Tuesday, 27 January 2009

In 'The Times' at the start of the year there was this very short snippet of a story:

BERLIN Police stopped three children aged 5 to 7 at Hanover railway station as they tied to set off on a trip to Africa. The boy and older girl, who had packed Lilos and swimsuits, were planning to get married.

In a longer version in another paper there was the added information that the girl had taken her younger sister (the 5-year old) to act as their witness.

My reaction was 'How sweet! What a great story!' I imagined them seeing a programme about Africa on TV, planning their elopement and deciding what to take with them - and of course essentials in Africa would be Lilos and swimsuits! It took me back to when I was a child and I imagined running away. I did actually set off with my suitcase one day, but sadly I was only heading off to my grandparents' up the road as my Mum had been cross with me!

Sadly everyone else I told didn't share my enthusiasm.

Where were their parents?

What if they hadn't been found? Something dreadful could have happened to them.

It was January for goodness sake, what if they'd got hypothermia?

Oh dear. If all that had happened of course I wouldn't have thought it was a great story. But it didn't!

Hurrah for children's imaginations!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

If it feels good...

I'm always reading interviews with authors who sound so very disciplined in the way they write. You now the kind of thing: I write every morning from 8 until 2 then I'm finished for the day. Or, more scarily, I start in the morning and don't stop until I've written 1,000 words. And so many people seem to have every single part of their book mapped out in minute detail - graphs and charts or seperate files for each character and plot strand and....

I've got a stack of papers all muddled up in an A4 Box file, a filing cabinet filled with random snippets and bits of paper all over the house. Plus of course notebooks filled with pages of scribbles in every handbag I own.

So there's always that worry of 'Am I doing this right?'

But if I spent too long worrying about that I'd never get anything done. And as it is I keep flicking on to the Internet for 'research':

vaccinations required for Zambia
Dates of term times
Details of Leeds Festival
Oh...new boots....must check those out....

So I guess we all have our own way of working and if it feels good and we're happy with what we're getting written, well it's got to be 'right' for us.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

A change in routine

I've just returned from my walk with Ted and feel totally re-energised. Which is a surprise on so many levels.

The lateness of the hour = lots of school-run mums with buggies for potential entanglement + lots of dogs on the common

Total anticipated result: the need to lie down with a strong cup of coffee!

It just shows how sometimes a small change can make a massive difference.

I discovered that Ted is actually quite sensible - no rearing up and embarrassing me amongst all the 4X4s by the school gates, he just strolled on by quite calmly. And when we did a detour to avoid oncoming German Shepherds (and Pointers and Dachshunds) he responded to 'Wait' and indeed did wait until he was saddled up and we headed off in a different direction. I was so proud.

Yes we got horrendously muddy thanks to taking paths we didn't intend to take, but so what! He's had a shower (oh the luxury!), I'm going to have a shower now and all in all I've just spent a perfect hour.

Me + Ted + fresh air = total bliss!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

I blame Google Alerts!

I set up Google Alerts as a way of knowing when somewhere on the Internet makes a mention of me (narcissistic? Moi?) or 'The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World of Little Doogs' (I say that knowing that Ian will now also be alerted to the fact that someone has mentioned the book and will be forced to take a look at the blog!) Hah! GOTCHA!

Anyway, I digressed there in a very childish manner - where was I? Oh yes...google alerts...well inevitably lots of random stuff comes up, who knew that 'scrambled world' features in quite so many newspaper articles from reports on fish (I didn't bother to read that one) to the state of the financial markets. But a recent GA threw up a mention on www.jacketflap.com. So of course I logged on to see that I had profile as 'a writer of young adult fiction', so of course, intrigued, I delved deeper to discover it is a 'networking site' for everyone connected with children's books - from authors through to booksellers with a few agents thrown in along the way (painful!)

Now if I'm trying to get 'Extremely Very...' out there, as of course I am, then logging on to such a site is not to be passed by. There's always the chance that you're going to meet someone who loves it and will help 'build the brand' (Look Ian I'm talking the talk!) and of course there is the real chance of meeting like-minded people.

I have dutifully uploaded my 'bio' panicking as always about what to put, and was gratified to see that when uploading the ISBN for 'Extremely Very...' a whole load of 'Sleepovers' also came up. But now there's the stressful bit about 'friends' - what if no-one likes me, should I make the first move, what should I say??? And of course I have that nagging feeling that I'm just not making enough of a great opportunity because I simply do not know how to.

All offers of help gratefully received. Are you still there Ian?
Coo-ee Ian????

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Putting my back into it!

I've had a 'niggly' back for a long time. Nothing that a few days away from the gym wouldn't sort out. Only over the last few months it's got worse. I haven't been to the gym for a month now, which is not good at all. And since Christmas a hot water bottle has become a necessity at all times, which is so not a good look and a sure sign that geriatric dodderiness is heading my way fast! Time to do something about that - I want my dancing shoes back on!

So off to the osteopath for me only to discover that the muscles down my spine are at war - nice! Lots of manipulation and disconcerting cracking and I'm (hopefully) on the road to recovery. Only it doesn't feel like that today.

Still I've been using my enforced 'rest' wisely and have been trying to get 'The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World of Little Doogs' 'out there' with the aid of the Internet. And whilst it was Frustration Central here this afternoon with lots of rather nasty language when 90 minutes' worth of writing disappeared into the ether, I am feeling quite pleased with myself now.

OK so I did have to call on Chris (yet again) to transform a PDF into a jpeg and I have had to keep going back to alter links but I think everything works....so I am now registered on www.authorsden.com which has a readership of one million plus if everything I read is true (!) So hopefully it was worth all my hard work...and my now VERY achey back.

I am now going to lie down with my hot water bottle if you don't mind!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Guilty pleasures!

As I have written before I love walking Ted, it's a punctuation to my day. When I'm writing the morning walk is when I sort out my day and the evening walk is the interim between work and relaxation: I have a mental round-up of what I've written and I plan what I'm going to do the following day. At weekends I just let my head go where it will. Which is a bit of a scary thought really!

But whatever the day, I especially love my evening walks around 'the block' and I especially love them in winter because I get the chance to have a look into people's houses. The lights are on and I get a snapshot of people's lives. People are in the kitchen and I wonder what they're preparing. Quite often I see a teenager on a computer and I wonder whether he's doing his homework or whether he's on Facebook. I've seen people yelling at a large screen TV showing football and a couple in a lingering embrace. The worst is seeing someone in tears, never knowing why.

Also on Sundays it's recycling day for the following morning. And I get to compare people's rubbish, especially how many bottles they have got through compared to us!

Friday, 9 January 2009

New Year

Well after being laid low by a virus for a week I am almost ready to get back to work again, which might be as well as there is so much to do. 'The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World of Little Doogs' is due to be officially published on February 10th so it's a mad scramble to make sure all the relevant people/publications know about it so that we can generate as much publicity as possible. And I must admit I am struggling with it.

I write, that's what I love doing and I do it because I love it. I find the whole thing of 'selling myself' really really difficult. Ian always says that 'selling is not a dirty word', but I say it just comes easier to some people than others.

I love meeting children and talking to them about ...well anything really, because they are so honest. So although I'm a bit nervous about going into schools, just because it's a while since I've done it, I am looking forward to it. It's just the dealing with adults in the 'real' world I'm not really relishing. But I guess as a writer it's all part of the territory now, so I'd better get used to it.

At least I have a gorgeous new desk to work from. I love it! And note how very very tidy it is! How long do you think that's going to last?!