The Fabulous Anne Williams

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest today, Carol. I’m Anne, and I write about books on my book blog, Being Anne ( I live in Wetherby in West Yorkshire - a lovely place to be - and since taking early retirement from my Civil Service job four years ago, it’s been so good to be able to spend my time doing things I enjoy. And one of the things I enjoy more than anything else is reading - and then telling other book lovers about the books I’ve read.
The lovely Anne.
I started my blog nearly five years ago, and in those days there weren’t quite so many book bloggers around. I’ve been writing reviews since I first had a home computer, sharing them on book-related sites, but starting the blog meant that I could save them all in one place. When people started reading my posts and commenting on them, no-one was more surprised than me - I thought i’d only be talking to myself and the few friends I’d told about it. People contacted me, asking me to review their books - and publishers started too, offering me books for review. I realised I just couldn’t review everything I wanted to, so I started to add interviews and guest posts to draw attention to books - and amazingly people seemed to like those posts too.

By summer of 2016, the blog had 220,000 views - and I decided I’d like to move things up a notch and build a better platform. So I taught myself the IT skills, bought my own web domain, and moved everything across to Wordpress - and felt so proud of myself! When I relaunched, it was a real thrill when #BeingAnne trended on Twitter - me and Kim Kardashian, eh?! I now usually post six days a week, sometimes more than one post a day, and have over 6000 followers on social media.

The rise of Twitter and Facebook has totally changed the way I do things - I now also have a page on Facebook too (, and particularly love being part of the Book Connectors group ( which makes it so much easier for bloggers and authors to make connections. I tweet about my posts, and share those from people I know to help them get a larger audience. I always copy my reviews to Amazon too, and that really makes a difference for authors - I’m a Top 500 reviewer there. And the real cherry on the top was when the blog became a prizewinner - it won the Best Pal Blog Award at the 2016 Annual BloggersBash, and for a second time in 2017.
Making lots of new friends.
So why do I do all this? There’s absolutely no money involved - I do receive copies of books for review, but probably buy even more. I do it for the sheer joy of doing it. I’ve discovered the most wonderful books, and it’s been a real delight to share them with other people. It’s so difficult for any author to get their book noticed these days, especially when they self-publish or are with a smaller independent publisher, so it’s really lovely to be able to help with that. I’ve also made so many friends among authors, publishers and the wonderful supportive book blogging community. There’s a great social side too - I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to some wonderful book launches and parties. Most of the events are in London - but that’s only two hours away by train, and I do have my pensioner railcard!

If you read any of my reviews, you’ll find they’re always positive - I may criticise, but never end on a negative note. There are books I may not enjoy (and when I really don’t, I rarely finish) - you’ll never see them on the blog, but I do share my thoughts with the authors and publishers. And I’m delighted to report that I’ll be reading Carol’s book, Resolutions, for a review I’ll publish on New Year’s Day - and really looking forward to doing so. 

The Swan's Road by Garth Pettersen.

Welcome to Garth Pettersen, my fellow Tirgearr author.

Garth's fabulous sounding book, The Swan's Road, is released today.  This is definitely one going on my 'To Be Read' pile!

I'll let Garth tell you all about it.

In the eleventh century, Cnute, the Viking king of Engla-lond and Scandinavia, sails with his son, Harald, and his shield brothers to Rome. Thrown off course by a storm, they follow the route up the Rhine. When Harald hangs back to assist Selia, a beautiful Frisian woman, his path turns perilous. Newfound enemies, retainers of Robert the Devil, Duke of Normandy, pursue them. Harald, Selia, and their companions fail to rendezvous with King Cnute, and are forced to travel cross-country on horseback. If Duke Robert's plan to assassinate Cnute succeeds, an invasion of Engla-lond will follow. Can Harald and Selia reach Rome in time to warn the King?

             Garth Pettersen is a Canadian writer who lives in the Fraser Valley near Vancouver, British Columbia. When he's not writing, he's riding horses and working with young, disabled riders.Garth's short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies, and in journals such as Blank SpacesThe Spadina Literary ReviewandThe Opening Line Literary 'Zine. His story River's Rising was awarded an Honourable Mention for the Short Story America 2017 Prize, and his fantasy novella, River Born, was one of two runners-up in the Wundor Editions (UK) Short Fiction Prize. His debut novel, The Swan's Road will be released November 15th, by Tirgearr Publishing.


Welcoming Paula Martin

Today I am welcoming my good friend, the wonderful author Paula Martin.  Many readers, including myself, have loved her Mist Na Mara series set in beautiful Connemara.  If you haven't read these yet, I highly recommend them.

