Creative thriving – Huffington style.

#17 in my Tonics for Your Creative Spirit email series: Arianna Huffington 


Would you like the next exciting instalment of my Creativity Quotes series?

(BTW, if you’d like me to send you the full set, you can grab those here. It’s free, you know! And what creative doesn’t like a short break to get some pinnable inspiration, helpful tips and info about fab new books….?)

This latest offering is a little different, as the inspiring advice this week comes, once again, from one of my favourite vlogs; Marie TV. (If you don’t know or follow Marie, I recommend you take a look as she is not only a clever (and entertaining) lady herself, but she also has the best guests and the latest on all the good things happening on the internet. Oh, and bloopers – who doesn’t love those?)

Marie’s recent guest was the legendary Arianna Huffington who was talking about her new book Thrive, in which she explains how her spectacular success (in terms of fame, fortune and power) – came at the expense of her health and quality of life. 

arianne huffington thrive


The Third Metric to Defining Success
and Creating a Happier Life

by Arianna Huffington



According to Arianna, thriving is (or should be) the new metric for true success.

The sane kind of success, where you don’t collapse from exhaustion, breaking your cheekbone on your desk (as she did). The kind of success where you don’t neglect your health, wellbeing and relationships – the priceless things that fame and fortune can’t replace. 

I’m a huge fan of this philosophy, being an eternal student of how to upgrade the quality of our daily lives (even before we get that promotion/book deal/financial freedom etc…).  

So, thank goodness that the mainstream definition of success is becoming more aligned with the importance of the journey and not just the big shiny destination. 

Thrive looks like a great read and once my postie has delivered it and I’ve devoured it, I’ll be back with a quick review.

Until then, I have this creative wisdom to offer you from the sage Arianna during her interview on Marie TV:  

 arianna huffington creativity quote

Admittedly making the time to look after ourselves can be a challenge in these busy times – especially when you have Great Big Dreams. But hopefully the extra incentive of improved creative powers will keep us on a healthy, happy, thriving path to success.

And as if to tempt us even more, the muse seems to love to show up during those moments of self-care and R&R. (She won’t leave me alone when I do yoga or go to the spa…) 


Till next time – take care of yourself!

Danielle Raine Creativity Coach

PS If the balanced, healthy and happy route to success appeals to you, there are more details on my holistic approach to creativity here


Hi! I'm Danielle.

Danielle Raine Creativity Coachcreative coach danielle raine l


... because happy creatives are good for the planet. 

My self-publishing adventures: Q+A

When I launched my ebook From Wannabe to Writer earlier this year, I held a Facebook Q&A event and I thought it would be helpful to compile the answers from that, as well as answers to reader questions I’ve received over the last few months.

Hopefully it will shed some light on the self-publishing processes and options – and show how even a naive little wannabe (like me) can navigate them…

• • •

Q + A


What was your original plan for your first book, Housework Blues

I wish I could say I was as organised as that. My ‘plans’ tend to evolve. (I call it The Creative Way…)

To begin with, all I intended was to jot down my thoughts and maybe shape them into an ebook.

The whole publishing journey took off from there, but it was a gradual process – maybe a couple of years from the first Word document to holding the book in my hands.

(That last bit made the rollercoaster ride worthwhile!)



Did you ever consider traditional publishing?

About 10 years ago, I tried approaching publishers and agents with my children’s books – to no avail. But with my housework book, it kind of evolved from an ebook, to a Kindle book, to a paperback. Only after I’d launched it and it had been selling for a while did I think a publisher might be interested. 

At that point I began contacting agents again. Happily, the one I signed with had seen coverage of my book in the national press.

So, ironically, my self-publishing efforts resulted in getting an agent. In fact, many new authors are using self-publishing to get the attention of agents and publishers – it demonstrates their reach/platform and proves their ability to finish and market a book.

I wasn’t that intentional (savvy!) at the time, but it seems it can be one way of avoiding the dreaded Slush Pile. 



Did you release both ebook and paperback versions of your first book?

Yes, I was selling both ebooks and paperback online.

The digital versions I sold through the usual channels (Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, B&N, etc) as well as from my website.

The paperback version was available from online retailers (Amazon, WHSmith, Waterstones etc) and to order from bricks-and-mortar bookshops.

The printing (On-Demand) and fulfilment was handled by Lightning Source, so I didn’t need to hold any stock.



