Thursday, 21 September 2017

Author Visit to Broseley C of E School

                                                      Reading my story ( photo Julie Phillips)

I had the pleasure of being invited for another school visit recently. It was one of the best experiences I have had and yet again the children inspired me with their creativity.

I started by reading my book ' Every White Horse' then brought my props out again.  I had collected even more since my last school visit including unicorn food, pine cones and a very sparkly model unicorn that I had painted. As they were passed around, they seemed to love the fact that as they handled it, the glitter came off onto their hands causing much excitement. 

Following this session, I then showed them how I had prepared for writing my book with a storyboard and then set them a small task. It was to come up with their perfect pet and draw a picture of it.  I was so impressed with their written and artwork and we had so much fun coming up with names.  

We finished off with a question and answer session which was hilarious. I was asked so many funny questions from how many unicorns I would like to keep to what my favourite colour was. They were all really interested in what else I was writing and what I was reading myself.  It sparked off some great conversation.  

I left feeling so high from this wonderful experience and look forward to carrying out further workshops in the future. 

                                                     Storyboard for Every White Horse

                                           Some of the perfect pets they came up with

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A few more fences to jump.

After nearly three years I am in the final stages of publishing my real life story 'The Painted Pony' about my beautiful horse Chad.

He wasn't a famous horse but he was loved by so many people locally and it's been difficult in so many ways as I suppose it's verging on being autobiographical.  I am not a famous person but some how me and Chad clocked up so many years, sharing good and bad times together that I felt were worth recording in written form.

He changed me from a painfully shy child to the person I am today, maybe a little crazy but I do have more confidence in my mature years and Chad was the beginning of that change.

Self publishing isn't easy but with a story like this which would not be commercial enough to sell, it was the only option.  I am glad I went down this route as I have been able to include all the photographs that I want, choose the front cover and it will only be read by people who want to read about Chad.

Proof reading is one of my weakest points and although I have read it over and over again on the computer, it's amazing how many little mistakes keep showing up or hiding from me after so many years.  

With this in mind I uploaded it onto a self publishing site in A4 size with extra spaces and pages to scribble notes and alterations on. It's working so well and things are jumping out at me straight away, yet when I read it on my computer, my eyes just scanned over them.

It's been great to see how the photographs work with the text too as there will probably be a lot of re-sizing, or re-positioning required before it looks right.

A few more fences to jump then hopefully 'The Painted Pony' will be getting to the finish!

My A4 version of 'The Painted Pony' 
(Plenty of room for scribbling notes)

Sunday, 20 March 2016

First Author School Visit

I had the opportunity to attend my first 'Author' school visit recently and it was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had as a Writer.  

I had great fun in the days leading up to the event too as I hunted the local charity shops for props. I found so many interesting things including this wonderful old camera case which turned out to be perfect to put all my bits and bobs inside.  

When I arrived the teacher showed me to the class room and there I saw my book on a huge screen. Soon the small class joined me and it was great to see their reaction when I put on my story telling cloak. They gathered round the screen and acted it out with story telling techniques.  It was incredible to see my story so animated by a class of seven year olds.

Following that I brought out my case and one by one fetched out my props -  Uther the unicorn, silver water, unicorn food, clover and a little white horse.  They were mesmerised by them and we had such fun as they passed Uther round.  It difficult to take him away, especially when one little girl asked if he could stay for tea!

After that I gave them a chance to try on my cloak, they loved it and all had their picture taken before we did the question and answer session.  I was thrilled at the interesting questions they had come up with. I wasn't sure what to expect as at that age they could come up with the most random things but they were great and very interesting.

We finished off with me reading my story 'Every White Horse' to them.  I don't usually feel that confident when reading out loud but they made me feel so relaxed that I really enjoyed it.  That was such good fun and so rewarding as a writer to share the magic with the people I am writing for.

I just hope I get to do it again sometime.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Into the deep end

It has been a very sad few weeks with the death of  David Bowe, he was so influential for so many of us. I have so many memories from my childhood and teenage years. Just like many out there, I can relate different songs to particular things that were going on in my life. I am even able to pinpoint songs to an exact time and place.  

I was moved by this quote and really want to apply it to my writing.  For years I have just stuck at what I feel comfortable with in writing for children but this has made me want to push a few boundaries and see what happens.

I find myself inspired by so many other genres this year and though I will continue to write my children's stories, I feel like branching out into other things.

Thanks David, even after you have gone, you continue to inspire and motivate people.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

New Year, new start

It's been such a hectic time since I last posted.  My latest book 'Every White Horse' has taken me months of hard work to get right but now I am thrilled with the end result.

For months I experienced all sorts of problems.  The images were difficult to upload with text and the front cover had to be shrunk down which is a pity but I am still happy with  how it looks. 

I was very lucky to have a great illustrator - Artist Hannah Dyson who not only did the cover but illustrated the entire book too.  It's amazing how pictures can really bring a story to life and as this is intended for the younger reader 5-7, that is a vital ingredient of a good book for children.  

We had so much fun over the Summer months as she used my own pony Brodie as a model.  He didn't stand still long enough for her to sketch but we did get some photographs for her to refer to as well. 

So now the work continues. Never let it be said that self publishing is easy. There are so many things that you have to take responsibility for which you would have to do with a traditional publisher but it is great to see it through from start to finish and have the control. 

Well worth the effort if you have the time and patience!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A change in direction

Forgive me fellow bloggers it's too long since I last did an update.  

This year has flown and with the wonderful weather, I have spent nearly every lunch hour through the summer, sitting on the banks of the river Severn with my note pad. I have written lots of poems as part of my Bardic course with the British Druid Order and made endless notes for future projects.  These times have been so idyllic, only the odd dog would stop and acknowledge me as I sat in my perfect writing environment, the words seemed to flow as easily as the river itself.  It was only the church clock chiming that would remind me to get back to work.

I also started penning another children's novel for which the deadline was February 2015 if I wanted to get it looked at by a particular publisher but then just as the summer ends, so did all these projects because I had to take a change in direction.

 In early September I lost my beautiful old horse Chad, he was a massive part of my life for over 34 years.  I had started writing about him last year when I entered  NanoWrimo and managed to get 50,000 words down, but of course it didn't have an ending then and it was very rough and ready as is the norm with the madness of NanoWrimo.  

These sad circumstances gave me that change in direction and fresh motivation to write his story. This time I want to take it steady. There is no rush. I want to capture every last detail of how that special horse affected me and the other people in my life.

I have been doing a lot of research on these real life stories and I do find it a little scary that I will have to put quite a bit about myself in there too.  I find this difficult as I worry about how far to go. As with many people there are things in my life that I would rather not rake up again but our lives were inter-twined.  I can't write his story without telling a bit of mine too and really get across how much that horse changed my life.  He changed it when he came into it and he changed it when he went out of it.  He changed me from a painfully shy child lacking in confidence to someone who feels at ease when talking to people.

It will be a challenge, I have read so many creative non-fiction books to get an idea of how to go about it. 'Marley and Me' by John Grogan was amazing and the interview at the back of the book was so helpful. His advice is to tell the story fully and honestly, do not hold back on detail and believe in yourself.

With these words of advice I have to give it a go, I owe it to him.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Get Snapping

I recently attended an excellent work shop run by Simon Whaley (pictured above) about how you can make money by taking even the most basic photographs. Magazines such as TAB and That's Life pay good money for just a photograph with very few words, so it's a great market to get into as well as producing pictures to accompany a full length article.

I have had some success in this area and on some occasions have been paid more for the photograph than I have the article.  I have a decent camera, though not an expensive SLR, it does have a few features on it that can produce a decent looking photograph.  I took the photo above of Simon photographing a random otter on Aberdovey beach last November.  It was a pure chance encounter of what is usually a very elusive creature and thank goodness we both had our cameras with us.  This has made me realise that it is a good idea to always have a camera to hand even if it is a phone one as you never know when these opportunities are going to present themselves.

Simon's workshop really made me want to try even harder. I love photography but have not pushed myself to develop my skills. For years I have been using the automatic setting on my camera instead of playing around and changing the various settings to get different effects.  His book Photography for Writers is an excellent tool to get anyone started on making money from a simple snapshot.

So, now I have read it cover to cover,  I have set myself a challenge that I am going to try and send a photograph to somewhere every week and see what happens.