Monday, 24 October 2011


When Kitty Bullard of Great Minds Think Aloud Literary Community
asked Burly and Grum if they would like to take part in an interview they didn't hesitate! Read below...

Kitty Bullard from Great Minds Literary Community enters the chat room designated for this exclusive interview with a smile, offering her hand first to Burlington Bear and then to Grum the Groblin. Slightly taken aback at Grum's appearance she does her best to show no sign of this and her smile never falters. "It is so nice to finally meet you both. When Kate told me you were interested in doing an interview I was extremely excited."

Glancing at Grum again she clears her throat. It's odd being in a room with two so very diverse characters; while having the urge to wrap her arms around Burly and give him a big hug, she is a little worried that Grum may be interested in seeing if she tastes good.

Settling in a chair she shuffles her papers and begins.

"Burly, may I call you Burly? I was wondering if you could tell us what it's like living inside the very imaginative mind of Kate Tenbeth?

Burly smiles at Kitty and when he speaks his voice is deep but mellow. “Well, first of all thank you very much for inviting us here Kitty and yes, please do call me Burly. We’re both delighted to be able to come here and talk to you aren’t we Grum?” Grum is sitting next to Burly and is obviously trying to sit still but it’s difficult and he’s swinging his legs. “But I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight,” Burly continues, his voice taking on very serious tone and he sits upright. Kitty leans forward in anticipation of some juicy news. “We are real,” states Burly firmly.

Kitty raises her eyebrows in astonishment.

“Yes, I’m real and Grum is real - we are not imaginary. We met Kate not long after we’d visited the human town. She’s a friend of Mike’s and had popped around for tea and cake when Grum and I were there as well and we ended up telling her the whole story - how we met, what happened in town, etc. For some reason, she seemed to think that humans would love to hear about it and asked if she could write it up. I didn’t think anything about it until I saw myself on the front cover of her first book. So what you’re reading is not the result of Kate’s imagination - it all really happened. And Grum, please stop swinging your legs and sit still.”

Kitty is truly amazed. “So you really are real?”

“Absolutely - always have been, always will be.”

Kitty addresses her next question to Grum and wonders what other surprises are in store. She’s a still little nervous of Grum and hopes the question doesn’t make him cross.

"Grum, I wanted to know the same from you, but I also wanted to ask about your um... brothers. I know they seem to tease you a lot but do you have a good relationship with them otherwise?”

She hopes this subject doesn't make him grumpy as she knows his brothers are something of a cause of his turmoil at times. Burly seems to be reassuring as he glances at her and she can feel the warmth he radiates. If it were possible to fall in love with a bear who is one of the main characters of a story then Burly would definitely be her choice.

Grum shuffles about in his chair and thinks hard. “Grimly and Gripe? Well, when I was a grob....”

“Er, sorry Grum,” interrupts Kitty, “what’s a grob?”

“A grob - you know a young groblin...”

“Oh, of course,” nods Kitty. “Please go on.”

“Well, when I was a grob, they were okay - mostly ignored me really but then when I got a bit older and wanted to hang out with them that’s when they became mean - said I spoilt their games which is rubbish. Mum used to make them take me places but they’d always lose me - if I ever have a younger brother I’m never going to do that. Not ever. Anyway, they’re okay now.”

"Burly, I have heard you are extremely inquisitive and curious. Can you tell us about times where your curiosity has gotten you into a jam?”

Burly laughs out loud. “I’ve always been curious, always off exploring and getting into trouble even when I was a cub - once when I’d just started learning how to catch fish I was swept downstream for miles and it took my father a day to find me.”

“Tell her about the time you got your nose stuck in a jar, that was really funny!” says Grum.

“Okay,” nods Burly, “I guess that was a bit funny... I was at Mike’s, and Tyre - you know Tyre, Mike’s assistant? He’d been trying to help a deer with an upset stomach and had made up some medicine which he’d mixed with honey to make it taste nicer without realising that deer hate honey...”

“...he should have tried smooth peanut butter,” interrupts Grum, “deer love peanut butter.”

“Anyway,” continues Burly, “he left the mixture in a jar by the slide, I came along and smelt it and just couldn’t resist...”

