Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Getting up to date...

In the last couple of weeks I've had two little books published - 'Farmer Finn's Silly Sheep' - a very short story (only about 200 words) for young readers, and 'The Disastrous Dentist' a longer story with chapter (about 2000 words) for those that are Racing Ahead with their reading. Both books have been beautifully illustrated - one by Steve Brown and the other by Ben Scruton. A web page for both of these will be added to my website in the next few days...

The last few weeks and months seem to have flown by. I've been busy writing, visiting schools and doing lots of other things... In the weeks before Christmas I hope to tell you about what's been going on and next year I aim to write at least one diary entry every week so that I can keep things up to date. I know that one diary entry might not sound a lot but it can be really difficult fitting everything in... Lets see how it goes shall we?

Friday, 18 November 2016

Busy... Busy... Busy

Lots of work to do at the moment and lots to tell you about too but here's a quick hello to everyone at St Andrew's CE Primary School "The Rainbow School" in Hull... looking forward to seeing you all very soon. I will be back to my diary very soon and will let you know where I've been, what I've been up to and what I'm working on right now...

Friday, 14 October 2016

The Awful Astronaut

The Awful Astronaut has finally splashed down to Earth and you can buy the hardback right now from Amazon, order it from your local bookshop and keep your eyes open for it landing in your local library (the paperback version comes out next year).

It's always exciting when you receive copies of a new book through the post... you've spent ages working, writing and tweaking the story... you've seen the rough illustrations and finally the finished artwork - just a few tweaks to be made at this stage - but nothing beats holding the finished copy.

I must confess, I'm really happy with the way the book looks and feels, It's just what I wanted it to be - a good mixture of information and fun, and it's been illustrated by the fantastic Davide Ortu (click HERE to visit Davide's website). The publishers, Franklin Watts, were looking for stories about quirky characters doing jobs that they weren't very good at. The idea was to show some of the things that the jobs might include as well as the funny stuff.

Sam has dreamed of being an astronaut all his life and he finally gets the chance after seeing an advert in the newspaper. But becoming an astronaut isn't easy and Sam has to do a lot of training and things keep going wrong for him - he worries that he might just be the worst astronaut ever.

I was fortunate to get the chance to write two books in the series - The Awful Astronaut and the Disastrous Dentist. The Disastrous Dentist is published next month and is much sillier than the Astronaut book... I will tell you more that nearer the time.

There are some other great books in the series by different authors... you might like to keep an eye for them in your local library: The Terrifying Teacher by Claire O'Brien - illustrated by Santy Gutierrez, The Calamitous Cook by Rachael Delahaye -illustrated by Janet Cheeseman,  The Petrified Pirate by Vivian French - illustrated by Mike Phillips (who also illustrated my History Heroes books about Neil Armstrong & Christopher Columbus), The Not-so Brave Knight by Kate Woodward, illustrated by Yulia Somina (who also illustrated my History Heroes book about L.S.Lowry) - and my Disastrous Dentist which has been illustrated by the brilliant Ben Scruton.

Monday, 26 September 2016

St Gabriel's C of E Primary School

Here's a HUGE HELLO to everyone at St Gabriel's C of E Primary School in Huyton - I'm really looking forward to my first visit to school tomorrow. 

See you all soon...

Monday, 12 September 2016

A Postcard From Iceland

A little while ago we got to spend a few days visiting Iceland.
The flight to Iceland only takes a couple of hours so after leaving home it wasn't long before were touching down on the island. We were too early to check into the hotel so we left our cases and went for a wander round the city Reykjavik.   

It was a bit cloudy as you can see from these pictures, but it didn't spoil our walk around the harbour - taking in the mixture of new and old in the city.
The picture below is of the impressive Harpa Concert Hall - if you look carefully you might just be able to see us reflected in one of the windows...


After walking around for a few hours we finally headed back to the hotel and checked into our room. We couldn't wait for the next few days. We also needed a bit of sleep as it had been a long day. One thing you might find odd about a visit to Iceland is that, at the time of year we went, the sun hardly sets at all - easy to understand why it's known as the land of the midnight sun. It's a little strange waking up in the middle of the night though and finding that it's still light outside. On the first night I woke in the middle of the night and thought we'd overslept - but it was only 2 in the morning.

After breakfast the next day we went on a trip to the Blue Lagoon - a natural geothermal spa where you can spend the day relaxing in the mineral rich water that comes from deep underground. It's amazing how long you can spend there just relaxing. The water was very warm and it was a hot sunny day so we got quite a sun tan too. There's even a bar in the pool so you can bob along and get a refreshing drink to cool you down.
The picture above is of the natural pools outside the Blue Lagoon bathing area. The water you bathe in looks just like this... The Blue Lagoon is open until late at night so next time we visit Iceland we plan to go in winter so we can relax in the water and look at the Northern Lights. 

The day after we took a coach trip around the Golden Circle so that we could see some of Iceland's famous sights - Gullfoss Waterfall, The Geysirs, and Thingvellir National Park.

Situated on the northern shore of lake ├×ingvallavatn, ├×ingvellir (Thingvellir) is the national shrine of Iceland and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a very important location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930 AD. As well as being place of historical significance, ├×ingvellir is also protected as a national park due to its unique geology and natural features.

From there we went on to see the Geysir hot springs. The area became active over 1000 yers ago and is made up of lots of hot springs and boiling mud pits...

The geyser, Strokkur is very active and fires a jet of water up to 30 metres in the air.

Others, like the one above just steam and bubble away gently.
From the geysers it was only a short drive to the impressive Gullfoss waterfall. On sunny days you can see rainbows over the falls but as you can see - it was a bit wet when we went.

The final outing of our visit was to go whale watching... I didn't manage to get any pictures of the humpback whales that we saw but I did manage to get a little picture of a puffin swimming in the sea.
We had a great time visiting Iceland and we're really looking forward to going again before too long... 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Rhondda Book Fair

On Saturday I will be joining a host of other authors at the Rhondda Book Fair which is being held in Penycraig, in the Rhondda Valley. The event has been organised by the excellent Colin Parsons (click on his name to visit his website).

Colin has been hard at work all year to ensure that the fair is a big success - gathering authors of Fantasy - Science Fiction - Crime Fiction - Romance - Historical - Horror - Steam Punk - Wartime - Younger Children's - Children's - Chick Lit - Mythical Fantasy - Poetry. There will also be an author Q&A panel with the audience. And don't forget the refreshments; tea, coffee and cake. 
With authors of all genres taking part the Book Fair promises to be a great day for everyone so why not come along, meet the authors and join the fun (admission is free).

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

On Thursday this week...

... I'm visiting schools in Bolton with the Bolton School Library Service so here's a HUGE HELLO to everyone at Cherry Tree Primary School, The Ferns Primary Academy and Sharples Primary School. This time last year when I went round with the SLS it was hottest day of they year PHEW!!! Looks like tomorrow will be a little cooler and a whole lot wetter...

Saturday was beautiful and warm so we called in at Woodfest in Caerwys to see some of the events that were going on there - like carving with chainsaws... this bear was done very quickly.

Vicky got to hold a little Chaco Owl and we looked at the other rescue owls that had been brought along by Owl Rescue Just click on the link and you can visit their site to find out more about what they do.

We spent a few hours looking at the other exhibits and watching lots of interesting things that were going on - including pole climbing and different sorts of wood carving. Pole climbing looks like great fun as long as you aren't afraid of heights. 

We spotted quite a few interesting characters around too.