Friday, 11 October 2013

Too many blogs!

A message for regular followers - further to my previous post, I've decided to give this blog a rest for a while. You may like to look at my Wordpress sites instead:

Jennifer Barraclough Books about writing and editing,
Jennifer Barraclough Bach Flowers about flower remedies and healing,
Woman of Aquarius for occasional posts on other topics.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

How many blogs?

Is it a good idea to have more than one blog, dealing with different aspects of your life and work? This could make sense if for example you use a pen-name for certain types of writing, or if you want to separate personal from professional topics. The downside is that it takes time and energy to build up a following and to maintain several sites.

According to one post which explored this question in some detail, many experts advise staying with a single blog. However I currently have three. This has happened more by accident than design, as a result of doing the practical exercises on various self-publishing courses.

My first blog Writer and Healer, hosted by Wordpress, was mostly about the Bach flower remedies. I haven't updated this much lately, since closing my formal client practice, but it still continues to get a small but steady flow of visitors each day. I included some of the posts, along with other material, in my short free ebook Bach flowers for mind-body healing.

For the past couple of years I've been using the present site, hosted by Blogger, for posts on a wide range of subjects: writing and publishing, health and healing, self development and animal welfare. This site also gets visited regularly but, concerned that its content is rather a hotch-potch, I've now started another Wordpress blog called Jennifer Barraclough Books specifically focused on writing. For the time being I shall keep this more general site running as well, and see how things go.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Persons not Diseases: the ebook

My new ebook Persons not Diseases was published on Smashwords yesterday. It's a short practical guide to the 'holistic healing approach' written for patients, clinicians, and anyone else with an interest in natural healthcare.

It began as an update of my earlier book Focus on Healing and covers a similar range of topics, but soon took on a life of its own, with new case histories, and inclusion of some references to research in the field.

There is now plenty of evidence that changes in lifestyle and mindset, self-help practices such as meditation, and use of complementary therapies can assist with coping and recovery from almost any illness. Yet these simple natural approaches are often ignored or dismissed in orthodox medical settings. I am hoping that, if they are willing to look at this book, some of those sceptical clinicians whose hackles rise when they hear the word 'holistic' might change their views.

Some people still prefer to read from printed copies rather than electronic devices, and I plan to publish a print version of Persons not Diseases in the next few weeks. Meanwhile here again is the Smashwords link:

Friday, 5 July 2013

Choosing the cover for a self-help book

One of the pleasures of 'indie' publishing is having freedom to choose the cover image. I recently spent an hour or so browsing in search of the best one for my new book Persons not diseases: a guide to mind-body-spirit medicine and holistic healing. With such a huge selection of titles now available online, it is often just a split-second glance at the cover which decides potential readers whether or not to 'look inside' a book, so it is important to choose a theme and colours which attract attention and convey the desired message.

But different people can interpret the same picture very differently depending on their emotional state, as I learned from a chastising experience some years ago when I worked in psycho-oncology at a hospital in England. I was giving a talk about coping with cancer and included a few art slides to represent different moods and attitudes of mind. My favourite was a colourful image of a trapeze artist high up in a circus tent. This was intended to symbolise positive qualities such as courage and joy, but one patient in the group thought it showed a woman hanging herself. When considering images for my new book I was careful to avoid anything which could lend itself to such a shocking interpretation, but on the other hand I did not want it to look too bland or sentimental.

I considered sunrises, seascapes, flowers and abstracts before deciding on a picture of a path winding up a green hillside, with blue sky above. I chose this picture mainly because I liked it, and I think it could also suggest taking 'the illness journey' through natural surroundings in a spirit of peace and hope. Talented designer Jeremy Taylor has now converted this photo into the cover image for Persons not diseases, which will be published as an e-book next month with a print version to follow later.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

I Fiori di Bach per la Cura di Mente e Corpo

Bach Flowers for Mind-Body Healing, the short ebook which I published last year, has proved quite popular. Now my colleague Sabrina Cadario has kindly translated it into Italian! Both the English and Italian versions are free of charge, and details can be found on my Smashwords author page.

