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For the Love of Books - What's New in Our World

19/07/2019: Great British Names and Their History

Great British Family Names and Their History
What’s in a Name?
By John Moss
Published by Pen and Sword History

As a writer, I got this book to assist with character names and the history attached to them which occasionally helps with character development too. I wasn’t disappointed – although I suspect Moss didn’t write the book for this purpose.

Primarily, it is a snapshot of British family names from their derivation including any translations from the Domesday Book, so covers absolutely everything about them.

With several map diagrams complete with key, Moss gives so much historical information by way of his extensive research that it is not a book for a single sitting but a reference book to dip in and out.

The world is a better place for the intricate and curious minds of people like Moss.

Reviewed by Sarah Banham www.loveofbooks.co.uk

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12/07/2019: It's All Happening!

Gosh! Have you ever been whizzing around doing things but cannot show anyone your efforts? Well, that's what's happening here at For the Love of Books.

There is a lot going on in the background, the stuff that provides the foundation for products and services to stand
upon - and without these foundations, nothing lasts.

It's the background bits that take the time and effort manifesting themselves through research, materials, creativity and the most important part of it all, imagination. Without stretching those imagination muscles, we don't move, evolve, progress or develop.

Therefore, come Autumn 2019, I will 'go official' on what has been going on in the background. I'm certain these new products and services will make you smile.

In the meantime, why not let me know what else you'd like to see from For the Love of Books and I'll see if I can make it happen.

Until next time...

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05/07/2019: Love Island

Unpopular opinion alert!

I like Love Island. There I said it. But have you noticed how divided people are on the show? It's almost as if people feel LI is a lesser form of TV and those watching it (or shock, horror taking part) are a lesser form of human. Remember last year when stats came out saying that there were more people applying for LI than applying for Oxbridge and people were shocked?

Well, I may have been a reluctant watcher but was pulled into it last year and without realising it began really rooting for specific couples or individuals. This year, I wasn't much interested until maybe the second or third episode and then...boom.

But the point of this blog isn't about gathering ratings for the show, it's about something much more down to earth that hugely relates to creative writing, or more specifically fiction writing.

You see, LI and other reality shows (Kardashian's, House Wives) have one thing that I think fiction writers might enjoy. Relationships. Or more importantly, explosive relationships.

When I'm writing a novel, one of my biggest loves is writing characters involving themselves within a relationship. Whether it is crime/romance, action/romance or simply romance itself, watching how people react to specific situations is gold. Of course you could rock up to a coffee show and stare outside (or inside) for a while to see how people react to each other but the kind of gentle cuteness or massive fireworks that you see on these shows enables your writing mind to gather images of body language, character traits and facial expressions.

As for more people applying to be on the show than applying for university, does that really matter? Not everyone wants to/is able to go to university because, guess what, everyone is an individual with their own wants and needs. And therein lies another blog subject for another time.

So before you dis the idea of Love Island (like I originally did), give it a go for the research alone. You don't have to like it, but the knowledge you can gather is gold.

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14/06/2019: Research is Everywhere

Recently I visited Los Angeles. It was essentially a research trip and while we were there we had great time.

Sadly, there was a need during this trip to call 9-1-1 because I'd become so ill an ambulance was called. It wasn't a decision taken lightly and for me, barely able to comprehend what was happening, it was a scary situation.

Details of my complaint aren't necessary, the taking on board of the processes are useful especially if a situation like this cropped up when writing a novel. Despite remembering very little of what went on - only recalling some bits in part - I've been told about it by my family who witnessed all of it.

As an ambulance was called, we expected to see an ambulance; after all, why wouldn't you? My daughter and husband waited at the door as the siren was approaching but instead of an ambulance, a firetruck showed up. Puzzled, my family saw the paramedics get out and showed them the way to me.

Fortunately I was going to be okay but it would take some time. Between my husband and daughter they gave the person in charge my details (husband forgot my birth date, presumably due to the intensity of the situation, and gave them his!) They remained for about 15 minutes but to me it felt like hours, not because it was boring but because i had lost all ability to comprehend and track time.

With copious amounts of sympathy for my situation, they advised two options: wait for the ambulance which was on its way anyway/use our car to get me to the hospital or tough it out. I chose to tough it out because the thought of taking up their time and utilising an ambulance and hospital bed that someone else worse off than me frightened me more than what I was going through.

