Friday, 28 December 2012

Looking back at 2012

2012 has been a fabulous year for Burly and Grum. I wanted to show you what they've been up to but in a fun way so I put together a small 'video' - this is my first attempt at doing this so I hope you don't think it's too awful!  (I did my best, honest!)

I'm really looking forward to 2013 and everything it brings. I'll be starting off by talking to the children at Chancellor Park Primary School and then chatting to the  children's reading group at the Barbican children's library. I want to write lots more Burly and Grum stories and I will, of course, be publishing audio books with the help of Pat Scullion. Thank you everyone for all your support, I wish you a wonderful New Year and, of course, I know that...
2013 will be another fabulous year!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Love and Hugs from Burly and Grum!

   Christmas is just around the corner and even though all the Burly & Grum Christmas cards have been written and posted there is a tangible feeling of panic in the air as I go through my countless 'things to do' lists. Oh, who am I kidding? I love the run up to Christmas, meeting up with friends, trying to find a gift that absolutely that suits them and all the general mayhem and madness that accompanies this time of year. Christmas? Bring it on!
     For me personally, it's been incredibly challenging year because as well as writing and trying to promote Burly & Grum I've been working full time and also had to come to terms with the fact my father has Alzheimers - I think I've used up almost all of my holiday time this year in hospital waiting rooms! Burly and Grum would have continued despite the various pressures because for one thing I can't stop writing, but I would never have come this far without the talent and encouragement of my friends. I'd like to give special Christmas wishes, love and hugs to:
  • Rob Jones, the Burly & Grum artist, a shy and quiet man who is endlessly patient with me and my crazy ideas. 
  • Pat Scullion, who has done a brilliant job on the audio books despite working on his degree at the same time.
  • Stuart Wakefield who has seen me make some outstanding mistakes along the way but has always been there to pick me up and dust me down.
  • Lisa Wakefield, Stuart's sister, who is always so encouraging on the Burly & Grum facebook site.
  • Richard Farr, the graphic artist who has helped me clean up drawings when need be and design book covers at the drop of a hat - he is simply fantastic.
  • The amazing staff from Born Free who have been incredible in their support despite the daily pressures of the work they do (Burly gives his love to Ginny the beautiful Moon Bear by the way!).
  • Gemma who has been a wonderful proof reader - thank you Gemma!
  • Dawn Colclasure and her daughter Jennifer who write and illustrate their own wonderful books and who, like me, love Dr Who - you can't go wrong with people who love Dr Who!
  • Everyone - and I mean everyone - who has read the Burly & Grum stories and said such lovely things about them. I genuinely appreciate the fact that each and every one of you has taken the time in this busy world to either write a review or leave a message on facebook for me. Big hugs to you guys!
  • And last but by no means least, I have to give thanks and lots of love to Kitty from GMTA who has been one of my biggest supporters and is an absolute star.
   Not one of them has asked anything from me and I count myself incredibly lucky to have such wonderful, talented friends. I owe them a great deal

   Meanwhile, back to earth - I'm afraid I haven't managed to write the Burly & Grum Christmas special as promised. I'm so sorry, but I'm over half way through the story and you will be able to read it next year - it's worth waiting for, I promise!  As a small way of making up for it I've made The Birthday Surprise free to download from Smashwords - I hope you enjoy it! I'm 2013 promises so much (I'll tell you in my New Year's blog) and I'm looking forward what's ahead because I know it's going to be full of surprises and be very exciting!
     Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas - I hope enjoy spending time with those you love and that you get lots of pressies!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Grum the groblin makes a personal appearance!

You'll be pleased to learn that Burly's Gallery of bear pictures looks wonderful - what a great mixture of photos I've received - old bears, young bears, Super Bears and even Grum the groblin managed to make a personal appearance! The response has been brilliant - a big thank you to everyone who has sent in a photo! If you want to see them all just go to the Burly & Grum website. You can send me your photos until the end of December - my email address is
     I'll be updating the website soon for Christmas and Burly's Bear Gallery will be moved to a different page, but don't worry I'll let you know when that happens. 
    But enough of the Bear Gallery for the moment because I've been up to lots! I've now got stickers to give out when I go to read to children -

I've also created a 2013 calendar but really, I'm not sure about how it looks so think I'm going to hold onto that one. My Burly & Grum t-shirt arrived and the print quality was a lot better than I thought it would be, which is great. As you can see from the above picture of Grum, I also roped in additional help and persuaded my sister to knit a small Grum - I couldn't stop laughing when he first arrived but honestly, that was because she managed to capture him so well!
    With regard to the Burly & Grum books I've been trying to consolidate and get things up to date now that I'm publishing under Magic Toy Books. This isn't easy and at the moment I'm discussing with Kindle Support the problem that although customers can visually see that The Secret City is free on Kindle, when they go to download it Amazon are asking them to pay. True, it's not a huge amount ($1.99) but that's not the point. Sorting this problem out isn't easy. This can be demonstrated by the fact that at first the problem was confined to the US but as soon as I asked Kindle Support for help suddenly the problem was world-wide. Yup, publishing is not easy and takes the patience of a saint!
    I've also been finding out about audiobook distribution and at this point I'd like to say thanks to Andrew Parker from Open Book Audio who restored my faith in the fact there are helpful people out there who can think a little outside the box. As someone who constantly thinks a little strangely, it's comforting to know I'm not alone! I'm sure we'll be working together in the future and I'm looking forward to it.
     Tomorrow I'm off to the Barbican Library to talk about doing an author's reading. I've also been asked to visit a couple of schools so things are looking good! But all the visits will have to be for next year as I have no more leave left (darn this having to work for a living!).
  Over the next few weeks and months I'll be working hard to consolidate, promote and make Burly & Grum as professional as possible because I love them and want to continue writing stories about them for as long as possible.
     Now I know Unlucky Dip isn't part of the Burly & Grum tales, but I'm going to sneak in a mention. It's picking up great reviews and I'm really happy with how it's doing. Thank you especially to Kate from Read2Review (GMTA UK) who has been brilliant with the promotion and also Masquerade Crew (I received so many retweets from their one tweet I lost count!).


