.facebook.com/marknormanfolklore

The Folklore Podcast: @folklorepod

Mark Norman: @Mr_Mark_Norman

***

Many thanks Mark,

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny xx



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