Friday 14 April 2017

Interview with author Lynn Hooghiemstra

My guest tonight is someone I’ve meant to interview for some time, but for one reason or another I’ve never got around to it. That’s no excuse, because as an American author with a Dutch heritage she’s a fascinating person to talk to and has a way with words that makes other authors envious.

E Lynn Hooghiemstra's profile photo, Image may contain: 1 person, close-up

Wow, thank you, Richard!

It’s all true, Lynn, but I hope I haven’t embarrassed you too much!

No, just feeling humbled.

Sorry! You know, It occurred to me that although I’ve known you for some years, I actually don’t know too much about you, but that’s so often the way! Can you fill in the early gaps?

I would be happy to. It’s been a pleasure following your career as I grow mine. And it all started with a simple connection on GoodReads, I think. 

I think you now live in Arizona, but I know you lived in Seattle for many years. How different do you find the two areas, in the same country, both from the climate point of view and culture?

Actually, I live in Colorado now, I don’t think I could handle the weather in Arizona. The climate in Colorado is very different from Seattle; it’s very dry here. I keep asking people if it ever rains because I’m actually missing rain. And being near water. This is the first time I’ve lived in a landlocked part of the country/world and it’s taking a little adjusting.
Culturally it’s different too. I’m still observing and learning. Boulder, the college town I live in, is quite liberal and shares many of Seattle’s mindsets, but much of state, outside of Boulder-Denver is quite rural and has some different attitudes, so I’d not encountered in person before. A learning experience, for sure.

Sounds a fascinating place. I read your novella “Tales from the Fountain Pen” last year and found the premise and story enthralling. It obviously resonated with you, so I’d love to hear the background to the story and what made you write it.

Tales from the Fountain Pen by [Hooghiemstra, E. Lynn]Thank you. Yes, “Tales from the Fountain Pen” is close to my heart. It’s loosely based on family stories and events from WWII. I’d tried to write the stories many different times, but it never came to together. Then one evening I was going through some old junk and pens, and found my mother’s fountain pen from the early 1940s. It still worked and on a whim I started writing with it and from there the stories started flowing. I can’t really explain it, it’s almost as if the pen held memory. A haunted pen if you will.

That’s amazing. Was it an idea , or an event that made you decide to write?

I’ve written for most of my life. My first piece was when I was 8 or 9, a poem about an ant that I gave to my mother for mother’s day. I might actually still have it somewhere tucked in an as yet still packed moving box. Writing is like breathing. I think in stories/scenarios, everywhere I go I see potential for stories. The people I meet are all possible characters.

I think most real authors feel as you do. I know you wrote a short story for a collection called “Moon Shot:  Murder and Mayhem on the Edge of Space” which was co-written with another author Jack Bates. Did you find it easy collaborating on writing?

Moon Shot: Murder and Mayhem on the Edge of Space by [Bates, Jack, Hooghiemstra, E. Lynn, Tyler, Jeremy K., MacRae, Andrew, Rorhus, Suzanne Berube, Howe, Jeff, Long, Laird]My short story “Mayhem on Mars” which was included in the anthology “Moon Shot” was picked after an open call from my publisher Untreed Reads for murder mysteries set in space. It was a fun challenge. I haven’t had the opportunity to co-write with another author yet, but I can think of a few I would love to co-author with. At the top of my list are Jonathan Maberry and James Rollins. (Yes, I have a book in mind too and spec’d out in my head!)

How did you get involved in writing for the anthology of short stories?

Submitted to an open call.

As a mum, when do you find the time to write?

I think it was the excellent, and often undervalued, author Penelope Fitzgerald who said women writers are in essence kitchen table scribblers. We learn to take what time we can and write wherever we find ourselves. I’ve sat in the bleachers at swimming or robotics competitions with a notebook, and with one eye on the action and one on the page. I’ve written in parking lots and on trains or planes. I’m never without my trusty Moleskine notebook (they’re the only ones that survive repeatedly being stuffed into bags). On a side note, I often get pulled out of line at airport security because I have too many pens in my purse.

Have pen, will travel! Do you have your own room to write in?

Nope, I write wherever I can. I do have a desk in my bedroom right now. As the offspring and I live in a small apartment as I regain my footing after divorce. He’s at college most of the time and I’m freelancing for now.

Your publisher is Untreed Reeds in America. How did you find them, or did they find you?

