Saturday, 26 January 2013

Tigers!



I can now tell you a little more about the tiger event I'll be involved in. The Born Free Foundation is working with the Clinton Partnership and Save Wild Tigers to help raise money and also awarness of the plight of wild tigers. Tiger Tracks will be the world's biggest tiger event and is being held at St Pancras Station, London between 1st-21st March this year. There will be a wide variety of events taking place throughout the three weeks and I am very proud to be part of it. I'm writing a Burly & Grum tiger story specifically for the event and will be reading to children at 11.30am on Saturday, 16 March at Foyles, St Pancras Station. Pat Scullion will be with me to help out, not only with the reading but with some art sessions. We both hope that as well as having fun we can explain to children and adults the importance of trying to save tigers from extinction - there are only approximately 3,500 left in this world and we need to help them before it's too late. 
     Another important thing that's happened is that I've been contacted by a writer called Jeff Rivera who asked if he can interview me. Being British and therefore sometimes being somewhat cautious I replied - really? Me? You mean meHe's interviewed Hugh Hefner, Stan Lee, Jackie Collins, Jamie Raab, Fergie, Enrique Iglesias, Avril Lavigne, Macy Gray, Joel Schumacher, James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, Jeff Kinney, Harlan Coben as well as 200 others so maybe you can understand my confusion! He's yet to reply back to my message - he probably thinks I'm a brick short of a load!! Reading through his site and also having read his book for children Um...Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down The Toilet he seems like a great person with a wonderful sense of humour so here's hoping it all works out!
     Right, I'm just off to the library now to finish off my tiger story. It was either that or vacuum. No contest - writing won!  Have a good week everyone!


Monday, 14 January 2013

A great start to the new year

This year has got off to a wonderful start and I’ve got lots to tell you, starting with book reviews.  Book reviews mean a lot to all authors. For me this is not just because good reviews encourage others to read the Burly & Grum books, but because I’m always pleased and surprised that someone I don’t know has taken time out of their day to specifically write about something I’ve written. Last weekend, however, I received six 5* reviews in just 24 hours!  Six!  I couldn’t believe it – I did a little dance of sheer happiness!  Thank you everyone who has left a review - yes, even Nat who left a 1* review yesterday saying The Secret City was rubbish and he wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
Funnily enough, just last week I had an interesting conversation with another author about reviews - personally I think that people who leave reviews that don’t contain constructive criticism are not worth worrying about – I’m always happy to hear from those who have positive suggestions to make about how the story can be improved but those who simply say the book is no good without any explanation I ignore. Some authors, however, really take bad reviews to heart. I personally won't leave anyone a review if I think it's going to be under 3 stars - I'd rather contact the writer direct and say look, this needs editing, the plot doesn't work, etc. and give feedback that they can work on.  Then it's up to them.
One thing I do wish, however, is that Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com would find a way to combine reviews – on Amazon.com I have 23 reviews of The Secret City but on Amazon.co.uk I only have 8.  All authors have the same problem so I shouldn’t complain but it is something that Amazon could improve.
I digress! This week I’ve firmed up a few events - copies of The Birthday Surprise have now been given to the children’s reading group at the Barbican Library in London who will be reviewing it over the next couple of weeks and I’ll be chatting to them on 5th February to see what they think. Children are very honest and I’m looking forward to chatting to them and seeing what they have to say about the book.
On 7th February I’m at two events. In the morning I’m going to Chancellor Park Primary School, Chelmsford and I’ll be talking to 120 children aged between 7-11 about writing. Funnily enough, after my initial reaction of heading for the hills, I’m okay with talking to so many children – it’ll be fun and I want to encourage them to write as much as possible.  One of the things I want to highlight is the fact that they can write and publish stories themselves and I thought I’d tell them about Jennifer Wilson who I interviewed last year.  Jennifer is now 11 and writes, illustrates and publishes her own stories. Everything is possible in this world and I want to make sure that if there’s a child out there who loves writing they will be able to feel they can go ahead and publish if they want to.
That same afternoon I’m going along to a storytelling session at ‘Just Imagine’ storytelling centre in Chelmsford. Just Imagine is a wonderful place, my absolute dream  and I’m really looking forward to being there.  So, three completely different events in a very short space of time.  Another learning curve!
The most exciting event though is something connected to the charity that Burly & Grum supports, Born Free.  I don’t want to say too much at the moment in case I  somehow jinx it but I can tell you that it’s going to be pretty amazing so watch this space!