Monday, 28 May 2012

We're all going on a ...

I’ve spent the last fortnight editing a couple of guidebooks, one for New York and the other for Orlando. Combine that with the recent summery weather and you’ll see why my mind has turned towards a spot of R&R.

When our boys were little we did the rounds of the English seaside resorts, which was lovely at the time (even if number 1 son always had his head in a book and wouldn’t have known if we were in Torquay or Toronto), but those days are over. They’re off doing their own thing, which is as it should be. But what do we aged parents do now?

T'other half and I have never really got the hang of the holidays. We’ve always struggled to find somewhere that suits us both. He starts to wilt as soon as the mercury nudges 20, so such forays as we have made to warmer climes have always been somewhat hindered by sunburn and the constant search for ice-cream and cold beer (so not all bad, then!).

On the other hand, my blood stops flowing when it senses freezing point approaching. We’ve been skiing several times, but the unavoidable combination of cold, altitude and fear always gave me a nosebleed. It was only the promise of hot chocolate that kept me going. I would cling for dear life to the button lift and then descend the slopes with such concentration that the rest of my group would have gone down, up and down again before I rejoined them. I would say that it’s because I like to do things properly and was working on my technique, but actually I was just a scaredy-cat.

So perhaps separate holidays are the answer. He can go golfing and fossil-hunting, and I’ll settle for a bit of culture somewhere sunny but not hot, where I can get a nice cup of tea.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Bingo wings, anyone?

stock photo : young hand in the gesture of touching, pushing, indicating
Putting a finger on the problem
Now here's a funny thing. I've just been to a yoga class where the teacher told us that if you press down through the base of your forefinger it will activate your tricpes brachii (that's the muscle in the back of your upper arm that if not tended regularly will release downwards in an unattractive, pendulous form).
Can this be true? Standing at my desk and pressing said finger on my left hand downwards, while resting by right hand on my left triceps, it did seem as though there was some tension. Isn't that odd?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bookish matters

I went to hear Miles Jupp last night at our local arts centre. He has a book out at the moment: 'Fibber in the Heat', which is about how he blagged himself a job as a journalist following the England cricket team on tour in India.

I wasn't sure what to expect - perhaps a reading of a few extracts from the book with an anecdote or two and a bit of a comedy turn. What he actually did was brilliant. It was a one-man-show-style rendition of the book, just him and a microphone and a couple of hours of wonderful actorly performance. Witty, clever, thought-provoking.

It was also a bit of a masterclass in how to promote a book. The Waterstones team were on hand to ensure that there were plenty of copies and we were ushered through efficiently but with no sense of hurry. Miles J was charming - and he signed my ticket, as well as my book! The lovely thing was, though, that it didn't feel like it was just another stop on an author tour; it was like a proper night out - oh and by the way, do buy the book, if you'd be so kind.  If he's coming your way, go and see him.

On my own writing front, two near misses in short story competitions: an 'honourable mention' and a spot on a short list. Oh well, reread, rework and resubmit...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Althorp Literary Festival

The postman has just delivered my ticket for the 9th Althorp Literary Festival, which is being held 15-17 June. I'm only going on the Saturday - I teach on Fridays and Sunday is Father's Day, so we shall be out somewhere blokey, I expect.

Literary Festival Althorp is only a few miles down the road, and is, of course, the Spencer family home. When I first visited it, Lady Raine was in the teashop. I remember thinking how much like a proper home it felt, despite the tourists traipsing through. It will be interesting to see how it compares now.

Anyone else going? I'll see you in the bookshop!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Publishing news

Had a bit of news about one of my long-standing publishing clients this morning. I've been working for them for teens of years - perhaps even longer - and the way we work has changed as technology has evolved. Proofreading used to mean comparing a typeset galley proof with the author's original, often handwritten manuscript. Now it means reading a designed page looking for literals and howlers, and (to coin a catchall phrase) anything that doesn't look right.

stock photo : Hand Proofreading a Manuscript beside Laptop
The end of the red pen?
This company has gone from outsourcing everything to bringing it all back in-house to somewhere in between the two, so my workload has always fluctuated. The news this morning from a fellow freelance but who used to work in-house for this company is that from now they will be producing printed copies of only their annual publications, and will be focusing their energy on ebooks.

I shall be interested to see how this develops, not just because it is likely to mean less work for me, but also because their books have lots of illustrations, bullet points, tables, numbers and other complications.

Once again, we see that it's not survival of the fittest, but of the most adaptable.