Category Archives: News

Writers’ Holiday

Last weekend I went for my annual weekend away to Wales on the Writers’ Holiday to concentrate on my writing. I took my Work In Progress and (spoiler alert) got absolutely loads done. I’ve been to Writers’ Holiday for several years as the atmosphere is so brilliant and I always manage to come back with a few thousand words written.

If you have not been to Writers’ Holiday you don’t know what you’ve been missing. It was set up in 1986 by Anne Hobbs, is run by writers, for writers and receives no financial assistance from any source whatsoever, wrapped up in a totally informal and relaxed setting. It’s up to you what you choose to do but it’s all there for you just take what you want. You get to choose a wide selection of courses or you can use the time to work on your own WIP, or if you prefer just to chill and relax.

One of the great things about Writers’ Holiday it is not too much money. In fact, you get a lot for your money.  The fee includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, all weekend workshops and collection / return to Fishguard and Goodwick train stations.

The venue is The Fishguard Bay Hotel which nestles in rich woodland above Fishguard Harbour and overlooks some of the most beautiful and spectacular coastline in Wales, guests can view the lower town in the distance across the bay.


This was setting for Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, when stars like Glynis Johns, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole and many others stayed here. It was also the base for the filming of Moby Dick. In 1979, this former Great Western Railway hotel was designated as a building of historic and architectural interest. Set in a commanding position overlooking Cardigan Bay, the hotel offers an atmosphere second to none with oak panelled walls, high ceilings and an air of Victorian splendour.

I set off in plenty of time, having started my packing a few days before. It was hard as my son was home that week from University but as my husband and boys planned to paint the hallway, stairs and landing walls, it was probably better I was out of it.

The course I choose to do was Get your Non-fiction Book Written and Published with Simon Whaley. I’ve done Simon’s courses before and they are always inspirational and motivational. So I did not research the course as much as I would have done a new course or venue. Even so, I decided to write down a few questions of things I wanted to know about writing non-fiction books to make my life easier. The last thing I wanted was to not ask and get home and wish I did . I’ve learnt the hard way not to be afraid of asking questions.

I also thought about what I really wanted from the course. Was I just looking for a fun weekend away or did i have a goal in mind I had a goal or two, firstly I am on a tight schedule with my latest commission so needed to get a lot of work done and the ideal time was on the train there and back. The other reason is that although I have written some non-fiction books, I have a few more non-fiction book ideas I want to write. My aim was to kick start myself into doing it. It was a small group which is often nicer as you can get more from a course this way.

It wasn’t all work there is also some fantastic meals you get a buffet breakfast and a choice from three starters, main meals and puddings for lunch and dinner.

There is also a book room where both the course leaders and delegates can bring there own published books to sell.


You’ll be pleased to know, I managed to work on three non-fiction book ideas and developed them and also my latest commission which I had given myself a daily schedule. Now all I have to do is carry on the momentum and make an effort to write the book.

John Condon’s book launch

Last week Thursday, I went to John Condon’s book launch for his latest picture book, The Pirates are Coming written by John Condon and illustrated by Matt Hunt.

The Pirates are Coming

This is an ingenious picture book all about a little boy who keeps a look out everyday for pirates in a similar vain to the boy who called wolf but as John’s son, Eddie, explained the boy is not being naughty because he really believes it is a pirate ship he sees.

On arrival I was greeted by the staff of Queen’s Park Books, London, who offered me a drink, red wine, white wine and rum, which made it really difficult for me not to take an alcoholic drink as dark rum is one of my favourites. After much deliberation, I drank mango juice and managed to restrain myself from mixing it with rum. There were also some delicious pirate cupcakes.

The first person I met was John’s son, Eddie, who pointed out he was the boy in the cover of the book and indeed he was – right down to the red sash and the bell. Some of the guests also dressed up as pirates, including myself. This is a picture of me with author Matt Killeen and another of author, Cath Jones in her pirate costume. I interviewed Cath for the January 2020 issue #219 of Writers’ Forum see: An interview with… Cath Jones

John was also dressed up and he was the spitting image of he dad in the book. The likeness was uncanny. I was wondering if Matt did this intentionally.

During the launch we were entertained by violinist, Frank Biddulph, and John read the book with the help of his son Eddie who got the timing perfect and even managed an improvised squawk of the parrot.

I have also previously interviewed John about his writing process for the #216 Oct 2019 issue of the national writing magazine, Writers Forum. I have blogged about the interview here: An interview with… John Condon. In the interview John explained that even though The Pirates are Coming was accepted to be published first, due to the backlog of pirate based stories his other picture book The Wondrous Dinosaurium (illustrated by Steve Brown) was published first.