  Have a good week everyone!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Please bear with me...

This is Jessica bear. I adopted Jessica some years ago when she was about to be thrown out and she now sits on a shelf in my bedroom. She's a lovely bear, very smiley and good natured which is just how a bear should be (well, in my mind anyway!) and she was the first bear I thought of to put on Burly's gallery on the Burly & Grum website. So if you have a favourite teddy bear you'd like me to put on the gallery just let me know, either via this blog, or Facebook or write to me at and I'll put it on with the other fabulous bears. So far, we have a lovely Snow Bear sent in by Jacqui, a most beautiful picture of Jack fast asleep next to his two cuddly toys, and Ginny the Moon Bear. I'm hoping that soon Burly will have a lot more bear friends!
    I did a lot of thinking and organising while I was away on holiday in Tunisia and at this point I have to say a big thank you to Stuart for helping me talk through everything - Tunisa was warm, but I think his ears were burning I was talking so much! The main decision I made was to withdraw the Burly & Grum books from my independent publisher, GMTA. This is absolutely no reflection on GMTA whatsoever, I am still firm friends with Kitty and would absolutely recommend working with her - she is a star - and I am keeping my YA book 'Unlucky Dip' with GMTA. My reason for leaving is because I feel more comfortable going along my own path with Burly & Grum at the moment. As simple as that. So here I am, spending my weekend republishing all my books under Magic Toy Books (again, a bit thank you to Stuart). Amazon looks a little messy at the moment because of the different versions but it won't take long to tidy up. In a few weeks I sincerely hope that the books will be in bookshops, and this time thank you to Annaliese at Mauve Square for the pointers!
    What else am I up to? Well, Burly & Grum's Halloween Adventure is now on Amazon as an ebook and it's still available free on Soundcloud to download. Pat Scullion is working hard to get that first book in audio format and I'm in contact with Audible to find out the best and most professional way to link up ebook/print and audio books on Amazon. I'm hoping to get myself into gear and write another short story in time for Christmas and also put together a colouring book. I've also been invited to read at a school in the New Year and the wonderful children's story center, Just Imagine, have asked me to pop by as well. I'd like to add that if you're ever in Chelmsford you should stop by Just Imagine because it is simply a wonderful, glorious place for children! So, it looks like I'm going to have a busy few weeks ahead of me but I'm really looking forward to it!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Holiday Note

I've been on holiday (had a brilliant time) and will be back with the full blog next week to let you know all the momentus decisions I made whilst I was away.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

This last week has been quite the rollercoaster! A large part of me wants to leap up and have a little dance of happiness because of the success of Burly & Grum's Halloween Adventure but a larger part is saying hold on there bud, you're not quite up to that! Really? Me? Not up to a little dance of happiness? Unheard of! But midweek I had to have a chronic abscess treated at the dentist and have been nursing a sore head ever since. Honestly, at this moment in time I'd kill to sleep through just one night!
     The consequence has been that I haven't done as much as I'd like to let people know that the story is available FREE as an audio book and as an ebook, but despite that it's been downloaded over 80 times as an audio book and over 500 times as an ebook. Not bad really! And Pat (the narrator) and I have had some excellent reviews, which has really given us a boost. I think that Sophie's review is my favourite -

but reviews such as this one, mean a huge amount to both Pat and myself: "I got this title as an audiobook from Soundcloud and loved every second of it. The story, for the younger amongst the young adults is fun and even has a lesson hidden amongst it. The characters are all extremely well portrayed, each showing their respective personalities within only a few short pages. The story itself was fun and I am sure the kids would love to listen to it on Halloween as a form of entertainment not regularly used these days. The audio production on Soundcloud was very professional and the narrator did a smashing job of creating voice characters and managing to entertain with his voice. The sound quality was high and enough of sound effects was used to entertain but not too much so that it distracts. Narration and audio production thus gets a 5 * review as well!" was just fantastic."
     Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to sit down and write a review, I can't tell you how great it makes me feel when I read them!
     My very grateful thanks have to go to Witherbys Printing - they kindly printed 200 copies of Burly & Grum's Halloween Adventure so I could give them out free. Witherbys are a fantastic company and if you ever need any printing done, I'd certainly recommend them! 
     Yesterday, despite feeling really grim, I ventured out of the house for the first time, put up my brolly and fought my way through sleet and pounding rain (yes, winter seems to have arrived in Essex) to Chelmsford Library, Gem's Halloween Shop, Stephen Alexander Hairdressing and Bah Humbug (the latter 3  shops are in Moulsham Street) and all of them kindly took some copies so they could give them away free to their customers. Tomorrow I'll be off to the Barbican Library as they've also said they'd like a few copies. It's half term next week and the kids will be off, there's lots going on so I'm going to make sure the booklets reach as many children as possible. It's really great to have some hard copies, there's something brilliant about having a story in print version in your hand to read. I'm looking forward to the coming week, hopefully my head will stop hurting at some point and I'll be able to do lots of little dances of happiness!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Burly and Grum's Halloween Adventure is out!

