Saturday 29 September 2012

UPCOMING WORKSHOP: Blogging for Beginners

There's now less than a month to sign up for my next Blog Workshop! 
Blogging for Beginners (& Improvers) will take place on 
Saturday 27th October.
It's a 3.5 hour information-packed workshop ideal for those who have yet to begin a blog or for those who want to improve on what they have started. 

The workshop will give you the chance to develop your blog idea, learn the tools to set it up, keep it interesting, promote it, and gain a readership. I will share with you all the do's and don't I've learnt over the last 4 years of blogging.

Below is a rough guideline of what we'll cover:

Introduction to Blogging 
Online vs Offline
Inspiration - Analysis of Material
The Blog Post - do's & don'ts
The Big Idea – Group discussion; exercises to develop your idea
Set it up – Blog platform, layout, design, style...
Content – multimedia, changing content, linking, widgets 
Building an Audience – tools for marketing your blog
Social Networking – Facebook, Twitter

There will be handouts to take away so you won’t have to remember everything!

If you've been meaning to start a blog for a long time, why put it off any longer? Come along to a friendly, fun and informative workshop! 

Saturday 27th October
10am - 2.00pm (including 30min break) 
@ 77 Tower Bridge Road, SE1 4TW * (above 'Lost & Found')
Fee: £40.00
Limited Places. 

* Some of you may recognise the venue which inspired 'Shop Girl Diaries' - yes, there will be lots of sparkling chandeliers above your head!

I began my blog in June 2008. Since then it has been turned into a book and a short film. It won the Completely Novel Author Blog Awards (published writer category) in 2010 and it has just been featured in the new guidebook ‘Blogging for Creatives.’

'Emily Benet's Blog Workshop is ideal for anyone interested in 

blogging and not sure where to start. Emily takes you through the 

basics and really gets you thinking about what your blog should be 
about. I picked up some great hints and tips from the workshop and am 
already seeing an increase in traffic to my blog. A morning definitely well-spent!' – Amy Duthie, blogger of my tattered notebook

'A really inspiring workshop with a friendly and knowledgeable tutor. Hands-on with lots of great ideas to put into practice straight away' 
Marianne Powell, playwright

For more information please don't hesitate to get in touch with me:

Or to book your place via Paypal, please visit my Workshop Page

Monday 24 September 2012

Author Interview: Naomi Alderman


"It was a time of brutal tyranny and occupation. Young men and women took to the streets to protest. Dictators put them down with iron force. Rumours spread from mouth to mouth. Rebels attacked the greatest empire the world has ever known.The Empire gathered its forces to make those rebels pay. 

And in the Midst of all of that. One inconsequential preacher died. And either something miraculous happened, or someone lied."  


At the launch of THE LIARS GOSPEL, Naomi Alderman was introduced to us all by Penguin editor, Mary Mount, as 'one of the most important writers of her generation'. I've been very lucky to have spent time with her at a writers group and seen her work in progress. She is a brilliant writer and a gorgeous person. I am thrilled to have her on my blog.

We all cheered when you told us that so far you’ve had no death threats. Is this a genuine concern?

I have already had anti-Semitic emails about the novel, so... maybe? I'm a bit worried about what will happen when the novel is published in the US. But we'll see!

Are you apprehensive of people feeling angry?

Yeah. I don't actually want to upset people, but when I gave it to a Christian friend she burst into tears at a section where she said "but Jesus just wouldn't have done that!" I had to point out to her that I'd taken it directly from the New Testament.

How do you deal with criticism?

I have therapy ;-). I mean, constructive criticism is fine of course.
But now the book's done the best thing is to try to ignore the criticism and just move on with the new one.

I was brought up a Catholic and when I read your book, I was aware of myself feeling defensive and thinking, ‘Wait, Jesus didn’t say that!’ I was quite surprised because I’m a very cynical Catholic! Is this your book’s fundamental aim? To challenge the people who have accepted the story of Jesus without question?

I suppose a bit! There are a few things. Firstly, there are things in the Christian story that are either *really weird* or clearly anti-Semitic, like, for example, the Jews at the crucifixion shouting "let his blood be on us and our children!" and this idea that the people would never have asked for Barrabas if the evil priests hadn't stirred them up. I've been thinking about those things for a long time and how silly it is to imagine that there mightn't have been perfectly good reasons for most of the people not to have liked Jesus. So there was that "can we just stop saying nasty things about Pharisees and really interrogate this story?" feeling.

Also, I got interested while researching the novel in the world that's usually just the backdrop to Jesus' story. It's a really fascinating political and military landscape which gets lost because of this overwhelming story. So I wanted to put that in its right place again - and I feel now that the story of Jesus really only makes sense if you understand the politics of the time.

I was struck particularly by the description of the protests against Rome that were happening at the time of Jesus, and the greater historical context which is generally ignored! 

Was it a subject that was discussed at home? Is it true you had the idea to write this book when you were a teenager?

Yes, it's funny how little we tend to look at that period, since it was the explosive meeting between Jewish and Roman culture that really created the modern world. So many of the tensions in Christianity come from turning a Jewish cult into the state religion of Rome (e.g. how did 'the prince of peace' end up inspiring *so many* crusades?).

My dad's a historian and my mum's also very keen on history so I suppose this sort of conversation happened at home quite a bit – not necessarily Jesus, but the general principle of tracing the reasons for the present in the events of the past.

