Miriam is also the editor of AustralianJazz.net

Business Vic case study series for business startups

ethoscafe2ndinstalmentIt’s been so great to have the opportunity to follow three small businesses through their startup journey.  The series, modelled (somewhat loosely) on the ‘Up’ series of documentaries, tracks three small businesses during their startup year – at three-monthly intervals.

We’ve done the second instalments for each of them now and third instalments are coming soon. The Ethos Café one has just gone live.

Previously published:

The Physio Co. – Case study with Tristan White

Tristan-White-Case-Study-picTristan White of The Physio Co provides some insights on the process of ‘moving from being a micromanaging small business owner to an empowering team leader’. His thriving business is a testament to his ability to build and empower a team. Read the case study on the Business Vic website www.business.vic.gov.au

I really enjoyed interviewing Tristan for this case study. He’s quite inspiring and pointed me to some great resources for my own budding business!


Article length

I was grumping to myself about reducing word counts on one of the websites I write for – they’re asking me to cut my article sizes to even smaller. I love a writing challenge, and I understand that everybody is time-poor and only wants the pearls of wisdom and none of the sandy ocean floor [warning, metaphor stretch]…  Yes, I was indulging in a moment of quietly whingeing to myself (I’m over it now) but during that brief window of self-pity, my web browsing eyes were calibrated to see information about article length (we all have inbuilt filters that put Google’s clumsy attempts at personalisation to shame)

And I found a link to this article on Slate, with a great graphic showing how far people read on the web.

So I guess I’m writing shorter articles now. Sigh.

You Won’t Finish This Article

New Case Study on Business Vic

Business Victoria wanted a case study produced in time for a webinar. They needed a small business blog, by someone who wasn’t an ‘expert blogger’ – someone who was using a blog as part of their business.

Business Victoria uses tips and case studies as a way of providing real-life examples of how businesses address operational and strategic challenges. They have a particular format that needs to be followed, including some key tips at the top, sub-headings through the article, good keyword density, readability and links to other Business Victoria web content, to ensure relevance.

I was amazed at the interest in my little blog

Melanie Stapleton, business owner of Brunswick florist Cecilia Fox started blogging five years ago, using Blogspot’s free blogging platform. ‘I was a really small business and I had no money for a website, but I wanted to share some stories and images.’ A free blog seemed like the right choice.

‘After the first year, I noticed heaps of people commenting on my posts and following the blog.’ Even though the blog started out as a creative endeavour rather than a way to generate sales, ‘the traffic was amazing – I would have been crazy not to add the website’. Read more on the Business Victoria website www.business.vic.gov.au

New post in Resonate!

Here’s the latest Jazz in Australia post on the Australian Music Centre’s Resonate magazine.

New jazz releases: Spence, Hannaford, Tawadros, Noordhuis, Sirens BB, Trichotomy

It feels like every week a new album hits my desk. It’s a fertile time for recording at the moment, and in this first of our jazz updates that feature recent CD releases, we’ve selected just a handful of what’s on offer in the Australian jazz scene.

Read more…


Tram shame – ‘it’s not a competition’

I should have realised when my initial request elicited first nothing and then a very slow, obviously reluctant opening of the door to the driver’s cabin.

The driver of the 109 tram this morning did not even look at me at first. He opened the door only because he was pretty much obliged to. I was making an effort to keep my voice light and friendly. After all, the absence of air in the main cabin probably wasn’t the driver’s fault. And when I say the absence of air, I guess you know that I mean that the air was not cool. But it was also a muggy day and with no air conditioning, in a sealed tram cabin, it really did feel like there was no air in there.

So when I knocked on the driver’s cabin and mentioned in light, friendly (but impossible to ignore) voice that we were struggling a bit and could he please do something about the air, or maybe even get a tram swap happening (we were approaching the Kew Tram Depot). As I spoke, a quiet but heartfelt cheer and ‘hear hear’ type action rose from the group of fellow passengers nearest to where I stood.

