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Thursday, 6 July 2017

Karen King tells us about The Cornish Hotel by the Sea

I'm delighted to welcome back onto my blog, author and good friend, Karen King. Karen's brand new romance The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, published by Accent Press has just been released. This is Karen's second chicklit for Accent Press, her first, I Do?...Or Do I? Was published last year, and she has yet another romance in the pipeline.

Accent have also republished her earlier romance novels, The Millionaire Plan and Never Say Forever. She has also written several short stories for women's magazines and has had around 120 children's books published!

Prolific writer Karen, is a member of The Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She's also a tutor for The Writers Bureau. Being so busy with her writing and helping others improve their writing skills, she doesn't get a lot of free time. But when she does get chance to relax she enjoys travelling, watching the 'soaps' and reading.

“Give me a box of chocolates and a good book and I'm in heaven,” says Karen.

I've read all of Karen's YA books and romances, which I've loved. And I'm currently reading her latest novel, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea and enjoying it very much.

It's about Ellie Truman who's widowed mum is struggling to keep Gwel Teg, the family hotel in Cornwall, afloat. Ellie is determined to do everything in her power to help her, even if that means moving back to the sleepy Cornish village she fled from broken-hearted a few years before. However, things go wrong from the start, and she's grateful for the help from hunky guest, Reece Mitchell. But Reece has ulterior motives for being so helpful.

What I love about this book is the perfectly created setting. You really get a feel for being in a sleepy Cornish village on the coast. I asked Karen if there was a particular beach that had inspired her in this story. Here's what Karen said.

“I know Cornwall really well as I holidayed down there for many years and l lived in a bungalow ten minutes from the beach in Hayle for almost a decade. Memories kept flooding back as I wrote it. There wasn’t one particular beach that the story is based on, but the gorgeous beaches in St Ives were definitely the main inspiration.”

Much of the action takes place in the hotel. I asked Karen if that caused any difficulties.

“Well I’ve stopped in quite a few hotels so I didn’t have to research that but a key event in the story was a leak from an upstairs bathroom that came through the ceiling and flooded the room below. So I had to research how to plaster a ceiling, how long it would take to dry out, etc – and it took far longer than I wanted it to so I then had to tweak the story a little.”

I know it's been a busy year for Karen, I asked her to recap on what's been going on in her life book-wise.

“It has been very busy. My YA Perfect Summer was republished by Accent Press in May so I had a book launch for that and for my romance novel I do?...or do I? which was published last year by Accent. In fact it was three book launches, and all with you Ann when your crime novel Kill or Die was published! Also, I’ve been busy visiting schools, writing my third novel for Accent which will be out next year, and writing short stories. I’ve recently had a story published by My Weekly, and am due to have one published in Yours magazine in August.”

I wondered what she was working on now? Any more books in the pipeline, Karen?

“Yes, as mentioned earlier, I’ve just finished my third book for Accent which will be published next summer. I’ve got a few more projects on the go, a YA, an emotional drama and another romance, as well as a couple of short stories. Not to mention a notebook of ideas I want to write up when I can find the time…”

Read more on Karen's blog tour....

Good luck with all these ventures, Karen. And here's a short extract from The Cornish Hotel by the Sea.

"Excuse me."

The man’s voice made her jolt. Ellie tore her eyes away from the figures on the computer screen and looked up, straight into a pair of deep grey eyes set in a ruggedly handsome face topped by chocolate-brown hair. Very nice.

It took her a few seconds to realise that it was Merc Guy, now wearing a black tee shirt and jeans, and to notice the angry set of his jaw and the frown lines in the middle of his thick eyebrows. He was staying here then. Great. An unhappy customer was all she needed.

She just hoped he didn’t recognise her from this afternoon when he was blasting his horn at her. Thank goodness she’d been wearing sunglasses. She fixed a pleasant smile on her face. "Can I help you?"

"The shower isn’t working in my room and I have an important business meeting in less than an hour,” he informed her curtly. "So will you either arrange for it to be fixed immediately or provide me with the use of a shower in another room?”

