Wednesday, 12 July 2017

A Few Days Away

I've been busy working on my big book recently but we managed to get away for a few days together to visit Tenby on the Pembrokeshire coast in South West Wales. 
Most of the time was spent relaxing but I did manage to fit in a little research while we were there - useful because one of the characters in the book I'm working on was born, and spent the first few years of his life, in that area - so it was good to soak up the atmosphere. 
This plaque notes the birthplace of Bartholomew Roberts at Casnewydd Bach, a tiny village in Pembrokeshire. Roberts, known to many as Black Bart (though not in his lifetime) was one of the most successful pirates of the Golden Age - capturing over 400 ships in his short time as a pirate. Roberts is one of the main characters in the book I'm working on - but at the moment that's all I can say about it. As time goes on though, I will blog more about it.

As well as doing a bit of research and sightseeing we went on a boat across Cardigan Bay to see if we could spot any dolphins and other wildlife... it was great.
Here you can just see two bottlenose dolphins swimming side by side as the dive down into the water...
It's always fantastic seeing dolphins in their natural environment - there's something magical about them... it's no wonder they feature in so many children's books. We were also lucky to see Grey Seals, Guillemots and other sea birds high up on the cliffs. 
Now we're back at home and I'm busy writing... As always, I've got lots to get through. There never seems to be enough hours in the day.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Thank you Theo...

for the wonderful picture that you did for me... and for your lovely letter. Keep up the good work - you're a star.

It was great meeting you and everyone else at St Peter's yesterday. I had a really good time and hope everyone else did too. There were lots of great ideas and lots of great questions. Have fun with your writing... I can't wait to see how the stories turn out.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

What's Goin' On?

First, a huge HELLO to everyone that's coming along the the University of Northampton this week to take part in the Literature Festival - I had a great day yesterday and am looking forward to meeting everyone that's coming along today. If yesterday was anything to go by then today should be great. 

It's hard to believe just how fat 2017 is speeding along. I've been busy working on some little stories for Franklin Watts new Reading Champions series - these will be coming out later this year and they are looking great...

While I do enjoy working on little stories like these (it's just great to see them come to life with the brilliant artwork done by the illustrators) I also love getting my teeth into bigger stories and this is just what I've been doing...

I'm currently working on a BIG BOOK - the biggest I've done so far. The story mixes fiction with fact so I've had to do a lot of research... not something I normally have to do but I want to include lots of real events in my story. It's tricky knowing which details to leave in and which to leave out, especially as the story centres on one of the most notorious pirates of all time - Bartholomew Roberts (known now as Black Bart). What do you think it would be like to go back in time and find yourself on a ship full of pirates? Don't be fooled by the movies - the life of a pirate wasn't all 'yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum'. Life was hard and often very short...

On with the work...

Monday, 3 April 2017

A Big Birthday and other Big News...

It's my birthday today... and it's a big one. Not quite sure how I feel about it but I'm going to mark it down as the start of an exciting new chapter in my life. To help me get over the trauma, Vicky and I are having a couple of days away relaxing in a hot tub with a glass or two of champagne. I'm very lucky and she's spoiling me quite a bit - so I have nothing to complain about.

As part of my birthday present we went to see Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman in concert - performing an evening of YES music and more... and a fantastic night it was too. Lots of great rock music and with the added bonus of being in an audience that made me feel very young. We've seen Rick Wakeman a couple of times before but seeing him with the excellent Jon Anderson, whose voice is as good and as strong now as it always was, was a real treat.    

After having a couple of days off it's going to be straight back to work as I have lots of research and writing to do on my big book, which brings me to the other BIG NEWS...
I'm delighted and honoured to have been among a small number of writers to have been awarded a Literature Wales Writer' Bursary. This will enable me to have the much needed time to help with this big writing project... You can find out more about Literature Wales and their Writer's Bursaries by clicking HERE.

The book I am researching and writing combines time travel with the life a real pirate, Bartholomew Roberts (probably the most successful pirate of the Golden Age). I've made a start on the research and am looking forward to getting on with more - and writing the book. Over the next few weeks and months I will keep you up to date with how things are going - though I don't want to share too much about exactly what's going into the book... 

