Archive for January, 2015

Following the success of the Just Write It! writing workshops in Nov we are running another one this March. As you can see from the flyer everything is covered. Grab the early bird discount now… www.justwriteitworkshops.com

writing fair 2015 leaflet


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Ladybird books is marking 100 years since first going to print.

The children’s books have been read by millions of people learning to read over the decades.

However, changes to the classic books over that time have an interesting story of their own, as the BBC’s Tim Muffett reports


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Welcome Nicola May, chick lit author…

*hands Nicola a cup of tea and a scone*

Tea and scone





Nicola, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet me. You’re a successful self-published author of 6 six novels and … you’ve just signed a contract to have seven books traditionally published by Accent Press. I am so excited for you!

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

Firstly I love tea and scones, almost as much as I love flapjacks so thank you!

Nicola May

Nicola May is my pen name. May was actually my mum’s middle name, she died very young and I wanted to have a little piece of her with me wherever I went.

What was the first story you wrote?

It was Star Fish. A tale of unlucky in love, Piscean Amy Anderson, who decides to date every sign of the zodiac in search of her ‘sole’ mate.

Were you inspired by someone or something?

Ha! Yes, plenty of disastrous dates I had been on inspired me to create a humourous tale.

What do you like about writing a story?

It’s hard to explain. I adore writing. I love the excitement I feel as the characters come to life and also the eureka moments I get when a plot idea hits and I know the reader will love it. I try and incorporate as many twists and turns as I can to keep the reader intrigued and guessing. I also like to deal with deeper issues, but in a comedic way so that hopefully everyone can relate to something that may have happened to them and not be scared by it. I have addressed bereavement, weight issues, infertility, domestic abuse and unemployment.

Can you tell us about your newest book?

My latest book, out in July 2015 is called The SW19 Club. SW19 as most of it is based around the Wimbledon area, specifically on Wimbledon Common and that is the postcode for that area of London.

Nicola May~The SW19 Club cover

Here is the synopsis…

What would you do if you were told you could never have children?

When Gracie Davies is faced with the tragic news that no woman ever wants to hear, followed by the breakdown of her relationship, she is at an all-time low.

With the help of her unorthodox therapist, Professor Princeton, her hippy chick sister, Naomi and her prostitute friend Maya, she starts to rebuild her life.

Searching for inner peace, she starts up The SW19 Club, a club where women can chat openly about the usually unspoken issues of miscarriage, abortion, infertility and IVF.

Add in a passionate fling with handsome landscaper Ed, the pursuit of Hollywood actor father of her nephew and the persistence of her adulterous ex, your heart, will be both warmed and wrenched, as you join Gracie on her rocky journey to self-discovery and happiness.

How did you come up with the story?

I very sadly lost twins myself then had to face the decision to have a hysterectomy. Instead of beating the floor with both fists, I decided to turn the negative into a positive and try and help women who have suffered similar tragedies.

What genre best fits for the book?

I like to call my books ‘chick lit with a kick’ – there is always a love element but they are not fluffy. They are real. My characters are real and the issues I address certainly are.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

I have the plot flying around my head for my sequel to The School Gates at the moment (out in March 2015) – working title – Beyond the School Gates.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Yes, write! If I was given a pound for everyone who said they had a book in them I’m be very rich. Just get something down.

I also don’t edit as I go now. I find it best to get a chunk of writing down and go back to it.

Also perseverance is key. If you want to see your work in print, then you must never give up. I wrote my first novel nineteen years ago. I wasn’t going to stop until I got a publishing deal and now through a lot of hard work, time and effort, I have reached my first goal. My next one now is to see myself in the bestselling list in the Culture magazine that comes with the Sunday Times. Oh, and to get on Lorraine’s sofa!

Do you write in a writing group?

No, I never had. With the help of a marvellous copy editor, I have just learnt my craft as I go along.

Do you have people who will critique your work? [And if you do, do you acknowledge them in the front of the book?]

Yes, my sisters and a select group of my friends are my best critics. They are honest and guide me along the way. My acknowledgements pages usually make ME cry!

What is your writing routine?

I write in bed and when I start a novel there is no stopping me. I can write for hours at a time without a break. I find that best for continuity. In fact I wrote The School Gates in 4 weeks whilst I was in bed recovering from my hysterectomy. To date that is my bestseller and I won an award for Best Author Published Read at the Festival of Romance for it, which was a great feeling!

Do you have beta readers?

Yes. I have a lovely group of romance bloggers who I always offer my book to prior to publishing day.

