Saturday 24 November 2012

A Lovely Blog Award

Scarcely has the dust begun settling gently on my first Blog Award, when Rosalind Adam of Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain (  - a blog I highly recommend you check out for its beautiful and often very moving poetry and prose, lands me with this one.

The deal is that I have to write about my experiences, good and bad, as a blogger, then recommend 5 other brilliant bloggers for the same award. As I've recently written a post about blogs, however : A Blog about Blogs, I thought I'd go short and sweet and open this one up to you.

When I posted my first blog, 'In the beginning was the deed' on May 7th, I had three visitors, two of whom were family members I bribed into reading it, and one comment. Now, six months on, I regularly get 250+ people reading the blogs - which rose to an unbelievable 665 when I ranted about Waterstones, and upward of 20 comments. Not to mention the comments on the comments. People are meeting each other on my blog, falling in love and getting married - no, no they aren't really, it just seems like that sometimes.

This is still short of some of the American blogs I follow however, where it takes so long to scroll down to the comment box that you almost loose heart! (sorry, Kelly - don't mean it!) And it leads me to ask: what makes an addictive blog? What keeps you returning to the same writer time and time again? 

Does the style influence you? Or is it the content - and if so, what makes 'good' content? I think the rise in my readership coincides directly with my appearance on Twitter - does being present on social media forums increase traffic? Does blogging sell books? Over to you..... oh, and it's ONE biscuit each!

My choice for this Award is slightly unusual: I'm not recommending 5 individual bloggers, but a group, The Romaniacs ( To me, their joint blog embodies everything that a good blog should be: funny, informative, endlessly entertaining and they are generous sharers with other writers! Ladies - please accept this award; you richly deserve it.

Saturday 17 November 2012

The PINK SOFA welcome Chris Hill

Chris Hill
Chris Hill is one of the many lovely writers I met on Twitter. He was kind enough, on a very short acquaintance, to let me scrounge a guest blog to publicize Jigsaw Pieces when it came out in August, and so it is a great pleasure to return the favour.
Chris is also the first man to climb the rickety stairs to the garret at the top of Hedges Towers and grace THE PINK SOFA with his presence, and there are special Danish butter cookies on the coffee table to celebrate.

So, Chris, tell us about yourself , and your writing trajectory?

I work in PR for a children's charity. Before that, I was a newspaper journalist, starting as a reporter, then a news-editor, sub-editor and finally editor. It's a job where you meet all manner of people from every station in life, which I think helped me as a writer. At home I have two sons who keep me busy, so I do the usual family stuff. I run sometimes, when I can be bothered, and I did the London Marathon a couple of years ago (THE PINK SOFA is impressed. The only exercise it does is jumping to conclusions) - mostly I'd rather sit around in front of the TV or listen to music though. Oh - and I read; I'm always reading.

I remember writing as a child - maybe even when I was at junior school. I used to write scraps in the back of old school notebooks - not proper stories or poems but attempts at fiction certainly. I can't remember why I started but I've always loved reading so I guess it grew out of that.

In my 20's I got more serious and my writing began to take on proper shape and structure. Eventually I started writing stories I felt were good enough to enter competitions - then I started winning some, which was obviously encouraging. Later on I progressed to attempting novels. I've completed three so far - this is the first I've found a publisher for. It's been a learning process - it still is!

I guess what I write could be called 'literary fiction'  or 'general fiction' - it's what I read and what I'm passionate about. Themes can be whatever interests me at the time - if an idea snags me, I'll work it through in my notebook and if it appears there's enough for a story or even a novel, I'll start work on it.

Chris' new novel
Song of the Sea God, my newly published novel, is a book about a man who comes to a small island off the coast in northern England and tries to convince the locals he is a god. In some ways I suppose it's a book about the nature of religion - what it means to people, how it works. I'd like to think there's humour in there, particularly in the narrative voice, but it's quite a dark book as well; it delves into some quite murky places.

Chris also has a blog at where he talks about writing and other stuff.

