Monday, 27 August 2012

Getting back into the swing of things

Today is the last day of my holiday and tomorrow I'll be back at work. Sigh. I should say that I do like my job, it's just the commuting I'm not looking forward to. When the train system works the daily trek into London isn't too bad and, I suppose, it actually gives me some quiet time that I try to make the most of it by doing a little bit of Burly and Grum plotting and planning, but when there's a problem with the trains the journey becomes an absolute nightmare.
    My routine tends to be the same most days. I'm not exactly at my best in the morning and within half an hour of tipping out of bed I'm standing, half-asleep, at my bus stop waiting for the bus to take me to the train station. If I manage to get a seat on a train I tend to nap for the first quarter of an hour - it helps me to ease myself into the day after the somewhat brutal start!  I tend not to write very much in the morning but use the 40 odd minutes to read and edit using my Kindle.
     When I get off the train at Liverpool Street station and am swept up in the great tide of grey-suited humanity it reminds me of the time I lived in the West Indies and went diving regularly. Why? Well it's certainly not because of the climate and there are definitely no white, sandy beaches in sight, it's because I always think commuters are like huge shoals of fish. When you dive regularly you realise that although there are seemingly endless fish passing through there are always those that are constant, for example, a little family of sea horses always lived in the same place and a couple of angel fish were always sitting waiting for me on a particular corner of a reef. It's the same with commuters, the first impression is overwhelming but then you get to see the constants and realise there is order amongst the chaos. It's taken some time but now I'm beginning to recognise certain people and have even nodded hello to a few of them! I love the rich variety that surrounds me and even shuffling slowly along the platform amongst the crowd I hear and see the most surprising things - every day is different and I get great ideas for my books. 
       So maybe it won't be too bad tomorrow morning and I'll be back into the swing of things before I know it. There's certainly a lot for me to think about on the commute - the audio books are coming along well, a friend of mine, Carol, is creating Burly and Grum cards and Louise, from Essex Mums, is reading a couple of the books with a view to asking children to review them - yes, interesting things are always happening, but please just keep your fingers crossed that the trains are working  properly tomorrow!
      Update: and some extra news! Jaimie Hope, an amazing author generously invited me to write a piece for her blog and here it is - Spotlight on: Kate Tenbeth.  Do read the rest of her blog, it's well worth it because Jaimie is a genuinely talented author who shares her knowledge and works incredibly hard. Her website is http://www.jaimiehope.com/ and check out her author page on Amazon!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Relaxing in the sun - oh yeah!

I've been on holiday this week - no commuting - yay!  I haven't gone very far (home - but the weather has been nice) and on the first day of freedom, last Saturday, I sat down and made a list of things to do. It was a very long list. One week later and I haven't done a thing on that list, the days have just floated by as I've slept, caught up on reading and generally relaxed. Whether I wanted to or not, my brain just sort of decided to take its own vacation, I keep trying to kick it up a notch or two, but just it's not having it!
    I think that one reason I'm so relaxed is because of the wonderful Kitty Bullard, my publisher. I have to admit that at first it was very difficult to hand over the Burly & Grum books to her, not because I didn't trust her judgement but because well, I'd done everything myself from day one and was used to making all the decisions. Kitty placed the books on Amazon's KDP Select scheme which meant I had to take them down from Smashwords and other sites - that was the hardest thing to do but, of course, it's all starting to fall into place now. She's an incredible networker and I've received invitations to be a guest contributor on several blogs  and the books have been, I think, quite popular - Beyond the Forest even got to number 2 spot in Amazon Kindle (free) Kid's section, which I was pretty pleased with - Kitty is getting the books seen by all the right people in all the right places and apparently is even putting them forward for a couple of awards. Yesterday an autograph collector asked for a Kindlegraph - I had to smile because that is just so strange!  Yet one more new thing notched up!
    However, I haven't been completely idle this past week and have been trying to do a little research on how to sell audio books because Pat Scullion is forging ahead with them (great new look to your website by the way, Pat). I think I'll sell them on my website, link up with Amazon and look at other sites such as Clickbank in more detail. If anyone has any experience of how to market audio books, do please let me know! I'm aiming to have them ready by the end of November in time for Christmas. But that's a long way off and now I must get back to my ice-cream!
     Happy summer holidays everyone - I hope the sun is shining wherever you are!

     PS: one of my posts is now up (on the Indie Revolution) - thank you Mark Miller, author of the wonderful Empyrical Tales for inviting me!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Burly and Grum Interview Jennifer Wilson, aged 10, one of Amazon's youngest authors


Burlington Bear (Burly to his friends) and Grum the groblin are sitting at the entrance of Burly’s cave in the Great Forest waiting for Jennifer Wilson, aged 10.  Jennifer is already an author having published a book of poems ‘Dogs Forever’ with her mother, Dawn Colclasure, and Burly and Grum are going to talk to her not just about her writing but also her drawing.

Burly is a little bit nervous and is eating a large slice of honey cake to calm himself. Grum is grumbling about the lack of mud in Burly’s cave. “I think you should have one of those things like the humans have, you know, a tub thing but with mud in it instead of water so I can sit in it all day.”

Burly ignores Grum and wipes cake crumbs from his snout with a large paw. “What if Jennifer doesn’t like cookies?” he asks worriedly, pointing to a huge basket stuffed full of different types of cookies that Max, his friend, has baked for this very special occasion.

“Mum’s packed me some spare crispy fried earwigs, she can have those.”

Burly raises his eyebrows, “She won’t want… oh!  Look here she is!”

Jennifer appears. She’s a little out of breath having climbed up a narrow path that runs along the side of the mountain to get to Burly’s cave. Burly immediately drops what’s left of his cake and rushes to greet her. “Jennifer!  How lovely to see you, I’m so glad you made it – do come and meet Grum.”

Jennifer has a big smile on her face: Hi, Burly. Hi, Grum! It’s good to be here!

Grum: “You’re a lot shorter than I thought you would be.”

Burly: “Grum, mind your manners, Jennifer, would you like a cookie before we begin?”

Jennifer:   ….*stares at Grum, looks at Burly* Yes, please.

Burly and Grum and Jennifer sit down at the entrance to the cave. There are no comfy chairs or seats but the view overlooking the Great Forest is beautiful. The interview begins.

Burly: I’m so pleased you agreed to speak to us about your writing Jennifer and thank you so much for coming, I know the Great Forest is a little out of your way.

Jennifer: No problem! I love the wilderness!
Burly: I’ve read ‘Dogs Forever’ and really loved your poems. You seem to know all about dogs. Have you got one of your own and what is his – or her - name?

Jennifer: We have a family dog! His name is Chewbacca, from Star Wars. “Chewie” for short.

Burly: How long have you been writing poems and do you write anything else? And do you need another cookie? 

Jennifer: I sometimes write poems. Yes, I write short stories and comics. And of course I need another cookie.

Grum: Burly has read your poems to me and I really like the one where you say dogs poo in the house, it reminds me of home and made me laugh.  What’s your favourite poem?

Jennifer: “Poems!” My faves are: “Dogs” on page 6, “You Are My Best Friend” on page 4, “Small Dog, Big Heart” on page 11, “Dog Sport” on page 18,  “Dogs Dream Of. . . .” on page 20 and “I Love Dogs” on page 24! Those are my faves! J

Burly: What did you say when your mum asked you to write a book with her? Or was it you that suggested it?  Were you very excited?

Jennifer: When Mom asked, I was happy, but not sure. But I decided to do it!

Grum: I really like your drawings of dogs, they look like very tasty snacks. Are they your dogs and can I meet them?

Jennifer: No. And, no.  . . . . Dogs are not snacks, Grum! And thank you. J
Burly: What do you like doing best, drawing or writing?
Jennifer: Drawing. Writing is awesome, but I’m a drawing girl! J
Burly: Do have another cookie Jennifer. You are a very talented girl and I’ve heard you also write songs!  Are you going to do an album as well? 

Jennifer: Thank you! (eats cookie) My and Mom are thinking about making my own CD! :D And, yes! I do write songs and sing them, too! . . . . But I can’t reach high notes without screwing up.

Grum: My mum has read your poems and she likes them but wants to know if you’d write a poem about groblins because we don’t get mentioned much. 

Jennifer: Sure! I’ll try my best! And I know you don’t . . . . !! Thank you, Grum. You gave me another idea for another poem book! :D

Burly: What do your friends say about the fact you have had your poems and drawings published? 

Jennifer: They’re pretty impressed and I said that if Mom needs help drawing a certain . . . thing, that I would recommend them!

Burly:  What are you going to do next Jennifer?  Are you going to publish another book and, if so, what kind – a story book, a comic or a book of poems?

Jennifer: I’m working on my own book now! It’s called The Legendary Wolf! I like how it’s turning out! J

Burly: I love the sound of The Legendary Wolf – we have a few wolves in the Great Forest you know, they’re mostly friendly but sometimes they can be quite scary.

Grum: My mum isn’t scared of them, she whacked one on the nose with her rolling pin.

Burly: Do you know if you are the youngest author on Amazon, Jennifer?

Jennifer: I don’t know. Maybe?

Grum: Where did all your cookies go Burly?  Have you eaten all of them Jennifer?
Jennifer: (makes a startled face) . . . Noooo . . . I’m innocent!

Burly: It’s been a real pleasure to talk to you Jennifer and I’m sure you have a wonderful future ahead of you whatever you decide to do and that you will be an inspiration to other children.  Thank you so much for coming to see us.

Jennifer stands up and gives Burly a big hug and he gives her a big bear hug back.  She walks over to Grum ready to give him a hug.

Grum holds his hand out: Yeah, bye Jennifer.

Burly (raised eyebrows): Grum?

Grum (big sigh and lets himself be hugged): Thank you for coming Jennifer, it’s been lovely having you.

Jennifer: It’s been lovely being here. J

Burly and Grum wave goodbye to Jennifer as she leaves. 

Burly: Well, I really enjoyed meeting Jennifer didn’t you Grum?  Do you think she’ll come and visit us again?

Grum: Yes, she was okay but d’you think she could bring her dogs with her next time – I really want to find out what a hot dog tastes like…

Note: Jennifer recently finished illustrating a children's bookthat her mother, Dawn Colclasure, wrote on upcycling. She is now not only going to illustrate another children's book written by her mother, this one is a story about a boy who wishes for a million doughnuts and one day his wish comes true, but is going to write a song for it as well!  Here at Burly and Grum we all love Jennifer – what a brilliant girl and we are sure that she will inspire other children to write and draw and sing and do whatever makes them happy!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

GO TEAM BG!!!


Years of training have paid off and Burly and Grum are doing extremely well for TEAM BG! Burly's got a silver in gymnastics and Grum a bronze. I hope you'll join me in saying well done Burly and Grum, we're proud of you!! Grum has finished all his events and now spends his time relaxing in his special mud bath but Burly is still training hard for the Cake Eating event being held next week, competing against many experienced cake eaters from around the world - wish him luck everyone!