“...he put his nose right in the jar,” Grum roars with laughter, “and then couldn’t get it off! Walked around wtih it stuck on his nose until Tyre came back and pulled it off!”

“You could have helped,” points out Burly.

“Nuhuh, it was way too much fun watching you,” replies Grum with a grin.

Kitty offers a smile to Grum.

"Grum, tell us how you feel about Burly. I hear he's your best friend yet you are so different from one another. Do you ever argue a lot?”

“We never argue,” says Grum happily. Burly raises his eyebrows. “Burly’s my best friend and we get on no matter what.”

Kitty can't remember when she has been so nervous doing an interview and wipes her sweating palms along her slacks as she listens to Grum speak.

"Burly, there isn't much mentioned about your family. I'd like to know more about them if you'd be so kind as to tell us.”

Burly smoothes down his shining fur and replies with pride. “My family all live in the Great Forest - my mother and father, my two older brothers and my sister, but we bears need lots to eat so we each have our own large territory and tend to stick to that although, of course, we get together for birthdays, holidays, that sort of thing. My brothers are a lot older and live a lot further north where it’s colder and tend to keep themselves to themselves. But my sister, Ginny, well, she’s even more famous than me. She campaigns for the charity Born Free which helps animals who are in trouble and she’s well known all over the world.”

"Grum, tell us more about yours and Burly's friends, Mike and the young boy that sometimes hangs out with you both.”

“Well, Max’s ok, not bad for a human I suppose - he sticks up for himself and isn’t afraid of much but the food he eats,” Grum makes a face, “ugh, I don’t know how he can even touch it, it smells so gross. And Mike - I wasn’t sure of him at first because he’s so shiny but he always makes me the best crispy fried earwigs ever.” Grum pauses and looks about. “My mum isn’t going to find out I said that is she?” he asks, his hands reaching protectively over his large ears.

Starting to relax Kitty listens intently and grasps the handles of the bag at her feet shifting it to the opposite side. She wonders if Grum can smell the gifts she's brought for them both. She's sure a creature with such a large nose would have a very keen sense of smell. Trying hard not to let the warts on it make her stare she smiles still. Trying to use her charm after Grum finishes with his answer she glances back to Burly.

"Now Burly, I have heard it said that you do not care to disclose your age. Though I can't tell you how honored I'd be if you were to at least give us a hint in this interview."

Burly’s eyes sparkle with amusement. “I’m younger than my brothers and I’m definitely in my prime but I’m afraid I can’t say any more than that, a bear has to have some secrets.”

"Grum I have heard that you are your mother's favorite. Do you think it's because you are the youngest or just because you are so much braver than your brothers? I'd also like to know more about the Griff clan and any friends you have there.”

Grum grins widely. “I think mum’s life must have been boring before me - she often says she’s sure she used to have a nice peaceful life before I came along - so that’s got to be why I’m her favourite. The Griff clan’s quite small, there’s only about 300 of us but there are loads of other clans all over the place. We don’t have school or anything like that, which is great but mum makes us work hard. If I get free time I go hang out with my friends and go for a soak in the local mud bath.”

The more Kitty listens to Grum talk the more she starts to find him endearing... and even somehow cute.

"Now my last question is for Burly, do you like to cuddle?"

“I love all hugs, cuddles and most definitely a good tummy scratch,” says Burly firmly.

Kitty had a look of hope in her eyes, and was determined she was going to hug this great fluffy teddy bear before she left this interview. After Burly had answered she stood and placed the bag on the chair she had recently sat in, opening it up. "I have brought you both some gifts. Grum, for you I have a rotted ham, and a new skateboard." She pulled both out and handed them over.

“Yay! that is so cool - look Burly! A skateboard - I can go down Mike’s slide extra fast now!” yells Grum.

“You are NOT to use that on the slide,” Burly replied quickly. “Not now, not ever, okay?”

"Burly I have brought you a jar of honey and a salmon. This is my thank you for allowing me this interview, it has been wonderful speaking with you both.”

Burly’s mouth waters and he takes the gift eagerly. “Thank you Kitty, they smell wonderful” he says politely. “It’s been lovely talking to you too.”