Great. Problems already.

“Did you hear what I said? I haven’t time to waste. I have an important meeting to go to.”

The man’s abrupt tone annoyed her but she kept calm. “Of course, Mr...er..." she glanced at the hotel register for the man`s name.

"Mitchell." He supplied. "Reece Mitchell. I arrived earlier today. And I’m in a hurry.”

Yes, I got that. A quick glance at the register told her that Reece Mitchell was in Room 12. Luckily the room next to him was empty and there was a connecting door between the rooms. Problem solved.

“I do apologise, Mr Mitchell. I’ll get it sorted for you today. Meanwhile, please use the shower in the room next to you. It’s vacant at the moment and you can access it through a connecting door.”

She reached for the key and handed it to him. “I’m very sorry for the inconvenience. Would you mind popping the key back on your way out?”

He didn’t look too pleased. “Well, I guess it will have to do. I must say this hotel isn’t what I’d expected. I’m surprised you do any business at all.” He almost snatched the key out of her hand.

She swallowed the angry retort that sprung to her mouth reminding herself of Mum’s mantra that the customer was always right. And if they weren’t you didn’t tell them so. She watched, fuming, as Reece Mitchell stormed off.

What an arrogant man!

Thank you for being on my blog, Karen.

Here's the buy links for The Cornish Hotel by the Sea by Karen King.

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cornish-Hotel-Sea-Cornwall-perfect-ebook/dp/B072275N5V/

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-cornish-hotel-by-the-sea/karen-king/9781786150714

W.H.Smiths: https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/the-cornish-hotel-by-the-sea/9781786150714

Author links:
Website: http://www.karenking.net/
Twitter: @karen_king Karen King Romance Author
Facebook: Karen King
Facebook: Karen King Young Adult Books
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karenkingauthor/?hl=en

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Top stories at the Evesham Festival of Words.

Earlier this year I was again asked to judge the junior category in the Evesham Festival of Words short story competition, which I was very happy to do. I really enjoyed reading all the stories, and choosing those to be short-listed and winners in both the 8-11s and 12-15s categories. I'm so often impressed with the talent and creative skills of our younger writers, and there were some really excellent stories with all kinds of twists and turns.

In the older category, the prize went to Charvi Jain for Boundless, a story filled with emotion which was a real joy to read. It was written with such care and attention and swept you along with the anguish of the main character – a young mother, trying to cope with a toddler when she is only a child herself. There was some beautiful descriptive narrative and not a single superfluous word to be found.

In the 8-11 category, the young writer, 11 year old Iona Mandal clearly has a great future ahead of her. Her story was Anne Frank Reborn. It wasn't just the way it was written with beautiful phrasing but this young writer had taken to heart the story of Anne Frank, and then taken it a step further, through her death and on to her re-birth. Iona also considered the fact that things rarely change, people fail to learn and prejudice continues.

I just had to admire an 11 year old's understanding and ability to articulate their own thoughts and feelings through their writing. So it was a really special moment to meet up with Iona at the presentation ceremony at Evesham Town Hall on Friday. She received her award from the Festival's special guest, TV presenter, chef and novelist Prue Leith. Afterwards I chatted to Iona and her proud parents and asked her what had inspired her to write this story.

Iona who is in Year 6 at King David Primary School, Birmingham said: “My school is a Jewish school even though I'm not Jewish. We learn about the holocaust as it's a very important part of Jewish history. It was through the lessons, school trips to places such as the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Nottingham, and having a survivor of the holocaust come to talk at our school, that I was inspired to write it – as well as my own experiences.”

Iona is no stranger to winning writing and poetry competitions. Her first win was when only eight when she won the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation competition with a poem about poaching. Since then she's won the Ted Hughes Poetry Award and recently she came tops in the Wicked Young Writers competition. She also took first in The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, winning herself a trip to the House of Lords.