Setting my novels in Ireland

I prefer to set my novels in places I know, or at least have visited, and as I’ve done quite a lot of travelling, I have a wide choice of possible locations. In a sense, however, I don’t actually ‘choose’ because as soon as I start thinking about a story, it seems to decide its own setting.

That was certainly the case with ‘Irish Inheritance’. Although my original idea grew from an article about a Paris apartment which had been abandoned over 70 years ago, I knew my story would be set in Ireland, not in Paris. I even had the first few sentences in my mind:
“A house in Ireland?” Jenna Sutton stared over the mahogany desk at the lawyer. “Someone I’ve never heard of has left me a house in Ireland?”

I then had to make a decision about exactly where in Ireland this house was going to be, but that was fairly easy to decide, as the part of Ireland I know and love most is the west coast – especially the counties of Galway, Clare, and Mayo.

Clifden Bay
 I deliberately kept the exact location of the house fairly vague, apart from saying it was a couple of miles from the small town of Clifden in Connemara, the western part of County Galway. 

Even though I knew there were no large Victorian houses in the specific area I was actually imagining, I used artistic licence to locate ‘my’ house overlooking Clifden Bay.

Killiney Bay, near Dalkey

When Jenna and Guy, my hero and heroine, take a trip across Ireland to the east coast, I was able to draw on my own similar trips, and so they visited some of the places I’ve visited, such the remains of the medieval Glendalough monastery, the wild area of the Wicklow Mountains, and the small town of Dalkey.

For ‘Irish Intrigue’, the first spin-off story from ‘Irish Inheritance’, I needed a small village not far from Clifden, and so I ‘invented’ a village and named it Skelleen. When one of my readers said she had studied a map but couldn’t find Skelleen, I had to admit that I’d actually amalgamated two different villages by ‘moving’ one from County Mayo and linking it to another in Connemara! Artistic licence again.

I used my own photos of various Irish locations to help me set the scenes, and Google’s ‘Street View’ was a godsend for refreshing my memory of many places. In fact, by the time I visited Clifden again while I was writing the fourth book in the series, I’d ‘driven’ around the town so many times with Street View that I knew the place like the back of my hand.

I did, however, take my friend on a ‘special excursion’ to a retail park in Galway, simply because I wanted to see where one of my characters would need to park his car to watch for someone leaving the cinema! Fortunately, she’s a fan of my Irish books so she didn’t mind.

Knowing my setting allows me to see places in my mind while I am writing and, hopefully, that helps my readers experience these places, too – just like one of the first reviewers of ‘Irish Inheritance’ who wrote, “I felt that I was there with them.”

The Mist Na Mara series is currently available for pre-order at the special price of 99cents/99pence for each book until November 13th. Links for all 4 books can be found at (Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Nook)

Paula Martin lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons.
She had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching, and is thrilled to have found publishing success again with her contemporary romances.
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places. She has travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.

Amazon author page:

A jolliday in Lincoln. Part 2

Lincoln Castle is a fascinating place. It was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068. It is a place of Kings and Convicts.  Henry VIII and Catherine Howard visited here in 1541 and stayed at the Bishop's Palace, where so many Kings also stayed.  It is said that during their visit to Lincoln Catherine met with Thomas Culpepper and their fates were sealed, both would be executed a year later.

It is now possible to walk the full length of the medieval curtain walls.  This gives a fine view of the town and an impressive view of the cathedral. One of the towers, known as Cobb Hall, held the dungeons for condemned prisoners. They would be taken to the top of the tower and there publicly hanged.

 The executed prisoners, both men and women, were buried by Lucy Tower, in unconsecrated ground. Their graves can still be seen.

The Victorian prison is a very interesting place. You can wander around the cells and get a true feel for life within these wall. Here, they practised a separation system, where prisoners were kept isolated from the corrupting influence of their fellows. This was even applied in the chapel, where each prisoner was kept out of sight of any other. It still has an austere and atmospheric feel to it.

From here we went on to see an original Magna Carta, which is kept at the castle. However, we were to be disappointed. The document cannot be kept on view all the time. It obviously needs to be carefully tended and protected. It was explained to us that it had gone for a much needed rest in a darkened room. I know the feeling!

Unfortunately, I was not able to visit the Bishop's Palace either, as it was closed for restoration.

