Wednesday, January 31, 2007

E-books and E-Publishing

There has been some interesting developments over the past few years in e-books and e-publishing. For example, there is an experiment being run in Australia, by the Australian copyright organisation, where you can choose what section or parts from a textbook you want and for a fee you can view it online, or they will print on demand and mail it to you within 48hours. Apparently, they will also bind it on request. This appears to be the ideal solution to photocopying coursework packs.

Amazon provides a service that allows authors, who have had copyright of their books returned to them on their out of print books, to reproduce their books on a print on demand basis. For more information see:

Whereas, allows you to self-publish your books on a print on demand basis.

And provides animated online e-books for children that can be used in the classroom.

ALCS figures claim the average age of a book being photocopied is 8 years. Whereas, the average age of an educational text before it goes out of print are three-and-a-half years. These figures suggest the books are probably being photocopied because they are out of print. It makes you think, doesn't it?

My friend Lisa introduced me to where you can add your own comments about news items, topics of interest, or submit your own articles similiar to writing a blog post and commenting on it. But at Helium your writing is rated and you are able to earn a portion of revenue the site makes depending on how high you rank. It sounds an interesting concept but I have not tried it yet. I think you may have to write a hell of a lot before you actually start earning anything. Although, it is probably all good exposure.

The book reviews I've written for are also another form of e-publishing, as is writing this blog. If you know of any others please feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Permissions for Quotes

More and more publishers are passing the job to authors to get the necessary permissions for using quotes in their text. This is also true if you want to reproduce illustrations. It is also true that for new editions of a previously published work you have to clear all permissions again. This is a difficult task when you consider that many publishers have merged or been taken over. The question is often who to contact.

The Society of Authors, recommend you approach quotes with caution and it is better to ask if you are unsure. Best endeavours will not cover you. They provide a quick guide to obtaining permissions for their members. They can also put you in touch with freelance permission people and are in the process of trying to get a permissions database up and running, which will also provide information on out of date books. There is already a US clearance website, which will search out copyright permissions in the US for you

If you reference a website, officially you must put a date. If you quote a website you should remember the content of the site can easily change and may not be available next time you look.

It is possible to quote up to 200 words without permission for critiques or reviews. However, if you use a quote as an epigraph you must get permission, unless the person you have been quoting has been dead for over 70 years and the work you are quoting was written in their life-time.

If you think this sounds really complicated - you’re right - it is.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Strange Things

I visited Jude’s Blog the other day and saw these strange things in her post and just had to have a go. However, I spent all morning playing around on the site when I should have been working. Here are a few of my favourites:

You Are 50% Left Brained, 50% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at problem solving and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and being active.

Trust me to be slap bang in the middle. However, it does sum me up quite well. I was rather impressed.

You Are 20% Nerdy

You are definitely not nerdy - in fact, you probably don't know any nerds.
You probably care a little too much about your image. No one will know if you secretly watch Star Trek re-runs!

Not much of a secret now though, is it?

Your Dominant Thinking Style: Visioning

You are very insightful and tend to make decisions based on your insights.
You focus on how things should be - even if you haven't worked out the details.

An idealist, thinking of the future helps you guide your path.
You tend to give others long-term direction and momentum.

I thought this hit the nail on the head too. Quite amazing really when you just check a load of multiple choice questions. This next one made me laugh. I'm not telling you what the unusual habits are and if you've spotted them I suggest you keep them to yourself. But, they're right about me lieing awake at night. I find it really difficult to get to sleep.

You Are Midnight

You are more than a little eccentric, and you're apt to keep very unusual habits.
Whether you're a nightowl, living in a commune, or taking a vow of silence - you like to experiment with your lifestyle.
Expressing your individuality is important to you, and you often lie awake in bed thinking about the world and your place in it.
You enjoy staying home, but that doesn't mean you're a hermit. You also appreciate quality time with family and close friends.

But, I must say this next one is my favourite.

Your Hidden Talent

You have the natural talent of rocking the boat, thwarting the system.
And while this may not seem big, it can be.
It's people like you who serve as the catalysts to major cultural changes.
You're just a bit behind the scenes, so no one really notices.

I love the idea of being a catalyst to major cultural changes. Hey Lis, maybe my wooly hat will catch on!

Well there you go! What a way to spend a day. So Jude if you happen to read this - you inspired me to start this blog and you're still an inspiration to me. Great, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

CRB Checks

Before authors make school visits they need to be cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau. The NAWE issue a universal clearance for authors else you have to have individual clearance from each separate education authority. The Society of Authors has recently produced a quick guide to visiting schools which covers, amongst other things, agreements before you go in to the school and invoicing.

But, even if you have this clearance it is recommended you insist you are not left alone with the children. All too often teachers see author visits as an opportunity for some desperately needed non-contact time. But, you are putting yourself in a compromising situation if you agree to this. And I'm talking as an ex-teacher.

My CRB clearance ran out last July. I filled in the forms to re-new it in September and I am still waiting for West Berkshire to clear me. I would have thought since it was simply a case of renewing my previous clearance it would not have taken over four months.

Anyway, I found this cool site today when I was zapping on the ‘Next Link’ tab at the top of the page. I’m trying to leave messages on three new blogs every day. So, if you are visiting me because I visited you, please leave a message and let me know.

Well, about this blog I found - you can do a criminal record check on anybody you want. Isn’t that cool! Here is the link: Undercover Detective. Maybe I should tell West Berks?

I believe the delay in my clearance has a lot to do with the discovery that the records of many sexual offenders coming to the UK from abroad were not put on the database and so they’ve been able to get jobs in schools, etc. In my mind, this is probably what is holding up all the police clearances. It makes me wonder, for how long were they aware of this before it hit the news. Somehow, I think the problem was discovered during the summer.
Anita Loughrey (Amateur Sleuth)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Examination Textbooks

The new ‘A’ levels are due to be launched in 2010.

It would be a great idea to put the supplementary material to the examination textbooks on the Internet. This would overcome the problem of having to produce the textbooks before the writer’s have seen what the examination boards have produced. This supplementary material could be used as a marketing tool for the textbooks and more importantly, the textbooks would become more of an educational resource rather than being reduced to what is needed to pass the exam. Take my word for it, it is much easier to update a website than it is a textbook.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Conference for Children’s Non-Fiction

We discussed several issues at the EWG January Forum that were specifically pertinent to writers of children's non-fiction texts. But, I think the most interesting and exciting topic was the suggestion of a children's non-fiction conference.

The packaging company, Bender Richardson and White, plan to organise a conference specifically for children’s non-fiction writers. At the moment they are looking into speakers and ideas for finance. The aim of the conference would be open doors to a wider range children’s non-fiction markets, including writing for international markets.

This has been such a neglected area for so long that I really hope that it becomes a reality and a regular occurance. The conference may take place in Winchester, which is only a 45 minute drive for me.

I await in eager anticipation.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Society of Authors’ Educational Writers Group

I am a member of the Society of Authors’ Educational Writers Group and today, I am going to the January Forum. This is where members are able to discuss issues specific to writing educational resources in an informal atmosphere over a glass of wine.

Unfortunately, as I am not drinking until the 14th February, I will have to forego the wine. This is because I have made a pact with my husband not to drink for six weeks. The plan is to lose the weight we put on over Christmas. I have found it very difficult and I’m glad I’ve only got four weeks left of this self-imposed abstinence.

I am going into London by train into Paddington and then underground. I have to leave at 4:30pm to ensure I get there for a 6:30pm start. The trains coming home are the problem. I usually don’t get in until gone midnight. Anyway, I will let you know how my meeting goes and if we discussed anything interesting.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Book Reviews

As I have been telling you all a bit more about myself and my writing this year I thought I may as well continue with this theme.

Last month I became a reviewer of children’s books for the newly re-launched website: Write Away, aimed at teachers, student teachers and school librarians.

Write Away is a recommended resource on many teacher training courses. They also organise writer’s conferences, sponsored by publishers. There are over 1000 reviews of children’s books and teacher resources on the site already. They also have some brilliant articles and interviews with children’s authors. For more information take a look at:

Before I became a reviewer for Write Away, I had already had some previous experience of reviewing children’s books. I have even been sent books by publishers to review on my Blog. See: Book Review – Pick Me Up

If you would specifically like to see some of the book reviews I have written for the Write Away site, here are some of the links:

Handwriting Problems in Secondary School

The Scallywags

Horrid Henry’s Christmas Cracker

I hope you like them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My Published Books

For my third blog of 2007, I thought I would tell you all about some of the books I had published so far. Most are sold directly to schools.

Here is some information on the first five books I ever had published.

© Ellis Nadler 2005, cover and character illustration used under exclusive licence to PSHB Co Ltd

This was my first ever book. I still feel excited when I look at it. Although, initially it was a bit of an anti-climax when I actually got to hold it in my hand for the first time. I think the adrenalin rush slowly crept up on me. It is a workbook, which matches the requirements of the Literacy Strategy for Year 5. The children write directly into the book as it contains daily homework exercises for the whole acedemic year. It includes activities for word level, sentence level and text level.

© Ellis Nadler 2005, cover and character illustration used under exclusive licence to PSHB Co Ltd

I also co-wrote, ‘My Fourth Literacy Workabook’ with Deirdre Howard-Williams, who is chairperson of the ALCS. Both books were written for The Primary School Homework Book Company. For more information see the website:

Exploration and Encounters was developed with the busy teacher in mind and to meet the differentiating needs of individual pupil’s within the classroom. The pack is divided into twelve units that cover a world history study of the Aztecs, Cort├ęs and Christopher Columbus. Pupils can either work through all the worksheets or teachers can match specific worksheets from each unit to the pupil’s abilities.

Each unit can be taught weekly within the allocated history session and there are suggestions for cross-curricular links. Extension ideas, suggestions for display and resources have also been included in the teacher’s notes.

The photocopiable worksheets are ideal for developing the pupil’s historical vocabulary and communication skills as well as encouraging their curiosity in history. They promote imagination, creativity and thought whilst investigating historical sources to gain an in depth insight of the Aztec civilisation and the reasons for their rise and fall.

Pupils have the opportunity to learn about the past in the wider world and investigate how the past can be represented and interpreted in different ways and the reasons why people explore. The worksheets present complex historical concepts in an enjoyable and meaningful way using a variety of teaching styles and learning approaches. The pupils’ can evaluate the evidence to draw their own conclusions. Answer sheets have been provided so there are options for pupils to self-mark or teachers can delegate marking to a classroom assistant if required.

The Essential Literacy skills book contains self-explanatory worksheets matched to the KS2 Literacy strategy. This resource can be used by non-specialists and will provide instant cover lessons and stimuli for developing a wide range of important literacy and grammar skills. A full set of answers has been provided.

A similar pack has also been written and published by ZigZag Education for KS3 and is matched to the KS3 Literacy Strategy. It is called Grammar Worksheets for Y7/8. There is also a digital version available. For more information see:

I will tell you about the other, more recent, books I have written another day.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ricky Muddle

For my second blog of 2007, I thought I would tell you all about my other finished children’s book. Especially, as my friends were so kind and supportive about GRID OF LIGHT.

RICKY MUDDLE is approximately 8500 words and a boys’ real-life, adventure story, targeted at the 7 - 9 age group. It is planned to be the first in a series of books featuring ten-year-old Ricky Muddle and his family.

Josie, his younger sister and his best friend Paul, are the innocent victims of Ricky’s complicated schemes to acquire money. Ricky has told everyone he’s going to get the new Psyclops III game for his birthday. When he discovers all his parents have bought him is a crummy jumper, he sets about trying to earn the money to buy the game himself, with disastrous consequences.

Not only does he lose his sister’s rabbit, Jasper, he also ends up in hospital with a stone stuck in his ear. One thing’s for certain, nothing ever runs smoothly for Ricky Muddle. When Josie, tells his Nan he’s been to hospital with a dire ear, she panics and thinks he’s been poisoned.

Ricky is oblivious to the effect his schemes have on other people and could be described as a cross between William Brown and Judy Moody.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hit 2007 with a BANG!

Or Blwyddyn Newydd Dda for any Welsh readers out there who may be looking at my Blog. But, that may just be wishful thinking.

For my first post of the new year I thought I would share with you a little bit about my children's novel, which is now finished.

GRID OF LIGHT is approximately 48,000-words, and a time-slip fantasy targeted at the 9-12 age group. It is the first in a series of books featuring the same characters and quest. It explores the themes that however bad things get if you are loyal to your friends and have courage, things will improve. Four friends conflict between right and wrong and through sheer determination succeed in their quest. Each character has his or her, own set of problems to overcome.

Jake, the main protagonist, has to come to terms with the horrific death of his father and the fact his mum blames him for his dad’s accident. The barrier between them is accentuated by Jake’s craving for the thrills of danger sports like his dad. His elder sister, Katrine, has taken on a motherly role.

Billy has asthma triggered by stress and overprotective parents. He is overweight and a victim of bullying. Phoenix is the eldest son in a long line of boys and has to decide where his loyalties lie: with his friends or protecting his own back by siding with the bullies. Appearances are very important to him. His dad is an alcoholic and constantly out of work, which is a source of embarrassment to him. Jasmine is dyslexic. She is the twin sister of the school bully and is often thought to be one as well. Being caught putting back some of the things her brother had stolen, has not helped to relinquish this reputation.

After meeting Vivien, the clairvoyant with the fair, the four friends venture on a quest to retrieve eight crystals, which form the Grid of Light. Each crystal has its own special magic power but together they have the power to do good… or evil and ultimately they determine the fate of the Earth. They are transported into another realm where mythical creatures exist and legends are a reality. They meet Wart, the young King Arthur, who helps them on their quest and his stepsister Morgan, who is determined to stop them from succeeding in gathering the crystals, as she knows it will bring about Earth’s destruction.

Travelling back and forth in time, they take on this fast-paced, breathtaking adventure whilst confronting their insecurities and coming to terms with their family problems. At the end of the book, Jake and his mother begin to repair their relationship, Billy becomes more confident in dealing with the bullies, Jasmine is no longer thought to be a thief and has proved herself to be a loyal and trustworthy friend and Phoenix realises he has let his friends down so plans to rectify this.

GRID OF LIGHT has strong links with the Arthurian romances and British folklore. The story is historically and geographically sound, using information gathered from original sources. Knowledge of these sources will enhance the book and make it appealing to Arthurian enthusiasts. The novels fill the gaps left by Tennyson, Malory and White. However, GRID OF LIGHT is not dependent on the reader knowing anything of the myths and legends and will stand on its own as a fascinating and intriguing story.