Hey there folks! Long time, no natter. How the devil are you?
I bring you good news today: I have a new website. Yup, as promised, a new, spooky, sparkly website has been created by the fine folk at Square One, and the site rocks. It pre-empts the launch in the UK, on 4th June, of my debut psychological conspiracy thriller, The Spider in the Corner of the Room, and it’s where I’ll be blogging from now on.
So, if you fancy it, hot foot it to the new site at nikkiowenauthor.com and, if you sign up to the updates box, you could be in with a chance of winning a signed first edition copy of Spider. Whoop!
Thanks again for following the blog – and hope you LOVE the new one.
PS Spider and the Project trilogy have been bought in book deals around the world, so look out for a launch near you.
PPS Look out for the acknowledgements in Spider for a mention to my blog buddies…
I wrote a column for the Gloucestershire Gazette about MPs’ pay rises. I was livid. An 11% pay rise proposal when public sector wages are being capped at 1%? That is just plain wrong. So, in December, I wrote a column about it. Here it is for the New Year, below, with a link to the petition you can sign to protest against it. Here’s to a better and more fair 2014…
An increase in MPs’ pay? That’s just daft – The Gloucestershire Gazette – Column – 26th December, 2013
There are times when I do feel daft. You know, those times when you think you understand something, when you believe that everything makes sense, yet actually, the reality is completely the opposite.
Well, welcome to one of these occasions. You see, you may be very aware of MPs and the proposal to increase their pay. This month, it was announced that The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) wants to raise salaries by £7,600 to £74,000 in 2015. Now, while Prime Minister David Cameron calls it “inappropriate”, and Labour leader Ed Miliband requested talks between the party leaders and Ipsa, here’s the thing: neither of them has signed the paper openly opposing the pay rise. A week after Labour MP John Mann tabled an Early Day Motion demanding the increase to be just 1%, in line with the rest of the public sector, only 10 MPs – and not one Conservative – have put their names to it.
And so here’s where I think I’m daft. You see, I would have thought it was absolutely obvious that an 11% pay rise is a ridiculous idea. We are living in tough times. Winter fuel bills are rocketing. All over Gloucestershire, pensioners are struggling to make ends meet. Teachers from Yate to Cam, and Chipping Sodbury to Berkley are paid peanuts. So, on that basis, how on earth could MPs think it was okay to want an 11% increase? I watched an MP on TV justifying the rise by saying politicians work hard, and that, if we want to attract the right caliber of candidate, then we should pay out. Bobbins. Absolute bobbins. What about the teacher? The policeman? The refuse collector? Aren’t they worth something? Don’t they deserve the best pay, too? In the 2013 budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the 1% public sector pay cap would be extended to 2015/16. How on one hand can he do this, yet on the other effectively green light an extra 11% for himself? So much for all being in this together.
But, there is something we can do. We can protest. And we must. Because we are not daft to think this is wrong. You can sign an e-petition on the proposal at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk. You can lobby your MP. Speak to them. Because life must be fair, and an 11% rise when others’ wages are being capped? That’s not fair at all.
It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…
This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about the NHS and why any steps to privatise it should be halted. To read it, simply click to my Column page.
What do you think? Should the NHS remain in the public domain or is it a growing drain on resourses? Private or public ownership? Let me know.
**OUT THIS SATURDAY: My new column for Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo newspaper. This Saturday it’s all about how 2005 really was my annus horribilis for reasons I’m only admiting to everyone now. Catch the Weekend Magazine on their website link here**
**Look out for Wednesday Wafflings next, um, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**
It’s Media Monday where I post my views on the latest writing and publishing news: The Boy Who Played Guitar is now out in paperback…
Oh my giddy aunt! I don’t normally pop a post about my own Media Monday news, but I’m off on my holidays so what the heck! My book The Boy Who Played Guitar is now out in paperback and to celebrate – and because you’re all so nice – I I have a free copy to give away .
To win a copy of the book, simply answer this question:
What was the title of my short story that won the Wotton Arts & literature 2012 Short Story Prize? Was it:
a) The Woman Who Had a Limp
b) The Woman Who Had Piles
c) The Woman Who Walked to School
You can find the answer (if you haven’t guessed already…) by taking a look through my blog posts. To send your answers, just use the ‘contact me’ section to my blog – that way no sneaky answers will appear in the comments section….
The competition closes Monday 6th August when I’ll pull a name from the hat to chose the lucky winner.
