Tuesday, 26 January 2010


I had a great time at Bartley Junior school, Southampton, today. They were excellent. I went there as a prize: one of their children won me through Puffin Post.

I met their Newspaper Club before doing my events. They asked me some questions and then came up with a great title for a future book. I want to keep it a secret because it is so good. But I can reveal that the book I am writing now will be called KILLER PASS. Or have I menitoned that already?

So now I am in a Winchester hotel. Eating an M&S dinner. The room has Sky Sports News, so I've that on, plus Radio Five, of course. Big football night. I went for a walk earlier and saw a Leeds fan in a pub. Leeds play Swindon tonight. Very tough.

I miss home. And this is my first night away this week.

Reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It is great - and extremely popular with children.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Home tomorrow

I am spending my last night in Carmarthen. It has been good.

I have got into a strange routine after schools. Going to get my tea at M&S foodstore, then looking round Waterstone's, then doing a bit of writing in a cafe near the hotel, then watching live football.

The writing has gone well. Lots of time: lots done. I am well on target now. And pretty happy with it. We have decided on a title too. Killer Pass.

But I am missing Rebecca and Iris a lot. I need to get home.

Every day they put a hot choc in the tea/coffee drawer. I lasted until 7pm before I had it tonight.

Monday, 18 January 2010


I am in Carmarthen for a week of schools. I got a direct train from Manchester. It took over five hours. I had a look round the town. It is very nice. Small, friendly. The hotel is nice too.

All day I have been reading the first draft of Football Detective 4. To get an idea of what is wrong with the plot, the characters and the themes. There's a bit of work to do, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. Once I've sorted all that structural stuff out I'll read it through word for word. I expect that will take a while. Some of it is pretty loose. I did so much of it on trains. Train writing needs a bit more editing.

But I have all the evenings this week to crack it. Then a couple more weeks until I submit it to the writing group.

In fact, a class of 12 children in Basildon is reading it now. I get their feedback in early February. Ghyllgrove Junior School, Basildon. They're great.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


I did the Hot Toddy route in 50:56.3 today. Over a minute quicker than last time. I felt really good afterwards.

I have entered a 10K race in Wigan on 27 February with Tom Holman, fellow author and also of the Bookseller. I hope to beat 50:00 for that. I did myself a training plan on www.runnersworld.co.uk/smartcoach. It's a good site.

Drove to Warrington after the run to see my Auntie Margaret, my mum's sister. And family. A lovely day. Got a copy of my cousin's husband, Paul McGee's new book. He writes about confidence and his book is currently top fo the WHSmith business chart. The books is called Self Confidence.

It was nice to see my Auntie. She said she was proud of me for writing the books. That meant a lot. It is my mum's birthday tomorrow.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Another day, another car park

I am in a Manchester car park. My wife and daughter are in the Manchester Evening Post Arena watching Strictly Come Dancing Live. They were so wired when they went in. My wife was bouncing up and down more than my daughter. I would have gone in with them, but the tickets cost £5o each. Or would I...

So, I am catching up with work in the car. I could have gone to sit in a fancy cafe, but they don't have Radio 5 on in them. Leeds are losing at Exeter and our two main rivals are winning. I knew the scales would come to balance our victory at Man U.

Finished the latest Alex Rider last night. Great stuff. He is the master.

Dammit, now Man U have scored now.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Rotherham Children's Book Prize

I got some good news today. I am on the shortlist for the Rotherham Children's Book Prize. I got the call today. I am very pleased. I do a bit of work in Rotherham and it's always a good laugh. There's a big do on 2 July at Magna.

Thank you Rotherham.

Also, it is confirmed that I am doing a book for Barrington Stoke this year. I am really pleased. I have read a few of their books and loved them. I think it is quite an honour to be published by Barrington Stoke. The book I am doing is not about football! But another sport...

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Back in Scunthorpe

I am back in Scunthorpe, after a lovely weekend at home spent sledging and lying around the place. Oh, and reading the new Alex Rider novel.