All in all a very successful book launch for another excellent picture book. I can’t wait for the next one.

To find out more about John take a look at his website or follow him on Twitter @John_Condon_OTT

Happy New Year to you All

My goal for 2019 was to build-up my author platform by blogging regularly and hopefully creating a following. I feel I have achieved this to some degree. I have blogged regularly, I have done several Christmas fayre’s to sell my many books and have continued doing school visits many at schools I have been to before. It is always lovely when the staff and children want you back.

christmas fayre photo

This year I hope to continue growing my followers and publicising my books. If you would like to help me with this goal please follow my blog and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also follow my dogs Instagram account here.

New Year 2020

This year I will be celebrating the launch of my new picture books. So keep an eye out for them.

I hope 2020 brings everything you wish for.

Happy New Year


Merry Christmas Everyone

Thank you to all my followers, friends and family for the support you have all given me in doing this blog. You have all been fantastic. I have been blogging regularly for over a year now and have hardly missed a single post. I hope you have found the information I have shared with you over 2019 useful and informative.

christmas 2019 1

I started writing this blog hoping to raise my profile and let everyone know just how much writing I do. Thank you to everyone who is supporting me on this endeavour. If there is anything you would like me to write about, any books you would love to see me review, or any of my interviews you would like me to share, please let me know.

I look forward to posting many more book reviews and interviews next year.

An interview with … Anita Loughrey

In the July 2019 issue of Writing Magazine, I was interviewed by Simon Whaley about my school holiday survival tips on how to push on with writing projects when the children are home all day. As mentioned in a tweet it is really very rare for me to be interviewed. I am usually the person doing the interviews. So I get very excited when I see myself in a magazine. The feature even gets a mention on the front cover:

Writing Magazine - Schools Out

Schools Out! How to juggle your freelance business with kids holidays.

When I reread my words compared to what John Adams, founder of Dad Blog UK, I realised how much things have changed over the years as my children have got older. When my children between the ages of 5-11, I too used to rely on holiday clubs which my children loved. There was so much for them to do to keep them active and interested. Once they started secondary school they would rather do their own thing and hang out with their own friends.

One thing is for certain though I have never, ever, ever got up to write voluntarily at 5am in the morning. I am definitely not a morning person. Although, I have been known to be still at my keyboard at 3am in the morning, having not gone to bed yet.

WM with Dexter2

In the feature, I advocate timetabling as a way to find time to write. This is beneficial not only to the children who get advanced warning of when you are working and when they need to amuse themselves, but it is also a way of motivating yourself to actually sit yourself in the chair and get on with the work. Timetabling works both ways and sets the expectations of the children that I am actually going to produce something at the end of the day. If you say you are going to work there has to be words on the page as evidence of this.

I have also been guilty of turning family excursions into writing projects and like Simon mentioned himself in the feature taken family for days out on assignments and when researching areas. This in a way makes it even more fun and helps me to hone in what I actually want to find out so I use my time productively.


I think another thing though to ensure you get a well deserved break from your writing is to actually give yourself permission to stop writing and have a holiday. to do this I recommend telling your editor, project manager, publisher, agent and who ever else is involved waiting on you to send in copy what your holiday dates are. Let them know you will be away from your desk and will not be working at the set holiday dates. Everybody needs a holiday – even writers!

Happy New Year



It is the end of the year all ready and time to take stock and think about what I want to achieve next year.

This year I have written sixteen books. That may even be a record for me.


Every year I give up alcohol from the 5th January to the 13th February and every year I have got really ill. My theory is I need the alcohol to kill off the germs. Liquor truffles just don’t do the trick. I have told my doctor my theory and she said if I knew I was going to get ill, I should start taking precautions beforehand. I never thought to ask her what precautions?

So, what are my targets or New Year resolutions for 2019? Well this January I want to give up alcohol without getting ill.

My goal for this year is to build-up my author platform by blogging regularly and hopefully creating a following. If you would like to help me toward this goal please follow my blog and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also follow my dogs Instagram account here.

I hope 2019 brings everything you wish for.


Merry Christmas

I would like to wish all the readers of my blog a very merry Christmas. I started writing this blog hoping to share my thoughts with people world wide. I have a long way to go. But thank you to everyone who is supporting me on this endeavour.

merry christmas1

If there is anything you would like me to write about, any books you would love to see me review or any of my interviews you would like me to share, please let me know.

