2018 has been a very busy year for me so far. I’ve been privileged to visit sixteen schools in Swinton, Stockport, Ellesmere Port, West Kirby, Birkenhead, Preston, Wigan, Widnes, Runcorn and Chorley. We’ve had fun dressing up and acting out my Pollyanne book with the help of some very talented actors and actresses hee-hawing and pretending to be opera singers! The children have been full of story ideas and have designed some wonderful front covers for their own amazing animal stories.
The Y5 and Y6 classes have been so enthusiastic, we’ve enjoyed writing books together as a class and holding press conferences. The standard of writing has been excellent with it being tough to pick the winners in each school. Every school I’ve visited has been enthusiastic about reading for pleasure and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to encourage the children to try and read something new – whether it’s non-fiction, newspapers, comics or joke books.
My first picture book ‘The Best World Book Week Ever’ has been so popular and I’m over the moon (shout to my co-authors, Y5 and Y6 children from Adswood, Cambridge Road and St Mary’s primary schools). Meeting my illustrator Scott in person after months of speaking through email was great, we’re already chatting about what our next book together will be. We did two joint author visits – one at his sons’ school and the other at the school he attended when he was five. It was nice to share our favourite parts of the story and our favourite illustrations.
I’ve received some lovely feedback from teachers and children at the schools I’ve visited. I love doing author talks, they’re my favourite thing about being an author. It feels incredible to meet children who already have one or more of my books at home.
This week I’ve been thinking about all the books I want to write in 2016. I really want to write some children’s fiction books and I’ve been brainstorming possible ideas. I love writing books so much that when I’ve not got a book to write I’m at a loose end. I’ve spoken to my agent Jennifer about my ideas and she’s going to speak to my editor Chris about them. I mightn’t hear back till after Christmas but that doesn’t stop me checking my emails every five minutes!
This week I’ve enjoyed two Christmas parties with my daughter, lots of dogs walks and met up with some writer friends. I think it’s really important for writers to meet up and discuss their writing projects. I’ve also written some travel blogs and looked at ways I would improve two websites. This is my freelance writing work and is something I really enjoy. I’ve always been good at social media so sometimes I help companies with their Facebook pages. Have you joined my Facebook page yet? I’ve only just set it up so please join if you like reading my books.
It might be Christmas next week but I’m not rushing around. I want to enjoy this time and remember what Christmas is all about. I don’t enjoy the commercial side of Christmas and prefer to spend my time doing crafts with my daughter, attending carol services and meeting up with friends and family.
Have you got anything exciting planned for Christmas? I wish I’d been able to go to the carol service at Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary on Thursday night. I always keep up-to-date with what’s happening at the sanctuary and always remember John and his team, especially at this time of year. John never takes a day off and will be happily looking after his 80+ rescued donkeys on Christmas day. He really is a selfless man and I’m so glad that I got to write about his life in my book Pollyanne.
Pollyanne is a very special donkey who was going to be slaughtered to make salami but was rescued by John. She was in a bad way but John got her back to full fitness. She was chosen to be in the opera Carmen at the Royal Opera House and has also appeared in lots of TV shows including Not Going Out, Midsummer Murders and a magical trick show. (Pollyanne is 31 just like me so this always makes me smile). If you want to find out more about the book you can click here to read an article in the Daily Mail.
I haven’t managed to take my daughter Lizzy to meet everyone at the donkey sanctuary yet but I hope to take her in the spring, she’ll love it. She loves animals so she’ll love meeting the donkeys, ponies, chickens, goats and pig.
My favourite ever book signing was at the sanctuary when the book came out. So many people came that day. I signed the books, then John signed them and then Pollyanne signed them by stamping her hoof on them. It’ll probably be the most unusual book signing I’ll ever do for sure!
Here is a good video a man called Peter Crowther has posted on YouTube, it brings back many happy memories for me…