Do you have an editing process?

My 16 year old niece is actually a brilliant copy editor. She does a round, and then I send to my actual copy editor to do her thing. Now I’m with Accent Press, I am going to be very spoilt with my own personal editor.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

There is nothing I don’t enjoy about writing.

How important is it for you to share your writing?

It is the whole point of me doing it. I love to share my heartfelt stories and it is an amazing feeling when somebody tells me that my book has helped them in some way. And, also just to hear the escapism of the read has made them happy. Reviews are gold to a writer.

Where can people go to read your work?

Star Fish, Working it Out, The School Gates, The Bow Wow Club and Christmas Yves can all be purchased as paperback or Kindle versions through Amazon. Better Together is just available on Kindle but Accent will be producing a paperback too this year.

I have also written a How to Guide entitled… How to create & maintain your author profile + increase your Amazon sales

Where can people find you on the internet?

Twitter: @nicolamay 1

Website: www.nicolamay.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMayAuthor

Amazon page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nicola-May/e/B004QUBKWW

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

 Just that I cannot wait to share my books with a wider audience.

A question about your lovely book covers

Suzan: I ran my first Just Write It! writing workshops in November and six writers have pledged to publish their current works in progress in time for a literary event. This event is a pop-up book shop and is scheduled to take place at The Coconut Loft in Lowestoft, Suffolk in July 2015.  I too have accepted this challenge and the group is called Waveney Author Group [WAG] and we met yesterday to discuss and plan our literary challenge. One question that I know the group would love to ask is how do you chose such lovely designs for your self-published book covers?

Nicola: Ooh that sounds fantastic. I literally just go to istock images and purchase images and I have a designer friend who puts them together in the Nicola May brand for me. Now that I have a publisher this will of course change.

Nicola, thank you for a superb interview and good luck with your new publisher. Suzan xx


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Registered care home managers: An undervalued workforce?

After new research highlights the lack of knowledge surrounding the care home manager role, Rachel Carter investigates the skills, experiences and challenges of this section of the social care workforce


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Welcome, John Dolan…

John D

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Hi, Suzan, and thank you for the invitation to appear on your blog. I’m a British ex-pat, currently based in Thailand. For the last twenty-odd years I’ve been working in the international power industry, most recently working in India, Dubai, Malaysia and South Africa. My background is in law and finance, although I’ve also run a hypnotherapy practice and I was (for a short time) a karate instructor. I have a low boredom threshold – as my long-suffering wife will testify.

What was the first story you wrote?

Oh, God, that was an Agatha Christie-type story when I was at grammar school. Fortunately for the world, all my embarrassing early writings are long lost. You only have to worry about my latest embarrassing efforts.

Were you inspired by someone or something?

I’ve always been a big reader. Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh et al are to blame for my sitting down in front of my laptop. I can’t say, however, that I’ve always had an ambition to write. That’s a relatively new aberration.

Why do you write?

It keeps me out of Thai bars when I’m not working on consultancy assignments.

Can you tell us about your newest book?

My latest book is entitled “A Poison Tree”, and it’s the third instalment in my “Time, Blood and Karma” series – which is about a seriously screwed-up English private detective, David Braddock, who is hiding out on the Thai island of Samui. The latest book is a sequel to the previous two novels, which gives the reader some idea about why Braddock is so damaged.


How did you come up with the story?

I don’t come up with stories, Suzan. I have this little man in my head who creates them. I just do the typing for him. Seriously, I have NO idea where the stories come from.

What genre best fits for the book?

I guess “mystery” would be the label, but you could argue it is psychological literary fiction, if indeed such a category exists. I don’t worry too much about genres and certainly don’t write with a specific “label” in mind.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

I’ve just started book four in my series: “Running on Emptiness”. More mystery and phuquerie in Thailand.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Don’t do it. Get a dog instead. Seriously, I think it’s important to be clear about your goals and objectives in writing – and to be realistic. I see many writers who become disillusioned that they are not producing immediate best-sellers. We need to remember most “overnight successes” have been writing for years, if not decades. So keep at it. And write stuff that gives you satisfaction. Keep learning. Drink coffee.

What is your writing routine?

I don’t have a set routine. I squeeze in my writing around other things – working, travelling, spending time with my family, taking the dog for walks. I’m amazed I ever get anything written. But somehow it happens.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

I love the satisfaction of finishing the first draft. But I also get a kick out of the research and planning. I’m a bit of an anal retentive, you see. I dislike editing. I think most writers do. But it’s a necessary evil. Also, every writer has to be a marketer. This is not something that comes naturally to me – and sometimes I find myself choking on the process – but I’m learning.

How important is it for you to share your writing?

Pretty important. Without sharing, there is no feedback; and without feedback, there is no improvement. Having said that, I’m not trying to change the world with my writing; just to give people something interesting and involving to read, and maybe give them some things to think about along the way. A man’s got to know his limitations, right?

Where can people go to read your work?

At the moment my ebooks and paperbacks are exclusively on Amazon (with the exception of my free short story, “Jim Fosse’s Expense Claim”, which you can find on most e-retailer websites). You won’t find my novels on the shelves of bookshops: it’s too time-consuming and expensive to get them there, so that is not a part of my business model.

Where can people find you on the Internet?

Twitter: @JohnDolanAuthor https://twitter.com/JohnDolanAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JohnDolanAuthor?ref=hl

Website: http://johndaviddolan.wix.com/johndolanauthor

Blog: http://johndolanwriter.blogspot.com/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-Dolan/e/B008IIERF0/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6550683.John_Dolan

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

Just a big “thank you” would be appropriate, I think. Without readers, there would be little point in writing.

My novel ‘Everyone Burns’ is free on Amazon from 16-20 January.


Thank you John for taking time out to do this interview, I have really enjoyed it. Suzan

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Happy pre-Birthday to the creator of Pooh Bear & the Hunnypot

Winnie The Pooh

A. Milne birthday this Sunday

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Ladybird books is marking 100 years since first going to print.

The children’s books have been read by millions of people learning to read over the decades.

However, changes to the classic books over that time have an interesting story of their own, as the BBC’s Tim Muffett reports


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75-year-old Maureen Lansdale has had her memory fully restored after becoming the first person in the UK to undergo a new treatment for the brain.

Two years ago the grandmother-of-nine began losing her memory including the names of her children and her own address. The doctors diagnosed her as having a vascular malformation, when a vein and artery have incorrectly joined together in the brain.

But thanks to the pioneering treatment, where the vascular malformation is removed through the nose, Mrs Lansdale’s health and memory have been restored.

‘It sounded scary being the first but I couldn’t live the way I was living, so I agreed. I’ve had the most wonderful thing done for me and I’m so grateful.

‘I hope many others can benefit too.’

A second patient has already undergone the same treatment successfully and doctors are hoping to roll it out across the UK this year




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Free online course for crime fiction writers starting soon. Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigation https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/forensic-psychology

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Welcome, Jackie Griffiths…

Jackie Griffiths headshot

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I have a BSc in Psychology and Computing and an MA in Psychoanalytic Studies, and have been writing fiction and non-fiction material for twenty years. In 2003 I founded an online copywriting business providing content for websites, print, and digital media, before deciding to sell up in 2010 to concentrate on writing novels and short stories. I am now working on my third novel – a philosophical exploration about marriage, friendships, and what it’s like to be a woman living with modern dilemmas.

What was the first story you wrote?

I started writing when I was very young, still at junior school. I wrote stories in my spare time, and dreamed of the day I would become a writer when I grew up. My best subject at school was English – a class in which I was once told that I had too much imagination (is this possible?). I started a detailed daily diary at the age of sixteen and continued this for a decade. It’s fascinating to read back on now. A true insight into the workings of a young teen mind and the problems, worries, hopes and desires that occupied me nearly thirty years ago. In the first year of senior school I wrote a prize-winning short story. I was eleven at the time. It was about twin babies inside the womb, written from their perspective as if they could think and communicate intelligently. One dies and the other is left to live on alone until birth (which is when the story ends). I won a brand new pack of colouring pens for my efforts, and was extremely proud. I have no idea what on earth inspired me to write such a morbid story at such a young age, having never experienced death or tragedy, nor had a twin brother or sister. And yet… at the age of thirty-nine I went on to have twin babies myself.

Were you inspired by someone or something?

Several years ago an older friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer, and told me that he would have to undergo chemotherapy for three months. Due to the fact that several hundred miles separated us physically and I had my family depending on me, I could not travel to be with him in person. Instead I vowed to write an email every single day in order to keep him company, and to ‘be there’ for him as best I could. The emails gradually evolved into fairly long stories to keep him distracted and entertained, which he admitted he greatly enjoyed, looking forward to receiving them every day. He couldn’t leave the house for long periods of time due to being immunocompromised, and he was completely on his own without wife, family, or partner. At one point during this trying time he suggested I had a real talent for writing and should consider making a career in the field. I then remembered that I had wanted to write a book twenty years ago, and had even formed the perfect idea… That very same evening I sat down and started writing a novel. Six months later it became my first published book: ‘Ox Herding: A Secular Pilgrimage.’

Why do you write?

I write because it’s the only occupation I want to have, the only way I want to earn a living, and something I greatly enjoy. Books have played a very significant part in my life and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to actually write myself, and maybe have an equivalent positive effect on others’ lives.

Can you tell us about your newest book and how it came about?

‘Ox Herding: A Secular Pilgrimage’ is a fictional adventure based on the Chinese philosophical classic, ‘The Ten Ox Herding Pictures’: a set of ten pictures that depict the journey to enlightenment through ten distinct and progressive stages of spiritual development. The story unfolds in the form of a fantastical, Carrollesque adventure told from the point of view of Jae, who, like Alice, one day crosses over from reality into a strange dream-like world, where, perhaps unlike Alice, she progresses from confusion to a state of profound wisdom.

Jackie Griffiths eBook cover

The pilgrimage begins with an average person in everyday life dissatisfied, troubled, plagued with metaphysical and spiritual questions, to which there appear to be no answers or obvious way forward. These questions rapidly come to dominate Jae’s thinking, compelling her to focus on them completely and seek tirelessly for answers in every way she can.

Thus commences the circular journey to enlightenment, with the seeker passing through each of the ten stages to arrive, finally, back at the tenth, a place very similar, if not exactly the same, as the original stage, but with one vital difference: a fundamental change has taken place in her way of being and thinking. The burning questions have vanished; the yearned-for answers have vanished; in their place there is only awareness, freedom, love.

On the path through the stages, the main character, Jae, experiences some extraordinary adventures in a strange world where unusual people offer her tempting theories about the meaning of life. Her task is to find her way back home by deciding which of the theories makes the most sense, which way of living is the key to the gate that lets her back to her real life.

Thirty years ago, when I was just a teenager, I had a crucial discussion with him about the meaning of life. He gave me a set of the ‘Ten Ox Herding Pictures’ and asked what I thought they were, and whereabouts I thought I might be on the path. I did my best to answer, but from that moment the pictures went into my psyche and stayed there simmering under the surface. “One day,” I thought, “I will write a book with ten chapters to describe the journey a young person makes in her search for meaning and purpose. One day I will know how to write it and what the content should be.” For twenty years the concept seeped from my mind through my soul into the marrow of my bones, and then suddenly last year I was ready. I sat down at my computer to write the chapter structure, which came out onto the screen almost without effort. Six months later the book was written and edited. ‘Ox Herding: A Secular Pilgrimage,’ describes a journey to find… that which has never been lost.

What genre best fits for the book?

This is a book that could fit a variety of genres. Perhaps literary fiction, perhaps adventure, perhaps spiritual or philosophical fiction.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

Yes, I am currently working on my third novel which has been given the working title of ‘Breaking the Chrysalis.’ In it I address issues that concern the modern woman living in a world still dominated by the male gaze. Through lively conversation, exciting events and close friendships and relationships, the main character, Susanna, grapples with such questions as what to do if your husband desires you but the physical attraction you felt for him has long since dried up. How it feels to be groped by a respectable doctor or consultant and what to do about it. What it’s like to live with a pervy neighbour who insists on reminding you that he’s seen you naked, etc. But the book isn’t complaining and depressive, it’s really an exploration about how it feels to live in today’s world and emerge positive, triumphal, and successful. It’s a piece of fiction, a novel, and the main character will have many choices and decisions to make – but I can’t vouch that she will necessarily make all the right ones! We’re all human after all, and even main characters don’t have flawless vision. 

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Yes. The best writing advice anyone ever gave me was, “a writer writes.” It sounds simple, but if you’re not actually writing, or in the process of writing, are you, in fact, a writer? It was meant as an encouragement to get me writing and keep me at it, and it worked! I wanted to be a writer and realised that if I aspired to refer to myself by such a title then I really had to be writing.

What is your writing routine?

I write when the children are at school. It’s the only time I can get things done, knowing that I won’t be interrupted by someone wanting help in the bathroom or needing a sandwich or requested to play a game of Connect 4.

Where can people go to read your work?

Link to Book on Amazon.co.uk:




Nook (digital):


Smashwords (for many types of eReaders):


Google Books/Google Play):





Where can people find you on the internet?



My website [coming soon]


Society of Authors:










Thank you Jackie for taking the time out to be interviewed and good luck with your writing. Suzan



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