Hi! Welcome to Ann Evans' blogspot.

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

Sunday, 13 December 2015

A LETTER FROM MY CHARACTERS by Ann Evans



It's lovely when you receive a letter from someone who's enjoyed your book. But a little more unusual when you get a letter from the characters themselves!

I was curious when the postman delivered a brown padded envelope, and even more curious to find a hand written letter on a kind of scroll, and something wrapped in a piece of black material and tied with a black ribbon.

A cursory glance at the letter had me noticing the words Cross of Aes Dana – which, if you've read my YA time slip book, Celeste you'll know is a magical pendant that my character Megan (alias Celeste) had to guard with her life as it possesses the power of eternal life.



I instantly thought it was from one of the teenagers that I'd spoken to at their school recently – until I saw the letter was signed by Megan, Fraya and Jamie. That trio of names rang a bell – my characters in the book!

They said they'd retrieved the Cross of Aes Dana for me and wanted to thank me for creating them!

Carefully, with excitement growing I untied the package. Oh my goodness! I couldn't believe my eyes. To actually see the Cross of Aes Dana, a figment of my imagination (although the tribe did exist a long, long time ago) but there it was in my hand.



It had the look of age, it had the gemstones, it had the feel. ..
A pendant cast in iron and inset with gemstones. It was
no bigger than a man's thumb and formed the shape of a cross.
In the centre was a garnet, blood red and a powerful protective force.
Inset along the four lengths were honey brown amber crystals and
jasper with layers of red, brown, and white — again for protection.
At the four tips of the cross were four small hematite stones with
their opaque red sheen that merged against the grey of the iron in
which they were set. Truly a fearsomely powerful mix.






I held it tightly, just as Megan had done…


As sleep took over, Megan tried to let her mind drift, to let
the memories flow back. If she could only make sense of all this,
she would be glad to remember everything. But nothing became
any clearer. Eventually as she was drifting halfway between sleep
and semi‐consciousness the image of a face formed in her mind — a
woman's face — like before.

She looked about thirty with dark brown plaited hair. Her
eyes sparkled at first as she mouthed incoherent words, but then
dimmed, and became wreathed in sadness as she faded away. Megan
tried to call her back, to ask what she had said. She
couldn't make out the words. It was so far back... so long ago.

Tossing and turning, murmuring in her sleep, Megan rolled
over and slept deeply. The face drifted back, closer, as if she were
leaning over Megan as she slept. And then she pressed something
into Megan's hand before fading away.

Megan felt the warm angular metal of a cross against her
skin, and smooth gemstones set within the iron, and the thin chain
that enabled it to be worn around the neck.

In her sleep Megan's fingers touched the pouch she wore
around her own throat. It contained a fusion of herbs to keep away
the plague — at least that's what the elders said, and who was she
to argue?

Her fingers tightened around the object in her hand. The
cross was heavy, made of iron — a burden in so many ways...
She slept on unconsciously checking the cross was still there
throughout the night, clasping it tightly in her hand.

Only as she started to wake did she feel it slipping away.
Desperately she tried to hang onto it but as consciousness took
over, so the cross slipped back into the unreal world of her dreams.
Her bedside lamp was still on and she uncoiled her clenched
hand and stared at it, half expecting to see the imprint of the cross
in her skin.

But there was nothing. Just marks of her fingernails in her
palms. She felt for the pouch of herbs around her throat. But of
course they, like the cross were simply the imaginations of a dream.
Or fragmented memories of a life she had lived long, long
ago.




I discovered who had taken the trouble to bring my story to life. A lovely lady called Val Hunt. Val is a fabulous award winning sculptor who uses recycled materials – particularly drinks can metal, to create stunning works of art. I've written about Val's work a few times for magazines, but I never expected this!

Please do take a look at Val's work. She is such a talented lady. Thank you, Val!

http://www.arthunt.co.uk/






And if anyone would like to read more of Celeste, it's available in paperback and as an ebook.