Yes, Burly & Grum's Halloween Adventure is finally out! Burly and Grum go trick or treating with Max and things don't exactly go according to plan! I loved writing this short story and I hope you enjoy reading it. Rob, who illustrates the Burly and Grum stories, has once again captured the characters perfectly - thank you so much Rob (I especially love Burly's fangs!).
     I've put the story on Smashwords where it can be downloaded FREE onto your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iPad, Sony Reader or as a pdf. I've already been asked why I chose Smashwords rather than Amazon. The simple answer is that I couldn't find a way of letting readers download it free from Amazon (Amazon will price match it but that could take time and I wanted people to be able to download it immediately). I will put it on Amazon after Halloween but I will have to put a small price on it so download it now while it's free!
     What I'm really excited about however, is the fact that you can also download an audio version for FREE! Pat Scullion has done a brilliant job, thank you Pat. Even though I've got a rotten head cold at the moment and my whoops of joy may sound more like like 'dohps' I'm really, really happy.
     I've also been incredibly lucky and a colleague has offered to print A5 booklets for me so I can give them away free. A couple of libraries have already said they're interested and some teacher friends of mine have also said they'll give them to their students. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! 
     Last but by no means least, I'd like to let you know that the winner of the Burly & Grum Halloween Competition was a young lady called Molly who lives in Paris. She guessed that Grum was going to go trick or treating as The Hulk. A set of the three Burly & Grum books will be on their way to you as soon as the Post Office is open on Monday! I'd also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to enter the competition, I had such a wonderful time reading all your funny and inventive messages!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Countdown to 20th October!

Six days to go! Yes, only six days until I release the Burly & Grum halloween short story! I'm so excited because just this morning I received the final audio version of the story and it is fabulous! Pat is so brilliant and has brought the story and characters to life (it helps because he's a big kid himself!). Both audio and electronic versions will be given away FREE because I'd love as many people as possible to have a great time and enjoy Burly and Grum's adventures. Yes, I'm excited - can you tell?! 
  The Halloween competition is still open by the way - just go to the Burly & Grum website and you'll see how to enter on the main page. I've had a fantastic response and although I know readers from all over the world like Burly and Grum, it's been humbling to receive entries from Germany, South Africa, Russia, America, France and Australia! I've loved reading every single entry and also to get such nice comments about the books - shucks - you're all such wonderful people out there, thank you!
   Last week Beyond the Forest was available to download free and this week it's the turn of The Secret City - yes it's free today and also 13th and 14th October - go and download it while you can! Burly and Grum come across some hunters in the Great Forest and it's all very exciting - you'll love it!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Something spooky is going on in town!

It's not long now before Halloween is upon us and Burly & Grum will be coming to a town near you to go trick or treating!  Yes, they're in the mood for a little adventure so I've written a short story about them celebrating Halloween for the first time. The story will be given  away free from 20 October. Why am I waiting until then? Because I'm running a competition to see if anyone can guess just who Grum will dress up as when he goes trick or treating. We all know Grum likes outrageous clothes - look what he wore in The Birthday Surprise, a bright turquoise shirt with lime parrots!  What will he wear for Halloween?! If you want to enter the competition, just go to their website or you can leave a message on their Facebook page. What's the prize? The complete set of Burly & Grum books! The competition closes on Friday, 19 November so hurry and drop me a line, I'd love to hear from you!
   Also this week you will be able to download Beyond the Forest FREE from Amazon on  the following days - 10, 11 and 12 October.

    Yes, things are starting to get busy again and I love it!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

A new novel and a new short story!

The last couple of weeks have sped by. It's been busy at work and I've also been busy at home where I've been tidying up 'Unlucky Dip', my new novel for young adults, in preparation for publication on 1 October. It's been some time now since I've been involved in preparing a book and I'd forgotten just how interesting a process it is. I can be pretty picky so reading through and trying to spot errors is right up my street (although I always have a feeling of dread when I finally make the decision that I've finished the editing because I know that somewhere, lurking in the body of the text will be an error of some!) This is the last time I'll be involved to this extent because, of course, my new publisher GMTA will be doing all the editing, etc. from now on - I just wanted to do it one last time. (By the way, GMTA, are looking for submissions from authors so if you have a script lying anywhere send it in!).

I'm incredibly grateful to Liz Eisen, the young artist who created the front cover. I told her I wanted something different, she read the book and came up with an incredible cover for me. I'm confident that she will get a lot of positive feedback and who knows, she could start a new trend of book covers! 

