Sunday, 11 February 2018


Every now and again, something happens on Twitter that it is good to be a part of - that happened a week or so ago.

Following some school visits last year I decided to create a surprise monthly book box to send up to my old Primary school in Sheffield to add a few new books to their library each month. The kids were so enthusiastic about reading, and I could tell that they loved their books, that I wanted to help get new books for them to read. I used to love my school library but remember the disappointment when I was seeing the same old books over and over. 

I decided to start sending a monthly surprise book box - I would send 4 or 5 books a month, suitable for varying ages, and I had such fun selecting them and reading them. Some were from well known traditional authors such as Enid Blyton and Jacqueline Wilson and others were from the newer authors that are now making a name for themselves, it was fun to think that maybe I was helping introduce new authors to kids who may become long term readers. Over the last 6 months I have added over 30 books to their library and that makes me very happy.

I would have loved for this book box idea to become a 'thing' that others would do too, but where to start?

So, how delighted was I when one of my twitter friends, the wonderful author of 'Who Let The Gods Out', Maz Evans,suddenly was everywhere on twitter organising #BookBuddy. The idea seemed to sky-rocket within a very short space of time. The idea was that people who have suitable books sitting on their shelves at home could donate them to schools who, through budget cuts, were finding funding was not available for new stock for their libraries. You get a good feeling from having a clear-out and the school benefits from new books for the kids to read - it's a win-win. You could have books that your kids have read and grown out of but they are still sitting on the shelves - still in good condition but no longer being read, you could be a children's book reviewer with copies that are gathering dust or you could be like me, someone who reads MG books for fun and needs to do something with them afterwards.

They can be posted to the schools or delivered, or even collected. Anything that gets spare books from a to b. I know Maz Evans is a really busy lady, she does lots of school visits, book festivals and yet she somehow found time to be matching schools with book donors as they made themselves known on twitter.

A week on and this idea has become more formalised by way of a website

Here's part of the opening webpage:

Welcome to BookBuddy, the site that helps children to make friends with books. My name is Maz Evans and as a children’s author, I have the great privilege of visiting lots of schools all around the UK. The passion and enthusiasm of our educators and their students never fails to inspire me and I’m delighted to see how much love there is for reading in schools across the country.

But what I see worries me too. Schools’ budgets are under unprecedented pressure, meaning that many schools are struggling to afford basic teaching materials – including books. Many schools are having to rely on the generosity of their staff, or PTAs (if they are lucky enough to have one) to provide their children with reading books.
Schools can register their interest in receiving a donation of books and donors can be matched up with them. At the moment there are a growing number of schools and so now there is a big need for book donors to buddy up.

If you feel you can help here, whether it is a few books from a bit of a clear out, or like me, someone who reads and wants to then pass them on (basically I have book-sized padded envelopes and when I finish a book I post it off to the school) or you may be a children's author with some spare copies that can be donated, maybe even a bookshop that has redundant stock taking up valuable space - everyone is welcome to get involved.

These books are going into a school library, kids will get huge enjoyment from them so, please visit the BookBuddy website if you feel you can help by becoming a book donor - whether as a one-off donation or on an ongoing basis.

It's not a long-term fix to the funding problem, but it is a short-term solution, which has to be a  good thing.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

From indie author to indie publisher

I had an ambition for 25 years and when I finally achieved it, it was a real tick on the 'to-do list' - that was how I felt when I published my first book, Through Time To London, last year.

This year I've been able to help my partner achieve the same ambition with his book, The Ghost of the Fishersgate Mariner.

Peter had already written the first few chapters before we met and so it was quite funny that we found we were both writing time-travel adventure stories and that we both had a character with the same name 'Jed'. Here's the back-cover blurb:

It is 1934. Fourteen year old Billy Burton lives on a council estate in Fishersgate. This is near to a seafaring port where folklore tells the story about the Ghost of the harbour, an honest mariner, who died a terrible death at the hands of eighteenth-century pirates.

One afternoon, Billy sees a vision of `The Ghost` rowing a small boat across the calm waters of the harbour. He runs along the docks to find his twenty-one-year-old brother and friends, to tell them what he has seen. Soon they are in search of the Ghost of the Fishersgate mariner. They navigate their hired rowing boat into one of the lock-gate compounds and become trapped when the giant gates unexpectedly close behind them.

The waters in the lock begin to drain away. Down and down they go in their little rowing boat. Somehow, Billy, his brother Terry, girlfriend Lilly and friend Nathan find themselves travelling back in time - more than two hundred years.

This book is full of adventure, good & bad characters, battles at sea and a quest to find the missing Second Chapter. 

Once Peter had finished the first draft we set about editing it ready for publication, uploading to Amazon for kindle and taking delivery of the final printed copies. It's been a busy few months but finally, last week, publication day arrived and all the pre-ordered signed copies were sent out.

It makes a great Christmas present for anyone who enjoys a good adventure story. The paperback is available through the website or kindle

Saturday, 2 September 2017

School Surprise Book Box

One of my highlight this year has been school visits to talk about writing my first children's novel. I decided to go to my old primary school that I left in 1969 for a nostalgic look back and to see how much it has changed. 

A lot as it happens.

It is now an academy, they now wear a uniform but the emphasis is still very much on the basics of reading & writing and it was lovely to see all the books around the school and the library they now have, which used to be the changing rooms.

I know funds are always a premium in schools and so this year I have decided to send a surprise book box once a month with new(ish) books to add to the library. Today I collected the books for September's box and hope they really enjoy them. They look so good I'm tempted to have a read myself before I send them off. 

I'd love the idea to catch on and for others to start to do the same.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

#bookshop #chuckle

Writing books for children requires an element of research - which equates to a need to read children's books to see what else is out there, what current trends are, what is appropriate language etc.

With this in mind I recently placed an order for 5 books from my local bookstore. I was not in any rush for them, so didn't give much thought that it had been a few weeks and I hadn't had a call to say they were  in to be collected.

Yesterday I realised how long it has been so dropped them an email asking if they were having trouble with the order, thinking maybe one was out of stock.

For some reason the reply I received made me chuckle.

We ordered them in, and then as we were away and someone else was in for a week, they put them on the shelves and they sold, so we had to order them again.

Oh, the joys of running a bookshop.

Happily they are all in stock now and I can pick them up at the weekend.


At least can I be happy with my choices.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

#1 in Kindle Store Through Time To London - Yippee!

As part of my marketing strategy, and yes, I do have one, I have been running a free kindle download in the last few days, as a way of getting my book out there. And it seems to have worked, for I can now honestly say I am number 1 in  Children's ebooks about dogs. OK, I'm still number 2,832 overall but I'll take my little bit of being number 1 along with my 5 star reviews, thank you very much. 

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,832 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Everyone loves a #freebie

For a few days only I have a free kindle download available here:

What starts as a normal day for Brandy & Brinkley changes beyond anything they could dream of when Jed visits.  The two spaniels are used to having little adventures every time they leave the house, but nothing prepares them for this.

1665 London is a dangerous place for dogs, so when the two brothers suddenly find themselves in the middle of the plague-ridden city it’s a race against time to escape the clutches of the street dogs, the perils of the rats and the dangers of the dogcatchers.

Can they survive in their new surroundings and will they be able to find their way back to the safety of their own home?

Through Time to London is the first in a series that follows two Cavalier Spaniels, Brandy and Brinkley, on their adventures as they search for a way home.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Revisiting Childhood Roots

Having enjoyed my recent school visit so much, I sat down to think where I would like to go next, and then it struck me. I would love to re-visit my old junior & infants school in Sheffield. I  quickly Googled for a contact number and discovered it is now a Junior Academy. 

I rang to ask for the name of who to contact and sat down to write an email. At this stage I am doing school visits free of charge, but with the ability to sell my book to those that would like a copy, while I hone my skills.

I was so happy to receive a reply telling me they would be happy for me to visit, have a look around the school to see how it's changed and to chat to some of the classes. 

I'm really excited about this visit, it's been over 30 years since I was last at the school and it has some wonderful memories. Making sponge soap turtles for the Christmas Fayre when I was about 7, taking part in end of term shows, sports days, Friday morning mental arithmetic challenge - 100 sums to do, (I like numbers). 

I remember getting my first day wrong. We lived in a house where the garden backed on to the school playing field, and I would go home for lunch. Mum told me I had to go back in the afternoon and when the bell went I could come home. And so, I went back for the afternoon classes and came home when the bell sounded. Except, mum had forgotten about afternoon break and I scuttled off home about an hour too soon. Fair play thought, I didn't get sent back that afternoon, just returned the following morning with a note from mum.

I will be talking to much younger children than on my last school visit so I will be doing more reading from my book. I am now re-reading it to find some short passages that work well being read out loud... and then I need to do lots of practice as I find it very difficult to read out loud.

I have 2 weeks before my trip to Sheffield and time will pass very quickly