Did you have any marketing experience?

I had no clue about marketing initially but with the internet  – and a book budget –  it’s all learnable. (There’s a Recommended Reading list enclosed with the ebook).

I admit that, for a total newbie, it could get a bit overwhelming at first – but there’s usually no need to rush.

Plus, I’m finding that it’s an ongoing learning process. There’s always something new to discover about human behaviour and the way technology influences readers and how best to reach them. 



Can you share a little about your approach to marketing your book and growing your list?
Do you recommend blogging, speaking, free content? 

Giving away sample chapters has worked really well for me, as has blogging.

I haven’t tried speaking – though I know many authors find that it really helps with back-of-the-room sales.

The internet is FANTASTIC for establishing your platform and profile. There are so many ways to do it; social media, email marketing, blogging, video, podcasts etc.

I’d say choose the one you find the most fun and go with that. 



Do you expand on these topics in your ebook? For example, for someone who knows nothing about PR?

Like me! Yes, I have chapters devoted to building a list, getting the media coverage, hitting the bestseller lists, getting an agent and a big section on all my marketing efforts.



Any advice for rising the ranks on Amazon?  

My quick tip for Amazon rank success: encourage sales in a small time frame.

This pushes the book up the ranks more than the same number of sales spread out over time. Many authors are using free promotion periods to do this – with outstanding success. (My lovely Twitter friend and fellow indie author, Rachael Lucas, for example.)

PR can also create a quick rise up the rankings. This is what happened when my book was featured in the national press and again when I was interviewed on Woman’s Hour (BBC Radio 4).

The great thing about hitting the Amazon bestseller lists is that even when the promo period is over, the book can still sell well, thanks to Amazon’s promotion loop. (Ie, Customers Also Bought, You Might Also Like… etc.)

Having the Mighty Amazon behind your book can be a powerful strategy.



How do you recommend getting round ‘The Knowledge Curse’, ie believing all the things I know are so obvious to me, what’s the point putting them in a book? Why would anyone bother reading a book I write?

I can absolutely relate to this issue.

We do undervalue what we know – thinking it’s common knowledge. But we all know things others don’t! I agree it can be hard to feel total confidence in the value of our experience. When/if I master it – I’ll let you know!

But one book that changed everything for me was The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Burchard. (Or any of his videos on YouTube).

Also, I try to remember this advice;

twitter aquaYou don’t need to know everything,
you just need to be a few steps ahead of your target reader.

They can benefit from your experience and will appreciate you sharing it.



Which parts of the self-publishing process would you recommend outsourcing to an expert? 

Given that freelance help is so easy to find online, and there are so many self-publishing specialists, I would outsource anything that makes you want to avoid your project!

Anything technical that gives you a headache (eg, Kindle conversion!), if you can, hand it over to the experts.

I find sites like elance or People Per Hour are great for this kind of work. Or ask for recommendations in the many Indie Author forums. 



Are there process components that you’re hiring out for From Wannabe to Writer?

I hired an editor, which I would always recommend. They spot so many things that writers miss, being so close to our own words.

My editor for this project was Kris Emery, who is an absolute gem. I was so grateful for her eagle eye – even though I’d quadruple checked my manuscript, Kris found all the little errors that I’d missed, and some I didn’t even know were wrong.

I felt much more confident releasing it to the world, knowing that she’d rounded up all those niggly typos and mistakes that can really irritate readers. 

But not only can a good editor improve the calibre of your book, she can also be a vital supporter and champion of your project. 

Being an indie author can be a scary and lonely journey, so having an encouraging third party in your corner can be very reassuring. (Especially during those eleventh hour wobbles…)



Are you completely self-publishing From Wannabe to Writer? And what about future books?

There are no plans to pursue a conventional deal for Wannabe, it was only meant to be a small, personal project. I just wanted to sum up what I went through in the hope that it might be helpful to others just beginning the self-publishing journey.

My next project, The Muse Spa, I’m planning as an online course but I’m also tempted to create a book proposal for it. I’ll use Danielle LaPorte’s Big Beautiful Book Plan as my guide (can’t wait to play with that!)

I’ll see how it develops and also see what my agent thinks about it working as a ‘real’ book. Watch this space!



You mentioned having more targeted PR in the future….could you expand a bit on what you meant and what you’d do differently?

