Are you ready to blog?

The CIBAS ‘Blogging for Success’ event on Tuesday evening attracted a mixed crowd of people some already bloggers, some thinking about it and some who may well have gone away with itchy fingers for the keyboard.

The speakers were Alison Baverstock, a publisher, trainer and writer on all aspects of publishing and marketing, and Yemisi Blake an active creative writer, blogger, poet and photographer.

Alison started with a brief history of how blogging evolved and then moved on to explain its relevance and usefulness for the creative writer.

She explained the advantages of blogging, who could benefit and how it might enhance and fuel a creative writing talent. For newer writers, it can be simply a matter of starting, then keeping up the practice and discipline of writing something regularly. For other already published writers it can be a means to keep in the public eye between actual publications.

Alison suggested that would-be bloggers should consider a number of points before starting – such as whether they had the time and energy to maintain such a project, and more importantly to decide and define exactly what the blog is intended to achieve, how personal it will be.

On the downside, Alison mentioned legal issues – be careful because you are not immune from libel and copyright issue just because you are online and not in print. It can help to draft posts offline, check facts, names and links and ask permission before quoting more than very brief extracts from other people’s work.

Her advice was to read other blogs before starting your own and suggested a few – see links at the end of the post. Another technique is to comment on other people’s blogs and also to try to get yourself involved in multi-contributor blog projects.

Yemisi Blake’s slant on blogging, was rather more technical, discussing the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why and why nots’ of blogging. We were introduced to the places online that can host your blog free or the options you have if you wish to pay for a domain and web hosting.

Yemisi showed on screen, how easy it was to set up a blog on the free site WordPress.com and how he had constructed his blog, with static pages as well as the active posts. Yemisi’s blog is a little different from what you can do with WordPress.com as it is on his own webspace and this gives him far more options in terms of construction and layout.

He also mentioned the ‘microblogging sites’ Twitter and Jaiku – micro in the sense that your posts are short messages, in the case of Twitter just 140 characters. Rather than use the shortened words you might use in an SMS text, it can encourage creativity and good use of language by forcing you to be concise and create an impact while still using complete words.

Both speakers talked about how to get your blog noticed via:

  • a signature line on all your emails and forum posts
  • word of mouth – don’t be shy, tell all your friends
  • commenting on other blogs, leaving a link to your own
  • putting tags on blog posts which will be picked up by Google and other search engines
  • letting other people blog about you

There was a chance for audience members to ask questions and to comment on what the speakers said, and handouts were available to help people get started.

I am putting together a resource sheet which will be downloadable here and will contain links to the information handed out and also some of the blogs that our speakers recommended reading. Please bookmark this post and come back in a day or two, ask questions and comment if you wish.

Dynamo Youth Theatre Workshop

Dynamo Youth Theatre members took part in an intensive one day workshop with Havant Literary Festival writer-in-residence, Stella Duffy, on Sunday, 27 September, culminating in an evening performance at St Faith’s Church Hall.

Stella, the author of eight plays and twelve novels, is also an experienced director who specialises in improvisation and has worked with the National Youth Theatre.

Through a series of sometimes gruelling physical exercises, the teenagers learned and developed techniques, tools and skills which can be adapted to any number of theatrical disciplines.

The entirely improvised forty-five minute performance included quick-fire poetry, acting out scenes from audience member’s early lives and a four part harmonised madrigal on Havant’s parchment and glove making history and the coming of a new superstore!

Stella Duffy said she had never before gone from zero to performance in one day – “Dynamo Theatre were totally dedicated, brave – and brilliant!”

Dynamo’s Artistic Director Andrew Bowker said “this was a complete masterclass. In the thirty years I have been involved with teaching drama, I have never seen such a total transformation in one day.”
 
Audience members raved about the performance, who found it hard to believe it was totally unrehearsed and unscripted. Festival Secretary, Sian Bamber, said she would “gladly have paid an entrance fee for the quality of the entertainment on offer.”

Dynamo Youth Theatre’s next production is The Pirates of Penzance, but there will be a fund raiser before that at United Reformed Church on Sunday, 1 November. For more information, visit their website at http://www.dyt.org.uk/
 
To see some photographs of the workshop, visit here:

From Lucy Flannery

Calling All Would-Be Sleuths

If you fancy yourself as a present day Sherlock Holmes, then pop along to Emsworth and start solving the clues. 

Scattered throughout the town in various shop windows are picture clues to the titles of crime novels.  Pick up a FREE entry form from Emsworth library, the Museum or Bookends and you could win a book token or voucher.  There are quizzes for junior detectives too with picture clues to children’s books, plus a children’s colouring competition.

Sadly, the marvellous ‘More than Words’ exhibition featuring book illustrations and pop-ups ended on Sunday, 28 September.  But a new exhibition, ‘Earth, Art and Water’, opens in the Museum on Saturday, 3 October, with art inspired by Chichester Harbour and tying in with the Festival theme of  ‘Water’.

Poet-in-a-shed Shedman will be in Emsworth Square on Friday and Saturday to entertain and amuse.  Havant Literary Festival has certainly come to Emsworth town this year.

So be there! Be in The Square!

Grab a quiz sheet and start eliminating the impossible.

From Sandra McGregor

Pictures from an Exhibition

One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is to teach them to read as early as they are able to learn.  I regard my self as one of those fortunate people having been able to read long before I went to school, thanks to the help from my Mum, grandmothers and aunts.

I can remember sitting on my Mum’s knee and reading with her from such wonderful books as ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and Aklison Uttley’s ”Little Grey Rabbit’ series.It has been the pictures as much as the words that have stayed with me and many memories were evoked on my visit to More than Words’, the exhibition at Emsworth Museum over the weekend.

Book illustration has a very distinct life of its own, recognisable apart from the words it accompanies. Think for instance of the work of John Tenniel, the first illustrator of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’, and A H Shepard who drew the evocative images of Winnie the Pooh, his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood and the pictures that accompany the poetry in ‘When We were Very Young’ and ‘Now We are Six’.  Despite later characterizations from Disney, it is the Shepard images that many people will associate most with Winnie the Pooh.

Examples of both these artists was on view, but most spectacular were the examples of pop-up-books and stories, both contemporary and historic.

Revisiting my own memories again, I recall a pop-up-book of wild animals, accompanied by strange and mysterious humans that inhabited the same lands. I didn’t find that one, but I did see a wonderful tiger by Jan Pienkowski which could be quite scary and surprising for a child as it leaps from the pages.

Pop-up-books require engineering as well as artistic skills so that they fold away without damage and spring back to life when the page is re-opened.  One remarkable example was an old sailing ship under full sail by Ron van der Meer which I think has to be my favourite.

I was surprised to learn that the origins of the art of the ‘movable book’ dates back as far as the 1300’s but it seems to have really started to grow in the 1700’s It steadily gained in popularity and creativity as books began to be written and created specifically for children,. There was a very productive period in the 1930’s with examples such as the Bookano series and is thriving today with artists like Pienkowski.

Pop-up artists featured in the exhibition included Lothar Meggendorfer, Louis Giraud and Robert Sabuda.

To find out more about this art form, The Movable Book Society website is an excellent place to start.