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Monday, 15 August 2016

Suzan Collins ..... deja vu!

In the past I have occasionally repeated an interview if it was relevant to do so, but as far as I can remember I have never interviewed anyone twice, famous or otherwise. Tonight is the exception, because Suzan Collins, whom I interviewed in 2013, is such a multi-talented person and excels in just about everything she does, either as healthcare specialist, consultant, or author.
It’s time for an update, so sit back and enjoy!!

Suzan, It’s almost 4 years since we last talked and exchanged news, so what have you been doing since 2013?
It’s been a busy couple of years. SPC Consultancy is busy especially in inspecting care homes and delivering training on the different types of dementia and I am the Director of Get Writing, East Anglian Press, oh and the East Anglian Festival of Culture #eafoc.

The last time we met your publisher was due to release ‘Beyond My Control: How the Health and Social Sector Need Not Have Failed My Mother.’ How is that going?

It’s going really well and thanks for asking. The main reason for writing the book was to tell people what happened and to give advice on what they can do if it’s happening to them or someone close to them. The book is selling well, of course people can get a copy from their local library and I’ve had feedback from many telling me how it has helped them and guided them.

Before I ask you about ‘Get Writing’ have you written any more books?
Yes, I wrote two books for staff working in care on the topic of Supervision:
Supervision Skills pack (buy singularly or both together)

Supervision Skills has been devised to equip managers and senior staff with the knowledge and skills to enable them to provide supervision meetings in the workplace. This workbook will provide guidance on how supervision is to be delivered to staff and explains the processes and requirements for supervision.

Making the Most of Your Supervision
This workbook is written and aimed at new staff or staff who want a more effective supervision meeting with their supervisor.

Was there any particular reason for writing them?
I do believe that staff need to be supported in their job, there is a lot to do and not  a lot of time to do it in. By having 1-1 supervision sessions with a trained supervisor they can share any concerns they have and receive feedback on their practice. Unfortunately some supervisors are given this role without any training which can result in badly handled 1-1 supervision sessions or not held because the supervisor is not confident to facilitate the sessions.

I hear you’re the author of the Chatty Cat series. Tell me more…
Chatty Cat is my cat I got from the rescue centre. They named her Twinkle but as she chats a lot Chatty Cat seemed more appropriate.
In 2014 I wrote the first book in the Chatty Cat series which is about Chatty Cat, settling into her new home with her hooman, me. Yesterday, 14th August 2016, I released book 4.

Book 1: Chatty Cat: My Purr-Fect New Home
Book 2: Chatty Cat: Spring Into Summer
Book 3: Chatty Cat: My Purr-Fect Friends
Book 4: Chatty Cat: Activity Book.

These books are unique as they are narrated to me by my cat. You can read about the life of a cat and at the same time read some helpful tips on caring for cats.

I notice that Chatty Cat has her own Facebook page, blog and Twitter account. What does she chat about?
I tell my own stories in my Chatty Cat books because they are about me and what I do and what I think. They are books for children but adults read them too #chattycat.’

I know someone else’s pet was in Chatty Cat Book 3 after an auction  for an excellent cause. If someone wants a chance to have their pet featured in book 5: Chatty Cat: Autumn into Winter, is this an opportunity to do so?
In book 3 ‘Chatty Cat: My Purr-Fect Friends’ I ran an auction in which the highest bidder had their pet named in print (money from auction went to Alzheimer’s Research UK), I am again offering a lucky reader the chance to have their pet named in book 5 ‘Chatty Cat: Autumn into Winter’ with all monies raised from the auction going to a cat rescue centre. Click here if you would like to place a bid

I see in book 3 ‘Chatty Cat: My Purr-Fect Friends’ you’ve touched on sensitive subjects of bullying and dementia (in different chapters). Is there a particular reason why you wrote about these two subjects?

Children and adults suffer from bullies and bullying and also children and adults will know someone who has dementia. Both subjects need to be out there so they know:
·         What bullying is and how to stop being a bully (if they are one) or if they’re being bullied what to do
·         What dementia is

Both children and adults read Chatty Cat books and as you say I have only touched on these two subjects (or rather Chatty Cat has). We will be expanding on them but not sure at the moment if I should have them in a chapter in book 5 or in separate books told by Chatty Cat. Perhaps readers can let me know.

If you would like to buy any of Suzan’s books here’s the link to her author page on Amazon. I know from experience that her Chatty Cat series is great fun and that her more serious books are fascinating to read and highly respected.