More targeted PR for me means not just trying to get any publicity in any channel.

I’ll be selective about whether or not the audience is likely to be interested. I know the old maxim; any publicity is good publicity, but I plan to spare myself the heartache and tears of being rejected and criticised by people who I’m not right for.

I think the most successful marketing is simply finding where your right people will be, and then connecting with them.

I’m learning fast that focused efforts in the right places are so much more effective than scattershot publicity, ie just trying to reach everyone and anyone – regardless of whether or not they want what you’ve got.



How many blogs do you write and maintain at this point?

In a bid to simplify, I’ve recently moved all my blogging antics to – though I do keep having ideas about starting new ones…



How many websites do you have and maintain at this point?

I’ve got about 5 or 6 websites at the moment. Some need some regular attention, whilst others are ticking along quite nicely on autopilot.

I manage them myself using WordPress, which I found quite easy to use (eventually).



What is your writing schedule like?

Lately it’s great – I’m now doing a mix of ‘my stuff’ and freelance design/copywriting work which leaves me quite a bit of breathing room.

I try to stick to the school hours/days (my boys can get a bit boisterous!), but I do a lot of reading/note-taking/scraps-organising during evenings, weekends etc.

So these days, it’s a happy balance of family, writing and design work. It’s taken me over a decade to find this groove though!



How do you juggle writing life with family commitments, especially children?

It can be a juggling act but I find the more I make the time to write, the more I find the time to write.

The hardest part is when you slip out of the habit…. Getting back into the flow can be tough. (But it’s always worth the effort.)



When will your ebook for introvert writers be ready?

My next ebook An Introvert’s Guide to Book Promotion is bursting to be created and will hopefully be ready before the end of the year.

If you’d like to stay in the loop, you can sign up for updates here. (And you’ll also get my weekly Beautiful & Inspiring Creativity Quotes.)



And finally… can you tell us a bit about the book deals you turned down? And why!

The two book deals I walked away from were both housework-related books.

They required cleaning tips and housework advice – not my specialty at all, I’m afraid. There are far more qualified domestic goddesses out there. Plus, I feel I’ve said all I can about housework blues and I’m over the worst of that particular challenge.

So, for now, I’m turning my attention to my next challenges; unravelling the mysteries of inspiration and the creative process!


• • • 



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For the full scoop of my writing,

self-publishing and book-promotion journey…

• • •

Wannabe writer ipad

My rollercoaster ride to becoming a writer.

The highs. The lows. The short-cuts.  

• • •

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book….

If you’d like to shortcut your learning curve….

If you want to truly believe that it’s possible to go from wannabe to successful writer…

This is for you. 

• • • 

>>> Click here for details



” Smart people learn from their own mistakes.

The really smart people learn from the mistakes of others.”

                             ~ Brandon Mull


How to be even more creative (& successful)

#5 in my Tonics for Your Creative Spirit email series: Danielle LaPorte & Linda Sivertsen


Here’s the next exciting installment of my creativity quotes & tips email series!
Today’s offering comes from a co-written project that I’m currently reading called Your Big Beautiful Book Plan, by the sparky and insightful Danielle LaPorte and her partner in inspiration, Linda Sivertsen.
As I read their soulful and heartfelt introduction, this line leapt off the page:
 creativity quote planning for success


I love this idea, which wraps up my feelings on positivity, visioneering, and how we’re at our best when we are doing what we love – and doing it well.  (more…)

Why creativity is good for us

#2 in my Tonics of Your Creative Spirit email series: Julia Cameron

therapeutic creativity quote Julia cameron.jpg

This is a quote I scribbled down whilst on holiday in beautiful Norfolk, 
where I was listening to the audiobook version of Julia’s:
Walking In This World practical strategies for creativity book by Julia CameronWalking in this world 
Spiritual strategies for forging your creative trail
It’s such an inspiring and thought-provoking book.
It took me all week to listen to it, as I had to pause virtually every other minute to write down all the genius insights. 
So I heartily recommend it, if you could use some inspiration and encouragement. 
Have a creative and expressive week!

Danielle Raine Creativity Coach

Hi! I'm Danielle.

Danielle Raine Creativity Coachcreative coach danielle raine l


... because happy creatives are good for the planet. 

An interruption to our usual (housework avoidance) schedule….

