Wednesday, 19 December 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas


Christmas is approaching very quickly and we've not even written our Christmas cards yet. We will be doing that tonight and getting them in the post straight away. We have put our tree up though - we spent Monday doing our Christmas shopping and the evening putting up our tree and other decorations. 


As you can see, we've decorated it all in Red, White and Silver. It looks perfect - the pictures here really don't do it justice though. 

Over the last couple of years we've picked up a few interesting decorations from different places and each one reminds us of where we bought them and what we were doing which makes the tree feel all that more special. We bought a couple of little decorations when we visited Bourton On The Water last weekend and we also bought one from Harrod's when we visited London.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A Lovely Weekend

On Friday we drove down to Bourton On The Water in Gloucestershire - the weekend was a wedding gift from a couple of our good friends. We set off at at half ten on Friday morning and made our way through torrential rain down the motorway to the lovely little village... thankfully the rain stopped just as we arrived so we were able to have a little walk around before finding somewhere nice and cozy for tea.
A river runs through the middle of the village, with little bridges crossing from one side to the other so you can walk or drive across. It was nice and peaceful and we had a couple of perfect days wandering round the shops and sampling some of the food and drink that was on offer in the little pubs :-) ...
At night, Christmas decorations shone from the shop windows and from some of the lamp posts... but best of all was the Christmas tree that stands proudly in the river. Nice and Christmassy...

Friday, 14 December 2012

Bourton-On-The-Water

Tonight we are spending a romantic evening together at Bourton-On-The-Water... a wedding gift from some good friends who a looking after Con. Spending tomorrow all together for some festive fun...
Boofle came along for the ride - here he is enjoying a glass of pop...

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Robo-Runners Clip

We've had a busy couple of weeks with one thing and another (painting and decorating at home, a trip to London, gas boiler breaking down) and yet again I've not had chance to write a blog post - despite promising fellow author Chris d'Lacey that I would write one on The Next Big Thing... Sorry Chris, I will get this done tomorrow (a week late). Chris d'Lacey is the author of lots of brilliant books - including the excellent (and best-selling) series, The Last Dragon Chronicles. To find out about the next Big Thing that Chris is working on you can visit his web diary by clicking HERE - it's exciting stuff. As well as visiting his website and reading his books, you can keep up to date with what Chris is doing on twitter @chrisdlacey

The Robo-Runners clip that was shown on BBC2 as part of Bringing Books To Life is now available on the internet and can be viewed by clicking HERE. I've been trying to embed it into my website but have been having a bit of trouble doing so.

Lots to write about in my diary so watch this space for photographs from our wedding, and photographs and news of our trip to London over the past weekend - and lots more... 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Another Busy Week

It's been a busy week. On Sunday evening I spent four and a half hours driving down to Eastcote, Middlesex so that I could spend all day on Monday visiting Newnham Junior School. I had a great time at school meeting all the wonderful staff and children and sharing stories and poems, and generally having lots of book fun. Fellow author, Mark Robson was at the school too - I haven't seen Mark for a couple of years so it was great having the chance to catch up with him. 

The rest of the week has been spent writing and painting and decorating at home. The kitchen is almost finished, but once it is it will be time to make a start on the living room. Hoping to get it all finished in time to put the Christmas decorations up.

Tomorrow I'm visiting Mountain Lane Primary School in Buckley - only a ten minute drive from home - so here's a BIG HELLO to everyone there. See you all soon...


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Damian and Vicky's Wedding

I've not written anything in my diary for quite a while. You might thing that this is because nothing much has been happening recently but let me tell you - the exact opposite is true... in fact there has been so much happening recently that I've not had chance to sit down and write in my diary. 
I've been busy writing of course - have put the finishing touches to a couple of little plays (I can tell you more about those later), and I have also been messing around with some other writing work.... more about that later too.... But the biggest and most important thing of all though is that on Saturday 27th October I got married to the most beautiful Victoria Harris - now Victoria Harvey. We haven't got many photographs from the wedding yet but they will be arriving very soon. We do have a couple of lovely photographs that have bee taken by other people though, including this one taken by one of our wonderful bridesmaids Rachel Harvey. 

