About Me

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Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Monday, 24 March 2014

Books, Charity, and Reflection


I admit that I have not been very good at keeping you updated on my general well-being of late.

Basically, I have been reading more, chilling out with my family, and doing research for my next book!

I also decided to undergo laser surgery just over 2 weeks ago and have only just started to get my vision back to a reasonable level. It is amazing to be able to see without glasses/ lenses for the first time in over 20 years!

Before the surgery, I did manage to go on holiday to Switzerland to see the in-laws. It was amazing... beautiful!


Anyway, as you can see on the right-hand side of this blog, I have many links to other blog sites. I found it easier to try to split everything up into different topics, otherwise one blog would become cluttered (I have always been too organised for my own liking!)

So, I wanted to update you on my latest the postings...

THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY

My post on my Trilogy being available at the local library.

A READER'S PERSPECTIVE

This is where I review books (and occasionally movies)... Find out about the books I have read recently, and why I liked them. I do post all my reviews on Goodreads - link is on the site.

STORIES FOR ALL

I recently posted about a donation made to Gurnard Primary School.

TIME TO ESCAPE

Find out about recent donations made to various charities.

Happy reading!

Vanessa :) xx

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Welcome to the lovely Val Poore

Thank you, Val, for agreeing to be featured on my blog. You are a regular at this blog and I really enjoy reading your comments! So, it’s time for us to find out about you, via one of your books…

I have read “Watery Ways” and really enjoyed it.

4 stars – Review on Amazon and Goodreads

“I rarely read a book like this, but I have to admit I really enjoyed it. The best way to describe it is as a diary, albeit, a very well written one!

Having lived in Rotterdam for over three years over several years, and having had my first daughter there, I was intrigued by this story, which is on the whole based in Rotterdam. I lived close to the Oude Harbour when I first lived there and frequently went for walks alongside. But, I had no idea about what it was like to live on a barge (apart from the fact I suffer from sea-sickness, so prefer to be on dry land).

My husband’s parents are Dutch too, so I found the descriptions of Dutch traditions and locations really interesting.

I have to admit that many a time I found myself laughing out loud due to some of Valerie's experiences... Especially the one where she falls in the water!

I would highly recommend this book if you have a interest in Dutch culture and would like to know what it is like to live on a barge, as well as the work involved to do so.”


What do you think of my review?

Vanessa, it was really great to read your take on the book because you know Rotterdam, you have Dutch relatives and you are familiar with my world, so it felt as if you were really interested. To be honest, I was a bit nervous when you first mentioned you'd lived in the Netherlands, as I sometimes take the mickey out of my Dutch friends, so I wasn't sure what your response to that might be. It was quite a relief to know you recognised certain characteristics and found my descriptions amusing. (I did indeed!)

Do you find it hard to write about real life? Are there times when you leave things out on purpose? I always worry someone might get offended if it’s real!

Well, as I've just said, I'm usually a bit uneasy when I know people know the country and the places I'm writing about. It was the same with my first book, African Ways, which was about South Africa. I don't find it hard to write about real life, no. In fact, I like it because there are always things you can observe in real life that are funny or strange or make good anecdotes. But I always try and write with affection as well as humour as I am genuinely fond of my adoptive countries and their people. I tend to hope that will come through in my writing so that no one will feel any reason to be offended.

Can you tell us a bit about how you came to publish your book? What was the editorial process like?

Watery Ways is my second book, so you might say I'd already had a trial run with African Ways. I published through the Internet print-on-demand site, Lulu.com, and they used to have heaps of useful tutorials about editing and formatting. I'm afraid there are fewer of these now as they try and sell those services, but when I started, these were a huge help. I've written all my life, and I used to do marketing and copywriting for my job in South Africa, so I've been pretty used to the whole editing process for years. All the same, I made a lot of mistakes with the formatting of African Ways, and I tried to correct them when Sunpenny Publishing offered to publish Watery Ways for me. Each new book has been a learning process and since I've now published five books, I hope one day I'll really get the hang of it!

Do you think social media is important? If so, how do you prioritise your time?

Yes, I do think it's important, especially these days when so much is done online. Most books are sold as e-books now, and people get to know about authors on the Internet too, so you can't escape it really. Unfortunately, as I have a busy day job as a teacher, I don't have much time for social media, so I try and do a bit in the morning and in the afternoons or evenings between classes and marking assignments, but I never really manage as much as I know I should. I usually end up doing a splurge before I go to bed, but since that's when everyone else is going to bed too, I probably lose most of the benefit that might bring. It all disappears into cyberspace!

Do you have a favourite author or genre? Did anyone inspire you to start writing?

