Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - What a Wonderful Year It's Been!

I have to admit that over the last few weeks I've been wondering where I go next with Burly & Grum so taking the time to look back over the past year has been a good exercise; it's given me a few ideas and also a bit more faith in myself.  
    I started the year by writing a short story 'Burly & Grum and The Tiger's Tale' for the charity Save Wild Tigers.  It was superbly illustrated by the incredibly talented Rob Jones and received a wonderful review from the actress Jenny Seagrove. 

Pat Scullion and I attended the 'Tiny Tigers' weekend at St Pancras Station and had, as you can see below, a brilliant time reading to children.

   This year I've been out and about visiting a number of schools and bookshops, talking to children about writing. In one particular school I spoke to over 180 students in three groups of 60 and their ages ranged from 5 to 9. It was quite a challenge but absolutely worth it - whether they coloured in pictures or wrote, they all worked incredibly hard, asked very interesting questions and created some wonderful stories. Below are just a few of the children I've met throughout the year - can I just say, you've all been marvellous and thank you for your incredible support!

     In September I had the honour of being chosen to be a judge alongside Michaela Strachen and Sally Spedding for the respected children's 'Paws & Claws' writing competition.  The competition closes on 31 January 2014, so if your children are bored tell them to start writing and enter their story as soon as possible!
     I was incredibly proud when 'Burly & Grum and The Secret City' was nominated for The People's Book Prize 2013/14 (children's section) and even more proud when it became a finalist! I'll have to wait until next year until I find out whether or not I've won and everything is crossed! I was humbled by all the support I received from Burly and Grum fans - thank you all so much for taking the time to vote for me.
     November was very special because I became involved in a local event created by the Imagine In-Print team which aimed to to tap into people's artistic talent. A huge 3D mobile was created and hung in High Chelmer Shopping Centre 

and everyone was given the opportunity to read out the story or poem they'd written. We had a wonderful time!

      Looking back I can see how wonderful the year has been. I've met many very talented and dedicated people along the way, I've learnt a lot and I am really looking forward to 2014. But I can't leave without saying a huge thank you to Stu and Lewis from Magic Toy Books - you are absolute stars and here's to 2014!

PS: I can't leave with telling you that my aim for next year is to look into animation - how cool would it be to animate Burly and Grum? Oh yes,very cool indeed! 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Time to celebrate and say thank you!

     Woohoo! A huge thank you to everyone who voted for The Secret City in The People's Book Prize because.... yes, it is now a finalist!!! Tea and cakes all round I think, don't you? 
     I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who has voted for me and I know that even if I don't win I've been overwhelmed by the positive and encouraging comments people have left which have given me belief and hope that Burly and Grum are characters that are loved and that my writing isn't too awful!

     When I first published 'Beyond the Forest', the first in the Burly & Grum books in 2011, I had no idea of the journey that lay ahead for me. For one thing, I've learnt an incredible amount - when I started I had barely heard of a kindle let alone a tablet, but now I can self-publish, I know about social networking and have made many friends along the way. I already knew I loved the creative process of writing but I had no idea how much I would enjoy learning about new technology and being part of the new tidal wave of indie authors that has changed the face of publishing. 
     Just a few years ago I was getting comments back from publishers and agents saying my writing was good but that it wasn't quite right for the market, a fair enough comment but no one can take away the feeling of sheer pleasure and pride I get from publishing and seeing my books on Amazon and Smashwords. Below are a few of the comments Burly & Grum fans left on their People's Book Prize page - I know still I've got a lot to learn but I have to say that I'm looking forward to each step I take along the way and my love and thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement!

Kate is a truly promising author who is gathering fans - I think she has a great future in children's writing.
A fabulous read which gave enjoyment and laughter to all the Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 children from our school. The focus on friendship was one topic of conversation that the children could clearly relate to. Kate visited our school which brought her story of becoming an author and why she wrote the story to life for the children. The class teachers and the children are looking forward to her return visit and learning more about the Burly and Grum Adventures!
I took this book on holiday to read to my grandchildren and they really enjoyed it. It is funny and yet thought provoking and it carried an environmental message which the kids caught onto straight away. The characters are likeable and interesting and, of course, the girls loved Grum as he is a little 'naughty'. Nanna preferred Burly, much more responsible! I think Ms Tenbeth has a bright future ahead of her and we are all waiting for more stories about Burly and Grum. Soon please!
A brilliant read. Very cleverly written. It made me smile. A parent (or grandparent) can read this to the youngest child and enjoy the wit, but more importantly can read it and be transported back into being IN the story. My grandaughter loves the story so much that we HAVE to read it when she visits. More importantly, a child reading it will find two great new friends and share in their adventures. It made me want to read about future adventures!
This is a wonderful story about the meaning of friendship that all children can relate it. It's funny, well written, has quirky characters and is beautifully illustrated. Kate came along to my son's school and I can honestly say he and all the other kids were absolutely captured by 'The Secret City'. They loved Grum the groblin (the 'naughty' one who doesn't quite know the rules) and quite frankly every child should have a bear like Burlington! 'Burly & Grum and the Secret City' is definitely worth reading!
Well done Kate Tenbeth for Burly & Grum and the Secret City. A truly brilliant book that the kids loved........ (and me). ;)