But this is the Burly & Grum blog so I'd better tell you what else I've been up to! I've now finished a short story for Halloween which Rob is illustrating. I have to say I loved writing it - I've really missed Burly & Grum! My idea is to run a competition a couple of weeks prior to Halloween for children who will have to guess what Grum will be dressing up as when he goes trick or treating. A week before the big day I'll start giving the short story away free. Why free? Cos I'm nice like that! Meanwhile, over in America, marketing has started and the books are being read by school children and reviewed. When I first started writing Burly & Grum a friend said it was like reading a combination of 'Shrek' meets 'Wind in the Willows' - a slightly surreal mixture of American and British cultures but one hopefully that will work! Fingers crossed everyone.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Patience is a virtue

Yes, Burly wants that pancake! He's looking a bit woebegone and anxious because he knows he's got to wait until it's ready and I have to say I know how he feels!  I love Burly and Grum but sometimes things don't go as quickly as I'd like them to. Working full time, commuting into London and trying to write and market the books has been challenging mostly because I have all these ideas and things I want to do and I can't jump up and down and run off and do them immediately, I have to be patient, write my ideas down and then wait until I get home at night before I can do anything. Trust me, it's been a real test of my character and I keep reminding myself of Gandhi's words - "There's more to life than increasing its speed". He was a wise man indeed.
    There has, however, been activity in the Burly & Grum world. Pat Scullion, who is recording the Burly and Grum books, has come up trumps and the first two chapters of Beyond the Forest have been put to bed. The recording has been more time consuming than either of us thought because we both wanted to get the voices for the characters absolutely right. Now the voices are sorted the recording should go ahead reasonably quickly and I'm hoping to have the three books available in good time for Christmas.
     I've been writing the Halloween story and I think it's good so far - I usually judge this by the fact I laugh as I type away. Or maybe I just need to get out more!  Anyway, I thought I would run a competition to see if anyone can guess who Burly and Grum are going to dress up as when they go trick or treating. I'll be organising that in the near future!
     I've also been tidying up my Young Adult book Unlucky Dip which will be published on 1 October. Writing for a different audience has really made me think about how I manage all this. Do I set up a different blog now? What about a Facebook page? How do I link it all together? Should I link it all together? I'm going to have to plan carefully - like so many people I already juggle so much and I don't want to run around creating lots of extra work for myself, I need to be patient and make sure that what I do is worthwhile. So, patience really is a virtue and I, for one, am going to have to practice it a lot in the near future!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Thumbs up - it's all go!

Well, the peace and tranquillity I felt whilst I was on holiday is now over and the excitement of being back in the thick of things has well and truly taken over and I've had a very busy week. GMTA's new A&R Consultant has been in touch with me and we'll be working together to create a strategy to get the Burly & Grum books moving off the bookshelves. He's already had me doing a lot of research and it's been an interesting exercise - there will be lots more to come!  I know it will be hard work but it'll also be fun because it's something I love and I have to give this my best shot or I'll never forgive myself.
     Last week I was both surprised and delighted when a friend of mine, Carol, made up some wonderful Burly and Grum Christmas cards. Yes, I know people tend to use e-cards these days but I still think that 'proper' cards are very special. I hope she can teach me to make them so they look as professional as hers do. Fingers crossed anyway!
     Pat has also been working very hard on the audio books and over the weekend I listened to the first full chapter. Getting the voice of the characters has been the most time consuming aspect of all, but it will be well worth it in the end. It's been a lot more work than I think either of us anticipated and Pat has the patience of a saint but we hope to have the three books available by Christmas at the very latest.
    Looking ahead, I'm going to write a short Burly and Grum halloween story and I can't tell you how good it feels to be writing again - I've missed them!
    I've made a lot of friends since I started writing and publishing and I'm finally getting into the world of blogging. Proper blogging, not diary blogging as one author firmly told me! I was delighted to be asked to write a piece for Jaimie Hope - Jaime is a remarkable author who is writing a picture book series which centers around a young, disabled girl and the books are well worth reading. I'll be inviting her on to the Burly and Grum blog very soon.
    So quite lot has happened this past week I'm pleased to say that I'll also be publishing a young adult book (no, not a Burly and Grum book!) within the next week or so via GMTA called 'Unlucky Dip' - this is the blurb:

There are always high stakes to play for in the world of gambling, but it’s a world Holly Maddon knows nothing about until her step-mother tries to kill her. The race is on as she tries to discover what her step-mother is up to and whether her father was murdered.  She comes up against gangsters, multi-million pound land deals, treachery and deceit, she’s kidnapped, shot at and loses just about everything she loves – it’s a rollercoaster of a ride and Holly's intent on turning the tables.

I asked a young artist, Liz Eisen to illustrate the cover. I knew I could probably put together a cover but I also know that my taste, as a middle aged woman, might not exactly be the same as a young adult!  I wanted something out of the ordinary and Liz has certainly done that - it's eye-catching, dynamic and I love it!  Here it is:


