May 2017

What a great school I visited the other day – Woodside Juniors in Amersham. I talked about how I think of ideas for stories. Sometimes I think of a story and know what is going to happen in it straight away (like with Us Minus Mum). Other times I take  random things that happen to me and use those as my starting point – as with The Milkshake Detectives. About 60% of the children at Woodside Juniors said they thought they’d choose to use random objects to start writing.

They asked me some great questions as well; like which is the funniest book I have written (has to be The Milkshake Detectives) and has my writing changed. It has changed; it’s improves as I learn more and more about plotting and writing every time I write a book. My favourite character is still Ryan in The Milkshake Detectives. It used to be Theo and George – a joint first – in Us Minus Mum, but Ryan beats them. Just!

I was sorting out some photographs the other day and came across this one from when I led a family writing workshop at Scargill near Skipton. A space ship landed with a clutch of aliens who escaped and Bob the Builder turned up and… the children had to write about what happened next.

The photograph at the top of this blog is from my trip to Venice. I loved how everything was carried round the city in boats!

April 2017

I have just joined a book group. I’ve been meaning to be part of one for ages, but now I am. Six of us read The Help by Kathryn Stockett then we met to talk about it. I found book reviews on the internet. It was interesting reading other peoples’ views. The book is set in Mississippi in the 1960s and comments written by people who were alive then were fairly critical. Interestingly, people who weren’t old enough to remember, nearly all thought it was a wonderful book; but we had a really good discussion about it in our book group.

I like April because the dreary winter days disappear; and this year we spent a few days in Venice in Italy. It’s a  beautiful city and there aren’t any roads, just canals, water taxis and stunning buildings. We visited museums and art galleries and I took so many photographs it was ridiculous. I loved going to the glass works on one of the islands. The flowers in this photograph were made out of glass. A lady stood patrolling them in case anyone got too close and broke them. When I took this photo, she crept forward and told me to keep back from them. The day before, three flowers had been broken and she didn’t want any more being damaged. There were lots of masks for sale, like these. The Venetians used to wear them.

On Palm Sunday we went to the English speaking church and joined in the service with palms and olive branches being waved, remembering when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. It was a very special service; the church was full and everyone sang really loudly.

Remember to look out for details about what is happening around you. I was very struck by all the sounds we heard in Venice – water, pigeons, tourists speaking every language under the sun, boat engines; and no car engines. I rather enjoyed that!