Perhaps the driver was a bit sensitive (poor petal). He got all defensive and said ‘sometimes it doesn’t work and there’s nothing we can do’. He kept his back to me, even though we were stopped. Cool, fresh air continued to flow out of his little booth through the partly opened door. ‘It’s lovely in here,’ I exclaimed. I wasn’t meaning anything by it, nor was I not not meaning anything by it. It was just an exclamation of surprise, after the armpit experience of the main cabin, to have an arctic blast from the driver’s booth! Who wouldn’t exclaim at a sudden shift from armpit to arctic?!

He ignored me so I stumbled on… ‘compared to out here, that’s great. It’s really horrible in here.’

He snapped, finally. I had pushed him too far. ‘It’s not a competition!’ he snorted, and slammed the door.

We sweated and fumed all the way into the city, finally emerging into morning air that was about 5 degrees cooler and 10% less humid.

I guess I’ll just have to learn to be less petty.


Sleepers Almanac #7 reviewed in the Australian

Review title: Anthological adventures across the home front
by: Karenlee Thompson, The Australian, June 23, 2012 12:00AM

… This collection is filled with enchanting gifts, such as the surprising tumble into Kent MacCarter’s frugal four-stanza poem and the sudden visual delight of Andrew Weldon’s cartoons. But most of all, there is exquisite writing from talented authors, old-hands and newbies alike. The voice in Miriam Zolin’s noirish New York Story brings to mind a re-imagining of an all-the-gin-joints-Casablanca and Emily Kiddell’s agoraphobic An Attempt at Some Kind of Escape pierces arrow-like into the heart of a damaged psyche…


Day three down the Rabbit Hole

It was a short day for me down the rabbit hole today, and yes,  I tried something new each day. The freedom to just take on a different writing project each day (or not!) has been part of what’s made the Rabbit hole such a fantastic opportunity!

Day 1, effectively 1.5 hours for me because I was late I managed to get a whole new section done on the novel-in-waiting that’s needing a few tweaks before I can say it’s finished. One tweak down, and very happy with it. 1676 words, and not bad at the end of a 50 hour working week.

Day 2 and I’d planned to start work on this novel about the bushranger lady. Thanks to all the friends, colleagues, fellow Rabbit holers who responded with great questions to my shout out! – I’d put the call out for questions I could answer if I experienced writers block but something strange happened on Saturday morning  I sat down, fingers poised and itching to type. A sentence came out of the blue, so I wrote it down. It was nothing to do with Ellie the bushranger girl. A crossroads moment. To ditch the sentence for another day and move on with the intended plan or just go with the flow. I went with the latter. The Rabbit hole is a gift to myself anyway – a gift of giving permission to write in the face of a million other imperatives. So I went with the random sentence and wrote the first 10,000 words plus of a book that’s been bubbling around for a while, but that I’m scared to write because… well it’s a memoir and it’s not pretty. In fact it’s pretty damn ugly in places and I wrote some of the ugly bits yesterday along with some juicy bits and some bits that will definitely be edited out… As I wrote about a couple of people and incidents, felt my heart going all sideways and clenched – a surreal sensation of private pain to be experiencing in a room full of other writers, all oblivious, maybe doing their own writerly suffering. Maybe not.  And the swearing. OMG. So much of it came out onto the page yesterday.  ‘C’ word (two kinds), ‘f’ word, plentiful and used in excellent punchy sentences, as nouns, verbs and adjectives. At some point I adjourned for corn soup and shiraz downstairs at The Moat for lunch, which set me up nicely for some more free-flowing stuff in the afternoon. The shiraz being irresistibly named ‘Ladies who shoot their lunch’. Charming waiter (name unknown) insisted laughingly that it was called ‘Ladies who shoot their waiter’. Let me tell you, if there was ever a waiter that this lady would contemplate shooting it is not he. Nuff said.

Today, Day 3, I have written two blog posts, cobbled together an article from illegible notes taken down during hasty phone interview, some technical writing tips ‘n’ tricks and the first cut of a jazz blog about the gig I went to last night – spent the first set sobbing quietly into the faux fur collar of my cheap Target overcoat because of what I’d opened up by writing all those things down. Weirdly though I should have been all written out (shouldn’t I??) I wrote more when I got home – until about 2:30. Words that don’t count for Rabbit hole, but that’s stopped being the point by now :-)

Conjuror - come to our friends and media event!I had to leave in the afternoon to go to two maybe three jazz gigs and do some last minute preps for a book we’re launching tomorrow and Wednesday – such is the life of a publisher of jazz writing [I'm the publisher and managing editor at extempore and jazz-planet.com if you're interested] I’m taking a quick break now to publish this… But it’s been great and a couple of thousand words today on top of over 12,000 in the previous  two days – who could ask for better!

