Monthly Archives

May 2012

Surrounded by women bloggers: my day at Cybher!

I have never in my life been to a conference in which mothers breast feed babies while guest speakers talk, undeturbed, about their area of expertise. And that pretty much sums up the relaxed atmosphere at Cybher on Saturday – the UK’s only conference for female bloggers – in which 300 were in attendance.

Throw in free leather satchels, a constant supply of coffee and cookies, some talented and inspiring speakers and lots of happy, smiling faces, and you can’t go far wrong.

9am to 6pm is a long day at a conference for me and I’ve always had enough by 4pm – especially given my 6.30am alarm call to trog to London on the train with my sidekick for the day. But I was wide awake and 6pm and returned home to Milton Keynes feeling inspired.

 

Cookies and coffee and handbags Podcasting session with The High Tea Cast Caz Walton's Cybher badge

Caz and an AVG cupcake Taking notes at Cybher Cybher conference screen in the ballroom

 

I’ve never attended a conference where I’m not ‘working’ it – and Cybher was no different. My latest MA project on multimedia covers the conference, the stories behind some of the guest speakers and how blogs can change people’s lives.

So I had one eye on the conference and the other on my project but, to be honest, this assignment has been a lot of fun and one thing is clear – bloggers are talented, powerful and most of all, lovely. Not concerned about competing with each other, they’re all happy to share their experiences, their tricks of the trade and their expertise. Very refreshing!

So, enough from me, go check out ladieswotblog.co.uk for indepth interviews with some of the speakers as well as a round up of Cybher in pictures, text and audio.

Cuckoo by Julia Crouch

Cuckoo by Julia CrouchI had the pleasure of interviewing Julia Crouch a month or so ago and there’s no better introduction to a book than by the person who wrote it. Julia’s actually penning her third book, probably as I type this review, and her second, Every Vow You Break, hit the shelves in March 2012.

I started with her debut novel – the beginning is always a good place to start – Cuckoo. And despite spending the weekend working on an assignment I still managed to start this book on a Friday night and finish it by Sunday night, all 435 pages of it.

There were loads of things I loved about this book, not least the main character Rose having the sort of lifestyle I’d like myself one day. Having renovated a house in the country, Rose and her Gareth live happily with their two small children; Gareth working as an artist from his garden studio while Rose raises the kids, keeps house, bakes amazing meals using local and organic produce, tends to the chickens and basically keeps everything ticking along. Lovely.

But are Rose and Gareth as happy as they should be? As the story unfolds there are certainly a few cracks in the relationship and Rose struggles to cope with Gareth’s artistic temperament. So when Rose’s old school friend Polly, an ex drug addict, ex singer and constant flirt, returns to England from Greece following her husband’s fatal car crash, Rose offers her and her two boys a place to stay while they get back on their feet. And from here on in the cracks in everyone’s relationships just get bigger.

From the minute Polly arrives at the airport, I can’t help but loathe her. I know she’s going to do bad things and attempt to wobble Rose’s settled lifestyle and my dislike builds in anticipation of what’s to come. And with each turn of the page, Polly does nothing to redeem herself. But I struggle with the fact Rose doesn’t stand up for herself more and want to shake her by the shoulders to stand up and challenge some of the things that go on around her, the constant gripes and deceit.

Soon Rose finds herself being pushed out of her cosy life, she feels like an outsider, and is made to feel like she has mental issues. But her paranoia is real. The one stable thing in her life, as Polly inflicts a kind of mental torture and attempts to reveal Rose’s darker past and some secrets she’d rather stay that way, is her daughter Anna who is a sheer delight of a child; loving, caring, bright, intelligent and yet still childlike. Rose is a good mother and by the end of the book is determined to get control back.

The book ends as a bit of a surprise for me and reveals Polly’s motives to be different to those I expected. Perhaps Polly isn’t the man hunter I had her pinned down as after all. But that’s for you to find out.

The fact I read this book in less than three days says it all. It was brilliant and I was desperate to get to the end, there’s a suspense all the way through the book that kept me glued to the storyline and I could really visualise the semi-rural setting, earth mother Rose pottering in the kitchen, a baby under her arm; manly Gareth, a moody American artist who puts his work before his family; and scrawny Polly, who despite her gaunt appearance and history of drug abuse has been able to cling on to an aura of sex and glamour and mystery while her sons struggle for her attention and discipline.

An excellent read.

Robyn’s rating: 9/10

May 2012

Women who blog (and why I haven't been)

Cybher 2012 logo
So, while I haven’t actively been blogging much of late, I have been focussing on blogging in a slightly different way. My multimedia project for the MA in Online Journalism I’m almost half way through is now in full swing and I’ve just launched a microsite called Ladies Wot Blog, featuring audio interviews with some lovely women bloggers.

These bloggers, bar one who I approached from an expert/academic viewpoint on women in the blogosphere, are all attending Cybher 2012, the all-inclusive conference for female bloggers, which takes place next Saturday 12 May in London. And I can’t wait! I still have a couple more interviews to conduct, one to edit and will also endeavor to do an audio report from the event, venturing into live blogging territory I guess. I’ll also take some piccies and follow up with a full blown report of the day when I return home, and possibly some more audio.

I’ve learned loads while doing this project – and continue to do so – and have had the pleasure of chatting with some fab and interesting people. Studying has never been so much fun!

So if you blog and want to hop over to my microsite and share your blogging stories, highs or lows, or just comment on some of the interviews, please feel free to do so. The more the merrier!

Women who blog (and why I haven't been)

Cybher 2012 logo
So, while I haven’t actively been blogging much of late, I have been focussing on blogging in a slightly different way. My multimedia project for the MA in Online Journalism I’m almost half way through is now in full swing and I’ve just launched a microsite called Ladies Wot Blog, featuring audio interviews with some lovely women bloggers.

These bloggers, bar one who I approached from an expert/academic viewpoint on women in the blogosphere, are all attending Cybher 2012, the all-inclusive conference for female bloggers, which takes place next Saturday 12 May in London. And I can’t wait! I still have a couple more interviews to conduct, one to edit and will also endeavor to do an audio report from the event, venturing into live blogging territory I guess. I’ll also take some piccies and follow up with a full blown report of the day when I return home, and possibly some more audio.

I’ve learned loads while doing this project – and continue to do so – and have had the pleasure of chatting with some fab and interesting people. Studying has never been so much fun!

So if you blog and want to hop over to my microsite and share your blogging stories, highs or lows, or just comment on some of the interviews, please feel free to do so. The more the merrier!