Here is some sparkling wine and mince pies for you.


Book of the Year 2018

George Kirk @GeorgeKirkTales set me the very difficult task to choosing my favourite book of 2018 for a video for the Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School’s learning Resource Centre @BRGS_LRC

The book I choose was The Girl in the Broken Mirror by Savita Kalhan and published by Troika Books. It is about a 15-year-old British-Asian girl called Jay. After her dad dies Jay and her mum have to move in with relatives. They are very traditional and Jay losses a lot of her freedom. But Jay’s life gets worse when she is sexually assaulted.

girl in the broken mirror jpeg

I like this book because of the author’s writing. Savita Kalhan makes you really feel for the main character, Jay. I cared so much I couldn’t put the book down. I had to stay with Jay until the very bitter end.

SCBWI Outstanding Contribution Award 2018

At the SCBWI Winchester Conference 2018 I received an Outstanding Contribution Award for the work I have done within SCBWI as a Volunteer. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the conference this year but the award arrived in the post this week. Thank you 🙂

OCA 2018

Here is the citation:

Anita Loughrey has served as our Membership Coordinator for too many years to count! She remembers times when we didn’t have the networks or even online sign-ups… when keeping on top of membership admin was not for the faint-hearted. Anita is often the first welcoming contact for new members, sending out the welcome pack and answering their queries about SCBWI. She works closely with the Networks and events organizers to provide updated monthly membership lists and follows up on renewals. As many will know, she also served for many years as the Networks Coordinator for London and the South East, forging many personal contacts with members, too. Anita is a shining example of a volunteer who is willing to tackle admin with all-important reliability and always with a smile.

OCA 2018 citation

I have been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) since October 2002, sixteen years ago. I first started volunteering in an official capacity in April 2006, when I became Network Organiser for London. This involved planning monthly socials for members at different venues around London with a special guest each time. I also introduced the monthly London SCBWI brunches which were run by Miriam Craig and the monthly London SCBWI Write-ins. I don’t and have never lived in London but I did the job for ten years before handing the job over to the very capable hands of Tania Tay,  who has built on what I started and made the London network a strong and cohesive group.

In October 2011, I also took over the SCBWI British Isles membership coordinator role from my wonderful friend Sue Hyams. Over the seven years I have been doing this role I have streamlined the whole membership system for the British Isles and introduced our own British Isles membership pack jam-packed full of useful information on how to get the most out of your membership. I also campaigned to add a dropbox to the online joining form so people could select their network area. Before this was introduced the Network Organisers had to sort out which members were theirs themselves.

One of the highlights for me as a volunteer was going to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2012 to represent the SCBWI British Isles and showcase our members published books. It was fun.

aBologna2012 British Isles stall

In 2016, I became the South East Network organiser. During the two years I did this job I visited critique groups in Oxford and Southampton and I ran a weekly write-in in Newbury every Wednesday morning. I passed on the mantle at the beginning of this year to Fiona Barker.

Over the twelve years I have been volunteering for SCBWI I have achieved and done quite a lot. I am looking forward to continuing this work. I would also like to say a big congratualtions to all the other SCBWI volunteers who received a SCBWI British Isles Outstanding Contribution Award this year. Well done 🙂

Launch of my new blog

Today I am launching my new blog all about Writing for Children. It is going to be jammed pack full of information about the many books I have written, interviews I have done, book reviews I have written and my writing advice. My aim is to share with the world my immense writing experience and background.


I write two slots for the national writing magazine, Writers Forum and will be announcing on my blog when the new features are out and who I have interviewed. I will give teasers from the magazine in the hope you will want to find out more. I have already posted a Research Secrets blog post, which you can take a look at here. I will also be including snippets from interviews I have done for the stationery blog Papers Pens Poets.


Book reviews are one of my many writing specialisms. I have been writing book reviews for many years for a variety of websites and magazines including the Historical Association, Nikki Gamble’s Write Away and Armadillo Children’s Book Review Magazine. I plan to post a review each week which will include a mixture of some of my favourite books and new releases . I already have a book review on the blog so you can see what to expect. Take a look here.  I thought it was quite an appropriate book review as I have migrated from Blogger to WordPress.

Leave me a comment…

It is an exciting time and I hope you will comment and share my posts. I have been writing in a vacuum for years, blogging without anyone knowing. Now is the time to get out there and be noticed. So if you just want to say ‘Hi’, or let me know your opinion, please do. I would love to hear from you.