I have to admit it, Anthony Horowitz is brilliant. He is such a great storyteller. I was racing through it thinking I am learning so much from this. I am not saying I am stealing things from him. That would be pointless. But I am saying that if you read a really good writer you can learn how to become a better writer. That is what I want to do. Improve. Every day.

I also read Auslander by Paul Dowswell last week. Stunning. An amazing story set in Nazi Germany. It is a tough read, definitely for older readers, but awesome. I emailed the author on his website to say thanks. He was kind enough to email back.

So I am in Scunthorpe schools all week. I was impressed that at least half the children in Scunthorpe support the local team. Many of them have another team (i.e. Liverpool or Man U, usually). But still...

Scunthorpe wallopped Derby 4-1 at the weekend. Leeds only managed a 1-1 with Wycombe.

Poor Derby, eh? It was only two years ago that I was in a Matlock school being mocked for being a Leeds fan by one class, as the class I'd worked with an hour before was outside the library shouting 'We all hate Leeds' through the door.

I must go back to that school and see those lads again. They'll be a bit quieter, I expect.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Another Nice Day

Two more lovely schools in Scunthorpe today. Crowle and Gunness. All the children were lovely.

I go home tomorrow for the weekend. To hack at the unhacked ice for hours. To see my lovely family.

Tonight I have been reactivating me on Facebook. A boy said I should. I am not sure. We'll see.

I have also done more on Football Detective 4. 1000 words. Still no title, but Chris Bulman of North Lincs libraries has had some good ideas.

My exciting life.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Nice Day

I did a day in Scunthorpe schools today. My first events for 6 weeks. It was great.

I went to Crosby Primary in the morning and had a lovely time with 150 of the children, talking football and books.

Then, this afternoon, the Riddings Junior School, working with year six. A great class to work with.

I like doing events. I think towards the end of last year I got a bit run down, what with things going on at home, and I needed a little break. Well, I've had it now. Six weeks of it. And it was really good to be back. I have four or five days a week in schools for the first half of this year. I like doing it.

And things have changed a bit now. I used to get a lot of abuse from Man U fans about being a Leeds fan. But today the Man U fans were quiet. I wonder why...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


I am in Scunthorpe, ready for three days in schools from tomorrow.

I drove through a snowy Yorkshire. When I left Tod there were eight or nine inches of snow. There is less here. But the threat of more tomorrow. I only skidded once on the 90 mile drive. Luckily I was doing 5 miles an hour

I am spending the night finishing a story for Tom Watt who is editing an exciting collection of football stories.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Big Day

Today is a big day...

I have fifteen working days to write 17,000 words to finish the first draft of Football Detective 4. Then two weeks to rework it. Deadline day is 22 February. It is plotted meticulously, so it should be okay. Today Danny is trapped in an attic with a menacing ex-footballer at the foot of the stairs about to come up and get him...

Tomorrow I go back to working in schools after a 42 day break to look after my wife. My wife is better and all is well. Scunthorpe here I come.

But first I have to go to the supermarket, get some grit, grit my path and my next door neighbour's path, clean the rabbit out (frozen wee, etc.), get the car headlamp fixed, post some rather late Christmas presents, return some library books and DVDs...

... and enjoy being a fan of Leeds United FC.

Saturday, 2 January 2010


I've just been offered two tickets to the Man U v Leeds game tomorrow: £37 each.

This is my answer to those readers who ask if I'm rich: after Christmas there is no way I will pay Man U £74.

I'll have to watch it on ITV like everyone else.

It's snowing heavily in Todmorden. We were meant to drive to Birmingham today to watch the Grufallo. But there was no way. Tod is in the middle of the Pennines, high up. It gets good snow.

For your info, the football split here is about 30% Burnley, 30% Man U, 20% Man City, 10% Leeds, 5% Rochdale and 5% 'other'.