Wednesday, 12 October 2016

That's Books and Entertainment: Twelve Thrilling Tales

That's Books and Entertainment: Twelve Thrilling Tales: Twelve Thrilling Tales by Rita Cheminais is exactly what it says on the tin. Twelve thrilling tales. Each of the stories is short, yet a...

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

That's Books and Entertainment: Pick 'n' Mix

That's Books and Entertainment: Pick 'n' Mix: Pick 'n' Mix is an anthology of short stories written by Gabriele Ansbach. Having read Gabriele's book I can only reveal tha...

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Radio 2 Breakfast Show's 500 WORDS Makes Royal Return

BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans has announced the children's short story-writing competition 500 WORDS is set to return for 2015.

This year's competition will be bigger and better than ever, as the Radio 2 Breakfast Show presenter unveiled that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall will support 500 WORDS in a bid to help find the UK's most talented young writers, with the final of the competition taking place at St James's Palace in May 2015.

As part of the competition, entrants aged 13 and under have to compose an original work of fiction no longer than 500 words. Hopeful entrants should apply via the Radio 2 website - The writers of the top 50 stories will be invited to attend a broadcast of The Chris Evans Breakfast Show that will be broadcast live on Friday 29 May, 2015 from St James's Palace.

The six lucky winners will be announced live on air and will get to hear their stories read out by a famous narrator. Last year saw names including Sherlock himself Benedict Cumberbatch, Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville and Paloma Faith take part.

The strict deadline for submitting entries is February 26 at 7pm. Entries submitted after this will not be accepted. Full terms and conditions will be available at

The competition launch was accompanied by a star-studded video jam-packed with famous faces - including Coldplay's Chris Martin, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Tom Daley, Hugh Bonneville, Gary Lineker, Rebecca Adlington, Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly as well as a host of news readers from across the UK. The video will be on the 500 WORDS website.

The judging panel for 2015 includes head judge Richard Hammond, the highly acclaimed author of the Horrid Henry series, Francesca Simon, best-selling authors Charlie Higson, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman.

Last year's competition received nearly 120,000 entries as budding young writers across the UK put pen to paper. With stories featuring words such as 'flood', 'Lego' and 'Minecraft', entrants took inspiration from and reflected on current affairs, sporting events, celebrities, popular films and games, in a bid to wow the judging panel.

With the help of Oxford University Press, the analysis of the 50 million words contained in last year's entries provided an illuminating snapshot of how children use language and the popular culture and trends prevalent in their generation. The word 'minion' from film Despicable Me 2 was crowned 'Word of the Year', while 'pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis', the longest word featured, at an impressive 45 letters long, got the attention of the judges. A selection of the more unusual words featured included 'blatherskite', 'furfuraceous' and 'tintinnabulation', highlighting the entrants with more loquacious tendencies, while invented words 'historytestaphobia' and 'Bestasaurus' failed to fool the judges but impressed with their imaginative, creative adaption of the English language.

This year, OUP will be looking for trends that have emerged over the last three years of analysis including the area of literary influences, technology and culture.

Chris Evans says: “500 WORDS is back, back BACK, and as much as last year's competition was undeniably off the charts with nearly 120,000 entries; this year to mark our fabulous fifth anniversary we wanted to do something super special. So we couldn't believe our luck when HRH the Duchess of Cornwall invited us to hold our live on-air final in the stunning surroundings of St James's Palace.
"She's a supporter of the competition and cannot wait to meet and greet this year's fifty finalists on the day. Kids of the UK - if you'd like to hang out with real-life royalty - 500 WORDS 2015 is open for business! Get writing and get in the mix, by Royal Appointment.”

Bob Shennan, Controller BBC Radio 2, 6 Music and Director of BBC Music, says: “We are honoured to have Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall lend her support to this fantastic initiative. 500 WORDS continues to grow from strength to strength, encouraging and inspiring children across the country to tap into their imagination and get writing. I can't wait to get reading!”

Vineeta Gupta, Head of Children's Dictionaries, Oxford University Press says: “Each year we are fascinated by new and imaginative ways in which children use language. We will be working with the University of Oxford to analyse this year's stories to gain further insights into the use of language by children across the UK.”


Monday, 19 November 2012

How to be that writer

you want to be a writer? Great! That's a good aim.

How do you become a writer? Do you take a degree course? A writer's correspondence course?

Well, those will certainly help, but they will not make you into a writer.

How do you really become a writer? It's simple. Now, this instant, you write the first ten words of your future career as a writer.

Doesn't matter what they are. Just ten words. A shopping list, even. A novel you aim to write, the first ten words of an article. A piece of poetry. Or even a Haiku.

I'll wait for a few minutes until you finish putting those ten words down.

OK. Now you are a writer.

