I've had many years of experience in the media and publishing worlds. Here is a rundown of my career to date.
Photo courtesy Dr Neville Marks
I began working in the media many years ago when I worked as a production secretary for a music producer at Granada Television. From there, I moved to the north west edition of the TV Times assisting the editor and this is where I learned my professional writing skills.
Some years later I found myself working for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) based in Paris but working on missions to Madrid and Colombo on educational projects. Working on publicity for UNESCO's Cultural Voyages Commission involved writing publicity material and acting as courier, leading groups of international civil servants around developing countries like Iran, Mexico, India and Nepal. I returned to the UK after obtaining my Certificate in Public Relations from the Institute of Public Relations.
Soon I was working in PR consultancies and, after following an entrepreneurship course at Manchester Business School, I opened my own consultancy, Keyword Communications. I specialised in fashion and household textiles, handling public relations for such companies as Horrockses Household Textiles, New Home Sewing Machines, Interflora (UK) Ltd and YMCA's Youth Training Division. I wrote articles for specialist magazines and house newspapers, handled press relations and organised fashion shows and beauty contests for fashion clients, which involved an input in the Miss UK Contest heats and televised finals. A PR colleague and I were the first people to run PR training courses in the area and I lectured for business, academic and private organisations.
I moved back into journalism working on local newspapers as senior reporter and launched the women's pages for two newspaper groups. I wrote a theatre page and, after leaving to freelance, I edited Call Boy, the British Music Hall Society's quarterly magazine and contributed features to The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Stage and many other national publications. A list of features appears on the Journalism features sub-page.
Bloomsbury Publishing offered me my first publishing contract and, being a left-hander I was commissioned to write a book on left-handedness and how it felt to live in a right-handed world. Living Left-Handed was launched at Harrods and became a high profile topic for the media but, after 12 years, it is now out of print and available for revision and re-publication. With a grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, I carried out research into left-handedness in Manchester schools and wrote my second book, The Left-hander's Handbook - a guide for parents and teachers, published by the Robinswood Press and this won two book awards from the British Medical Association. My third book, ADHD: The Essential Guide was published by Need2Know Books at the end of 2008.
A sideline sparked off by the amount of people asking where they could buy implements to help left-handers resulted in a niche mail order company - The Left-Handed Company. When asked by a handwriting expert if I would include in my catalogue a book to help left-handers with handwriting, the sales were high enough to convince us that a general book on handwriting issues was needed. I never do anything without basic knowledge and training and after attending three publishing courses, sponsored by the Hamlyn Trust, I launched Dextral Books. I published specialist writers on special needs issues and became a member of the Independent Publishers Association. The books were sold to special needs organisations and schools and at educational exhibitions around the country until, after many years, I felt the need to concentrate on my own writing career again and to use the inside knowledge I had acquired about the publishing world and its requirements to help other writers. Keyword Editorial Services was born from this experience.
I did an MA in Scriptwriting at the University of Salford and began to run workshops in schools and tutor on distant learning courses. My play, A Bench in the Park was showcased in London and recorded for hospital radios in the UK and USA. I am currently working on a film script called Connections about a tragic Viennese family in the 1930s and the discovery of an eyewitness account of the assassination of Austrian Chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuss.
It's hard to imagine doing anything else. In my younger days, I wanted to be a concert pianist, unrealistic of course and I wouldn't have lasted five minutes. Now I'm working with the two things I love most: words and music so I just can't imagine what else I could do, other than to do what I do in a warmer climate.
I learnt to play the piano when I was 5 and passed all the ABRSM exams including Grade 8 and their first jazz piano exam. I studied with two concert pianists at the Manchester School of Music. I've played as a semi-professional accompanist for shows and dancers, most recently at the Lowry Theatre for a High School Musical workshop. I've trained on ABRSM teaching and accompaniment courses and currently study with international concert pianist, Andrew Wilde. When I'm not writing, I teach people to play the piano. I'm a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), The Alberti Pianists, Manchester Piano Tutors' Forum and I sing with The Marcliff Singers, an all-women performing group directed by musician and Halle Choir member, Helen Earey. My music website is at: www.manchesterpianotutor.co.uk/