Hi! Welcome to Ann Evans' blogspot.

Whether you've found this page by design or accident, I hope you enjoy my random ramblings.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Welcome to writer Emilie Lauren Jones.

I'm delighted to welcome Emilie Lauren Jones to my blog today. Emilie is a budding writer with her first book of poetry Sitting on the Pier out now. In fact she has a book launch at the Big Comfy Bookshop, Fargo Village, Coventry on Saturday 15th October from 1pm-3pm. So make a note in your diaries.

Emilie is a member of the Coventry Writers' Group and a member of my own Monday Evening Writing Class when her bowling allows! Really keen to learn as much as possible about all aspects of writing, she is also studying with the National School of Journalism.

The course is the short story writing course from the LSJ,” explained Emilie. “You are assigned a tutor who feeds back on the assignments. There is no time limit on handing them in so it's good one for people with lots of other commitments.”
Writing and understanding how magazines work has been in her blood since she was a child. Her mum founded the Coventry magazine, Chatterbox which is very much a family affair, and when Emilie was just 9 years old she began 'working' for the mag.
I used to put a poem in each edition,” said Emilie. “And the whole family were involved in delivering and collating the magazines by hand. Grandad and I got so good that we could collate one forwards and one backwards to save time! As a teenager I learnt to use the professional design software and since then I've been involved in writing pieces of the editorial, setting pages and designing any new adverts that come in. Mum calls me her 'co-editor!' Although this is a voluntary position!
Emilie's day job is a HLTA (higher level teaching assistant) at a primary school in Coventry, working with individuals and groups and also covering classes with years 5 and 6. A job that she loves.

Emilie told me: “I do love my job and it comes without all the paperwork so I have time to write when I finish work whereas teachers, as you know, have to do a LOT of extra hours!”

However, she almost didn't get into teaching as the pull of writing was almost too strong. Emilie explained that when she was six months into teacher training at one of the top teacher training courses in the country, she had a dramatic change of heart.

She explained: “I was asked the question: ‘where do you see yourself in a year?’ And I answered: 'I see myself as a writer' which definitely wasn't what they wanted to hear!

It was the uttering of these words that led to an afternoon of serious conversations and the eventual decision that I should not be completing an intense teacher training course. Before I left, the teacher I had been working alongside took me to one side and said: 'If they can do it, why can’t you?' The next day I began writing again.

I quit my training and spent the year volunteering and writing the book. But because writing poetry doesn't pay too well I got a job as a TA and now as a HLTA.

Having previously had individual poems and stories published I was aware of the challenges ahead but this time I was determined to make it work. I had spent too long wanting to be a writer whilst doing less and less actual writing; a dilemma I have found a lot of writers face at one point or another.

The result of this period of writing came in the form of my poetry anthology Sitting on the Pier and I spent much of the summer performing and book signing anywhere that would have me – from literature festivals to churches to a market stall in Kenilworth! Within six months I had sold a couple of hundred copies in and around Coventry.

So, it was true – if they could do it, so could I. Okay, I’ve not sold millions of copies yet but I am writing and people want to read it and that means a lot to someone who wrote their first novel at six years old about Drippy the Tap.

I’ve also been fortunate to win a few competitions, again it’s a great feeling to know that people are enjoying your work. My aim has always been to write poetry that is ‘real’; poetry that stirs emotions and ideas that people can relate to. To me, poetry is about inclusion – usually each person who reads a poem will find something different in it and interpret it in their own way. The title Sitting on the Pier is intended to encapsulate this inclusion. I am at my most content when around nature, especially by the sea; I feel an inner peace and sense of belonging – I can just ‘be’ as I am and so can everyone else.

Sitting On The Pier

Sitting on the pier,
Because all are welcome here.
With their thoughts and dreams,
Their pasts and presents.
The sea air does not care
What mistakes you have made
Or will make.
The waters do not mind
If you are black or white or purple,
The sun and the rain
Do not discriminate,
They choose to fall equally on all,
Because they share this world.
The wood, rock, water, sand and cloud
Are content for me to sit with them
Here in my denim shorts
And worn sandals.
To think, remember, imagine.
To mourn or to laugh,
Together or alone.
Healthy or struggling,
To stay for a day or a lifetime.
All are welcome here.

