Tag Archives: solihull library

Rediscovering the Library

Candice: Over the last few years I’ve got out of the habit of going to the local library. It’s been too easy to pick up a book from the supermarket or the charity shop, or get one from Phil. However, during lockdown, it has been harder and harder to get hold of physical books so I have had to look at other options.

At one point I tried to set up a share group with the neighbours, but we either didn’t like each others type of book, or they read on a kindle so couldn’t share.

Phil and I have posted books back and forth, but that has still be dependent on what I can get hold of, and I refuse to buy too much from Amazon as I like to support the local stores instead.

But then there was a lightbulb moment in the family the other week. Why not use the Library? It’s particularly relevant as my daughter is reading more and more, and finding the right books for her is also a challenge.

She loved her first trip there, and was very proud of having her new library card. The slight problem is her having picked about seven books up, and only managing to read one in the three weeks she has them, but I am not knocking that excitement!

However, it has also helped me to discover the extensive range at Solihull Library. In fact, I got more lost in the options than she did; quick reads, Richard and Judy reads, murder mystery, chick lit, something completely different. I’m reading something at the moment I would not have picked up in a shop.

The downside is I can’t share them with Phil, but I can at least recommend and he can go and find them in his own library.

There are lots of other things happening at the Library too, there were some children doing craft activities last time we went in so I need to find out how to sign up to them, plus reading groups and summer clubs.

Lockdown has changed a lot of things but also brought other things to the fore that we’d forgotten about – using the local park is one and now using the Library is another. Don’t forget to use yours – its a great, free service and will open you up to lots more things than books.

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Busy, busy, busy

Image result for solihull library

Candice: Phil and I have been busy, busy, busy in the last week or so.  We are so close to having a suped-up version of ‘Kate vs the Dirtboffins‘ ready to get out there.  And have been looking at other marketing options so that this time it can have a really good push.

However, Phil has been traversing the country at his train shows and I have been tied up in workshops in the project I am working on, not leaving a lot of time for anything else.

Ah, but this is the life of most writers; working around the full-time job, family, fighting off a cold etc. ( I am also doing that at the moment – though not Coronavirus mind!)

We took a day out last week to convene over tea and cake and then get those laptops fired up.  We have always found working in the local library is a good spot as it has a good cafe (though this time I used my free tea and cake voucher for John Lewis down the road) but it also means we have to sit and work and not chat all the time.  That is our biggest downfall, chatting.  Being a team of two is great for writing and ideas but terrible for getting down to work sometimes, too much chat!

Anyway, Solihull library has some great desks which you can work from looking out over a courtyard, but also have subdued chat and drink coffee at too.  It means we don’t get ‘shushed’ all the time but the environment is enough to make us concentrate.

Some quick editing and then matching across the two different versions we’d been working on and then we were off.

There are a few new Chapters to put in, to split up the copy better, some continuity errors sorted and some new content.  Its nearly there.

We are both proud of the book, but have always felt it wasn’t quite as polished as it should be.  Now it’s a shiny penny.  So by the end of this month that penny should be on Amazon again, ready to be read by all.

And then on to finish book three….

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Resolutions for 2012

Choc chunk cookie with added SmartiesPhil: On my calendar, 30th December has been marked “Writing Day” for many weeks. I’ve written it so large there was no chance of squeezing anything else in the box. Even if I crossed it out, I couldn’t add anything in its place.

On this day, we had decided we’d meet up and start Book 2. Lunchtime waffling was no substitute for a good solid writing session at the spiritual home of nolanparker wordsmithing, Solihull library. While we both write at home, it seemed that a session in the right atmosphere with no possible distractions was required to get the new book started. They say every journey starts with a single step. We were just struggling to take that step knowing how much effort the journey will require.

However, all did not go to plan. The library has an excellent cafe in which we met to refresh ourselves before taking up our wordy processors. And there we chatted.

Unusually, the chat wasn’t random. It focused on lessons learned from writing Book 1 and how they could be applied to Book 2. Then the focus moved back to some feedback received on the first story (Candice will be blogging this soon) and maybe how we should re-work our existing tale. In fact, after just over 2 hours, a four cups of tea and accompanying cookies as well as some toast, we felt it time to head to the pub for lunch and even more chat.

The upshot of this was no real writing, apart from some notes, but lots of productivity. Instead of ploughing ahead we stood back and were critical of what has been done to date and then formulated a plan to use this to achieve the aim of a published book. Maybe it’s easier for a pair of writers but as we brain-stormed (I don’t care if that term isn’t “correct”, it saying “mind-showered” in this context just sounds rude) we came up with different ways to work on our story that would tell the same tale but even better, tighter and in a more marketable way. We stopped being precious about things and found that we could think the unthinkable. Hopefully this means we might be able to achieve the unachievable.

So the resolutions for 2012 are simple:

  • Write Book 2 – We’ve mapped out the basic plot and main incidents and with this we can begin filling in details and doing the fun stuff. Last time the story developed organically, this time we have done things the “correct” way around which will save lots time rewriting things as new sections are dropped into the manuscript which then has to be adapted for continuity.
  • Make some changes to the order of the Book 1 text. Not yet though. Those ideas will mature in the back of our minds for at least a month. We’ll walk away from them and come back and take another look to see if they are as smart as they sound in the heat of a Wetherspoons.
  • Eat more cake.

Sounds like a plan.


Filed under Phil, Writing

Dead bird in Solihull Library

A nice live blackbird

A nice live blackbird

Phil: Not all the work on this book has been carried out in cake shops. These are only suitable for talking about the work in hand, try to do some work and you’ll get a laptop full of crumbs. As someone who in a previous life used to work on a computer helpdesk, I know how disgusting that can be (Hint: Turn your keyboard upside down now and bang it’s bottom. See what fell out ? Horrible wasn’t it. Now imaging it’s someone else’s detritus…)

The subject of finding a suitable place to write has been discussed over at the Cakes, Tea and Dreams blog where everywhere from cafes to parks has been suggested. Sadly, those romantic aspirations are normally cast aside in favour of somewhere quiet with a table, which is why in an effort to find some conducive writing space we’ve been meeting up in Solihull Library. There’s a nice area for “Quiet Study” which has power points for laptops, desk space and none of that distracting Interweb.

A few months ago, we had finished our tea and cakes (excellent selection in the cafe downstairs by the way) and I grabbed the window seat because my eee PC has a cable long enough to reach half way around the building whereas the Nolan beast is a little stunted in this respect and the sockets are miles away. More important than electricity, I like to be able to gaze thoughtfully out at the passing world while working as I find it helps me think though problems. Or at least that’s what I tell my boss anyway. Outside, Christmas was getting into full swing and Santa was being followed by one of his elves on a fag break. In most versions of festive tales Santa’s helpers are supposed to be a bit on the short side but, unless there were two in the single costume standing on each others shoulders, then 6ft elves are perfectly acceptable nowadays. Presumably this is what the press calls “Polical Correctness gone mad”. At least he would be able to keep the kids under control I suppose.

When I wasn’t watching festive fun, Solihull Council had provided some statuary in the corner. Those enjoying some quiet study could look on, and presumably be inspired by, a 3ft high marble girl. “Lovely”, you are thinking except that she is cradling a dead blackbird in her skirts. Now, I don’t know a lot about art but can someone explain to me what makes you wake up in the morning, look at a block of stone and decide to carve a small child. Then to make it extra special, include a dead bird in the composition ?

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