“I've entered that twice. The first time I came second, and the second time I came first,” said Iona who has her heart set on being a cardiothoracic surgeon when she grows up – but continuing with her writing in her spare time. “If I have any spare time,” she added with a laugh.

I asked Iona if she has any advice for young writers. She had this to say: “Even if you don't win anything it is good to have a go for the experience and the fun – and it is a great hobby to get into. When you write you should dip your pen in your soul.”

Here's a short extract of Anne Frank – Reborn by Iona Mandal.

3rd September, 1944; Auschwitz: There was no moon or a star in the sky that night. To the whistle of the last train and barking of unfriendly dogs, I arrived. In the dead of night, in a carriage, Star of David pinned on my coat. The ground stood cold at almost freezing point. I could see tall lamp posts and fences with barbed wires - distanced by uniformly separated watch towers, manned by sentinels. The railway lines running aimlessly were meshed with broken flints. The smoke from the last carriage had settled by now. As black boughs of stark trees creaked in the ghastly wind, soldiers with blinding flash lights shouted, ripping the eerie silence.
There was no room for confusion. Everyone seemed in haste. It was now time for roll call to separate the men, women and children.The young and old were segregated in different lines. Dad went away with able bodied men, pushed by a soldier wearing a weird symbol stitched on his sleeve - black, circled by white, bordered on red cloth. Oh! How much I hated it! Reminded me of a creepy spider with four legs!

Your can read the rest of Iona's story and all the short listed and winning entries in a new anthology entitled: Short Stories (2) Best Stories from 2017. Available from the Evesham Festival of Words website: https://eveshamfestivalofwords.org/ also available from the Almonry Evesham. http://www.almonryevesham.org/

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Are you looking forward to a Perfect Summer?

I'm delighted to welcome my good friend and fellow author, Karen King, back onto my blog. As a busy writer, Karen is actually celebrating three new books at the moment. Her YA book Perfect Summer which we will hear about today; a fun-filled romance called I Do? Or Do I? plus The Cornish Hotel by the Sea which will be released on 13th July. All published by Accent Press. Karen will be back on my blog in July telling us all about that Cornish hotel by the sea – and I can't wait to read it.

In total Karen has more than 120 children's books to her credit; she also writes short stories for women's magazines, and for many years worked on children's magazines such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh, My Little Pony, Fireman Sam, Barbie and Sindy, as well as the iconic Jackie magazine.

Having read Perfect Summer, as well as being a great story, it's quite a gritty teenage read featuring disability and child abduction. It's set not too far in the future in a society obsessed with perfection. I know that her book has prompted many discussions and debates in schools. So hats off to Karen for tackling these topics.

Here's the blurb:

Set in a society obsessed with perfection, 15 year old Morgan is best friends with the seemingly perfect Summer. But when Morgan’s brother, Josh, who has Down’s syndrome, is kidnapped, they uncover a sinister plot and find themselves in terrible danger. Can they find Josh before it’s too late? And is Summer’s life as perfect as it seems?

I asked Karen if she found it a difficult subject to write about?
She said: “Yes, the storyline is quite gritty and I wanted to make sure I tackled it sensitively. Another difficulty was that the story is set in the not- too- distant future so I had to try and guess what technology would be available then. The first edition of Perfect Summer was published a few years ago so I’ve now updated it for this new edition.”

And I believe it has already won an award?
“Yes, it was runner up in the Red Telephone Books YA novel competition in 2011 and I'm thrilled that it has been republished by Accent Press. They are also the publisher for I Do? Or Do I? and The Cornish Hotel by the Sea.”

So, what inspired you to write Perfect Summer?
“I’ve been concerned for a long time about society’s obsession with physical perfection, especially when I read an article about girls as young as four and five worrying that they are too fat. Another concern of mine is how disabled people are treated, so both these concerns sowed the seeds of this story.”

As well as writing for children and YA, you also write contemporary romance novels. So when and why did you turn your attentions to this genre?

