Archive for September, 2014

Win a free place on this four-day writing workshop this November.

For beginners and beyond. Learn directly from published authors and get a real writing workout.


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Would you like to win a free place on our four-day writing workshop this November?

Tell us why you think you should be given this free place.

You must be over 18 to enter [Gunton Hall Coastal Village is for adults only].

The closing date is 8th October and the winner will be announced on 12th October.

Please send your entry through our Contact page on www.justwriteitworkshops.com


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My book tour of libraries is going really well and I’ve met some fabulous people.

I get asked many questions including the one, why do I write? And I tell them, I usually write because I have something to tell people.

A selection of workbooks for staff who work in social care.

I write these to give staff the knowledge on what they need to do to meet certain government standards.Workbooks

Chatty Cat: The First Six Months

I wrote this book to tell people how my rescue cat is settling in to her new home. I am now writing the second book, Chatty Cat: Spring into Summer.

Chatty Cat~full cover

Beyond My Control: Why the Health and Social Care System Need Not Have Failed My Mother

I wrote this to tell the story of how my late mother was let down by the Safeguarding team in social services, the nursing home where she lived, the hospital where my mother was admitted with two fractures and died three months later from blood poisoning, and the Commission of Social Care Inspection. All four agencies that have a paid duty of care to protect older, vulnerable people from poor practices, harm and abuse.

I also wrote the book to tell people what they could do if they were concerned about the care they or a relative/friend was receiving.

I have received many emails from readers who say that the book gave them the knowledge, strength and guidance to act upon their concerns.


Shortlisted for Book Prize…

I am delighted that ‘Beyond My Control: Why the Health and Social Care System Need Not Have Failed My Mother’ has been shortlisted for the Peoples Book Prize.

If you think my book Beyond My Control: Why the health & social care system need not have failed my mother is a worthy winner for  #THEPEOPLESB00K prize please vote at http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/section.php?id=2

Thank you.

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A real writing workout with published authors – Glynis Smy, Rosie Thornton, Suzan Collins, Ann Bowyer, Yvonne Newbold and Jayne-Marie Barker.

We bring people together in beautiful surroundings to write, think, discuss, listen and gain knowledge.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES               Estelle Lucy Apple                                                                                             

People in training room 2              Walled Garden 1

To reserve or book your place www.justwriteitworkshops.com


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‘By 2015 there will be 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, and today’s social care systems are not equipped to cope

We are all living longer and that is something to celebrate. A third of babies born today are expected to reach their 100th birthday. But are older people living well? Already that is debatable, and the future is clouded with uncertainty.

Our health and social care systems are antiquated and no longer fit for purpose, with vulnerable older people drawing the short straw. When the NHS was set up it was there to treat outbreaks of tuberculosis and measles, to see women through childbirth and children with whooping cough. Today, the majority of service users are older people with multiple long-term conditions. Seven out of ten people with dementia have another long term condition and require care and support from a range of different professionals.

Today the NHS is too often seen as just the hospital – the visible sign of health care in the town. But the community support that should be there to help people live well at home is hidden. We take an overly reactive approach, rewarding crisis admissions to hospital rather than delivering on the outcomes that matter most to people.

Alzheimer’s Society recently published new research which brought the disparity between the services we have and those we need into sharp focus. It found that by 2015 there will be 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, more than ever before. The cost of this unfolding epidemic has hit £26bn a year, a price tag which is set to rise alongside the rising numbers. Most striking of all this is that people with dementia, their carers and families are shouldering two-thirds of this cost themselves.

The post second world war settlement of cradle to grave health care which is free at the point of delivery must remain. But today’s needs are as much about social care. We need new and flexible models of delivery where the emphasis is on building services around individuals, not institutions. For decades the closer integration of health and social care has been a goal of public policy, but we have yet to see its effective translation.

Fundamental to living well in older age is maintaining health and independence. This winter the crisis in NHS funding will once again be centre stage. But for many years, there has been a crisis in social care. Make no mistake: the services that support older people, often the most vulnerable, are on the verge of meltdown.

