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Welcome, Mandy Baggot…

Mandy B pic

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

Perhaps a tea first and then we can move onto wine!

*Hands tea to Mandy* 

Cup of tea at Coconut Loft1

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

I’m Mandy Baggot and I’m a bestselling romantic novelist of – currently – 14 novels. Mandy Baggot is my real name. I did think about writing under another name when I started to write more romantic comedy than anything else, but one Google search told me there was so much information on Mandy Baggot it would be foolish to work against that with a new name.

What is the title and genre of your book?

My latest book is called Single for the Summer and it’s a romantic comedy set on the Greek island of Corfu. Perfect summer reading for your suitcase… or garden at home.

How did you come up with the story?

Ha! It came quite easily really. I wanted to tell the story of someone who’s a serial dater but doesn’t want a boyfriend. Sound weird? Well Tess has been hurt badly so dinner dates and theatre trips she can do, but there is absolutely no commitment. Add in her broken-hearted best friend who says they must remain completely single for the Summer and Tess has a real problem… particularly when she meets gorgeous Greek, Andras.

 It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Yes. Ebury very much wanted to keep the style of my previous Greek-set books with the large title and they chose me the most amazing designer – Adrian Valencia. I am a real admirer of his work so I knew it was going to be special. It’s completely summery and Greek and gives the perfect flavour for the story.

Mandy Bs book~Single for the Summer

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Write that book! Don’t think too long and hard about planning, just get the words down on the page – you can tinker later. Think about what YOU want to write. Fall in love with your characters, because if you’re not in love with them chances are no one will be.

What is your writing routine?

I generally write when my children are at school every day. But I often work evenings and weekends too depending on deadlines. I am currently writing two books a year so there is quite a quick turnaround!

Do you have an editing process?

I generally write the entire book and then I do one or two read-throughs where I might add in certain details I’ve missed or add more setting etc. Then the book goes to my agent for reading and then on to my editor. After that it goes to copy and line edits with me getting it back in between each time. I always do a final read through on my Kindle to spot any oddities!

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

I enjoy making characters that people seem to resonate with. I write, I hope, real life, as well as summery fantasy where you know a happy ending is guaranteed. When readers connect with me and tell me how much they loved my book and how they have been through the same dilemmas as I’ve written it means a great deal.

There isn’t anything I don’t like apart from there are never enough hours in the day!

Where can people find you on the internet?

I am all over the place! Here are some ways to find out more and get in touch!

www.mandybaggot.com

https://www.facebook.com/mandybaggotauthor/

https://twitter.com/mandybaggot

https://www.instagram.com/mandybaggot/

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

I am extremely excited that Single for the Summer will be going in to W H Smith Travel, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco from 27 July. There will be a competition for photos shared of the book on shelves! Keep checking my social media channels!

 Mandy Bs book covers

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_13?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=mandy+baggott&sprefix=mandy+baggott%2Cstripbooks%2C149&crid=3L7T6ZXLOSJ35

Thank you for a lovely interview, Suzan.

You’re welcome and thank you for taking time out to tell us about your fabulous new book. I’ve got my evening sorted. 

Presecco   Mandy Bs book~Single for the Summer

 

 

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Welcome, Heidi Swain…

Heidi Swain head and shoulders~black and white

Thank you for inviting me to visit Suzan. I’m delighted to be here.

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

I’d love a cup of tea please. Milk and one, not too heaped, sugar. Thank you.

*Hands tea to Heidi*

Cup of tea at Coconut Loft1

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

My name is Heidi Swain. I am an author who writes commercial fiction for Simon and Schuster and my agent is Amanda Preston from LBA. I live, with my family and our rescue cat called Storm, in a village a few miles south of Norwich.

I don’t have a pen name because I would find it all far too confusing.

What is the title and genre of your book?

My current release, which was published on July 13th is called Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage. It is the fourth book I have written set in and around the fictitious town of Wynbridge in East Anglia and it is commercial women’s fiction. Although I’m not too sure how I feel about the ‘women’s’ tag as my other half is an HGV driver and his colleagues enjoy my books. And they are very manly!

Heidi Swain~cover forComing Hme to Cuckoo Cottage

Do you write in first or third person? Please explain why

All of my books are written in the first person but my short stories are third. I never made a conscious decision to work that way. It just kind of happened, however, I do like writing in the first person because you really get right inside a character and find out what makes them tick.

