Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm Back!

What happened to all the sunshine? In Cyprus we were having a heatwave. Temperatures were over 40˚C. I come home and have to swap air con for central heating. It is hard to believe it is still August. I am missing the pool all ready. I had a wonderful time and even took a ride on the Super Sofa.

As I am half Cypriot, going on holiday to Cyprus is a real family event. This is a picture of my daughter, mum, dad and sister at the beach; not Fireman's Beach mind. You know, I never even saw one fireman. I suppose they were all busy putting out fires caused by the heatwave. Maybe, I should have let them know in advance I was going to be there.

And this is the resident praying mantis at the villa. I think it liked sunbathing by the pool.

I spent a lot of time in the pool, as it was so hot. Oh OK, yes... I am guilty of sitting by the pool with my notepad and pencil. And yeah... I may have snuck off to the nearest Internet Bar to satisfy my Facebook craving a few times. So, all in all, I had a really relaxing time.

The problem with going on holiday, is when you get back there are so many emails to trawl through. I had lots of lovely messages from my friends saying Happy Birthday. Thank you. They bought a smile to my face. :)

Also, in my inbox was a message from The Society of Authors about the Public Lending Right petition, explaining cuts in public expenditure may include reducing funding for PLR. It urges all writers to sign the petition to show how much PLR is valued, particularly by those whose books are sold direct to libraries, like mine. If you have not had a chance to sign the petition, or want to find out more about it, you can do so by following this link:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's my Birthday and I'll FLY if I want to!

Hello Everyone,

How yoooooou doooin? That was my Joey impression btw. Just in case you didn't recognise it. I've been practising.

Well, five blogs so far for August. I think I deserve a medal... or at least a Birthday card. YES tomorrow it is my birthday and I will be 28, give or take a few years. On Sunday, I went out for a lovely meal with my friends. Me and Claire both have birthdays this month, so we were both celebrating.

Here is a poem my friend, Les Baynton, wrote especially for my birthday after an early afternoon at the pub:

I am a children’s writer
I can do no harm,
But when I’ve had some vinos,
You’d better sound the alarm
Now I’ve had to grow up,
I’m really forty five and…
It’s great to be alive
I’m a web designer…
A children’s lit advisor
But when in Wales,
What you’ve seen…

My crazy hat, glitzy dress-yes..
I want to be a Dancing Queen
Anita dance on …………… no fears,
Take no notice of those passing years.

                                          © Les 2010

Not only is it my Birthday tomorrow, at six o'clock in the morning I will be leaving for Heathrow Airport, as we are going to Cyprus for two weeks. That is a double exciting day for me. ☺ Think of me lounging by the pool, with a cocktail or three. Remember, every hour is Pimm's o'clock when you're on holiday. LOL!!

I'm leaving on a jet plane...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

SCBWI Picnic in the Park

Yesterday, I attended the first-ever SCBWI-BI Picnic in Kensington Gardens. I felt it was a very apt venue, due to the literary links with J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan
- the statue is there and JM Barrie lived just around the corner.

The venue was recommended to me by Becky Jones and Clare Lewis who have written a series of adventure walk books for families. There is a Peter Pan walk in their London Adventure Walks for Families: Tales of a City, with details about the park. See:

All week I had been checking the weather and everyday it was different, but most days it said it was going to rain. But, I was determined not to cancel.
So me and my boys got on the train at 10am not knowing what the weather was going to be like. We had our rucksacks full of sandwiches and cakes but, that didn't stop us buying and devouring donuts as soon as we got to Paddington. We arrived at Kensignton Gardens at 11:30 - half an hour early. This gave the boys a chance to explore. I had been to visit the park a few weeks earlier, so it was fun showing them around. Soon everybody else started to arrive.
We were very lucky the weather stayed fine and the sun came out and we had to look for a shady spot to eat. The boys loved the Diana Memorial Playground and we spent several hours there. It was a great picnic and I am hoping to organise another one next year. The highlight for me was definitely meeting Muffin, Sue Eves very famous dog.
Sue has based her puppet, Woofy, on Muffin. I was lucky enough to have met Woofy at last year's SCBWI Winchester Conference, as you can see in the video below.  Sue told us all about her school visits and her excellent book The Quiet Woman and the Noisy Dog.


Friday, August 06, 2010

Research Secrets

As some of you may know, I have a monthly column in the writing magazine Writers' Forum, where I talk to authors about the research they have done for their books. I find research fascinating and one of the careers I was contemplating, before I become a teacher, was a researcher for a big UK marketing company to do educational research.

I have been writing this column for nearly two years now and have had the pleasure of interviewing people like: the wonderful Julia Jarman, Michael Rosen, Cliff McNish, the amazing Peter James, Sarwat Chadda, Jane Borodale, Christina Jones, Jon Mayhew and the lovely Candy Gourlay, to name but a few.

This month, you can read my interview with Zoë Sharp, the thriller/crime writer. She has written nine novels featuring ex-Special Forces bodyguard Charlotte 'Charlie' Fox. Zoë has even taught a self-defence class at the Bouchercon Crime Writers Conference in Chicago.
© ZACE Photographic

She also likes to try out all the guns she writes about and reguarly goes to shooting ranges in the US. Here is a picture of her at Scottsdale AZ gun range:

©Mary Regan NYC photo

Big gun, or what? If you would like to find out more about Zoë Sharp take a look at the feature on pages 16-17 in Writers' Forum, out in WHSmiths now.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A Writer Needs a Holiday

It is hard to believe that last week I was at the Caerleon Writers Holiday. Time has gone by so fast. Whilst I was there I managed to complete half of Book Three of my ICT teaching resource for Hopscotch Educational. I had set this as my target and as I reached my target I was allowed to have my reward.

Well, my reward was going to see the Dr Who Exhibition at Cardiff Bay. So on the Wednesday afternoon me and my wonderful friend Mel, took the opportunity to go on the tour to Cardiff and caught the Number 6 bendy bus to the Red Dragon Centre.  In the words of my eleven year old son...


I had the most amazing time. Mel and I went from exhibit to exhibit like big kids. OK! I was the big kid! I think maybe Mel turned into my mother at one point. LOL! I only wanted my picture taken with a Cyberman! Although, we did meet a very nice man, who looked just as excited as us, who kindly offered to take our photograph.

The second half of the week, I did Simon Whaley's Positively Productive Writer series of workshops and I must say I learnt a lot. I realised that maybe if I achieved my goal by half way through the week, the goal was probably too easy and I should have given myself something that was a little more challenging. But then - I was on holiday. I am going to spend a bit of time though analysing my long term and short term goals. Oh yes, and I must remember to stay positive and Simon gave us some brilliant ideas on how to do this.  Have a look at the video and you can see for yourself. Thanks Simon. ☺

On the whole, I had an excellent week and I have all ready booked to go again next year.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Use It or Lose It!

It has been a long time since I blogged on a regular basis and I apologise for that. I especially apologise to all the people I persuaded to get their own blog like my dear friend Lynne Hackles who is now a dedicated blogger, when I have been so lapse at keeping mine up-to-date.


For this reason, I have decided to set myself a challenge to blog on a more regualr basis. I will USE IT or LOSE IT. It is a waste of time having a blog linked to my website, if I am not actually going to blog about anything. It looks sloppy and unprofessional. So, if I find I am unable to keep the blogging up I am afraid I will have to delete the whole lot.

I will use my blog, or I will lose it!

That is a positive affirmation of my plan. My aim is for at least three blogs a month, hopefully more. Wish me luck. You are allowed to nag me, if I fall behind on my quota.