THANK YOU SO MUCH EMILIE for being on my blog today, and good luck with the launch of Sitting on the Pier on Saturday 15th October at the Big Comfy Bookshop, Fargo Village, Coventry. See you there between 1pm-3pm.

Sitting on the Pier is available from Amazon at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/095722530X
Or order either instore or online from Waterstones
For signed copies please email Emilie directly at: emsj13@hotmail.com

Discover more about Emilie Lauren Jones: http://www.emilielaurenjones.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter @emilielaurenxxx

Sunday, 21 August 2016

A Great New Book For Collectors!

A big welcome to Adrian Levano whose first book, Blue Light Models was released at the beginning of this month.

As the title implies, Adrian is a collector, and has written this book with new collectors in mind.
As you may know, with my other hat on, I write magazine articles on all kinds of subjects including writing about scaled models, toys, miniatures, collections and collectors. I met Adrian when visiting the Maidenhead Static Model Club earlier this year to write about his club for Diecast Collector Magazine.

The MSMC club is the UK's oldest and widest model collectors' club in the UK. As well as being a collector, Adrian is the editor of the club's magazine, Wheel Bearings. I asked him what the role entails.

“This is my third year as editor,” says Adrian. “I took over at quite short notice and tried to make it look a bit less like a club newsletter, although time and budget constraints limit my ambition a little! Obviously, it’s main purpose is to pass on club news of the Maidenhead Static Model Club, forthcoming events and to report on club meetings. In addition I try to put in some articles about models, and also about real transport subjects.

“Although I’m very pleased that quite a few members contribute to it, I quite often come up with pieces about my own experiences – like a ‘cub reporter’ I always travel with a camera! Fortunately I work for a company specialising in design and print, so I’m able to handle all aspects from design through to sticking stamps on the envelopes myself!”

This is Adrian's first book, and he explained how it all came about.

Amberley Publishing approached me with the proposed subject, so after due consideration I decided to give it a go. The book attempts to give an overview of model emergency services vehicles over the decades, across the world, and some advice about how to buy, store and care for a collection.

Of course, most toy and model manufacturers have produced a far wider range than just ‘blue light’ models, so in a way it’s also a brief history an overview of model vehicles in general. In fact the title is a rather anglo-centric as emergency services vehicle in other countries can have other colours of flashing lights such as red or orange.

Although it’s written from the point of view of a British collector, I have tried to cover as wide a spread of interests as possible, and have included modern toys available at ‘pocket money’ prices through to the rarer collectibles.”

“I had a contract which gave me six months to complete the draft. Had it not been for some personal matters which took up a fair bit of time, and the need to do some ‘real’ work as well, that would have been fine. As it was, I was down to the line, even to the point of needing to plead for a short extension. As the deadline date was the Friday of a bank holiday weekend, the extension was only until the following Tuesday morning – I assumed they would not be working on it over the weekend!”

I asked Adrian just how tricky the task turned out to be.

“It was a lot more tricky that I envisaged. I found writing the text the most straightforward part, but my concept that the various sections would be the same as producing a series of articles was way off the mark.

Deciding which models to use to illustrate a particular subject was the worst part. As so many could be used for several alternatives such as country, material, scale or category, I found I had to re-photograph a lot of models. I wanted to avoid using the same item twice. At one point, every surface of the house was covered with toys and models which I didn’t want to put away in case I needed them again! At that point I realised it was a good thing I didn’t have a cat … This was complicated further by having been out to take pictures of (or having borrowed models) belonging to other collectors which I was subsequently unable to group with others of my own.

“I have to admit I learned a lot in the writing process. I hope I didn’t make too many factual errors, but I needed to do quite a bit of research – a lot of thing I thought I knew suddenly needed verifying before I committed myself to print.

I also found the word count tricky to cope with, in actual fact I cheated a bit by adding a lot more information into the photo captions. This could have been a much bigger book, but I think it’s a good introduction and, as I say in the book, finding out for yourself what’s out there is a lot of the fun of collecting.”

Naturally, I wondered how and when he first caught the collecting bug.

I’m told that I could identify real cars before I could pronounce the names,” says Adrian. “I’ve always been a ‘collector’ of toy cars, and since the age of about eight or nine have kept them in their boxes. Admittedly they were taken out and played with, so most from those early days show some signs of that use. There have been times over the years when the collecting was ‘on hold’ but I never disposed of any toys, and still they keep accumulating as I find new areas of interest. It was probably a move to the South-East of England in the 1980s that was the biggest boost, I found myself in close proximity to several collectors toy fairs, one of which in town where I lived. I do find such fairs are the best way of adding to the collection, although internet auctions are good if you know what you want.”