Tell me about:  Get Writing, East Anglian Press  and the East Anglian Festival of Culture #eafoc.
Two years ago I ran a set of writing workshops and I had some fab authors come to facilitate some workshops for me: Jayne-Marie Barker, Glynis Smy, Rosy Thornton, Jo Wilde and  Ann Bowyer. The workshops covered Getting Started and Planning  . Researching .  Editing . Publishing . Marketing. Some of the writers were already writing and some enthused by the 3-day workshop said they would start writing. I expected for the three days to finish and that would be that but one writer announced that she was so motivated she was going to write a book. I said something like ‘If you are serious I will help you self-publish it and if this is done before my pop-up bookshop in July you can have a stall. Every writer then said I am going to do it too and they did. We formed a group ‘Waveney Author Group’ (WAG) and we’re currently on tour (a year on tour and it ends next month).
The pop-up bookshop July 2015 was such a success authors booked almost immediately and we were soon full. In July 16 we held the first ever East Anglian Festival of Eafoc #eafoc with authors coming from across the country. We are now planning for the second festival which will be in July 2017 and will have a wider genre.
Each year more writers come to our Get Writing workshops and to date I have helped 22 authors independently publish their books and see on Amazon, many are published under my imprint, East Anglian Press.
Along with running the structured writing workshops Get Writing also invites people who want to come and join other writers and finish writing that book in the fabulous 55 acre grounds of Gunton Hall and finish at 4pm with a swim in the pool (and have some time afterwards if writers wish to discuss the writing they have written that day).
*Come for the facilitated writing workshops or come and join other writers and finish writing that book!*
The first of our 3-day writing workshop this Nov will be a little different, yes it will cover fiction but in particular it will be a day of ‘Writing a Novel.’ I have booked 10 times novelist Jane Lovering from Yorkshire and I am very excited. And if writers wish they can book our 2-night writing retreat in Jan which is being held in an 18th-century country house hotel. Writers can write in their rooms or in the room we have booked and there is the option to discuss their work after dinner around the open working fire.

More info can be obtained from

Contact details for Chatty Cat:
·       Chatty Cat on Facebook
·         Chatty Cat on Twitter
·         Blog:   

Contact details for Suzan:
·         Website

·         Blog:

Thursday, 7 July 2016


This week until 13th July my book Trouble With Swords is on what is known as a Kindle Countdown promotion.

In effect it means that for this week only Amazon are allowing me to sell the Kindle version for 99p / 99c for promotional purposes.

I have to admit this is not a charitable action on my part, I want to sell as many copies as possible to boost Trouble With Swords in the Amazon rankings. So PLEASE follow the links below and order a fantastic book for less than £1 or $1.

Remember that for that tiny amount of money I wrote a book that you'll thoroughly enjoy, editors perfected, graphic artists designed and Amazon will deliver direct to your Kindle within seconds. Talk about a bargain!

For USA:

For UK:

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Exam invigilation

Once again, this year I'm an invigilator for A' level exams at a Winchester 6th form college. The difference is that this year I'm also invigilating at a local school for GCSE year kids. 
What a difference!

The A' level kids are more mature and know that this is their big opportunity in life to open doors, potentially go to university and impress future employers. They're a joy to work with and they know that invigilators are there to help them achieve their maximum potential within exam board rules and regulations.

To a large extent GCSE students treat exams as a laugh and some kids try to see how far they can take the invigilator before they get to breaking point. Inexperienced invigilators are all too easily taken in by multiple toilet requests, items falling on the floor and the wish to be "liked" by the kids. Unfortunately being liked is an impossibility as much as a mistake. The key is respect and that's not an easy commodity to come by these days.

Kids are too aware of their "rights" and that invigilators have little recourse to any form of redress if challenged, but some seem to have little realisation how important GCSEs are and treat the whole exam season as a game. On two or three occasions I've noticed kids put their heads on the desk and go to sleep, and in a couple of exams I've seen the same two kids not even bother to pick up pens, let alone try to attempt any answers.Whether asleep or awake it's their exam and as long as they don't disrupt the exam, or cause any form of interference they can do what they want. As an adjudicator that's not my problem. My job is to make sure those that do want to do well have the best possible chance to do so.

Whether A' level or GCSE I have the greatest respect for those kids who overcome the pressure of the exam 2 months and go on to the next level of their education. I'm proud to be part of it.

Blog on, Dudes!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Radio interview today.

I don't do many interviews, not because I don't want to so I can preserve my Greta Garbo privacy..... I just don't get asked!

I've done a couple of TV interviews in the past and I have one coming up on Channel 4 sometime in the future, but today's interview was different because it wasn't about me. It was about Authors Reach Ltd.

I was interviewed by Samantha Robb on Belfast 89fm Radio today as the CEO of Authors Reach Ltd, about how Catriona King, Shani Struthers, Sarah England, Gina Dickerson and I set up the company and where we want to take it in the world of books. This is the link to the interview.