How did you come up with the story?

The story of Cuckoo Cottage came to me when I was writing Mince Pies and Mistletoe at The Christmas Market (my Christmas 2016 release). There was a fabulous character called Gwen who was demanding her share of the limelight. She was completely eccentric and lived in a pretty cottage on the outskirts of Wynbridge. I knew straightaway that her home needed investigating and then along came Lottie Foster.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Thank you. My daughter tells me it is her favourite so far but I find it impossible to pick one as I love them all. However, the Christmas 2017 cover is stunning…

With regards to the cover creation process, my editor, Emma Capron, and I have a quick chat about what we think the focus should be and then the ideas are sent off to Pip Watkins in the art department. So far she has struck gold every time and I can’t imagine that is going to change. She’s hugely talented and knows exactly what we want to achieve.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

I’m asked this a lot now and I always come back to the same thing – don’t think, just write. If you have a story you want to tell just blooming well get on and write it! If we all waited for the perfect time, the idyllic writing room and the endless hours of free time, we’d never write a word. Stop procrastinating and get the words down and remember, the world won’t stop turning if you make a mistake. Every word you write is a learning curve but you have to take those first steps to climb it.

That sounds a bit ranty. Sorry. I feel very passionate about this!

What is your writing routine?

This has had a bit of a shake-up recently, and is still evolving as I’m now writing full-time (yay) and determined not to get stuck in a rut, sitting for endless hours and having no social life or fresh air.

I still like to get up early and, weather pending, begin the day with a walk rather than words. If I can manage 25 mins pounding the pavements I won’t feel so guilty about sitting and working on the WIP until lunchtime and occasionally beyond, depending on how the words are flowing.

Afternoons are generally kept for answering emails, writing blog posts and interviews.

However, I’ve discovered that us authors never really switch off, do we? Even when we’re ironing, hoovering or scrubbing the bath, our brains are still untangling plot problems and dreaming up new settings.

Do you have an editing process?

When I’ve completed a first draft, I like to leave it alone for a few days before having a read through and a tinker and then it goes off to my editor. Once she has returned it I’ll work through her notes and suggestions and work on it again. And again if necessary, although so far so good. Next come the proof pages and the finishing touches and voila! A book is born.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled. I’ve left out the bits about months of obsessing and the crucial error of getting sucked into editing as you go along…

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Most – creating a character that resonates with readers and coming up with settings that people would actually want to live in. I readily admit that I would be quite happy living the lives of all my leading ladies!

Least – the sleepless nights spent worrying that my lovely readers won’t like the next story and those (thankfully infrequent) scathing reviews that feel like a blow to the stomach and stick with you far longer than they should.

Where can people find you on the internet?

I’m all over the internet. I adore social media!

Website: http://www.heidiswain.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Heidi_Swain

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

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heidi-Swain/e/B00YNN3LDI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1483439180&sr=8-2-ent

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

A massive hug if I may? And an even bigger thank you for being so hugely supportive and giving me the confidence to carry on!

You are appearing at the East Anglian Festival of Culture in the Ambassador Room in the Hatfield Hotel in Lowestoft on Saturday 9th September.

I’m really looking forward to this! It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet some fellow local authors and hopefully some new readers. I’m thrilled to have been invited.

Will you be reading one of your fabulous books or talking about becoming a fulltime writer?

I’m planning to read from Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage but am more than happy to talk about becoming a full time author as well. I could chat about all things bookish until the cows come home!

Thank you for a lovely interview.

You’re welcome and thank you for taking time out to tell us about your fabulous new book. I’ve got my evening sorted. Can’t decide on chocolate or chocolate with strawberries…

Presecco Chocolate Strawberries and chocolate  Heidi Swain~cover forComing Hme to Cuckoo Cottage

 

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Welcome, Jean Gill…

jean sm~head and shoulders 

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

After a career teaching English, and writing when I could find the time, I wanted to write full-time. I now live in Dieulefit, a small village in Provence, where we moved from Wales in 2003 after my husband retired (and is the subject of my memoir How Blue is My Valley). My claim to fame is that I was the first woman to be a secondary Headteacher in the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire.

