University Research

May 20, 2019
I am so excited to have been asked by a study team at the University of Reading to help with their research into the creative teaching of language.  I will be going into Year 5 classrooms with a fantastic graphic designer and illustrator - Tamalia Reeves - to see if it's possible to teach maths vocabulary through story writing and illustration. What a fantastic opportunity to maybe throw some questions up about the way the curriculum is currently being taught in our primary schools.  I have thought for a long time now that the squeezing out of creativity and the strict rules and formats of our young learners' primary timetables are stopping them from tapping into the part of the brain that lets them experiment and try out their own ideas.  There have been many arguments about the amount of testing our wee ones go through and the increasing push for them to be experts in SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar.)  Of course this is important but surely not more important than just letting their imaginations go wild and make up wonderful stories without worrying about the sort of clauses they're dropping in or how their sentences are fronted.
If this research goes well and we can prove that creativity and stories can help across the curriculum them who knows, maybe we can start to shift the emphasis away from rigid structure and allow our young minds to go wild!
 

school visit fun

April 5, 2019
I have been lucky enough to have been invited into some amazing schools this term to talk to the children about creative writing and how to start building stories of their own.
Since I relaunched these sessions and introduced new Powerpoint presentations - adapted for each school - as well as some lovely new resources to help get those imaginations bubbling over I have been thrilled to see how they have been going down with the children and staff of the schools I've been visiting.
It never ceas...
Continue reading...
 

The power of a network and great writing friends

November 22, 2018
Last weekend some of my critique group and I packed our bags and checked into a fantastic Air BnB in Winchester in preparation for the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) annual conference.  
It felt like living the best parts of student life again, funky attic apartment with plenty of floor cushions and bean bags, wine in the fridge and nothing to eat but toast and biscuits!
This in itself was a real treat as my crit buddies are genuinely some of my best friends.  I thi...
Continue reading...
 

The big re-launch!

November 6, 2018
I have been so busy writing, editing with my old agent, finding a new agent (still playing the waiting game there!) and connecting with other writers that I have let my creative writing workshops slip.
Over the summer I was updating my website and I looked at the 'school visits' page wondering how relevant it still was having not down a visit in just over a year. 
 
And then it hit me....WHAM... on the back of the head at tremendous speed.  Why have I not been in schools - other than my teaching...
Continue reading...
 

The Waiting Game

October 15, 2018
The waiting game is something often talked about when it comes to the path of an author.  Waiting for inspiration or the perfect time to get on with that first draft of the first book (spoiler there is no such time I'm afraid), waiting for critique feedback, waiting for agent response, waiting for the publisher to get back to your agent.  Everything seems as though it is on a go slow in this wonderful, crazy, unique business.

Over the summer I submitted some work to two agents.  Waiting for th...
Continue reading...
 

Huge decisions and the highs and lows of writing.

June 10, 2018
I have noticed how often social media and blogs are filled with the positive aspects of the life of a children's author.  Agent signings, book deals, places in various charts, award shortlists or big wins, that sort of thing.
This is brilliant to read and I find it hugely uplifting and cheering but also not all that realistic.  For every author who has achieved these great things there have been struggles along the way.  Rejection letters, missing out on the shortlists and awards then there ar...
Continue reading...
 

I'm on a list!

May 12, 2018
One of the things I adore about being part of a fabulous writing community is sharing the successes of other writers.  I genuinely love spotting a friend's name on a long-list, or finding out someone I admire has won a competition.  One of my wonderful writing group friends was recently short listed for the Times Chicken House prize and when she told us all, our shrieks of delight made everyone else in the bar stop talking and look to see what the excitement was all about!
The other bonus of t...
Continue reading...
 

London Book Fair 2018

April 13, 2018
Yesterday I got up early, paid an extortionate amount of money for a peak rail ticket to London and headed up to Olympia.  From previous experience I put on my comfiest shoes and easy to remove layers, both of which I was very glad of by the end of the day.
Olympia is a pretty huge place and so the first thing I did was pick up a map and try to get my bearings.  I had a moment where I felt like I needed to put the map on the floor and stand on it to get a better idea of where everything was (m...
Continue reading...
 

Book Launches

March 27, 2018
The thing with book launches is that, before I go, I am always filled with utter joy and excitement at the birth of another children's book as well as being pleased as punch for a friend who has made it to the bookshelves.  Some of these books will go on to win prizes, huge critical acclaim and top best-sellers' lists everywhere whilst others bumble along well enough without making particular waves.  Whatever the end result, every book that makes it to the shelf has already jumped over so man...
Continue reading...
 

Book Buddy

March 13, 2018
A lovely fellow children's writer and booky friend of mine, the delectable Maz Evans, spotted a problem when she was visiting schools to give author talks.  Simply put she noticed that there is a huge hole in the budget for libraries, school librarians and books.  BOOKS!  Surely the building blocks that every school should be amply equipped with.  But no, Maz found teachers dipping into their own purses to buy books for their classes and libraries sourced mainly from charity shops and donatio...
Continue reading...
 

University Research

May 20, 2019
I am so excited to have been asked by a study team at the University of Reading to help with their research into the creative teaching of language.  I will be going into Year 5 classrooms with a fantastic graphic designer and illustrator - Tamalia Reeves - to see if it's possible to teach maths vocabulary through story writing and illustration. What a fantastic opportunity to maybe throw some questions up about the way the curriculum is currently being taught in our primary schools.  I have thought for a long time now that the squeezing out of creativity and the strict rules and formats of our young learners' primary timetables are stopping them from tapping into the part of the brain that lets them experiment and try out their own ideas.  There have been many arguments about the amount of testing our wee ones go through and the increasing push for them to be experts in SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar.)  Of course this is important but surely not more important than just letting their imaginations go wild and make up wonderful stories without worrying about the sort of clauses they're dropping in or how their sentences are fronted.
If this research goes well and we can prove that creativity and stories can help across the curriculum them who knows, maybe we can start to shift the emphasis away from rigid structure and allow our young minds to go wild!
 

school visit fun

April 5, 2019
I have been lucky enough to have been invited into some amazing schools this term to talk to the children about creative writing and how to start building stories of their own.
Since I relaunched these sessions and introduced new Powerpoint presentations - adapted for each school - as well as some lovely new resources to help get those imaginations bubbling over I have been thrilled to see how they have been going down with the children and staff of the schools I've been visiting.
It never ceas...
Continue reading...
 

The power of a network and great writing friends

November 22, 2018
Last weekend some of my critique group and I packed our bags and checked into a fantastic Air BnB in Winchester in preparation for the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) annual conference.  
It felt like living the best parts of student life again, funky attic apartment with plenty of floor cushions and bean bags, wine in the fridge and nothing to eat but toast and biscuits!
This in itself was a real treat as my crit buddies are genuinely some of my best friends.  I thi...
Continue reading...
 

The big re-launch!

November 6, 2018
I have been so busy writing, editing with my old agent, finding a new agent (still playing the waiting game there!) and connecting with other writers that I have let my creative writing workshops slip.
Over the summer I was updating my website and I looked at the 'school visits' page wondering how relevant it still was having not down a visit in just over a year. 
 
And then it hit me....WHAM... on the back of the head at tremendous speed.  Why have I not been in schools - other than my teaching...
Continue reading...
 

The Waiting Game

October 15, 2018
The waiting game is something often talked about when it comes to the path of an author.  Waiting for inspiration or the perfect time to get on with that first draft of the first book (spoiler there is no such time I'm afraid), waiting for critique feedback, waiting for agent response, waiting for the publisher to get back to your agent.  Everything seems as though it is on a go slow in this wonderful, crazy, unique business.

Over the summer I submitted some work to two agents.  Waiting for th...
Continue reading...
 

Huge decisions and the highs and lows of writing.

June 10, 2018
I have noticed how often social media and blogs are filled with the positive aspects of the life of a children's author.  Agent signings, book deals, places in various charts, award shortlists or big wins, that sort of thing.
This is brilliant to read and I find it hugely uplifting and cheering but also not all that realistic.  For every author who has achieved these great things there have been struggles along the way.  Rejection letters, missing out on the shortlists and awards then there ar...
Continue reading...
 

I'm on a list!

May 12, 2018
One of the things I adore about being part of a fabulous writing community is sharing the successes of other writers.  I genuinely love spotting a friend's name on a long-list, or finding out someone I admire has won a competition.  One of my wonderful writing group friends was recently short listed for the Times Chicken House prize and when she told us all, our shrieks of delight made everyone else in the bar stop talking and look to see what the excitement was all about!
The other bonus of t...
Continue reading...
 

London Book Fair 2018

April 13, 2018
Yesterday I got up early, paid an extortionate amount of money for a peak rail ticket to London and headed up to Olympia.  From previous experience I put on my comfiest shoes and easy to remove layers, both of which I was very glad of by the end of the day.
Olympia is a pretty huge place and so the first thing I did was pick up a map and try to get my bearings.  I had a moment where I felt like I needed to put the map on the floor and stand on it to get a better idea of where everything was (m...
Continue reading...
 

Book Launches

March 27, 2018
The thing with book launches is that, before I go, I am always filled with utter joy and excitement at the birth of another children's book as well as being pleased as punch for a friend who has made it to the bookshelves.  Some of these books will go on to win prizes, huge critical acclaim and top best-sellers' lists everywhere whilst others bumble along well enough without making particular waves.  Whatever the end result, every book that makes it to the shelf has already jumped over so man...
Continue reading...
 

Book Buddy

March 13, 2018
A lovely fellow children's writer and booky friend of mine, the delectable Maz Evans, spotted a problem when she was visiting schools to give author talks.  Simply put she noticed that there is a huge hole in the budget for libraries, school librarians and books.  BOOKS!  Surely the building blocks that every school should be amply equipped with.  But no, Maz found teachers dipping into their own purses to buy books for their classes and libraries sourced mainly from charity shops and donatio...
Continue reading...