Thank you very much, Chris - THE PINK SOFA likes the sound of your book - available in all bookshops, plus online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And it's already garnering some good reviews! Chris will be staying around to chat for a while, so why don't you take a seat and ask him something ? Or share your own writing experience.

Friday 9 November 2012

Calm down dear, it's only Twitter-rage

An interesting week at Hedges Towers. To Sainsburys to buy some sparklers for DD's wedding in December. Approaching the fireworks counter, I was informed by the young assistant that I had to complete my shopping before I could buy them. Asked why - and was told that it was a safety precaution to prevent customers setting them off in the store. I am now officially the oldest juvenile delinquent on the block!

Also this week I managed to got involved in a Twitter-spat with two other writers over an issue that I expressed an opinion upon, I thought generally, but was instantly interpreted as a criticism. This is the first time it has happened to me, though not the first time I've witnessed spats taking place, in my role as usually innocent bystander.

Which led me to think about how we act towards one another on such a restrictive medium as Twitter. Are there unwritten rules of behaviour? Because if we want to participate and put ourselves out there, we are going to meet individuals whose opinions and stances differ radically from ours. How should we deal with this?

I believe there is a difference between disagreeing over a particular issue, and launching a personal attack on another Twitter member. I have never witnessed the latter, thankful to say, but I can completely understand why, in such a circumstance, one would want to create digital distance by 'unfollowing' the attacker. 

 'Unfollowing' someone with whom you happen to have started a lively dialogue over an issue, however strongly you or they feel about it, is in my opinion the equivalent of stamping your foot, storming out and slamming the door. I did it at 13. Maybe you did it too. I don't do it now because I hope I'm more 'grown up.' Thus I am happy to say: 'OK, let's agree to differ on this one. Good luck anyway,' and drop out of the discussion, which is what I chose to do in the spat I got involved in. 

Also, I always remind myself, whenever I am tempted to let rip, of what happened when I 'did' the Edinburgh Festival a few years ago. There I witnessed a rather nasty row take place, in public, between two very well-known children's writers. I remember thinking at the time: if that's the way you behave, then I don't think I want to buy your books. And I never have.

So what do you think? Should you speak your mind - whatever the outcome? How do you deal with Twitter-rage? I'd really like to know.

Next week: The PINK SOFA welcomes another wonderful guest.

Saturday 3 November 2012

A Blog about Blogs

Oh dear. Blogs have been getting a bit of a kicking recently, haven't they? Various writers have come out publicly and announced that they've abandoned theirs, as the effort and energy put into them doesn't seem worth it. Others have thrown their metaphorical hats into the ring and admitted that they have reduced their blog posts from regular to intermittent, and that they don't follow, read or comment upon other writers' blogs any more as they no longer have the time.

I posted my first blog on May 5th, so obviously, I am not in a position to comment, but equally obviously, that has never stopped me in the past: I like blogs. I write this one, host interesting guests on it, and I read and comment on other blogs too. 

A blog is a way of getting instant feedback and staying connected to the world beyond one's mentally enclosed writing space. For those who don't want to tackle a whole book, a blog is a satisfying outlet for their writing talents. For the marvellous poets whose blogs I read, I guess it is the only way to reach readers, as poetry is an even more restricted field than prose.

I also value the discipline of having to produce a complete piece of writing nearly every week. As a procrastinator who, if they ever made it an Olympic sport, would be up there on the winner's rostrum, it as a good way to stay focused. And I freely confess that I have learned practically all of what I know about blogging and social media from reading other people's blogs.

Interestingly, for the first time in 17 years, several of my Yr 13 students have reported being told at University visits that a blog would be an asset to mention on their personal statements (Art and Design, and English and Creative Writing seem to be the courses that like them). Never happened before, and speaks volumes about the status blogging has achieved in the mainstream academic world. 

So I'm carrying on blogging. If for no other reason than it took me ages to lug The Pink Sofa up three flights of stairs to the tiny garret at the top of Hedges Towers, where I write. And I've just finished assembling the white birch coffee table, which I had to do in Swedish as they sent the wrong instructions. 

How about you, though? Bloggerphile, or bloggerphobe? Feel free to share your thoughts...