Thursday, 22 December 2011

Festive Greetings

My laptop may be pining for attention at the moment but, with the imminent festive season but days away, I have other duties to which I need attend. At the moment our house is bursting with a batch of 13 year olds whose excitement level rises with every Christmas song that’s blasting out from a small black box onto which Spousey has loaded thousands of tunes apparently. Our pets are matching the spirit by sporting an array of guises. Homemade, of course. I’m particularly pleased with Female Feline’s angel wings, even if they do enhance her expanding waistline. Her brother has yet to notice his tinsel collar since he snored throughout the fitting and Puppy only has to learn to ignore his halo attachment for the dressing up to be complete.

Yet I haven’t totally neglected my literary calling. The other day I conducted an interview with the charming David Burrowes MP about juggling his faith and career, my latest Lady Margaret Gosworthy-Pringle and A Write Life! blogs are duly posted and Chipping Norton Literary Festival has confirmed a date for my humour writing workshop: Sunday 22 April, 10.30am at The Old Mill Cafe.

On the Chiltern Writers front I was delighted to welcome international best selling romantic comedy author Carole Matthews to our recent meeting. Carole judged this year’s Short Story Competition and generously donated both her time and prizes to the astonishingly talented winners.

Yesterday Offspring and I popped to the capital for a light luncheon with My Islington Friend followed by The Lady Christmas Carol Concert held at The Actors' Church just around the corner from their Bedford Street HQ. It was a most delightful service at the end of which my daughter was all agog at meeting the fragrant Perdita Weeks who will soon be gracing our television screens in various epics.

Now, I’d love to continue but I simply must dash. The Felines are scaling my spruce, Puppy is paying undue attention to my baubles and there’s a pitch waiting to be honed.

So that just leaves me to wish you all a Most Merry Christmas and the jolliest New Year.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Country Living

As my blog followers are aware, it is rare for me not to spend the morning either honing a feature, refining a pitch or writing up an interview. But then how tedious life would be without exceptions.
Today, for instance, I indulged in a welcome break from my laptop and decamped to a sunny corner of the drawing room with a pot of Earl Grey and a homemade scone. Not that this was simply a culinary break in my routine. Rather, Country Living magazine, a timeless classic that has garnished the shelves of quality newsagents for some considerable years, includes my 5 page feature, Farm from Afar, in its December edition and I took the opportunity to peruse the whole issue. If you are keen to support local farmers without risking any manicure repercussions, it is in your interest to purchase a copy of this gloriously colourful journal.
Now I realise we are still in the thick of autumn but, for those of you who like to plan ahead, the organisers of the Thame Arts and Literature Festival, at which first two events I have appeared, have asked me to return in October next year to run a further workshop. I have, of course, accepted and further details will be notified nearer the time.
On the teaching front, my Regular Writing attendees are blossoming beautifully. They are simply full of innovative ideas and publishable prose but just need a little more prompting in the latter direction. I am most grateful to one of my learners who posted on Twitter about my rare gifts of inspiration and generosity. How humbling!
While mentioning Twitter my fan base has now reached 200 and I trust those tweetettes amongst you appreciate my writing tips and humorous asides.
You are also, no doubt, taking time from your busy schedules to enjoy my blogs. Lady Margaret Gosworthy-Pringle posts fortnightly for Hampshire Life while My Islington Friend( and A Write Life! ( feature monthly.
Now, what else? Ah, yes. As part of my many recent duties I have been delighted to undertake some research for the charmingly fragrant children’s author Nicholas Halliday. Also, I will be running another Writing for Magazines course in early 2012and have decided to do a little more copywriting. The thrill of such diversity leaves me quite giddy with creativity . . .

Monday, 17 October 2011

A Brace of Blogs

Forgive my lack of preamble but I can delay not in sharing my literary latest. Two more blogs of the humorous variety are now in situ. In Hertfordshire Life A Write Life! relates my time as a freelance writer in which the lure of my laptop juggles with the demands of domesticity. While for Hampshire Life I have introduced one of my favourite alter egos – Lady Margaret Gosworthy-Pringle – who neither believes in keeping her opinions to herself, not venturing from her private quarters without pearls.

