In reading about blogging lately, I came across a useful article called 40 instant business blog post ideas and thought it would be fun to insert my own name into the title of one or two of them. Here’s the first. It was great fun to write! I hope you enjoy reading it.

choosing cakes

At first glance, Margaret K Johnson may seem to be quite a complicated, hard-to-pin down mix. She is confident and determined enough to have had a go – three times – at stand-up comedy, and loves teaching, since it allows her to share her passions and to enable others to pursue theirs. But put her in a room where lots of people are talking together, even if it’s a group of her own friends, and she can clam up.

This could partly be due to the writerly practice of people watching, and it is quite probable that Margaret is, in fact, squirreling away nuggets of conversation and observational detail for her books. However, this could also be a simplistic view of the author’s behaviour. Those who have known Margaret K Johnson intimately for a number of years, will be aware of several key reasons for her lack of confidence in social situations, and these have little or nothing to do with her being unfriendly, distant, disinterested, self-absorbed or even downright boring as might appear to be the first impression.

The truth is, Margaret K Johnson has always been shy, and the possession of an overly strict father and a relentlessly teasing brother did little to remedy this situation. Given the additional fact that her mother saw fit to perm the author’s hair in the summer holidays preceding her commencement at senior school, thereby giving her new peers and teachers the impression of Margaret being somewhat poodle-like, it is not surprising that this situation continued into her teens.

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Unfortunately, just as Margaret was finally beginning to settle into senior school and had made managed to make a small group of friends who were prepared to ignore her hairstyle, the decision was made to transfer her to a different class. Although this was because Margaret was doing well academically, it was impossible for her to see this as a reward for making good progress at school. The daunting prospect of having to make new friends all over again, when everyone else had already established their friendship groups, left the author emotionally scarred, even before the unfortunate incident when she mistakenly used the word “pheasant” instead of “peasant” to describe Joan of Arc’s upbringing during a talk to the whole class.

pheasant

It is true that Margaret K Johnson ought to be able to move on from these events, and that there is no longer any reason for them to be a part of the fabric of her begin. The author is aware of that she finally needs to address these issues. But in the mean time, should you be due to spend time with Margaret K Johnson, you can take charge of the situation by following these 5 simple steps.

This blog is moving! To read the rest, including the 5 vital steps, please go to:

http://www.margaretkjohnson.co.uk/blog/5-simple-steps-to-take-charge-of-margaret-k-Johnson

Thank you!

Margaret x

 

Consulting an Oracle to help with decision-making

Do you ever wish you could consult an oracle when you need reassurance that you’re on the right path in your life?

Back in my single, childless days when I lacked confidence and was pretty much drifting and dreaming my way through life, I used to frequently consult the I Ching , the ancient Chinese book of changes, when I had a question about my life. Hundreds of years ago, people consulting the I Ching threw yarrow sticks, but my book suggested throwing three coins six times, the combination of the heads and tails making a pattern or hexagram.

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Coins thrown, I would read the relevant page in the book for that hexagram, trying to interpret the poetic language that described the answer to my question. Almost invariably the ancient, translated words felt uncannily wise and right, if only because they helped me to tap into my intuition and gut reactions.

Recently, an article in The Guardian newspaper reported that the actor Mark Rylance had consulted the I Ching in 1987 in order to decide between working with Stephen Spielberg or at The National Theatre. Quite a decision to have to make, eh? He chose the theatre, and has done very well for himself. I’d forgotten all about the I Ching until I read the article, but now I clicked a link in the piece which took me to an I Ching Website. No need to even throw coins these days, let alone yarrow sticks, whatever they are!

I posed my question: “What is the best way to proceed with my business?” The judgment was instantaneous and, thankfully, encouraging.

This blog is moving!! To read the rest of this post, please go to:

http://www.margaretkjohnson.co.uk/blog/consulting-an-oracle-to-make-decisions While you’re there, why not subscribe to receive an email whenever I post on my blog? It would be lovely to have you!

Cheers!

Phone Confidence – How to sabotage your fledgling business with one grunt

Are you good at answering the phone? Me, not so much.

Picture it. I’m in the heart of writing a scene where my heroine is meeting her birth mother for the first time. She’s feeling beyond excited – can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t string two words together excited – and yet she’s terrified too. This is what she’s wanted all her life; the event that’s been the focus of her dreams and plans for years, ever since she first made the decision to search for her birth mother. What if it doesn’t work out? What if her mother hates her? With her confidence beginning to slip away, she slowly approaches the café where she and her mother have arranged to meet…

old phone
Then the phone rings. But it’s not my heroine’s phone, it’s mine; about two feet away from my ear, jolting me violently out of my writing zone. I know as soon as the bright, smiley voice on the other end of the line asks how I am, that she’s from a green energy company trying to sell me solar panels, because the same company has already phoned me twice that week. So I scream internally, cutting off her cheerful sales patter with my best assertive phrases, but the damage, as far as my writing goes, has been done. I have to leave my heroine at the café door and go to make a restorative cup of coffee for myself.

