Monday, 18 April 2016

Deadlines and distractions

It's been a while since I blogged-and if you had noticed-then I apologise! I have had a load of excuses to allow me to put off writing to you all, none of them very good I'm afraid!

So, what have I been doing? I am trying very hard to complete my new book for Amberley Books- Barrow-in-Furness Through Time. I have been busy sourcing old photos, writing the text and taking new photos. All very time consuming. However it is exciting to be writing a more serious history book. I hope to finish by the end of April.

https://www.amberley-books.com/discover-books/local-history/area/cumbria-lake-district/barrow-in-furness-through-time.html

Then, as usual at this time of year I have been training for the 40 mile Keswick to Barrow Walk. This is another thing which takes up lots of spare time-but I love it because I can use the thinking time (when I am not talking to my walk partners) to develop ideas for the books. 

At the end of March I started back at Furness Abbey-I am setting back in for my second season! That went really quickly! It is great to be back because of anywhere you could think of this place is where many of my ideas come from. So it has been rather hectic-but by mid May I will be back in touch with my Patron of Reading schools and look forward to some brilliant summer activities! See you soon!

Me with a couple of K2B Teamies

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Busy Book Week activities

Weeks like this are quite exhausting! It started with a long day at York for some English Heritage training for my work at Furness Abbey -I was so tired when I got back I went to bed at 9-30pm-and event so rare it hasn't happened since I was twelve! Then a lovely visit to Lindal and Marton Primary School for some Patron of Reading work. However, a detour was required due to excessive rain (don't we always have excessive rain?)but I finally got there and met KS2 children.

We had a read through of my new book-"THE BAT WHO WAS AFRAID OF THE DARK" and then I suggested they edit and critique it for me! So, after some encouragement they got stuck in and edited like mad with purple pens! This was worse than sending it to the publisher! After all they are the audience! However, despite many suggestions and improvements they said it passed muster!
Editing hard
Today I have been working with Functional Skills English students and learning how to use suffixes and prefixes-quite a change of pace. Tomorrow I am judging reviews at Dalton St Mary's and then onto Broughton working with KS2 and on Friday back again for the poetry competition! Somewhere in there I have to tidy up after the decorator has been and do some more writing! 

I will post some pictures from the other two visits as I get them-.

So, what did you like about World Book Day? I have seen lots of ideas and activities. It would be nice to see yours

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Procrastination-an art form

Today I was going to write. I had a plan. I was going to grab this new book by the throat and wrench words onto the page. So, suddenly I remembered I had very urgent emails to answer. They had been there since yesterday and it really wouldn't be polite to leave them unanswered.Would it? Emails answered, back to work. Selected the necessary pictures and began adding captions and writing text... with words. But then, a sudden call of nature.

The bathroom- crying out for a good old clean. You know it was! I could hardly leave without a quick wipe down with the Flash...and one thing leads to another... cleaning the shower plug (my least favourite job). Anyway ten minutes later a pristine shower and a de-haired plug-disgusting but strangely satisfying. Wash hands thoroughly. Pause to take in the view from the bedroom window and there's another ten minutes gone.

Back to work then. Hmm! One o' clock! Do I need some lunch? Maybe I should-wouldn't like to go too long without sustenance. Kettle on, sandwich made. Worktops lovingly cleaned. Not once, but twice. Have lunch. Clear the pots, wash them. One thirty-five.

Mobile beeping. Must be important. Answer messages. Check Facebook. Best check Twitter while I'm at it. Download more photographs. Tweet that I am procrastinating. Look at downloads. Need local history books. Mooch around the bookshelves. Find the books. Read through the references. Better ring Mum.

Pick up laptop. On a roll! Write two whole paragraphs and locate the matching pictures. Great progress... Ooops! Two forty-five. Leave to pick up grandson...

Ten-thirty pm resume writing... 

Procrastination IS the thief of time and I'm afraid I am a willing accomplice!
An ideal writing situation?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Sharing books, reading and reviewing

Wednesday 10 February
Just back from Lindal Primary School and feeling happy! The sun is shining, we read books and shared ideas, we made great reviews and I have set some tasks! I love positive days like today!

We looked at reviews of Out of Time on Amazon and decided which ones would most make us want to read them. It was fun reading what people wrote about the books and then we set to and wrote some of our own. Before I left I told the children about some of my favourite books from my childhood. I shared the first two chapters of "The Moon of Gomrath" by Alan Garner. As I suspected many of them were captivated with the story and I have left the book for Mr Proctor to continue reading. I am looking forward to seeing them again during Book Week.


The challenge I have set for these children is to design a poster to "sell" a book to a possible reader and convince them to read it.

Gargoyling about

Friday 5th February

Had a remarkable day with the whole of KS1 at Broughton CE Primary School today. We were focusing on my story "Guy the Grumpy Gargoyle" and we had lots of fun. Naturally we read and shared the book first and talked about what happened and then we went on to retell the story using the puppet characters which I haul around with me to schools. It was lovely to hear the conversations arising from this role play and afterwards the children made their own puppets with lolly sticks. We made a story map and captioned our illustrations and finally we created beautiful "Lost Gargoyle" posters to help us find Guy. This is just one visit to the KS1 class and I look forward to more soon.


Here's a challenge! Can you think of an alternative journey for Guy and his friends? Who might they meet on the way? Can you write and illustrate your own book to share?

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Review with a view



Busy time at the moment. This morning I went to introduce myself as Patron of Reading to Dalton St Mary's Primary school and to be videoed for my review. We are having a challenge ending on World Book Day to choose the best reviews by the children. (I do hope someone reviews one of my books). 

The book I reviewed is a favourite one of my daughters and me too, "The big big sea" by Martin Waddell and Jennifer Eachus. We used to read it frequently and both have happy memories of it. It's a beautiful book, with attractive and carefully drawn illustrations. I love pictures and these are the best! They remind me of my daughter at that age and the pictures of the bay look just like the coast looking towards Black Combe. The story is short but happy, it's about making memories and sharing special times. Something to look back on and share. I never tire of this book and have already shared it with my grandson.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

New Year, new books?

Happy new year to you all! I hope you had a great Christmas. I have been busy with one thing and another and have some exciting news to share with you. I have been commissioned to write a pictorial history of Barrow-in-Furness by Amberley Publishers, this will be published later in 2016.

So its back to almost normal. Who was lucky enough to receive some books for Christmas? It wouldn't be a good Christmas for me without receiving books and I'm glad to say that I did get books; ten in fact!

I have read two so far and hope to dig into the others very soon. It made me think, I wondered what books you received if any? Please do tell me by posting a comment below!

I was given "Career of Evil" by Robert Galbraith-or JK Rowling to you! She uses this pseudonym for her adult series of detective Cormoran Strike and I like them just as much as "Harry Potter.


A really special pair of books I received was an antique leather bound set of the Waverley Novels by Sir Walter Scott. These are rather old fashioned classic novels about characters and events in history; such as Ivanhoe and Rob Roy. The print is tiny and they smell a bit musty but they are real books with their own story, even before I read them. "Who owned them? Where did they come from? What happened to their owner? Hang on! I think there is a story here!