Friday, 27 November 2009

Pulling a 'cracker' for Xmas? Or is 'Staying Single' your New Year's resolution?

Our guest blogger this week is Alison Norrington, author of our latest titles, publishing today: 'Pulling Power - Pick Up Tips for Girls' and 'Pulling Power - Pick Up Tips for Guys'

A promise to stay single for a year....

A sensible move, to stay below the radar and not be distracted by the ups and downs of dating?
Or sticking my head in the sand and missing opportunities with all those great guys I just hadn't met yet?
Just like the laws (or perils) of attraction, which of the above you agree with depends on your point-of-view and past experiences.

Staying Single was my fourth chick-lit novel and was loosely based on 2 years littered with horrendous dates. I really did meet ‘Yosemite Sam’ at a speed dating event in SoHo. I honestly was locked in a car on a rainy afternoon in a public park with a guy who wanted more than just ‘a quick bite’ from our lunch break date. And don’t get me started on the pilot! Ok, DO get me started! The quick version?
• I wanted to take flying lessons.
• We met randomly in a club (he looked great and we started chatting).
• Turns out he’d just got his light aircraft licence and offered to take me ‘up’ (!)
• In short, I was expecting Top Gun to come knock on my door.
• I got Mr Bean - complete with his tin-foil wrapped sandwiches and Simon Cowell high-waisters.
• Don’t ask me how I could have got it soooo wrong.
• But I did.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

So I vowed to take a year out. I was traumatised!

I began to rethink everything I’d ever considered about marriage. I even talked with friends about our groundbreaking idea that marriage should be replaced by a 7 year contract - renewable only if both sides agreed. It made sense! Wouldn’t that make us respect each other and our relationships and not take things for granted? It was perfect! Positively groundbreaking! Even Carrie Bradshaw hadn’t figured that one out and she’d been on the singles scene for at least 8 series! We figured we were dating geniuses!

In researching the whole idea about staying single it became clear that there are numerous bonuses to remaining single by choice and of the hundreds of readers who wrote to Sophie many were finding it fun to go out without an agenda. The room really is full of people to just have fun with and with no potential ‘targets’ you go from predator to party animal. Then, by removing those preconceived ideas about who you do and don’t ‘fancy’ you become gregarious and friendly with everybody. Which, in turn, makes you relaxed and fun. Which, in turn, makes you, erm, er... rather fanciable! You only have to Google ‘types of daters’ or ‘dating styles’ to find categories such as cautious daters, ‘if only’ daters, adult babies, flirts and cheaters. So ducking down under that radar really can be very refreshing.

In the Staying Single story, Sophie is an unlucky in love magazine columnist and when her quick-fire, ‘Devil Wears Prada’ boss hears her ranting about yet another disastrous date and her vow to stay single for a year, gets lumbered with a weekly column about her quest. ‘Relationship Rehab’ becomes her outlet for recounting the horrors of pre-organised dating events as part of the Staying Single story, but it’s the Pulling Power mini clips that really show your real experiences of love, lust and loneliness.

Pulling Power was a hugely successful element of the Staying Single storyworld and came from my initial idea of making a series of mini documentaries about chat up lines, dating disasters, love stories and down-right-wicked ways we’ve been dumped. What started as video content soon dried up as I realised I simply couldn’t go on a world tour to shoot this series of short films and so people from New York to Nanching, from Perth to Peterborough and Saskatchewan to Second Life began to email me their chat up lines and dating tales.

I was really excited when Ali and Lorelei approached me to write Pulling Power for Girls and for Guys and it seemed a natural move – especially when I’d learned so much from researching what did and didn’t work on the pulling and dating front! Pulling Power Dating Hints & Tips is structured in an obviously progressive way – taking you from figuring what you want, how you want it and then, the best way for you to get it! There are practical hints on what to wear, where to go and even delves into online dating and text flirts.

So, what did I learn from being ‘Sophie’ and staying single?

• Settling for second-best should never be an option
• Charm school works (only if it’s not too cheesy)
• Chat up line success lies all in the delivery and not in the words
• Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder
• and we’re all looking for different things from a partner at different times in our lives.

Check out the Staying Single story at , there’s a Facebook group for Pulling Power, you can watch the video clips at or at
- Alison Norrington

Friday, 20 November 2009

Sight and Sound in concert!

This week CC director Ali Muirden's husband Al talks about editing audiobooks.
In my last Blog entry, I talked about the myriad tasks I have become involved with to assist Ali and Lorelei in as many ways as I can…

One of the more important jobs that I have most recently got involved with is checking and editing audio content…

Creative Content is an audio publishing company, but it functions in much the same way as any publishing house - CC receives a manuscript from the author, then in most cases there is a period of editing required to get the text into a finished piece that can then be recorded or made into eBOOK format…

The main thing that sets CC apart is that Ali and Lorelei actually comission the content rather than wait to receive a manuscript out of the blue, thus avoiding having to make a decision to publish or not…in CC’s case that decision was made BEFORE receipt of the manuscript…

A reader is then chosen (not an easy task !) a studio booked and the finished text recorded and a “check CD” produced - that’s the point at which the audio edit comes in..!

Now it may come as something of a surprise that the check CD is NOT the finished product…

There may be all manner of noises on the audio files, there may also be re-takes and fluffs, gaps may need extending and so on - depending on the amount of time available, some of these will have already been fixed by the studio, but if time constraints come into play, there may still be a lot of tidying to be done…

One other important point to consider is that it’s sometimes difficult to be objective DURING the recording - a period away from the finished recording is very helpful - hearing it again a few days later when it has had it’s first proper edit, often allows Ali or Lorelei have a better perspective on what the finished product should end up being… especially as one or both of them will have actually produced the recording on the day…

So - what’s the big deal I hear you ask?

