Hi! Welcome to Ann Evans' blogspot.

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

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Kids Lit Quiz

Quizmaster Wayne Mills at a New Zealand quiz
Earlier this week it was the Midlands regional final of the Kids Lit Quiz. As authors, if you have never attended one of the heats, then you're missing out on a brilliant and inspiring occasion.

This regional final took place in Coventry, my home city, so it was nice and close. And the UK final too is being staged in Coventry on 6th December, which is great for me, as previous years it's taken place in Oxford – and I think, before that, in London.

In case you aren't familiar with the event, it's a competition for school children aged 10 to 13 to answer questions on books. The whole idea was created by Australian Wayne Mills, a senior lecturer in children's literature at the University of Auckland, and it's been an annual event since 1991. As quizmaster in his recognisable top hat and his often wildly enthusiastic delivery of the questions, he sets an amazingly high standard with 100 questions in every heat, questions which regularly stump the adults in the audience yet produce amazing results from the literature-loving young competitors.

There are seven countries taking part in the Kids Lit Quiz at present, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, China and the USA. Hundreds of schools take part in knock-out heats with their teams of four. The overall winning team's prize is always an amazing trip of a lifetime to another part of the world. I believe the winners of this year's competition will, be jetting off on a trip to South Africa. However, there are plenty of prizes of books, vouchers, money, certificates and trophies along the way. There are even spot prizes of cash to the audience during the lively evenings.

At the regional finals there is always an author's team pitting their wits against the kids, just for fun. This year I was happy to take part along with the very knowledgeable David Calcutt, Bali Rai and David Lowe. And I was so chuffed to find that we came second behind Kenilworth School. Alas there were no trophies or certificates for us. Just the fun of taking part.

Quizmaster Wayne Mills guards his questions fiercely and never poses a question about a book that he hasn't read. And his choice of books covers all eras and authors. Amongst Monday's questions were ones on Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, to Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, characters from the Fantastic Four, the Holy Bible– and 96 others!

Because of his great work in promoting books and literature to children Wayne Mills was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's New Years Honours in 2011. And well deservedly as seeing so many youngsters so attentive, bright and excited as they battle for their place in the next heat is just brilliant to see, and I'm always astounded by how much they know and how well read they are.

The UK final takes place on 6th December at The Royal Court Hotel, Tamworth Road, Coventry, hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Turning fact into fiction

About five years ago I went on a press trip to the champagne region of France. I was working at the Coventry Telegraph as a feature writer at the time and one of the perks of the job was getting to go on press trips. This one was particularly fantastic as it was organised by the Champagne Bureau so it was wining and dining in top class restaurants, drinking the best champagne and of course doing lots and lots of research!!
It was probably one of the best press trips I've been on, although it really was hard work, as we were taken to one champagne house after another and there was so much to take in... no I don't mean the booze! I mean info.
We met the wealthy owners of vineyards, had a wonderful home cooked meal in one of their sumptuous homes on one occasion, ate out with important champagney-type people, wandered through vineyards, went down into softly-lit cellars and spoke broken French/English with the champagne growers.
Back home I wrote my articles and features on the trip then filed the notes, photographs and memories safely away under one word, Champagne.

Then, only about a year ago, after getting a romance novella published by My Weekly, called A Tropical Affair, and flushed with success decided to write another one, I started to think what my next romance could be about, and where could I set it.
It didn't take long for me to realise I had the perfect setting filed away, the perfect opportunity for romance to blossom, I even had a whole hoard of dialogue that I could dip in to.
Out came the notes, the photos and the memories. Add a story line where, not so surprisingly the protagonist was a journalist, and off we go!

Champagne Harvest was the result, which in the end was accepted by People's Friend as a 50,000 word pocket novel. It came out on 6th September, and enjoyed life on the newsagents shelves for a week before it was overtaken by the next pocket novel on the publisher's list.
That's fine however, as then I can try and get it accepted as a hardback or large print book by another publisher, which happily is what has happened with A Tropical Affair. And of course get it out there as an ebook.
Naturally I'll be changing the cover for the e-version, so now I'm wondering if I can utilise one of those photographs which we took over in France, but maybe, in the meantime I'll just pop the cork of one of the bottles I brought back and drink to those fond memories which have happily provided me with both the non-fiction and fictional stories I needed.


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Words of Wisdom

A month or two ago I was seeking some words of wisdom to include in my new book – Become a Writer – A Step by Step Guide which I was putting the final touches to.  I think inspirational quotes from other authors are always interesting to read and I wanted to put some quotes and tips into each chapter along with the writing exercises I'd worked out for readers to do.

Happily, quite a few fellow authors very kindly provided me with some wonderful quotes that are now all in the new book which came out just a couple of weeks ago. It's published in paperback by Greenstream Publishing and will also be out as an ebook very soon.

I was so impressed with the great quotes which 15 different authors kindly wrote especially for the book that I'm more than glad that I asked today's writers for their advice rather than delving into the archives for words of encouragement from long gone famous names.

For example, author and poet Andy Seed suggests this advice for writers:
"Go to your local library, find the shelves covering your genre and pick five books at random. For each one, read the opening few pages and write down three things that make you want to read on."

And children's author Karen King offers these words of advice:
"Don't settle for the first idea you get, use it as a springboard for your story and tweak it, stretch it, play with it until you get something really strong and original."