Clear your clutter with feng shui Karen Kingston Just Good Reads

Well, it’s certainly spring. In fact, judging by my sunburn, it may even be summer. Anyway, you’ll probably be very surprised to learn that this weekend I have been…..spring cleaning!

Now, don’t be too shocked. I still managed to spend a good deal of time lazing in the garden with a book. (My preferred mode of housework avoidance.) But it is the particular book in question that’s responsible for my uncharacteristic domestic spree. And the book is (as you’ve probably guessed by the large book cover <<<…) Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston.

This book is an absolute gem. I love it because it delves into the psychology of clutter and how clutter affects us on all levels; mentally, emotionally, physically, even spiritually. Karen links these effects with the traditional feng shui tool – The Bagua, to illustrate precisely which area of your life that ‘harmless’ pile of magazines is infiltrating. This alone is quite a powerful motivator to get busy.

Yet, the book contains a good deal more advice beyond the influence of feng shui. In fact, it could be one of the most comprehensive self-help books I’ve ever come across. Karen covers the whole gamut of human issues; health, happiness, potential, relationships, spirituality, forgiveness, life priorities and body clutter.  (The colon-cleansing section was particularly eye-opening and prompted a considerable spending spree at my favourite organic apothecary).

All this information makes for a really motivating read. I found that I couldn’t read more than a couple of pages at a time without feeling an urge to go and sort or tidy somewhere. Powerful stuff! This weekend has seen several bags of superfluous ‘stuff’ leave the premises and I’m becoming very popular over on (One woman’s junk….)

I’ll be doing a full review soon (children willing…) but in the meantime, let me share with you some of my favourite nuggets from the book. I challenge you to read the following without being inspired to bust some clutter!

Each small area you clear releases energy for you to do more.

The speed at which the positive changes will appear in your life is relative to the gusto and decisiveness with which your clutter is cleared.

Most people carry some form of emotional baggage. It prematurely ages us and gets in the way of everything we want to do.

An ordered home means an ordered mind. Whatever your personal situation, it is important to get organised so that the mundane level of your life supports you.

In lab experiments, animals given control over their environment live longer, have higher antibody counts and less ulcers. Your choice.

It is safe to let go.




readers corner book reviews


Enjoy more housework-avoidance great book reviews over in Readers Corner








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• • •

write that book 5 day kick start

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writers corner free resources for writers

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readers corner book reviews

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Domestic goddess in training apron

Gifts for the (Un) Domestic Goddess

Working with, I’ve created a range of cards and gifts with a home and housework theme.

{ Because not all us goddesses are domestic... 😉 }

• • • 

> > > CLICK HERE to browse the range.

Your inspiration as compass

#1 in my Tonics For Your Creative Spirit email series: Tama J Kieves


Welcome to the first in my series of weekly tonics for your creative spirit.

I’m so happy to share these and I hope they serve you well in keeping your creative spirits up.

Each week I’ll post an inspiring (and Pinnable!) creativity quote – wise words to help you along the bumpy creative path.

And I’ll include details of the books or resources where I found the quotes and ideas, so you can dive deeper with any that strike a chord with you.

I’ll also share my latest learnings on how to make the creative process easier and more enjoyable, to help you find more fun and flow in your creative life. (Why do it that hard way?)

So, let’s start as we mean to go on, and begin to get better acquainted with that elusive muse…


• • •

this time I dance by tama j kievesThis is a phrase I excitedly underlined in Tama J Kieves inspiring book; 
I highly recommend it if you’re wondering whether to go for your creative dream. 
(Hint: Go for it!)
I’m also a big fan of tuning in whenever we feel lost, confused or stuck in a dilemma.

I believe that we always know, on some level, what to do – and being able to access that knowing is a skill we can all learn.

We’ll be exploring much more about ‘the muse as a compass’ throughout this series. (If you’d like to get a head start on wooing your muse, I have some Daily Prompts that can help you.)

In the meantime, start to listen out for those promises and promptings, aka; what lights you up!

And when possible – follow them. See where they lead.

Because it’s amazing how the muse responds when we let her have her fun…

(Hint: she will guide you to where you really want to go. 😉 )

See you next week!

Danielle Raine Creativity Coach

Hi! I'm Danielle.

Danielle Raine Creativity Coachcreative coach danielle raine l


... because happy creatives are good for the planet. 