So when I get back to work and the phone rings again, it isn’t surprising that I snarl my hello. Not surprising, but not such a good idea either when I want to attract people to my writing courses.

A woman – let’s call her Linda – has wanted to do a creative writing class for ages, because she has a dream about writing a book. Her self-esteem is low about it because people have always laughed at her dream, demanding to know what on earth she could possibly have to write about. Linda sees the advert for my WriteUP Courses, and reads that they combine creative writing with confidence building activities. It is like a sign to her. “Yes,” she thinks. “That’s just what I need.” So she takes a deep breath and finds the courage to pick up the phone to make the call. “Hello?” snaps the woman on the other end of the line bad-temperedly, sounding as if she’s standing in the middle of a kennels. Off putting? Just a bit.

My blog is moving! Read the rest of this post at its new home – and if you fancy hitting the subscribe button, it would be fantastic to have you! Cheers!

http://www.margaretkjohnson.co.uk/blog/phone-confidence-how-to-sabotage-your-fledgling-business-with-one-grunt
http://www.margaretkjohnson.co.uk/blog/phone-confidence-how-to-sabotage-your-fledgling-business-with-one-grunt

A Winter Ghost Walk and a Call to Action

The other evening I went on a ghost walk in the old part of Norwich with friends. It had seemed like a good idea when I was invited to go – Manin Black, who leads the walks, is a well known character in the city with his black coat and top hat, and to have him and his evocative tales all to ourselves for an exclusive tour would be a fun way to start February.

manin black

Ah, February. A part of me had forgotten that February evenings can be a teensie bit on the cold side, to say the least. We stoked up beforehand on ale and cake in the Adam and Eve, the oldest pub in Norwich, and at least it had stopped sleeting when we left its cosy quaintness to start our walk with Manin. 

adam and eve

The Adam and Eve, by the way, is haunted by the ghost of Lord Sheffield, who had his neck partially severed by an irate butcher with a cleaver during Robert Kett’s Rebellion in 1549. Mortally wounded, he was taken to the Adam and Eve, and here he died. These days he spends his time causing the beer tankards to dance on their hooks, tapping people on the shoulder and running fingers through their hair. He’s also known to remove personal items and return them again the following day. I’m quite glad I didn’t know about any of this while we were having our pre-walk drink.
before the #ghost walk - getting #confidenceDid I encounter any ghosts on my walk? Did my hair stand on end with terror? To find out, and to read the rest of this blog post, please go to:

http://www.margaretkjohnson.co.uk/blog/a-winter-ghost-walk-in-norwich

In future, I will mostly be blogging from there, since it seemed to make more sense to blog directly from my website. I do hope you will continue to follow my blog if you already do so, or start following if you’re a newcomer! I really appreciate your support and interest, and it would be good to keep in touch! Just click on Subscribe once you’ve opened the link.

Thank you so much!

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Celebrating Being Unemployable – Here’s to an Entrepeneurial Life

Today I’m celebrating being unemployable. Yay!

christmas drink (2)

What’s so good about that, I hear you ask? Don’t you need to earn a living? Well, yes, of course I do. But it’s not going to be in a clock-watching nine-to-five job.

As an author, every now and then I become a little insecure about depending on my creativity to make a living, and manage to convince myself I need a ‘proper’ job – a steady income I know will be paid into my bank account at the end of the month. I find my ‘muse’ can suffer if there’s too much financial pressure put upon her, and I sometimes feel isolated, just working at home on my own the whole time.

So, when this mood strikes, I apply for jobs. However, a recent humiliating interview with a team I used to work for, proved to be the impetus for a complete change. The interview was for a lower-paid, lower-prestige role than the one I’d had previously, but my former team were ready to welcome me back with open arms. They needed people urgently, and were really pleased to hear from me. They also knew – because they’d seen me in action before – that I’d easily be able to fulfil the role. However, half an hour after I left the interview – HALF AN HOUR! – I received a phone call to say I’d been unsuccessful. My not wanting the job – the fact that I had convinced myself to go for it against my will – had shown through in every stilted answer, every fumbled response about how I would respond in various scenarios.

