Archive | May, 2012

The Power of Picture Books

24 May

I’ve blogged as a guest blogger on the Picture Book Den website about the power of picture books. You can visit the site here (you’ll find the post most easily by looking under the ‘guest bloggers’ tab on the right hand side) or you can read the post below.

As the subheading of this blog [The Picture Book Den subheading is ‘Passionate about Picture Books’] says, the authors here are passionate about picture books. And I am too. I honestly believe picture books are amazingly powerful things.

I have a 20 month old son I’ve nicknamed Tornado Toddler. That’s because he’s a whirling tornado of a child, alive with energy and constantly on the move, always exploring and investigating.  But picture books — picture books make him stop. Picture books have the power to make him slow down enough to clamber onto my knee and together, we share a story. It’s one of my favourite things in the world, reading a book with my son.

Children learn so much from talking about things they see in picture books, and hearing about what’s happening on each page.  My little boy said his first proper word pointing at something he saw in a book. But I think books are more than just learning tools. Picture books have the power to create a whole new world for a reader to step into, because stories are adventures, allowing children to experience all sorts of exciting things. In a book, you can be a pirate, or a cowboy, or a princess. You can go anywhere, or do anything. Picture books have the power to make magic a real, tangible thing, which is why it’s such a wonderful stage to start a child reading. It’s a joy to see the pleasure a child can get from a book, long before they can read themselves, or even talk.

Picture books also help children explore subjects in a safe way. My picture book, Baby Badger’s Wonderful Night, explores a common childhood fear, that of the dark. If I’ve helped one child be less scared of the dark, even just a tiny bit, well, that’s a pretty amazing accomplishment, isn’t it? And there are books to help with so many things. Like what happens when a new brother or sister comes along. Or when someone dies.  Or you start school, or move house, or have to go to hospital. These are all massive things to happen in a person’s life and subjects such as these, many more besides, are addressed in the pages of picture books.

Magic. Adventure. Reassurance. Knowledge. Hours of endless enjoyment. Oh yes. Picture books are very powerful indeed.

A Room of One’s Own

21 May

Yesterday I had a very lovely day. Along with two of my best friends, we left our respective kids with the husbands, and went out for a day. We shopped (I got two new dresses, perhaps going some way towards finding a new sense of style, number #14 on my bucket list), had lunch and then…then we made lampshades. Oh yes. There’s a fantastic craft emporium called The Makery near where I live, and they offer workshops on a huge variety of things, including lampshade making.

Lampshade made by my own fair hands.

This is my finished product. I’m *very* proud of it. Apparently, lampshades made in this kind of material can sell for £50+! In fact, all of the completed lampshades looked like they could be sold in very posh shops for vast amounts of money.  It was fantastic, seeing how they all turned out. And now I want to make more! A lampshade for every room in the house! (Relatives, look away now. You may be getting these for Christmas).  You can see how excited I am just from the annoying amount of exclamation marks I’ve used in this paragraph.

My lampshade is going to be put in my new study, which I’m super excited about. A room! Just for me! Husband is very bitter about this, because his PC actually lives in, um, a cupboard. (Not even one of those fancy cupboards that turn into a desk. It’s an actual cupboard on the floor. But in my defence, he hardly ever uses that one, he’s on the netbook most of the time. ) My new study is going to be the room I write in, plus I’m also planning on setting up my sewing machine in there, so I can make all sorts of marvellous things (just need to learn to use it first), thus completing number #16 on my bucket list. I’m writing this in the old room, which is about to be painted, and I’m surrounded by boxes of books, piles of paper, duvets, pillows, and all sorts of other mess. It’s making me want to spasm, so I’m counting down the days until my new study will be ready to move into. It’ll be a while before everything gets done and decorated and sorted, we’ve a lot of painting and stuff to do first, but the lampshade is the first step…

Don’t Speak…Write, Instead

15 May

My lovely friend, Joanna Nadin, recently blogged about how music and books are closely interlinked. You can read her post, on the wonderful Girls Heart Books website, here.

