Wednesday, 13 July 2011

MY BAGS ARE PACKED, THE OTHER PILE IS JUST WASHING - WAITING AND WISHING - someone, please tell my partner to pack

Sorry for not finding the time to update my blog, but I've been researching and writing three reports for my Learning Champions Course. 

I've got the next workshop/turorial tomorrow. 

There are still seven sections including a one-to-one tutorial to complete before the portfolio of work can be collected and assessed. 

This is the place where I'm supposed to say it's a shame my holiday is booked for Friday. 

It is NOT a shame. It is busy-busy. ;)

When I'm not working, studying or sleeping I'm re-reading Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows ready for midnight plus one minute-into-Friday-morning when my roomy, leather chair is waiting for me in my local cinema :D

My schedule is cramped, for the next couple of weeks:

Cinema ends 3:00 am.
Journey to the airport 10:00 am
Flight 2:30 pm
Via Reykjavik 
Arriving in New York some-time-later on Friday :D

I've packed running shoes, we are going to be chasing around New York so we can see a fraction of everything on our Gotta-see List.

Late Monday, we fly to San Francisco and jog around there for a few days hoping to see everything we planned into the itinerary glint by.

We are tacking a route along the coast to include Monterey, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, several more spots before Solvang (Hi, Sherrie,) San Diego, Santa Monica and, of course, Los Angeles.

I'm so excited I've packed, unpacked and re-packed again - packing-lean has never weighed so much;)

I've also packed my writing notebook and some serious-amounts-of reading material but I think this is not the lying about with a sandy novel kind of holiday.

I'll update the blog as much as I can, when I'm away, but chances are I won't make it much further than Twitter and an overexcited Facebook status or two.

Happy holidays to everyone.

Are you counting down to your holiday too? 

Monday, 11 July 2011


The five space shuttles transported  355 astronauts.
There have been 134 missions.
Shuttles have travelled a total of half a billion miles in space.
The ground crew and astronauts have been routinely heroic. 
Nothing I have read about the replacements sound anything like as versatile as the space shuttle.
I wonder what the new craft might look like?
How far we will we expect the next generation of brave explorers to go?

We use vast sums of money to fund our ability to look outwards, do we suffer from insatiable curiosity or planet envy?
Could it be that we have we lost hope in our ability to protect and share the Earth? 
Where is X-33? I can't help thinking the Orion rocket looks - splash-back-to-the-future - limited.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


Thanks to everyone who offered their thoughts about my six sentences, last week. 

THANK YOU! Your thoughts helped me think... so much. :D

A little late on, but, I've finally decided where STARRING should start ;) I've gone back to the inciting incident that got Lucas sent to boarding school.




The weather was hot and humid, just like home. High over head, the sun broke through miserable clouds and forced rain-filled puddles to steam and shrink. The zoo appeared to be empty, everyone indoors at the watering hole. At the tiger enclosure, Lucas stared at the large Sumatran tiger and the tiger stared back at him. When Lucas placed his hand flat on the glass, the tiger turned its head and gnawed at the smooth surface. With its round yellow eyes fixed on him, the tiger paced away and quickly back again, Lucas was tempted to join in the dance.

OK? My Beta wanted blood rather than angst  at the start

Friday, 8 July 2011

COUNTING DOWN TO THE ABBA LITFEST virtual informative and free

This way to the ABBA Litfest. I can't wait! :D
My computer will be my BFFE this weekend as the ABBAlitfest opens its virtual doors and welcomes everyone who is interested in writing for children.

There are competitions and giveaways :D

Over the next two days they will be posting videos and hosting bookloads of published authors.

Guest blogs and interviews, the next two days will be awesome.

The organisers have said the response they have received from writers, worldwide, has been AMAZING.

This is the first ever online festival run by children's authors, I am not surprised the interest has been phenomenal this is a great opportunity to learn a lot - all in one weekend - and it is free and accessible to everyone. 

The ABBA Litfest starts tomorrow at 9am BST.

They have asked if everyone could help them make it a global triumph by Blogging, mentions on Facebook page or chats on Twitter using the #ABBAlitfest hashtag.

All of us Tweeps could get #ABBAlitfest to trend over the weekend.

Bookmark the ABBA Litfest here.

Another good thing about the virtual Literary Festival is that you can dress down in pyjamas and slippers or up in a ball gown crowed with a tiara.

If you dress to impress, coffee casual or queenly, you can post your ABBAlitfest photograph on the FB page or Twitter - the writer who impresses most is in line for one of the ABBA Litfest prizes.

I can't guarantee to make it in tafetta but I'll be looking to gather some pearls of wisdom ;)   


Wednesday, 6 July 2011


F*BOMB WARNING! This clip contains language unsuitable for minors although miners should be less disturbed.

The four chords Axis of Awesome played were E, B, C# minor and A – from E major.

With lots of other chords available, why are dozens of hit songs created using the same four chords?

·       They are easy on the ear.

·       Great songs, like great fiction, are often about overcoming adversity. These chords are positive but also reflective so they suit the character of each song.

·       All of these songs are kitchen-sink, karaoke key – even if the original artist was male, women can sing them too.

To tell you the truth, Axis of Awesome has transposed some songs into E major even though it was not the original key. I don’t mind that, because it was a lot of fun.

And so to writing:

All writers take a few key elements and craft a million different stories with the same basic chords:


That is an Axis of Awesome ;)


I love Adele’s – Set Fire To The Rain
(But I have no idea what I’m singing about :D)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


I had Bulwer-Lytton moment this afternoon.

Can you imagine "It was a dark and stormy night" ever being a new way to hook a reader?

I read the winners of the 2011 Lyttle Lytton Competition the clever and the cringey.