Information and advice was given by two very sympathetic paramedics and the woman in charge (plus the firefighter/firetruck driver) and they advised my family to send the details to our travel insurers once their bill had been received by us when we were back in the UK. Our bill came through this week and we're in the process of sending it to the insurers.

All of this would have been a mystery to me unless I had seen it first hand. Hollywood movies and TV dramas don't necessarily show you the ins and outs of paperwork processes - essentially because it would be boring. But it is real life.

A month on and I can take some positives from my ordeal like some vital research information that I wouldn't normally have known. It seems the Anaheim Fire and Rescue Department share equipment (like the firetruck that brought them to me) like they do on, say, Chicago Fire (TV drama) but to witness it in real life means I can write about it with authority. After all, who sends a firetruck to someone in need of an ambulance?

Finally, if they ever read this blog, I want to extend my sincere thanks to the guys who came out to me that night and to my family to whom I gave quite fright.



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29/05/2019: Writers of Essex Meetup

It does seem to come around quickly, but these quarterly meetups are back again.

This coming Saturday 1 June from midday until 3pm at Caffe Nero in Chelmsford, Essex, UK, I will be hosting another social session.

Originally these meetups were set up for myself so I could escape the solitary environment of writing along. I am, by my very nature, a sociable person so when there is an opportunity to chat (usually about writing) to other writers going through the same issues as me, I'm one happy bunny.

Now in its third year, these meetups have proved to be more than just a catch up for me, by other writers (hobby and professional) have joined me to discuss ways out of ruts they've written themselves in to, brainstormed new ideas and even come up with collaborative efforts that they'll take forwards.

Some sessions have even created new friendships - the best part of socialising in my opinion.

So, don't ignore the invitation, if you are free for up to 3 hours every quarter, why not join in with the other writers who show up? It is free to attend - but do buy some refreshment from the cafe (we don't want to upset them) ;O)

See you there. :O)

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26/04/2019: A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty

by Mimi Matthews
Published by Pen and Sword Books

Elegant cover with pastels of cream, pink and shades of sepia. Illustrated with coloured pictures, this incredibly informative book gives a good idea of fashion between 1840 to the end of the century.

It provides information on clothing, varying activities for women of the time including horse riding, formal occasions and even what was worn on holiday. The restrictive and confining designs are a far cry from today’s fashions!

Aside from the fascinating aspects of fabric choice, needlework techniques and research undertaken for the cosmetics available at the time, this book would make a brilliantly helpful research companion for writers and artists focusing on that era. Reviewed by Sarah Banham www.loveofbooks.co.uk for Pen and Sword

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25/04/2019: Forgotten Royal Women

Erin Lawless’s book ‘Forgotten Royal Women’ is not only a fascinating and insightful read, but it is also written in an entertaining style with a great blend of historical prose, unusual words and modern parlance.

It traces female historical characters from the dark ages through to Victorian times. It covers legendary figures from the near mythical Scottish ‘Scota’ to the tragic Princess Charlotte, who had she survived would have prevented the invention of the word Victorian.

The book covers Queens, lovers, mistresses and tragic mothers.

Scota’s story stems incredibly from Egypt and includes the potential origin of the ‘Stone of Destiny’ (this rock gets more than one mention in the book!) as being from Egypt. Her existence is still a subject of conjecture, and it’s not often that a UK royal history book has a commentary that pre dates Christianity.

In the story of Cartimandua, Erin entertains with her references and descriptions. When this Queen of the Brigantes takes a second husband whose names means ‘better in battle’, I loved the reference that for the queen he was ‘clearly better in other respects too…’ Interestingly it is suggested that the love triangle that surrounds her story might have given origin to the story of Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot.

Edith Swannesha gets a noble and tragic mention who was the common law wife of one of my historical heroes Harold Godwinson. It is sad that history does not record what happened to her after the Norman invasion. But lineage can be traced from her to the current Queen through Edith’s daughter Gytha, meaning Queen Elizabeth II is Edith’s 29th great granddaughter.

Another touch of what I found to be an almost satirical use of English that entertained me was the story of Joanna Plantagenet. Erin describes how ‘it would have been totally inconceivable that a married pregnant woman be admitted to an Abbey’. Something in her story had clearly been very conceivable! Joanna was another tragic royal woman who died following child birth along with her child, much like the final tragic story of Princess Charlotte. Charlotte’s death, when she was the immediate heir to the throne, led to family expansion elsewhere to produce a new heir: Queen Victoria.