This is why the Ready for Ageing Alliance has created a manifesto calling on policymakers in government and beyond to start engaging seriously with the trend towards longer lives. The alliance formed in 2013 following publication of the Filkin report and its conclusion that we as a country were nowhere near ready for an ageing population. The aim of members Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Anchor, Carers UK, Centre for Policy on Ageing, the International Longevity Centre – UK , Independent Age and Joseph Rowntree Foundation is to make the case for action to ensure that our society makes the most of our ageing population.

The manifesto sets out detailed recommendations for public policy covering housing; health & social care; the economy and communities and calls for government to take the lead.

It calls for us to stop seeing ageing as being just about older people – if we wait until we are 60 or 70 to prepare we’ll have left it too late. We believe everyone aged 50 should be sent a pack giving information and advice.

At the core of the failings of our health and social care system is ageism. Older people are too often treated like second class citizens. Legislation has gone some way to preventing discrimination on grounds of age, but bizarrely financial services are exempt and hidden discrimination remains in many walks of life.

It’s vital we stop operating hospitals on a model designed for the past. Staff and patient ratios on hospital wards for older patients are often lower than on general wards. This makes little sense given that older people often need more help and care. Two thirds of hospital beds are currently occupied by a person with dementia. People living with the condition have even further complex needs which must be taken into consideration.

2015 is the year of a general election. While the question of who will be in government remains to be decided, one of the greatest challenges that they face is already set. By 2051 we can expect to have two million people with dementia in the country. Now is the time for government to wake up and realise prevention can be the best cure.’


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Don’t leave it too late to book your place for the November writing workshops in Suffolk. A real workout with published authors [and a 5 minute walk from the beach!]  

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Welcome, Berni Stevens


Can you tell me a little about yourself? [including pen name if you have one]

I write under my maiden name (Berni Stevens), which is the name I use for work.

My ‘day’ job is as a book cover designer, and has been for more than 25 years. I have worked for most of the big UK houses at some time or another, but have worked as a freelancer for a while now.

I’m happily married with one son. I met my husband at Art College.

I’m hopelessly addicted to live rock concerts, the American South-West desert, cats and horses, and I have a love of all things spooky. My favourite book is Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I’m an incurable fan of Buffy and True Blood.

What was the first story you wrote?

It was almost certainly a ‘pony story’, written when I was at school. (I wrote a lot of those.) And it was almost certainly illustrated (badly) by me too. In fact, I think I still have a couple of those stories somewhere …

Were you inspired by someone or something?

I have always loved to write, and always had a passion for horse-riding too, so the inspiration – at that time – would have come from the horses!

What do you like about writing a story?

The whole fantasy world of fiction is a wonderful place to be. I like immersing myself in the story, becoming the character, and really getting inside his – or her – head. I can become the feisty heroine I would always like to be. I can be that person with the witty repartee … and I can get the hunky hero J

Can you tell us about your newest book?

My debut novel was published by Choc Lit in April this year. (Unfortunately I was in hospital having an operation on the actual day!) It’s called Dance Until Dawn, and is a paranormal romance.

Dance Until Dawn cover~Berni

There are a lot of paranormal romances around of course, but most are between a human and a vampire. The question is always, will the vampire turn the human so they can be together for eternity? I wanted to start my story with the human already turned, so the question then became, can their relationship survive? Will the young vampire come to terms with what she has become, and will she ever love the hero as much as he loves her? Or will she blame him for her death?

How did you come up with the story?

I’ve read a lot of paranormal romances, and most are American set in America. I wanted to write something set in London. The urban legend of The Highgate Vampire gave me the idea to set my story in Highgate, North London. As a North Londoner myself, the areas of Hampstead and Highgate are very close to my heart. Not that I could ever afford to live there!

What genre best fits for the book?

Paranormal Romance or Gothic Romance

Are you working on something new at the moment?

I’m working on the third book in the series. The main characters differ from the first two books, but the original characters still feature quite prominently in this book.

The heroine is a rock singer in an up and coming rock band, who get a regular spot at the Hoxton night club belonging to Will, who’s the hero of the first two books.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

The best advice I can think of, is never give up – and always believe in your work.

Also read – and read – and then read some more!

What is your writing routine?

I’m not sure I have a routine as such. Ideas come into my head at different times – and not always convenient times either – so I always carry a small notebook around with me (just in case.)