His book talks about emergency service vehicles, so I wondered if he specialised in particular collectables.

“Well that’s the thing! I’m not a specialist on emergency services – I have all sorts, in all scales and materials. In a way that probably equipped me better for this project than collectors who specialise in only one particular aspect. A lot of British collectors seem to prefer home-grown products, and I think the same applies in other countries. For me, the more unusual the better.

“When I was young we made regular family trips to Germany and other European countries, and that was a major influence in widening my horizons about what was around – remember that was long before the internet, so the toys and models I brought back from my travels were things hardly seen in England.

With one exception, I have always avoided the temptation to try to get everything of a particular series. It’s the last few that are always the most difficult to get and which cost a lot more. There is always something different to add a new flavour to the collection – for example it’s only in last year or two that I have taken any real interest in tin plate toys. They have a distinct charm which had eluded me previously. Perhaps with age and experience I can now put toys into a social and historical context which gives a new dimension to my hobby.”

But what does Adrian do when not writing, working of out and about collecting?

“I wouldn’t like your readers to think that toys and models are my whole life! At times I just shut the door to the collection room (yes, it does have its own room complete with small photo studio) and try to engage with the real world. For example, I’m an amateur musician and play keyboards. It’s odd how things overlap though; of the musicians I’ve worked with in recent years, at least two spring to mind as serious model enthusiasts, one is a leading expert on plastic toy soldiers, the other makes the most amazing model railway locomotives and rolling stock from scratch and also edits a model railway club magazine.

“I’m also a keen, if very amateur gardener, and also hope to get back to more travelling soon. My favourite city to visit is Istanbul, but as fate would have it, Turkey adds very little to my model collection – so going there is a real holiday from my everyday world in every sense.”

Thank you, Adrian for being on my blog.  Wishing you every success with the book. 

The publishers link for sales:
or the Amazon link:

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Welcome to author Kate Thomson aka Katy Haye!

I'm very pleased to welcome Kate Thomson to my bog today. Kate writes under the pen name of Katy Haye for her YA books. So far she has three books out: The Last Gatekeeper and The Last Dreamseer are the Chronicles of Fane – urban fantasy with fae and angels; and Rising Tides is a dystopian novel, set in a drowned post-apocalyptic world.

I asked Kate what the appeal was in writing YA fantasy. She said, “I write young adult novels because that’s what I love to read. And I write fantasy because those are always the ideas that climb into my head. My opinion is – if you’re going to make it up, you might as well REALLY make it up!”

Kate says that she fell in love with books when she was tiny. “When my mum was reading me a bedtime story at the age of four, I asked if you had to pay to get your story turned into a book. Mum replied that no, the publisher pays you and that was it – I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.”

Inspiration strikes when we least expect it, and I wondered where Kate tends to get her best ideas.
I’m a woeful insomniac,” says Kate. “I usually seem to be awake between about 3 and 5 in the mornings – but not awake enough to get up and do stuff (which would be crazy, after all). After years of fighting it, I now look at that interlude as my plotting time and I quite enjoy figuring out the fixes I can get my characters into – and how they’re going to get themselves back out. When I haven't solved character dilemmas through the sleepless method, my other way to work out plot kinks on the allotment where I wage a constant war against weeds and slugs (this year, the slugs are winning!)”

So, what about free time. What does Kate do when she's not working on her books?
When I’m not writing, I’m probably reading. I review on a blog called the Paisley Piranha (www.paisleypiranha.wordpress.com) which is all about YA books and writers. I also play the flute for fun and in a local amateur orchestra.”

I asked Kate what was the inspiration behind her latest book?
Newly-out Rising Tides was inspired initially by a story I read about Scott’s Hut in the Antarctic (you can read it here: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2004/dec/02/1)
The story is about Alan Gibbs, who visited the hut and spotted a dried parsnip which had fallen out of a rusted tin, reconstituted itself in a puddle of chilly water and transpired to be perfectly edible – nearly 100 years after it had first been grown. There was another piece (I’ve lost the reference, unfortunately) about a different explorer who brought back a tin of rhubarb left in Scott’s Hut and baked a perfectly edible pie from it.

