Archive for June, 2015

Welcome Ann Bowyer…

Ann Bowyer

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (including pen name if you have one)

At an early age, I was writing stories and drawing comics which I published weekly. Before I left school I knew I wanted to be a journalist. I already had the shorthand and typing skills but my parents were set against it. They considered it was an unsuitable occupation for a young lady – that was the 1960’s – oh, how things have changed! So I found myself becoming a secretary, then a Business Studies Teacher, then a freelance software trainer but, of course, motherhood came somewhere in-between all that.

What was the first story you wrote?

Probably something to do with horses – I was horse mad, as many girls are today, though riding them was not on the agenda until we moved further out of London and even then, I had to save up all my pennies as my parents couldn’t afford to pay for lessons.

However, my first novel was completed at 15 and the plot was around – you’ve guessed – horses!

Were you inspired by someone or something?

Very much so, I loved to read about show jumping and gymkhanas and was lucky enough to go to the Horse of Year Show for several years running with my best friend. I read every horsey book and magazine I could lay my hands on and my favourite author was Ruby Ferguson who wrote the Jill books. When I grew more mature I was inspired by Jane Austin, of course, and whenever I am ill, Pride and Prejudice is a comfort read and I’ve always been a Maeve Binchy fan.

What do you like about writing a story?

Plots and research are possibly the things I enjoy most. Creating an interesting plot and seeing characters react has always fascinated me because my characters always surprise me as they go off and do their own thing. But, since I set my novels in the past, research is my favourite occupation and sometimes I have to drag myself away from fascinating avenues of enquiry or the book would never get written.

Can you tell us about your newest book?

My latest book is ‘Lost in a Homeland’ and is a sequel to my first published book ‘A Token of Love – a family saga. Both are fiction but the first book is largely based on my grandparents lives.

Ann Bowyer~Lost in a Homeland

How did you come up with the story?

It was the book I never intended to write! There is a third book which is half written and I had every intention of moving to the next generation in this saga but, following numerous requests, I capitulated and wrote ‘Lost in a Homeland’ in order to fulfil my readers’ desires to know what happened when the family left Canada.

What genre best fits for the book?

Historical, women’s contemporary fiction, romance

Are you working on something new at the moment?

As already mentioned, there is a third book in this series and I have every intention of finishing this as well as, possibly a fourth but I also have several ideas for other books.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

It’s all been said before – read and write as much and as often as you can. Don’t let anyone put you off. You can do it!

Do you in a writing group?

Over the years, I have belonged to several writing groups and found them really, really helpful, supportive and encouraging. My regular writing group folded some time ago but I have been so busy with writing and travel, I haven’t yet joined another. But I will – no one else understands a writer like a writer.

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

Yes to both, though I don’t name them specifically.

What is your writing routine?

That is a very difficult question to answer. I share my study with my husband and, unlike many authors, I do prefer peace and quiet with no interruptions. That can sometimes be difficult but if I have a deadline, after supper is best and I try to get a couple of hours in most evenings.

Do you have an editing process?

Editing does happen a little on the way because I try to write to a place where I know I will be able to pick up the next day – that overcomes what is often called writer’s block. When I begin the next day, I go back to the beginning of the previous scene and may edit it, though most of the editing is left until the end.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

The satisfaction of reaching the end is possibly the most enjoyable part of writing but I love it all so maybe it’s the frustration of not having enough time to write.

How important is it for you to share your writing?

Very. My first novel (which I refer to as faction), as I mentioned, is based on my grandparents’ lives and I wanted to tell it because it seemed to me nobody knew of the horrendous drought conditions British people endured in the Prairies in the 1930’s. Everyone, but everyone has heard of the ‘Grapes of Wrath’ but this is a parallel story. Usually my stories are a comment on the times.

Where can people go to read your work?

My books are available through Amazon :



They are Kindle published also.

Also available at Jarrolds, Norwich as well as Diss Book Publishing in Diss, Norfolk.

Where can people find you on the internet?

My website:  www.annbowyer.com

Facebook:  Ann Bowyer Author

Twitter:  AnnBowyer2

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

The research for my first book took ten years and involved travelling extensively across Canada as well as Europe. I now give talks/slides on this, which includes some of the unusual and original documents and photographs which turned up following a family tragedy. Anyone interested in a talk can contact me through my website.