A jolliday in Lincoln 1

Lincoln is one of my favourite cities to visit. It's not too far, probably about an hour and half - two hours, depending on traffic. W were blessed with lovely weather on the day. We headed towards the cathedral for our first port of call.

I always make a point of visiting Katherine Swynford's tomb when I'm there. She was an amazing woman, first the mistress of John of Gaunt and then his wife, it is from her that most of our royal family and those of the continent are descended.
She is the great grandmother of Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII. Her brother in law was Geoffrey Chaucer, of Canterbury Tales fame.

The cathedral was looking beautiful as the sun streamed in through the stained glass windows and threw colourful patterns on the floor and pillars.

 An interesting place, often over looked, is the cathedral library.  This was built by the then Dean of Lincoln, Michael Honywood. He commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to design it, It is one of the only two Wren libraries still in existence.
 Honywood bequeathed his five thousand books to his library, many of them originals, and they are still there. This includes one of the 250 surviving manuscripts of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
After spending some considerable time here we moved on to the castle.

Busy Times and Bookmarks.

Ever since RESOLUTIONS was published (August 9th) life has got a little hectic.  I've been lucky enough to be invited along to a give some talks on writing and my novel or just chat to people at meetings.

Following my earlier recording for the audio magazine, I was invited along to a coffee morning in the main Huddersfield library, to meet some of the volunteers (readers) and the people who use this service.

A few announcements were made about the changes coming to the magazine. One significant change was that the magazine would be going out weekly from January instead of every other week.  This was met with a round of applause and cries of delight. It is obviously a popular and much needed service.

I managed to give out a few of my bookmarks. I was also informed that there was a waiting list for the library copy of RESOLUTIONS!

Earlier in the week, I went along to a member's meeting run by the Central England Co-operative. This is the co-op who run the store in our village. I was asked to talk about my creative writing group and it was announced, at the start, that my first novel had recently been published. Whilst giving out my bookmarks, quite a few people wanted to stop and chat with me about the novel. This was followed by a lovely afternoon tea - there are some perks!

I was asked many times about how the book came about and how I got it published. I was surprised and delighted at the level of interest the novel generated. Many people said they would be downloading it - so fingers crossed!

I have no idea what had been said but something obviously made me laugh.

I recently attended a friend's  birthday party, well armed with bookmarks. Quite a few friends, by now, were asking for one. You only have to catch my eye and there is a bookmark in your hand!
We were laughing at the irony of the situation. I have an ebook published but I'm giving away bookmarks.

It's all good fun and a talking point - who knows I hope the bookmarks lead to a few sales! If I do bump into you, please ask me for one, I guarantee I'll have some in my handbag.


A fascinating experience

Yesterday I went deep into the bowels of Huddersfield Town hall. It's not a place I have ever visited before. I didn't know any of this existed.
I'd been invited to be featured, as a local novelist, on the Audio Magazine, which is organised by our local authority.
The Town Hall is a grand place, with a wonderful concert hall, organ and marvelous acoustics. Many musical evenings, concerts, orchestras, operas and choirs play there. However I was whisked away far from the grandeur down to a place few ever see!
The small room we were in, used to be the studio used by the BBC when they recorded events in the hall. These days a huge van and trailer park on the street for the outside broadcast.
It really was like being in a cubby hole! There were no windows or natural light at all. I talked about Resolutions, my novel, initially. After this, I was asked to read one of my short stories. We finished by recording some of my poems. These will not all feature on the same magazine, the poems will used over a period of several months.
This is a wonderful organisation. As with many things it could not function without its volunteers. One volunteer may read the news, sport or ex-servicemen's magazine. Another lady talks about local history, places and artefacts. Yet another, will deal with the admin of getting the MP3 players distributed and returned. Each magazine will have a feature, maybe a local author (like me!) or a representative of another organisation, for example, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
I was delighted to know that all the listeners, loved e-books. I assume that this is because the font can be adjusted to each person's sight requirements.
The magazine goes out to between 400 and 500 listeners. Some of them overseas, as far afield as Barbados.
I don't expect the magazine I'm involved with will go out for another couple of weeks, so that brings us to early October. At that time a podcast will be available for a week on the Transcription Service facebook page (KRTN). However I will put a link on my own facebook page at that time. Unfortunately I can't give you an exact time for my piece.
So, thanks to Penny for looking after me and making me feel so welcome. I'm sure everyone of your listeners is very grateful for the work you, your colleagues and the volunteers do.

The Fabulous Anne Williams

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest today, Carol. I’m Anne, and I write about books on my book blog, Being Anne ( www.bein...