View the trailer at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFDBEt9o3Fw


I'd love it if you'd like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Ann-Evans-Books-146957850210/?fref=ts

And follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/annevansauthor




Thursday, 30 July 2015

A Trailer for Celeste


I SUPPOSE authors are all constantly trying to find ways to tell the world about our books, and seeing as quite a few authors are now having trailer's made for their novels, I thought I'd give it a go, and see if it makes any difference to sales.

This was for Celeste, my YA time slip thriller, set here in Coventry, which is published by American publisher, Clean Reads, formerly known as Astraea Press.

Not being particularly technically minded to put a trailer together myself, I took up the offer of a fellow Clean Reads author in the USA, who runs Videos by O, creating videos for any budget. My budget wasn't very big, but that didn't make any difference to the effort that Opal put into the video, with her sending me mock ups throughout the process, and making the changes that I asked for.


Persuading my photographer friend, Rob Tysall (www.tysallsphotography.org.uk) to head into Coventry's City Centre with me a few weeks ago, we set out to take the necessary photos that I'd need to create the look that I wanted for the trailer. 

The story is about teenager, Megan Miller who moves to Coventry with her parents and starts to experience feelings of deja vu. These feelings become stronger and stronger and she gradually realises she has lived, and died before in Medieval times when her name had been Celeste. The story particularly revolves around the ruins of Coventry's old cathedral.


So photographer, Rob and I headed for the old cathedral, armed with a length of blue ribbon and my daughter's black hooded top. He took lots of different shots of the cathedrals and other atmospheric buildings nearby, which I have to say I'm really really pleased with.

It was a fun day, although I noticed a group of sightseers giving me a wide birth, as I stood in the shadows of St Mary's Guildhall with my hoodie hiding my face for one particular sinister shot. 

Back at the studio, Rob produced the images, and did quite a lot of photoshop 'magic' on the 'evil monk' shot you see at the end. Believe me when I say he did a LOT of photoshop work! I don't actually look like this - honestly!!

I then played about with the different photos, working out which order they needed to appear for the best effect, and used the blurb from the back of the book, in short paragraphs, to indicate which words went with each picture.

Finally it was emailed off to Opal who did her 'magic' adding music and a 'moving' effect, and following a few tweaks, hey presto all done!

Who knows if it will result in more sales, but anyway, it was good fun doing it. Here's the link if you'd like to see the finished result:










You can purchase Celeste as an ebook or paperback:



http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/celeste-ann-evans/1119649538?ean=9781500982492



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

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Plaque for James Hadley Chase


You just never know where your random blogging will lead you. A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post on the subject of authors who had inspired me to write. I wrote about crime thriller writer, James Hadley Chase (1906-1985). He was a prolific writer, known as the Thriller King of Europe in his heyday. He wrote around 90 crime novels, with around half of them being made into films.

However, I wasn't aware of any of this when I first picked out one of his novels from the library shelves when I was a young teenager – probably too young to be reading his style of books!

James Hadley Chase
As a child I would go to the local library with my mum, a big Agatha Christie fan. And while I did try reading her books, I have to admit they didn't really grab me. By chance I picked up a James Hadley Chase book - and I was hooked!

He wrote fast moving, page turning stories. Many of them set in gangland America. They're action packed with intriguing characters who have a knack of digging great big holes for themselves through their own greed or jealousy. I thought at the time that he was an American author, but I later learnt - when researching his background for the aforementioned blog, that he was an English author who created his authentic settings and dialogue by making use of American street maps and an American slang dictionary. 

As a teenager, I had no intentions of trying to become a writer, but when I caught the writing bug in my early 20s, I recalled JHC's writing style and did my best to write fast moving page turners with cliffhangers in all the right places - just as he did.  

So with that blog done I didn’t give it another thought, until April of this year when I got a phone call out of the blue from a man called Simon Cole. He explained that he lives in the house that James Hadley Chase was born in. The mention of the author’s name was like a blast from the past. And I listened with great interest as he explained how he and his late wife had been liaising with the Ealing authorities to be allowed to have a plaque erected on his house, marking Chase’s birthplace. After a five year stint of negotiations, permission had been granted. And Simon went looking for someone who JHC meant something to, to unveil it.

Simon Cole and I
I didn’t just want to get a local councillor to unveil the plaque,” Simon told me. “So I Googled 'writers inspired by James Hadley Chase' and up came a blog by Ann Evans.”

Simon then asked me if I would come down to London on 15th May to do the official unveiling of the Civic Plaque. Would I!!

Beforehand though, I thought I'd better re-read some of his books, and I was dreading it in case I no longer appreciated him so many years later. But I need not have worried. Within the first few lines I was hooked all over again. And every time I go to the library now, it's to try and find more of his novels.

Admittedly I was a little nervous when I had to deliver a short speech about the novelist to Simon's invited guests on the day, which included the Lady Mayor and a former mayor, the new MP for Ealing, members of the Ealing Civic Society, friends, neighbours and Simon’s family.

And when it came to the actual unveiling, I could only just reach the cover. Thank goodness for high heels! Then it was everyone back into the house for a garden party which I had no problem with! 

It was a fantastic day and something I was thrilled to be asked to do. And the most amazing thing is that the opportunity arose from simply writing a blog post.

In case you don't know very much about James Hadley Chase, here's a few details:

Crime thriller novelist, James Hadley Chase was born on 24th December 1906. His real name was Rene Lodge Brabazon Raymond and he wrote under a number of pseudonyms, namely: Raymond Marshall, R Raymond, James L Docherty and Ambrose Grant.

He left home at 18 and worked selling books and children's encyclopedias. Just before the 2nd world war he realised there was a demand for American gangster books and so at the age of 33 he tried his hand at writing one.

His first book was No Orchids for Miss Blanchett, which it's said he wrote over six weekends. It provoked considerable controversy because of his explicit depiction of sexuality and violence. Nevertheless - or maybe because of this, it became the best selling book of the decade. It was also turned into a successful stage play which ran for over 200 performances in London's Prince of Wales Theatre. In 1948 it was made into a British film, and then in 1971 the American film The Grissom Gang was based on it. Not bad for a debut novel!

Another of his novels – Miss Callaghan Comes to Grief which was a lurid account of the White Slave Trade, was actually banned by the British authorities and both he and his publisher were fined £100 for publishing an obscene novel.

Having a book banned certainly didn't lessen his popularity and he went on to write around 90 crime thriller novels, about half of which have been made into films. He earned the reputation of being regarded as the king of thriller writers in Europe.



How about you? Has a blog post led to something special happening in your life?

Thanks to Rob Tysall of Tysall's Photography (http://www.tysallsphotography.org.uk) for coming along to take the photos.

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




Friday, 12 June 2015

Congratulations to Alison May on the e-launch of Midsummer Dreams.

  
Congratuations to author Alison May, whose brand new romantic comedy, Midsummer Dreams, published by Choc Lit, has its e-launch today!

To help launch the book on its merry way, a whole bunch of authors are blogging this week about dreams, there's a list at the end of this blog of those taking part. So please do pop along and see what others have to say on the subject of dreams.

Alison set us a few prompts to keep us all in line, but before that, here's a taste of what her new book is all about. It sounds FAB and I can't wait to read it!


Midsummer Dreams by Alison May

Four people. Four messy lives. One party that changes everything …
Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.
Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself.
Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.
Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach.
At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.

You can download the kindle edition of Midsummer Dreams here: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00XJOEJTM

Now, more about dreams:

I had a dream…
Actually I'm always dreaming, which is good if you happen to be asleep. Not so good otherwise. Sometimes they're good dreams, but not always. Often my dreams are so realistic I'm positive it's real, then I wake up, glad it was a dream, and then I wake up again realising I only thought I was awake when I was still asleep. Confusing at times!

I had a nightmare…
Let me tell you about two nightmares. One was about a one-handed gravedigger (tricky). I was able to use him weeks later in a mystery story competition which took 1st prize and earned me a nice little £200!