Monday, 27 August 2012

Getting back into the swing of things

Today is the last day of my holiday and tomorrow I'll be back at work. Sigh. I should say that I do like my job, it's just the commuting I'm not looking forward to. When the train system works the daily trek into London isn't too bad and, I suppose, it actually gives me some quiet time that I try to make the most of it by doing a little bit of Burly and Grum plotting and planning, but when there's a problem with the trains the journey becomes an absolute nightmare.
    My routine tends to be the same most days. I'm not exactly at my best in the morning and within half an hour of tipping out of bed I'm standing, half-asleep, at my bus stop waiting for the bus to take me to the train station. If I manage to get a seat on a train I tend to nap for the first quarter of an hour - it helps me to ease myself into the day after the somewhat brutal start!  I tend not to write very much in the morning but use the 40 odd minutes to read and edit using my Kindle.
     When I get off the train at Liverpool Street station and am swept up in the great tide of grey-suited humanity it reminds me of the time I lived in the West Indies and went diving regularly. Why? Well it's certainly not because of the climate and there are definitely no white, sandy beaches in sight, it's because I always think commuters are like huge shoals of fish. When you dive regularly you realise that although there are seemingly endless fish passing through there are always those that are constant, for example, a little family of sea horses always lived in the same place and a couple of angel fish were always sitting waiting for me on a particular corner of a reef. It's the same with commuters, the first impression is overwhelming but then you get to see the constants and realise there is order amongst the chaos. It's taken some time but now I'm beginning to recognise certain people and have even nodded hello to a few of them! I love the rich variety that surrounds me and even shuffling slowly along the platform amongst the crowd I hear and see the most surprising things - every day is different and I get great ideas for my books. 
       So maybe it won't be too bad tomorrow morning and I'll be back into the swing of things before I know it. There's certainly a lot for me to think about on the commute - the audio books are coming along well, a friend of mine, Carol, is creating Burly and Grum cards and Louise, from Essex Mums, is reading a couple of the books with a view to asking children to review them - yes, interesting things are always happening, but please just keep your fingers crossed that the trains are working  properly tomorrow!
      Update: and some extra news! Jaimie Hope, an amazing author generously invited me to write a piece for her blog and here it is - Spotlight on: Kate Tenbeth.  Do read the rest of her blog, it's well worth it because Jaimie is a genuinely talented author who shares her knowledge and works incredibly hard. Her website is and check out her author page on Amazon!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Relaxing in the sun - oh yeah!

I've been on holiday this week - no commuting - yay!  I haven't gone very far (home - but the weather has been nice) and on the first day of freedom, last Saturday, I sat down and made a list of things to do. It was a very long list. One week later and I haven't done a thing on that list, the days have just floated by as I've slept, caught up on reading and generally relaxed. Whether I wanted to or not, my brain just sort of decided to take its own vacation, I keep trying to kick it up a notch or two, but just it's not having it!
    I think that one reason I'm so relaxed is because of the wonderful Kitty Bullard, my publisher. I have to admit that at first it was very difficult to hand over the Burly & Grum books to her, not because I didn't trust her judgement but because well, I'd done everything myself from day one and was used to making all the decisions. Kitty placed the books on Amazon's KDP Select scheme which meant I had to take them down from Smashwords and other sites - that was the hardest thing to do but, of course, it's all starting to fall into place now. She's an incredible networker and I've received invitations to be a guest contributor on several blogs  and the books have been, I think, quite popular - Beyond the Forest even got to number 2 spot in Amazon Kindle (free) Kid's section, which I was pretty pleased with - Kitty is getting the books seen by all the right people in all the right places and apparently is even putting them forward for a couple of awards. Yesterday an autograph collector asked for a Kindlegraph - I had to smile because that is just so strange!  Yet one more new thing notched up!
    However, I haven't been completely idle this past week and have been trying to do a little research on how to sell audio books because Pat Scullion is forging ahead with them (great new look to your website by the way, Pat). I think I'll sell them on my website, link up with Amazon and look at other sites such as Clickbank in more detail. If anyone has any experience of how to market audio books, do please let me know! I'm aiming to have them ready by the end of November in time for Christmas. But that's a long way off and now I must get back to my ice-cream!
     Happy summer holidays everyone - I hope the sun is shining wherever you are!

     PS: one of my posts is now up (on the Indie Revolution) - thank you Mark Miller, author of the wonderful Empyrical Tales for inviting me!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Burly and Grum Interview Jennifer Wilson, aged 10, one of Amazon's youngest authors

Burlington Bear (Burly to his friends) and Grum the groblin are sitting at the entrance of Burly’s cave in the Great Forest waiting for Jennifer Wilson, aged 10.  Jennifer is already an author having published a book of poems ‘Dogs Forever’ with her mother, Dawn Colclasure, and Burly and Grum are going to talk to her not just about her writing but also her drawing.

Burly is a little bit nervous and is eating a large slice of honey cake to calm himself. Grum is grumbling about the lack of mud in Burly’s cave. “I think you should have one of those things like the humans have, you know, a tub thing but with mud in it instead of water so I can sit in it all day.”

Burly ignores Grum and wipes cake crumbs from his snout with a large paw. “What if Jennifer doesn’t like cookies?” he asks worriedly, pointing to a huge basket stuffed full of different types of cookies that Max, his friend, has baked for this very special occasion.

“Mum’s packed me some spare crispy fried earwigs, she can have those.”

Burly raises his eyebrows, “She won’t want… oh!  Look here she is!”

Jennifer appears. She’s a little out of breath having climbed up a narrow path that runs along the side of the mountain to get to Burly’s cave. Burly immediately drops what’s left of his cake and rushes to greet her. “Jennifer!  How lovely to see you, I’m so glad you made it – do come and meet Grum.”

Jennifer has a big smile on her face: Hi, Burly. Hi, Grum! It’s good to be here!

Grum: “You’re a lot shorter than I thought you would be.”

Burly: “Grum, mind your manners, Jennifer, would you like a cookie before we begin?”