Writer’s Corner: One way to write a book

As part of my How To Write A Book series, I thought it would be helpful to share the story of how I wrote my first book, Housework Blues.

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So here’s The Story of a Book – just one of the many ways books can evolve.

• • •


The Story of Housework Blues

(Extract from From Wannabe to Writer)

Around 2008, I began searching for a book that would help me with my domestic woes.

I tend to turn to books for help with my challenges and problems, and so I was seeking literary solace for my severe housework blues.

At the time, I was working from home, as well as being a full time mum to two small children. I was drowning in laundry and mess and disorganised chaos.

I needed help.

I’d tried to find a book that addressed what I was going through, but all I could find were collections of cleaning tips or time management systems.

I wanted a book that dealt with the aspect I struggled with; the emotional and psychological challenge.

(Housework was ‘doing my head in’.)

Then one day – ironically, as I was scrubbing the kitchen floor – I had an epiphany.

I realised…

…there should be a guide for women like me.

There should be a housework manual for women who just don’t want to do this stuff!


So I threw the scrubbing brush back into the soapy bucket. (Yes, I was actually scrubbing ‘scrubber-style’.)

Then I went and vented my spleen onto my computer.

I still have the document. It’s essentially just a list of my struggles, peppered with considerable frustration and angst.

I gave it the working title: A Feminist Guide to Cooking and Cleaning; A mental approach to housework – for women who don’t.

I’d heard the advice – if you can’t find the book you need, write it.

So I thought this could be my chance to finally put my writing aspirations into a concrete form – that someone may actually want to read.

(I suspected I wasn’t the only female who didn’t want to spend her life, as Rudyard Kipling said, ‘threshing herself to pieces over the mean worry of housekeeping’.)

I soon dropped the feminist tag, though. I am possibly the least political person you’ll ever meet, and this was stirring up all kinds of negative responses.

My project was simply a quest for a happier domestic balance.

I was aware of the cultural issues, (ie, more being expected of female than males) but I wanted to increase the harmony in my home, not start a war.

I was more interested in the psychological and emotional stuff behind the angst/resentment.

I suspected that the real issue, for me, lay deeper than not knowing how to shine my sink.

This was the angle that I felt hadn’t really been addressed before.

So I created a list of all the reasons why I felt I was struggling, and all the thoughts I had about what I could do about it.

From that A4 Word document of frustrated ramblings, a book was born.

Once I’d had the idea, potential chapters and snippets of text began occurring to me more frequently, (ironically, usually during housework.)

In my mission to conquer my housework overload, I’d already come up with a few strategies of my own.

With a bit of thought and attention, I was able to come up with a few more. So I wrote those down too.

Over the next few months, I added more notes and ideas, more solutions and remedies.

And I felt duty bound to share them.

I’d discovered (to my relief) that not all females are born homemakers. I wanted to share my tips and tricks with any like-minded non-domestics.

And so, out of the desire to create calm out of the chaos of my home life, along with an urge to write and share, I’d embarked upon my first book.

But at that point I didn’t know it was a book. It would change shape and structure a dozen times before it came to rest in its current format.

Some ideas evolved from a snippet into a whole section (Delegation). Other ideas were swallowed up elsewhere or ditched completely. (Possibly for the best in the case of The Loo.)

The more I added to my musings and ideas, the more the material began to naturally fall into complete sections.

I wondered whether I might actually have enough material for a series of ebooks…?

Each of these could relate to the problem of housework OD, but tackling a particular bugbear, ie Lack of Motivation, Lack of Energy etc…

This series began life entitled Make Peace with Housework. And, in anticipation of my Big Launch, I also began a blog of the same name.

But I wasn’t happy with my ‘mini-ebooks’. They were quite small as standalone pieces, and I felt they weren’t substantial enough to be sold as a complete solution.

Besides, I was hearing from readers that they suffered from most, if not all, of the 8 ‘housework blues’ that I’d identified.

So, I decided to wrap them all together into one volume.

I had to rework the intro and then go through the sections to make sure they worked together as an integral whole, rather than disparate sections bundled together.

But it was enjoyable work and I knew as I was doing it that it flowed much better.

Plus, there was the added bonus of having accidentally produced a ‘real book’.

This was very satisfying – to find myself at the end of the process, without knowing what was happening until the majority of the work had been done. (I’ve written more about my ‘accidental’ method here.)

By the end, though, I knew I had a book.

