How to protect your back when reading and writing

Readers and writers put a lot of strain on their spine especially if posture isn’t very economical.

Check the height of your screen the top should be level with your eye line when sitting straight. The keyboard sits under the hands with the elbows bent at less than a right angle. So for laptop users, attach a separate keyboard and mouse and elevate the screen

Your chair needs to be adjustable so that feet rest on the floor or on a small footrest. The seat should tilt forwards at about 15 degrees so that knees are below hips when working on a screen. By all means, release it and rock back when reading. The back of the chair is then adjusted to fit snugly into the small of the back or place a pillow behind you if the back doesn’t adjust.

A similar position is ideal for reading. Support the book or reader on a document holder but if not… at least have a beanbag on your lap or a small folding lap desk so that your elbows are supported and you aren’t holding the book or reader up and generating shoulder and neck tension.

Whether reading or writing, remember to get up and move at least every 40 mins. Put on a record and dance flat out, walk briskly, go up and down the stairs; just get the blood pumping and your joints moving.

next post in two weeks… How to avoid repetitive strain: Core exercises for Writers and Readers

What readers need to know about finding their next book.

You find an author you love, it’s as if they are speaking directly to you. You read all their books trying not to gobble them up in one go, and then what?

Finding a new author you like can be an issue and nothing is more disappointing than a book which doesn’t hit the spot. When I started writing myself, I realised that there are author networks who group together to solve exactly this problem. I recently joined an author network called Bookfunnel which has given me a whole new set of authors to read whom I wouldn’t have found before. I’m enjoying some great books particularly by the growing body of talented indie (independently published) authors.

Here are three things to help you find new books you’ll love right now.

Sign up to my mailing list https://www.angelacairnsauthor.co.uk/mailing-list-sign-up/ for regular book reviews and free codes, to browse authors in the Women’s Fiction/Romance genre. Many books free or at great discount prices only with the code. All codes in my monthly newsletter along with a free short story each month.

Find your favourite author on Amazon and click on any of their books. Under the picture of the cover will be a photo of the author and their name. If you click on the name, you will find a list of other authors that their followers have also bought books from. Have fun exploring.

Many authors have a facebook group where fans chat about all things reading. You get up to the minute information about the latest book releases and books that other people have enjoyed plus a community of readers to enjoy talking books with. I’ve just started a facebook group attached to my author page – why not join us Angela Cairns- Author group.

Happy reading,

Angela

So, you’d like to be a writer?

Have you ever thought about writing a story or a book? If so, you’ll know that it’s difficult because life gets in the way and before you know it, another year has gone by and the notebook is still empty. So what do you do? Many people start with an online or local creative writing course, but before you do, this post will give you tips to make sure you find the right one.

Make sure the course you have chosen gives feedback on a one to one basis or at the very least through an active and supportive forum. Without regular constructive critique, it is difficult to improve.

Ensure your teacher has relevant experience and ask about the teacher’s own writing background. It is important you work with someone you like and trust.

Is there room for progression? Beware! Writing is addictive and you will want more… Choose a programme that allows you to experiment with different styles and can grow with you.

A bonus feature of a great writing course is the group itself. Writing with others is fun and with dates in your diary to attend class, you are more likely to finish the course. Working alone requires self-motivation and can get lonely.

Now that you’ve thought about it, you are ready to do your research and sign up to a course this autumn. For more writing fun and regular free short stories, join my facebook group today Angela Cairns Author Group or sign up to my mailing list https://www.angelacairnsauthor.co.uk/mailing-list-sign-up/

Check out The Writers Company http://www.thewriterscompany.co.uk for details of their excellent courses.

When things don’t go according to plan…

When things are not going to plan…

I was on a roll at the start of the week, I am writing the sequel to Touch. An inspirational marketing course I attended, made me put down my writing pen temporarily to put effort and time to streamline my ‘shop window’. The Website, Goodreads, Bookfunnel, my book blurb, adverts all had a makeover. I also decided to take positive action to start a facebook group, so that followers feel part of a community, and we can get book chats going and have fun with writing ideas.

I felt great. Clean and de-cluttered. Take a look around the site https://www.angelacairnsauthor.co.uk to see what you think. To me, it felt like I had sorted my wardrobe and kitchen cupboards all in one go.

Next point of attack was my novel Touch. I decided to revise because I had found some errors that had slipped through the original edit and I wanted to tweak the opening slightly. All good except… I have without realising, slightly increased the page count, and so the cover no longer fits the paperback! Amazon says I can’t re-publish until I have the cover resized. Major existential crisis, much muttering and nervous munching of chocolate!

The temporary solution is to change the layout so the book is more compact – job done.

When I am not having a crisis, I do believe things happen for a reason, and the reason, in this case, became obvious; I have just been approached by a social media friend and fellow author, who has offered to do a video book trailer for me and wants to change the cover to reflect images used in the video. I am beyond excited, and this means a re-launch coming soon. I feel great again.

As they say “Life is what happens when you’ve made other plans.”

I recently lost a good friend to cancer; here are some of my walking thoughts on life and death .

Winter:

The dogs ran forward full of joy and enthusiasm. I walked behind.

Bare trees, skeletal lollipops, stood stark in a row against a flaming sunset. Guardians of life through this winter season, dormant before spring’s awakening. Bare bones untouched by the roaring furnace behind them. Unlike the funeral ceremony this afternoon, where mortal remains extinguished by flame, released a beautiful soul. As a committee member, I attended the funeral as a representative of the Dog Club they had been part of, when young like me, they too walked behind dogs on sprung feet for mile upon mile.

 During the service, I was moved to tears, not as you might expect for the deceased, but because the voice of the stranger beside me sounded like my late Grandmother’s rich alto, mature and poignant with the vibrato of age.