Next, practice. Keep writing and good luck!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Backup Technology‘s Online Backup for Word Press Plugin has Over 100,000 Downloads

Backup Technology LogoBackup Technology, world leaders in fully managed Online Backup, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Services, today announced that its free Online Backup for Word Press Plugin has now reached an important milestone with in excess of 100,000 downloads. This makes Online Backup for Word Press the most popular fully featured, free Word Press backup plugin.
With the vast amount of time and investment that currently goes into running a blog or a website, the plugin was created by Backup Technology under the pretext of offering a simple backup system that provides protection for Word Press sites and their data. What began as a small project has increasingly grown since its inception in 2009, to become a trusted backup platform that users rely on.

Backup Technology’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ritchie Fiddes confirms this: “We are proud to have produced a completely free service that so many people use and trust to protect their websites. The response from the Word Press community has been fantastic and we continue to add new features and functionality based on our users feedback.”

Unlike other plugins, Online Backup for Word Press can even encrypt your backup data to keep it secure while it is downloaded, emailed, or stored on Backup Technology’s Secure Servers.

The plugin can backup your site’s database (containing settings, pages, posts and comments) as well as its file system (containing media, attachments, themes and plugins) to any one of three places:

1. Backup Technology’s secure data centres with 100MB free online storage space
2. Your email inbox
3. A downloadable ZIP file

Other Online Backup for Word Press features include:

• Easy to use
• Configuration checklist to help you get started
• Schedule daily or weekly backups to email or free online storage
• Downloaded on-demand backups in ZIP file
• Only backs up files that have changed since the last backup
• Full AES encryption support
• Exclude files and folders
• Exclude comments in trash or marked as spam
• Backup the Word Press parent folder if your Word Press blog is only part of your website
• Free 100MB online storage available in secure data centres
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Download the plugin and protect your blog now at:

Visit Backup Technology’s website for more information on their services for Word Press, Online Backup, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity:

Tweet this: @backuptech Online Backup for WordPress Plugin reaches 100,000 downloads #wordpressbackup

Follow Backup Technology on Twitter at @BackupTech

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Get writing for a very British Tour celebration!

To celebrate the British run of success at the Tour de France, Leicestershire brand Velobici have launched their all-British designed and manufactured road wear collection. And, for those inspired by the biggest race on the calendar, we’re also holding our first major competition for budding writers.

The Roadwear collection includes four items: two jerseys and two sets of bib shorts. Each item is made from a Meryl/Lycra actisystem fabric which makes them exceptionally soft but durable, ride after ride and wash after wash. The Lycra in the fabric stretches five times its own length and has moisture management technology that keeps you cool and dry; it is light and windproof, dries quickly, and offers excellent protection against UVA and UVB rays. Each item has the customary Velobici style and beautifully executed detail and are manufactured by hand entirely in Leicestershire. The full details of the collection are below.

In addition to the road wear and to reflect British cycling success throughout 2012, Velobici is launching its first writing competition. Chris Puttnam of Velobici says “The cycling world has a wealth of writing talent and we thought after all this year’s success in all riding disciplines that there are some inspirational stories to be told. We have 3 categories: The Bike, The Race and The Ride, so your story doesn’t have to be about professional racing. It can be about your own rides, your own memories”. Entries should be no more than 1,000 words (there is no minimum, to encourage the odd Haiku!) and to submit your entry, simply email it to, stating clearly which category you are entering. The closing date is 10pm on 17 August 2012 and the winners will be announced during September.

The six judges are: Chris Puttnam, founder of Velobici; Adrian Bell of Mousehold Press; Matt Rendell, cycling author and journalist; David Harmon, Eurosport’s lead English language commentator; Matt Stephens, 1998 British Road Race champion and pro rider between 1998 and 2011 and Andy Ward, cycling doctor and writer. Two judges will preside over each category, submitting their favourite two to a ‘grand final’ where all the judges will decide on the three ultimate winners.

To enter, type your essay which should be a maximum of 1,000 words. Email it to before 10pm on Friday 17 August, and you must put the category you are entering in the subject field. Or go to 'Writing Competition' at and make your entry by clicking on the suitable link.

The winner of the Race category will receive a set of the new road wear, a choice of Van Abel or Van Dapper (Jersey & shorts); winner of the Bike category will win a choice of a Classic Bob Maitland or Tommy Godwin jersey, and the winner of the Ride category will win a Lombardy Classic Cardigan with matching Seamless Merino Scarf and Gloves. For female winners, we have a set of Ella Paris or Ella Nice as well as a set of Velobici’s soon-to-be-released women’s wear, a technical vest and briefs. Each winner will receive a copy of the latest publication from Mousehold Press and all three finalists will also be recorded by commentator David Harmon and made available as a podcast on the Velobici website.

Full details of the Roadwear Collection
Van Abel men’s jersey has a full zip and rear drop hem. The back features a sweeping five pocket design, topped with a red binding. Two of the pockets are zipped and lined with matching red waterproof fabric. The side panel features a 'Velobici' jacquard and there is a ‘vb’ chainring jacquard design on the chest. Van Abel also features silicone gripper and reflective piping on the sleeves and hem. Both jerseys have a glasses wipe insert. Retails at £140.