Writing royal history with its twists and turns in who accedes to the throne and from which house is difficult to commit to paper having read much on this subject. Erin has done a commendable job to try to allow the reader to follow these lines, and she has entertained along the way.

Good work, recommended read!

Reviewed by Bryan Lightbody,
For the Love of Books www.loveofbooks.co.uk
for Pen & Sword Books

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02/11/2018: BIKER BLOGS: It's not easy being green!

Remember when Kermit said that? I think I understand him now.

Menopause – or peri-menopause (the bit I’m in) creates a very colourful time in a woman’s life. Now, before all the guys click onto a different page, this affects you too. After all, why should we be the only one to suffer with it. Let’s share that suffering.

Kermit was green. I relate because my eyes are green. My hair is dyed red, the air is often blue when a mood hits me and within seconds from being sweary and shouty, my face matches my hair. Then my eyes see red.

Like I said, it’s a colourful time.

On the back of a motorcycle though, life feels different.

Because hubby and I (perhaps purposely?) do not have Bluetooth communications inside our helmets, and because he is a lot taller than me, I tend to see and hear very little while we ride out. This may sound restrictive, but it does provide a major positive: thinking time.

I run my own small business as a writer, ghost writer, business blog writer, workshop host, etc and I also present a weekly radio show on writing. On the days of the week I don’t do those things, I study. I’m now in my penultimate year of an Open University degree which is, you guessed it, writing related. Because of the often-intense nature of juggling my schedule, having time to think is paramount.

Between excellent riding skills, looking sexy in biker gear and generally being rather patient with his potentially volatile wife, hubby seems to enjoy the challenging mix of negotiating the traffic while having an anxious (will even jump at my own shadow!) pillion rider. We’ve had this bike for 3 years now and have had some amazing adventures on it.

We often take a long day trip out around Essex, an occasional weekend away (Lincolnshire, Wales etc) and we even battled the extreme sunshine earlier this year as we rode through the Cotswolds for a week. The term boil-in-the-bag was a reality for us during those five days. You can imagine what a delight I became for hubby while I endured menopausal hot flushes in 40-degree heat wearing a biker jacket and helmet! I probably lost a few pounds but then regained them during dinner each evening.

Aside from the thinking time you get on the back of a bike, you get to see life. Due to the lack of vision – I see both sides as we are on top of them rather than as they approach – when we slow down for traffic, I get to notice wild flowers, partially-hidden ancient stone walls, the reluctant rodent and occasional owls and other shy birds.

As a fan of architecture, I often get the chance within our county of Essex to take in the stunning lines and curves of gothic, classical, Victorian, medieval and even brand-spanking modern buildings.

So, between my hormones, thinking time, our weather and the countryside, pillion-riding is exciting and often peaceful in great measure.

That said, in unexpected torrential rain, the adventures are quite different again.

But that’s a story for another time.

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25/10/2018: Time Sensitive - Autumn Creative Writing Course

Each Tuesday from November 6th to December 11th 2018, I will be hosting an in-depth creative writing course at the Albert Edward Community Hall in Clacton, Essex.

During the stages of the course, aspects from the germ of an idea through to final publication will be covered in an informal and relaxed, flexible atmosphere.

If you aspire to becoming a creative writer, or are already writing, and want some tips on any aspect, then join us for a fresh look at the creative writing process.

Cost of the course is just £120 per person, for 18 hours of tips, exercises, one to one assistance and actual writing.

Book your place now by emailing sarah@loveofbooks.co.uk and showing your interest.

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01/10/2018: Health - work balance

More often than not, we all try our hardest to do what we do to the best of our abilities.

Sometimes, it doesn't work like that.

I want to mention the M word. I don't want to scare away any gents to my blog though so won't use the whole M word. Let's call it 'm-pause'.

Yeah - we all know what I'm talking about now.

M-pause or peri - m - pause (the bit I'm going through), is tough. Some women get it bad, some hardly notice it at all.

The problem arises when brain fog sets in. Brain fog, zombie-esque days, joint ache, low motivation, mixed into your work day and you'll find yourself having a very tricky time.

My memory isn't fab and I was never blessed with patience so when someone mentions a mistake I've made - an obvious one like a typo or the wrong time for an event - I have a tough time telling myself that I shouldn't sweat the small stuff. The thing is, ANY mistake, any error and anything not utterly right is not small stuff, certainly not when you are a writer by trade so the tiniest error is emphasised by the masses. But before the masses spot it (if you are lucky), you spot it and then continue to beat yourself up about it.