The idea that food grown and prepared now could still be edible a century or more into the future set my imaginative cogs whirring – how would humans manage after a total collapse of the eco-system when this food was the only thing left: how might they agree to share (or not?).”

Here’s an extract. Cosimo has dived down to long-drowned houses to scavenge whatever food he can for himself and Libby (who’s narrating):

The lurch of the boat was my only warning before Cosimo clambered back on board. There was a clatter as he tipped his finds onto the deck. Half a dozen tins covered in grey slime. “Breakfast, your Highness.” My hunger vanished. He leaned back over the side of the boat, washing the tins in the sea.

My stomach rumbled and I ventured to the cabin to see what delicacies he’d found.
Cosimo had chosen sweetcorn. The other open tins held pineapple, mashed peas and minced meat. I wished, as I did most times I set to cook a meal, that it was possible to know what was within the tins before we opened them. I guessed the Old Ones hadn’t imagined their labels might need to be waterproof.
The pineapple would taste of nothing more than the tin it had been encased in, so I took the minced meat from the ledge inside the cabin, found a fork and returned to the deck. I sat at the back of the boat, close enough to him to watch what he did with the boat’s controls without being so close he might get presumptuous ideas.

You can get a copy of Rising Tides as a paperback, on your Kindle or download with Kindle Unlimited by using this (universal) link: http://authl.it/B01FHXD8HG?d

Currently, Kate has just finished a tie-in short story set in the world of Fane, for readers of The Last Gatekeeper and The Last Dreamseer. She says: “It was great fun going back to Fane and spending a bit more time with Cal, who is probably my favourite character from there (shh, don’t tell the others!).”

And here's an extract from The Last Gatekeeper (First of the Chronicles of Fane)

Two worlds. A queen determined to rule both. And one teen girl who stands in her way.

Zanzibar MacKenzie knows she’s a freak. She has EHS – electrical hypersensitivity – which leaves her trying to live a Stone Age life in the twenty-first century: no internet, no phone, no point really.

On her seventeenth birthday she discovers the truth: she can’t stand electricity because she’s half-fae, and her mixed-blood makes her the only person on Earth able to control the gates that link the fae and human worlds.

With the help of Thanriel, an angel charged with keeping the worlds in balance, and Cal, an exiled fae, Zan – the girl who can’t flip a light switch – must now learn to control the elemental powers she never knew she had in order to defeat a queen bent on destruction.

The Last Gatekeeper is currently FREE. Grab a copy from Amazon: http://authl.it/B00P5DNUZY?d or in all other formats from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/572349

Read on to meet our hero, Thanriel:
His dark hair fell in spiky disarray into eyes so dark they looked black. His skin was pale, almost luminous. He looked like he should be in a poster on my friend Em’s wall, not standing in my doorway.
His hair glinted in the rising moonlight, the colour of lacquered mahogany, dark against his pale skin. I breathed in. He smelled like he’d been outside all day. He smelled like the air during a rainstorm. My pulse picked up.


Katy’s website: www.katyhaye.com

Twitter: @katyhaye

Or watch Katy’s video How to Become a Writer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o03uWBH7bBE

Tuesday, 2 August 2016


I am so pleased to welcome the fantastic Pia Fenton (aka Christina Courtenay) on to my blog today to talk about her latest book, a YA contemporary romance novel entitled New England Dreams. Pia writes historical romance, time slip and YA contemporary romance, mainly published by independent publisher Choc Lit. 

She is half Swedish and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, she moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East. She is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association. Her novels Highland Storms and The Gilded Fan have both won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romantic Novel of the Year (in 2012 and 2014 respectively). Her latest novels are The Jade Lioness (historical) and New England Dreams (YA contemporary romance). Coming soon – The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight (time slip).

Pia and I have met a few times at the Romantic Novelists Conference, and I couldn't wait to hear more about her life, how she got into writing, and of course all about her latest book. Over to you, Pia….

New England Dreams is a Young Adult contemporary romance, the 4th instalment in my Northbrooke High series which features UK heroines clashing with US heroes in an American high school setting. The other three books are New England Rocks, New England Crush and New England TLC. The first one was published by Choc Lit, but they subsequently decided not to continue with a YA imprint, so I self-published the others as I had already written them.