Well, to get to a point where the recording is “finished” and ready for sale, the audio has to go through this editing process and we utilise a combination of the senses of hearing and SIGHT… Yes, I did say SIGHT - to amend the recorded text you have to be able to SEE it as well as HEAR it !

In the accompanying picture, you can see what is known as the “waveform” - this is the visualisation of the audio and is what we use to listen and VIEW the sound, making changes as required (this particular example is from “Pulling Power - Pick Up Tips for Girls").

Editing is a painstaking process of listening and picking out the areas that need adjustment and then using the visual view of the audio to cut/paste/extend as appropriate until the file is ready for mastering - this is where the audio levels are all brought into harmony - the track is then finally ready…

So to edit audio in this digital world, we need to be able to SEE IT as well as HEAR IT - strange but true - you need a eagle eyes as well as the ears of an owl - it can be a lot of work, but it’s a crucial part of the production process…you gotta love it ! - Al Muirden

Friday, 13 November 2009

The Creme of the Crop

Friday the 13th is lucky for us! CC director Ali Muirden has some news...
There's been an exciting new development at Creative Content: We’ve signed a partnership deal with specialist crime fiction publisher Crème de la Crime to publish their catalogue of titles in ebook format!

We’ll be launching the first titles in April next year and we’re already buzzing with plans and ideas on how to make a real splash with this wonderful collection of crime novels.

How this event came about is in itself like something out of a novel! Back in the summer, I was invited to a party celebrating the launch of a new crime novel by the author Kaye Hill. It was being hosted by an old friend and ex-colleague (and now one of CC’s authors – he penned ‘Business Etiquette – India’) Mike Barnard at his lovely home in deepest, darkest Hampshire.

I vividly recall it was a filthy night, raining cats and dogs and I was sorely tempted to make my apologies and curl up on the sofa with a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc and the telly, however, a sixth sense told me that I should go - and thank goodness I did!

At the party I met Lynne Patrick, who is the co-founder - along with her husband, Jeff - of Crème de la Crime, a specialist crime publisher based in Chesterfield. Lynne and Jeff launched the company because they felt that there were lots of great crime writers out there, and the fact that their work wasn’t published was – well, there’s no other way of putting it - a crime!

Lynne and I struck up an immediate rapport and we got chatting about what we were both doing with our respective companies. She was really interested in the digital publishing arena and I was happy to fill her in on all our plans and ideas.

And from that meeting over a glass of vino (for her at least - I was on the OJ!) a partnership was born. Crème had a wonderful list of crime fiction, which fits in beautifully alongside CC’s non-fiction business and self help titles,

We got to work on the contract and the nitty gritty of how this would all work - and last week the deal was signed and broadcast to the publishing world at large.

We’re currently busy working on our plans for the launch titles - more on that story later in the year - and we’ll be publishing the first tranche of ebooks in the spring of 2010.

I’m so glad I listened to that inner voice that urged me to go along to the party, as otherwise we never would have met. And just think what a crime that would have been! You have permission to groan…. - AM

We’d love to know: Has your business been impacted for the better by a serendipitous encounter

Friday, 6 November 2009

What is it about catty colleagues?

This week, CC director Ali Muirden talks about a very particular problem for those working at home.
As I begin to write this week’s blog, every word on this screen is being scrutinized by a demanding, aloof and occasionally sinister working companion…. My cat Indy! She is sleek, black and white, half Burmese (her mum had a one night stand with the local Tom!) and totally and absolutely rules our roost! My other “catty” companion is her daughter, Short Round, who is an equally beautiful (if slightly more rotund!) Tortie, but so much nicer in nature than her regal mother!

What is it about living, and more especially, working with cats around? I find them an absolute delight to have as company during my working day, but they definitely have some disconcerting traits.

Why, for instance, when I sit down to read a manuscript (actually, I usually lie down as, for some odd reason, I find it impossible to read a book sitting up!), sitting on the script is absolutely the only thing in the world Indy will want to do at that precise moment. However, if I pick her up for a cuddle she squirms around and growls like a dog and if you don’t heed her warnings is very likely to give you a nasty right-pawer which leaves you nursing a bleeding wound for hours afterwards!

She also delights in walking across my laptop and has the spooky knack of hitting the ALT, CTRL, DELETE keys every time!

Short Round, too, has her funny little ways. She has a brilliant method of attracting my attention when she wants to be fed. She’ll sit patiently by my side “looking” at me and every so often, her little pink tongue will poke out as she licks her lips with a pleading expression which says “lPay me some attention! I’m wasting away and you are a cruel, thoughtless cat-abusing parent and I’m going to phone “cat-line” soon if you don’t get me some grub!” If the “pleading look” routine doesn’t work, she simply sticks her claws into my leg and hangs on for dear life until I yelp and give in and go get her some Whiskas Senior!

Short Round’s other “talent” is “shredding”. On spying a nice manuscript she excels at gripping the corners of the paper in her mouth and ripping it up and spitting it out! I’ve had the embarrassment on many an occasion of having to explain why my abridgment scripts have little tooth marks all over one corner!

The other major problem is that Indy detests her daughter and we live in a constant state of warfare! They have neatly divided the house into two territories… Indy lives downstairs and Shortie lives upstairs. The problems arise when Shortie needs to go out and has to navigate her way through the war zone known as our living room (also known as the Gaza Strip in our house!). Some days their battles leave me feeling a bit like the president of the UN on a major diplomatic mission!

Still, I wouldn’t be without them. It’s lovely to have my furry colleagues around for company and the odd cuddle (when they permit it!)… I’m just thankful they allow me the honour and privilege of working and living with them! -AM

We’d love to know: What’s it like working with your catty colleagues?