If you can't wait to see  more photographs then you can take a look at a Photovid of our perfect day by clicking HERE. Our superb wedding photographers, Gaynor and Steve Godfrey (Rainbow Studios) did a fantastic job and we would highly recommend them to anyone.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Bringing Books To Life

I was really excited when, a few weeks ago, I was asked if Robo Runners could be used on BBC 2 Bringing Books To Life. Of course, I said yes... The programme is described as 'A wonderful adventure into the worlds of some of the best children's books written for seven-to-ten-year-olds." Throughout the series, celebrity presenters talk about and read extracts for their favourite books - this is combined with animation to make the whole thing even more exciting. If you visit the BBC2 website you can watch the trailer for the programme, and a couple of other clips.

I was delighted to discover that Hannah EnglandTeam GB athlete, was going to be reading an extract from Robo-Runners. 

The programme is due to be shown for the first time on Friday morning at 5AM (but hopefully parts of the programme - including the Robo Runners extract - will be shown again at other times on BBC and on CBBC). Click Robo Runners to go straight to the Robo Runners page where you can see more, and bigger pictures. As soon as the clip is available I will include it on my website... 

Other books being used in the series include, Roald Dahl's Georges Marvellous Medicine, Kenneth Graham's Wind in the Willows, Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant, Michael Morpurgo's Butterfly Lion and Philip Pullman's The Firework maker's Daughter.... so Crank and Al are in good company.  

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Cowbridge and Llanwit Major

Had a good day today visiting libraries in the Vale Of Glamorgan - this morning I was at Cowbridge Library where I met the excellent pupils from year five and year six of Y Bont Faen Primary School, and this afternoon I was at Llantwit Major Library with the brilliant year four from Eagleswell Primary School - thanks to everyone for coming along and big thanks to everyone that dressed up as FUNGUS - you know who you are but I don't want to embarrass you here :-) 

I will pop a couple of posters in the post to you as soon as I can and I look forward to putting some of your work on my website...

At lunchtime I managed to have a quick walk around Cowbridge and I took a few photographs on my way... Cowbridge's Welsh name Y Bont Faen means 'The Stone Bridge' - it's a medieval walled town (although not all of the walls are still standing). There are lots of interesting things to see in the town though that date back to Roman and Medieval times...

It's never easy travelling from one place to another - even though I use my SATNAV as it doesn't always take you to exactly the right place - I found that out today as Cowbridge Library was hidden off the main street and Llantwit Major Library wasn't easily noticeable until I'd driven past it a couple of times... Luckily I have Boofle on board to help with directions... 

St Aubin's

A quick diary entry before I set off for today's library visits...

I had a great time yesterday at St Aubyn's School, Woodford Green where I got to meet all the wonderful children in Nursery, Reception, Year one and Year two (and their equally wonderful teachers of course). I even managed to meet people form some of the the other years at the end of the day in the book fair - thanks for stopping by.

A big thank you to Mrs Scott, the school librarian (also known as the Bookette - take a look at her excellent book review blog) for looking after me all day and for organising the days sessions. 

Whizzing off to Cowbridge Library in the Vale of Glamorgan now - and Llantwit Major Library this afternoon. See you soon.

Friday, 28 September 2012

St Aubyn's School

Next week is Book Week and I will be driving around England and Wales visiting schools and libraries.

On Monday morning I'll be kicking things off by visiting St Aubyn's School in Woodford Green, Essex, so here's a BIG HELLO to everyone at St Aubyn's - I'm very much looking forward to meeting you all.

I will be spending Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday visiting libraries around Wales - more about that next week, and on Friday I will be in Warrington visiting Birchwood CE Primary School... Phew!!! it's going to be a busy week.

Hopefully I will be able to take a few photographs while I'm travelling around so watch this space...

