How magical to be part of something so fantastic and afterwards to receive this message through my website too, which I hope sums it all up:
"My son is at Jessop Primary, London SE24. Tonight, armed with a copy of your book and after a session with you, he was keen to read aloud to us and talk to us about how moving he thought your story was. He was alive with the sort of excitement one only gets from a good book. Thank you very much for the spreading the love of reading and writing!" M Style February 2023
I'll leave you with some more photos (courtesy of Tricia at Portrayed Photography) but if you would like to find out more about the festival, including how to sign up for my FREE workshop on 15 February, then please use this link:
Of course I took no photos, so I am hoping that the wonderful Assistant Head Teacher, Ms S Islam, will forward some to be that I can show off, but yesterday I day a fantastic visit to Wigmore Primary School in Luton.
It is always extra special to visit Luton schools as that is where Call Me Lion is set, but this school is particular was magical. The key to a successful author visit is having everyone excited and enthusiastic about it and this really ticked that box.
I hope to be able to write more and share pictures soon, but for now a big shout out and thank you to all the wonderful parents, carers, staff and of course children at Wigmore Primary for making me feel so welcome. I do hope you're enjoying reading my books and that I see you again soon.
Regular readers of my blog will know that a couple of years ago I was working with a fantastic organisation in Stevenage called the Young Carers Crew (YCC).
The charity works with young carers, offering days out, fun activities and general get togethers as a chance to escape and hang out with one another.
I was working on a book with a young carer as the central character and went to meet some of the young people to hear their stories. It was totally inspiring.
Unfortunately that book never made it BUT I did write a story called Alex in the Middle for Fiction Express where I used a lot of what I had learned from YCC. Although not a published book, Fiction Express were fantastic and agreed to print several copies for me to give as Christmas presents.
Last night I made a surprise visit to the YCC's Christmas Get Together in Stevenage to read from Alex in the Middle and present the books.
It was magical!
When I do school visits I'm always dispelling the myth that children's authors are wealthy. The vast majority of us do all kinds of other things to boost our income. One of the amazing things I get to do is work freelance for the Writers & Artists events team. Most writers and illustrators will know all about the W&A Yearbook - the handbook for creatives no matter what stage of their journey they're at - but not everyone is aware that there are a whole series of other services and events on offer. One of these was an exclusive mini-conference held in the Bloomsbury Offices, called Finding the Heart of Your Story. I got to be the host. It was AMAZING!
As I was busy being impressed by our authors - Emma Norry and Robert Tregoning - eating Bloomsbury cupcakes, chatting to everyone and learning all I can from Alex Antscherl (Senior Commissioning Editor in Children's Fiction at Bloomsbury), I took zero photos.
However, a did pinch a few, featured here, and I'm also throwing in some beautiful London Christmas ones for you to enjoy for good measure.
I strongly suggest that you find out all the amazing things that Writers & Artists are doing and watch this space for details of the upcoming festival in March 2024 which I will be going ON and ON about because it is so incredible!
Find out about the W&A Festival 2024 here: www.writersandartists.co.uk/events-and-courses/childrens-writers-illustrators-festival-2024-weekend-pass
On the evening of Saturday 4 November 2023, which would've been James Redrup's 34th birthday, I finally had my magical moment. As fireworks went off outside, I was officially presented the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for 2023.
In my speech I told James's story, explaining why the book is dedicated to his memory. I did a short reading and I talked about SCBWI and why the award means so much to me personally. The whole experience was incredible. I was really touched to see how many people came up to me afterwards to say how moved they were to hear about the story behind Call Me Lion. This book is my heart and I'm so proud to be the author.
The Crystal Kite Presentation was one small part of the amazing annual SCBWI BI Conference which is held at the Manchester Metropolitan Uni. It was an incredible weekend but the highlight for me was the cheering I received from my peers. I will never forget my crowning glory.
Thank you to all of you who continue to support me and Call Me Lion. I'm eternally grateful. I can now officially call myself an Award Winning Author. Get in!
It's with very mixed feelings that I say goodbye to the trio of friends, Anna, Alicia and Alex, in my first (but hopefully not last) Fiction Express book, Alex in the Middle.
It was an intense but hugely rewarding project to be involved in. The book was not for all (no high action drama) but I had some amazing feedback about how it helped children be seen and opened discussions into dealing with difficult friendship situations.
I dedicated the book to The Young Carers Crew, and in particular Lenny and Armani, whom I met way back in September 2021.
I hope Alex in the Middle goes on to become a valued member of the growing Fiction Express library.
If you'd like to find out more about Fiction Express please visit their website: https://en.fictionexpress.com/
It's pretty intense but I'm enjoying being part of the new season of books published by Fiction Express.
This is my first experience of writing for Fiction Express and whilst I knew other authors and had an idea of how it worked, you never really know how something is going to be until it starts.
What is it?
Basically, each week a new chapter of the book is launched online and readers vote on what direction they want the story to take. There's also an online forum where readers can chat to me and each other about the characters and the book in general.
You can find out everything you need to know by going to their website: Fiction Express. The video is excellent and explains everything very well.
It's very exciting and, having written for Serial Mash (part of 2Simple, Purple Mash) for many years, I'm used to writing to deadlines and to an outlined idea. However, these are extremely tight deadlines with literally hours to write in. Also, as the majority of readers don't have English as their first language, the level is less about age appropriateness and more about reading ability. This means content and story plot has to be as engaging for a young reader as it is for a teenager. Not easy but hugely rewarding.
My book, Alex in the Middle, is currently live on chapter two and readers are chatting about which character they would rather be at this point in the story and why. It's really fascinating reading all the different opinions.
I'm waiting to see which direction I am going to be writing in next. I hope they're thinking the same as me...
I've been busy helping the fantastic team at Writers & Artists organise the next event designed specifically for upcoming and unpublished children's authors.
Finding the Heart of Your Story is a mini conference held at the Bloomsbury Offices in central London. It is a highly prestigious, one-off event, which aims to get writers thinking deeply about the story they are writing. Answering the all important question of Why Me and Why Now?
The event is on 25 November 2023 9-3pm at Bloomsbury, London
Two, highly acclaimed children's authors, Emma Norry and Robert Tregoning will be workshopping and there will also be the chance to ask questions to Bloomsbury commissioning editor(s).
If you book before the end of September you will be able to claim the early bird discount. Just use HEART 99 when checking out. But hurry as places are really limited.
For bookings and to find out more visit the website: Finding the Heart of Your Story with W&A
I've had the incredible news that Call Me Lion has been selected by UKLA for the long list of the 2024 Book Awards in the 7-10 Age category. As you can see, it sits alongside a collection of amazing children's books. I'm absolutely thrilled and feel completely honoured to be part of this list.
The books are all chosen by librarians and teachers and are titles that offer not only storytelling but also aim to give wider discussion and learning opportunities.
If you would like to find out more about the awards, or perhaps you're thinking of getting involved, please visit the website: UKLA Book Awards
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