Friday, 30 December 2011

Friday, 23 December 2011

Something for everyone, whether they're naughty or nice....

Remembered everyone on your Christmas list? eBooks make the perfect last-minute present. Here’s a few suggestions from our list:

For your favourite silver surfer: A Tiger’sWedding: my childhood in exile by Isla Blair. A beautifully written memoir, set in India and Scotland.

For a classical music nut: The Charles Patterson series by Roz Southey - Broken Harmony, Chords and Discords, Secret Lament and Sword and Song. Historical crime fiction set in 18th century Newcastle, following the fortunes of a harpsichordist/ composer

For the more modern music lover: Solid Air –The Life of John Martyn by Chris Nickson. A biography of the British singer-songwriter and guitarist.

For a theatre lover: Behind You, Passion Killers, and Dead Like Her by Linda Regan. Crime fiction set in a theatrical world that the actress-author knows well.

For a CSI/Prime Suspect fan: The Bev Morriss series by Maureen Carter: Working Girls, Baby Love, Dead Old, HardTime, Bad Press, Blood Money and Death Line. Gritty police procedurals set in Birmingham.

For someone who can’t wait for the next Janet Evanovich novel: Dead Woman’s Shoes and The Fall Girl by Kaye C Hill. Quirky crime fiction set on the Sussex coast.

For a history buff: The Lowdown series: A Short History of the Origins of WWI, A Short History of the Originsof the Vietnam War and A Short History of the First Gulf War. Concise accounts of important historical events.

For a sports fan: The Lowdown: A Short History of the World Cup by Mark Ryan. Bone up before 2014!

For an international traveler: The Lowdown business series: Business Etiquette Japan, Business Etiquette China, Business Etiquette India, Business Etiquette Russia and Doing Business in Mexico. ‘Top tips’ guides to doing business abroad.

Ali and Lorelei wish you everything wonderful for Christmas and the new year!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Dream Girl....

There was an email from Ali waiting for me this morning – during the night, she’d dreamed up a design concept for a series of books we’re publishing. Here she talks about her unique way of problem-solving....

Have you ever wondered if insomnia can sometimes be useful?

I know this sounds really odd, but bear with me! I’m not sure if it is just me, but I seem to have my best ideas in that blurry moment between sleep and waking… that tough moment when you can literally feel yourself struggling to open up your eyes to face another day.

Sometimes I wake up around 3 or 4am - usually because my cat, Shortie (who is a little on the overweight side) sits on me - and an idea will suddenly pop into my head with such ease I can’t really believe it’s happened.

I know it’s really because our brains are so amazing: they work all night, filtering out the rubbish from the previous day and are busy filing away anything useful, so that when we wake up our minds are all fresh and shiny and raring to go - as long as we don’t have a hangover that is!

Just this morning it happened again. I woke up because the dawn chorus was blaring out in stereo through the open bedroom windows and I nailed down an idea that has been bubbling away for a special promotional offer we want to do around one of our books…more on that story later.

I really should keep a notebook and pen by my bed to jot these ideas down so I can go back to sleep without worrying I’ll have totally forgotten it by morning!

Lorelei is now so used to this odd quirk of mine that when she needs me to come up with a solution or an idea for a project we’re working on she orders me to go to sleep and is even threatening to get me a supply of sleeping tablets to boot!

Please tell me I’m not the only one this happens to or I‘ll start feeling a bit of a freak?
–Ali Muirden

Cat photo by dominiqs

Friday, 9 December 2011

Body Language

We’re watching events in Brussels with interest and wonder if some of the politicians could use a little help. From "The Lowdown: Dodging the Bullet - Effective Risk Communications Skills" by Andrew Roberts and Andrew Powell, here are a few tips on body language...

Non-verbal communications (NVC) or ‘body language’ These can either enhance the first impressions you give, or destroy them.
Not only are non-verbal communications more noticeable during controversy, they are picked up almost instantly — usually within that crucial first 30 seconds.
Research has identified over 50 non-verbal cues that people use to judge trust and credibility. NVCs can contribute massively to perceptions of openness and honesty — and with as much as 20% of trust being determined by openness and honesty, their power cannot be underestimated.
Let’s look at some common non-verbal communications and the messages they send:

·   The eyes have it! Poor eye contact can suggest that you are dishonest, closed, unconcerned or nervous. Excellent eye contact, on the other hand, delivers the message that you are honest, open, competent, sincere, dedicated, confident, knowledgeable and interested. This, folks, is the whole package!!!

·   Sitting back in your chair will make you appear uninterested, unenthusiastic, unconcerned and uncooperative. But sitting forward in your chair will show you to be interested, enthusiastic, concerned and cooperative.

·   If you keep your hands hidden, this will suggest that you may be deceptive, guilty, or insincere. Open hands, however, will convey that you are open and sincere.