I found Untreed Reads in one of those Writers books that lists publishers. At the time they were a very new publisher and eager for writers. I sent them a manuscript and they liked it. It’s been a good relationship.
So far, they’ve published “Tales from the Fountain pen”, “Mayhem on Mars” in the anthology “Moon Shot: Murder and Mayhem on the Edge of Space” (slated for re-release in paperback) and under a pen name, “Out in the Dark” by Nicola Adams. That last one I’m going to produce as an audio book. I’ll let you know how that goes!

The audio market is growing fast, so I’ll look forward to hearing how it goes. What book genre do you like reading and do you have a favourite author (asides from myself, of course!)?

Of course, you, Richard.
But aside from that my choices in genre change depending on what I’m in the mood for.
It ranges from Science Fiction to Mystery to Thriller to comic books, with a little non-fiction thrown in there too.
Some other authors I like are:
Terry Pratchett, Elizabeth Peters, Peter F. Hamilton, James Rollins, Jonathan Maberry, Herge (‘cause who doesn’t like TinTin?), and at times I dip back into Agatha Christie too. So, wide and varied tastes.

As an author, do you prefer eBooks, or paperbacks?


So do I, though as an author the eBook covers a much larger reading market. I love to browse through bookshops. Do you?

Yes, I could spend hours in a bookshop … and I rarely leave without books!

What do you feel is the greatest thrill about being an author?

The freedom to explore an idea, a story, a time period. To inhabit a different story for a time and to chronicle that story to share with others.

Lynn, many thanks for letting me interview you.

Thank you, Richard. It’s been a pleasure.

You can get Lynn's books and stories on mazon at:-

Thursday 16 March 2017

Self Publishing: Behind the Scenes with Authors Reach

Self Publishing: Behind the Scenes with Authors Reach

Richard Hardie is one of the founder members of Authors Reach, a co-operative of local authors turned self-publishers. Here’s how it works.   
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.

Sunday 30 October 2016

Sarah England and "Magda".


Magda: A Darkly Disturbing Occult Horror Trilogy - Book 3 by [England, Sarah]

My guest tonight is a freelance writer and has written more than 140 short stories for women's magazines such as Woman's weekly, while her first serial is due out in March - a murder mystery. Sarah has also written a  comedy novel called Expected  and a collection of horror stories and really wants to concentrate more on psychological thriller novels. The first two Father of Lies and Tanners Dell were published over the past two years and this week Sarah published Magda, the final part in the trilogy.

Originally from Sheffield, where she studied nursing, as did my daughter (though not at the same time!), Sarah now lives and works in Sheffield again.

Sarah, firstly many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. I know you’re from Sheffield, where all the best nurses come from, or so my daughter tells me, but did you start writing up there, or after you moved down to Dorset?

Well my nursing days were back in the dark ages. I qualified in 1984. After that I worked as a drug rep for nearly 20 years. I never had time to do any writing but always wanted to. When my husband was transferred  to the south coast for his job, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to start a new chapter in life. That was 8 years ago now and I’ve been writing ever since.  However, I really am a Northern girl and most of my stories and ideas emanate from my upbringing.

That certainly comes through. Many of your works seem to have a medical, or mental health theme. How much did your background influence you and indeed help?
A huge amount. I guess you could say it’s my USP. During my time as a drug rep I specialised in mental health – working in hospitals mostly – and when you spend as much time as I have in psychiatric units, and you realise that many of the staff are as bonkers as the patients, the well of ideas never dries up. Human nature is fascinating. Couple this with what you learn about psychiatric conditions and how really, none of us are precisely normal, and you have an endless source of material. I would also say that dispelling myths about mental illness and exposing the way the most vulnerable people in society are often treated, is something of a mission. Mental illness is very frightening and it can happen to any one of us at any time.

That's very true, Sarah. Whether it’s a short story, or novel how do you approach writing a new story from the point of view of plot and characters?

This is interesting. Mostly a short story will come to me with a beginning and an end, i.e. I will have the idea as if from nowhere, but it will likely be sparked by a memory or something someone said, or from a line in a book or film. This idea will then be jotted down and maybe used there and then, or saved until later. Once I start to work on an idea then I visualise the characters, how they look, the situation, how they speak…and do a rough draft so that the outline is down. Then I type it up, edit, print out, edit again, sleep on it, edit again. I ask myself what I am trying to say – why do I want to tell this story? What is the message? Then I go back and inject more humour, more thrills, clues or surprises – whatever is needed to increase reader enjoyment, because reader enjoyment is the primary aim. I do not write to please myself. I write to tell stories and to entertain.   

140 stories is an incredible number. How do you come up with such great plots? Does personal and past experience play a part every time, or do you just have a great imagination?

