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  1. I'm delighted to welcome my friend, multi-talented author Ann Evans, back onto my blog, this time to telll us about writing articles for magazines. Ann writes articles about a variety of things, here she is wearing a beekeepers outfit for an article on keeping bees!

     

    027Ann in beekeeping suit

     

    That's incredibly brave of you, Ann, you wouldn't get me near a bee hive! Can you tell us how you got started writing articles?

    Long before I started writing books, I wrote non fiction articles for magazines. Having caught the writing bug in my early twenties, I wanted to write about anything and everything. I still feel that's one of the best things about being a writer, you can always find something of interest in any situation. You're never bored. As a children's author I often go into schools and one of the things I tell the children is that writing – especially writing non fiction,  'opens doors' – it allows you to go where other people don't get the opportunity.

    Over the decades I must have written and had published around 1,500 magazine and newspaper articles – and I'm still doing them along with writing books for children, YA, reluctant readers and adults. For 13 of those years I worked at the Coventry Telegraph as a feature writer, where my regular weekly slots were Homes and Gardens, Food and Drink, Pet SOS and Family Days Out. It was without a doubt a fabulous set of features that I had to write week in and week out.  And as I only worked three days a week there, they were three very full days.

    The very first ever article I had published as a freelance writer was in Nursery World. It was called Room For One More and was based on my own two children. When the article was published they had illustrated it with a photo. This made me realise that I could have supplied my own photo of my children rather than them using a generic photo. So a lesson was learnt. Photographs really enhance any article. 

    I teamed up with a friend, Rob Tysall, (Tysall's Photography) and we'd find interesting topics to write about and photograph. We'd make arrangements to go and interview the people involved, I'd write the article up and submit it to a relevant magazine. Most of the time we were, and are,  successful and our teamwork has taken us to some brilliant and exciting places and doing some weird and wonderful things.

     It sounds fascinating, Ann. Can you tell us about some of the articles you've written?

    Rob has had the joy of standing on a Vulcan bomber's wings to get photos looking down into the cockpit. (The Vulcan wasn't flying, I hasten to add!). Then we wanted photos of inside a Russian T55 tank. As Rob is 6ft 2ins  he couldn't fit down the tank's hatch, so he and his camera had to dangle upside down, down the hatch to get the shots!

    Writing for Dogs Monthly magazine, we've been out with the Thames Marine Police where we watched up close  the amazing sniffer dogs board a huge ship in the Thames. Rob had to cross from the police launch onto a fast moving police rig to get right up to the massive ship.  I think the pictures tell the story!

     

    Out with the Thames Marine Police

     

    Whilst writing about the work of army sniffer dogs, we spent a few days in Northern Ireland, where we were privileged to go up in an army helicopter with some dogs in training, which was incredibly exciting. The dogs took it all in their stride. Me – I came down buzzing and saying “I want to be a helicopter pilot!”

     

    001 Ann Evans in army helicopter

     

    Then there have been quite a few times we're gone out with SARDA (Search and Rescue Dogs Association) in Scotland, Cumbria and Wales. Watching the dogs meticulously search an area is wonderful. Oddly enough, each time I was asked to be a 'body' for a training exercise. So I had to lie down out of sight in the undergrowth and wait for the dog to find me. Experiencing that, I could well understand how relieved a person would be who was actually lost and injured, when that dog appeared.

    We also got invited to experience a 'staged' rescue in Switzerland with a Search and Rescue team, and that too was an incredible experience. We also went up to a mountain hospice and took a walk with Switzerland's national dog, the St Bernard.

     Ann Evans Switzerland                Rescue Switzerland

     

    While writing about dogs and how they help mankind is one of my favourite topics, I've written about chefs and celebs; toys and collectables, charities and antiques, fitness and business – you  name it, I've probably written about it. Interviewing celebs can be fun, and some of them are real jokers.  At the Coventry Telegraph I had to do a phone interview with Masterchef's Greg Wallace, who had me laughing from start to finish. On another occasion I had to interview Gordon Ramsay which was quite an experience. An enjoyable one though. I was glad that another female journalist was also waiting to see him. “Come on,” he said. “I'll take the both of you together!” Well, there's no answer to that!