Smiling, Kitty looked at Burly, and could not contain herself any longer. "Can... can I have a hug?" He just looked so cuddly she just had to ask. Not intending to leave Grum out and having grown quite accustomed to him she turned and held out her arms.... would he accept?

Burly ambled over towards Kitty but Grum jumped on his skateboard and scooted quickly along, beating him to it and wrapped his long arms around Kitty and hugged her hard. “Brilliant present, my brothers are going to be soooo jealous - thanks!” He yelled in her ear. Kitty smiled faintly but hugged Grum right back.

Burly put out a large paw and pulled Grum off Kitty. “Not too rough Grum,” he said sternly. “Now, let’s have group hug.” And so the three of them hugged each other until Grum broke free. “Got to go,” he said, “mum’ll kill me if I’m late. Bye Kitty - I’ll bring you some crispy fried earwigs next time, they’re brilliant.”

“I’d better go as well,” said Burly. “Bye Kitty - keep writing those great reviews and thanks again.”

Kitty gave a small wave of her hand and watched as Burly and Grum left the chat room.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Burly & Grum Logo!

Since I last wrote, I think I may have spent almost every lunchtime in Waterstones looking at the design and format of the covers of children's books so I can get ideas on how to improve my own two books.
    Having the proof copies has really made me focus and I want my books to be as professional and as appealing as possible. One thing I noticed almost immediately was the fact I had nothing on the spine of my books so I asked Rob if he could design a logo for Burly & Grum to help improve its identity - I'd like people to look along bookshelves and immediately spot the Burly & Grum books (yes, I know I've got a long way to go before I'm on any bookshelf, but I can dream!).
   I really love the design - how anyone can give a letter of the alphabet character is beyond me but he's managed it beautifully. B looks like Burly and G looks like Grum! Pretty cool eh? Thank you Rob!
  So I'm now working once more on the covers, tidying them up, improving them (I hope...) and I've also corrected all the mistakes on the text (I say again - I hope...) and am almost ready to press the button and send off for the second proof copy.  If I can find a way to copy the covers from Publication I'll pop them up on the blog so you can see what they look like.
  I've also been working away on book three but a couple of days ago I realised I'd gone astray a bit and that I'd have to rework a large chunk. I'm looking forward to the week after next because I have some time off work and can sit and solidly concentrate on writing - it's very difficult to keep a sense of continuity in the plot when some days I can only write for half an hour or so. I'm looking forward to getting my head down and writing - I'll let you know how it all goes!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The proof is in the printing!

The proof versions of my books finally arrrived last week and I have to say that I was (and still am) very impressed by the quality of the printing. I'm not sure quite what I was expecting but, as I looked them over, I knew they could hold their own against books which are more conventionally published. I made a quick dash into Waterstone's one lunch hour just to double check and yes, the two Burly & Grum books would look darn good up there on the shelves!
     Once the copies had been duly admired and shown to everyone, out came the pen to make all the necessary corrections. It's amazing how much easier it is to edit a book when it looks like a book! For example, looking at them made me immediately realise that single line spacing wasn't going to work and I changed to one and a half line spacing. I've also removed end of line justification. Hopefully, making these changes will make it easier for children to read the stories.
     The two books have now been edited to within an inch of their lives although, having said that, my friend James pointed out that I'd missed the 'r' out of the word 'brother'. Do you know how many times I've read that book?! Just how I missed it I've no idea but I have a feeling that one or two more typos could still lurking within the pages somewhere just waiting to embarrass me at some point!
      Now I'm just waiting for the pictures to be rescanned at a higher quality and then I'll resubmit the books to Createspace and then - yes, they'll be real - people will be able to buy print versions! 
     Sometimes I feel as if I'm moving very slowly through this whole process and other times I look back over the last few months and think I've accomplished a great deal. Although the Secret City is still being downloaded at a very healthy rate from I have to work on a marketing plan for the books, especially here in the UK, so that when I start charging money they won't fall flat on their faces. Hopefully by Christmas the third book, the print version and the audio versions will all be ready and people will want to buy them. It would be a nice ho ho ho sort of moment if they were!