The photograph at the top of this blog is of a slug. I’ve put it there because I lit a fire in our living room and brought in logs from outside to burn. The slug must have been attached to the logs and during the night crawled all over our carpet leaving a silver trail behind it. It must have been a very confused slug because its trail went round and round in circles. We found it in the morning and returned it to the garden. I do not like slugs at all.
I am looking forward to spending World Book Day with you all. We’re going to have a great day creating stories about aliens. I have a few that live in my shed so am bringing them. This picture is of a slightly bizarre experience I had running a family writing week. The alien spaceship landed, the aliens got out of it and ran away when Bob the Builder turned up. We had a lot of fun creating, acting out and writing the story!
I’m also going to talk about how I write books with years 3-6 and with years 1 and 2, share a story I wrote with our sons when they were aged 4 and 6. It was later published and is called The Wooden Camel. I’ll have all the original props we used to create the story and also the illustrations I did for it.
The time table looks like this…
9.00 – 9.45 – KS2
9.50 – 10.30 – KS1
11.00 – 12.00 – Years 3 & 4
1.10 – 2.00 – Years 5 & 6
2.15 – 3.00 – Years 1 & 2
After school I’ll have my latest books to sign – Us Minus Mum which was long listed for the Carnegie (good for years 3-6) and also The Milkshake Detectives (suitable for good readers in year 2 and Key Stage 2). The books are £5 each or £9 for both.
Look forward to working with you all
Hello St Joseph’s!
The photograph at the top of this blog page is of sprout pizza. Sorry – I like sprouts but sprout pizza was beyond what my taste buds could suffer. So I photographed it instead!
I’m looking forward to spending the day with you on Tuesday 27th February 2018. I have spoken to your teachers and we have planned a great day. Key Stage 2 are going to think about an imaginary place called Wiston Hill that has 6 houses on it, with weird and wonderful people and pets living in each. We are going to play around with story ideas and see what happens!
Key Stage 1 are going to make up a story about pirates.
I’m then going to talk to years 5 & 6, year 4 and years 2 & 3 about how I write and get ideas for my books. You might like to look round my website and find out about me so you can ask questions.
At the end of the day I’ll read The Wooden Camel with year 1 & Reception. It’s a story I made up with our sons when they were your age. It was published in my book Stories To Make You Think.
Our timetable will be something like…
9.00- 9.45 – KS2
9.50 – 10.20 – KS1
10.30 – 11.15 – Yrs 5 & 6
11.30 – 12.15 – Yr 4 in Shaun’s Shelter
1.15 – 2.00 Yrs 2 & 3
2.30 – 3.00 – Yrs 1 & Reception
I’ll bring my books to sell and sign. They are £5 each or £9 for both. Us Minus Mum is best for KS2. Milkshake Detectives is okay for Year 2 and above.
Looking forward to seeing you all and working with you
The picture at the top of the blog is an arch made of elk antlers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, America. There are four arches, one at each corner of a grass square. I’ve put it on my blog because it’s a clever and creative idea.
So… I’m back on to the post-it notes… again. Sigh! The blue ones are where I’m about to make more changes to the characters’ journeys. I do enjoy this process. Honest! Because each time I rework the book it improves. It’s running at 63,000 words at the moment.
I have a busy month. I’m at Bishop Stortford College, St Joseph’s Catholic School in Bracknell and Great Hollands Primary also in Bracknell doing writing days with the whole school.
One of my favourite things about February are daffodils and the start of spring. What’s your favourite thing?
Hello Bishops Stortford College!
What a great day we had creating a story that ended up being based on the story of the 3 Bears. I loved your ideas about the snowmen and the emperor penguin chick driving a tractor. Brilliant! Thank you for inviting me to your lovely school – and keep writing wonderful stories!
The photograph at the top of this blog is of a train in snow in Poland. I really like the photograph and hope you do too!
I will be meeting you all next Thursday when I visit Bishop Stortford College. I have never been there before but I enjoy going to new places and meeting people. The photograph of me is from when I was on holiday in Florida.
I’m going to share a very special story with you; one I made up with my own sons when they were aged 4 and 6 called The Wooden Camel. I illustrated it and still have the teddy bears and other toys the story was written about.
After that, I’m going to make up a story with the Year 2s. I have no idea what will happen in the story go but I’m told you are learning about polar animals so some might turn up in it! Whatever we do, it will be fun…
The picture at the top is from Spain. I’m bored with the dreary, dismal weather we’re having so decided to think of warmer places!
I’m looking forward to working with you all at Great Hollands on 28th February. I’ve spoken to your teachers and we’re going to write a story using 6 bags and the aliens that live in my shed. If you want to make up your own story using 6 bags, you need 10 random objects and a die.
Our time table for the day will be…
9.00-9.45 Key Stage 2 making up their story
9.50-10.45 Key Stage 1 making up their story
10.45 – 11.15 Reception meet me to hear The Wooden Camel
11.15 – 12.15 Years 5 & 6 meet me
1.30 – 2.20 Years 3 & 4 meet me
2.30 -3.00 Years 1 & 2 meet me to hear The Wooden Camel
After school I’ll sell and sign my books. They are £5 each or £9 for both. Us Minus Mum is suitable for years 3-6 and The Milkshake Detectives is okay for good readers in year 2 as well as Key Stage 2.
2018! Where did 2017 go to?
One thing I have decided to do this year is explore London. I’ve been given a book with walks to take from tube stations, telling me which buildings to look at and where good museums, art galleries and attractions are. The photograph at the top of this blog is when I went on the London Eye. There are so many interesting things to do!
I have two lovely schools to visit this month. On the 17th I go to Manor Farm in Hazlemere to work with pupils from several schools for the day. We’ll be thinking about how to make characters jump off the page and publish a paragraph we’ve written and edited then edited again.
I’m working with pupils at St. Andrew’s Prep School in Pangbourne on the 29th. Again, we’ll think about characters and planning stories. I’ll tell pupils what I do when I am writing. At the moment I’m working with teachers at both schools to make sure we have really good days.
I’ll bring Us Minus Mum and Milkshake Detectives with me – £5 each or £9 for both.
I am really looking forward to working with you all.
As I write this blog, Liverpool are playing Manchester City and the match is being televised. We get on really well with our neighbours. They support Liverpool and their tv is on the wall joined to our living room. I love it because in my head I fill in the commentary, depending on whether there’s shouting, screaming, groaning, yelling or cheering. I think the score is currently 3-1. There is great excitement next doors!
4-3 final score! Even more happiness…
December is probably the busiest month of the whole year! We have the whole family coming to stay so there will be ten and a half of us. Our grandchildren love being together (they’re aged 1, 2, 4 and 4) and I’ve stocked up the freezer with treats and yummy food. I enjoy opening Christmas cards and thinking about friends I haven’t seen for a while and catching up with what they are doing.
On Christmas Day, two of our grandchildren created a carrot forest as they helped me get the vegetables ready for Christmas dinner.
As a family we celebrate Jesus being born in the stable all those years ago as much as we do all the other traditions associated with Christmas. Here’s one of my favourite baubles on the Christmas tree. It’s from Guatemala inn Central America. What do you have at the top of your Christmas tree? We have a snowman which was given to us by a very dear friend and an aeroplane which is there simply because going in aeroplanes is exciting!
I loved it when it snowed. It was the best kind of snow; here for a few days so we could enjoy it then washed away by rain. It was great seeing people building snowmen. Wouldn’t it be fun if snow wasn’t so cold, though? We could stay out in it longer.
Enjoy the month and the season. Be thankful and look after everyone you’re with… and happy new year. I’m welcoming the new year in with friends from Japan so I’m looking forward to finding out about Japanese traditions.