Friday, 21 September 2012

School Visits - Cambridge Road Primary School

Yesterday I spent the day at Cambridge Road Primary School in Ellesmere Port (and very nice it was too) sharing stories, poems and talking about writing and being a writer. After starting with a whole school assembly and silly story I thought I was going to lose my voice. I croaked my way through the second session with Nursery and Reception but thankfully, after a break, everything was back to normal - Phew!!!


This willow elephant stands at the front of the school and I couldn't resist taking a picture of it as I left. Big thanks to everyone for all their questions and even bigger thanks to everyone that helped out with the stories by dressing up as Pirates and Cavemen...

Next week I'm visiting Ysgol Llanbedr in Denbighshire - so here's a BIG HELLO to everyone there, and also a BIG HELLO to all the ladies in Flint Library who I know come and read my diary from time to time.

Our wedding plans and preparations are coming along nicely - a good job too as there are only 36 days to go. On Wednesday of this week it was Rachel's turn to come down for her bridesmaid dress fitting... she looked absolutely lovely but you will have to wait until after the wedding to see pictures. Over the weekend we are getting shoes for the two youngest bridesmaids and next week we go to see the photographer... not many things left to arrange now... Very exciting.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Red Arrows, Back to Chester and Southport Airshow

Over the past couple of weeks I've been busy working on a couple of short, humorous plays which will hopefully be published together in one book. I can't tell you much about them at the moment though because it's  Top Secret... But I'm happy to say that I sent the plays off to my editor this morning and she loves them PHEW! 
We've been busy making arrangements of our wedding on 27th October - very excited and can't wait. On Monday, Laura came to see us and to have her dress fitting. she looks lovely in her dress, as Deanna did when she came the week before. I still can't show any pictures yet - you will have to wait for the wedding photographs...



Before trying her dress on we had a wander through the park and shared some nuts with the local squirrels... 

Saturday was spent in Liverpool getting bridesmaid dresses for the youngest two bridesmaids and on Sunday we went to Southport to watch the 21st Airshow. 
The beach was full by about half ten and there were queues of traffic while everyone else tried to get to the car parks... Amazing how many people were there over 100 000 over the two days according to the newspaper.  

Friday, 31 August 2012

Out and About in Chester

Deanna came to visit for the day yesterday so that she could be fitted for her bridesmaid dress - she looked lovely. I can't let you see pictures of her bridesmaid dress yet - you'll have to wait until after the wedding in October...

It was nice and sunny in the morning so while she was here we had a wander round the lovely city of Chester. After a look round a few shops we walked along the old city walls as we made our way to the bridal shop.  Here's a picture of Vicky and Deanna taken on the city wall at the back of the Cathedral, 

and another of Vicky and myself taken a little further along the wall. 

After being fitted for her dress we had a little drive to Flint to see the post box that has been painted gold to celebrate Jade Jones winning a gold medal in Tae Kwon Do. There were banners everywhere welcoming Jade home... a good idea painting a postbox gold in each of the medal winners home towns I think.  

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

On Holiday

The weather hasn't been great over the summer holidays but that hasn't stopped us having a nice time. I've not had chance to write in my diary so there's quite a few things to tell you about - a few days out, news about what I'm working on and lots of other things.

In August we spent a lovely week in Tenby, a small walled town with beautiful beaches in Pembrokeshire, on the south coast of Wales. We had some lovely sunny days and a couple of wet days but we still managed to get out and about, visit a few places and have a nice time.

Here's a view of Tenby harbour and one of the beaches...



It's quite a long drive to Tenby so we didn't do a lot on the first day other than unpack and have a walk into the town for a nice refreshing glass of er... lemonade.

On one of the nice days we travelled down the road to visit The Manor House Wildlife Park (you might have seen this on television, but if you haven't you can click on the link above and it will take you straight to their website). The Manor House Wildlife Park is dedication to conservation and it was interesting to see the work they are doing to conserve animals and plants in the wildlife park. As well as seeing some of the animals in their large enclosures there's also chance to walk among some of the animals and feed them... Manor House Wildlife Park isn't a big as zoos like Chester Zoo, however, it's well worth a visit to see what they're doing there.


