Monday, 14 January 2013

A great start to the new year

This year has got off to a wonderful start and I’ve got lots to tell you, starting with book reviews.  Book reviews mean a lot to all authors. For me this is not just because good reviews encourage others to read the Burly & Grum books, but because I’m always pleased and surprised that someone I don’t know has taken time out of their day to specifically write about something I’ve written. Last weekend, however, I received six 5* reviews in just 24 hours!  Six!  I couldn’t believe it – I did a little dance of sheer happiness!  Thank you everyone who has left a review - yes, even Nat who left a 1* review yesterday saying The Secret City was rubbish and he wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
Funnily enough, just last week I had an interesting conversation with another author about reviews - personally I think that people who leave reviews that don’t contain constructive criticism are not worth worrying about – I’m always happy to hear from those who have positive suggestions to make about how the story can be improved but those who simply say the book is no good without any explanation I ignore. Some authors, however, really take bad reviews to heart. I personally won't leave anyone a review if I think it's going to be under 3 stars - I'd rather contact the writer direct and say look, this needs editing, the plot doesn't work, etc. and give feedback that they can work on.  Then it's up to them.
One thing I do wish, however, is that and would find a way to combine reviews – on I have 23 reviews of The Secret City but on I only have 8.  All authors have the same problem so I shouldn’t complain but it is something that Amazon could improve.
I digress! This week I’ve firmed up a few events - copies of The Birthday Surprise have now been given to the children’s reading group at the Barbican Library in London who will be reviewing it over the next couple of weeks and I’ll be chatting to them on 5th February to see what they think. Children are very honest and I’m looking forward to chatting to them and seeing what they have to say about the book.
On 7th February I’m at two events. In the morning I’m going to Chancellor Park Primary School, Chelmsford and I’ll be talking to 120 children aged between 7-11 about writing. Funnily enough, after my initial reaction of heading for the hills, I’m okay with talking to so many children – it’ll be fun and I want to encourage them to write as much as possible.  One of the things I want to highlight is the fact that they can write and publish stories themselves and I thought I’d tell them about Jennifer Wilson who I interviewed last year.  Jennifer is now 11 and writes, illustrates and publishes her own stories. Everything is possible in this world and I want to make sure that if there’s a child out there who loves writing they will be able to feel they can go ahead and publish if they want to.
That same afternoon I’m going along to a storytelling session at ‘Just Imagine’ storytelling centre in Chelmsford. Just Imagine is a wonderful place, my absolute dream  and I’m really looking forward to being there.  So, three completely different events in a very short space of time.  Another learning curve!
The most exciting event though is something connected to the charity that Burly & Grum supports, Born Free.  I don’t want to say too much at the moment in case I  somehow jinx it but I can tell you that it’s going to be pretty amazing so watch this space!


  1. Nice! And thanks for mentioning me. :)
    So hows life for ya? Making any more Burly and Grum books? p.s. this is Jen. :)

  2. Hi Jen, it's nice to hear from you! Life is good thank you (I ate a serious amount of doughnuts today so am very happy!) and I'm hoping to write a short story very soon for an exciting event I'll be going to in March. It's a bit of a secret at the moment but I hope by tomorrow or the next day to let everyone know :)

    I'm very glad to see you're still busy writing and drawing, and I hope that lots of other children will do the same when I tell them about all the wonderful things you've done! XXXXX