Otherwise, I will, if possible, stop designing around 5.30 or 6pm, and then start writing. I have to be a lot stricter if I’m working on edits of course, because there’s always a timescale.

Do you have an editing process?

My own editing process is to re-read each previous chapter before I continue writing, and I always read the whole manuscript through a couple more times after it’s completed. Of course, a good editor will always spot all sorts of things I’ve missed, but I do try to edit and clean up as much as possible first.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Writing is very solitary, and actually, pretty unsociable, and I’m a very chatty person. So the solitude is one of the least enjoyable things about writing. Yet on the other hand, it’s difficult to be alone with a computer-full of people shouting all at once! Writing is a fun thing to do, and there is no better feeling when you are on a roll, and can barely type fast enough as the ideas fill your head.

How important is it for you to share your writing?

Very. I recently had a Facebook message from someone who said she had fallen hopelessly in love with my hero. It’s absolutely made my year!

Where can people go to read your work?

Dance Until Dawn is on Amazon and is available for Kindle and in print.

I also have a short story in the Choc Lit Love Match Anthology, and another in the Dracula Society’s Anthology called, His Red Eyes Again, both available on Amazon.

Dance Until Dawn cover~Berni    HIS RED EYES_cover~Berni    LOVE MATCH_cover~Berni


Where can people find you on the internet?

On Facebook


Twitter: @circleoflebanon




and if you want to speak to my hero on Twitter:


Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

I would love to promote the genre of paranormal romance. Don’t write the books off as ‘just another Twilight.’

Dance Until Dawn is the book for fans of paranormal romance who have grown out of Twilight. A passionate romance with all the usual problems, plus a lot of unusual ones besides.

Dance Until Dawn cover~Berni

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Government orders review of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Move comes just three months after officials insisted that there was ‘no fundamental flaw’ in Dols scheme

The government has ordered a review of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (Dols) less than three months after it told peers there was no need to rethink the legislation.

The Dols legislation, which applies to care homes and hospitals, will now be added to a Law Commission review of frameworks for authorising deprivation of liberty, the commission announced today. Deprivation of liberty cases in settings not covered by the Dols, notably supported living, require authorisation by the Court of Protection.

The Law Commission project had been restricted to drafting a new legal framework to cover deprivation of liberty in settings not covered by the Dols, notably supported living. But recent changes in case law, notably a Supreme Court ruling in March that has led to a surge in deprivation of liberty cases, and consultation with stakeholders prompted the Department of Health to request that the project be extended to cover the Dols, the commission said.

The project will publish a consultation paper next summer and a final report in 2017.

The move to extend the commission’s review to include the Dols marks a significant change in stance from the government.

In June, in its official response to a highly-critical House of Lords committee report that described the Dols as “not fit for purpose”, the government insisted there was no “fundamental flaw” in the Dols legislation. It rejected the peers’ call for the Dols to be scrapped and replaced with a system that was simpler and more grounded in the principles of the Mental Capacity Act.

Nicholas Paines QC, the Law Commission project lead, said “The department’s decision is very welcome.  Our timetable for the project remains unaffected.  We expect to publish a consultation paper in the summer 2015 and our final report and draft legislation in summer 2017.”

In response to the announcement, the Department of Health said: ”We are committed to making sure that the Mental Capacity Act is used to protect and empower people receiving care and support. We are looking at the potential impact of the Supreme Court judgement on local authorities and will consider findings in the autumn.”


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Welcome, first time author, Penny Mayhew…

Penny Bio photo jpeg 

Can you tell me a little about yourself? [including pen name if you have one]

I’m Penny Mayhew, but I write in the name of Penny Canvin, which is my maiden name.  There’s two reasons for me having a pen name:  firstly, I want to distinguish myself from non-fiction that I write within my job role (I’m a Training Consultant) and secondly, I started writing when I was a Canvin and so it just felt right to keep doing so.  I’m from a village just outside Milton Keynes called Deanshanger, although we’re actually in Northamptonshire, and have been here virtually my whole life, now living with my husband, daughter, one dog, two cats and a couple of frogs in the pond.

What was the first story you wrote?

