July 2017

The photograph at the top of this blog is of the beautiful Grand Tetons in America. So amazing!

I  like July! The weather usually behaves itself and everyone is getting ready for holidays. This year has brought some special excitement though because Us Minus Mum has been translated into Portuguese and published in Brazil by publishers Nova Conceito. The book has a new title as well. In Brazil it is called There Will Always Be You. I rather like that title!

I had a lovely day at Disraeli School in High Wycombe where I am writer-in-residence and Ofsted visited when I was at Woodside Juniors in Amersham. The whole school made up a great story and everyone in the school then worked on a story board before writing their own story.

Have good summer holidays. I’m looking forward to reading some good books. At the moment I am reading Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent for my book group and am really enjoying it.

June 2017

There are lots of places on the amazing planet where we live that are spectacular. I visited several of them in America a few weeks ago when I went to the Grand Canyons, Monument Valley and then Yellowstone Park. The photo above is of me at Monument Valley with huge sandstone rocks standing out in the desert. 

Bison wandered along the road as we drove round wonderful scenery – mountains covered in snow by lakes.

We kept our eyes wide looking for a moose. According to the internet there are only about 250 of them wandering round a huge, huge area; so the chances of us seeing one was pretty slim; but on our last day, we came across this…

If you look carefully at the bottom of the strut holding the bridge up, you can see a baby moose. It had walked across shallow water to the middle of the river, but then became too scared to move. We watched two rangers and a sheriff rescue it. Using a raft, the rangers rowed out to the baby moose. It saw them coming and tried to get away, heading for the deeper water behind the strut. The rangers plunged after that little moose and rescued it, bringing it to land. They wiped it in a towel, took photographs of themselves with it, then let that baby moose loose near where it’s mum was. There were about 20 of us watching and we cheered. It was a really special half an hour with a happy ending.

I am sure that moose will appear in a book somewhere!

Now I’m getting back to work now, working on a picture book for 3-5 year olds. I’m enjoying thinking of families who will appear in the book and how each person in the family does things different things. The little toddler does cheeky things all the time. He appears on every page and reminds me of my grandchildren! I love this stage of working on a book proposal.

 

 

May 2017

I took the  photograph at the top of this blog in Venice where I was a few weeks ago. Everything is transported on the canals in boats. It’s a fascinating city that has lots of masks being sold like the ones in the photo

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.

Enjoy May. It’s a lovely month and we should see some sunshine which would be nice!

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!

 

March 2017

What a glorious start to March, being involved in schools doing exciting things for World Book Day. I loved the schools I went to in Dartford, Hemel Hempstead, Bristol and Poole. Thank you for inviting me!

We made up stories, I heard children read, answered great questions about what it’s like to be a writer and  it was lovely to be part of some great school communities.

I was also working with Author In Me. Children come for 6 weeks and write a story which is then designed and published by Author In Me. The books look great and the children were really proud of what they wrote.

And the weather has improved! Yay! I can go out in my garden and not shiver; but more exciting than that is… my book has gone off to Penny, my agent. All 61,000 words of it. By the time it was finished, I was so ‘inside’ the story I could think of little else. It’s done though, and now I have to wait and see what Penny thinks of it.

Enjoy whatever you are doing and remember – keep observing and being nosey!

 

 

Two Mile Hill Primary, Bristol

Hello Two Mile Hill!

What a great day we had on Thursday! What fabulous ideas you had and it was lovely to work with you because  you were so enthusiastic about creating stories. Your teachers said the stories you then wrote were really good. You all listened so brilliantly and I loved how confident you were sharing ideas. Your dressing up costumes were great as well!

Lots of you bought my books. I hope you’re enjoying reading them, especially Milkshake Detectives because you know how that book came to be written.

Keep working hard on your stories; keep them simple, when you edit, improve verbs and add details to make your ideas more interesting.

Enjoy reading! I enjoyed hearing these children reading really well.

Borrow ideas from writers; change them a bit to make them your own and use them in your stories.

Your school is a fabulous one and I loved my day as part of your school community – so thank you for welcoming me!

___________________________________________________________________________

I love the name of your school and wonder if your school is at the top of a hill. I shall find out when I arrive…

I’m really looking forward to visiting you on Thursday 2nd March which is World Book Day. I’ve chatted to your teachers and we’ve created an exciting day.

At the beginning of the day, each key stage is going to make up a story. I don’t know what will happen in the story as you’ll be creating the ideas. I’ll choose several of you to share your ideas with everyone else and then we’ll take a vote to decide which the best idea is.

You might like to bring an interesting object to school that could be used in a story. Don’t bring anything precious but look round where you live and see what you can find. Here are some ideas – a Lego person, pair of shades, coaster, something that’s come from outside the UK, a rock.

After we’ve made up our stories, I’ll be telling you about how I think of ideas and you’ll have a chance to ask me questions. Have a look round my website. You’ll find out lots of things about me like what this is a picture of…

I’ll have my latest two books with me – The Milkshake Detectives and Us Minus Mum . I’ll be selling and signing  them after school – for £5 each or £8 for both.

Meanwhile – I’m looking forward to having a great day with you.

Heather

 

Galley Hill, Hemel Hempstead

Hello Galley Hill!

I’m coming to visit KS2 on Tuesday 28th February and as always, I’m really looking forward to visiting you. I’ve chatted to your teachers and we’re going to make up a story; and as usual, I don’t know what will happen in the story  because you’ll be coming up with ideas. I’ll choose several of you to share your ideas with everyone else and then we’ll take a vote to decide which the best idea is.

Have a look round my website and you can find out lots of things about me -like what this is a picture of…

I’ll have my latest two books with me – The Milkshake Detectives and Us Minus Mum for £5 each or £8 for both.

Meanwhile – I’m looking forward to having a great day with you.

Heather

Heatherlands Primary, Poole

Hello Heatherlands!

I’m really looking forward to visiting you on Friday 3rd March. I’ve talked to your teachers and we’ve created an exciting day.

At the beginning of the day, each key stage is going to make up a story. I don’t know what will happen in the story as you’ll be creating the ideas. I’ll choose several of you to share your ideas with everyone else and then we’ll take a vote to decide which the best idea is.

You might like to bring an interesting object to school that could be used in a story. Don’t bring anything precious but look round where you live and see what you can find. Here are some ideas – a Lego person, pair of shades, coaster, something that’s come from outside the UK, a rock.

After we’ve made up our stories, I’ll be telling you about how I think of ideas and you’ll have a chance to ask me questions. Have a look round my website. You’ll find out lots of things about me like what this is a picture of…

I’ll have my latest two books with me – The Milkshake Detectives and Us Minus Mum. I’ll be selling and signing them during the day and also after school for £5 each or £8 for both.

Meanwhile – I’m looking forward to having a great day with you.

Heather

 

West Hill Primary, Dartford

Hello West Hill!

I’m really looking forward to visiting you on Monday 27th February. I’ve chatted to your teachers and we have created a really exciting day.

At the beginning of the day, each key stage is going to make up a story. I don’t know what will happen in the story as you will think of ideas, I’ll choose several of you to share your ideas with everyone else and then we’ll take a vote to decide which the best idea is.

You might like to bring an interesting object to school that could be used in a story. Don’t bring anything precious but look round where you live and see what you can find. Here are some ideas – a Lego person, pair of shades, drinks coaster, something that’s come from outside the UK, a rock.

After we’ve made up our stories, I’ll be telling you about how I think of ideas and you’ll have a chance to ask me questions. Have a look round my website. You’ll find out lots of things about me like what this is a picture of…

I’ll also have my latest two books for sale – The Milkshake Detectives and Us Minus Mum for £5 each or £8 for both.

Meanwhile – I’m looking forward to having a great day with you and enjoy your half term holiday.

Heather