My heart – in the form of my subconscious – knew better than me, and wasn’t going to succumb quietly, despite my best efforts to gag it.

Clearly, a major life rethink was required.

So I took a long look at my skills, my passions and my experience. I also considered the core themes of my novels. Almost invariably, they’re about the pursuit of self-confidence, usually by women. My female characters become stronger as they face challenges. They may be in a contemporary fiction novel, a historical novel, a romance or a thriller, but that quest for self-confidence is what interests me.

Ping, an idea was born. As an experienced author and adult education tutor, I’ve taught both creative writing and confidence building. Why not put them together in one course? After all, creative writing is well known for being beneficial as a part of therapy. I would call them WriteUP Courses, and they would combine creative writing with confidence-building skills. But would it work? There was only one way to find out – by trying it out. I set about planning the course material and organised a pilot, mainly targeting women who were getting over broken relationships.

WriteUp banner 3

One bleak January Saturday, eight women turned up to try it out at No. 8 Thorpe Road, The Business Rooms, my friend’s wonderful new business and training premises in Norwich. It was everything I’d hoped for – I enjoyed the day so much. The women were all lovely, and they produced some excellent work. We did exercises and writing designed to help us get to know each other and to get to know the way we see ourselves. Some exercises were designed to be cathartic, while others were a celebration of optimism and enthusiasm, making us plan for a more positive future. The women really bonded as a group, possibly in part, because they’d had the same motivations for attending. The feedback sheets they completed tell me how much they enjoyed and benefited from the day, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

I’m so excited about this, and it feels so great to have found a way to combine my two great passions – writing and confidence-building. I’ve now set up a full programme of courses, and the evening class starting on 26th February is fully booked. I also have plans to develop E courses. After all, why just stick with my local area? Being an entrepreneur is so exciting; why not go for global domination?

All it takes is faith, energy and enthusiasm. I have an abundance of energy and enthusiasm, and as for faith, whenever that falters, I’m fortunate enough to have a whole array of friends, advisers and role models to keep the fire burning. And it is a fire – a blaze of ideas and plans and dreams.

fire

Not that I’m about to give up writing. With my new novel A Nightingale in Winter coming out this year, I’m gong to be kept very busy. But busy’s fine. Busy’s good. And I’m definitely not going to be clock-watching, except to make sure I don’t get so absorbed in my work I forget about the school run.

To find out more about WriteUP Courses, visit the WriteUP Courses page on my website, or the WriteUP Course Facebook Page.

Calling All Goddesses

Happy New Year!

I haven’t been a very regular blogger in recent months. This is because I find it uses the same muscle as writing fiction – or at least a very similar one – and I have been absorbed in my writing. But I don’t want to give up on blogging, so I won’t. Amongst other things, I’ve been working on a short prequel to my novel The Goddess Workshop, called Calling All Goddesses. Calling All Goddesses tells the story of how my four female characters – Janet, Estelle, Reenie and Kate – ended up on a course promising women ‘A Garden of Earthly Delights.’

When I wrote The Goddess Workshop, I must have written at least three different beginnings until I decided that the right place to start was on Day One of the workshop where the four women meet each other for the first time, as well as their inspiring workshop leader Jade. But those other beginnings were always in the back of my mind; I was very fond of them because I felt they revealed the characters with all their insecurities and foibles. So, I’m really glad I’ve found a use for them in Calling All Goddesses!

Calling All Goddess no shabby font

Click here to download the story from Amazon.

Secret Millionaire by Kitty Alexander

margaretkajohnson:

This morning I woke up  find this fabulous 5 star review for Secret Millionaire, a romance novel written by my alter ego, Kitty Alexander. I’m feeling over the moon this morning! It makes me so grateful to all the book bloggers out there – and in particular Ali from the A Woman’s Wisdom blog – for all the time they put in reading and reviewing books in order to help indie writers and to let readers know about books. What would we do without them?

Originally posted on A Woman's Wisdom:

Secret Millionaire 2

Book Blurb

The minute Alexia meets Mark Brown the air crackles between them. But five years previously Alexia had her heart badly broken and isn’t on the look out for a relationship. She’s moved to a new city and carved out a successful new life for herself. And she’s certainly off ruthless, powerful men forever.

Then Mark arrives to volunteer for the charity where Alexia works. As the sparks sizzle, she’s tempted to lower her guard. Surely it will be all right this time? Mark isn’t anything like her ex. But unbeknown to Alexia, Mark isn’t who he’s pretending to be. And as he and Alexia succumb to their attraction for each other, it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out. When it does, nothing will ever be the same again.

My Review

With a rather risque cover I wondered what to expect with this book from…

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