Monday, 1 April 2013

My Desert Island Discs

Imagine on this April Fool's Day being invited onto Desert Island Discs, the BBC radio series in which each celebrity guest is asked to select eight pieces of music to take with them if they were marooned on a desert island, and also one book and one luxury item. My husband is currently listening to the archives of this program, which has been running ever since 1942, so we have been talking about our own choices. I would want mine to have an intrinsic beauty, to evoke some personal memories,  and to represent a mix of moods and styles.

Having said this I could easily fill my whole program with the pieces I have been singing in church choirs over recent years, including traditional favourites like Mozart's Laudate Dominum, Palestrina's Sicut Cervus, Schubert's Ave Maria, Franck's Panis Angelicus, and Tallis's Spem in Alium, also parts of more modern works like Philip Ledger's Requiem and Rutter's Magnificat.

Bach would be essential, whether the magnificent Toccata and Fugue in D minor, the soulful Double Violin Concerto, or one of the simpler short pieces which I've been trying to learn on the piano, such as the Allemande from Suite No 4 in E flat major, or the Aria from Goldberg Variations which might help me fall asleep while on the island. Some New Age music such as The Fairy Ring by Mike Rowland would be relaxing too.

And Elgar, to remind me of England and especially the beautiful Malvern area which has been significant in my life - Land of Hope and Glory would be a bracing choice.

Popular songs which resonate with events, dances and romances from younger days would include Both Sides Now sung by Judy Collins, Here, There and Everywhere by the Beatles, Only Yesterday by The Carpenters, Summer Nights by Marianne Faithfull, Thankyou for the Music by Abba, The Carnival is Over by The Seekers, Days by The Kinks, Eternal Flame by The Bangles, Smoke gets in your Eyes by the Platters ... and many more.

My humourous selection would be When the Foe-man Bares His Steel from the Pirates of Penzance - I once sang in the chorus. And I would like an aria from Grand Opera sung by Enrico Caruso or Mario Lanza, the passions of my teenage years, and at least one piece from a musical such as Carousel, West Side Story, Cats or Les Miserables ....

It's lucky that I'm not famous enough to be on Desert Island Discs, because reducing this list down to eight items would be quite impossible. And I don't know what I'd choose for my book, nor for my luxury, considering that I couldn't have my iPhone or computer - now that's a dreadful thought.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

ebooks on Amazon Kindle

I've just published Amazon Kindle editions of two of my books: Life's Labyrinth: the path and the purpose and Focus on Healing: holistic self-help for medical illness. Both are also still available as ebooks on the Smashwords site.

Since I started this blog as an exercise on a writers' course in 2011 (see my first post) I've enjoyed exploring the world of electronic self-publishing with its rapidly-evolving technology. Despite having only basic computer skills I found it quite easy to upload manuscripts - though did need help with text formatting and cover design. I love having the freedom to write whatever I like in my own time - seeing it online within a few hours after it's ready - being able to edit and update later if need be - and to check on the sales figures as often as I wish - all without wasting any paper (having chosen not to make printed versions, although this too would be quite easy to do).

My past experience with traditional publishing has also been satisfying overall, despite the various trials and tribulations along the way - often waiting months for responses to submissions, getting the inevitable rejection letters not always kindly phrased (I was devastated by the early ones but eventually grew immune), more months of waiting after having manuscripts accepted, finding errors introduced into the proofs, and royalty payments representing scant return for the years of work involved. Self-publishing may seem painless in comparison, but perhaps the process has become too easy. Marketing is up to the authors themselves, and most of us are not very good at that. And now that so many people self-publish there may be more writers than readers. Most self-published books sell only than a handful of copies, and some sell none at all.

But, probably like most other people who were born with a compulsion to write, I feel it's about passion rather than profit. Whatever publishing method is used, it's rewarding to see the finished products out in the world, and hopefully get some good reviews. And, in the case of my medical books, the reward of having readers say they've found them helpful makes it all seem worthwhile.

I'm now working on another two books which I hope to finish later this year. Meanwhile, here again are the links to the new editions of Life's Labyrinth and Focus on Healing.