Jennifer:   ….*stares at Grum, looks at Burly* Yes, please.

Burly and Grum and Jennifer sit down at the entrance to the cave. There are no comfy chairs or seats but the view overlooking the Great Forest is beautiful. The interview begins.

Burly: I’m so pleased you agreed to speak to us about your writing Jennifer and thank you so much for coming, I know the Great Forest is a little out of your way.

Jennifer: No problem! I love the wilderness!
Burly: I’ve read ‘Dogs Forever’ and really loved your poems. You seem to know all about dogs. Have you got one of your own and what is his – or her - name?

Jennifer: We have a family dog! His name is Chewbacca, from Star Wars. “Chewie” for short.

Burly: How long have you been writing poems and do you write anything else? And do you need another cookie? 

Jennifer: I sometimes write poems. Yes, I write short stories and comics. And of course I need another cookie.

Grum: Burly has read your poems to me and I really like the one where you say dogs poo in the house, it reminds me of home and made me laugh.  What’s your favourite poem?

Jennifer: “Poems!” My faves are: “Dogs” on page 6, “You Are My Best Friend” on page 4, “Small Dog, Big Heart” on page 11, “Dog Sport” on page 18,  “Dogs Dream Of. . . .” on page 20 and “I Love Dogs” on page 24! Those are my faves! J

Burly: What did you say when your mum asked you to write a book with her? Or was it you that suggested it?  Were you very excited?

Jennifer: When Mom asked, I was happy, but not sure. But I decided to do it!

Grum: I really like your drawings of dogs, they look like very tasty snacks. Are they your dogs and can I meet them?

Jennifer: No. And, no.  . . . . Dogs are not snacks, Grum! And thank you. J
Burly: What do you like doing best, drawing or writing?
Jennifer: Drawing. Writing is awesome, but I’m a drawing girl! J
Burly: Do have another cookie Jennifer. You are a very talented girl and I’ve heard you also write songs!  Are you going to do an album as well? 

Jennifer: Thank you! (eats cookie) My and Mom are thinking about making my own CD! :D And, yes! I do write songs and sing them, too! . . . . But I can’t reach high notes without screwing up.

Grum: My mum has read your poems and she likes them but wants to know if you’d write a poem about groblins because we don’t get mentioned much. 

Jennifer: Sure! I’ll try my best! And I know you don’t . . . . !! Thank you, Grum. You gave me another idea for another poem book! :D

Burly: What do your friends say about the fact you have had your poems and drawings published? 

Jennifer: They’re pretty impressed and I said that if Mom needs help drawing a certain . . . thing, that I would recommend them!

Burly:  What are you going to do next Jennifer?  Are you going to publish another book and, if so, what kind – a story book, a comic or a book of poems?

Jennifer: I’m working on my own book now! It’s called The Legendary Wolf! I like how it’s turning out! J

Burly: I love the sound of The Legendary Wolf – we have a few wolves in the Great Forest you know, they’re mostly friendly but sometimes they can be quite scary.

Grum: My mum isn’t scared of them, she whacked one on the nose with her rolling pin.

Burly: Do you know if you are the youngest author on Amazon, Jennifer?

Jennifer: I don’t know. Maybe?

Grum: Where did all your cookies go Burly?  Have you eaten all of them Jennifer?
Jennifer: (makes a startled face) . . . Noooo . . . I’m innocent!

Burly: It’s been a real pleasure to talk to you Jennifer and I’m sure you have a wonderful future ahead of you whatever you decide to do and that you will be an inspiration to other children.  Thank you so much for coming to see us.

Jennifer stands up and gives Burly a big hug and he gives her a big bear hug back.  She walks over to Grum ready to give him a hug.

Grum holds his hand out: Yeah, bye Jennifer.

Burly (raised eyebrows): Grum?

Grum (big sigh and lets himself be hugged): Thank you for coming Jennifer, it’s been lovely having you.

Jennifer: It’s been lovely being here. J

Burly and Grum wave goodbye to Jennifer as she leaves. 

Burly: Well, I really enjoyed meeting Jennifer didn’t you Grum?  Do you think she’ll come and visit us again?

Grum: Yes, she was okay but d’you think she could bring her dogs with her next time – I really want to find out what a hot dog tastes like…

Note: Jennifer recently finished illustrating a children's bookthat her mother, Dawn Colclasure, wrote on upcycling. She is now not only going to illustrate another children's book written by her mother, this one is a story about a boy who wishes for a million doughnuts and one day his wish comes true, but is going to write a song for it as well!  Here at Burly and Grum we all love Jennifer – what a brilliant girl and we are sure that she will inspire other children to write and draw and sing and do whatever makes them happy!

Thursday, 2 August 2012


Years of training have paid off and Burly and Grum are doing extremely well for TEAM BG! Burly's got a silver in gymnastics and Grum a bronze. I hope you'll join me in saying well done Burly and Grum, we're proud of you!! Grum has finished all his events and now spends his time relaxing in his special mud bath but Burly is still training hard for the Cake Eating event being held next week, competing against many experienced cake eaters from around the world - wish him luck everyone!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Letting the Kate out of the bag...