I did get the idea for this novel when I was a teenager! It was when I was studying Hebrew and Latin at the same time - I remember saying to my Hebrew teacher that someone ought to write a novel about the Jewish Jesus, and she said "no no, that would be terrible for the Jews!" Because she thought it would cause anti-Semitism.

However, I've done it anyway ;-). Let's see...

What’s your writing routine like?

I have a word count I have to reach every day: usually 800 words when I'm working on a new book. And I never sit down to write saying "I must write 800 words", only ever "I'll do 100 words and then I'll have a break". I'm very creative in the evenings, but I do try to get my words done earlier in the day so they don't hang over me.

What are you greatest distractions?

TV. Instant messenger. But the truth is, if I know where the book is going then I usually can't wait to get to it. If I'm distracting myself, it probably means there's a problem with the novel I haven't resolved.

Margaret Atwood is now your mentor! I’m very jealous! What is she like?

It's a really wonderful thing - she is so funny and so intimidatingly clever, I'm incredibly inspired by her sharp honesty and wide-ranging mind.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Keep writing :-). Do it because you love it. If you don't love it enough to do it for its own sake, you probably won't get far anyway.


The Liars Gospel is available on Amazon and all good book shops. 

Saturday 22 September 2012

New Challenge: A Serialised Novel

I’ve accepted a challenge to write a serialised novel.
If I manage to come up with 35,000 words by the beginning of November my book will be featured on Wattpad, which is a huge online platform for writers.
Normally that amount of words would take me about 6 months so I’m excited but also quaking in my socks.  
The book is about Amber, a feisty young woman on a mission to blag her way into the bizarre world of Conceptual Art; her plan, of course, being to grab some fame and fortune.
The novel will be a light, upbeat romantic comedy, unless the pressure gets to me, in which case I’ll start killing off characters. 
To be honest, my plotting has barely begun but I have a cork board and post-it notes so there’s hope.
I don’t know why I think I can pull a novel out of my pocket in a few weeks but I believe in saying ‘Yes’ when an opportunity arises.  
If my blog starts to look neglected, now you'll know why.
But I won’t be away for long.  
The first chapter of  Spray Painting Bananas has already been written. Now I need a book cover.
To read my serialised novel, you'll need to sign up and find me on Wattpad which is quick and completely free. Once registered, you'll be able to browse through a huge variety of stories and novels.
I'll let you know when my first chapter is up.
Wish me luck, I'm going to need it! 

Thursday 6 September 2012

My New Book: Short Stories for Busy Adults

Now Available on Amazon Kindle
I have a love-hate relationship with short stories. 
How can they be so short and yet so difficult to write?
Sometimes it feels like trying to squeeze a horse into a jam jar.
I’ve started stories and left them brewing for years before finishing them off.
Other times I fall so deeply into my fictional world that if you were to interrupt me I’d stare at you blankly and wonder where I was.
My favourite stories were written in short bursts when I’ve been gripped by a sense of urgency to get the words down. I feel like if I don’t write the whole thing in one go I’ll never be able to finish it.
After all this time writing short stories it made sense to publish a collection and here is it:
Why ‘busy’? Because the stories are short enough to slip into a busy day but long enough to offer escape!
The collection includes 10 stories which have either been shortlisted, highly commended or performed at literary events.
Comedy and drama appear side by side. There are characters in love, in denial, insane, in character and one who just can’t make his mind up.
It’s available on kindle for just £1.49 – less than the coffee you’ll drink with it!
So please buy it and spread the word to all short story lovers.
I really hope you enjoy it. And if you do, an review on Amazon would make my day!

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Apocalypse Theory 2: Death of the Attention Span

Attention Span Test: How many tic tacs can you see?  
I owe you all an apology.

In an earlier blog I suggested the end of the world would be caused by endless rain. But as you know, as soon as I posted that blog post, it stopped raining. Fortunately I have a new theory.

What will actually finish us off will be the complete collapse of our attention spans.

Are you still with me?
Ha. You were about to click on something shiny weren’t you?   

If you’re on twitter then you have already been infected by the disease. If you used to write 300 hundred page novels but now barely manage 100 word pieces of flash fiction, then you’re also in grave danger.

I myself will be one of the first to fall.

Today I looked at my computer screen and found that I was simultaneously buying a book, editing a short story, tweeting about spelling mistakes, educating myself on internet marketing and of course, signing a petition to save the arctic.

Multi-tasking it was not. I was doing many things and doing them all badly. 

I failed to buy the book because I got distracted mid-payment, my short story was left unfinished, my tweets were illiterate, my self-education ended before I picked up one tip and I didn't manage to save the arctic because what with so much internet activity my computer crashed.

A month ago my attention span was already down to fifteen minutes.
Now it’s down to twelve and falling.

Admittedly, doing a bad job is not life threatening in itself. Unsatisfying, yes, but not enough to bring about the end of the world. The problem will come when our attention spans become so short we can’t concentrate long enough to eat a tic-tac.

There will be many markers along the way towards total disintegration.    

For instance, I’m writing this in the early hours when I should be asleep. 

Could I be awake because my shrinking mind can’t cope with the idea of doing the same thing for seven hours straight?

It’s a theory, take it or leave. I’m bound to have another one next week.