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The People's Book Prize - time is running out!

     Yes, see what happens when I'm bored on a Sunday afternoon?  I end up playing with Paint and Publisher and the result is above!  Actually, I don't think it's that's bad for an amateur is it? :)
     But I digress! Thank you - thank you everyone who has voted for The Secret City in the People's Book Prize! The competition ends on Saturday, 30 November so there's still time to vote if you haven't done so already! I'll keep you posted as to what happens. I'm up against some really great authors and I'd like to wish them all good luck as well :)

Sunday, 17 November 2013

3D and proud of it!

The photograph above shows just how creative everyone can be if given the right opportunity. The spectacular 3D mobile that hung from the centre of High Chelmer Shopping Centre in Chelmsford was created by people both young and old living in Chelmsford and it simply sparkled with colour and light - the more you looked the more you could see. Everyone who had contributed in some way made their way to the shopping centre last Sunday to celebrate - they read out their stories and poems, many of which were written on pieces of the mobile hanging above them.

I had a wonderful time reading a short piece from Burly & Grum and The Birthday Surprise

before relaxing and listening to others read their stories and poems:

     I spoke to lots of people, most of whom were interested in writing and expressing themselves and I hope to follow their progress as writers - it was really very inspiring and all in all was a day I'll remember for a long time! This project, Imagine In-Print, was the brainchild of Vicci Button and Karina Siba - they worked incredibly hard and should be very proud of what they achieved in such a short space of time and on a very tight budget.
     And after all that excitement it'll be hard settle down again and get back to normal! 

     The deadline for The People's Book Prize (children's section) is now looming, so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank anyone who has voted for me - I can't tell you how much it means to me that fans of Burly and Grum, my friends and family have taken the time to vote for The Secret City. If you'd like to vote then there's still time - it closes on 30 November. And thank you!

     Right, now I'd better make a huge effort and try to get back to normal!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Creative Chelmsford!

I promised you some pictures of the wonderful work done by the children of Chelmsford and here they are!  I'll be at High Chelmer Shopping Centre, Chelmsford with the Imagine In-Print team talking to kids - big and small! - about writing and art this coming Sunday, 10 November at 2pm. Children will read out their stories and poems, they can add to the huge mural, MC Unicorn will be there - it'll be fantastic fun! - come along if you can! 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Encouraging creativity!

I've been very impressed this week by the hard work of two creative ladies, namely Vicci Button and Karina Siba who, together, have together set up the Imagine In-Print project to link into the Chelmsford Ideas Festival 2013

What they wanted to do was to tap into children's creativity, to encourage them to write stories, poems, to draw, to explore their natural talents, and I have to say they have they done a brilliant job! For four days this week Vicci and Karina have been based in Chelmsford library working with children aged between 8-14 years old. Overseeing the whole project has been 'The Poet' aka MC Unicorn who wants to publish the children's writing in 'The Unicorn Horn', a monthly journal. As you can see from the picture below, Vicci wasn't always in the library but spent a great deal of time cutting out large sheets of coloured perspex into different shapes - birds, words, umbrellas, the sun, etc. The children wrote their poems and stories onto the perspex shapes. These are being hung (as I type) as a huge 3D mobile in High Chelmer Shopping Centre.  I don't have any pictures at the moment will will let you have some as soon as possible!                                             
So, how am I involved? Well, I will be at High Chelmer Shopping Centre, Chelmsford next Sunday, 10 November at 2pm to talk about writing and to encourage people young and old to give it a go. Some children will read out their own work and there will be lots going on - it's going to be a lively event! I hope that many budding writers will be encouraged to publish their own work - even the very young ones. As and when I have more information about the event I will let you know!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Ghoulies and ghosties and long legged beasties!