“I started writing romance novels about ten years ago. I’d been wanting to write one for a long time but I write for a living and couldn’t spare the time it would take to write a 75,000 word book – most of my children’s books were under 10,000 words. Finally, when all my children were grown up and left home, I had more time and less financial pressure so decided to take the chance and write a romance book.”

So, for you, what is the best part of the writing process? And what's the hardest part?
“Seeing the story in your head come to life on the screen/page. It’s a marvellous feeling when it all starts to come together. And the hardest part is getting the story out of your head and onto the screen/page.”

Karen, I know that you're a tutor for The Writer's Bureau and run writing classes, plus you've written a book on writing called Get Writing Children's Fiction, but in a nutshell what advice would you give a budding writer?

“I'd say, write, revise, rewrite. Make sure your work is the very best you can do before you send it off. Too many new writers send of hurried first drafts. And never give up!”

Thank you so much for chatting on my blog today, Karen, and I'm delighted to print an extract from Perfect Summer. Good luck with all of your new books!

Extract from Perfect Summer

Summer and I hurried upstairs while Josh was busy watching TV. Summer plonked herself down on my bed while I got my things ready.

“Want some music?” I asked, pressing the silver button on the comm-panel. The latest hit from Krescendo, our favourite band, blasted out and a hologram of them playing beamed onto the wall.

Then I pressed the green button, my wardrobe doors glided open, and a rail of clothes slid out. I glanced over at Summer, feeling awkward as always, that my room was so small and my wardrobe so sparse. Summer’s wardrobe was a huge walk-in affair full of designer clothes. Luckily, she was sprawled out watching Krescendo so I quickly grabbed the clothes I needed for the weekend and shoved them in my rucksack. Thank goodness I’d found an immaculate emerald green Maliko dress at the recycle store the other week. That would be perfect for Roxy’s. I knew Summer would let me borrow her clothes but felt better if I wore something of my own.

I took out the dress and zipped it into a freshpack to keep it crease-free. I glanced at the image screen on my bedroom wall and grimaced. My make-up needed renewing and some strands of my chestnut hair were escaping from the ponytail I’d swept it into. I swiftly fixed it and applied more make-up. I didn’t want to turn up at Summer’s looking a mess, Tamara and Leo expected everyone to always look their best.

“Ready.” I pressed the buttons on the CP again to close my wardrobe doors, and switched off the music.

“Have a nice weekend,” Mum said as we popped in to say goodbye. She looked so pale, with dark circles under her eyes. I could tell the visit from the Ministry had upset her and hesitated for a moment, wondering if I should stay. But Dad was due home soon and I was so looking forward to the weekend. I loved going to Summer’s house and being spoilt for a bit. It was like living in another world. She was so lucky.

“Thanks, we will.” I leaned over and tousled Josh’s chestnut curls. “Bye, Josh.”

“Play, Maw,” he said, scrambling up.

“Maw going out now. I’ll play with you when I come back.” He puckered his face as if he was going to cry, but Mum took his hand. “Come on, Josh, let’s pick some tomatoes for tea.”

Josh’s face lit up. He loved helping Mum in the garden. Everyone had a vegetable patch, compost and water butt by order of the Ministry as part of the Planet Protection Programme. I hated gardening but Josh loved helping Mum water the plants with the rainwater collected in the butt, and picking the vegetables. Summer’s parents had a gardener, of course.

Mum led Josh out into the garden while we went out the front door. before Josh could realise I was leaving. I had no idea how much I was going to regret not playing with Josh one more time.

Discover more about Karen King.

Website: http://www.karenking.net/
Twitter: @karen_king
Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page
Karen King Young Adult Books
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karenkingauthor/?hl=en

Buy Links Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mMXTzI 

Friday, 25 November 2016

Big Welcome to my old boss Steve Chilton!

And before he says it - not so much of the old!

I'm delighted to welcome Steve Chilton to my blog this week. Steve is a former Midlands Feature Writer of the Year with a long and illustrious career at the Coventry Telegraph which included news and features editor plus writing the offbeat Peeping Tom and Red Button columns. Walking Keef's Dog and Other Short Stories is Steve's first book and marks his d├ębut in fiction after a reporting career that spanned more than 25 years.