My poetically crafted  sentence is colouring the scene until every shade blends to confounded grey:

Rain teared the cobbles until the sodden ground oozed; the wind, like the keening wails of sudden widows, howled through deserted streets and lightning peaked in bleaching flashes across the rooftops’ bare-boned spars, each hunched against the grieving force, when the tempest swelled and the army floundered far from home.  (50words)


"Tick is not following tock," said Maurice the clockmaker as he licked at a sooty spring in the back of the watch.

Ugh! Of course, it could just be me - germs, things with moving parts and mouths ;) 

Monday, 4 July 2011


What is unacceptable?

On 21 March 2002, Milly Dowler, aged 13, disappeared on her way home from school.
My daughter, at that time, was ten; small and blond... she looked very like Milly.
After Milly's disappearance, we bought her a phone, and freaked out everytime she was more than five minutes late.
A month after Milly's killer was finally brought to justice, The Guardian newspaper ran a shocking report about her disappearance.
Phone-tapping by journalists has made news before. Unreal? Sadly not.
Amongst the newspapers keen to report on Milly’s disappearance was the News of the World; their journalists targeted the missing schoolgirl's family. They illegally intercepted her phone messages.
The family lawyer describes the News of the World's activities as "heinous" and "despicable".
Journalists hacked into her messages. Awful. They didn’t stop there.
Scotland Yard is investigating evidence that the paper hacked into Milly’s voicemail and as her friends and parents called and left messages begging Milly to get in touch with them, the News of the World listened and recorded every word.
Although that was a terrible invasion of privacy, they didn’t stop there.
When Milly's voicemail box filled up it wouldn’t accept any more messages. The News of the World deleted the messages that had been left in the first few days after her disappearance.
This was sickening but they didn’t stop there.
When the Police realised the messages had been deleted, Milly’s friends and relatives were given false hope; they believed she might still be alive.
This was agonisingly awful, but the News of the World didn’t stop there.
When the Dowler family granted an exclusive interview it was to the News of the World.
Sally Dowler, reported that Milly’s messages had been deleted so she might be alive. The tearful Mum told the journalist: "If Milly walked through the door, I don't think we'd be able to speak. We'd just weep tears of joy and give her a great big hug."
Listening to the Dowler’s when they explained what gave them hope and reporting it in the newspaper was heinous.
The newspaper had destroyed evidence and confused the Police investigation.
The Dowler family will be pursuing a claim against the News of the World I hope they use the same ruthless, callous determination they learned at the hands of the paper itself.

I planned a cheerful Happy Canada Day and Independence Day blog post but now my thoughts are with the Dowler's and other families who have been affected by such a terrible loss.

Sunday, 3 July 2011


It's Sunday! 

I really appreciate the time people take to comment on the six sentence sections.

Thanks for your thoughts.
This week, the six sentences are from my MG fantasy novel STARRING.

Lucas' one happy moment, before the Board of Advisement convene the inquisition.
Nia and Cate giggled high like clinking glasses. They looked from Lucas to the tree stump eyes growing wider with their grins, and then they really laughed. Arms wrapped tight, they could not hold their laughter in. They kept on laughing, although now it was punctuated by snorts and hiccoughs and rolling side to side. Suddenly warm in the shade of the tree, Lucas thought it had been funny. But it wasn’t that funny. 
Thanks for reading. Have a great Sunday :D

Friday, 1 July 2011


Rights of the Reader - Daniel Pennac
Everyone deserves the right to read.

Once you can read, does that mean you must accept the mantle of responsibility not only to read yourself but to share a love of reading and the necessary skills with others, as well as to protect the rights of everyone to be able to read?

Access to reading material should not be dependent on your personal wealth - vive la library!

Over your shoulder, please don't mind me
if my eyes have fallen onto your magazine
Oh I've been watching and wondering
why your face is changing with every line you read.

All those lines and circles, to me, a mystery.
Eve pull down the apple and give taste to me.
If she could it would be wonderful, but my pride is in the way.
I cannot read to save my life, I'm so ashamed to say.

I live in silence, afraid to speak
of my life in darkness because I cannot read.

For all those lines and circles, to me, a mystery.
Eve pull down the apple and give taste to me.
If she could it would be wonderful.
Then I wouldn't need someone else's eyes to see what's in front of me.
No one guiding me.

It makes me humble to be so green
at what every kid can do when he learns A to Z,

but all those lines and circles just frighten me
and I fear that I'll be trampled if you don't reach for me.
Before I run I'll have to take a fall.
And then pick myself up, so slowly I'll devour every one of those books in the Tower of Knowledge.
(Robert Buck/ Natalie Merchant) 10,000 Maniacs "Cherry Tree"
Friday is my favourite day on Twitter. I love reading the #fridayreads the mix of old favourites and new material to check out is thrilling.
This week I have read:
Firestorm Dragon Orb by Mark Robson
Dragon Fire by Cornelia Funke
Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
The first book for next week:
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Part of the Rights of the Reader is the availability of books the reader wants to read and this week four of my books came from the library. The Public Library Service must be protected when recession bites hard and, for many people, money is scarce. This is not a good time to cut back on library services.

I'm a huge fan of the mobile library.

When my Mum wouldn't let me wander as far as the town library, I was allowed to go to the shops on the estate. Twice this week I've passed the library van, doing its thing at the local shops around town. 

This quote, from Larry Niven of Readers' Rights - which I have printed out large and pinned up over my laptop ;) - came from Phantomimic's Website:

The reader has certain rights. He bought your story. Think of this as an implicit contract. He’s entitled to be entertained, instructed, amused; maybe all three. If he quits in the middle, or puts the book down feeling his time has been wasted, you’re in violation.