Look at me all dressed up and ready for Halloween hehehe (you have to imagine that last bit as a cackle...). I'm really looking forward to the event and Rob has done a few extra drawings especially for the occasion (thank you Rob!).  Look, we now have some trick or treaters to join Burly & Grum on their Halloween Adventure:
A vampire - 
and, of course, Halloween wouldn't be the same without some ghosts! Whahahaha!
Don't forget - if your children are bored this half term then sit them down and let them listen to The Halloween Adventure (audio version) which just happens to be FREE from Soundcloud!  They'll love it - Pat is such a talented narrator and makes the story come alive :)

I have this week off work and in between doing an awful lot of general running around I hope to help Vicci and Karina with workshops they are holding over four days in Chelmsford for Imagine In-Print, a great project for children that involves invisible ink, code breaking, messages in bottles, poetry, stories, invisible parcels and a really cranky unicorn! Writing will be published in 'The Unicorn Horn', a monthly journal for unicorns, and will also be transformed into a 3D art installation, displayed in High Chelmer Shopping Centre, Market Square and other key locations around Chelmsford.  Sounds brilliant doesn't it? And did I tell you it's FREE!!! What parent doesn't like free events? If you want to know more then go to this link.

So, it's another busy week - I'm going to need to treat myself to a large bar of chocolate to keep my energy levels up (I've just discovered Cadburys' chocolate that has daim bar chips in it - way to go Cadburys!).

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Halloween, Unicorns and a huge thank you!

     I have lots to tell you! As you may remember from a previous blog, Burly & Grum and The Secret City has been nominated for the People's Book Prize (children's section). Yay! I did a little skip of happiness when I first heard that news, but can I just say that since then I have been absolutely blown away by the support I've received from readers, friends and family. If you get a moment, look at the wonderful comments that people are leaving on 'The Secret City' page - I got quite tearful at one point whilst reading them because I couldn't quite believe that people would actually go to the time and trouble to write such lovely things about my work.
     To everyone who has voted and commented, thank you so much, it means a great deal to me that everyone - both adults and children - are reading and loving the Burly & Grum books. The more they are read and loved the more chance there will be for me to write even more!
     On a different note altogether - WHAHAHAHAHA - yes, it's almost that time of year again - HALLOWEEN!  Don't forget that Pat Scullion's audio version of The Halloween Adventure is FREE to download and hey, it's really, really good!!

    This afternoon I'll be meeting Vicci who is working with our local council to set up a creative writing and community art project Imagine In-Print. She's very kindly said that Burly & Grum can have a stall but not only that I'll be helping children with their writing projects and reading to them. I don't know a great deal more at the moment but I'll keep you posted - sounds exciting :)

     Below is a picture sent to me by Emma aged 10 who coloured it in using Paintbox. It's absolutely gorgeous, thank you so much Emma, you are incredibly talented and you must also be very patient!

     And for all those children out there who love writing, don't forget to enter the Paws n Claws competition and you could see your stories in print.
     Told you there was a lot going on - and I'm loving it! :)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Wild Writing Challenge!

     Are you aged between 9-16? Do you have a great idea for a story about wild animals?
     If the answer is yes to the above two questions then you should go to the Paws n Claws Publishing website where there's a great writing competition which you will love! 
     The competition is open until 31 January 2014 with the winners being published in the next Wild n Free book which will be sold to raise funds for the Born Free Foundation, a charity that works throughout the world to help stop the suffering of wild animals.
     Apart from myself the judges are the TV presenter Michaela Strachan:

and Sally Spedding, a mystery crime writer:

    The competition is the brainchild of Debz Hobbs-Wyatt - thank you Debz and I'm looking forward to reading all the entries!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Please vote for Burly & Grum!

Last week I was gearing up for action after my summer break and it already it's all go!

     Firstly, I'm so pleased and proud to announce that Burly & Grum and The Secret City has been nominated for a People's Book Prize Award (children's section).  

     It's up against many other childrens' books, all of them written by very talented authors and I am honoured to be alongside them. Please spare a moment vote for The Secret City if you or your child enjoyed reading it - there's room for you to leave a comment as well if you like. 
     The People's Book Prize was founded by Tatiana Wilson who wanted to give new authors an equal opportunity in the marketplace, based purely on their talent and ability. Writers' works are voted by the public and that not only helps to raise the profile of the author but also highlights the importance of libraries and bookshops and encourages new work. Thank you Tatiana!
     My second piece of good news is that I have been asked by Paws n Claws Publishing to be a judge for their children's writing competition which will start on 16 September - so watch this space for more details on how to enter!  Paws n Claws work very closely with the Born Free Foundation, the charity Burly & Grum also supports and I am delighted to have been invited to work with them!