    Another time, Rob and I were meeting up with antiques expert Eric Knowles. From right across the room, Eric called out: “Ann, hello! I didn't recognise you with your clothes on!”

    It completely threw me. I was racking my brains thinking if I'd met him on holiday. Although I'm sure I'd have had some clothes on! However I eventually realised he'd read my ID badge from a distance and pretended to know me. It worked! Another joker! I conducted the interview red faced.

    One of the most memorable of interviews was meeting up with iconic comedian, Sir Norman Wisdom. He was 91 at the time and looked wonderful, and he could still tell us his life story. Walking across the road at Brighton for coffee he literally stopped the traffic. And he was still doing that funny 'trip' in his walk, which he'd done when receiving the OBE from Her Majesty – making her smile. During our interview, Norman burst into song. He sang two songs to Rob and I, one of them being his signature song, 'Don't Laugh at Me' which he sang in the film Trouble in Store. It was a moment I will treasure forever.

     033_Ann interviewing Norman Wisdom

     

    Another couple of celebs we interviewed were Dave Prowse (Darth Vader in Star Wars) and Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre). We'd arranged to meet up in a Sci Fi toy shop in Coventry where they were doing a signing, and then going off to lunch to conduct the interview. Photographer Rob and his wife, Heather were going in one car, and I was going with Darth Vader and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in another  It seems that as I went off, Rob said to Heather, “I can't believe I've let Ann go off with two of the biggest mass murderers of all time!”

     

    029_Dave Prowse and Ann                           031_Gunnar Hansen

    It was fine. All in a day's work!

     

    Wow, you've certainly met some interesting people and done some exciting things - all in the name of getting a story. The photos are brilliant too, what a good idea to team up with a photographer. It sounds like you and Rob, have fun! Although I'm sure it's hard work too.

    If you would like to find out more about Ann and Rob then click on the links below:

    Please visit:  www.annevansbooks.co.uk

    And: www.tysallsphotography.org.uk (Rob is responsible for the professional photo on my website)

    Rob and Ann together go under the name Words and Images UK. You can follow their exploits on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/wordsandimagesuk/?fref=ts

    Thanks for dropping by, Ann. Wishing you both lots of luck with your future articles.

     

     

     

     

     

  2. I'm delighted to host author Jeff Gardiner on my blog today to tell us about his latest release, Pica, a gripping YA published by Accent Press. Jeff is the author of four novels (Pica, Igboland, Myopia and Treading On Dreams), a collection of short stories, and a work of non-fiction. Many of his short stories have appeared in anthologies, magazines and websites. A.J. Kirby, ‘The New Short Review’ said of his work; “Reading is a form of escapism, and in Gardiner’s fiction, we escape to places we’d never imagine journeying to.”

    Pica is the first in the Gaia trilogy – a fantasy of transformation and ancient magic, which Michael Moorcock described as “An engrossing and original story, beautifully told. Wonderful!”

    picanewrel

     

    Blurb

    Pica explores a world of ancient magic, when people and nature shared secret powers.

    Luke hates nature, preferring the excitement of computer games to dull walks in the countryside, but his view of the world around him drastically begins to change when enigmatic loner, Guy, for whom Luke is reluctantly made to feel responsible, shows him some of the secrets that the very planet itself appears to be hiding from modern society.

    Set in a very recognisable world of school and the realities of family-life, Luke tumbles into a fascinating world of magic and fantasy where transformations and shifting identities become an escape from the world. Luke gets caught up in an inescapable path that affects his very existence, as the view of the world around him drastically begins to change.

    It sounds fascinating, doesn't it? You can buy it from

    Accent Press

    WHSmith

    Barnes & Noble

    Amazon UK

    Amazon US

     

    Meet Jeff

     IMG_0971

     I asked Jeff to tell us a bit more about himself

    How did you get started writing?

