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.

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

January 2017

Happy New Year!

I’m hoping you have avoided catching any colds or coughs. They’re not nice!

The photograph of the owl at the top of this blog is outside  the wonderful Disraeli Primary School in High Wycombe where I visited on Thursday 19th of January. http://disraelischool.co.uk/

I love being writer-in-resident there as the children and all the adults are great to be with. It’s a fantastic school. On the 19th they held a Reading Day, thinking about the books, the words in them and why we enjoy the plots, what makes a good book and who writes them. It was all based round The Very Hungry Caterpillar and I love that book! I created stories with each year group about the caterpillar and there was a before-school breakfast where over 100 parents and children ate hungry caterpillar food and read books together. After school I spent time with parents and carers talking about how important reading is and how to help children get better at it. Fantastic day!

I’m also helped my sister move house this month which we tried to make a fun thing it do. I was in charge of food unpacking boxes. My sister knows I’m nosey and knew I would enjoy doing that…

 

December 2016

I am dropping two photographs in as I write. Can you work out what they are?

I have finally, finally, finally… finished a draft of my new book and am happy with it. I will still read it through once more before I send it to my agent, but after three years and a lot of hard work, I am now really pleased with the ‘upgrade’ I’ve given the Granny Rose. She is no longer a quiet mouse but a feisty campaigner who waves protesting bill boards and shouts about what she believes. I love the new Granny Rose! She has never spoken out before but now has a view on everything that is going on around her. She’s grown from a cub to a roaring lion and beware anyone who doesn’t treat her with respect!

?????????????

I don’t think I’ve ever made such a drastic character change before. I liked Nana in Us Minus Mum, but Granny Rose in this book is better crafted and has more details to bring her alive. It was Penny, my agent, who suggested changing Granny Rose. Fantastic advice!

So now, Dangerous Friends, as it’s working title is, is printed off and my husband will read it and be super-critical. He is a film-maker, sees everything as if it is a scene in a film and will help me  make the story even better. He’s a bit like when a  teacher reads your stories and suggests ways to help you get better at writing.

Meanwhile, I am having a whole month off writing to give my brain a break. To start this I went to The Imperial War Museum in London to their exhibition called Real to Reel – A Century of War Movies. I was struck by the incredible details movie directors write down before they started filming. They know their characters as well as I try and know mine.

So – back to the photographs. A friend had sprout pizza (yes, you did read that correctly) after we watched Fantastic Beasts (loved the special effects) and another friend had these letters in Scrabble to make words out.

Happy New Year when it arrives!