While novelist and playwright Bill Kirton says:
"When you write, you're putting yourself on the page. Your manipulation of ideas, your choice of words, the fluidity of your text - all these things reflect your intellectual abilities. In other words, they demonstrate the quality of your thinking. Think of writing as performing two main functions: giving shape to your thoughts, and communicating those thoughts to others."

I do enjoy reading quotes by writers on writing and the internet is a great source for these. Some seem pretty archaic and pompous while some of them are quite amusing. So I thought I'd share these ones which I came across which made me smile. Hope they bring a smile to your faces too.

“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.”
W. Somerset Maugham.

“Writers are a little below the clowns and a little above the trained seals.”
John Steinbeck.

“I love being a writer, what I can't stand is the paperwork.”
Peter de Vries.

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.”
Robert Bach

“Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.”
Mark Twain.

“Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.”
Norman Mailer.

“What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.”
Burton Rascoe.

“The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.”
Agatha Christie.

“Lower your standards and keep writing.”
William Stafford.

You can find some great words of wisdom from the likes of Simon Cheshire, Jan Needle and Roz Morris in my book:  Become a Writer – A Step by Step Guide by Ann Evans, published by Greenstream Publishing. ISBN 978-1907670244

Amazon link:

Please visit my website at: www.annevansbooks.co.uk

Friday, 3 August 2012


My new book
Had a lovely surprise today when I popped into Waterstones, my latest book, Become a Writer – A Step by Step Guide was there on the shelves. I knew it was out but I hadn't actually seen a copy yet, but there it was in all its colourful glory!

It was just so nice to be able to pick it up, feel its glossy cover and flick through the pages. It was bigger than I thought it was going to be, and I don't think I could have felt more delighted.

This is book number 13, but forget superstition, this book feels very special because it's something I've been wanting to write for quite some time.

Up until recently I haven't felt qualified, if you like, to write a book on 'how to write'. Then a couple of years ago I began running writing courses which people seemed to like. Also workshops in schools have taken off and I discovered that I really like giving tips and advice on writing. So it seemed logical to put a book together covering all the many aspects of writing with all the perils and pitfalls that can be avoided.

Looking back at my early writing days when I hadn't a clue how to make a start on a story – and worse, to figure out why my work was being rejected, if it hadn't been for other writers sharing their knowledge and experiences through their 'how to' books, and giving talks and running workshops, I would never have improved.

I wonder if anyone else remembers the great writing seminars that used to be run by Freelance Market News back in the 1980s? The wonderful day-long seminars were always held in Manchester and usually had about four different speakers. I used to come away from there feeling inspired.

More recently being a member of the Scattered Authors Society (SAS) has resulted in some fantastic seminars and lots of opportunities to get advice from the other Sassies. Who said writing was a lonely and solitary business?

Years ago I was a probationer with The Romantic Novelist's Association and remember a lovely two-day event held in Bournmouth. I think it was there that I saw and heard Mills & Boon writer Mary Wibberley. If ever a woman inspired an up and coming writer it was her. 

 With children's books taking the front seat over recent years it's taken me a few years to get any romances published but finally A Tropical Affair has been published by My Weekly Pocket Novels, and is now out as an ebook – and soon to be published in hard back. And Champagne Harvest comes out in a People's Friend novella on September 6th.
 So thank you Mary and all the other authors who share their knowledge so willingly. I just hope that my Become a WriterA Step by Step Guide will prove to be a stepping stone for other budding writers.

Become a Writer – A Step by Step Guide by Ann Evans, published by Greenstream Publishing. ISBN 978-1907670244

Amazon link:

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Romance is in the air - or airwaves.

ROMANCE is in the air - or at least on the airwaves, and only on the fictional scene too, but hey, you can't have everything in life.

My romantic novel A Tropical Affair came out as an ebook on Amazon yesterday, which is almost as exciting as when it was first published as a My Weekly Pocket Novel by DC Thompson last year.

Then, it was published under my maiden name of Carroll, as all my books previously have been for children, so to keep the genres separate, I decided to use a pseudonym. I've changed back to the name I've had for the last 30 years for this ebook issue in the hope that young people who have liked my books in the past will stick with me as they grow up.

And I don't think there's going to be any confusion as the picture on the front definitely indicates it's a romantic love story and not a children's adventure or mystery story.  Although Shannon, my heroine, certainly has an adventure or two when hero, Dane Kincade arrives on the scene all intent on destroying her home and livelihood - and stealing her heart.

The original book published under my maiden name.

The lovely little My Weekly Pocket Novels don't have a long shelf life. With new pocket novels published every week by DC Thompson, they're only on the newsagents shelves for about week before being replaced by the next one. Not that I'm complaining because A Tropical Affair has been picked up by another publisher who is bringing it out in hardback in February 2013 - which I'm thrilled about!

Producing an ebook means you have to get a new cover, so luckily for me, I share a photographic studio (Tysall's Photography) in Nuneaton; so I bribed my pal Rob Tysall to create the cover for me with promises of coffee and choccy biscuits.  Then, I needed a happy couple who wouldn't mind posing in a clinch. My daughter and her boyfriend were persuaded with promises of wine and choccy biscuits (not to be consumed at the same time however).

And did we all jet off to that tropical paradise? Oh if only! The resulting book cover was some clever studio shots combined with a touch of wizardry on photos Rob took on a trip to Switzerland! And they say the camera never lies!

Please visit my website at:  www.annevansbooks.co.uk and www.tysallsphotography.org.uk

You can read the first chapter on Amazon:   http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008MY24BO