Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

Radio Killed The Video Star

Monday, May 9th, 2016

‘Peirene, we need to go!’ I call. I’m standing at the bottom of the stairs, ready to leave. It’s Sunday and it’s the first outing of our Roaming Store after a long winter break. We are kick-starting our summer book selling season with a stall at 4204009461_969810e279_zAlexander Palace Farmer’s market. Moreover, Peirene and I will train Jack, one of our three new booksellers today.

‘I’m coming, just a minute.’

The minute passes, another minute passes. No Peirene. I’m starting to lose my patience. ‘Peireeeene!’ I shout. ‘Hurry!’

The Nymph appears at the top of the stairs, wearing nothing but her knickers and bra. ‘I just don’t know what to wear.’ Her voice is shaking.

I can’t believe my eyes. Half an hour ago she was dressed in jeans, T-Shirt, jumper, flat shoes – the perfect outfit for a long day at the stall. What’s got into her?

I rush up the stairs. The content of her entire wardrobe is spread out onto the bed. ‘It’s such a beautiful day out there. Jeans and T-Shirt are all you need today,’ I say.

‘That’s precisely my issue.’ She points out of the window to the cloudless blue sky. ‘It’s going to be 28 degrees today. A heatwave in early May. This weather has taken me by total surprise. I want to wear a nice summer dress, not my old jeans. But I don’t know which one. Somehow nothing from last year looks right any longer.’ She bends over the pile, lifts up one dress after the other, looks at it briefly, then sends it flying over her shoulder onto to floor. ‘Too boring… too short…too long… too see-through.’ Eventually she throws herself belly down on to the bed. ‘I can’t do this. I’m not doing the stall today. I can’t  possibly appear on  German TV in jeans. I need to look at least as good as my books.’

Ah! That’s what the drama is all about. I suddenly understand. ‘It’s not German TV who are making the feature about us, it’s German radio,’ I say coolly. I hate to shatter her dreams about TV stardom, but we really need to get going.

She sits up, wiping away her tears. ‘Are you making this up just to get me out of the house? ’ I shake my head.

As we are heading out of the front door – the Nymph back in jeans and T-Shirt – she turns to me: ‘I was wondering… since it’s not often that Ancient Green Nymphs are heard on the radio, do you mind, if I talk and you keep quiet in the background?’

And so a radio star is born. You can listen to her on Deutschlandradio Kultur in June.

Image by David Quigley, creative commons.


A True Life Skill

Monday, January 21st, 2013

A compliment first thing on Monday morning sets you up for the rest of the week. I was the lucky recipient of such an email last Monday.London Skyline. Image by  Tom Soper Photography

‘Meike, you are a dynamo publisher,’ Peirene author Matthias Politycki wrote. ‘The critic quotes in the new print run of Next World Novella are fantastic. And the Peirene newspaper looks great. I’ve sent a copy on to my publishers here in Germany.’

I have to repay the compliment to Matthias. He is also a dynamo author.

On the whole, my authors don’t live in this country. Thus they can only help to a limited extent  with promoting their book or, more generally, building a reputation for themselves.

Not so Matthias. When we first published Next World Novella two years ago he decided to live and write in London for three months. He met English writers and readers, academics and reviewers. He made friends and built a network. Last year he was invited to the World Writers Conference in Edinburgh as the only German author. And in November he wrote the first episode of ‘Letters from Germany’ for BBC Radio 4.

He is a witty performer and a highly intelligent commentator. Moreover, he has understood the cultural difference between a German and English audience and knows how to entertain both.

‘… and he’s a charmer,’ the Nymph interrupts me with a slightly sour face. I know what troubles her. After all I – not her – received the compliment from Matthias .

‘There is nothing wrong with being charming.’ I gently tussle her hair as I sometimes do with my children when I bestow upon them a life lesson knowing full well that they don’t like to hear it. ‘Indeed, it’s a skill.’ I then continue. ’Too few people take the time to learn it.’  ’Oh really?’ says Peirene as she returns to her desk.

A couple of hours later she looks over to me. ‘You type very fast.’ She says with true admiration in her voice. ‘Thank you,’ I smile at her fondly. ‘And you are a clever Nymph who learns fast.’

Image by Tom Soper Photography.

The Importance of a Glam Business Card

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

When I set up Peirene four year ago, I knew I wanted a nice business card in order to make a good impression. After all, at that point we hadn’timg-20120923-00177 yet published a single book. We used litho printing on uncoated, environmentally friendly paper. I felt proud to hand out my card.

A couple of months ago I ran out of business cards. We had to reprint and I ordered a digital print run on cheap, plastic coated paper. Peirene’s reputation is now firmly established with books that bear witness to our quality. I no longer need business cards to show myself off – or so I thought.

When the cards arrived, Peirene took one look and told me that she will no longer accompany me to any networking events. ‘These cards are an embarrassment. I’m sorry I don’t want to be associated with them,’ she insisted and has stayed home ever since.

‘You are spoilt,’ I thought and braved the world without the Nymph. But I soon realized that each time I handed over my card, I felt like apologizing and launching into an explanation that ‘our books are really much better quality.’ Only biting my tongue prevented me from making a fool of myself.

Eventually I had to admit that Peirene was right about the cards. I have now reordered the old cards. A woman has to feel proud of her accessories otherwise she can’t do the job properly.

‘You have the classic modern woman syndrome.’ Peirene smiles at me smugly.

‘And that is?’ I raise an eyebrow.

‘You find it hard to treat yourself well and acquire the small things in life that you know will make you feel happy.’

‘Ordering a new batch of high quality business cards will make me a couple of hundred quid poorer, hardly a small thing.’ I justify my decision to have opted for the cheap version initially.

‘True. However, from now on you will have me by your side again when you’re networking – and all that for a couple of hundred pounds. Quite a bargain.’ Then she adds with a broad, cheeky grin: ‘Because, let’s face it, it’s not your business card but my sparkle that opens doors.’ And before I can reply anything, she has left the room and shouts from the staircase: ‘Give me a call when the cards have arrived and I shall duly appear.’

Truth to tell, I am pleased that the Nymph will again be accompanying me to my networking outings.  She has style and now so too do my business cards.

A Film Diva in the Making

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Red lipstick, blue eyeshadow, big bling earrings, blow-dried hair, sparkling frock.Diva. Image by  cerebusfangirl The works. That’s how Peirene turned up on Friday morning for work.

“Wow!” I exclaimed in honest admiration. “Do you have a rendez-vous tonight?”

“No, this morning.” She smiled at me.

“Oh, a breakfast date, how romantic.“ I couldn’t suppress a twinge of jealousy. After all, each morning for the last 16 years I’ve been sending off kids to school and therefore have not had much time for Champagne breakfasts. So I couldn’t resist my own internal killjoy. “You do know that it’s not your day off today and you will have to turn up to work again.”

“Don’t you worry, I will. It’s more business than romance anyway.”

“Oh, so who’s the lucky one?” I enquired, now very curious indeed.

“A film director.”

“That’s interesting,” I said. “I’m meeting a BBC film director this morning for coffee.”

“Well, that’s the man. I want to meet him too.” The Nymph replied.

For a couple of minutes I kept quiet, concentrating on the work on my screen while trying to figure out how to best handle this situation.

Two weeks ago a BBC film director contacted me. He had seen our catalogue and was intrigued by the books. He wanted to have a chat.

Eventually I lifted my head and said to the Nymph: “I would prefer you to stay here. I’m not sure I should come to a first meeting with a film diva in tow.”

“But…” She looked at me, her lower lip already quivering, “…I’ve already chosen the roles for myself. He’s interested in No 4-8 isn’t he?” I nodded. “In No 4, Next World Novella, I like to be a mermaid luring visitors across the lake into the next world. In No 5, Tomorrow Pamplona, I would like to play the lovely old lady who swims in the river. In Maybe This Time, I will take the part of the girl who is having such fun jumping around in the water. In The Brothers, I shall be a lovely frozen water fountain in the middle of the farmhouse’s snowed-in courtyard. And in The Murder of Halland I will dress up as an apparition on the glittering fjords.”

Peirene and I struck a deal. I promised to stress the nymph’s many qualities, including acting, during the meeting. But in return she had to stay in the office.

The film director and I had a good meeting. He’s looking forward to reading five Peirene books.

“And? When is he going to send my acting contract?” Peirene asked the moment I walked into the door.

“I hinted at your enthusiasm,” I reassured her. “But it’s early days, many elements first have to fall into place before the cameras start rolling.”

Peirene was not thrilled with this reply. However, to her credit, she has decided not to waste idle time and has now signed up for an evening acting class. “I’m surely improving my chances. After all there aren’t many nymphs with a qualification in acting.”

Image by cerebusfangirl.


Monday, April 4th, 2011

The grass has always been greener on the Continent. That’s a fact. Back in the 1950’s the Wheelers wanted to leave Revolutionary Road forDelicious. Image by  alsis35 (now at ipernity) France. Now the Nymph wants to leave Cheverton Road for Amsterdam.

Life is “vurrukkulluk” over there, she claims. Everyone cycles without helmets and for lunch and dinner one goes to restaurants and stays in nice hotels. Moreover, when you meet people they are happy to see you and in the morning you don’t even need to make our own coffee.

Frankly, I can’t blame her for that dream view of Amsterdam. Because this is what we experienced last week.

The Dutch Foundation for Literature invited Peirene and me to Amsterdam. We were flown out there, put up in the literary hotel of the town, The Ambassade, had dinner with translators and authors, including Peirene author No 5, Jan van Mersbergen, and during the day we met Dutch publishers, agents and booksellers. It was absolutely delightful and I came home with a long reading list of Dutch short novels and novellas.

Everything was arranged. I didn’t even need to book the air tickets. And only one thing was expected of me – to chat and network. And as an added bonus: I was unable to reply to my emails because my blackberry refused to let me do so. The world beyond Amsterdam went on without me. Heaven, to say the least.

Or, “vurrukkulluk”, pronounced: fy:ry:kky:lly:k. Best Dutch word I came across. It means “delicious”. It’s also the title of a classic Dutch novella from the early 60’s, one of these books everyone seems to know, has read in their youth and when you asked them about it, eyes lit up. Needless to say, it’s never been translated into English but the Dutch Foundation who archive any translation ever done of any Dutch book, hope that they can find an old German translation. If that is the case, I will read it and if I like it, “Verrukkuluk” might come indeed across the channel.

“There is one thing I do prefer here to Amsterdam,” Peirene conceded by the time we had arrived back home on Friday.

“And that is?” I was curious.

“The weather!”

True. Amsterdam was rainy and stormy while in London the sky was blue, the trees blossomed and people got their T-Shirts out. To celebrate the beautiful weather we ate strawberry and cream out in the garden yesterday lunch time – for the first time this year. Simply vurrukkulluk. I think Peirene is getting used to life in Cheverton Road again.

Image by alsis35 (now at ipernity).

Ladies who Lunch

Friday, April 30th, 2010


Girls want to become princesses or ballerinas when they grow up. Not me. I always wanted to become a chic lady or an Indian Squaw. Manywebite-home-1341 girls when they grow up, adjust their dreams to reality. Not me. I still want to become a chic lady, in fact a lady who lunches. I work hard to achieve my dream. And not anyone will do as my dining companion.


Literary editors, and failing that, literary critics are my desired lunch guests. I love sending out invitations to them. Some don’t answer, some tell me in the nicest possible way that really they don’t have time. And sometimes I strike lucky. I mark the date in the calendar red, I book a restaurant, I wash my hair in the morning of the important day. And then, every now and again, they cancel me at the last minute. Going after your dream has never been easy. Right?


I am afraid Peirene started to lose her patience with me. And decided to take matters into her own lovely hands. She went in search for help across the seas and over the mountains until she reached Catalonia. There Roman Llull awarded her courage and chutzpah by granting her money to pay for a PR company to promote her Catalan modern classic, Stone in a Landslide.


She came home beaming with pride and anticipation and found herself two good looking, charming, young PR men, Wol and Digby – the founders of Flint PR . She’s sure they will get her to lunches where I have failed. And of course has been ignoring me ever since.


Well, what can I say. Let her be. I am delighted with her two young men too. I am particularly pleased that they’ve taken this nymph of mine under their wings for a while. It’s now a much nicer atmosphere here at my office. No more female bitching and blaming. I am already looking far more relaxed. Radiant really. Coming to think of it, lit editors aren’t the only lunch companions in the world, are they? There are far more influential ones. Amanda Ross for example. Yep. I’m amazed I didn’t think of her before. Silly me. I‘ll ask my PR team to send an email straight away. Amanda and me, two ladies who lunch. How about coming Friday?