From 2008, I also worked as a photographer. Life brings surprises if you’re open to adventures, so I learned dog-training with top international Michel Hasbrouck, and then, two years ago, I trained as a beekeeper. Which means I live with a Nikon D750, two scruffy dogs, a couple of beehives and a man. We also have five children between us so life has been pretty hectic.

What is the title and genre of your book?

Song at Dawn is Book 1of The Troubadours Quartet, historical fiction set in 1150 Provence.

Jean sm Song eBook cover

How did you come up with the story?

I was reading books about the troubadours, who lived and worked in this very region where I now live, and I came across the sentence, ‘Rumour says there was a female troubadour touring the south of France with a large white dog.’ How could I not write that book? Poetry, a feisty woman and a big white dog! I could see Estela in a ditch, on the run, and the Great Pyrenees at her side, and that’s how the story begins.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Thank you and all credit to my amazing designer Jessica Bell http://www.jessicabellauthor.com/book-cover-design-services.html  Yes, that’s one of the things I love about Indie publishing – never again will feel disappointed at seeing the cover a publisher has chosen!

Designing The Troubadours covers was the first time Jessica and I worked together but she understood straight away that I wanted a branded look for all my books, a series look for The Troubadours (three were already written) and finally the individual cover. An impossible task with 18 published books, of different genres, but she pulled it off!

Jean ms troubadours no text

Jessica is free to choose any of my photos if she wants and, for Song at Dawn, the dog on the cover is one of my own Great Pyrenees, Bételgeuse. The 12th century fortified village is also my photo, of Poët-Laval, a 12th century stronghold of the Knights Templar, right next door to me.

I wondered if we’d made a mistake having fantasy adventure vibes rather than a straight ‘authentic history’ medieval tapestry-type cover, given that the period detail is as accurate as a year’s research can make it, but when a reviewer said the book’s ‘like GOT but with real history’ I thought, ‘Yes! We got the covers right.’

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Believe in your own work. If you don’t, why should anyone else? And I’m a big fan of the approach; ‘Don’t get it right, get it written,’ with the P.S. ‘THEN redraft as often as it takes to get it right!’

What is your writing routine?

I’m a morning person, writing either at my desk in a corner of the living-room, where I can look at the garden and listen to Metallica or troubadour music, or outdoors with my laptop. I write about 1,000 words in one session and I try to always stop at a point when I know what comes next. I’m sure that’s why I never get writer’s block (touch wood!)

Do you have an editing process?

I really hate editing but nobody else can make my choices for me, even though I have a great professional editor. I write the book first, only looking back to check details or re-arrange parts and insert foreshadowing. When I finish (hooray moment!) I re-read and edit the whole book (ouch moment!). Then I let my husband read it; he has the knack of picking out a wrong note or something that just doesn’t work. Then my close group of writer-friends read it and feed back. Their feedback is essential and I call them alpha readers because beta readers is demeaning to such top quality writers. Then I consider all the suggestions, make my changes and send the typescript off to my editor for the final polish. She too will make suggestions on content so the pain is still possible.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Editing!

Where can people find you on the internet?

 Everywhere! 😊

Song at Dawn, Book 1 of the award-winning Troubadours Quartet is available free to subscribers who sign up to Jean’s newsletter here http://eepurl.com/AGvy5

Contact jean.gill@wanadoo.fr

IPPY Award for Best Author Website www.jeangill.com

Blog www.jeangill.blogspot.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/writerjeangill

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

The Troubadours Page https://www.facebook.com/jeangilltroubadours

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619468.Jean_Gill

Watch the book trailers on youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/beteljean

Jean sm twitter banner 2016

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East Coast author event poster

 

 

A lovely day was had at The Loddon Swan Hotel last Saturday (25th Feb) where I joined some lovely authors to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

 

 

 

East Coast author event~Sandra Delf reading1

Sandra Delf

East Coast author event~Helen reading

Elizabeth Manning-Ives

East Coast author event ~ just starting

Enid Thwaites and Sandra Forder on the left

East Coast author event~Get Writing stall

East Coast author event ~Darren and Aisha 2017

Darren Barker and Aisha Khalaf

Me at the East Coast Author event at The Loddon Swan 25th Feb 2017

Suzan Collins

East Coast author event ~Cath Pickles and Worzel    East Coast author event~Worzel

Cath Pickles and Worzel

Thank you to the authors for giving their time and to The Loddon Swan for hosting us and looking after us. Thank you.

 

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Delighted to have been interviewed by Richard Hardie and you can read here what has kept me so busy http://richardhardies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/suzan-collins-deja-vu.html#comment-form

 

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Welcome Lynda Stacey…

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name)

Ha ha… do I use a pen name. No, I don’t write under a pen name. Most day’s I’m so busy Lynda Stacey author picI’d forget who I was if I had two names, so…. The name Lynda Stacey, really is me.

I’m the Sales Director at a stationery and office furniture company in Doncaster. It’s a position I’ve held for the past 25 years. I’ve seen the company grow and develop over the years and I’m very proud to be a part of it.

During my life, I’ve also been a oral surgery nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a Scuba Diving Instructor, who was qualified to teach people from taking their first underwater breaths, to being instructors themselves. People think I’m a little crazy, I have no problem jumping in the sea knowing there are sharks below. I love every minute of it.

However, in 2008 I was involved in a car accident. My shoulder was badly damaged and I had no strength in my right arm and had to stop teaching, although I do still dive for myself.

It was then that I began ‘playing’ at writing. I’d always had an interest in writing and like many other people had said for years that ‘one day I’d write a novel’. My brother even bought me a word processor 25 years ago and gave it to me with the words, “You keep saying you’ll write a book, get on with it.” Well… I finally did.

What are the titles and genres of your books?

The title of my debut novel is House of Secrets.

I always write romantic suspense, with a true villain at the centre of the story. I do believe in love, but I’m also very aware that life isn’t always simple.

How did you come up with the stories?

It was my birthday and my husband took me to stay at Wrea Head Hall for the night. The moment I walked in through the front door, I could feel the history seeping out through the walls. It was as thought the hall was talking to me, asking for a book to be written and to be fair, a house like that deserves a great story. So, I’ve given it as much intrigue as I could possibly imagine.

Your book has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

I always wanted the hall to be on the cover. It’s a beautiful place and the owner of the hall gave me the permission to use the photo, he’s also been extremely supportive. But other than that, I was happy to let Choc Lit do the rest. Berni Stevens does most of their covers. She is a fabulous designer and I just knew I’d be in for a treat.

Lynda Stacey~Front cover

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

YES….Keep writing. Write every day, even if it’s only a few words. And join a writing group. I became a member of the Romantic Novelist Association in 2013. They have a New Writers Scheme. As part of your NWS membership, you are offered a critique service on your work in progress. This was invaluable. They also have an annual conference, where you can meet editors or agents on a 1-1 basis. This is where I first met Lyn Vernham, director of Choc Lit and where she first became interested in my work.

What is your writing routine?

I work full time. My writing in sporadic and some nights my laptop doesn’t land on my knee until seven or eight o’clock. But I always try and write something.

Most of my writing is done on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I wake up early, around 6am and can sometimes get two or three hours writing done before the rest of the house (meaning the husband) wakes up.

Do you have an editing process?

I tend to edit as I write. But once I don’t feel as though I can do any more, I send it to Jane Lovering who offers a critique service. She’s amazing and brutally honest, but well worth listening to. If she says the plot is too complicated, or a character isn’t working, she’s normally right.

http://www.janelovering.co.uk

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

What I enjoy most is getting lost in the story. I love it when the characters come to life, they take on a personality and start doing their own thing on the page. I can write a chapter and then sit back and think, “Where did that come from?”. A few pages later, the character tends to do something else and I start nodding and laughing, saying to myself, “So, that’s why you did it.”

Are you writing anything at the moment?

I’ve just completed my 3rd novel. Currently called Broken Hope. I’ve put it down for a few weeks and will go back to it and re-edit it again, before sending it to Jane.

And I’m researching a possible time slip that I’ll base around the mining community. I am after all a miners daughter, so I kind of see the subject as my heritage. I also lived through the miners strikes of 1984, so have first hand knowledge on what it was really like.

Where can people find you on the internet?

Well…. I’m all over the place really. You can’t miss me. I have a page on Facebook, a twitter account, a webpage, an author page on the RNA website and an author page on the Choc Lit site.

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

Twitter: @Lyndastacey

Website: www.Lyndastacey.co.uk

RNA: http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/

Oh… and you can find my e-book HOUSE OF SECRETS on Amazon and all other platforms. It’s a bargain at just £1.99

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

Yes… please love the book ha ha… I put my heart and soul into writing House of Secrets. If you did enjoy it, I’d love for you to leave a review and to know your thoughts.

And if you ever get the chance, go to Wrea Head Hall. It’s just outside of Scarborough and I can guarantee that you’ll have an amazing time. 

Wrea Head Country House Hotel, Scarboroughhttp://www.wrea-head-hotel.co.uk/

How does it feel to finally hold your book in your hands?

Well, my book is e-book first. But hopefully, I’ll get enough reviews to get it into print. Already, House of Secrets has 16 reviews, 13 of them are 5 star and 3 of them are 4’s… it’s so much better than I could have wished for. I’m so happy and grateful to everyone who takes the time to write the reviews.

Lynda Stacey~Front cover

https://goo.gl/6InvHl

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Welcome Sandra Delf…

Can you tell me a little about yourself (inc a pen name f you use one)? Sandra Delf~author pic~head and shoulders

I have lived in Lowestoft for most of my life apart from 6 years in Australia and 3 in London. I left for Australia on my own at age 21. I have 3 children who have all now flown the nest.

I don’t use a pen name despite have a very boring name. If I did and someone called me by it I don’t think I’d answer anyway. Also, my book is about letters written by my father and a pen name, therefore, would not really fit.

What is the title and genre of your book?Sandras cover~Keep Smiling Through

My book is called Keep Smiling Through. It is a non-fiction history book containing letters written from prisoner of war camps during World War Two.

How did you come up with the story?

These letters, written by my father, Cyril, had been in a cupboard in my house for several years before I read them. Once they were put into date order I found there were interesting stories running through them.

It has a lovely cover, did you have any say in what you wanted the cover to be?

Yes and I wanted the cover to state clearly what the book was about. I found an image of a prisoner of war camp on the internet and set about gaining permission to use it on the cover.

I passed it on to my cover designer, Jen Moon, with a description of what I was looking for. She did a wonderful job with a very unglamorous subject.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Just keep going. If you are writing non-fiction make clear notes of where you find your information

What is your writing routine?

I write in the mornings when I am fresh and keen.

Do you have an editing process?

Not really. But I do save all my research and edit it subject by subject. As far as the letters are concerned I transcribed them onto the computer as I read them.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Seeing the final result is wonderful.

I dislike learning to use new technology but it is a necessary a tool.

Are you writing anything at the moment?

Yes I enjoy writing fiction and have a new project, a book containing 5 short stories about long separations. Also, I am hoping to get some feedback from Keep Smiling Through and will be carrying out some research to try and find out what happened to Cyril’s prisoner of war companions. If so I hope to write about it.

Do you belong to any writers groups?

Yes, I belong to: The Waveney Author Group, Writer’s Corner and Lowestoft U3A Writers Group.

Where can people find you on the internet?

I have a Facebook writer page.

https://www.facebook.com/Sandra-Delf-881404858618606/?fref=ts

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

I will be at the East Anglian Festival of Culture (Eafoc) on the 2nd and 3rd July in Kirkley, Lowestoft (details below). It would be great if people popped in to say hello. I will be situated at The Clyffe Hotel.  And if they cannot make it I will be at the Meet the Authors event 11th & 12th November at the Coconut Loft in Kirkley, Lowestoft.

As a member of the Waveney Author Group and part of our on tour programme I will be at Saxmundham Library 10.30am Thurs 7th July and Lowestoft Library 2-3pm Tues 20th September.

How does it feel to finally hold your book in your hands?

I felt excitement, relief and a great sense of achievement. And, immediately started thinking about my next project.

Thank you, Sandra. You have been a marvellous guest and I look forward to seeing you at the East Anglian Festival of Culture (EAFOC) this July in Kirkley, South Lowestoft, Suffolk.

Sandras cover~Keep Smiling Through

https://goo.gl/t7MFj7

And if you would like to come and meet Sandra and get a personalised signed copy please visit the website for more details: www.eastanglianfestivalofculture.co.uk

 

 

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