My family history has always fascinated me and when I have completed my present saga, I might well turn my attention to my maternal side – my mother was born in India at the time of the Raj.

To finish, thank you, Suzan, for hosting me.

I have enjoyed it, thank you, Ann.

NB: Ann will be having a Book Release Party on Facebook tomorrow, why not hop over and join in?https://www.facebook.com/events/816556811726199/

Ann Bowyers book covers


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Just received my registration pack for this year’s Memory Walk. If you would like to sponsor me here is the link and thank you for your support. Let’s help people LIVE with Dementia and not DIE with Dementia.

New tee shirt

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Beta readers

My last blog was on Finished writing first draft. What next? And today I want to talk about beta readers and to answer some questions I am sometimes asked.

What is a beta reader?

‘An alpha reader or beta reader (also spelled alphareader / betareader, or shortened to alpha / beta), also pre-reader or critiquer, is a non-professional reader who reads a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting. Beta reading is typically done before the story is released for public consumption.[1] Beta readers are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context.

Elements highlighted by beta readers encompass things such as plot holes, problems with continuity, characterisation or believability; in fiction and non-fiction, the beta might also assist the author with fact-checking.2]’  

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_reader  (June2015)

I have a few beta readers, some for my fiction and some for my non-fiction. It is important to get the right beta readers for the job. I say ‘job’, but it’s not paid and I don’t give them a contract. Although I do give them a list of open-ended questions to answer. If I didn’t they could come back and say, ‘I enjoyed reading it’ or ‘It’s fine’. But how does that help me, the writer? It doesn’t.

Do I need one?

It is a good idea to have more than one. I have four beta readers for each genre I write. For some of my writing I have a first beta read and a final beta read.

Have you got people who can give you objective and constructive feedback? Some people think that their partner or friend can be a beta reader and some can, but be aware that some may fall into the category of the ‘I enjoyed reading it’ brigade.

How do I get one?

As a writer you will have a platform whether it be a Blog, Facebook or Twitter account, or all three. (And if you haven’t got any of these you may consider having at least one.) Once you have one or more of these you can give a call out for some beta readers.

What skills do I want in a beta reader?

A reader who normally reads the genre you are writing

Someone who can give helpful objective criticism

Someone who says they can meet your deadline, and does (I usually give a two week deadline)

If you are writing about a different country try and get a beta reader from that country

Someone who has the knowledge required e.g. when I write my non-fiction this is usually workbooks for staff who work in social care so my Beta readers are staff and Managers who work in this field.

When I write fiction e.g. My Chatty Cat series my beta readers are cat lovers and when I write romance my beta readers are readers of romance. Along with choosing beta readers with the knowledge you also want them to have a good degree of skills in grammar, plotting etc.

What do I give to my Beta Readers?

Be up front about what you want the beta reader to do/to look for

How will the beta readers receive your work email, hard copy? Can they write on the hard copy? Do you have a preference on the pen colour they should use? If it’s on email do you want them to use ‘track changes’?

When you want the work returned.

What do I do when they give me their feedback and comments?  

The feedback they give you will be constructive advice and you should not see it as criticism but see it as they are helping you with your writing If they didn’t give you this type of feedback then they are not doing their job right.

Plan some time to sit and relax and read through their comments and feedback.

Don’t forget to make contact with your Beta Readers and thank them.

Should I acknowledge Beta readers in my book?

Some authors do and some don’t. Beta readers play an important part in a writer’s life and I name them and thank them in my book for their support. I also send them a personalised signed copy of the book.

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My work is saved in Word and then I save it in pdf, print it out and read it through. The best place for me to concentrate and do this is on the train or at my favourite art gallery and coffee shop. I don’t like coffee so very often have a cup of tea and a cake, they have a variety of cake and I usually choose the carrot cake or cheese scone. (Part of my author bio includes ‘eating cake’). Anyway, where were we? Oh yes…

After I have printed out I read through, write on it if needed and when I get home type up the alterations.

Some people read aloud but I haven’t tried this yet.