The book’s already received rave reviews, with review site FacE-Bookers saying: ‘It was a flowing story…that had them giggling in some places and crying in others.’
Here’s a bit more about the book…
What do you do when life hits a rut? Stuck in a failing secondary school in Cheltenham, ageing Assistant Principal, Dan McClean, is fed up. His 16-year old pupils won’t learn; the school’s changing to an Academy; his wife can’t have a baby; and his middle is growing faster than Facebook. So when one day the school Principal tells Dan to get his pupils’ grades up or they’re off the higher exam paper, Dan hits on an idea: he’ll start a school choir. But what Dan doesn’t know is that by setting up the choir, he’s starting down a road where life will never quite be the same again.
From columnist and debut novelist, Nikki Owen, a heart-warming, poignant tale of courage, loss and what it really means to find out who your friends are –even if they do like Lady Gaga.
Thanks for tolerating my shameless plug! Have a great week – and thanks so much for following my blog. It’s great us all getting to know everyone.
I’ll be taking a little blog break now, so see you after my holiday. France – here we come!
It’s Media Monday where I post my latest views on writing & publishing news…
Pop Quiz: What is a biography? Is it a) a true account of an exceptional person’s life? B) a memoir, perhaps, coined at the end of a fruitful and colourful life lived? Or is it c) an easy way to make money. Well, once upon a time, you’d be right to assume the first two, but these days things are very, very different.
Last week it was announced that the author Marco Shapiro has penned a book all about the singer, Adele. Okay, you may think, that doesn’t sound too bad, she’s an award-winning singer and she really does have a lovely voice. Well, let me tell you that the book is to be published without Adele’s blessing. That means she has played no part in it, has not contributed to any verification of facts or indeed unfacts, so to speak. So that blows answers A and B right out of the water.
What we are witnessing with the Adele book is what has been emerging now for some time in the publishing industry, namely the money-spinning potential of the biography. Now, look, I believe that, especially in today’s digital age, publishers need to make a profit, and biographies offer a seasonal route to do that – although in the UK sales of memoirs fell by 43%, according to The Bookseller in an article in The Telegraph. For a long time biographies have been published by the great and the good, from Tony Blair’s multi-million pound self-penned account of his time as Prime Minister, A Journey, and Barak Obama’s touching tale, Dreams of my Father, to Russell Brand’s, um, serious musings in My Booky Wooky. But what you have to remember is that these were autobiographies, penned by their authors, sanctioned, approved.
The thing is, when biographies are unofficial, unsanctioned, my point is this: they are like peeping at your neighbours through a hole in the fence – it’s just wrong. Last year’s biography book sale slump was put down to a limited niche offering, with not many titles appealing to women. But is this the way to improve sales, through sheer exploitation? Shapiro has stated that his book on Adele’s life will not contain any overt sensationalism, but then isn’t it simply a musing if it does not, and of course, who will read just some musings? But wait! For Shapiro has also let slip that the biography will reveal 21 secrets about the famous singer. Hang on a minute, forgive me, but doesn’t that seem, well, a bit sensationalist? Bare in mind that Marc Shapiro was the man who also brought you the unofficial biography of that pint-sized pop singer Justin Beiber. I rest my case.
It all boils down to the fact that unofficial biographies are the publishing equivalent of eavesdropping on a conversation, a phone-hacking version, if you will of the memoir world. And as a reader, what actual value do they have? It is hard to truly believe what is written when you know that the person they are discussing has not sanctioned anything that has been said. Of course, we do, in the UK, live in a country of free press, and celebrities cannot have control over everything that is written about them. But a whole book? Revealing intimate details about them? Any journalist going to journalist school knows that they have to trust a source, believe it, be able to justify it, stand by it. Any ‘friend’ of someone who speaks to the press or a writer and gives them intimate details for a tell-all, well, you have to question their motives. It all goes right back to biographies being money makers. But at what cost? Other than Simon Cowell seeming unfettered by his recent unofficial biography, I’d say most subjects would be mortified by such a tell-all book. And as for us readers? Well, I think we’ve got better things to spend our money on. So come on publishers! Give us some official biographies we can really enjoy, ponder on and laugh with, not some tabloid fodder that takes a mucky peek through someone’s net curtains. Now, anyone know if Adele’s got a new album out yet..?
What do you think of unofficial biographies? Justified or an intrusion on privacy?
**Look out for Wednesday Wafflings where I post my latest entry of my Diary of a Hopeful Author**