I don't really have a favourite genre, no. I like detective fiction as long as it's not too gory, and I also like historical novels, but I try to read contemporary literature as well because I really love beautiful writing for its own sake. I'm a big fan of Graham Greene and John Steinbeck for that reason. I also read a lot of non-fiction, and I love books about living in other countries. It was Peter Mayle's Year in Provence that inspired me to write African Ways, actually.

Would you ever write a fiction book? If so, what genre?

I have actually written two novels. One is the story of a barge skipper's son  (The Skipper's Child) and it's an adventure set on the Belgian waterways in the winter of 1962. It's targeted to young teenagers or YA, but it's really for all ages. The other is a humorous book about a girl trying to do the self-sufficiency thing back in the 1970's. It's loosely based on my own attempts at smallholding (a euphemism for pretending to farm). I don't really know what genre it is except humour, but maybe you could call it women's fiction.

Personally, I loved living in Rotterdam. Can you tell us your favourite places there, and why?

What can I say to that except the Oude Haven where I have my barge? I have loved it there ever since I first saw it. It's lively and quirky and eclectic. It's also very noisy, which is why I nearly always go away at the weekends. But I also love the Witte de Withstraat which is the arty area. It still has the old classic buildings and it has a great vibe too.

Can you name a Dutch dish that you love and another you hate?

Aah Dutch food...yes...I actually quite like it. For instance I really enjoy stamppot - you know, when they mash veggies into potato and pour gravy over it. I also love stroopwafels, those syrup wafer biscuits, and gevoelde koek, the almond filled crispy cake things...yum. One, no two, things I loathe are raw herring and eel. To me, that is totally gross!

If you were to write a book about your youth, can you tell us something that comes to mind that we would enjoy reading about? Come on, I bet you have some good ones…

Well, you could say I've done it already. The humorous book I mentioned earlier, which is called How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics, is full of things I got up to in my youth, such as carting sheep around in an old Renault 4 and even in a VW Beetle. I had a lot of fun back then, which is why I decided to write a novel and weave those true anecdotes into the story. I was a real hippy back in the day, so maybe that will come out in another book sometime!

Where we can find out more about you and buy your books?

I have a blog, Vanessa. In fact I've been blogging for more years than I care to remember! It's about anything and everything I feel like writing about, so it's very mixed, but it is sometimes about my writing, and my fellow authors too - people like you come and join me there now and then.

My books are all available at Amazon worldwide, as well as through the Book Depository and of course on Lulu.com. There are also four of them on the iBookstore, which is thanks largely to Lulu.com.

I tell you what. I'll put all the links below here, so anyone who's interested can follow them.

Thanks a million for having me here Vanessa, and I hope you'll also come and join me for a visit to mine when the weather's a bit warmer!







Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A Game of TAG... Writing Process - what is yours?

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I am thrilled to be tagged by Shelley Wilson - read her post HERE!

I just met Shelley via Twitter (@ShelleyWilson72) and she sounds like a lot of fun.

It's been a long time since I got tagged for anything and this is the kind of challenge I enjoy. Recently, I have seen a range of "awards" been handed out like sweets, which has made me doubt their authenticity.

This, however, is a simple game of TAG... I read her blog, which was really enjoyable, then answer the same questions and pass it along to other authors. Sounds good to me! So, here goes.

Firstly, can I say that I LOVE Shelley's resolutions - I relate to them completely... let's hope I do her post justice!

WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

At the moment (and might I add this is the first time I have written this for all to see) I am researching the life of my great, great grandfather and grandmother. 


The story will be historical fiction, and is based on the information I have managed to get via letters found by my father. It should be fascinating... when I finish it! Someday...

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHER WORKS IN ITS GENRE?

The story of a Lancashire man who sails the world and ends up in a place like Gibraltar had never been written before - you can't get more unique than that!

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

I write to escape from everyday life. I also like to explore themes, ideas and human nature. I have always been interested in maths and science and so enjoy investigating the possibilities. I did this with my TRILOGY, and will do it again for my historical fiction novel.

Recently, my life has taken priority and promoting my trilogy has taken over. I am planning to focus more once things settle and I have most of the research done. 

I have started writing the new book, but it is a daunting task. I want to make sure that I do the characters justice, and the more I dig the more I want to dig... the past is intriguing.

HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?

Once I start writing, I just let it flow. 

With HYBRID, I just wrote and let the characters dictate what happened. This is probably why there are so many characters - I never consciously stopped characters popping in the pages, and just wrote as if it was real life. I mean, in real life, especially at university, you meet hundreds of people. So, to restrict a book to ten characters in that setting would have been wrong. 