I have to admit I’m not very techie, so luckily I didn’t undertake this endeavour on my own – I got together with three other YA authors who were also keen to self-publish and we work together as a group. We have a website, blog and Twitter account under the name Paisley Piranha and I have found the support of the others invaluable! Everything is always easier when you work as a team. During the weekend of 29th-31st July we were selling our books at YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) which is part of the London Film & Comic Con – very exciting!

New England Rocks, first in the series, was inspired by a high school reunion I attended a couple of years back. I was lucky enough to live in Tokyo as a teenager and went to the American School in Japan (ASIJ) for three years. I had a fantastic time and meeting up with some of my old friends from back then made so many memories come flooding into my brain, I just knew I had to do something with them.

Of course, everything wasn’t perfect (what teenager’s life ever is?!) and with hindsight there were things I would have chosen to do differently. I started to think about how I would have liked to change things back then and how I should have acted and decided to write it down. This turned into book one of the Northbrooke High series and I’ve just carried on from there.

I wasn’t one of those people who always wanted to write – I didn’t scribble down stories as a child, but I did daydream a lot and perhaps that helped? I was a voracious reader, but never tried writing myself until I’d had my first child and decided I wanted to stay at home with her. The only work I could think of which would let me do that was to write, so I had a go. I really enjoyed it and thought it was dead easy – until my manuscripts (yes, plural, I sent two off at once to give the publisher a choice – <cringe> how naïve was I?!) came winging back very quickly. In the end, it took me 21 years to get published, but I had so much fun writing, it was worth it.

I normally write historical or time slip stories for adults, which involve a lot of research, but sometimes I want to write using nothing but my imagination. So basically, writing YA is a sort of holiday for me – when I give myself permission to just write and have fun!

The latest one, New England Dreams, was inspired by a crazy thing I did once – kiss a guy I met on a plane, a complete stranger. I really can’t remember now how it came about, it just seemed a natural progression from talking, I suppose, and nothing ever came of it (he lived in Alaska, I lived in Sweden). But although I can’t even recall what he looked like, the memory stayed with me and my story grew from that.

I’m sure we all do silly things occasionally, that’s human nature, but I’d love to hear what some of you have done!


Firstly though, the back cover blurb from New England Dreams.
When opposites attract, can dreams come true?
Staying in New England for a few months is just what Sienna Randall needs after all the family problems she's been dealing with at home in London. The last thing she's expecting is romance, so it's a total surprise when she ends up kissing a guy she meets on the flight.
Kyle Everett is Sienna's complete opposite – he’s clean-cut and over-polished, she has piercings and pink dreads. But he can’t resist making out with her. He is, after all, Northbrooke High’s number one player. Except Sienna's different from other girls. He’s definitely expecting to see her again – until they're separated by irate airline officials before he can get her number.
Fate throws them together once more, but when Sienna turns up in Kyle's home room, neither admits to having met before. The chemistry between them is still there though – should they let it have free rein or should the attraction stay in their dreams?
Buy links:-

Don't forget – Pia is giving away a free copy of her latest book, to whoever leaves the most amusing (in our opinion) comment!

Thank you, Pia!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Tale of Beatrix Potter

Once upon a time there were four little rabbits, and their names were, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter. They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir tree...

And so began The Tale of Peter Rabbit, one of the most beloved characters created by author, illustrator and scientist, Beatrix Potter. Today, 28th July 2016 sees the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth and it's wonderful to know that her stories and characters are as popular today as they ever were.

Helen Beatrix Potter was born on 28th July 1866 in South Kensington, London, the eldest of Rupert and Helen (Leech) Potter's two children. Beatrix was brought up by a nurse and educated at home by a series of governesses. Family holidays were spent in Scotland and later in the Lake District – a region she loved and where eventually she made her home and did some of her best work.

Beatrix loved nature and wildlife. On holidays she and her younger brother Bertram would explore the countryside drawing, painting and learning all about animals, insects, flowers and fungi. She would also trap small animals to keep and train as pets. They would appear in her stories and artwork.

In later years, encouraged by Charles McIntosh, a Scottish naturalist, her knowledge and technically accurate artwork of fungi resulted in her becoming a scientific illustrator. She produced beautiful watercolours and wrote a paper on the reproduction of fungi spores, for the Linnean Society.