So much has happened since my last blog that I hardly know where to begin! I do have some very exciting news to tell you but I'm afraid I have to keep it secret for a few more days. Sigh. As you can tell from the picture, Burly and Grum have been pretty strict with me about keeping quiet (yes, that is me in the bag...) but we are all primed and ready to tell you everything when we get the go-ahead, so watch this space!
    I had a meeting today with Pat Scullion, who I mentioned in my last blog. He's got some great ideas for the website that he'll be working on over the next few months. He will also be creating Burly & Grum  audiobooks - here's a little sample for you to listen to and I think you'll be impressed! Pat has a remarkable narrative voice that is perfectly suited for the Burly and Grum books and he's managed to capture the individual characters wonderfully. Every day I think how lucky I am to have met such incredibly talented people along my self-publishing path. Thanks guys!
   I've been doing a few little jigs about the house because I did a bit of adding up on Friday and over 145,000 people have downloaded the Burly & Grum books. 145,000 - that's a lot of people!! Actually, I try not to think about it too much because it make me panic a bit, or maybe it's the jigging around that makes me breathless...
   What else? Last week The Born Free Foundation ran their fund raising event, The Big Cat Nap and, of course, Burly & Grum took part. Children were asked to colour in a picture of them sleeping with some lions and the winner was Hannah - I'm sure you'll agree that her attention to detail is fantastic. Thank you to Born Free for running the competition and also to Hannah for colouring in so beautifully.

   Yes, it's been a busy couple of weeks but I've loved every minute and I promise Burly, Grum and I will tell you the Big Secret as soon as possible!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

When you create a whole new world how do you know when to stop?

   When I published the first Burly & Grum book 'Beyond the Forest' in May last year I did so because, quite simply, I wanted to learn the process of publishing. I'd barely even heard of kindles so grappling with formatting, editing, social media, creating a website, etc was an immense learning curve for me.
   It was also addictive and a few months later I published the second Burly & Grum book and then the third. That was it, I thought, I have my trilogy - three books available in ebook and in print, something to be proud of.
   But far from being the end of my journey, it was only the beginning.
   Somewhere along the line I discovered that I'm simply incapable of sitting back and waiting for the books to be discovered. Sometimes, yes, I'm limited in what I can do because I work full time and don't have a great deal of money (master of the understatement me...) but I have an incredibly strong sense of purpose in making the Burly and Grum books as successful as possible. This is for two good reasons; firstly, I owe so many people who have helped me along the way - first and most importantly, Rob Jones the artist who, luckily (or scarily depending on your perspective...) is on the same wavelength as me, and has brought my characters to life, but there's also Stuart Wakefield, Richard Farr, Stephen Alexander, the staff and supporters of the charity Born Free - each one has helped me without asking for anything in return. Burly and Grum has to be successful so that I can repay them with more than my most sincere and humble thanks.
   The second reason is the simple fact that I love Burly and Grum, Max, Grum's brothers, Daffodil, Mike and the Great Forest and the quirky world they live in. I'm a bit of a lost cause when it comes down to it and the truth is I'll probably be creating their/my own world for a long, long time to come.
   Earlier this week I spoke to Pat Scullion. Last year Pat gave up a well paid, secure job in IT in order to start a degree in Digital Media. He's got great imagination, great humour and I'm delighted to say that he's still a big kid at heart - he's the perfect person to help me improve the Burly and Grum website. Talking to him made me realise just how much I still want to do. I want children to step through a door and discover the wonderful Burly and Grum world, to walk in the Great Forest, explore the Secret City, to have a look around Burly's cave and slide down Mike's shiny red slide - don't worry, they won't have to eat crispy fried earwigs... or maybe they should...? I want a website that is interactive, fun and exciting, that has bells and whistles and a lot more besides, and with Pat's skill and imagination I'm sure all that won't be a problem (no pressure there Pat!)
   But there's more! Yes, Pat also does voiceovers and is going to help me create audio books. How cool is that?! Quite how he's going to squeeze in his degree I don't know,but the thing is, once you start thinking and being creative, you just have to keep going!
  So, when you create a whole new world how do you know when to stop? The answer is - I don't have a clue, I'm not even sure it's possible to stop because the reality is that I think I've barely begun to create my Burly and Grum world. It's just as well really that I was born with a certain doggedness about me and along the way discovered some pretty incredible and talented friends (who, at some point in the future, I will pay back!) to join me on my journey. Exciting, isn't it?!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Competition winner!

     Sarah Russell aged 8 won the drawing competition that I ran with Stephen Alexander Hairdressing. She drew pictures of Burly and Grum then cut them out carefully, glued them on some plain white paper and decorated them. I love Grum's red top with shiny buttons and Burly is holding a very tasty looking cookie dough ice-cream. They both look very happy! The picture is beautiful, thank you Sarah and I hope you like your prizes, a set of 74 Crayola, a free haircut from Stephen Alexander and a signed copy of The Secret City.
     There are still two drawing/colouring competitions running - see the Burly & Grum website for more information!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Street Parties, Competitions and Big Cat Naps!

