Monday, 18 February 2013

Paws for a moment to read this!

“I loved reading Burly & Grum and The Tiger’s Tale. It was sweet and funny and meaningful at the same time, and the pictures were enchanting. I’m sure any animal loving youngster out there will love this funny but very serious tale.”
Yes, Burly & Grum and The Tiger's Tale is now out on Amazon for the bargain price of $1.54/.99p! Go grab it while you can!  All profits will be going to the Save the Wild Tiger organisation, which means the money will be split between the Born Free Foundation and the Environmental Investigation Agency.
If you like the story, please could I ask you to leave a review - the higher it gets in the rankings, the more people will see it and the more money the charities will make!
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Friday, 15 February 2013

Guest post: Welcoming Alan S Blood

Writing books for children means that I often have the opportunity to get to know other authors and one of my favourite children's authors is Alan S Blood. I'm pleased today to be able to welcome Alan to the Burly & Grum blog to tell you a bit more about him and also his writing. His book 'Once Upon a Castle' caught my eye some months ago and I have to say that as soon as I started reading I couldn't put it down - it's an excellent read for both adults and children.

     The inspiration for the story came about when Alan's car broke down in Northumberland and he found himself gazing down at the white beaches below Bamburgh Castle. 'Vikings landed here' he thought to himself and imagined a longship landing with Viking warriors jumping out and storming inland. The seed of a story was born in that moment.
     'Once Upon a Castle' is set in the Second World War when twins Tom and Mary are evacuated to wild Northumbria to live with their Aunt Victoria and Uncle Leslie. They are drawn into bizarre supernatural events of a time-warp between the war itself and ancient warfare. They encounter dark forces, as the story twists and turns, and are even rescued by the Royal Navy. It's an excellent read, well written, imaginative and full of adventure.
     Alan has also written a novel (for adults) 'Cry of the Machi- A Suffolk Murder Mystery' which incoporates Morris Men with a supernatural link to a Patagonian 'Machi' of the Mapuche Indians. He travelled a great deal in order to do the necessary research for this book and amongst his hobbies is morris dancing so he was able to draw on his experience of that. Yes, he is a man of many interests!
     Alan worked in advertising and the Civil Service before qualifying as a teacher and enjoyed a long and distinguished career in this profession. He then retired to Wales. When I say retired, I don't mean Alan then put his feet up and took it easy - far from it - he writes plays, books and poetry, he travels widely, gives talks about writing and publishing, paints, is interested in wildlife photography and generally gets up all sorts of things! At the moment he is in the middle of writing another book and I have to say I'm looking forward to reading it when it comes out.
Additional links for Alan:

Sunday, 10 February 2013

What an incredible week!

     Last week was pretty amazing and I have to admit that I'm still on a bit of a high.
     On Tuesday I met with the Reading Group from the Children's Library at the Barbican Centre, London, who had been given The Birthday Surprise to read and review. As you can imagine, I was a little nervous as to what they thought of it but on the other hand I'm very keen to learn what children think of the stories because, after all, they are my audience!  The group gave me very well thought out feedback and, thank goodness, loved the story. One of the members, Daniel, was reading Lord of the Rings so The Birthday Surprise was obviously a little too easy for him, but he was very polite and said he, "liked the contrast between the characters" and thought it was very funny.  One of the members wrote, "each page makes you want to read more" - I had a huge smile on my face when I read that!  I worked with them to write a short story, making them think about characters, plot development, etc. What imaginations!! They came up with a great story and when I've typed up the bones of it I hope we can work on it a bit more.

     You may remember that last week I spoke to you about Jeff Rivera, the author and media personality who contacted me asking if he could interview me. Well, he sent me some questions and my interview is now on his website.  He is such a nice guy, very generous and obviously keeps his eyes open for other author's work and tries to help and encourage them. He has written some very funny books that children will love  Um ... Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down The Toilet - I'd definitely recommend you buy them, the books are funny, imaginative and very well written! He's one of the good guys in life for sure.
     Now, last but by no means least, I have to tell you about my visit to Chancellor Park Primary School in Chelmsford where I spoke to 120 children about writing and the Burly & Grum books. I was a little worried about this event because the age range was quite wide - what a 6 year old finds interesting is very different to what a 10 year old finds interesting, but I really need not have worried, they they were so welcoming and their teachers had worked with them so they were well prepared.
     I told them a little bit about Burly & Grum and the different characters in the book, I read them the new tiger story which luckily they seemed to love, they asked me some questions and then we held a draw and three pupils each won a Burly & Grum book. That took us to lunch time and I was asked to visit the classrooms because the children all wanted me to autograph the Burly & Grum postcard I'd given to each of them. There just wasn't enough time and I would loved to have spent more time with them because they were so keen to talk about their writing. I'd also liked to have spent more time encouraging them to publish their work like 10 year old Jennifer but maybe next time! They have to be one of the nicest groups of children I've come across - I'd like to give a big thank you to Mrs Manji for inviting me, to the children for being so wonderful and interested in what I had to say. I hope that by next week I will have some pictures to show you.
     This coming week will be quite quiet by comparison! I'll be finishing off the tiger story for the event Tiger Tracks at St Pancras Station and I'll also preparing for my very first blog tour. I'll tell you more about that next time. Just as I'm finishing this blog, my cats Puzzle and Bud have come in, both of them wet, both wanting some attention. They tend to wander all over my laptop if I'm not quick enough so I'm going to feed them and take their minds and muddy paws away from here!  Goodbye everyone - have a wonderful week!