Books need a wow factor! Find out how to make your book come alive by writing effective anecdotes and case studies. Come and be inspired and empowered when I’m the guest speaker at Storyville in WC2 from 7-9 pm on 29th. Just £15. Details at http://www.thebig-leap.com/storyville.phtml

Could you, should you, write a book?

If this is a question that you often ask yourself, then maybe it’s time to find out. On 9th July I’m running a Special Interest Group workshop for the European Professional Women’s network in Amsterdam. It will cover topics including:
what makes a book sell?
what is a wow factor?
could I really write a book?
what book would make me the most money?
how can a book help me raise my fees?

So, if you need to be inspired, informed and supported hurry and grab your place on this free workshop. led by me, Jo Parfitt, from 7-9pm at the Renaissance Hotel in Amsterdam.

Places are limited and the link is here http://europeanpwn-amsterdam.net/workshops/publish-your-book

marketingandpubbooksMary Cavanagh turned to self-publishing when her agreement ended with a traditional publishing house. She has never looked back and has sold thousands of books thanks to the help of the marketing gurus at Matador and the publishers at Troubadour. Her book entitled the Seriously Useful Guide to Marketing an Publicising Books shares Mary’s secrets for getting her book into the press, onto the shelves and into the libraries. From ideas you may have had yourself, such as book signings and festivals, to how to use the internet, blogs, booklovers’ sites and how to do a book launch that works – and how to do one that doesn’t. This is frank and honest, as Mary shares her own experience of the successes and the failures along the way. Many of the people instrumental in her success have contributed their part of the story too, including Mark Thornton of the independent bookshop, Mostly Books, in Abingdon, who runs a workshop himself, called Shelf Secrets, designed to help authors get their books on those hallowed shelves.

Next week, Kiwi actress, storyteller, playwright and inspirer extraordinaire comes to The Hague with her unique set of plays to entertain us. As a writer and word lover I was delighted to hear about Letteracy. This play, devised, written and performed by Tanya has been created in praise of letter-writing. Don’t miss it. Please.

Tanya is here 5-15 June and is running a storytelling workshop, a children’s play called Box of Foxes and many other wondrous things, but Letteracy is ONLY on 5th and 6th at the Communication Museum in Zeestraat. I’ll be there. More info at http://www.theenglishtheatre.nl.

I was very impressed by Paul Allen’s ebook entitled Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Paul is a journo, living (lucky thing) in Catalonia, in Spain, and his book is no less than I would have expected from someone who has been trained to be thorough. Moreover, he has the proof and the statistics to back up his advice. If you are thinking of moving abroad this book will help you turn over every stone and consider the reality of your proposal. It really is a terrific book and, to my mind, the first of its kind. Find out more at his website expatliving 101 here.

Making a fool of myself

April 2, 2009

I can hardly believe the journey I’ve had since March’s Inspirer. Physically, I’ve been to Houston to the Families in Global Transition conference for the fifth time and then on to the Virgin Islands to take part in a girls’ sailing trip with a bunch of people I had never met before. So, I guess that counts as one hell of a trip. But the emotional journey I’ve been on has had a greater impact. I told people that I had agreed to the holiday specifically to expand my comfort zone. It worked!

Until three weeks ago I had never spent a single second crewing a boat of any kind. I knew port and starboard meant left and right and that was about it. Yet, there I was, going to crew a 49foot yacht with a bunch of strangers thousands of miles from home. Before I left, I was numb with dread. My greatest fears were that I would be a hopeless sailor, that I’d let everyone down, that my lack of experience would put us in danger. And I was scared that I would be really really scared and unable to simply get off the boat again and go home.

‘Right, then, Jo,’ said Glenda, our skipper. ‘You can be dinghy captain!’ Apparently that’s the job she reserves for the wimps and the lily-livered newbies. I hardly dared admit that I’d never done that either. I’d never even pulled the starter cord on a lawnmower, for goodness sake. I’d never even mowed a lawn! Add that to the fact that I am terminally muscleless, and it is no surprise that I was a jibbering wreck before we even left the harbour. But Glenda would not tolerate a wuss and I had no choice. Dingy captain I would be. And so it was. By George, I did it! What’s more, I was one of only two people who could actually summon the strength to pull that pesky starter cord! The size of the grin on my face as I steered us all to shore once or twice a day was not insignificant.

By the end of the trip the wonderful Glenda had forced me to hold the helm in 20 knot winds, gybe, tack, furl the mainsail, winch, catch moorings and learn about luffing and sheets. And do you know what? I did not make a fool of myself. Not once. My comfort zone expanded wider than the envelope of a hot air balloon and my spirit soared higher than I’d have dreamed possible. In risking that I may have made a complete idiot of myself, I had, in reality achieved the opposite. After that massive feat I began to feel I could conquer the world. Maybe I’ll even learn to ski.

On the day before the sailing trip I took another risk. Again I stood in fear of making a fool of myself. Again I exposed myself as my first book of poetry was published and the proof copy landed in my hands, courtesy of DHL, on the last day of the conference. As I looked down at the cover my kneecaps began to wobble up and down. Just as they had on my wedding day. It was quite something for me to admit that I write poetry. You see, poetry is the ultimate way of showing your weakness. The best writing comes from a place of heightened emotion, so here I was, showing the world that when you cut me I bleed. Filled with fear, and with a nervous smile on my face, I held A Moving Landscape high.

‘I did it!’ I cried. And all around me people clapped me on the back and congratulated me. For though this is my 26th book, it is the first that runs the risk of showing me in my true colours.

Five minutes later, Craig Toedtman, President of Options Resources Careers in PA, blasted that fear out of the water by ordering 200 copies on the spot to give to his clients. He said that it was just what he was looking for. A book that would speak to new expatriates about how it really feels to live abroad.

So now I have taken you on my journey. I have shown you my fears and vulnerability and I have demonstrated, I hope, that it is when we take the biggest risks that we have the chance to achieve the most.

Isn’t it time you let your spirit soar too?

A Moving Landscape, price £10, is available on Amazon.