Last Saturday I took a whole day for myself. I gleefully skipped onto a train at 8.30am heading to Birmingham to spend a day with fellow Tots100 bloggers at The Studio. Arriving at the New Street Station I was greeted by friends old and new, a gaggle of women set free from home for the day! When I started blogging three years ago I had no idea where Emmaand3 would lead. I jumped in without really thinking of a name or what I would blog about. Little did I know how important and life changing blogging would become. I was yet to meet bloggers that I now call friends. I was yet to have heard of DDH, yet to understand the implications. I was yet to realise how much writing would become an outlet for me as Erin’s treatment dominated our family life. Tots is important to me and whilst some bloggers say that the rankings mean little to them – I am too competitive to say that! The past couple of months have seen me in the top 100 blogs in the Tots rankings out of over 5000. I am seriously proud of this and hope that I am raising of awareness of DDH and also entertaining others with life stories of parenting a toddler, tween and teen.
I have shared and learnt so much online during the past three years but there is still always more to learn. Last Saturday was no exception. The first thing I learnt was that it really is a good idea to take your camera if you plan on going to a practical camera workshop! However I snapped away with my iPhone and actually won a prize so I obvously picked up a few tips!
I later went to a totally inspirational session on writing a book. The panel included Tamsin from ParentDish, Becky from Baby Budgeting whose book I read every night in the bath when expecting Erin (again this was before I blogged) and finally Rachel from tales from the village who has written fiction that is immensely successful. This session gave some much needed advice about getting an publishing deal, getting a book cover and editor, tips on submitting to online publications and generally about believing in yourself and never giving up.
The top tips I gleamed were:
1. If you are wanting to get noticed for an online publication, send your pitch in during the afternoon – more chance of it being read. Avoid Monday mornings – its a bit like ringing for a doctor I guess! That is the busiest time!
2. Do link to other pieces of your writing.
3. Do look for a good angle – if the post could be written by one of their ‘established’ writers that is where they would go.
4. If writing a book – a good cover is worth the investment.
5. Get an editor.
6. Use the Writers and Artists handbook to find out who specialises in your written area.
7. Rejection is not personal – Becky had 40 rejections before her deal and Rachel pointed out that when you write your second book the publishers will be falling over themselves and you can reject those who rejected you – Karma!
8. Believe in your book.
This advice was all realistic yet at the same time inspirational. I have an idea and hopefully one day it will be realised as I certainly believe in it.
The final session was a really impressive talk by Andy Cope, some will know him as the author of popular childrens books – notably the Spy Dog series, however he spoke to us about being happy. Infact he is studying what it means to be happy and how to be happy. In a nutshell the answer is that you need to live in the now and celebrate what you have. Being happy is a state of mind and so is being a mood hoover. Only 2% of people are in the perfect place of being happy. It made so much sense what he was saying. As a sociologist, teacher and parent it really resonated with me. I have sat through inset on happy schools and I want to raise happy children.
I finished the day by heading for dinner and drinks with some epic bloggers I know and it was a great way to finish off the day! The last thing I learnt though was to check your wine glass doesn’t have a leak mine clearly did as it kept emptying itself. Luckily I found a new friend in Donna who was happy to prop up the bar with me and neither of us missed our train home – result!