What an interesting week I've had! Here in the UK we've been celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and we've all had a wonderful time.I took part in a street party which was great fun - we spent most of the morning decorating the street - a lot of bunting was used (you can never have enough bunting!) and then the party started in earnest with lots of games for the kids and lots of food! The rain set in about 5pm but we still partied on and finished with doing the conga down the street. I don't think I've used a photo before on my blog but I think that this is a special occasion because not only were we celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee but we were also celebrating Mrs Camp's 100th birthday. Yes, 100! Happy Birthday Mrs Camp!    
I'd also like to put in a picture coloured in by Ben of Burly and Grum enjoying the Jubilee. I'm not sure how old Ben is but he was very proud that he'd  managed to keep within the lines!
Now the celebrations are over, Burly and Grum are back to being busy again.
There are two drawing competitions going on - one with WildcreW, which is Born Free's kids club and the other is more local, with Stephen Alexander Hairdressing in Chelmsford. The prizes are wonderful so if you know any children who enjoy drawing, tell them to have a go - you can find out more details on the Burly & Grum website.

Burly and Grum are also involved in the Born Free Foundation's Big Cat Nap - I love this fund raising event because it's all about relaxing and having fun. Children can take part as well and one of the many things they can do is to colour in the picture below of Burly and Grum napping with some lions (which is to be found on via the link above) and send it back to Born Free - a selection of entries will be shown on their gallery and the winner announced on 12 July 2012. Go on - stop 'lion' around and have some fun!!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Let the Party Begin!

Here in the UK we're all looking forward to next weekend and having an extra two days off work in order to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I'll be enjoying my very first street party - we'll have proper bunting, afternoon tea, music, a BBQ, fireworks and lots of games for the children including one called hunt the corgi (don't worry real corgies are not involved!). I'm really looking forward to the day; I only hope the sun continues to shine (it can be a bit hit and miss here in the UK!). As you can see Burly and Grum are also pretty excited about the party and insisted on sending their congratulations to the Queen in their own special way and are flying the flag with style. Way to go Burly and Grum, I'm proud of you!
I've not only been involved in planning our street party but have also been working on the first book. In my blog last week I mentioned that I'd re-written Beyond the Forest, (managed to shave off 2,000 words...) and Rob has redesigned the cover so that it'll be more in line with the second and third books. You won't see the change on Amazon for a while because the print copy will have to have a full book cover done (to include the back blurb, spine, etc) and desiging that will take a little longer. I could change the Kindle cover but then the Kindle and the print version would look different and that could be confusing. I really love the new cover, Rob's done a fantastic job. 
And there's more good news! I've been invited to a school to read from the Burly & Grum Tales but hopefully I'll be able to give more details about this next week. My Burly and Grum world is just getting better and better!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Competition Time!

A brief blog today just to let you know that the Burly & Grum Drawing Competition is underway! Flyers have been given to Steve at Stephen Alexander Hairdressing and quite a few have already been picked up by local children and their parents - I'm looking forward to seeing the entries! If you can't see the 'rules' then there's a clearer picture on the Burly & Grum website. If any child aged 6-9 would like to enter then I would be delighted to see their drawing of Burly and Grum! Good luck to everyone taking part! 
One of the reasons this is such a brief blog this week is because I've been sitting working on the computer almost the entire all day and I'm practically cross-eyed. I've re-written the first book, 'Beyond the Forest', making it shorter and snappier and more in line with books 2 and 3, and I've just transferred it to my Kindle - I'll edit it on the way into work tomorrow. The new version should be out next weekend.

My third book, Burly & Grum and the Birthday Surprise is now in print and, whilst I was uploading it onto Createspace (who print and distribute high quality print-on-demand books for indie authors), I was delighted to learn that three days ago Createspace Europe was launched - no more will print books have to be shipped from the States and hopefully no more will prices vary depending on the exchange rate. It'll be cheaper and faster for books to be ordered and delivered via Amazon and it's a positive step in the right direction.   All exciting stuff!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

That's What Friends Are For!

There's a lot I'm grateful for in this life, but the support and love my family and friends give me - yes me, the Restless One who is always dashing off doing this that and the other - means the world to me. Now, through Burly and Grum I'm getting support (and lots of hugs) from others as well - this week, Aiden aged 7, gave me a massive hug and asked me to pass it on to Burly because he was the best bear in the world, and a little girl called Sophie gave me a picture of Grum that she spent ages colouring in. Frankly, I think she's got Grum down to a 't'! Thank you so much Sophie - it's gorgeous!

     Friends are helping me in other ways as well - I get my hair cut at Steve at Stephen Alexander Hairdressing in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford and he is one of my biggest supporters (way to go Steve!). He's a great family man and has a busy business with many local families coming to the salon. Last week when I had my hair cut there we chatted and now we're running a competition together which should start next weekend. I've already put together a draft poster - what do you think? The competition will mostly be for local people but hopefully others will want to join in as well because I'd like lots of gorgeous pictures to look at! More details about the competition will be coming soon! 
     I'd also like to mention the fabulous organisation Born Free. From the very beginning I knew that I wanted to give a percentage of any earnings to Born Free because I think the work they do to stop animal suffering is awe inspiring, and despite their very long wait they keep promoting and helping me - Burly and Grum have their own page on their webside, Virginia McKenna will be reading the books soon to her grandchildren (I'm very nervous) and I should also be running a competition with their kids club Wildcrew. I'm incredibly grateful to them. Thank you to everyone there, especially Joanne Bartholomew.
     And just to keep you updated, Burly and Grum are doing very well - especially The Secret City which is still in the top 100 in Amazon (both UK and US) under free books for children. I'd like to thank every single person who has downloaded the books and I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading them. Now, onto the next exciting week!