I will be running some Blogging for Beginners courses for Luton Adult Learning in the next few weeks. Each course is a one-off workshop and the first one is on Saturday 9 March 10am-3pm in Luton, Bedfordshire. The workshop will cover all the basics you need to start blogging, including setting up a free WordPress blog, creating content to attract readers, assigning categories and tags so your posts will be picked up in search engines, managing comments and design. By the end of the day you will have an attractive, content-rich blog to be proud of! Ideal for people who want to start blogging to promote their own small business, share a hobby or as a creative writing venture. The cost for the day is £54 and includes a free USB stick – but bring your own lunch!
Please spread the word or, if you are interested in attending, contact Luton Adult Learning on 01582 490033 to enrol.
Verulam Writers’ annual conference, ‘Get Writing’ is being held on Saturday 20 April at the University of Hertfordshire. I have attended this conference a few times and it is going from strength to strength, having started originally in a small school with just a few workshops and speakers. This year they are featuring workshops on crime writing, editing, writing for children, writing for radio and television, feature writing and even neurolinguistic programming – sounds intriguing! There are also question and answer panels, 5 minute pitches and the chance to book 10 minute pitches for an extra fee of £10. The cost for the day is £55, including lunch.
More details can be found on the website. Click on the yellow button over the spinning sign which takes you to an animation you can work through. Personally I found the animation very difficult to navigate. Finally I found a way to download the provisional brochure which is much easier to read, plus a pdf of the workshops. Unfortunately both the animation and the brochure seem to be half finished with lots of typos and in places what looks like draft text, but the event is usually run very professionally so I’m sure this is just an oversight!
A Ministry of Stories? Hidden behind the facade of a Monster Supplies shop? It sounds like something out of JK Rowling crossed with Roald Dahl, but it’s actually true – there is now a Ministry of Stories in London and several more across the Atlantic, and they sound like the most magical places.
It all started with inspirational American author Dave Eggers, who wanted to encourage children to write. He and his team began hosting writing workshops and mentoring programmes in an old shop, but the condition of the lease meant they had to sell something. In a stroke of genius they decided to sell Pirate Supplies. Soon there were more of these surreal places cropping up in America, getting children involved in being creative, and this inspired UK author Nick Hornby to bring the idea to London in the form of the Ministry of Stories.
So what’s our own Ministry of Stories like? Well, you can visit the website at www.ministryofstories.org to find out more about it. The website is great; it has an official, government feel about it combined with a sense of wacky adventure. They are just starting up so need volunteers and donations (items as well as cash – see the list on the site). The shop part sells amazing stuff children will love like pots of ‘human snot’ and jars of Mortal Terror.
Could this be the start of a whole range of surreal outlets concealing creative enterprises? I’m looking forward to seeing a Pick ‘n’ Mix Plot Store with a secret attic for collaborative writers, and a Shop of Lost Memories fronting a photography exhibition. Or how about a Weather Supermarket where you can fill your trolley with sunshine for your holiday before going on to study the science of the real thing in a backroom filled with sand and deckchairs?
Congratulations to everyone at the Ministry on a marvellous endeavour. And to all those children who visit and benefit from the workshops and mentoring – I envy you.