So, I put to you people of Interweb-land, is it worth punishing yourself for a small error or should you just remind yourself you are human?

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24/09/2018: Trying to keep up… with everyone!

Do you ever have that feeling that if you don't keep up with everyone you will be left behind? I find this a lot in business. I'm absolutely shattered today due to a busy weekend meeting up with relatives both days and then going to the cinema last thing on Sunday night.

We didn't really stop the whole weekend. I am beyond exhausted. I feel really dizzy and I've got brain fog and unable to focus much but still I've got a lot to do.

I'm doing this blog and vlog just to find out from other small businesses how they deal with it. Just be kind to yourself. Yes the calendar doesn't match up with how you feel inside, yes, you need to earn money to pay bills but sometimes…sometimes it's just not possible.

All morning I've been beating myself up in here (points to head) because I feel guilty because I've not been able to keep up. Now rather than do a really poor job of trying to keep up I feel I just cannot.

I've got a radio show to present this evening which I'm hoping in my heart of hearts that I don't have to do but I might have to anyway. It is voluntary but sometimes you still have to do these things. Somewhere in amongst the guilt in my mind I'm still privileged to be able to do it.

Mental health is vital to your physical health and everything else. (sigh)

Is it the answer though - to just be kind to yourself? Or should I just pull up my big girl pants and get on with it?

I don't know what the answer is….you tell me.

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30/06/2018: Elegant Etiquette in The Nineteenth Century

by Mallory James
Published by Pen and Sword Books

An amusing yet informative take on good manners and behaviour in years gone by.

The cover* alone evidences the off-beat tone used in the content which includes fashion, politics and acceptable social behaviours of both genders.

Incorporating behaviours between social classes, it looks at marital and class status too. This charming book offers a selection of black and white photography showing the intricacies of 19c fashion.

An amusing read, of potential value to a historical writer needing to research characteristics of people from this era.

* image of cover is on its way

Reviewed by SJ Banham
For the Love of Books
www.loveofbooks.co.uk
for Pen and Sword Books

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25/06/2018: Myths that Shaped our History Simon Webb Published by Pen and Sword

An interesting book showing how propaganda and handed-down, unquestioned stories have created a belief system.

The dark green cover drew me to this book and the title got my curious mind wanting more.

Starting with the Magna Carta and journeying to the Battle of Britain, this timeline of unchallenged stories have provided the country with a way to raise the morale of soldiers at war and civilians with a way of life. Webb suggests that Great Britain needed to believe historical events happened in a specific way in order to show our strength and prevent threats.

The content provides several photographs which serve to evidence the propaganda with ‘another example of …propaganda being taken at face value without anyone bothering to look at the facts’.

An interesting, if somewhat cynical read that makes you think.

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21/06/2018: How To Overcome Eating Disorders Breaking Free for a Better Life Louise V Taylor Published by Pen and Sword

Having experienced my own battles with eating disorders, I felt this book would answer a lot of my questions.

It did.

The cover photo is calming and serene but I didn’t feel it was right for this book. The layout is a little crowded too; wider margins may have been a better choice.

Those things aside, the content is well written and well researched covering many of the feelings suffered go through including feeling pressured, judged and shame.

Body image is not about vanity, it is about control and Taylor explains this fully confessing to her own experiences. She talks about how these disorders are fundamentally psychological incorporating how mental health issues can occur in later life.

She highlights statements like: ‘underlying emotional traumas’, ‘ambitious individuals who believe personal achievements are important’ and ‘being people pleasers’ which makes this book speak directly to the reader and connects with the sufferer.

The wavy oversized chapter headings did not seem to sit easily with the seriousness of the content or calm cover. However, Taylor makes up for that by incorporating case studies and touches on Freud and Jung while describing varying types of therapies available.

I was impressed Taylor focussed the disorder on sufferers of all ages and not just the young.

There is also a page devoted to self-help and further reading in addition to several helpful books sign-posted within the content.

All in all, a really insightful book. Thoroughly recommended for sufferers or those simply curious about eating disorders.

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20/06/2018: Elegant Etiquette in The Nineteenth Century Mallory James Published by Pen and Sword

An amusing yet informative take on good manners and behaviour in years gone by.

The cover alone evidences the off-beat tone used in the content which includes fashion, politics and acceptable social behaviours of both genders.