Come to our launch at Uptown Jazz Cafe, 6 June, 6 PM, Free, details here: http://conjuror.extempore.com.au/?p=111

No major injuries, though I did give my inside right cheek a nasty bite on Friday when I crunched down too hard on a lolly in desperate need of a sugar fix!  Not sure if lolly-related injuries count. Oh, and my computer spat the dummy at about 1:00 pm, just as I was finishing some things up (including the last bits of this post). The keyboard started ‘speaking’ Greek!  True story, I’d press perfectly familiar keys and get gobbledygook on the screen, including some Cyrillic characters. Hmm. Time to leave, I figured.

So, good luck to all of you still in there and thanks EWF for the opportunity!

Taking Pierre down the rabbit hole

Pierre Cardigan - with various random volumes

Pierre Cardigan – with various random volumes (Porn for women and The Art of Kissing) taken from someone’s shelf at work. Yes. You read correctly. At work. Don’t ask.

I hope nobody minds if I bring Pierre to the Rabbit hole this weekend. He’s clean, doesn’t take up much room and while he doesn’t have a lot to say, he has character. Nobody could deny, from looking at him that he’s warm. He’s a bit frayed and thinning in spots. But I guess that happens to everyone, eventually.

I met Pierre at the Crossroads Mall, on the corner of 72nd Street and Dodge in Omaha Nebraska. The Crossroads Mall is (well ‘was’ – I don’t keep in touch with  these things) a smallish mall, really quite inferior to the vast Oak View Mall off West Center Street. To give you an idea of the vastness of Oak View mall, people would go there in winter with their runners on and do laps. I had never heard of such a thing. In my memory, Oak View is like Chadstone and Crossroads is more like Northland [like Northland used to be when I was a girl. I don't keep up with those things either...]

At the time I was writing Tristessa & Lucido. Plus a great deal of bad poetry and many many journal entries. Living in Nebraska, post divorce, working for a large multi-national, finding my feet.

Shopping at malls.

I remember one lunchtime I wandered across Dodge Street to the mall. The company I worked for was at (from memory) 74th and Dodge. I was a weirdo, to the Nebraskan way of thinking because to go to the mall across the street I would walk out the front door of the building, cross Dodge Street and then through the mall carpark, into the front door of the mall. What I should have done, to blend in, was to go out to the back carpark, get in my car, drive out to the cross street (74th??) and then cross Dodge, drive into the carpark, get out of my car and into the front door of the mall. Being the rebel that I am, I chose to walk. I remember doing that in San Angelo, West Texas, with a mob of New Zealanders I was on a contract with. We were walking 500 metres to get to work from our motel and I swear the ‘high rise’ five story building we were walking towards started to tilt as disbelieving Texans rushed over to the side of the building that faced the road, to watch the weird foreigners walking half a km to work.

Off topic?  Yes… soz!

So after some sort of soup and sandwich lunch in a franchise restaurant one lunchtime, at Crossroads Mall, I wandered across to a department store and looked on the discount racks. I was, as I say, writing a book. It was winter and I was feeling the cold – it’s very cold in Nebraska in winter – and I found Pierre (pictured) Why Pierre? Well his full name is Pierre Cardigan. Lame attempt at humour, perhaps but he’s a cardigan of the Pierre Cardin brand so what else could I have called him?

He came home with me and he’s been my writing cardy every since. I took to him straight away, and I’ve never let go. He’d be one of the things I’d grab if there was a fire (as I write this I realise that it’s not a joke. I mean it.)

So, Pierre’s coming with me on the journey as I attempt to write 30,000 words as part of #Rabbithole #EWF12 this weekend. I’m not sure I could do it without him.

What will you be bringing?