I can remember vividly writing the closing paragraph. It felt both moving and surreal – a huge accomplishment, but also strangely calm and inevitable.

Of course, there was still much editing and polishing to be done but the main composition, the full first draft, was finished.

And as I sat in the brick outbuilding in my garden (the only place I could escape the noise of family life), with the early summer sunshine streaming through the cobwebbed windows, tears rolled down my cheeks as I wrote the final words.

That last chapter was about the role our homes play in our lives – a topic I was passionate about.

In fact, this had been the spur at the heart of my mission – to find more peace in the home.

So, it was a heartfelt finale, the culmination of a labour of love.

But also, I knew I had achieved something: this was the end of my book.

My first book.

I had written a book.


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This is an extract from my ebook, From Wannabe To Writer,

a compilation of tips and tales from my writing and self-publsihing adventures.

• • •

It was launched on World Book Day

– to help Wannabe writers everywhere to get their books out there.

Details below!

And you can find out more about Housework Blues HERE.

Out now:

Wannabe writer ipad

My rollercoaster ride to becoming a writer.

The highs. The lows. The short-cuts.  

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book….

If you’d like to shortcut your learning curve….

If you want to truly believe that it’s possible to go from wannabe to successful writer…

This is for you. 

• • • 




” Smart people learn from their own mistakes.

The really smart people learn from the mistakes of others.”

                             ~ Brandon Mull



Book Review: Charles Dickens – A Life by Claire Tomalin

Following the recent demise of my beloved Mini*, I found myself housebound during the school holidays.

Happily though, this coincided with my children discovering the joys of audiobooks and lego, which meant that I was able to spend a blissful week curled up with Charles Dickens – A Life by Claire Tomalin.

Though I am a big fan of biographies, I have to confess that I had never been the greatest admirer of Dickens’ work.

(My only previous encounter was being forced to read A Tale of Two Cities in Miss Taylor’s English class about twenty years ago – not exactly top of my teenage To Do list…)

In fact, I hadn’t even planned to buy this book but found myself in an ‘I urgently need something to read!’ situation (bookless in Starbucks) and this was the book that found its way into my hands.

And though I’d heard good reviews of it, I didn’t have any great expectations. (Sorry, couldn’t resist….).


I loved it!

Tomalin has created a captivating, intimate, yet balanced portrayal of the legendary writer – bringing to life his genius and his brilliance, as well as his darker qualities.

And it is an absolute joy to read.

charles dickens a life claire tomalinThere is a wealth of detail, spanning almost six decades of the infamous author’s busy and eventful life.

Yet the narrative is as engaging as a novel and the research is woven effortlessly into this fascinating story.

It is such an easy and enjoyable read that it’s hard to imagine the Herculean research task Tomalin must have undertaken to be able to create such a convincing and comprehensive account.

It is undoubtedly an outstanding achievement for the author.

But such efforts are not a concern for the reader.

We just get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of her ambitious undertaking.

We get to enjoy the ringside view of Dickens life performance, from his boyhood home in Kent, to his love/hate affair with London, as well as his many global travels and adventures.

And we get to meet the supporting cast of his life, a rich and varied troupe of players, many of whom stayed loyal to Dickens throughout his life – despite his many flaws and failings.

Undoubtedly the most intriguing character and storyline is the mysterious Nelly – the love of Dickens’ life.

(You’ve got to admire a woman who endures great loss and public ostracism, only to reappear, reinvented, knocking 14 years off her age – something her children only discovered after her death. Tomalin clearly agrees as she has just released The Invisible Woman, devoted to Nelly’s story.)

Obviously Dickens’ work also plays a central role in the book and anyone interested in writers and their craft will find much of interest, as Tomalin reveals the stories behind the stories – the origins of Dickens’ books and fictional characters.

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of his career – certainly the root of his prodigious output – was his impressive work ethic.

The man never stopped!

Tomalin claims that keeping busy, taking on so much/too much, was Dickens’ coping mechanism.

But while the tale of his prolific and stellar career is fascinating, his success came at a cost and we are given a balanced insight into the price he paid, in terms of his friends, his family and his physical and mental health.

It was also enlightening to learn that even the greats are prone to blaming unfavourable conditions as an excuse for procrastination.

As the father of 10 children, Dickens would frequently bemoan the noise, particularly of the boys (I can relate to that) – this despite the luxury of nannies and governesses (I wish I could relate to that…).