Incorporating behaviours between social classes, it looks at marital and class status too. This charming book offers a selection of black and white photography showing the intricacies of 19c fashion.

An amusing read, of potential value to a historical writer needing to research characteristics of people from this era.

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18/06/2018: Radio News

Writer's Block is going through some changes.

It celebrated its 6th birthday this year after having interviewed some 350 guests and giving a voice to new and existing writers all over the area - and world in some cases.

While Saint FM changes its name and frequency and goes off air until the new year, I have taken up home in the studios at Colne Radio (106.6fm) who I have been working with for two years now.

'Sarah Banham speaks to...' is the name of the show but essentially is still Writer's Block. I will be broadcasting live every Monday night from 2nd July 2018 6-7pm from Wivenhoe.

If you are local to Wivenhoe in North Essex (UK) and are willing to get to the studios to discuss your love of writing/your book/your writing group/your book group, indeed anything creative writing related, get in touch with the show's Facebook page: "Writer's Block Local Radio Show" or my twitter feed @sjbwrites

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19/02/2018: Book Review - Mary Queen of Scots' Downfall

Mary Queen of Scots’ Downfall
The Life and Murder of
Henry, Lord Darnley

By Robert Stedall
Published by Pen and Sword

This is a historical biography in hardback with a dust cover.

The contents include coloured pictures, detailed family trees and a meaningful acknowledgement to the publisher.

I had a personal reason for wanting to review this book. My surname was Stuart and I wanted to know how the spelling alters at times to Stewart. The book did not disappoint as now I know.

This is a very thick book filled with presumably years of research on a complex subject of power and status within royalty. It talks of aggressive tactics, bullying and taking children hostage to ensure the parents were loyal. These were not friendly people and the book certainly gives a vision of how appalling some of the personalities behaved.

With incredibly detailed genealogy and research undertaken by Stedall, to the point of becoming obsessive over evidence, it appears no detail, however trivial or intricate, has been ignored in the events surrounding the death of Lord Darnley.

For anyone even slightly interested in Royal history and all its celebrations and cover-ups, this book will be an added delight upon your bookshelf. A remarkable read and encased inside a binding well worth the asking price of £25.

SJ Banham

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19/02/2018: Book Review: How To Overcome Eating Disorders

by Louise V Taylor
Published by Pen and Sword

Having experienced my own battles with eating disorders, I felt this book would answer a lot of my questions. It did.

The cover photo is calming and serene but I didn’t feel it was right for this book. The layout is a little crowded too; wider margins may have been a better choice.

Those things aside, the content is well written and well researched covering many of the feelings suffered go through including feeling pressured, judged and shame. Body image is not about vanity, it is about control and Taylor explains this fully confessing to her own experiences. She talks about how these disorders are fundamentally psychological incorporating how mental health issues can occur in later life. She highlights statements like: ‘underlying emotional traumas’, ‘ambitious individuals who believe personal achievements are important’ and ‘being people pleasers’ which makes this book speak directly to the reader and connects with the sufferer.

The wavy oversized chapter headings did not seem to sit easily with the seriousness of the content or calm cover. However, Taylor makes up for that by incorporating case studies and touches on Freud and Jung while describing varying types of therapies available. I was impressed Taylor focussed the disorder on sufferers of all ages and not just the young. There is also a page devoted to self-help and further reading in addition to several helpful books sign-posted within the content.

All in all, a really insightful book. Thoroughly recommended for sufferers or those simply curious about eating disorders.

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24/01/2018: AAMilne Book Review

The Extraordinary Life of A. A. Milne

Nadia Cohen

Published by Pen and Sword

A beautifully presented hard back book with many photographs of the subject and his son.

This is the story of A. A. Milne’s life; sympathetically written, which shows the depth of this extraordinary man’s character and talent.

Taught, among others, by H. G. Wells, his friends included P. G. Wodehouse, J. M. Barrie, and Kenneth Graham, whose book, The Wind in the Willows, Milne dramatized into the play Toad of Toad Hall.

This book also explains his extremely close bond with his brother, Ken, and his lifelong financial generosity to Ken’s family before and after Ken’s premature death.

The major regret in A. A. Milne’s life was the fact he was never truly recognised, for his novels, plays, and political writings, but remembered mainly for being the writer of children’s stories which he wrote for his son, Christopher Robin.

A rift grew between father and son when, after returning from the 2nd World War, Christopher married his cousin, of whom his parents disapproved. The rift sadly never healed.