Additionally, Steve was my Features Editor when I first started writing features for the Coventry Telegraph way back. I just thought I'd share this little story with you, as he was actually responsible for sending me on my very first press trip, Lunch in Lille.

I really felt that I'd landed on my feet as I jetted off for lunch in Lille, France. It was a fabulous way of spend the day, being shown around the town, lovely free food, and then back in time for tea (well almost). It was a week later when Steve called across the office to me: “Have we had your copy for Lunch in Lille yet?”  Oh!” says I. “You want me to write about it?”

Anyway, back to this brand new book Walking Keef's Dog and Other Short Stories: “It’s a complete reversal for me,’ said Steve. ‘As a reporter you sometimes get accused of making up a story, although it is factually correct, because people just don’t like what’s being said. Now, I am making it up, in stories of complete fiction - well, almost - and hoping people do like it.”

Several of the short stories start with a foothold in historical fact, he says. But soon stray off into comedy fantasy. Steve explained that a photo of Keith Richards arriving for a Coventry gig cuddling his pet puppy provided the inspiration for the book. The unlikely paring of the Stone' bad boy and a cute puppy on tour in 1971 is one of 10 short stories in the book.

Keef did turn up at the Coventry Theatre with Boogie, his puppy, and the Telegraph has some great archive pictures, including Mick Jagger with wife-to-be Bianca in the cobbled lane off Hales Street leading to the stage door. But thereafter it’s a fantasy, as Boogie escapes for a brief taste of rock ‘n stroll before returning to the gig to find he’s been replaced by a bogus Boogie.”

Steve's home city and neighbouring towns feature strongly in his book. His targets for parody include Queen Elizabeth 1’s romantic break in Kenilworth, under-performing folk festival fans, star-struck local politicians and a hard-drinking jazz-loving gumshoe cop...from Leamington.

It’s not all played for laughs, though. There are a few satirical barbs aimed at the way PFI hospitals raise finances, the post-war planners of Coventry city centre, and men behaving badly on away football trips.

He says the Coventry region is a treasure trove of unlikely but true stories. “I was around for some of them,” he says, “although not - as some may believe - for Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Kenilworth in 1575, which has been portrayed as one of history’s great love stories. Well, maybe, but I’ve spiced it up a tad.”

Steve, says he was born between cathedrals in Coventry - “after the old one was destroyed but before the new one was consecrated’’ and points out that his birthplace has a long history of spinning celebrity surprises.

Brigitte Bardot turning up unannounced at the cathedral for a funeral service, John and Yoko planting acorns for peace and most bizarrely of all, Muhammad Ali visiting a Tile Hill chip shop to meet an old sparring partner, are just a few examples,” he says.

He admits ’ borrowing’ one or two star visits as a starting point in this collection of stories, but makes it clear where facts end and fiction begin. He’s hoping that the book will appeal to people looking for a light-hearted break from Christmas over-indulgence.

After all that stodge and TV, it could provide a dash of escapism and some gentle exercise, page turning. If you don’t like it, wrap it up and hand it over as a Boxing Day present to that relative who keeps giving you socks very year.”

Here's a short extract from She's a Killer...Queen

A mist was still hanging over the mere as we left the following morn, but the watery sun was showing well-enough to promise enveloping warmth later. The captain obviously had similar intentions and instructed his two men to follow 50 paces behind, well out of earshot.

Truth be told, there was little to hear that would have given us away as lovers. We talked easily about the excesses of the past few days, tried to best each other by naming the hedgerow flowers and song birds along the way and paused often at the small stream we were following to see if we could spot the sparkle of a trout basking in the shallows. We didn’t need anything else. It was just how I had imagined a fledgling romance might be, had I not been born different.

I had suffered many suitors since I came of age. Princes from Denmark, Spain and Sweden; the King of France... all seeking a political union. Their passion was for more power. I was merely a means to that end.

Courtiers from my own land were as numerous as the mayfly hatching along that lonely stream, and would have been as short-lived. For their ardour also would have died after they’d planted their seeds. I did not intend to be the vessel for their vanity. My father chartered that route and is remembered as an overweight ogre who treated his wives as brood mares.

I would not give up a sliver of my power let alone be subjugated by the rule of a man occupying my throne. What I wanted on that day, walking with my compliant lover, was to banish a dark yearning for something else, something that was recognised long ago.

You are different, like me’, my French governess had whispered in my ear on my 12th birthday, before kissing me tenderly on the lips.

Walking Keef’s Dog and Other Short Stories is published by Takahe, rrp £9.95 and is available from bookshops and major online bookstores. Steve Chilton’s website www.redbutton2.com has free extracts from three of the stories.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Welcome to author Peter Walters

I'm delighted to welcome Peter Walters onto my blog today. Peter is a friend and work colleague from our Coventry Telegraph days. With a wealth of knowledge about the city, he has now written his second book on Coventry entitled – Great War Britain: Coventry Remembering 1914-18.

Illustrated with wonderful old photographs from the city's archives, the book explores the 1914-1918 story of the place they called The Busiest Town In England, years that established Coventry as one of Britain's most important 20th century industrial dynamos. It's a tale often over-shadowed by the city's suffering in World War Two and has not been told often enough.

Peter's first book, The Story of Coventry, also evocatively illustrated, was the first full narrative history of Coventry for more than a decade, tracing the city's story from its beginnings around the year 1000 to the recent recession. Written for the general reader, it concentrates on the rich gallery of characters who have populated that colourful thousand years.

Peter and his wife, Barbara who is also a journalist, were already working at the Coventry Telegraph when I started back in the day. I asked him how he first got into writing.

“I was always keen on English at school and got an S level (grade 1) in it as well as A level. Stupidly, I was persuaded that law was a better career so did a law degree at Leeds University (69-72). When I finished I immediately went into newspapers, initially a weekly in Cheshire.

“I came to the Coventry Telegraph as a reporter but quickly switched to features. I was a general feature writer but found myself writing a lot about the city's history – I'd always been interested in history. I also liked profile writing and did a lot of those too. In later years I had a weekly light-hearted column and wrote leaders for the paper, the latter I think great training for a writer as it forces you to be succinct.”

Around 2011, publishers, The History Press approached him to write a book on Coventry.
“I was nervous about it but found it less difficult than I had imagined. I treated it as an extended feature, I suppose. As a journalist you are at least comfortable with putting pen to paper, so to speak.”

It took him around a year to research and write his first book, The Story of Coventry which came out in 2013.  This led to the writing of his second book featuring Coventry during the First World War. Great War Britain: Coventry Remembering 1914-18.

“I loved doing the research, most of it in the Herbert Museum's History Centre,” added Peter. “It felt like an extension of something I had always done on the paper – in the CET's Library. To be honest, I didn't find anything that came as a complete surprise as I'd written a lot about the city's history already. But Coventry's extraordinary monastic past was something I hadn't really grasped before and the incredible scale of its contribution to the First World War was also unexpected.”

With his interest and knowledge about the city of Coventry, when he's not writing – or reading, Peter conducts city walks for people with an interest in its history along with being involved in community projects; and in his free time, he plays tennis, enjoys film, theatre and music. I wondered whether there were any more books in the pipeline.

“I'd love to write more books,” Peter told me. “Although I'm not sure if I want to write more about Coventry. I feel I've 'done' the city in a way. I'd really like to write something in the popular history field with a national focus. I'm trying to work up an idea for the publishers at the moment.”

I'd like to thank Peter Walters for being on my blog today, and wish him every success with these books and good luck with future projects.

The Story of Coventry. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Story-Coventry-Peter-Walters/dp/1860776922/

Both books are published by The History Press. http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/

If you would like to contact Peter, Email: peter@waltersconsultancy.co.uk.
Mobile 07748 116041.

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: