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

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

#ukteenchat A Twitter Chat Lurker

For several years I have heard the term hashtag this hashtag that and never understood what it was all about. As an author, (it still gives me a thrill to say that), I read all the time that I need to build an on-line presence. As part of that I started to use Twitter and will be the first to admit to being a little like a rabbit caught in headlights.

O.M.G. What on earth am I doing here.

Gradually, I began to get the hang of it and, as many newbies probably do, I struggled to add hashtag references to most of what I posted and felt quite reluctant to butt in to other people's conversations.

A few months on and I am on and off Twitter throughout the day, happy to join in conversations, add a variety of hash tags and generally no longer resemble a rabbit caught in headlights...

Until I try to join in a chat. I have tried this a couple of times and tonight I saw that there was #ukteenchat between 8 & 9pm. OK, I'll have a look. I had every intention of lurking in the background as I try to follow what goes on. I have difficulty working out where questions are showing and where the replies are. I can follow a couple of threads and will admit that I didn't lurk for long, but I can;t work out if my computer isn't set up right because my iphone pings constantly with comments that I can't see on my computer. I have a workable process by having both my phone and laptop on Twitter, so that as I see a new comment showing on my phone I know to go looking for it on the computer, but after about half an hour I'm back to rabbit in headlight state.

I enjoyed conversing with many new people tonight and look forward to trying to join in again, but really feel there has to be an easier way to see what is happening and that I am missing a trick somewhere.

I think I need a Dummies Guide to Twitter!

School Visit - A Classroom full of Y8s

Since publishing my book in September I have wanted to get involved with school visits to chat to the kids about writing a book, let them know what the process is and maybe encourage some that otherwise wouldn't have a go. Having self-published means I can give them a different view to that of a traditionally published author.

A few weeks ago a work colleague bought a copy of my book for her son, who took it in to his school librarian who, in turn, asked if I would be interested in doing a visit.

Would I? Absolutely.

As we were discussing dates and format I had a nasty fall and made a real mess of my face and so agreed on a date 4 weeks ahead to give time for the awful bruising to go down. D-day was to be Thursday 25th May at 8.50am, first class of the day.

I spent a lot of time planning my talk, including times for involvement with the kids, getting their thoughts, opinions, and even asking them to name a character in the book I'm currently working on so I no longer need to refer to him as 'cave-boy' and hoping that they came up with names I liked.

I arrived nice and early on the day and even the traffic hold ups hadn't been a worry, and so by 8.50 I was already to go. 60 young, keen faces all looking towards me. 

I had my notes and crib cards handy, but only needed to refer to them a couple of times and I had lots of interaction from the kids when I asked for suggestions. We had 4 names to choose from for my cave-boy character and I let them vote for their favourite, so now I have my name. 

As I felt I had covered everything I had planned to say I checked my watch and found I was 10 minutes from the end of the session, just time for a very active Question & Answer session.

Yes, there were a couple of unruly groups that the teachers quickly controlled, yes, there were times when I had to wait for them all to settle down, nothing more than to be expected with a room full of 12 year olds, but I absolutely loved doing it.

And, even better, the school has asked me to go back in the Autumn term to do another talk to more students.

Yes please.