Friday, 24 February 2017

World Book Day (World Book Week)

Next Thursday is World Book Day and I will be spending the week visiting schools around the country to join in with the celebrations...

Here's a HUGE HELLO to everyone at Light Oaks Junior School in Salford and Horspath CE Primary School in Oxford - looking froward to meeting you all... and I can't wait to see all my old friends at Eveswell Primary School in Newport. 

It's going to be a busy, fun week and I will be writing more about it right here as the week goes on.

Monday, 6 February 2017

A Quick Hello To,,,

...Everyone at St Ignatius Primary School - I'm really looking forward to meeting you all on Tuesday for lots of story fun.

And a huge hello to everyone at Sacred Heart Primary School too - can't wait to see you and your amazing school library.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Visiting Schools

As an author I spend most of my working time sat on my own with my laptop or my notebook writing. Sometimes I'm working on very short stories for young readers and at other times I'm working on something bigger... right now I'm doing a mixture of both. As well as writing I love going out and about to visit schools and libraries so that I can tell stories and get people excited about books, reading and writing. 

Last week I visited my first school of 2017 - Heygreen Primary School in Liverpool. I was made to feel really welcome and had a wonderful time sharing stories and talking about what I do. Working together with Key Stage 2 we came up with some great story ideas... I hope you have fun finishing them off. 

Click here to see a picture of the day on Twitter...

This week I will be visiting Holy Trinity C E Primary School in Bury so here's a HUGE HELLO to everyone there... See you all soon.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Granny At The Park - Reading Champions

I've been busy working on some very short stories with Franklin Watts recently to encourage and help very young children with their independent reading. The first of these is Granny At The Park, illustrated by Jan Smith. I've only seen the rough inside artwork so far but have just spotted the colour cover on Amazon so thought I'd share it here with you. It's fun and a bit challenging working on very short stories (there's only six words on each page) and they need really lively artwork to bring them to life. I think that Jan Smith has done a wonderful job of showing Granny having fun at the park as she causes more and more embarrassment for her Grandson. 

If you want to find out more about the illustrator, Jan Smith you can visit her website here.

Right now I'm busy working on more ideas...

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

A Late Happy New Year

It's hard to believe we are already ten days into 2017. Christmas really seemed to fly by this year and I've been busy writing since then. At the moment I'm working on lots of little story ideas for young readers but will soon be getting back to my big book. 

Before Christmas we had a couple of days in London, though we didn't have a lot of time to look round as our time was taken up with other things... We set of early in the morning and I drove us down to Watford to go on the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio tour. If you've never been before it's well worth a visit... make sure you give yourself plenty of time though as there is lots to see. Going at Christmas, the Hogwarts Great Hall (and Hogwarts itself) all had a Christmas theme which made it that bit more special. 
The Hall had Christmas decorations and even Christmas cakes on the tables...
After spending a few hours at the Warner Bros. Studio we were back in the car and heading down towards our hotel in London. We arrived just in time to grab a bite to eat before it was time to go to bed... we had to be up early the next morning. 

After a delicious cooked breakfast we headed down to the underground and caught a tube train into the centre of London. We just had enough time to call into the British Museum to take a look at the ancient Egyptian artifacts - mummies, statues and lots more. 

It would be easy to spend the whole day in the museum as there's much to see but we didn't have a lot of time... we had to get to the Palace Theatre in time for the first part of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

The story is in two parts; with each play being just over 2 and a half hours long - with short interval half way through and then a couple of hours gap in between the two so you have time to go out and get something to eat. Harry Potter And The Cursed Child is set after the films so Harry is grown up... and that's all I'm going to tell you (I don't want to spoil it). 
We didn't really know what to expect from the plays but I can tell you that they were excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed them. I would certainly recommend them to anyone. The acting was excellent and the effect were brilliant. 

Between the two plays we had time to grab a burger and have a little wander round to stretch our legs... it was great to see London all decorated for Christmas.
We had a lovely Christmas and hope you did too... it's back to work now and I'm on with the writing. Looking forward to a really good year with lots of writing and lots of school visits. 

If you would like me to come and visit you school or library - please don't hesitate to get in touch.