Music seems to be something a lot of authors are inspired by. Stephanie Meyer (she wrote some novels about vampires, you might have heard of them) often talks about how important Muse is to her writing. And a while back, I was struggling during a rewrite of my novel, Me, Suzy P…when this song came on the radio. It’s Don’t Speak, by No Doubt. Depending on your age, you may or may not know it. To me it feels like it was out only five minutes ago, although I’ve just checked, and had a heart attack to realise it was out in 1996, sixteen whole years ago. SIXTEEN? How can that be right? Excuse me for a moment while I  have a  wobble about how old I’m getting and how time is passing by crazy quickly. Ahem. *composes self*

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the song came on the radio and I had a real moment of ‘this is exactly how my character is feeling’. It was the first verse that really resonated with me, as Suzy and her boyfriend are having some problems:

“You and me
We used to be together
Everyday together always
I really feel
That I’m losing my best friend
I can’t believe
This could be the end
It looks as though you’re letting go
And if it’s real
Well I don’t want to know”

And from there on in, the rewrite was a whole lot easier, as that really helped with the emotional tone I wanted. So thank you, Gwen Stefani, and the rest of No Doubt.

I’m just in the beginning stages of starting the sequel to Me, Suzy P, and I’m already wondering what its theme song is going to be. It focuses on female friendships, so I hope it’s something fun. Any suggestions?  *sits back and prepares for a deluge of people to suggest Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. It’s good, but it’s not right*

Blowing My Own Trumpet!

4 May

Image from archive3d.net

As I said in my post yesterday, I’ve got a novel coming out. I’ve known about it for a few months, but didn’t want to say anything about it until it was all definite. And now it is, so I can, and I’ve just finished the edits they asked for. So I’m currently waiting, gnawing my fingernails nervously, to hear from my editor and find out whether or not she’s happy with what I’ve done.

The book is being published by Templar, who are based in Surrey. I went over to meet them in March, and they were super nice, taking me out to lunch, telling me they loved my novel, and giving me free books. What could be better? It’s currently scheduled for release in January 2013, and is called Me, Suzy P.  It’s aimed predominately at girls aged 10+. (Boys can read it too, though, natch). I’ll let you know when it’s available to pre-order.

It’s a two book deal, so I’m starting to think about book two, which is a sequel to Me, Suzy P. At the moment, all that’s missing is a plot. A minor detail, right? *panics* I need to get writing pretty quickly, so here’s hoping inspiration strikes soon…

Bucket List

3 May

I’ve been quiet  and not blogged for a while. Someone very close to me died, which happened extremely suddenly and was a massive, massive shock, and then I was on deadline for May,  needing to get the edits for my novel done. Yes, a novel! I’ll write about it tomorrow.I’ve been wary about blogging about it up until this point because I’ve been very superstitious about things and didn’t want to jinx anything.

Anyway, because of everything that’s happened recently, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about quite big stuff. Things including what I want from life, and what I want to achieve, and I’ve learned the harsh lesson that you never really know what’s waiting for you around the corner. Cheery, no? But I’ve realised you shouldn’t keep putting things off, in case the chance to do them never comes.

So over the last few weeks I have been thinking about my Bucket List. The things I want to do before I die. And I thought if I write them down on my website, they won’t get lost, like all the other lists that float around my house then end up in the recycling, with me tearing my hair out two weeks later because I’ve lost a vitally important email address, or mobile number, or note to myself to do something that I’ve now forgotten. So now there’s now a new page on my site, where you can check out the things I want to do. It’ll probably keep being added to, but this is for starters. I’m kicking off with looking for a uke tutor, although Twitter so far has not been very helpful.

Check out my list, you’ll find it under the ‘Bucket List’ tab at the top of the page. Those are my things – what’s on yours? (Warning: I may shamelessly steal any I like the look of).