But being committed to his art, Dickens wasn’t averse to desperate measures in a bid to create the peace in which to write – dispatching his many offspring to French boarding schools or encouraging them to emigrate!

(This is maybe a bit extreme for me but I was envious of his other tactic – building a writing chalet at the bottom of the garden.)

The people, the places, the books and writings, the study of Dickens’ complicated character – all combine in Tomalin’s expert hands and make for an absorbing insight into one of our greatest, most-loved writers.

By the end of the book, I felt that I had come to know well the world of Charles Dickens, and slightly bereft to have to leave it.

So whether you’re interested in Dickens in particular, or writers in general, or even just human nature and the story of an extraordinary life, this enthralling tale of the original Dickensian life is a great read.

And, like the finest work of  Mr Dickens himself, it lingers long after the final page.


Danielle Raine Creativity Coach


PS I was encouraged to find that I have something in common with the great writer: Dickens was a lifelong devotee of long walks. He favoured twelve-mile midnight jaunts through the seedier streets of London and saw these as essential to his writing, claiming:

“If I couldn’t walk fast and far,
I should just explode and perish.”

I’m fascinated by this link between creativity and wellbeing and I’ll be delving more deeply into this in an upcoming project. (If a writing and wellness combo sounds like your thing, you can get more details here.)



Also by Claire Tomalin

The Invisble Woman  Jane Austen A Life  Katherine Mansfield A Secret Life  The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft


*My Mini No3 perished when I valiantly took on a flood-puddle (fluddle?)…and lost.


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My eclectic selection of books for creative spirits…


books for creatives reviews recommendations

Reviews & recommendations of books I love.


Book Review: The Paris Wife

I really enjoyed this.

I’ve only just started reading fiction again after about 5 years away, so this blend of imagined private lives based on actual facts was a perfect re-introduction.

A Paris Wife is a fictional account of the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson.

Told in the first person by Hadley, it’s a convincing and intimate portrayal of their intense love affair and short marriage.

Set mostly in Paris in the 1920s, McLain has created a totally absorbing world of the turn-of-the-century literati, including guest appearances from such luminaries as Gertrude Stein, F Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound.

Theirs was a time of street cafes, absinthe and tortured memories of the First World War.

Hemingway’s early writing and career are explored in depth but these are seen through the eyes of his wife, and though she offers tireless support for his art, her main focus is the man behind the words, the husband she adores.

The novel is exquisitely written – some of the prose actually took my breath away – though it’s still an effortless read.

I could easily have devoured this in one sitting, but given my current workload, I rationed myself to bedtime reading only. (Which made me look forward to bedtime even more than I normally do. I couldn’t wait to get back to Tatie and Cat and their latest Parisian adventures.)

Whether or not you are interested in Hemingway or the writerly life, this is a captivating portrait of an unusual love affair and the complexities of marriage.

Poignant and engaging, I was sad to finish it.

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Book review: Yoga for Real Life – Maya Fiennes

About the book

This beautiful full-colour book is Maya Fiennes’ guide to a healthy, happy life – Kundalini style.

The sections are loosely based on the body’s seven main energy centres (chakras). They are:

• Be Here, Now (Root chakra)

• Detox & De-Stress (Sacral chakra)

• Yes, I can! (Navel chakra)

• Love & Relationships (Heart chakra)

• Staying Youthful (Throat chakra)

• Children (Third Eye chakra)

• Finding Joy (Crown chakra)

Each section features the relevant yoga poses, breathing techniques, Sanskrit chants and meditation. Maya explains how the body is designed to heal many of our modern ailments and includes remedies for issues such as panic, stress, insomnia, heartache, unlocking creativity, coping with children, family harmony, deeper relationships, energy and vitality, anti-ageing , time management, inner peace and more fun!

Offering a total workout for mind, body and spirit, Yoga for Real Life provides a route to a more flexible body and a more flexible attitude to life. This is a holistic handbook for building the physical and mental strength required to live life to the fullest.

Why I loved it

I love this book. But then, I’m a big fan of all things Maya Fiennes. And I’m not alone: Deepak Chopra calls her ‘one of the true pioneers of yoga’. Whilst Elle McPherson says, “Doing yoga with Maya is inspirational, energising, sexy and it gives me joy.”


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