Here's Vicky feeding one of the wallabies with a special food pellet that are especially for them to eat - you can't just give them a piece of your sandwich or a packet of crisps.

We were very lucky to be able to see some baby meerkats whilst we were there too. The babys are normally kept hidden away in their nest as they can't see but the mother was letting them have a bit of sunshine. You can see one of them here with dad staying close and keeping guard.




We drove across Pembrokeshire to visit St Davids - the smallest city in Great Britain. Here's a picture of St Davids Cathedral which dates back to the 12th century, and behind it you can see the ruins of the Bishops Palace.


  
While we were in Tenby we read about the Cwm Deri Vineyard which was nearby so we couldn't resist going along for a visit. It was a bit of a damp day but we really enjoyed walking through the vineyard and sampling a little bit of wine and cheese - Yum!
The grapes on the vines were only tiny as they won't be harvested until October - it's also been a very wet year (you might have noticed) and that hasn't helped much. We brought a few bottles of wine home with us and are saving them for a special occasion...

Monday, 16 July 2012

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I've been busy writing and visiting a few schools and libraries recently - but life's not all work... 

On 6th July we went to the theatre - Venue Cymru in Llandudno - to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show - and we had a great time - it was brilliant... 

Rather thank acting out scenes from the book as you might expect in a theatre, members of the original Hitchhiker's radio cast performed the story as they would have done originally on the radio. There were, of course, sound effects, music from a life band, and narration from The Book - those of you familiar with Hitchhiker's will know what I mean.

It was great to see Simon Jones, Geoff McGivern, Susan Sheridan and Mark Wing-Davey on stage (along with Christopher Timothy as the book... even though he stumbled over some parts - but that just added to the fun).

Big thanks and lots of love to my lovely fiancée Vicky, and to Connor, for such a thoughtful present.

It's a very long time since I read Douglas Adam's book but I will certainly be reading it again on my KOBO... once I've caught up with everything else I'm reading.

On with some writing now... The picture book is tweaked and with the publisher so I'm on with something bigger. Lots more in the pipeline too...

Thursday, 28 June 2012

I'm busy... really I am!!!

Despite my lack of blog posts I really am busy at the moment. I've been working on a couple of picture books - tweaking and re-tweaking them, working on ideas for some bigger books, visiting schools and libraries and lots of other things...


Yesterday I answered questions for an interview that will be included in the North East Wales School Library Service Newsletter - interestingly enough, one of the questions was do I get to choose the illustrators  that illustrate my stories. The simple answer is no! - well... not usually... though I do sometimes get to choose from a selection of illustrators that my publishers are interested in, however, I've never had a book published without knowing who the illustrator will be. Not until now that is.


I've got a little book Splash! (only about 50 words in total - so a very small book for very young readers) which is coming out in September. The book was initially called Splish! Splash! but it seems that has changed... not a problem. Amazon tells me that it is being published in Hardback on 13th September this year... so that's good. Amazon also shows that the book has been illustrated by Sam Hearn, and the cover looks great - though I was surprised to see that the character in the story is now a girl, but that's not a problem either. After googling Sam Hearn and finding his blog   click here to see some of Sam's excellent artwork I'm delighted with what's been done and think the little book will look wonderful.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

All work and no play...

I love working from home but it can be difficult at times as there are always things that need to be done or things that you want to do. You have to try and put time aside for all the things you need to do and want to do. Getting the balance right can be difficult. I spend a lot of time writing and doing writing related things - this can be Tweeting, Blogging, Replying to Emails, Writing Letters, Visiting Schools and Libraries tp share a love of books and writing and, Yes! Actually WRITING!!! We do, however, get some time to do nice family things and occasionally just cuddle up and watch some television. 
Recently we've been enjoying watching Griff Rhy Jones, Dara O'Briain, and Rory McGrath's Three Men In A Boat series of adventures on the television and on DVD. We've also had a could of nice days out...