·   The tone of your voice is in itself a message. Raising your voice may make you appear nervous and deceitful. Lowering your tone, however, will help show that you are honest, caring and self-assured.

Some more NVC or body language things to look out for:

·   Folding your arms across your chest shows you to be defiant, arrogant, impatient, defensive and stubborn — and suggests that you aren’t listening.

·   Infrequent hand gestures or body movements indicate that you are likely to be dishonest and deceitful.

·   Rocking movements indicate that you are nervous and lacking self-confidence.

·   Touching your face a lot indicates that you are likely to be dishonest, deceitful and nervous.

·   Holding your head in your hand will show that you are bored or uninterested

·   Clenched hands will likely indicate that you are angry, hostile, determined to get your way and uncooperative. 

When people are upset, their awareness of these non-verbal clues is enhanced, so negative body language like this will be especially noticeable. It is very important that these non-verbal messages are consistent with what you are actually saying. If there is a ‘disconnect’ between the two, the non-verbal messages will take precedence and no amount of talking will get the message across. - Andrew Roberts and Andrew Powell

 Photo by  Ganessas

Friday, 2 December 2011

The best part of a narrator's day...

I’m thrilled to have been named narrator of the year on Audible. I’m so lucky to record such fantastic series and am so grateful: to the authors, for the wonderful material, and to the publishers, for letting me narrate it! To celebrate, I thought I’d revisit a blog I wrote about a small part of a narrator’s day...

When it comes to audiobooks, I’m lucky enough to be tri-coastal (if the Thames can be considered a coast!). I record in London, New York and Los Angeles.

There are some differences in the way they work, sure... but the thing that really sets them apart – is lunch.

This is how it goes in the UK:

UK: What would you like for lunch?
ME: What have you got?
UK: Anything you like. Anything at all.
ME: Oh. Okay. How about a Cobb salad.
UK: Don’t think they’ll have that.
ME: Oh. Um... Caesar salad.
UK: Don’t think they do salads, actually.
ME: Oh.
UK: Sandwich?
ME: Okay. Um... turkey club on-
UK: Turkey’s unlikely
ME: Pastram-
UK: Don’t think they know what it is.
ME: You go first. Why don’t you tell me what they have?
UK: Ham or cheese.
ME: Ham and cheese?
UK: Ham or cheese.
ME: Okay. Um. Cheese. Could I have Swiss or maybe Gruy-
UK: Cheddar.
ME: Or cheddar. Maybe on pumper-
UK: White bread.
ME: Or?
UK: White bread.
ME: Okay.
UK: Lovely! Cheese sandwich on white bread. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

And then it arrives.

UK: There you are, darling.
ME: This is it?
UK: Yes. It’s what you wanted. A cheese sandwich.

Let me give you the heads up about something: when you order a cheese sandwich in the UK, the clue is all in the name. You get two pieces of bread. And a piece of cheese. That’ s it. Oh, and the bread will be ‘sealed’ with margarine. The cheese will probably be a little dried up around the edges – you could make stained glass windows with the stuff...

ME: I mean – this is it? Two pieces of bread and a piece of cheese?
UK: What did you expect?
ME: I don’t know. Maybe some tomato... or sprouts... or some lettuce or cucumber or something. I mean it’s just cheese. There’s nothing green.
UK: Oh darling that’s a bit unfair. I mean – look.
ME: Oh. Yeah. Sorry. I didn’t see the mould.

Then there’s New York – my favourite city. Unfortunately, I’m kind of used to the London way of doing things by now, so lunch in New York can mean a bit of culture shock...

NY: Sorry to stop you, but it’s important. Where are we gonna order lunch from? I want Thai, but Tony had Thai yesterday, so we’re thinkin’ Italian, but we might go Italian for dinner, so maybe we should stick to Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Ooh, or Cajun and Kosher sound good. Oooh. Or maybe Caribbean, Mexican, Cuban or Brazilian? Or Vietnamese, Mongolian, Ethiopian, Armenian, Polish, Greek, Turkish, Hungarian, German, Belgian, French, Spanish or Swedish?
ME: (overwhelmed by choice) Um - could I maybe have ... (tiny voice) a cheese sandwich?
NY: A cheese sandwich? Sure. Swiss, American, Brie, Gorgonzola, Monterey Jack, Gruyere, Camembert, Limburger, Roquefort, cheddar...
ME: (grabbing onto a familiar word) Um... cheddar?
NY: Sure. Mild, medium, matured, vintage, sharp, extra sharp, smoked, Canadian, English...
ME: (increasingly desperate) English!
NY: What kinda bread? Wholewheat, pumpernickel, rye, multi-grain...
ME: White bread?
NY: White bread? Sure. Sourdough, ciabatta,  Wonder Bread if you’re feeling retro, focaccia, bagel, chollah ...?’

Of course it’s quite simple in LA.

They don’t eat.