Van Abel men’s bib shorts match the jersey with a Velobici side panel jacquard. The Meryl Actisystem Lycra Velobici has chosen has a super soft feel that stretches five times its own length. The insert is a top of the range Gopresia Airmesh seat pad with flatlock stitching to prevent any rubbing, plus a centre back 'Radio' pocket and soft leg grippers. Retails at £130.

Van Dapper men’s jersey has a full zip and rear drop hem. The back features a sweeping five pocket design, topped with a yellow binding. Two of the pockets are zipped and waterproof with black lining. There is easy access to the right side hip pockets with bespoke Velobici logo zip pullers. The side panel features a 'vb' chainring jacquard with 'vĂ©lobici' embroidered on the front chest. Van Dapper also features reflective piping and gripper on the sleeves and hem. Retails at £140.

Van Dapper men’s bib shorts match the Van Dapper jersey and have ‘vb’ chainring designed jacquard side panels. Retails at £130.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

New book on freelance writing says success is still possible – with hard work

Hard work and realism are the keys to unlocking a successful freelance writing career according to a new book offering straight-talking advice on sustaining a profitable income.

Author and journalist Linda Jones has written Freelance Writing, Straightforward Advice from a Woman who Knows, five years after an earlier book met critical acclaim and was dubbed ‘the freelancers’ bible’ by one reviewer.

Those years have seen turbulent times for freelance writers, with lucrative markets shrinking as publications continue to close or freeze freelance budgets. For many, the best advice for wannabe freelance writers may be ‘don’t bother.’

But according to Freelance Writing, it’s still possible to carve out a successful living in freelance writing, so long as you have a strong work ethic, businesslike approach, can deliver and are willing to adapt.

In her introduction, Linda says: “I’d also say don’t bother – don’t bother that is unless you are prepared to work hard, market yourself and set yourself apart from the competition, learning new skills along the way. If you are good at what you do, meet deadlines, supply excellent copy and build strong relationships with your editors, then you still have a chance.

“You need an endless supply of timely ideas, an old fashioned nose for a story and a strong work ethic. You also need to be ready to adapt and continue to learn, be inspired by innovative writers and editors, fully exploring the potential of newer media practises and new ways of investigating, reporting and reading.”

Media coach Joanne Mallon says in her foreword: “It’s not all bad, the huge explosion in online publishing has meant that there are now more outlets for your writing than ever before. And a writer can find themselves doing jobs that didn’t even exist ten years ago, such as writing a blog for a client or getting hired to tweet.”

Freelance Writing, Straightforward Advice From a Woman Who Knows includes advice on social media writers from Linda, herself an award-winning blogger, as well as influential online commentators.

Sound guidance on pitching editors comes from regular contributors to national newspapers and magazines and detailed pointers on how to win and keep commercial writing work comes from award-winning businesswoman Carol Garrington, Linda’s fellow director at Midlands agency, The Marketing Room.

Established writers and freelance journalists offering their advice in the
book include:

• Alex Gazzola: Health journalist, author and writing tutor.
• Anne Wollenberg: Freelance journalist and sub editor
• Kelly Rose Bradford: Contributing editor, freelance journalist and short story author
• Nick Daws: Author, freelance writer and tutor
• Tara Cain Leading UK blogger and former features editor

Chapters included are:

• Getting Started
• Advice from the Professionals
• The Business of Freelancing
• Writing for Newspapers and Magazines
• Real Life Stories and Travel Writing
• Research and Interview Skills
• Writing for the Internet
• Social Media for Writers
• Other Types of Writing
• Commercial Writing Work
• Doing Your Own PR

About Freelance Writing, Straightforward Advice from a Woman Who Knows
Published by Greatest Guides

Foreword by media coach Joanne Mallon

256 pages, 11 chapters, ISBN 978-1-907906-20-6, Price £9.99

Available from all good bookshops including: Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smiths

Linda Jones (Married name Linda Aitchison)
Linda is an agency director, freelance journalist, author and trainer based in the West Midlands. These days she spends much of her time training and mentoring writers. She began her career at the Wolverhampton Express & Star in 1990 and has since worked as an editor in Russia, news editor on UK regional newspapers, online editor and regular contributor to national, regional and specialist titles. She blogs at

Praise for Linda Jones’ first book on freelance writing:
"Newcomers to the trade of professional writing would be wise to invest in this book if only to avoid some of the more common pitfalls that can happen to the inexperienced. But even the most seasoned hacks should find enough in here to inspire them, remind them or encourage them." Louise Bolotin

The author has tips not just on magazine and newspaper markets, but also on Internet and commercial opportunities, and even has advice on the gentle art of getting paid. She says that her book aims to ‘offer realistic advice to those at the start of a freelance writing career’. It certainly does that. Richard Bell, Writing magazine

Linda is generous with her advice, but at the same time she doesn't mollycoddle and that's what I liked the most about this book. Yes, it's encouraging and enlightening, but it's also realistic about your chances of making it as a freelancer, which, as I know from experience, will be vastly increased by learning from Linda." Keris Stainton, Trashionista "