The other nightmare occurred when I was about ten. I dreamed I woke up (nothing changes!) and at the far wall of my bedroom was a shadow of an arched doorway. As I sat in my bed, it opened and a hooded monk walked out and came right round my bed and leant over me. I woke with a start. Phew! Just a dream! And then I looked at the far wall – and there was a shadowed archway of a door. Did I scream for my mum!!! The shadow stayed for about a week – even during the day. Spooky.

I've never forgotten it, but eventually put it to good use in a book. In my YA thriller, Celeste, the very same incident happens to my main character, Megan. And it scares her just as much as it scared me. Makes for a good scene though!

My dream for the future…
World peace, obviously, and an end to suffering, misery, poverty etc etc., but on a more personal note, my dream for the future – a glass conservatory leading into my garden (pretty simple!) But I'm going to have to sell a few more books before that becomes a reality I fear! Still I can dream.

So how about you – what's your dream for the future?

And don't forget Alison May's new book, Midsummer Dreams.






 

And if you're desperate to discover more about that shadowy arched doorway, Celeste is available at all good book outlets, including: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Celeste-Ann-Evans-ebook/dp/B00KQ8XIGE






Other authors taking part in today's Midsummer Dreams blog are:

Jane Lovering http://www.janelovering.co.uk/2015/06/midsummer-dreamsalison-mays-launch-and.html
Rhoda Baxter http://rhodabaxter.com/?p=3102
Sheryl Browne http://sherylbrowne.com/
Laura James http://www.lauraejames.co.uk/
Lisa Hill https://lisahillwriter.wordpress.com/
Sally Malcolm http://sallymalcolm.blogspot.co.uk/
Chris Stovell http://homethoughtsweekly.blogspot.co.uk/
Clare Chase http://clarechase.com/
Janet Gover http://janetgover.com/
Morton Gray http://mortongray.blogspot.co.uk/
Henriette Gyland https://henriettegyland.wordpress.com/
Georgia Hill http://www.georgiahill.co.uk/
Christina Hollis http://christinahollis.blogspot.co.uk
Kathryn Freeman http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk/
Bernadette O’Dwyer http://secretwriter1.blogspot.co.uk/
Debbie Flint http://www.debbieflint.co.uk/read-it-write-it-sell-it
Julia Ibbotson http://www.juliaibbotsonauthor.com
Anne Stenhouse https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Janice Preston http://janicepreston.co.uk/
Linn B Halton http://linnbhalton.co.uk/midsummer-dreams-and-psychic-nightmares/
Helena Fairfax http://helenafairfax.com/
Heather King http://regencywriter-hking.blogspot.co.uk/
Sally Jenkins http://sallyjenkins.wordpress.com/
Holly Magill https://hollyannegetspoetic.wordpress.com/
Evonne Wareham http://evonneonwednesday.blogspot.co.uk/ (Wednesday)
Kate Haye http://katyhaye.com/add-more-narrativium/ (Saturday)





Please visit my webite: http://www.annevansbooks.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ann-Evans-Books
Twitter:https://twitter.com/annevansauthor

Friday, 6 February 2015

The Story of Celeste

  


Megan Miller doesn't believe in ghosts or in reincarnation. But that soon changes after moving to a new city and a new school. 

It starts with feelings of déjà vu. Vague feelings at first that remain annoyingly just out of reach. Then the flashbacks start – memories of ancient times and fragmented dreams of when she had been called Celeste. 

And then the haunting begins. After visiting the ruins of the old cathedral, Megan believes some dark ominous presence is haunting her, following her, whispering in her ear. And always the same question, where did you hide it?

Megan becomes entwined in a frightening and heartbreaking world as she slips uncontrollably between her present life and her medieval past. But the links are fiercely strong and she fears that a new friend is actually a past enemy – and evil has followed her through the centuries.