But, as I learnt the 'trade', I realised I had to curb my use of characters so as not to confuse the reader.

COMPLICATIONS continued on from Hybrid and I did have to go back and check details, but overall it is a different scenario and I could still play around with the situation.

RETURN, was the hardest because I had to tie up all the loose ends, make sure I was consistent, and ensure I got a different type of ending - which I got! Yay! In theory, it is an ending that leaves you thinking...

I think it is important to write something slightly different form the norm, even if you are inspired by mainstream ideas. Make it your own.

I have to add that I started writing ideas down on a notepad, then transferred it on to an old laptop, then wrote straight to the computer, and now have started writing notes on good old fashioned paper again. Whatever works for you! But, I have been plagued with migraines too so my writing has had to take a back seat until I get better.

Anyway, that's it - four short questions answered.

I recently blogged about Gary Alan Henson (@garyalanhenson) and would like to tag him to answer these questions . I would also like to tag Jerrie Alexander () who I recently meant via the ASMSG group.

Thanks for reading,
Vanessa

p.s. Tomorrow I am bravely going to go for eye surgery to hopefully give me 20-20 vision (I might even become bionic... maybe not!) so I might be offline for a week or so... wish me luck! :0)

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

A fantastic FREE eBook for children

Last year I decided to compile ***GURNARD’S BOOK OF DELIGHTS*** after I launched a literary competition to celebrate World Book Day 2013 at Gurnard PrimarySchool

On World Book Day, I presented the school with two signed copies of The Bother in Burmeon by S.P. Moss, and challenged the school children to write a story involving time travel.

Luckily, some did.

The imagination these children showed was fantastic, and the effort taken by the younger ones to illustrate their stories impressive. All children received a certificate, and some The Bother in Burmeon goodies kindly donated by S.P. Moss, who subsequently agreed to judge the Years 4 and 5 entries for an overall winner. I judged the Reception to Year 3 entries. These overall winners in each year group received a £5 Amazon Voucher I donated.

I wrote my first children's story, DETECTIVE GLEN, specifically for this collection and had a lot of fun with it.

Anyway, it's "Read an eBook week" and we are also celebrating World Book Day this week - so it seemed like a great time to run a FREE promotion. So, for the next five days you can get this wonderful collection for nothing! 

Please download it now via amazon to your kindle or kindle device, and if you would be so kind as to leave a review once you are finished I would be really grateful.

=>=>=> Amazon LINK Worldwide

Have a fantastic day.
All the best,
Vanessa

Gurnard's Book of Delights is a collection of stories written by children aged between four and ten years of age for a Primary School literary competition. They had to write a story involving an element of time travel... and they certainly did that.

It features three bonus stories by authors, Vanessa Wester and S.P. Moss, who judged the entries.

"I've had so much fun reading your wild and wonderful stories. There were stories that made me giggle, stories that made me gasp and stories that amazed me with the places they took me to. I travelled in time back to the war, the Victorian times and even further - to the Aztecs, the ancient Greeks and ancient Egyptians with your stories. The time travel mechanisms were most ingenious - from boffin-like time-travel machines to everyday objects like a TV and a toy train. Not to mention a hat and some rather fabby pink boots - and even magic guinea pigs! Thanks to all of you who took part and keep on writing..." 

S. P. Moss

"At Gurnard Primary School we have always been proud of the children's Literacy achievements, which we believe to be strength of the school, so I was delighted when Vanessa Wester approached me to discuss running a story writing competition, as this would be a way to celebrate the children's work and share their skills with others. The result is "GURNARD'S BOOK OF DELIGHTS" which includes stories written by some of the children in an anthology, published alongside excerpts and short stories by professional authors.

Having now read the children's stories and witnessed their creative talents, I know my confidence in their abilities has been justified. There is such a wide variety of themes here, with the winners in each year group producing some fantastic storylines. I hope, as you read through this anthology, you will agree we have some very talented children, who may well grow up to become authors in the future.

Reading and writing are such important skills for life, by encouraging and motivating children to take an interest in these areas; we are providing them with the tools for the future. In turn this will enable them, as they grow to adulthood, to access and maximise the exciting opportunities in the work place and indeed in the world that will be available to them, many of which do not even exist at this moment in time. 

Many thanks to Vanessa Wester and S.P. Moss for the time they have given to judging the entries and also to Vanessa who has given so generously of her time in compiling this - our first book of stories. I do hope you will enjoy reading the children's stories and who knows; if this book is successful we could look forward to several more editions being published in the future!

Congratulations to all of the children who have had their work published - I am very proud of you all."

Liz Jackson
Head teacher - Gurnard Primary School 2013