It is then time to send it out to my Beta-readers. I have two groups, one for my fiction work and one for my non-fiction.

My next post will be on choosing Beta-readers.

coconot loft carrot cake and tea~13th Feb 2015

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Held at The Stationers Hall. A Grade I listed building, close to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Staionary Halls front

Upon arriving we were asked to show our invites and then led up the stairs in the beautiful historic building of Stationer’s Hall. We were then shown into a large room where others were gathered and waiters were holding trays of drinks.

Before the ceremony started I met some fabulous authors-

Me and Carol Wyer                 Me and Mary

Carol Wyer                                          Mary Jordan

Ruth Killeen Literary-Agent, authors Carol Wyer and Colin kopite Chapman

Ruth Killeen Literary Agent,  authors Carol Wyer and Colin ‘kopite’ Chapman to name a few.


 Time to go into the hall and sit at our allocated places at the tables.

Our table



Kentish Peas

Garden Pea Mousse, Cumbria Ham,

Confit Lemon, Honeydew Melon

 Main Course

Gressingham Duck

Pam Roasted Breast, Fondant Potatoes,

Cherries, Glazed Cabbage

 Vegetarian Option

Butternut Squash,

Mushroom and Spinach Pithivier

Fondant Potato, Cherries, Glazed Cabbage


Summer Trifle

Pimms Jelly, Lavender Custard,

Mint & Cucumber Sorbet

 Coffee & Chocolates-The Loving Cup

This ancient ceremony is based on the tradition that King Edward the Martyr was treacherously stabbed in 978AD, while drinking from a two-handed cup. Ever since, such ceremonial drinking has been accompanied with an elaborate ritual of precaution. (I will post a youtube link for you at the end of this blog).

Me 1         Window

Official photograph              Fantastic window behind the stage

Mary Jordan Georgina and Me

Mary Jordan and I with our fab editor, Georgina Bentliff

Me and Mary Jordan

Mary and I

Author Marie and her publisher John Hunt

Author Marie Yates and her publisher John Hunt

Marie and Mars

Marie and Mars

Our table 1

Our table


Carol Wyer and Colin ‘kopite’ Chapman

Frederick Forsyth, Patron of The People’s Book Prize, was due to give a speech but was unable to attend. He wished us all a fun evening via video.
After dinner the categories were called out, non-fiction was first, followed by fiction, children’s, new author and Best Achievement Award. Authors in each category had to walk along the hall to the right side of the stage and wait to be told to walk onto the stage. Once on the stage author names and titles of their books were read out and the winner announced. All being televised live by Sky TV.


Non-fiction-Carol Wyer

Fiction- Scott Caladon

Children- Rob Jones

Best First Time Author- Primary School Children

Best Achievement Award- Tim Wotton

After coffee and chocolates we had to perform the Loving Cup.

The Loving Cup

This ancient ceremony is based on the tradition that King Edward the Martyr was treacherously stabbed in 978AD, while drinking from a two-handed cup. Ever since, such ceremonial drinking has been accompanied with an elaborate ritual of precaution.

Difficult to describe, please watch this youtube clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FA64dnIPnOo

Thank you

I would like to thank everyone who voted for my book, ‘Beyond My Control: Why the Health and Social Care System Need Not Have Failed My Mother’. It was a FINALIST in the non-fiction category and a lovely surprise on the night was to be SHORTLISTED for Best Achievement Award. I couldn’t have wished for more. I had been on the stage twice and each time in my head I raised a toast to my late mum, to my sister and brother, and to all of the lovely people who voted for me. Thank you.

I have received a lot of feedback from readers who have bought the book and they said how much it has helped them. I also know some people have bought the book for their relative in care or in hospital and have put it on their bedside cabinet. The book does talk about poor practices but it also talks about some great staff with very strong values and good practices.

There are a lot of fantastic staff out there and we need to praise them for the things they do well. Unfortunately there are some who do not do their job well and they need to be told. After all, if they’re not told, how can they improve?


If you would to purchase a signed copy of ‘Beyond My Control: Why the Health and Social Care System Need Not Have Failed My Mother’ please go to www.suzancollins.com


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