The idea for my YA novel, Celeste was first sparked when I was writing an article about Coventry's oldest church, St Mary Magdeline's in Wyken, Coventry. This ancient church which is still in regular use, dates back to the 12th Century and was built by the 4th Earl of Chester, Ranulf de Gernon (1099-1153).  


St Mary Magdalene's Church

As I wandered around the ancient gravestones and paused by the lepers window imagining those unfortunates receiving the Holy Eucharist through the small window in the stonework, I found myself drifting back in time, and a story began to formulate in my head.  


My original hero was going to be Ranulf, and my heroine was to be a young woman who hears echoes from the past when she visits the old church and hears him calling her name.


I even had the title – At the Bend in the River. However the story was stop/start for many years. It finally began to take shape when I took the main action away from the little church and centred it around Coventry's City Centre with its old and new cathedrals and the cobbled streets. 

My St Mary Magdeline's remained in the background, in the locality of where my heroine lives after moving to the city. Also I made her much younger. A 14 year old rather than an adult. I gave her a name, Megan Miller, Megan after my granddaughter, Miller because it hints at an old Medieval trade. 

Megan's family re-locate to the city, and the school she starts at, is my old Cardinal Wiseman Grammar School. The common where she walks – where she senses a sinister presence that whispers in her ear, is Wyken Croft. The story told itself to me as I walked my dogs around this area.
 
Ann and Lola
The small gemstoned cross that is at the heart of the story was a gift from the Gods. I can't remember when that formed in my head, I'm just grateful that it did! 

And the ghostly scene in Megan's bedroom when Friar Lucius – or rather his demonic spirit visits her in the dead of night through a dark shadow on the wall, was real! 

Just as you will read how Megan experiences this ghostly moment that terrifies her, it is actually based around a real incident from my childhood. It made quite an impact then and I'm glad I've finally been able to use it.

The Cathedral Spire, the 300 stone steps of the spiral staircase are also real. It's been some years since I climbed them, but the views through the slit windows as you go up, and then the view from the top would have been so different in Celeste's day.
 
Coventry's Lady Godiva, Pru Poretta
 As for Talitha, the hand-maid to Lady Godiva, she may have been real. I heard the name after a friend's granddaughter was christened Talitha. It sounds ancient, it suited the character. 

And Lady Godiva, well she is most definitely real – and an important figure in Coventry's history.  

Today the city has its very own Lady Godiva, Pru Poretta, an ambassador for Coventry. 

Maybe, after you've read Celeste, you will want to follow in her footsteps. I hope you do.
 


Here's a short extract from Celeste as she starts a new school in a new city, knowing no one.  
Megan scanned the sea of strangers. Boys and girls of her age, all staring at her, sizing her up, judging her, deciding whether she was friend or foe. One or two were whispering, others were smiling. 
And then one face. One face shone out from all the others, and Megan’s knees buckled with shock.
Oh there you are Ruth! Megan almost cried out in delight, a huge smile breaking out across her face. There you are! It's been so long since I saw you...  
The next second she halted herself. Stopped herself from falling over her own feet to reach the girl with short corn coloured hair and dark eyes. What on earth was she thinking about? Who on earth was she thinking about? She didn't know the girl! She didn't know anybody here. 
But just for one split second, she had such a feeling of recognition it left her trembling. 
Thank you, Freya,” Mrs Lovejoy put her hand lightly on Megan's arm, indicating for her to go and sit by the girl who had spoken – Freya.
Freya? Where on earth had she got the name Ruth from?  

                                                          * * *  
If you would like a pdf version of Celeste to read and review, I would be happy to send you one.  
Celeste is available as an ebook and in paperback from Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Amazon and other outlets. www.amazon.co.uk/Celeste-Ann-Evans-ebook/dp/B00KQ8XIGE
Have you read The Beast, The Reawakening and Rampage?  
Need tips on writing and getting published, my book Become a Writer – A step by step guide may be just the thing for you. Available in paperback and as an ebook. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Become-Writer-Step-Guide/dp/1907670246

My website: www.annevansbooks.co.uk