Thursday, 31 December 2009

Five Miles

I did 43:33.6 last night, improving my record by 55 seconds.

I read a book about running over Christmas. I am supposed to call my best time my PB!

Should I bother putting this in my blog? Tell me if not.

There are four women standing around my car in the car park. One of them just leant on the side of my car...

... they've gone now. Phew.

Car Parks

I spend a lot of time in car parks. Especially in the school holidays. If it's a day I am working. Like today. I am usually waiting for my wife and daughter who are doing something and needed me to give them a lift.

I am in the Hedben Bridge train station car park, thinking. With a cappuccino from Squeeze, the joint best cafe in the world.

I am thinking about next year. How I am going to work really hard. Writing. Doing events. Running. And, then, when I'm at home, not working.

Three days off now. Iris and I are going to make plaster casts of animal footprints. She got me a tracking kit for Christmas. It might give me some good ideas for stories.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

2009 and all that

It has been a good year. These are my highlights:
  • going to Ghana and Egypt to research books and talk in schools
  • the Football Academy series launching and doing so well
  • getting into running and doing my first race
  • being asked to do three more Football Detective books
  • meeting Helena Pielichaty and setting up READS UNITED
  • Leeds United winning about 40 out of their 60 games in 2009
  • going on holiday with my family to Cornwall - twice
  • reading books by Jed Mercurio
  • being on Blue Peter
I'm lucky. I know it. These are exciting things.

But the best thing about 2009 - by a loooooooooooooong way - has been my wife getting better.

Happy New Year!

World Cup toolkit

I finshed off the World Cup toolkit I've been doing for the National Literacy Trust (NLT) today. It's called Love Football: Love Reading. It is a toolkit of ideas to use the World Cup (June to July 2010) to encourage football lovers to love reading too.

There is stuff like how to run a football book group, classroom activities, library displays. It's aimed at schools and libraries, but can be used by parents too. It lists lots of good football fiction authors.

I am pretty pleased with it. NLT are going to design it up and have it available to download from March, I think. Jim Sells is the ma behind it, along with me.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Too much going on

There is too much going on.

I am supposed to be writing. But Leeds United are on the radio and England playing cricket online. And my daughter is downstairs making our airfix Concorde model with another man.

How am I supposed to concentrate?

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Hot Toddy

I did the Hot Toddy race today. My first race since school, 30 years ago.

5.8 miles through the Pennines in driving sleet.

It was a personal challenge. I've not had much chance to train, on account of the foot of snow that's been about for the last few days.

But the race went well. My wife and daughter came to see me off and cheer me in. I came about 196th out of 244. My time: 52 minutes exactly.

I know I'm no athlete, but I feel pretty good about it. It was a great way to end the Christmas period. I ate a lot a bad things this weekend.

Now it's back to writing the next book. The fourth Foul Play novel. I got the plot sorted before Christmas.

I can't wait to get stuck in.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Day

I hope you had a happy Christmas. I did. I got some great stuff.
  • the latest Anthony Horowitz 'Alex Rider' novel - I am a big fan
  • a map of the world you can colour in
  • a music box in the shape of Moscow's St Basil's cathedral, as featured in my book Dead Ball
  • socks
  • a book of short stories by Roald Dahl about being a fighter pilot
  • and lots moreItalic
But it's not about getting presents, is it? The best thing was being with my wife and daughter. I love it when my daughter calls out first thing in the morning. 'He's been!'

I got them tickets to see Strictly Come Dancing Live in Manchester. That made them happy.

And Leeds won today. 3-1. So that made me happy.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


I ran my usual five mile road route in 42:28 last night. Fourteen seconds better than last time. It's the race in four days. I am going to do the route again tomorrow. I hope to break 50 minutes. But there's a foot of snow on the road up there.


I've been sledging with my daughter the afternoon. Bombing down a hill near where we live. She is getting braver about it this year. But on one of our early runs we nearly went over. I managed to keep it steady. Just. I think if we had gone over she would have given up winter sports for good.

This after I finally cracked the plot of Football Detective 4 in the Bear cafe, this morning.

I showed the first 20,000 words to my writing group last week and they were into the the villain, a nasty 16 year old who has just been released by a Premier League football club. He was just a fringe character, but, because they liked (or hated) him, I am going to give him a bigger role.

I like being in a writing group. It has a huge effect on the books. One, because their feedback makes the books better. Two, because I write bearing in mind their criticisms of previous books. Three, because the books seem to need less editing at Puffin if I've shown them to the group.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Hot Toddy

So I did the route of the Hot Toddy run today. 5.8 miles up and down hills near where I live.


Not bad for an unfit overweight 42 year old man with a dodgy knee. I loved it, though. At one point I was on the tops with fine rain showering me, 50 geese circling overhead. Bliss.

I started a story I am doing for Tom Watt's 2010 anthology of football stories today. I did the plan. The idea is that 5 writers do stories - plus 5 footballers. All about Tom's fictional Shelby Town FC.

The writing group gave their feedback on the fourth Football Detective novel last night. Pretty good. I was pleased.

Mince pies. I've had four already today. Mmmmmm.

Monday, 14 December 2009

It's been a while...

I've been busy not working for a few weeks. My wife had to go into hospital in late November and is slowly recovering at home with Nurse Tom. But she is recovering well, which is a relief.

No more dark clouds looming over us.

I have not done much writing as a result, but will start big time on Wednesday. Less than two months to finish a 40,000 word novel. I've done 20,000 first draft so far. But I like the pressure. My writing group meets tomorrow at my house to give its verdict on the first half.

I've also been running since I last blogged.

There's a race in my home town, called the Hot Toddy. 5.8 miles up and down hills on 27 December. I've entered. I haven't done a race ever. I got my 5 miles down the road and back from 50 minues to 48 minutes and yesterday 44.42 minutes. Tonight I want to break 40. But may die in the process. It's a ridiculous target. But it gives me something to blog about, I suppose.

I've been reading two novels by Jed Mercurio. I'd not read him before. He is amazingly good.

Leeds have stopped winning.