A could of weeks ago we went up the Great Orme in Llandudno. We had planned to go up on the cable cars and then journey back down on the Great Orme Tramway - stopping off at the Bronze Age Copper Mines on the way down. Unfortunately, the cable car wasn't running for some reason so we ended up having to walk to the top of the Great Orme. All good fun though and well worth the walk as there was a cool refreshing pint of cider waiting for us at the top. 

The copper mines are well worth a look - the part you can walk through isn't huge but it's unique in the fact that you don a helmet and take the walk yourself rather than being guided by someone else. The mines are being uncovered and enlarged all the time so next time we go up there there might be more to look round. It's frightening to imagine the conditions that the bronze age miners had to work in. 

At the top of the Great Orme there's a restaurant, gift shop - and a pub that was once owned by the world champion boxer Randy Turpin - there's lots of memorabilia up there so it's well worth a trip for boxing fans.

It was a lovely, hot, sunny day and we all caught a little bit too much sun.     


Friday, 18 May 2012

Working

I'm still awaiting feedback on my two picture book texts - one with a publisher and the other with my agent. The thing with writing though is that you can't just sit back and rest - you have to get on with something else. 


I've been working on a bigger book at the moment and have a couple of other picture book texts partially done, however, today is going to be spent generating ideas and writing synopses for some educational reader books.  


We've not reached the end of this school year yet but bookings are already coming in for school and library visits for the next school year. If you're thinking of having an author visit to your school or library please do get in touch soon before the best dates are taken.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The End

There's something very satisfying about typing those two words...
THE END
You spend hours, days, weeks, months and even years working on a story, struggling over beginnings, middles and endings, determined to get the words just right
You write and you re-write. 
You edit and you tweak. 
You draft and then re-draft. 
You curse it for being so troublesome and you nurse it like the fragile creature it is... but eventually the time comes when you know you have to let it out into the world for someone else to read. 


I've not been working on a huge novel recently - I've been working on a picture book, and even though there's not many words in a picture book, writing them is not as easy as some people might think. The story that I've just finished has been stomping and roaring around in my head for a little while but I've finally finished it. My lovely fiancée, Vicky, has given it a final read and offered her much valued thoughts - the very last tweaks have been made and it's now been sent to my agent.  


I could now just sit with fingers crossed to await her thoughts on it... Sometimes my agent offers suggestions that might improve the story - and that's great... I tweak it some more. Sometimes the story goes straight to a publisher... if they like it, they too offer their thoughts and even more tweaks can be made.... so even though I think the story is finished... it's only THE END for now... more work will be needed.


So yes, I could sit with fingers crossed, but all of the above takes time - days... weeks... even months. So instead, I'm going to get on with writing something else... A bigger book... a darker book...


It's hard to write when you cross your fingers - so if you're not too busy, could you please cross your fingers for me.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Getting Inspiration

When I visit schools and libraries I spend my time telling stories and sharing my love of books, reading and writing - the idea behind this is to let the children know that reading and writing is fun. I also spend a lot of time answering lots questions about myself and writing - among other things this helps show that I'm human (for most of the time) and helps satisfies their curiosity about writers and writing. Questions range from - 
  • What's your favourite colour?
  • Where do you do your writing?
to things like 
  • Where do you get your inspiration?   
The first two are easy.... the inspiration question often isn't so easy. Quite often what the poser of the question means is a combination of -
  • Where do you get your ideas?
and 
  • Where do the words that you write actually come from?
I have answers for all of these - some more satisfying than others. But every time i get asked the questions I always wish I had a better answer... the problem is, it's difficult to say where all ideas and words come from without simply saying Out Of My Head...

I've had a book idea rattling round inside my head for a little while now - I know characters and settings and bits of plot and conversation etc but I didn't quite have the words to start the story... and to be honest it was starting to get a little frustrating. 

This morning, however, whilst carefully putting our wedding invitations into the postbox round the corner, the opening words came to me. I don't know what triggered these words off - there was certainly no one around that resembled the character that I'm writing about, nor was there a building similar in any way to the one in the story... but the words still came to me. Perhaps they came because I wasn't looking for them - Who knows?