Friday, 20 May 2016

A great week!

A great week for Authors Reach! 

On Wednesday we signed an agreement with Gardners Books, the largest distributor in the UK, to become a full consignment publisher, which means our books will always be in stock and available to UK shops on next-day delivery. 

On Thursday Waterstones confirmed that Authors Reach books can now be ordered for collection in Waterstones' stores. We are now also in the process of submitting our books for putting on Waterstones' shelves. 

That's not bad for a co-operative of 5 like-minded authors!

Check us out on our website

Have a great weekend.

Blog on, Dudes!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

An article in Portsmouth's Star & Crescent magazine about Authors Reach

I wrote the following article about Authors Reach a couple of weeks ago and it appeared in last week's edition of Portsmouth's Star & Crescent magazine.
Please visit the Authors Reach website at and find out more about us and our books.

The job of being an author doesn’t stop with the words “The End”. In many ways that’s just the beginning.
Publishers tend to spend their marketing budget on promoting books from authors who they know will turn out best-sellers time and time again, and they tend not to take risks with new or unknown writers. In many ways, who can blame them? However, that means there is a massive glass ceiling that makes it very difficult for a new author to get noticed by the reading marketplace, let alone bookshops, where shelf space is at a premium and margins are tight.
Towards the end of 2015, five UK authors decided to change that and started buying back the rights to their books from their various publishers in order to form their own company to market and promote their titles…. which from experience, they were aware is something authors have to do anyway, with few exceptions.
In addition to writing books, each of the five authors brought a specific skill-set to the group, among them being proofreading, web design, artwork, media know-how, social media expertise and marketing, The five felt the combination made them a capable operation and they therefore launched Authors Reach Ltd last November to initially concentrate on promoting each other’s books. That developed, through a sharp learning curve, into knowing how to negotiate print runs, organise distribution and bookshop stocking, to the extent that all five are now representing Authors Reach at book fairs and literary festivals, book signings, and even  speaking to groups on creative writing. Radio and television interviews are taking place, with all five founders now having given radio interviews, and podcasts are scheduled, leaving little time for the real job in hand… writing books!
What’s different? The five founders of Authors Reach – Richard Hardie, Catriona King, Shani Struthers, Gina Dickerson and Sarah England – are all previously traditionally published authors with a diverse collection of genres ranging from crime to the paranormal, romance to horror, and young adult (YA) to fantasy. They started their new venture fully aware of the problems that lay ahead of them. They had an agreed strategy, as well as a clear plan as to how to maximise sales through online book sellers, both paperback and e-book. Unlike many smaller publishers, Authors Reach believes that independent book shops have a future in the UK, alongside the bigger chains, and that creating relationships throughout the UK is most important. Authors Reach intends being part of that future by bringing their books to readers and bookshops alike.
At the beginning of 2016 the first two books were relaunched under the Authors Reach banner and logo, with new covers and ISBNs (Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords). Both are now in print, stocked by distributors and on shop shelves. Further Authors Reach books will be following very soon, with a potential back catalogue of over twenty books.
Authors Reach may not be a major player, or even bijou yet, but the potential is massive and may even indicate the future of publishing.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Authors Reach update

Last year Sarah England, Catriona King, Gina Dickerson, Shani Struthers and I decided to buy back some, if not all, of our book titles and self publish.

Courageous, or suicidal?

We have all had books published, indeed Catriona has had 13 titles released in one series alone, and the rest of have a fan base mostly on Amazon, though in my case it's predominately in book shops in the UK. We made the decision with our eyes open and formed Authors Reach Ltd to publish, promote and market our titles to the readers of books, wherever they may be and whoever they are. Most importantly we knew we worked well together as a team and would add massive value to each other's efforts.

And so it has proved.

We now have successfully working relationships with Nielsens, Ingram Spark (LightningSource) and Gardners (the UK's biggest book distributors). New editions of existing books, as well as new titles, are coming out under the Authors Reach banner and our marketing initiatives are bearing fruit in increased sales.

Making the book seller and reader markets aware of us is a major priority, so getting our books on shelves, in libraries and in schools is key. We have a number of signing sessions lined up, and three shops in the South have agreed to sponsor and hold Authors Reach launch events. We will also be talking to the Film and Creative Writing degree course students at a top university in March. We will also be starting a marketing campaign to independent book shops, by post, email and phone, though one major chain has already expressed interest in taking our books and another is a target.

Meanwhile, plots have to be thought up, books have to be written and manuscripts have to be edited. The life of an author isn't all fan worship and book signings.

Have a look at our website on You can buy signed copies of our books there (we'll even pay the UK postage), and find out more about myself, Shani, Catriona, Gina and Sarah and Authors Reach Ltd.

Blog on, Dudes!