In an entirely different publishing vein, my winter copy of Prayer for Today magazine has just popped through the letterbox and my 3 page spread – The Power of Speech – is, if I say so myself, rather inspiring. I, ahem, just have to remember to take my own advice.

As indicated on my webby, I have been involved with the Thame Arts and Literature Festival where last weekend I filled my humour writing workshop learners with equal dollops of information and inspiration and now I can look forward to hearing of the publishing successes they will undoubtedly achieve.

Yet I have also been aware of other editorial demands. One of my favourite magazines, Cotswold Life, was recently in need of some reader input for their letters page. So I mobilised my keyboard and obliged with the result featured in the October issue.

Despite my writing commitments please be assured I have still found time for the occasional social commitment recently. Indeed, the Chiltern Writers’ Literary Dinner was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with the chocolate loving Carole Matthews sharing her thoughts about the current state of the book industry between courses. And last week I was thrilled to see Sandra Hunt in the one woman show Fanny Craddock – The Life and Loves of a Kitchen Devil.

Which reminds me, I need to start writing a review for the village magazine. Please excuse me . . .

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Current Mrs Smith

I have discovered what it is to be the recipient of unconditional love. And from a handsome chap, too, being reasonably compliant despite devoting a disproportionate amount of time tending his manhood. But what more could one expect from a Puppy?

And just the other morning, after Puppy Training Class, I was persuading the hound back into my oversized vehicle that defies my attempts at parking skills when I spotted an amiable woman peering into said automobile. Upon approach I realised that she was perusing some advertising attached to my rear windscreen. "Oh!" she exclaimed, "So you're The Current Mrs Smith." I confirmed her find. Turns out she had familiarised herself with my persona via a course flyer at a nearby bookshop. In response to her query of concern I explained that I do indeed hope to retain the title of The Current Mrs Smith for an indefinite period of time and that I rather enjoy the titter or two it sparks in the public's mind.

Now please do not be overly concerned at the amount of time I am devoting to Puppy. I am, I assure you, still a full-on writer. And, just to prove my point, Great British life are in receipt of my latest My Islington Friend blog and I have been commissioned to interview the Revd Duncan Green who is a key member in the organisation of next year's Olympic Games.

And what else? Well I enjoyed business and banter over luncheon last week with local children's author Nicholas Halliday, am keeping atop my Chiltern Writers duties, do continually gather details of local goings on for the Village News section of The Bucks Herald and my Regular Writing group is coming on a treat. Oh, and I nearly forgot. It is with an excess of excitement that I can confirm my presence at next year's Chipping Norton Literary Festival where I will be running a Humour Writing Workshop.

Now I really must crack on with chasing an editor or two before Puppy awakes . . .

Thursday, 18 August 2011


I have been privileged to attend a couple of book launches recently, both equally enjoyable yet infinitely varied. The first took place in the upstairs room of a local free range pub whose relaxed atmosphere provided a flawless juncture to mix with fellow writers and journalists over a glass or two of Chardonnay. Here, Random House novelist Kate Lace unveiled Gypsy Wedding, a signed copy of which now adorns my bedside table. I am currently enjoying the tome each evening whilst relaxing under my 5 tog.

The following week I headed for a neighbouring county where BBC Radio Oxford presenter Bill Heine introduced his latest volume. Such is Bill's influence with the community constabulary that a whole area was cordoned off allowing for a summer street party where I mingled with agents and writers and swapped business cards with abandon.

And just now I'm enjoying an almost perfect afternoon: persistent precipitation outside and a plethora of pets indoors. We have, you see, acquired a Puppy. No, he wasn't my choice. Yes, Spousey and Offspring persuaded me. And, yes, the Felines are unimpressed, particularly with the Canine's lack of toilet skills. Still, an unusually high number of visitors are daily seeking to meet the cream coloured bundle though, what with workmen reinventing my kitchen and school holiday Mummy duties, my writing schedule is somewhat compromised at the moment. Indeed, more than once I have been obliged to stimulate my creative glands late into the evening. Though I confess that champagne aids the imagination. In fact, I should just check if the fridge needs restocking . . .

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Summer Delights

Far be it from me to boast but recently I have yet again sampled the delights of The Continent. Only last week my whole family flew to a quiet spot in northern Mallorca where, amid thirty degree temperatures and an unnecessary amount of humidity, we defied wilting by reclining in the shade sipping cool local wine. And though I appreciate the modicum of suntan I gained, I am now rather enjoying the cool, cloudy, cumulus conditions of our native summer.

At the moment mummy duties take precedence, of course, though my literary duties are never neglected. I have another feature in Prayer for Today and Writing Magazine 's August edition includes my double page spread on opinion writing.

And I am overjoyed to share with you the news that I will be holding a humour writing workshop at this year's Thame Arts and Literature Festival. Do follow the TAL link on my webby for The Ins & Outs, Ups & Downs and Nuts & Bolts of Humour Writing. However, should the Saturday date clash with any prior appointments, perhaps you could contact Farncombe Estate where I will be appearing next year with two weekend courses: Writing for Magazines and Humour Writing. And they say the Olympics will be the highlight of 2012 . . .

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Editorial Accomplishments

Having just fired off another blog to the ever grateful Great British Life I thought I'd take this opportunity to revisit my own website, tended and nurtured by the captivatingly faithful Nick Halliday ( who never fails to tend my whims between his author and illustrator duties.

I'm sure you recall my recent editorial undertaking at Country Living magazine? What a breathtakingly stimulating fortnight I experienced and I'm thrilled to tell you that the Features Editor accepted two of my pieces whilst I was in situ and has since commissioned a hefty article for their January 2012 issue.

Yet no sooner had I departed NatMags HQ than I headed for Southern Spain for my annual sojourn to the mountainside home of a dear friend and soulmate. We shared conversation, laughter and a bountiful supply of wine though I also managed a spot of sunbathing and a few hours at my laptop. Amazing how much easier it is to write without the distraction of domesticity.

Since returning I have interviewed the enthusiastic photographer Jane Ambler ( and will begin writing the article just as soon as I've posted this post. My Regular Writing group is now working to deadlines and I have more articles hitting the newsagents' shelves shortly. But please excuse me, I have editors to contact, pitches to chase and ideas to brainstorm . . .

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Commuting to the Capital

At the risk of surprising many of you, I have this last week forsaken my rustic study for a commute to the capital. As I'm sure you can imagine, leaving my precious village each day has been somewhat challenging, particularly at such a ridiculously early hour of the morning, yet the unparalleled opportunity to work with Country Living magazine cannot be ignored, overlooked or bypassed. And my role at National Magazines HQ? Well, under the tutelage of the knowledgeable and charming Features Editor I have embarked upon a phenomenal amount of research, attended editorial meetings and been commissioned to create several features. On the downside, I confess commuting and heels are not natural bedfellows but what is pain and discomfort compared with flat shoes? Exactly.

Despite my hectic schedule other duties have remained in the forefront of my creative regime. On Monday evening I began the first of my monthly Regular Writing sessions. My learners vied for eagerness and I was overjoyed to send them home bursting with imaginative enthusiasm and ready to submit their opinion pieces to local editors.

I have also been commissioned to write another feature for Writing Magazine while Farncombe Estate in the Cotswolds has confirmed the running of two of my weekend writing courses in 2012.

My placement at the glossy magazine's empire continues next week while my regular meeting with my fragrant colleague at The Lady is scheduled for the following Monday.

Honestly, there's barely time to fuss the felines at the moment.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Classics

I confess the challenges of modern technology have intruded into much of my working time of late yet, finally, I am able to confirm that The Lady Ambassadors are now actively engaged on Facebook and showing a daily presence on Twitter. I offer my gratitude to writers and editors, too numerous to mention, who assisted me over a plethora of technical hurdles. Thankfully my colleagues at The Lady's offices just off The Strand are appreciative of my efforts.

Meanwhile, I have not neglected my freelance duties. April's Lincolnshire Life, featuring my double page interview with Colin Dexter, has recently plopped onto my doormat while Great British Life includes my monthly blog, My Islington Friend, which takes a look at two soulmates, one basking in the calm of the countryside, the other bustling in the busyness of the capital, juggling parental priorities.

Oh, and did I mention that I have also branched out into copywriting? Not intentionally, I admit, though I'm enjoying it immensely. Also, last week's Chiltern Writers AGM was well attended and I noted smiles all round during my Chair's address.

Now I'd like to reveal more but I really must dash. There are pitches to pitch, editors to chase and courses to organise. And all before descaling a couple of sea bass. That's if the Felines haven't got to it first . . .

Friday, 11 March 2011

Ambassadorial Duties

Amid gathering deadlines and pitches aplenty I have found time this week to journey to the capital's Bedford Street for a meeting at The Lady's headquarters. On a glorious spring day the classic facade was suffused in sunshine though I was forced to negotiate various roadworks in order to locate the main entrance.

Nevertheless, I relished the opportunity of meeting with the fragrant Susan Wade Weeks who has, ahem, entrusted me with responsibility for The Lady Ambassadors' Facebook and Twitter outlets.

Yet I do not neglect my other literary duties. Copy has been filed with several editors and I will shortly be planning another writing course, scheduled for some time after Easter. Dates will be posted on my Webby as soon as I have consulted my moleskin with leather inlay diary.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Peaks and Summits

I simply must share with you the enthusiasm radiating from The Lady Ambassadors at last week's gathering. The Institute of Directors proved to be an admirable meeting place and the staff provided tea and cakes of impeccable standard. Everyone imparted ideas aplenty, all of which were noted by the Editor and her adoring team.

And now I have been asked to attend a further meeting. My HB's are already sharpened in anticipation.

However, before then I am heading for the peaks and summits of Switzerland where I will frequent numerous purveyors of cakes and hot chocolate while indulging my writing habit, leaving my family to locate pistes which match their disparate downhill skills. Namely, our "I was born to ski" daughter who effortlessly yet gracefully glides down glaciers, and my spouse whose lack of coordination is matched only by his determination not to be beaten by a 13 year old.

Ah, the joys of family vacances.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Literary Schedule

I simply must share with you particulars of my productive start to this glorious year.

First of all, the Editor of that delightfully eclectic journal, The Chap, for whom I have written a number of articles under a variety of pseudonyms over the last couple of years, commissioned a lengthy article about the legendary racing driver extraordinaire, Helle Nice. I am today putting the finishing touches to my tome.

In addition, my next My Islington Friend blog will shortly be posted on Great British Life's website (just as soon as the Editor gets to grips with some new technology, apparently).

As Chair of Chiltern Writers I have this week launched our 2011 Poetry Competition to be judged by the wonderful-with-words Steve Thorp.

And, just to prove how eclectic my talents and contacts are, I have married (not, I hesitate to add, in any legal sense) performance poet Paul Eccentric with the imminent Oxford Jazz Festival.

Oh, I could go on. Indeed, I will.

Plans are afoot for me to be running a workshop or two at this summer's Speen Festival and I have enjoyed a belated festive lunch with the charming children's author, Nick Halliday.

Finally, I eagerly await my forthcoming meeting with Rachel Johnson, Editor of The Lady, and a number of her staff. Now, perhaps I should mobilise my pearls . . .

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The Year Anew

Ah, it is thrilling to once again be seated at my trusty laptop. Be in no doubt about the enthusiasm with which I greet our annual, seasonally festive activities. However, with our last houseguests finally departed, my overworked Range is taking a well earned break while my imagination is simply bursting with creativity.

There are workshops to organise, articles to write and ideas to pitch. Not to mention the odd fee to chase.

Readers, may I wish you the jolliest of years filled with a profusion of pleasures?