The picture above it from our model railway in our loft. We are building a castle out of old boxes and a kit we bought from the internet. Bert’s Butties sits just behind where the castle, when it is finished, will be positioned.
After a month of not doing much writing in October, I’m back in the flow again. I have changed one of the characters because he didn’t quite work. I’ve made him tougher at the beginning and softer at the end. In a book, characters need to go on a journey to show they have changed. Drill certainly does now!
I spoke at Child Bereavement UK’s schools conference in Guildford a few weeks ago telling teachers about Helping Children Think About Bereavement, a book I wrote several years ago. The hotel where the conference was had an amazing bookcase in its foyer that went from floor to ceiling.
I also went to a wonderful afternoon tea with Mary Berry that the charity was running. The food was amazing – little sandwiches, scones, chocolate éclairs, strawberries, cakes, meringues, quiche. Thank you Child Bereavement UK! I wish some of our American friends had been visiting us because they love afternoon tea almost as much as I do!
I’ve also been to see Paddington 2 which is brilliant. There’s not a shot wasted and the dialogue is wonderful. If you haven’t been to see it yet, I really recommend it!
The photograph immediately above is of me on our granddaughter’s trampoline. I love visiting her and her family in Manchester.
This month felt very disrupted because we arrived home from America to find a flood in one of our downstairs rooms. We have had to dry the concrete floor and get rid of the carpet. We normally keep the wifi router on top of the freezer but had to put it on a stool while we moved the freezer over the carpet. This is the first time we have been flooded. It’s horrible! I never realised how long it takes to dry everything out. Grrrr! Next time we go away, we will switch the water off. BUT… if I ever put a flood in a story, because I am writing about something I have experienced, I shall include loads more details about it.
We had 2 of our grandchildren to stay and took them to the Science Museum in London which was great fun. Their favourite place was where concave and convex mirrors on the wall made them look slightly weird. I look weird as well!
So I haven’t done much writing this month. Sometimes it’s good to have a break. I’ll return to the story with fresh eyes in a few weeks time.
I love doing new things. One of the best new things I have done this month has been to volunteer at the World Rowing Championships held in Sarasota, Florida. I arrived just as Hurricane Irma was sweeping though the state. The plane from London to Tampa, which is an hour’s drive north of Sarasota, could seat 299 passengers; but there were only 75 of us on it because of the gathering storm. Hurricane Irma was scary with wind howling at 90 miles an hour. We prepared our ‘safe room’ – our built-in wardrobe – which had no windows, so if any windows were broken, we’d still be safe – with cushions, snacks and lots of water. We had our passports and other documents in waterproof plastic bags, too. In the garage we also covered the back of our car with old carpet then wheeled it against the garage door and put the brake on. This is to stop the door being blown in by the wind. When the storm arrived, the palm trees had a good workout bending this way and that and rain was horizontal at times. We were very glad that Irma had become a category 2 storm by the time it reached us so there was lots of debris from branches and twigs that needed sweeping up afterwards but minimal damage – though some of our friends came to our condo to eat and shower and charge their mobiles because they had lost electric power. We had a lot to be thankful for.
A week later the rowing started. I was helping look after the desk at the tent where journalists and television crews worked. I also helped photographers go to the correct place (inside the little white fence) when they were taking photographs of the end of the race All the volunteers wore orange tee-shirts, white caps and lots of sun screen. Rowers are incredibly strong, work in teams and really do look after each other. In this photograph of me standing between Moe Sbihi MBE and Will Satch MBE, they were not standing on anything and I haven’t shrunk – they’re just six feet six inches tall! The photo at the top of this blog is me with the BBC commentating team – Dame Katherine Grainger, Sir Steve Redgrave and Mathew Pinsent CBE.
While I’ve been out here I’ve done some writing as well. I’m still not happy with my book – so I wrote the most important things that happens in my story on post-it notes and taken out some things that don’t quite work and written new bits. My husband helps me to do this as he is a scientist and very logical. He usually suggests I take ideas out to make my plots simpler. And better!