Do not let the wording on page 202; which makes it seem as if Christopher Robin outlived his daughter, Clare, while stating that he died in 1996 and his daughter in 2012; stop you from buying it. It, in no way, detracts from an excellent and well written book.

I loved this book and I’m sure you will too.

By Elaine Carlo
On behalf of www.loveofbooks.co.uk

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18/12/2017: Space for one more?

You may have heard it said that in order to find out what the story is about, you need to tell it to yourself first.

I was told years ago by the author Della Galton that we are in the entertainment business. It was a big message to me because I had never considered I was in that industry. But she was right. We provide entertainment for readers. We might spend night after insomnia-ridden night thinking about our characters or our stories, if this fits here or if that fits there, is that necessary, is this relevant, but ultimately what we do is entertainment, education or information for others.

We don’t tend to think about the reader straight away because we have to learn which piece goes where first. Constructing the picture that eventually becomes the story can be seen as a massive jigsaw; a puzzle that requires time, patience and creativity to connect. But there is a point, after several drafts, at which you have to consider the eyes that will be the final part of the literary puzzle. After all, we are writing for readers.

Recently, I heard it mentioned that we should ‘leave some space for the reader’, presumably to complete that metaphorical jigsaw. Also, to allow them room for their imaginations to work. I liked the mention. It reminds me that the reader makes up a big part of the creative process. Without their eyes and mind, the story does not get read.

So the next time you are struck with an idea or you are several drafts into your work-in-progress, just remember to keep some space for one more.

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13/12/2017: GDPR

What is it?
General Data Protection Regulation


What does it do?
Due to be passed by the House of Lords as a law, this regulation is designed to protect the consumer further. Currently when we purchase something online, or we give our personal details to a business, our details are protected but there are some loopholes. GDPR will enable us to have more control over what happens to our personally identifiable information.


I run a small business. Does it apply to my business too?
Everyone who runs a business, whatever its size, will be bound by the regulation. The Information Commissioner’s Office has made it clear that it will be seeking compliance from businesses of all sizes.


Does it cost?
Not directly, but if you do not comply, there will be hefty fines. If you have a web site, it will need to clearly display certain information. Even if you do not, you need to make sure that your reason for processing data, the exact nature of data held, for what period, where and by whom are all clearly understood by people before they submit their data.


How do I find out more about it? https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/635900/2017-08-07_DP_Bill_-_Statement_of_Intent.pdf will give you more information, but for more human conversation, why not discuss it with your village websmith instead?

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29/11/2017: Dickens and Christmas - A Book Review

Dickens and Christmas
Lucinda Hawksley
Published by Pen and Sword

A beautifully presented book in hardback with a dust cover. This book reminds us what an influence the man, Charles Dickens was on the Christmas period.

From the filth of Victorian England, Hawksley tells how Dickens’ worked his way from the depths poverty to become a respected writer. Incorporating snippets from Dickens’ books and private writings, Hawksley enthrals us with the knowledge that Charles Dickens rubbed shoulders with famous names and high society.

The book includes a selection of black and white photographs, cartoons, sketches and Victorian Christmas cards (the latter originated, coincidently, at the same time ‘A Christmas Carol was published’) we learn more about the era through its imagery. Chock full of interesting information, this biography interwoven with snippets of private letters tell us how his life, views and writings greatly influenced the Victorian era, so much so that we keep many of these feelings and traditions alive today.

Hawksley, a distant relative of Dickens is in the prime position to write about him. She has written an interesting and entertaining book that does not have to be enjoyed only at the festive period, but all year around.

Review by Sarah Banham
For The Love of Books
www.loveofbooks.co.uk


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09/11/2017: What Month is it? It's Nano-November!

November, for most people, is the pre-Christmas month. For writers all over the world it means NaNoWriMo.

Writing a novel within the month - 1667 words a day from the first to the last day of November - is as difficult as it sounds.

But then that is why it is called a challenge.

Most people who take on the challenge struggle at some point within the month. It might be time struggles, plot struggles, even fatigue struggles. There are few people who sail through the entire process without an issue.

So why do it?Yeah, I ask myself that every. Single. Year!

I think I participate in Nano (www.nanowrimo.org) because of the community aspect to it. Sure, there are writers all over the county but you never meet the professional ones, the hobbyist ones or the writing groups ones until Nano begins and then you really meet some characters.

Those people are your tribe.

