Thursday, February 28, 2013


After so much planning by Belinda Farrell, Seona Ford and their team, come and meet them tomorrow morning, Friday 1 March at the launch of our famous Essex Book Festival. 9am-12noon at Chelmsford Library - free entry.  The super Dave Monk of BBC Essex will be broadcasting live and so we have a chance to listen, as well as chat to Dave - one of my favourite presenters.  Authors Wendy Jones and Elizabeth Day will be interviewed by Dave tomorrow and there will be some surprises - so bring your camera!

This is our twelfth Book Festival and the public interest grows every year.  The chosen authors, presenters, journalists - around 60 well known folk will be appearing in libraries and prominent venues around Essex during this upcoming month.  In the EBF brochure (website  you will find details of personalties such as Michael Rosen, Sandi Toksvig, Gavin Esler, Roger McGough, Rt Hon Jack Straw, Polly Toynbee, Josephine Cox and numerous other luminaries appearing in venues across Essex throughout March.

Tomorrow though, at our kick-off, we'll meet 'Friends of the Festival', a group now firmly established to support the work of the Festival and a chance to meet an enthusiastic network of people across the county who are passionate about books. Pat Gaudin is in the chair and recently appeared on Phoenix 98fm and certainly impressed my colleagues at Business Biscotti at Marygreen Manor, Brentwood.
Pat Gaudin, Chair, Friends of Essex Book Festival and yours truly during presenter, Michelle Ward's Eat My Lunch radio programme on l February 2013
Tomorrow, too, you can also meet members of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and pick up copies of our latest magazines and learn about this great Society - founded in 1894 -with an enviable  membership across the world.  Our Life President is the Rt Hon.Lady Shirley Williams. Discover more details on

Do come and meet us tomorrow in Chelmsford Library or at one of the exciting gatherings around Essex during March.  By the way, I will be at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester  on Saturday 2 March, around 11am to hear Anthony Horowitz talk about his book in The Power of Five series, Oblivion.  May even taken a photo or two!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013


Size Barnes paid a visit to our stand, so here he is with Colin Taylor and yours truly. Size is a professional photographs and you can see his work at:
Among dozens of interesting people we met yesterday at the Tourism and Leisure Show at Five Lakes in near Maldon.  These ladies represented the Group Travel Organisers Association Eastern Branch and both hailed from Bedford.  Check our more pictures on my Twitter A/C   sylviaakent.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Mark Reed from Brentwood Theatre
Thursday 21 February is rather special this year.  Our Brentwood Writers' Circle will once again be talking to the public at this great show.  Will be posting some photos from previous years to give you a flavour of a great day to come.  Free Admission as you can see, and also a chance to sample what Essex has to offer in the way of relaxation, learning and sport. Watch this space!

Sunday, February 17, 2013


The lovely Jacqui James and Frank Toohey from Basildon Hospital Radio came to Billericay to carry out an outside broadcast and met Keith Ball (centre) who entertained us all for the afternoon.  Really enjoyed the event.
Introduction of Carly Hickson  with her wonderful voice 
Keith Ball with a little fan
A super fund-raising event was held at Billericay's ancient pub, The Chequers in the High Street on Sunday 10 February in memory of LORRAINE SHENTON.  It was great to meet so many local familiar faces and the entertainment by Keith Ball, son of the great jazzman Kenny, was such a treat.  Around £640 was raised on the day and Lorraine's family were there to remember her.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Jan with manager Karl this morning
Looking forward to Jan Williams signing her new book ESSEX FOLK TALES which is taking place on Saturday 16 February from 11am till l pm. This is happening at Chelmsford's Waterstones.   Looking forward to seeing many of our friends and fellow authors there.  Good luck Jan!   Now back home and reflecting on a good morning in the bookshop.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


I really look forward to the Essex Book Festival every year.  This is my 12th Festival and I can say that I was there at the very start when I was lucky enough to be invited to talk about my first book - what a great showcase!  It is the county's top cultural calendar event, always held in March with venues throughout the county, mainly at local libaries and a fabulous line up of speakers and presenters. 

The 2013 Essex Book Festival promises more great events and will take place at a venue near you between 1 - 31 March. So make sure the dates are in your diary, and watch this space for details.
In addition to the March events, there is a series of other events and activities throughout the year including workshops, readers' days and writers' days and other sorts of events. Keep an eye on the Extras section of the site for details. Brochures outlining events are displayed in all Essex Libraries and on line at

Saturday, February 09, 2013


Although we expect snow tomorrow in Essex, England, the snowdrops won't be affected.  Gathering information and research notes for a new column on gardening.

Friday, February 08, 2013

This message is for people who like to write and to go one step further than solitary scribbling, often to no avail. I've been reading through Mervyn Love's rather special website entitled and I like it very much. Mervyn advocates entering writing competitions, poetry competitions, essay competitions, short story competitions, screenplay and theatre play competitions - and if you study his website, you will find something for everyone who enjoys either picking up a pen or hitting the keyboard.

It's true folks - you need look no further!

Time to stop dithering about. No more 'shall I, shan't I' but more along the lines of 'I can do it!'. Because you can! This is a great way to improve your writing and gain confidence - even if you don't win. But if you do - the feeling is great. And the prize helps too.

Entering a writing or poetry competition is one of the best things you can do. Especially if they offer a critique of your story. Well worth the money to find out how you're doing and what you need to do to improve. Why not check out Mervyn's website and see what is on offer with regard to:

  • Short Story Competitions
  • Poetry Competitions
  • Non-fiction Competitions
  • Performing Arts Competitions
  • Rolling Competitions
  • Children's Writing Competitions
  • Book Writing Prizes