Her first published work was in 1890 when at 24, she had a collection of her Christmas card illustrations published alongside poetry by Frederic E Weatherly. It was published by Hildesheimer & Faulkner, and entitled A Happy Pair. In 2001 a rare copy sold at auction for £23,250.

The story of Peter Rabbit began on 4th September 1893. Beatrix, then aged 27, was on holiday in Eastwood, Dunkeld and decided to write a picture letter to Noel Moore, the five year old son of a former governess who was ill in bed. She wrote:

My dear Noel, I don’t know what to write to you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits…

The letter was later to become The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The following day she wrote a letter to Noel’s brother, Eric, about a frog called Jeremy Fisher. These famous letters are now stored in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Later, in 1901, Beatrix decided to try and get The Tale of Peter Rabbit published. She wrote the story out in an exercise book and sent it to six publishers, They all turned her down and so she decided to have it printed herself.

She had 250 copies made with 41 black and white illustrations which she sold to family and friends for a halfpenny. She soon needed more copies, so she ordered another 200. Then Frederick Warne & Co., publishers gave her a publishing deal and produced 8,000 copies in October 1902, selling at a shilling each.

Her association led to more than just publication of her book. Beatrix fell in love with publisher Norman Warne. Her parents however didn’t approve and tragically Norman died before the two could marry. Coping with her grief, Beatrix spent time in the Lake District, a special place where she and Norman dreamed of one day owning a home together.

With a small legacy from an aunt and the royalties from Peter Rabbit, Beatrix bought Hill Top a 34-acre 17th century working farm. Again this brought friction and disapproval from her parents, but bravely Beatrix got on with her life, throwing herself into farming and country life with a special interest in conservation and livestock, in particular Herdwick sheep.

By 1909 Beatrix had published fourteen books and was receiving income from licensing merchandise based on her books. As an astute businesswoman she spent the money improving and developing her farm and increasing its livestock, again under the disapproving eyes of her parents.

As she continued to develop her land and property, she sought the advice of a firm of local solicitors, W. H. Heelis & Son and in particular William Heelis. Their relationship blossomed into love and despite being torn between her own happiness and caring for her parents' needs who disapproved of William just as they'd disapproved of Norman, she eventually married William Heelis. She was 47 years old, and the two enjoyed a happy 33 years of married life.

The years saw Beatrix buying more property and getting more and more involved with the community, conservation, district nursing, the Girl Guides, the environment and the traditional value of hill-county farming. With all this going on in her life, and failing eyesight, Beatrix had less and less time to write her stories. She published her last story, The Tale of Little Pig Robinson in 1930.

When Beatrix Potter died on 22nd December 1943 she bequeathed fifteen farms and over 4,000 acres to the National Trust, ensuring the protection and conservation of the countryside that she loved so much. The countryside which had inspire a host of wonderful little books and characters, loved by young and old generation after generation.

Discover more about Beatrix Potter at: http://www.hop-skip-jump.com

Please visit my website: http://www.annevansbooks.co.uk

Please pop along to my brand new blog:  http://wordsandimagesuk.blogspot.co.uk/
Words & Images UK is the combination of : www.annevansbooks.co.uk andwww.tysallsphotography.org.uk
Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wordsandimagesuk/?fref=ts

Thursday, 14 July 2016

A Love-ly RNA Conference

Karen King, Ann Evans, Chrissie Bradshaw,
Sheryl Browne, Lynda Stacey.
Last weekend was one of my writing highlights of the year – the Romantic Novelist Association's annual conference. 

This year is was held at Lancaster University, and it was my third conference. My good pal, author Karen King and I teamed up, and we took the train north feeling really excited to be going along to another RNA gathering.

It's the thought of meeting up with familiar faces, making new friends, and basically just being around so many people who share that love of writing. It's such an amazing atmosphere, lots of buzz and noise, lots of laughter and chat – and of course plenty of time to eat and drink.

Of course it wasn't all socialising. It was brilliantly organised with the programme of talks, workshops and one-to-ones sent out to delegates some weeks before the event so that you can say which sessions you plan on attending, and arrange a one-to-one consultation with one of the top editors or literary agents who attend. You have to be quick in booking these however, as places are highly coveted.

Sheryl Browne, Karen King, Ann Evans
Around 220 romantic novelists attended the conference, who ranged from those on the New Writers' Scheme to multi published big name writers. But the friendliness of the event ensured there was no divide between the published and non-published, or those published traditionally or the self published. Everyone mixed together, sharing news, catching up on the year gone by and generally making new friends and having fun.