I wrote a lot as a child, but mostly plays that I’d write for my toys to perform (they were quite reserved and not the best actors…).  But, the first story that I remember writing was when I was at school and, for some reason, it involved a murder and then the victim being cut up and fed to the family dog… I’ve no idea why I would write such a thing, but it caused an interesting conversation with my teacher, and also with my parents!  As an adult, the first piece of serious writing was a script just after I joined a new writer’s group at the Milton Keynes Theatre.  I created a short comedy piece that was performed at an event in the main foyer and involved a character called Bob the First Aider.  He later went on to appear in my next sketch which was called ‘Spleens and Aubergines’…

Were you inspired by someone or something?

I’m lucky to have two creative parents, although neither are writers.  My mother has always ‘made things’, from sewing through to card making whereas my father is probably the best ‘storyteller’ I’ve ever known.  He has so many tales from his past that have an audience completely captivated.  So, they’ve both inspired me.  With my script writing, I’ve been inspired by TV and Film writers such as John Sullivan, Richard Curtis, Jimmy Perry, David Croft, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.  And with my novel writing, I’m inspired by so many authors, it would be so difficult to name them all.  I’ve been lucky to meet many people within the Milton Keynes creative community and all of them have inspired me.

What do you like about writing a story?

I’m a daydreamer and so, when writing a story, it’s the only time I can actually get away with doing it without being told by someone to stop wasting time and concentrate!  I love making up characters and situations, going into a fictitious world where anything can happen, inventing people that are so different to me so that I can experience new and unfamiliar situations and emotions.  Also, when writing my new book, it was set in a favourite place of mine and so I had months of feeling as though I was there, in the sunshine.  It actually helped me get through last winter – I struggle with winter, more so as each year passes, and it was the first time that the colder and dark months passed for me virtually unnoticed.

Can you tell us about your new book?

This is actually my first novel, and it’s called ‘Friendship, Love and Apple Tea’.  It’s set predominantly in Turkey, around the Marmaris and Içmeler area, and involves a character called Lou who goes over to Turkey to visit her best friend Libby who left to work there as a Holiday Rep over a year before.  Lou is in a bad relationship that she wants to get out of, and so she looks forward to the break so she can sort out her life.  But it doesn’t work out quite as planned.

Penny~cover~friendship love and apple tea

How did you come up with the story?

I knew I wanted to set a story in Turkey, as it’s somewhere that my family and I have visited many times and is a special place for us.  I also knew that I wanted to base it around a close friendship.  As with my script writing, all of my ideas actually come from the characters themselves.  So, I created character profiles for the five main characters and the plot came from that.  It changed quite a bit from the first ideas, but the characters led the story all the way through.

What genre best fits for the book?

The book is a romantic comedy/chick-lit.  I find it hard to write serious ‘stuff’.  In the past, I’ve worked in some very serious jobs which have provided excellent research should I want to write crime fiction, thrillers etc (I was a Coroner’s Officer once…), but I just can’t write seriously at all.  Maybe one day.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

I’m starting my second novel.  This one is set on a cruise and I’m letting the characters create the plot for me at the moment… who knows what will happen?  I also want to write a full-length play that I have the plot in place for.  I’m working on a TV Sitcom which I’ve had in my head for years.  And I’ve been writing for a few years with a co-writer called Ruth McCracken, creating a radio sitcom, and we hope that one day we’ll hear it on Radio 4.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

This sounds very obvious but, the only way to write is to write… I talked about becoming a writer for years and years.  I bought the magazines, the nice notepads and pens, a range of books on ‘how to write’.  Yet, each New Years Eve, I’d sit and reflect on the year that had passed and say ‘I still haven’t had anything published’.  Why?  Because I hadn’t actually written a complete piece of anything.  I whinged to a local author about a year ago and said ‘How will I ever write?  I work full time, I’m a mum, I’ve so little spare time, it’s never going to work… etc etc’.  And she basically said, “Stop moaning about it and write.  The book is never going to write itself for you”.  And, she was right, and so I did.  It’s the only way.

I also think that joining a Writer’s Group really changed things for me.  I suddenly had two hours a week where I could put myself first and write and share, surrounded by like-minded people whilst learning the theory behind writing.

What is your writing routine?

I have no routine whatsoever.  Because I work full time (self-employed), I write if and when I have the chance to.  This could be on the train, in bed, sat on the sofa whilst half-watching Casualty… I just take my chances where I can.  Once I’ve researched and got my plot sorted out, I write the first draft with a digital pen.  This means that I can write anywhere, without needing my laptop (which is difficult on a packed commuter train) and then convert it straight into a word document for the editing.  This has helped me a lot.

Do you have an editing process?

I edit, and edit, and edit… it’s an area that I really need to work on as I waste a lot of time doing it, without a proper process.  I edit via track changes and find that, when I go through each, I sometimes change it back to how it was.  And then back again.  And then back again… Part of my problem is that I need to put more planning into my first draft before jumping straight into it.  So, I’m looking forward to trying it differently with my next novel.

Once I’d got the book into a reasonable state, what really helped was that I had a very close friend read it to give me feedback, as I knew she’d be very honest.  This friend is also illustrating the front cover. My husband read it too, which surprised me, as it’s not a genre he would normally read, and he gave me some typo edits to do, which was very useful.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

The bit I enjoy least is editing…!  It’s the reading over and over that I struggle with, as I’m one of those people that gets easily bored and I just want to get onto the next project.  I become a teenager again, having to revise for exams and feeling the need to tell everyone how boring it is, whilst huffing and puffing and sulking!  I give huge woops of joy when I get to the end of editing.

The bit I like most is the first stages, when I’m plotting and suddenly find that the characters are telling me the direction they want to go in, and the story starts to form.

How important is it for you to share your writing?

As this is my first novel, I’m not too sure…I’m excited by the fact that it’s suddenly going to be read, but I’m at a stage where I don’t know how well it’s going to be received, and so I’m quite apprehensive about sharing it.  I do want to write, and to publish books, and so I know that sharing is an essential part of that.  I just haven’t yet reached a position where I know how that feels and can be comfortable with it.  I’m hoping it’s going to be enjoyable…!

Where can people go to read your work?

I’m publishing my book through the Kindle Direct Publishing scheme initially, and so it can be found there for downloading to an e-reader.  And, if someone hasn’t got an e-reader, they can read it on other devices, and also their phones, tablets, a laptop or computer. Links can be found at the bottom of this interview.

Where can people find you on the internet?

I have a website, www.pennycanvin.com, and a blog (also shown through the website, but can be viewed directly by going to www.pennycanvin.wordpress.com).

And, here are the links to my Twitter and Facebook profiles: https://twitter.com/pennycanvin                             https://www.facebook.com/pennycanvinauthor

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

I’m just so grateful at how supportive the writing community is.  So many published authors have offered me support and advice, and have really helped me to keep going when writing this first book.  I’m excited that I’ve a finished product to share with the world and am looking forward to receiving feedback, whatever that may be, and to go on to write my next one, and to work on my other projects.

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

I’m just so grateful at how supportive the writing community is.  So many published authors have offered me support and advice, and have really helped me to keep going when writing this first book.  I’m excited that I’ve a finished product to share with the world and am looking forward to receiving feedback, whatever that may be, and to go on to write my next one, and to work on my other projects.

Where can people buy this lovely book?

Penny~cover~friendship love and apple tea


Thank you for a lovely interview Penny. I have really enjoyed it. Suzan.


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Next Steps, Final Steps to Writing. Dates: Fri 21st-Mon 24th November  2014.

This four-day workshop  will include information on: Getting Started . Persevering . Editing . Finishing . Publishing . Marketing . Creating a Platform.

Or come along and use the time to finish writing that book that you cannot finish writing at home due to too many distractions. Feel free to join in any of the writing workshops, and/or join other writers for meal times and optional readings, or spend the evenings enjoying the entertainment.

There will be times in between workshops to write, think, walk or swim.

Gunton Hall Coastal Resort has generously offered use of some of their facilities [if you wish to swim/use the sauna or Jacuzzi please bring swimwear and towel].

A real writing workout with published authors… Ann Bowyer, Glynis Smy, Rosy Thornton, Suzan Collins, Jayne-Marie Barker and Yvonne Newbold.

Book a one day workshop or all four! [Get a discount by booking all four!]

To be sure of a place book now by clicking on this link http://www.justwriteitworkshops.com/workshops.htm

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