Geese startled, at least a hundred, flew from the water meadow beside the path. Their low-pitched calls and wing-thrumming of collective flight resonated through my chest as they banked overhead. The sunset flames disappeared, masked by sooty clouds, casting shades of ash over the early evening.

Spring:

The dogs ran forward, not mine this time, but equally full of joy and enthusiasm. My friend and I walked behind.  Past the same trees, today, decked in their full springtime splendour. Her hand rested on my shoulder, she shared my eyes, her own sight taken by neoplastic invasion. She trusted me to call the path, call the dogs, and as her elected power of attorney, call the shots at the end game. Sometime in the near future. My field of view was by necessity diminished. I saw, not trees and sky, as I had before, but only the bruised and worn grass of the path and the tiny self- effacing wildflowers of the bank. My eyes could not sweep the sky and horizon, they needed instead to map crevices, roots, hazards. Walking slowly, I no longer said to her, “Oh look!” or ‘Did you see?” Instead I warned “Careful, uneven patch.”, “Step up here.”, “Slippery bit ahead.” We had walked many miles together over the years, across vast moors and arable fields following these same dogs. I brushed away a tear she could not see, and we continued our uncertain way.

Summer:

The dogs ran forward, full of joy and enthusiasm. I walked behind.

In the Spring, she followed me. Today, I had followed her. Coffin-clad and decked with cultivated blooms, she was carried to her place of rest. Once again, I sang, and I cried, but this time not with nostalgia for my Grandmother, nor as a detached club representative. I did both with love, for my young friend, that I knew so well. She had often joked it would be her who helped me in my dotage. Suffocated by grief, I burst from the ceremonial confines of her funeral, and escaped into, the wide, wild solitude of our regular walk. I rejoiced in the familiar solace of trees and sunshine-sky, then guiltily dropped my eyes to the path, remembering that we would never walk here together and she would never see them again. Until I become accustomed to my survivor guilt, I imagine it will be so.

Autumn:

The dogs ran forward, full of joy and enthusiasm. I walked behind.

The copper and russet leaves on the trees are rich against a cobalt blue Autumn sky. They match my hair. Loose around my face, the wind plays with my hair, tangles, and teases, the tresses dance to its piping. I am at peace surrounded by warm colours, at home in their glow, which promises conkers, comforting soup and ginger cake which crumbles, spiced onto plates, every last morsel to be picked and licked off sticky fingers.

There are no funerals today.  I don’t consider the dying of the year as a death. And if I don’t, then I must let go of my grief and engage with life, just as I engage with the turning of the seasons.  The fallen leaves of autumn are a quilt for germinating seeds, through winter. The past, a bed from which emerges the future, bright and hope-filled.  I pick up my pace, invigorated by the freshness of the air on my face, swing my arms, then skittish, cannot resist the urge to run, a few steps and twirl in circles as if I’m a leaf in the wind. The dogs pause to look at me in surprise, then cavort around me, natural in their joy of the moment. Companions in the dance.

copyright Angela Cairns 2019

New projects and reviews

It has been a curious week, as the excitement of the book launch dies down and I get on with the business of deciding what to do next, whilst feeling a bit wrung out emotionally and physically!

Two projects spring to mind; I have the plan for a sequel to Touch mapped out and I have started writing. Why not join my Facebook Group, Angela Cairns – Author Group. It’s for book chats, writing ideas and information and recommendations. I’d also like to find Beta readers for the new book, to help me by reading drafts as I go along? And be the first to read the finished item. I’d appreciate your help.

I’m thinking about an anthology of short stories, I have some already and think it would be fun to add some more. Maybe you have ideas that could act as a prompt to get me going?

Sales of TOUCH are going well and I would love any of you that have read the book to write a review, they are so helpful for other readers who may not have read anything I’ve written before. reviews on Amazon, Facebook or on the website are amazing if you’re not sure how to do them then please message me or comment after the post. The next step is to extend the book offline and circulate it to bookshops and libraries and I am excited to have a publisher who may be interested to help me with that.

Love to hear what you are reading this summer, I’ve just finished The Muse by Josephine Barnes and enjoyed every page. Happy reading,

Angela

Wow! – Fantastic…

The reading evening for Writers Company anthology ‘Paths Made by Walking’ made over £400 pounds for arts charity Inside Out. Inside Out supports arts education for mental health and well-being. The anthology features an excerpt from Touch and two other of my short stories, also wonderful short stories, poetry, and memoirs from five other writers. The last few copies for sale at £7.99, please email angela@angelacairnsauthor.co.uk to receive your copy

Launch Week

It’s been a busy week getting ready for the launch…

I’m very excited to be on BBC ESSEX Wednesday 5th June at 2 pm with Steve Scruton to talk about “Touch” and also doing a reading from the book on Saturday 8th June 6 pm at the Nottage Wivenhoe.

Touch goes live…

Book Review – Caroline Goldsworthy – ‘Tangent’

Fast paced crime thriller.

Very different to my own book Touch, Tangent is a fast-paced crime thriller, I couldn’t put down.
DCI Carlson is a worthy addition to the lists of fictional detectives, clever, committed and world- weary, he is appalled, to once more be pitting his wits against a cold blooded, sexually motivated, serial killer who’s crimes seem to mirror those from twenty years before.
Helped by Shazza, who inhabits the dark world of the girls being killed, he races against time to solve the case and prevent more deaths.
All the characters had depth and were completely believable, drawing me into their maze convincingly. Caroline Goldsworthy paints a stark picture of the working girls who are at risk and their back stories which make them vulnerable . As we profile the killer and the girls, the truth is they are all victims of victims, but it’s the girls who are being terrorised and killed.