They get you. They understand that when you are washing up the dinner plates at night you are wondering what 'Andrew' is thinking as you left him in a lift with nothing but a old coffee cup and a wrist watch which he might be using to count down the minutes until you release him and the doors open.

You see? As a writer, we get involved in our stories so much, we forget life outside of our heads.

Imagination is the key.

Without it, who are we? What are we?

We are approaching the middle of nano soon - the saggy bit where many have already downed pens, and others are typing furiously into the night. The bit where some of us have families who say, 'Shouldn't you put that away and spend some time with the children?'

Whatever the outcome of your 2017 nano, I wish you a fun filled time.

The best of it is, once midnight comes on 30th November, we only have 365 days until it all happens again.

Happy writing!

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02/05/2017: Writer in Residence at West Clacton Library

For the next three months at least, anyone who is interested in talking over any aspect of writing or books can drop in to West Clacton Library between 10am and 1pm on Fridays, for a chat with me.

Being appointed Writer in Residence at the library gives me the chance to write and help others write, while soaking up the atmosphere, surrounded by books full of story telling and learning going back over centuries.

During my tenure, I will be organising workshops in conjunction with library staff, offering one to one mentoring and taking part in library special events. This will all be great fun and a great challenge, so feel free to join my voyage of discovery on Fridays at West Clacton Library.

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02/05/2017: Good News Comes on Buses

As if becoming a Writer in Residence isn't enough good news for one day, Jaywick Library has today confirmed the dates for my next round of Creating Writing Workshops.

Check out the Calendar Page for details and booking instructions for the following workshops:

  • Finding Inspiration for Creative Writing
  • Getting to Know Your Characters
  • From Acorn to Oak
  • Writing Your Life Story

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01/03/2017: Spring is in the air - a great time for love stories

In our lives, we all take many roads. There are twists and turns galore on the path to happiness and to where we stand today. How many times have you looked back at your life, loves and relationships and thought "You couldn't write this"? Well, the fact of the matter is that you can write it. Only you have experienced those moments. Only you have seen those times. All it takes is for you to put it into words. Spring is a special time for thinking about love, be it the love of your life now, a lost love, a love that has yet to be or a love that can never be. All of these make stories. They can be dressed up as fiction, changing names and places to protect the innocent, or they can be set out as an autobiographical work, either for publication or for a limited audience of family and friends. If you would like to write the story of your love but don't know where to start, coming to one of my creative writing workshops, or joining one of my writing groups could help set you on the right road. Call me or click in the header of any page to send me an email.

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01/02/2017: How's your confidence?

Everyone has a story to tell and a book to write. Learning to do this creatively can do more for you than just provide anything between an absorbing pastime and a new career. More than that though, writing creatively can bring a wealth of benefits in less expected ways. Confidence with words is one thing that writing has taught me over the years. Speaking to people as well as writing comes more naturally and easily to me thanks to making use of words when I write.

This can have a powerful effect on every aspect of life, so whatever your writing ambitions may be, taking the voyage of discovery into your own story can be a fascinating and rewarding journey. If you don't know where to begin, attending one of my workshops, taking some coaching or joining one of my writing groups can be a positive beginning. Call me for a chat or send an email to get the ball (point) rolling.

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20/01/2017: You are not alone!

Have you a writing related new year's resolution? Perhaps to dig out that book or story that you have neglected. Maybe your aim is to start a new writing project, or enter a particular literary competition. Writing resolutions are no different to any other kind really, they are so much easier to stick with successfully if you have a little help. Having someone to make contact with at key stages, to check progress against plan, and to offer encouragement or advice can make all the difference. This can also be surprisingly affordable. My hourly rates are very reasonable and there are no commitments on your part to take a specific package. Everything is geared to you, your timescale and your project. When taking time away from longer term projects, such as ghost writing, this one-to-one coaching and mentoring approach can be highly productive in a relatively short time, fitting in sessions to suit you. If you feel that a little help and motivation can bring out the best in your novel, short story, poetry or script, let's have a chat. You can call me on the number above or click in the header of any page to send an email.

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14/10/2014: Book Reviews

Whenever an author receives a review about their book, there is a certain amount of tension that surrounds it. Will it be favourable? Will it be scathing? Will it be hard to swallow? Will it be brilliant?

Of course, not every review can be wonderful - after all we each have differing views as to what can be classed as 'wonderful'. Most of the time, if the review is 'adequate' or 'acceptable', it gives us just enough 'it was good, you can go on with your day now' to get through.

