Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Publishing news and Sydney's brews

When it comes to beer, I wrote the book. Well, a chapter anyway - I recently wrote the 8 page chapter on Sydney’s best beers, numerous breweries and what to do when you're not drinking beer for the Ultimate Beer Guide (Aus and NZ).

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a writer and write books about ponies. When I was in college I wanted to be a writer and drink beer. Now I am (technically) an adult I still want to be a writer. Beer and ponies are optional but encouraged.

I’ve accepted writing involves a lot less ponies and beer and a lot more work than I had originally thought, but occasionally you get a dream assignment. If you flick to page 42 of the Ultimate Beer Guide, you’ll find my guide to brewing in Sydney.

It took two months and far too many hangovers to research and write and I am looking forward to seeing if the ATO will accept receipts from pubs as tax-deductible. When I was writing this piece, I found 5 craft breweries I never knew about within 30 minutes of my house. Sydney really has a lot of beer.

The Guide aims to give beer-loving visitors the low-down wherever they find themselves in Australia and New Zealand, covering 33 destinations, every currently open brewery and brew-pub  and listing over 1200 beers and ciders.

ISBN : 9780646553597

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Enemies in the office (Executive PA Magazine, July 2011)

This piece on office friendships, workplace bullying and how to cope when good  working relationships go bad was an interesting piece to cover. I was only able to include a few of the stories I was told but - from the amount of responses I received to one simple tweet asking for people with experience of office bullying - it certainly appears this is an issue that many people deal with on a day to day basis.  You can find the full issue of the magazine on their website where you can see the full piece, or email me if you would like to see more. 

A study by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 35% of people have either been or are being intimidated in their workplace. Sophie* found this out the hard way when she was promoted over her former friend, Jenny. “Jenny became not just my enemy but an outright bully. She complained that it wasn't fair because I'd gotten all these lucky breaks and opportunities. She couldn’t see that the harder I had worked the luckier I had got.” 

Office friendships can make - or break - your career, so how do you make them work for you? Sadhbh Warren investigates.

No one wants to be the office wallflower, but there’s no denying that friendships at work can be a minefield. Just ask Anna*, an EA who quit her dream role. Her hard-earned promotion became a daily hell when a former friend turned on her. Harassed for confidential information over coffee, ostracized from social events and bad-mouthed over the water-cooler, she ended up leaving her “perfect job” for a fresh start elsewhere.

Anna’s story ended badly, but you can be professional and still enjoy your co-workers’ company. Genuine friendships are a career asset and being promoted doesn’t mean leaving your network of friends behind – provided you have built the right relationship in the first place.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Second Rule of Book Club... is don't pick a lemon.

“Hey, did you finish that book I gave you?”

“…um. No, not yet.”

“That’s okay, I won’t spoil the ending for you. Are you enjoying it?”

“…um. No. Not really. I don’t think I’ll finish it.”

Ouch. It’s a trivial thing but I always feel bad when someone doesn’t like a book I gave them, especially if I thought that they were a dead-cert to click with it. First comes denial – “Are you sure you are reading the right book?” That’s usually followed by the urge to defend the book (“Have you read the bit with the zombie space monkey butlers? Like, really read it? Twice?”), followed by the sheepish realisation that I got my friend’s reading taste completely wrong and probably wasted several hours of their time and they’d like me to stop going on about it now, please.

I’ll admit to a touch of neurosis on this one but I think most people would agree that when you recommend something, you really hope that people will like it and it can be disappointing when they don’t. So choosing the next read for a book club meet is particularly fraught with difficulty. If you gift a book to a friend and they are not a fan, at least you only have to have that awkward conversation once and quickly. If you recommend completely the wrong book for your book club, you’ve not only forced ten people to sit through something they hated but now you have to talk about it. For about two hours. With snacks.

So, the second rule of book club has got to be that you need to pick a good book. But what makes a good book?

Clearly this – along with deciding the rules of a book club generally - is a contentious subject. People have plenty to say. Googling “book club rules” brings up 148,000,000 results (whereas Man Booker Prize brings up just 1,830,000 results). Adding “Oprah” to that search string gets you about 17,100,000 results, so it looks like one in eight people discussing book clubs on the internet is talking about Oprah’s take on it (and for every eight Oprah fans, there is one person discussing the Man Booker Prize).

With that many hits you’d imagine Oprah’s recommendations for book clubs would be pure reading gold.  Her picks from the last decade are:
I have to admit, I’m skeptical. There's one there - Pillars of the Earth – that I enjoyed, because Pillars is really just a soap opera in medieval cathedral form. There’s another few I would like to read. But there’s at least 3 that if someone gave me as book club read would have me setting the zombie space monkey butlers on them. I won’t name names for all the ones I find less than inspiring, other than saying the person who gave me Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now is still picking virtual poop from their hair.

But what do you think? Are these the sort of books you want to read? What would be your ideal book club pick? Is this list a good one or would you rather read about the zombie space monkey butlers?