There were around 35 different talks and workshops ranging from 'Author marketing – brand, plan and goals' led by author Liz Fenwick and Brigid Coady of Harper Collins, to 'Romancing the YA readership – what makes a book successful for teen readers' presented by author Joss Stirling.

Tracy Bloom. Katy Haye and Ian Skillicorn ran an excellent session on 'The business of self publishing', and Sarah Wendell had jetted over from the USA to run a brilliant – and funny session of 'Reviews – getting them, dealing with them and managing them.' Her initial piece of advice for any writer about to look at a review about her book is to eat chocolate! She wasn't joking – eat lots of chocolate or something equally as messy because then you'll have sticky fingers and won't be tempted to use your keyboard and reply to a review as a knee jerk reaction. Good advice!

Friday night's dessert - Yum!
The Romaniacs – a group of authors who got together to support each other a few years ago, gave an inspiring panel talk called, 'Pens & Pompoms – writing against the odds'. Complete with pompoms there were rousing cheers and support for those who were facing – or had faced difficult times in their lives. The ladies talked of the problems they had faced, and gave great advice on how they managed to get through those bad times and get back to their writing.

There was lots and lots going on, with frequent tea, coffee and biscuit breaks, lunch breaks and then dinner and a bar in the evenings. The highlight of the weekend was the Gala Dinner on the Saturday evening which included the presentation of the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. This was a short story competition, judged anonymously, and the winner and highly commended announced on the night.

Meeting one of my favourite romantic novelists,
Freda Lightfoot.

2010 was the RNA's Golden anniversary and the society is rightly proud of its long history and its association with so many professionals in the world of romantic fiction. It holds numerous social events and meetings with top speakers, sharing expertise and knowledge. It runs competitions and a New Writers Scheme. It also publishes a quarterly magazine, Romance Matters.

Lots of books and their authors at the conference.

Why not take a look at their website? The RNA welcomes traditionally published and self published writers - and they have great conferences!!  :http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/

My website: http://www,annevansbooks.co.uk
Facebook: Ann-Evans-Books
Twitter: @annevansauthor
Blog: http://www,blogger.com/annsawriter

Thursday, 12 May 2016


A big welcome to my good friend, Karen King, whose brand new romance is released today: I DO? ... OR DO I?

Multi published writer, Karen is well known for her children books – with around 120 books for young readers published, ranging from picture books to adventure books, and from activity books to joke books. She also writes for young adults and has written two other romances.

I DO? ... OR DO I? is Karen's first chick-lit for publisher Accent Press and she has also been contracted for two more chick-lits for Accent – plus they are republishing three earlier books, The Millionaire Plan, Never Say Forever and Perfect Summer. Having read all of these, they are all great reads, so keep a look out for their release dates.

Having read Karen's latest book, I have to say it's a really enjoyable read, and very funny. The main character, Cassie gets herself into such trouble, that it somehow reminds me of Karen herself!
She's the only person I know who can nip off to the loo and find herself on the wrong side of the Israeli border – without her passport! She's also been known to frantically search her house looking for the sound of running water – only to eventually discover the phone in her pocket is playing a relaxing running water sound effect!

But back to I DO? ... OR DO I? The story is about local journalist Cassie who is getting married to hot-shot lawyer, reliable Timothy. His mother Sylvia, who Cassie has nicknamed ‘Monster-in-Law’, wants to plan the entire wedding. When Sylvia books the exclusive ID Images to take photographs of the extravagant do, Cassie has no idea what she’s walking into. 

The elusive JM, ID Images’ newest photographer, just so happens to be Jared, Cassie’s first love and ex-fiancé, who broke off their engagement to travel and take photos of far-reaching wonders. He’s back to pay for his next wild adventure.

Cassie decides it’s best to pretend not to know him, but when she’s asked to write an article for her newspaper, she’s tasked with a column surrounding all things wedding related. When Cassie jokingly writes a column meant for herself depicting her situation, a co-worker submits it in place of the real article and it’s soon making headlines, with readers asking the age old question - Who will she choose?

It's a great fun read and I wish Karen every success with it.

Find out more about Karen:

Twitter: @karen_king

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01CGKLOKQ
Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/i-do-or-do-i/karen-king/9781910939345
Book Depository - http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781910939352