Back in April when I published my most recent book, I gave a copy to the Self Publishing Magazine at The London Book Fair and while a review wasn't guaranteed, it was accepted. Six months down the line the book has been reviewed. For this I am truly thankful.

There were one or two glitches with the book, I'm sure (nothing is utterly perfect after all and I am human), but on the whole, I am happy with the review.

If you have a copy of the book, I hope you enjoy it too. If you don't, you can get a copy from me or from this site.

sjb :O)

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29/09/2014: Feeling Unsure?

OK, so you have got a story to write but unsure about the way forward? There is no need to feel as lonely as a boat out there. I can help.

Hiring a ghost writer neeedn't be the most expensive thing on the planet. Indeed, most businesses hire someone to write anything from their advertising flyers right through to corporate histories. Sometimes it is a small job and other times a larger project.

A ghost writer worth their salt is someone who will listen to what you want to say. I am such a ghost writer. I will spend time with you, listen to your needs and carry them out.

I've been told I am friendly, helpful and professional. If those qualities appeal to you, please do get in touch.

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21/09/2014: A Right Larfff!

Yes, a typo - but it is allowed because it was a particularly exciting week!

Last week, For The Love of Books was part of some pretty special events and network meetings. The best of it was epitomised by me sitting in an F1 simulator. My face can best be described as hilarious!

This kind of expression, however, is what owning your own business is like. Some days it can be calm and serene while others can be completely wacky!

There is never a dull moment in the life of an entrepreneur and that is the way it should stay!

Have a great new week and I hope the expression on your face is something like this :O)

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15/09/2014: What's New in The World of A Writer?

Quite a lot actually.
As I wear many different hats within my roles of Writer, Photographer and Websmith, I find variety is the spice of life. My life, that is.
The thing is with being a creative soul is that so many aspects of business can be appealing that you want to be part of them AND you find you have many different skillsets, thus 3 hats.

Within the role of my writing business, I have recently reduced the amount of services I offer. Most people found I offered too many options so it seemed logical to streamline. It has worked well and been beneficial.
For those of you interested in Business Writing: 'blogs, proofreading, editing, then do get in touch.
For those of you who are more interested in the creative side of things. writing workshops, writing coach and ghost writing services, then I'm your gal!

However I can serve you, please do get in touch. It will be great to hear from you.

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24/07/2014: IN8 Business Networking Event

Fancy getting together on a monthly basis with other Small and Medium Enterprises to exchange tips, ideas and referrals? Well, IN8 Networking Event do exactly that!

We meet at several Essex venues each month for breakfast and evening meetings in order to expand our potential client base and build business relationships. Currently we meet at Basildon (The Haywain), Thorrington Nr Colchester (Mario's Place) and Purleigh Nr Maldon (Purleigh Bell).

If you are interested in attending FREE business networking events through IN8 and would like to be on our mailing list, please email sarah@loveofbooks.co.uk or sarah@villagewebsmith.biz with IN8 MAILING LIST in the title heading and we will include you.

Looking forward to seeing you at the next one!

Sarah
For The Love of Books

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30/05/2014: Workshop Link

A few of you have asked for the Eventbrite link to show on my blog. Easily done! It is below. (you may need to cut and paste into your browser)

Please also note that on the day of the workshop in Maldon on the barge, you are asked not to wear high heeled shoes. Trainers or flats are fine. This is due to the age of the barge and your safety and ease getting around.

Also please bring lunch for yourself - or feel free to roam out and about for lunch - then we will pick up again in the afternoon. There will be an abundance of tea/coffee and biscuits throughout the whole workshop which is included in the fee.

http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/creative-writing-workshop-tickets-11692387245


Very much looking forward to meeting you on 13 June :O)

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01/05/2014: Happy second birthday to Writer's Block

My radio programme for writers on Saint FM celebrates its second birthday today. This will be an opportunity for all guests who have been on the show over the last two years to send in birthday greetings to be read out on the next broadcast, which is on May the 6th.

A huge thank you to all who have participated while I have been presenting Writer's Block. I have enjoyed presenting the programme immensely and look forward to many more interesting interviews in the future.

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Writer's 'blog

2014-05-01
Happy second birthday to Writer's Block

My radio programme for writers on Saint FM celebrates its second birthday today
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2019-07-22
Writer's Block Radio Show


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Join me on Colne Radio every Monday from 6pm BST for a combination of music and conversation with literary types, covering just about every aspect of writing creatively
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