Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Sharon's Sculpture

From time to time on my Blog, I’d like to showcase the work of talented friends. Sharon Rankin is a speciality dentist at Kings College Hospital and she’s also a sculptor, selling her work. I met her at a tennis club in Putney (she was out of my league and always beat me!) and she went on to do a BA in Fine Art, Sculpture at Kingston University, completing in 2008. I think her work is temptingly tactile and incredibly beautiful. Here are Sharon’s own words and a selection of pieces she’s produced:

"I communicate through relief carving in stone, combining craft, accuracy and control with artistry, exploration and questioning. Achieving a three-dimensional effect and natural movement through relief carving is shown in my Flowers in Portland Stone. I explore depth and technique in different types of stone, such as through a play on a real but dead plant in Extinct Plant in Slate."

Flowers in Portland Stone
Extinct Plant in Slate


"My interest in texture and movement extends to the cloth that might be found on statues, and the softness of fabric and the hardness of stone are melded in Stone Folds." 

Stone Folds

"Letter carving in stone is a tradition, which I have taken into Arabic lettering with gold, silver and copper leaf inlay as in Islamic Calligraphy."
Islamic Calligraphy
"It’s fun to play with the idea that certain objects do not necessarily need to be made of the materials we expect, as shown in Electrical Socket in Marble."
Electrical Socket in Marble
"I hope you enjoy these pictures. If you would like to know more please contact me, Sharon Rankin, at or 07939 001915"

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Should writers get paid to talk about themselves?

Even before I started writing fiction, I’ve always believed that writers ought to get paid a (decent) fee (see the Society of Authors for their Guidelines) for contributions at Festivals etc. You’d never expect a professional musician to turn up and perform all day for free or a chef to run workshops in a marquee for nothing, unless it was a charity event. So why should writers not be paid to entertain and talk about their craft? 

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It takes time to prepare a humorous biography, an entertaining speech, a resume of why you wrote a particular book, answers to likely questions, such as: Why do you only write for children? Or how can I get my own ebook launched? Apart from anything, getting to a venue and back takes one or more days away from your work. 

The organisation of publicity events (following the release of a new book) is also riddled with pitfalls. I’ve heard disastrous tales of writers travelling halfway across the country to turn up to book signings and finding no books, no posters advertising their visit, no eager public loitering by a table. One well-known writer travelled over a hundred miles to be greeted with the words: ‘Never heard of you, mate – sorry, we’re about to do a stock-taking…’

There are further horrendous tales of hotels not being booked, writers being handed a timetable of talks throughout the day with no break for lunch and no sandwiches. Outward train tickets provided, but no return. Or no train tickets at all when they turn up to collect them at the station. One writer was paid for her full day’s contribution with a packet of shortbread…

Yes – I’m looking forward to my next 'appearance'…

Thursday, 11 April 2013


‘Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.’  Gloria Steinem

I love this quote – as far as I’m concerned, it is spot on.

I have a firm belief that as individuals we will only feel ultimate satisfaction in life if we are following our true Energy. This Energy is the motivator, the drive, our raison d’etre. It springs from those activities that light us up with excitement when we think about them.

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With the recent economic downturn many people cannot afford to pursue their passions, but from my work as a therapist, I’m amazed at how many people don’t seem to know what their dreams are, or have no idea about what they really want to do with their lives. They muddle along, having ‘Groundhog Days’ – perhaps they never check inside themselves to see what is really important to them and why.
Motivation stems from many factors – here are just a handful of ideas:

To seek Adventure                                         To Learn
To Teach                                                        To Influence
To Advise                                                       To Invent
To be a Catalyst                                             To Lead
To Investigate and find clues                         To Resolve Conflict
To Problem-Solve                                          To make Discoveries

For people who may not have given themselves the chance to discover where their motivation lies, the key areas to look at are:

o   Which activities make you lose track of time?
o   What do you regard as your top five life achievements?
o   List ten of your positive qualities and abilities?

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This sort of reflection can often jog ideas (often childhood hobbies that you may have forgotten all about) into action.