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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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As tradition requires, I’ve been looking back at all the lovely literary/writery things I have done in 2016 (sorry I’m a bit late)

January – Planning for the Unique Writing Workshops I run twice a year at Gunton Hall Coastal Village (April and November). Unique as I cover everything from getting started on your first writing project to publishing and marketing your finished work. These are interactive and fun-filled days – but you can pick and choose, come for any or all of the sessions.

February – Began the month with a writing holiday to Tenerife.

Author gig at Woodbridge Library in Suffolk.

March – On Southwold radio.

Author gig at a women’s literary festival in London.

April – Author gig at Chelmsford Library in Essex.

Ran my Unique Writing workshops and met some inspiring writers.

May – Two author gigs this month in Suffolk, one at Kesgrave Library and one at Bury St Edmunds.

June – Arranged an evening Beach read. Weather a bit blowy but everyone had fun.

Author guests on blog were: Sandra Delf, Ellie Holmes and Tricia Cass.

Ran a writing competition. Winning entries and those highly commended would be included in a published book and sold on Amazon. All royalties would go to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Cover change for Books 1 and 2 in my Chatty Cat series: ‘Chatty Cat: My Purr-fect New Home’ and ‘Chatty Cat: Spring into Summer’ (books for children and adults read them too). Designed by Rachel Lawston and I love them, hope you do too.

chatty-front-cover-from-amazon                                  chatty-book-twofront-cover-on-amazon25th-june-2016

ISBN-13: 978-0995484436       ISBN-13: 978-0993493447

 July – I ran the 2nd East Anglian Festival of Culture (#Eafoc)  at the Coconut Loft, Hatfield Hotel and The Clyffe Hotel.

Two author gigs this month, Great Yarmouth Library (Norfolk) and at Saxmundham Library (Suffolk)

Author guest on my blog: Lynda Stacey.

Book release: Book 3 in the Chatty Cat series: ‘Chatty Cat: My Purr-fect Friends’

front-cover-on-amazon ISBN: 978-0993493454

Book endorsed by children’s authors Terry Tarbox and Wendy Leighton-Porter.

August – Author gig at Gorleston Library (Norfolk)

Published an anthology of stories written by writers from the writing weekend in April, ‘Dreaming on Paper’, under my imprint ‘East Anglian Press’, edited by Jo Wilde. All royalties to Alzheimer’s Research UK

dreaming-on-paperfront-cover    ISBN-13: 978-0995484429

September – Author gig at a Lit Fest in London.

I ran writing workshops at Woodbridge Library and met some inspiring writers, some who aim to publish their work.

October – On Southwold Radio.

Planning the writing workshops ready for next month.

November – This month, author Jane Lovering came and did a ‘Writing a Novel’ workshop for my company, ‘Get Writing’ (www.getwriting.co.uk)

First planning meeting for the East Anglian Festival of Culture #Eafoc 2017

Planning a writing retreat for Jan 2017

Published this anthology (poetry and short stories) under my imprint East Anglian Press. ‘View of the Sea’, edited by Jo Wilde. All royalties to Alzhemier’s Research UK

view-of-the-seacover-on-amazon   ISBN-13: 978-0995484467

Although I had new covers for Chatty Cat books 1 & 2 I found that children liked the new covers and older readers, including people who wanted to purchase a book for their loved one who had suffered a stroke and just getting back into reading, preferred the covers with Chatty Cat actually on them and both are now available

chatty-catsuzan-collins    chatty-front-cover-from-amazon    Chatty Cat~Spring into Summer~draft FRONT cover    chatty-book-twofront-cover-on-amazon25th-june-2016                     

              Book 1                                               Book 2                      

December – The final month of the year 2016 sees my book, ‘Chatty Cat: My Purr-fect Friends’ in the WINTER 2016 Collection. It would make my day if you could vote for it please (voting is open until 28th Feb 2017)  http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=1474

During the Autumn I had the wonderful opportunity of running writing enrichment sessions at the Ormiston Denes Academy. I worked with young inspiring writers and illustrators and have offered contracts to two young illustrators who will see their work in print very soon.

Writing plans for 2017:

The Get Writing Buddy

Second novel

Chatty Cat book 5, ‘Chatty Cat: Autumn into Winter’

Izzy Cat book: ‘Izzy Cat: New Family New Home’

Two individual books to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Thank you for your fabulous support in 2106 which was greatly appreciated.

If you would like to keep up to date with Chatty Cat and Izzy Cat here is the link to Chatty’s blog: https://chattycatno1.wordpress.com/

And if you would like to follow me on FB or Twitter here are the links:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/Suzan-Collins-author-page-186401074847655/

Twitter: @suzancollins

May this year, 2017, be a good one for you.

Until next time

Suzan  x

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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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People are asking if I support the Alzheimer’s Society or Alzheimer’s Research UK? I support both, both do fantastic work. The Alzheimer’s Society support people living with dementia and their carers and Alzheimer’s Research UK, like it says on the tin, does the research. One day we will have a cure, a long way to go but raising funds, and awareness, is just one way of helping. A way of knowing the support for which charity is this: our annual walk and the 50 SHAVES of Grey event Jo Wilde and I are organising will be for the Alzheimer’s Society and the literary events (festivals and anthologies) will be for Alzheimer’s Research UK . Dementia and rescuing/rehoming cats are very close to my heart and my Nov ‘Meet The Authors Weekend’ will be supporting Anglia Cats Protection (and all literary events thereafter).

Want to enter a literary competition? Winning entries and those highly recommended will be inserted into a published book and sold on Amazon. All royalties will go to Alzheimer’s Research UK. For entry form go to www.getwriting.co.uk

Story comp poster

To look at the pages on Facebook go to:

For Alzheimer’s Research UK

https://www.facebook.com/East-Anglian-Festival-of-Culture-Eafoc-294918514044821/

For Anglia Cats Protection

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anglia-Coastal-Cats-Protection/784155275039487?pnref=lhc

https://www.facebook.com/events/1625960377731892/

For the Alzheimer’s Society

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=lowestoft%20memory%20walk%2025th%20sept%202016

Page for 50 SHAVES of Grey will be coming soon…

I loved writing a story in this anthology and guess what, I’ve just written another one but I can’t tell you much about it yet, apart from it’s stories are about a writing weekend and will raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.                  .

Little Kitty, the Cat Burglar, has great reviews and is available to buy on Amazon, both as a paperback and on Kindle.

LITTLE KITTY CVR FINAL

People involved in Little Kitty gave their time free, thanks to Rachel Lawston, Catie Atkinson, Jo Wilde, Lucille Rayner, Ann Bowyer, Roz Lyons, JB Johnston and Tracy Terry.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Kitty-Burglar-Suzan-Collins-ebook/dp/B017I34XEU?ie=UTF8&qid=1466503992&ref_=la_B0037DXY46_1_10&s=books&sr=1-10

Get Writing

https://www.facebook.com/Get-Writing2-366023433491753/

Ooooh, don’t mind if I do.

tea%20&%20scones~6th photo

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