Memories and experiences play a major part. I seem to have travelled a particularly rocky road, and I’m one of those people who never forgets - not a single nuance, expression, slight or bizarre incident. Add to this the ability to kind of get into people’s heads. I can imagine being them – whether male or female, good or bad. I often think I should have been an actress – except I prefer to be in the shadows – lurking!

Persoally, I can't imagine you in the shadows, Sarah. You’ve now written a novel called Expected? It’s a comedy, that I know, but what’s it about?

I love ‘Expected’  Why do I love it? Well because my heroine, Sam Sweet, is a hapless, funny working class girl who has the worst luck in the world. There is no safety net – aka Bridget Jones with her parents in the country – she’s from a tough sink estate, and so when she gets into a massive personal, financial and career-driven mess, she really is in trouble. However, there is a ticket to get out of trouble if she plays by the rules – rules that most women would give their eye teeth for. All she has to do is have a baby with her fiancĂ© – the revolting, slimy surgeon, Simon. Do what is expected, you could say! But boy did she pick the wrong bloke! Simon may be a surgeon but he is also a game-playing psychopath. And now Sam’s grandchild-obsessed mother has booked the wedding.
 With her career injecting facial fillers in jeopardy, and her best friend turning into a sexually jealous fiend, Sam tries to persuade herself to marry Simon and give him what he wants. All her problems would be solved. However, not only does she loathe slimy Simon, she is terrified of giving birth. Still, it seems the only way. But then she falls in love. Wham! With the new director of the failing company – sexy American, Joel Madison - who holds her heart and her job in the palm of his hand. And then drops her. Of course he does. Cue a last ditch/nightmare attempt at salvaging her relationship with Simon.
This is about survival for ordinary girls who have to make tough choices, not always based on what they want, but what they have to do. Breaking point follows for Sam. So can she find her voice in time to get out of this mess? I hope, by this point, we’re all rooting for her….  Oh, and yes – it’s a happy ending! 

That's a relief! You also have a collection of horror stories due out soon? Tell me more!

Yes. Very excited. ‘3am and Wide Awake’ is a collection of 25 horrors, thrillers and on-the-edge stories. Most have previously been published, but about a quarter of them are new. The collection will be out on in the next couple of months, I hope.
After reading, ‘3am and Wide Awake’ my best friend didn’t sleep for 3 nights, and the funny thing is – since writing this story I have done a lot of research into demonology for my next book, and most of what I wrote really does happen. I guess that makes it scarier! Several of the stories are based on mental illness and many on the supernatural. Not all of them are horror-filled, though – some, such as ‘Different Colours’ or ‘Rough Love’ are about the darker, tougher side of life, and will hopefully give the reader a spectrum of subjects from which to choose. ‘3am,’ ‘Retribution’ and ‘Out of The Woods’ though – yes, very scary! 

Hide behind the sofa stuff! Do you intend concentrating on book writing in the future, or will you mix it with your short story writing?

Both. I currently have a 3 part murder-mystery serial in Woman’s Weekly, and several short stories to come in their Fiction Specials. I’ve worked very hard to ensure good relationships with many of the editors and really enjoy seeing my stories in print. So I don’t want to lose that.  However, my ambition has always been to be a novelist and now that 'Expected' is being published soon by Crooked Cat Books, I've actually achieved that, but I do now intend to concentrate on supernatural and psychological thrillers. I think that’s where I’m heading!

Sounds like it. So who, as a writer, has influenced you most, Sarah?

It started with Thomas Hardy in school. But there are so many I love, right across the spectrum – Susan Hill, Patricia Cornwell, Stephen King, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Minette Walters, Sarah Waters, James Herbert, Ian McEwen. If I had to say who had influenced me the most I’d say Stephen King because he is such a raconteur! It’s that ability to grip and hold the reader, that fascinating story on a dark night… age old talent we never tire of.

Do you have a set routine as a writer and a special place where you work?

Be Quiet!I get ideas while out walking or deeply engrossed in a book or film. Or out watching and listening to people. For the long-hand drafts I sit downstairs in the ‘snug’ – a small room lined with bookcases where I have a comfy sofa. Typing up is always done on my laptop in the study. I have to have total quiet. I cannot work if my husband is home banging and crashing around.  


What is the most important piece of advice you could give a budding writer?

Take critiques. Forget your ego – chuck it right out! Be ruthless and objective and take all the advice you can get. 

One last question, Sarah. If you could achieve one important goal within the next 5 years, what would it be?

To have a psychological thriller published - and selling well because people enjoy it!

Sarah, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, and congratulations on publishing such a consistently excellent and readable catalogue of stories. 

Sarah’s book-form short stories are available from her Amazon author page on

Sarah’s website as well as her blog is at

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: