Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blast Off with Steve Cole

Yesterday, I took my kids to see Steve Cole at the Wessex Children's Book Festival. The Festival takes place in Winchester, which is only a 45-minute drive down the A34 from me. So, since it was half-term, I thought it would be a great way to spend a morning.

I had originally only planned on taking my boys, since Steve writes alot of boy-orientated series fiction, such as Astrosaurs, Astrosaurs Academy, Cows in Action and Slime Squad. But, after my 16-year-old daughter watched Steve being slimed on YouTube she insisted on coming along too. You can see why:

We arrived quite early as I was nervous about finding a parking space. Whilst we were waiting, all three of my children got a novelty balloon made by the very funny children's entertainer Silly Scott. Dan got a dinosaur, Joe got a space ray gun and my daughter, Christina, got a cute pink Turbo Tortoise bracelet, based loosely on Steve's first picture book.

Then it was time to go into the auditorium to find a seat.

There is one thing that can not be denied - Steve is a dynamic entertainer. He never stops moving. It was so difficult to get a photograph in focus, as he does not stand still long enough. He also has a very vivid and whacky imagination, from monster chairs that bite your bottom to banana vampires. I laughed so much my face ached.

He told us all about his books and where some of the ideas came from and afterwards we queued for nearly an hour to get his signature. Here is Steve trying to shoot my youngest son, Joe, with the space ray gun Silly Scott made:

Isn't my boy a brilliant actor? LOL! Joe has adopted the dinosaur from his brother and is apparantly now a pirate, with a Dinorot permanently on his shoulder. You will have to go watch the show yourself to understand.

You can read more about the Wessex Festival on Steve's blog and don't forget to leave him a comment to say you've visited. Oh yeah... and don't forget to leave me a comment as well. I do like comments. :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vern and Lettuce

Last Thursday, I went to Sarah McIntyre's launch party for Vern and Lettuce. Sarah is one of my favourite all-time illustrators. I am totally in awe of how she manages to blog every single day.

This is the first book she has illustrated and written herself. Here she is signing her book. I love the way she always draws a fab cartoon to go with her signature. She has also done the illustrations for You Can't Eat a Princess! , Morris the Mankiest Monster and When Titus Took the Train . Aren't her illustrations just brilliant?

Vern and Lettuce is one of the six fantastic comic books in the DFC Library. If you are looking for ideas to add to your Christmas shopping list, I reckon these graphic adventure books are ideal stocking fillers.

It was a brilliant event with lots of famous writers and illustrators there. I think the best bit for me was getting to meet the lovely Sally Nicholls, who wrote Ways to Live Forever and Season of Secrets.

I also got a chance to start knitting my very own sheep thanks to Stitch London who supplied knitting needles and wool especially for Sarah's launch. I didn't get to finish my knitting at the party, as I found it a little difficult to concentrate after a few glasses of red wine.. oh yes and the champagne. So, I took my knitting home. In fact, I got a bit carried away with the sheep knitting and the next day, I made myself a little herd.

Monday, October 18, 2010

October SCBWI Social

Last week Thursday, was the October SCBWI social. It was held at The Mad Bishop and Bear, Paddington
Station. I thought this was particularly appropriate because of the link with Paddington Bear, us being children's writers and all.
Here I am with the honorary guest Cliff McNish and my wonderful friends, Trish Phillips and Sue Hyams. Trish insisted I get in a photo. I thought I was doing a good job of avoiding being in the pictures by being in charge of the camera. LOL! Thank you Bex for taking this photo.

We were all having so much fun we forgot to have our photo taken downstairs with Paddington Bear. But, I did find out the last chance to book for the British SCBWI Onwards & Upwards conference, is Saturday 23rd October. That's this week! So, if you haven't got round to sending in your booking form yet, you better get a move on. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

I remember when...

Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event held on October 15th where bloggers, blog about an area of global concern. It is one of the largest social-campaigning events on the web. This year’s topic is water, which got me thinking about drought and the many countries that have a serious lack of water. This reminded me of when I use to go to Cyprus on holiday as a child.

Cyprus has had a rationed water supply for years and years. True, it is not one of the worse-off countries in the world but, I remember when I was a lot younger the water was only turned on in Nicosia for twelve hours in every forty-eight hours. It came as a bit of a shock to me that you were not allowed to flush the toilet after you used it and you had to wash with a bowl of water and a sponge in the bath.

As soon as the water was turned back on, it was mine and my sister’s jobs to help fill all the containers back up with water before it was turned off again. Yet, it made me cross to think that whilst this was going on in the homes where the Cypriot people lived, in all the hotels and tourist places they did not have rationed water. So where I was being told off for running the tap whilst brushing my teeth, the tourists were swimming in massive swimming pools, squirting each other with water pistols and flushing the toilet for fun to see which way the water spun when it went down. Not fair! I bet they did not even know the water was rationed.

However, this has made me more aware of my own water usage, especially when abroad.

I did a little bit of research and found out a couple of years ago, a fleet of tankers from Greece were chartered by the Cypriot government at a cost of £65 million to help combat the emergency rationing. Each tanker held about 1.76 million cubic feet of water.

My mum told me (so it must be true) this year the water situation has improved as they have opened a waste water processing plant outside Nicosia. The recycled water from this plant is apparently used by the farmers for irrigation.

There have also been discussions for a 48-mile-long pipeline from Turkey, which could bring 75 million cubic meters of water a year to the island. This has been called the ‘water for peace’ pipeline, which I think is pretty cool.

Here is the link to the Blog Action Day website, if you want to find out more about the world water crisis and what you can do to help:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dark Goddess

No, the Dark Goddess is not me. Although, I did wear all black for the event. The Dark Goddess is the title of Sarwat Chadda's latest novel which he launched at the fantastic Tales on Moon Lane children's bookshop Thursday evening.

Dark Goddess is the sequel to Devil's Kiss. I previously blogged about Sarwat last year.

At the launch, Sarwat mentioned he was a member of the Chainsaw Gang. I was a little confused at first and had visions of Sarwat running around with a chainsaw chopping people's heads off. But it is actually, eleven YA horror writers who have joined forces to do some amazing author events. They start today with a Blog Tour.

To find out more about the Chainsaw Gang, the authors taking part and their events check out Sarwat's website.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Where I feel at Home

As you all probably know, today is National Poetry Day. The theme this year is HOME. So, I thought to mark the occassion I would dress up like a poet and try and write a poem about where I feel at home.

Home is where?

Comfy chair
Computer stares
Mouse and mat.

Here I’m sat
Watch rain fall.

Ideas fizzing
Hear words call
Children smile back from the wall.

Tippity-tap, tippity-tap, tippity-tap

Stop for lunch
Munch! Munch! Munch!

Pencils, paper
Shelves of books
Screen and keyboard
Take a look.

Tippity-tap, tippity-tap, tippity-tap

Lost track of time
Going to be late
Little boy waiting at school gate.

Children sleeping
Turn on the light
Where did I get to?
Type into the night.

Tippity-tap, tippity-tap, tippity-tap

Printer whirring
Stapler clicks
Flick! Flick! Flick!
Great big tick.

Soft warm bed
Lay down my head
Star Trek beams
On TV screen.

Sleepy eyes
Words are creeping
Wait till morning!
Now I’m yawning.

Home is where?
… home

My son also wrote me a poem to put on my blog:


Homes are
Method of
Expressing feelings
                                                   by Daniel Loughrey (Aged 12)

I think his poem is very clever and much better than my effort.

Friday, October 01, 2010

An evening with Cornelia Funke

Yesssss! I was lucky enough to get an invitation to attend Cornelia Funke's 'Reckless' book launch yesterday, at the ultra glamorous Beach Blanket Babylon in Notting Hill. I was there to write-up the launch for the new Write Away website.

As I tottered in my high-heeled boots from Notting Hill Underground station, I was in awe of the magnificent buildings and their amazing Georgian windows. I was also ever-so slightly distracted by the shops and have vowed to return one day when they are open.

Beach Blanket Babylon is definitely where all the 'beautiful' people hang out. I was taken aback by the front door, which was over three times my height. But, when I went upstairs to the function room - well, that was when my jaw dropped. It was the ideal venue for a fantasy writer like Cornelia Funke, with its crystal chandeliers, gothic candles, regal chairs and mirrored panelling. This accompanied by the specially composed music set the scene for the perfect, magical evening.

We were greeted by Barry Cunningham from the Chicken House who hinted at a sequel and maybe a third book. He talked about Cornelia's love and grasp of fantasy and fairytale. He said he felt as though Jacob was present at the launch - not in the room, but outside looking in on a great reckless journey.

Cornelia made her grand entrance wearing the most amazing dress ever. It was the witches dress straight out of her new novel Reckless. It was designed from its description, by Jenny Beavin (who designed the costumes for the recent Sherlock Holmes movie) and made by Jane Law. The insects were embroidered on by Cathryn Avison. If you click on the picture you will be able to see the spider near the bottom of the dress and the immence detail that went into making the dress. Cornelia pointed out to me the moth and the butterfly in the folds. I couldn't help running my fingers over the material, until I realised I was stroking Cornelia's leg.

The Sunday Times children’s book reviewer, Nicolette Jones, was also wearing a magnificent ball gown she had hired from Angels in Shaftesbury Avenue for the event. She chaired the discussion between Cornelia Funke and her co-creator Lionel Wigram. Lionel is the producer of all the Harry Potter films and the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie and its sequel, which is out next year.

They discussed how they met and their collaboration for Reckless. Cornelia explained how writing a book is like navigating through a labyrinth. At every turn you decide whether you go left or right. But, when you are writing with somebody else, you don't always agree on which direction you should take.

We were all given a first edition of the novel, which I was able to get signed by them both. Several glasses of champagne later it was time to go home, unfortunately leaving the fantastic fantasy world behind me. Most definitely a night to remember. I loved every minute.

Take a look at my write-up on Write Away.