    I’ve always wanted to write – “I write therefore I am”. My head is full of images, stories and events that I need to express somehow before I lose my mind completely. As a kid I wrote terrible stories and then as a student this became self-indulgent poetry, which must never see the light of day. My first real publishing success occurred when an adaptation of my MPhil thesis was published. This gave me the fillip I needed to write some short stories which found homes in magazines and anthologies in the UK and US. I won a couple of competitions and went on from there. My first novel, ‘Myopia’ was accepted by Crooked Cat, and since then I’ve refused to give up… Now I have seven books to my name (actually, one is under a pseudonym)

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

     I enjoy working as a ‘supporting artist’ (an extra) in films and TV programmes. I’ve done filming for the likes of ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘Downton Abbey’. I also do amateur acting: I’ve been Danny in ‘Grease’, and Dionysus in ‘The Bacchae’, for example. I used to be a Drama and English teacher, but decided that, rather than help others to do these things, I should have a go at doing them myself.

    What’s your top writing tip for new writers? 

    You have to be thick-skinned and expect a lot of rejections, whilst believing in yourself and your book. If you don’t believe in it then no-one else will. You have to make it happen – and that includes promotion and marketing. Never give up, and turn rejection into something positive that motivates you onwards.

    Great advice, Jeff!

     

    Author links

    Website: www.jeffgardiner.com and his

    Blog: http://jeffgardiner.wordpress.com/

    Facebook

    Twitter

     

     Thanks for dropping by to talk to us, Jeff!

     

  3. I'm delighted to welcome multi-published author Jenny Kane on my blog today. Jenny is the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin Adventure (Hushpuppy, 2015). Her next picture book, Joe’s Letter, will be published by HushPuppy in Autumn 2016.

     

     There's a Cow in the Flat cow in flat cover

    A cow has managed to stray into Oscar's third story flat!

    But how? Has she beamed in from outer space? Is she an acrobatic circus cow? She certainly really loves eating all the furniture!

    As Oscar imagines how the cow could have got into the flat, he and his Mum try everything they can to get her out again, before there is no sofa left!

    The cow however, has other ideas...

    Buy from Amazon

     

     

    Title Page

     Ben's Biscuit Tin Adventure

    It's the middle of the night, but Ben's stomach won't stop rumbling. As he lies in bed, Ben begins to plan how he can secretly sneak a biscuit from the biscuit tin. But Ben is only seven, and rather short, and the biscuit tin is hidden at the very back of the highest shelf of the tallest cupboard in the kitchen. Working out how to reach the tin is going to take a lot of imagination... string, tape, springs, and maybe even some stilts...

     Buy From:

    Amazon UK

    Amazon.com

     

     

     

    Jen and Abis House 1

    Jenny also writes contemporary romance novels, including Abi’s House, (Accent Press, 2015) Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), and the bestselling novel, Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013. Jenny’s fourth full length novel, Another Glass of Champagne, will be published by Accent Press in 2016. Jenny will be talking about her romance books in her blog post on 10th June.

    I asked Jenny to tell us a bit more about herself.

    How did you get started writing?

    Like most parents, I used to make up stories to entertain my children on long car journeys, and at bedtime. When my eldest daughter was 7 years old she decided to tell her teacher that her mum was a story teller. Before I knew where I was, I was stood in front of a class of primary school children helping them make up stories as well.

    It was as a direct result of that first primary school visit over ten years ago, at Crombie School in Aberdeenshire that I decided to try my hand at writing a story with view to publication. That book became, There’s A Cow in the Flat – eventually!

    It wasn’t until I’d written over 100 stories for adults that I found a publisher for my children’s fiction.

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

    I am totally obsessed with the legend of Robin Hood.

    What was your favourite book as a child?

    The BFG by Roald Dahl.

    What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

    Don’t give up!

     

    You can find out more about Jenny here:

    Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk.

    Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

    Jenny Kane is the co-owner of DevonWriters - https://www.facebook.com/groups/DevonWriters/  www.DevonWriters.com

     Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance/

     Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7255618.Jenny_Kane

     

     Thanks for dropping by, Jenny!