All I can say is that I'm glad they are here... It now means that I can start the story at a good place. The beginning. Always a good place to start I think...

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Getting on with it

Over the past year or so I've not written much in my on-line blog/diary (this thing you're looking at here) and to be honest I haven't done anywhere near as much writing as I should have done either. There's no real excuse for this - even though I might say that time is tight and its hard finding time to write things etc... 


Yes, I've been busy doing school/library visits/workshops/storytelling sessions and other things but it's still not really much of an excuse - Being a writer you really only have to do one thing, and that's write. After a verbal, and well deserved, kick in the pants from my lovely lady last night I am definitely back on the saddle as it were. 


Today I have been (and still am) working on a picture book story that I intend to finish for tomorrow. The story has been stamping and stomping, baring its claws and gnashing its jaws for some time now (it is about dinosaurs so what do you expect) and trying to get out. I know what the story is... But it's now always as simple as that. A story in itself can be a very simple thing - Boy meets Girl and they fall in love etc... but what makes a story a story is the way it is written i.e. the voice that is used to tell it - and then there's pace, language and much, much more...

Sometimes you need to write, write, write, and sometimes you need to step away and give it a minute....


Phew... 
There...
I've given it a minute....back to the writing now...


Follow me on twitter @damianjharvey or my lovely fiancée, Vicky @Vics2273, to see what we're up to now...


  

Friday, 16 March 2012

Out and About... Schools... Libraries... Puppets and Muppets...

Phew... I've had a mad few weeks visiting schools and libraries all around Great Britain as lots of people celebrate World Book Day. It's been utterly exhausting but great fun... I've met thousands of excited and enthusiastic book lovers, hundreds of keen and enthusiastic teachers, assistants and parents, dozens of lovely librarians (though none as lovely as my lovely lady of course :-) ) and one most excellent puppeteer - The Amazing Marcus Clarke


I've got lots of pictures to put in my diary and lots more to say, but right now my head is ready to explode... 

Yes... EXPLODE!!!! 

There's a story that just needs putting down on paper (or on my laptop)... So STAND BACK...

I'm going to do a little writing to release the pressure and then I will be right back (or should that be WRITE BACK) with more news....

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Car Trouble and a Great School Visit

Had a good day yesterday at the Lamplugh School in Cumbria talking about writing, sharing stories and showing how I go about writing a story. There were lots of great ideas flying around and Class One had lots of fun working on a story together (about Captain Fancy Pants the Pirate) and writing stories of their own. Class Two came up with a horrible old woman called Mrs McFeegle that I'm sure Roald Dahl would have been proud to include in one of his stories. 
I had about three hours to myself between the last session in school and an evening session with parents. In this time I'd planned to go and get something to eat and perhaps do a bit of writing on my laptop. Unfortunately, however, it was raining so heavily that the tiny roads around school were full of huge puddles. Driving through one of the puddles my car decided to stop and have a rest - and wouldn't get going no matter what I did. I thought I was going to be stranded in the middle of nowhere (200 miles from home)... luckily the car dried out and I got it going again just in time to chug back to school to meet some of the lovely parents that were keen on helping their children write stories - not sure if I managed to offer any good advice but it was a nice evening.


Just made it home in time for a quick bath and then straight to bed. Phew!!!


Today I'm catching up with lots of emails, letters and a bit of writing... More schools in the week to come.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

It's been too long...

since I wrote in my diary and lots have people have been telling me off about it.


I'm back now and have lots to tell you about and lots to keep telling you about. Over the last few weeks I've been busy working on some new stories and visiting schools and libraries. A new picture book story has gone to my agent and is now sitting with a publisher awaiting a yes or a no - always a nail biting time (but while I'm waiting for their thoughts I'm busy working on new stories).


Before half term I spent a few days visiting schools and want to say a BIG HELLO to everyone at Aragon Primary School in Morden. It's been great reading all your letters and looking at the Mudcrust pictures you have drawn.