Sunday, 29 August 2010

Own Goal

I've finished the third draft of Own Goal. Now one draft to go before I deliver it on Friday...

This last draft before delivery to Puffin is one I really enjoy. I read the whole book aloud in 10 page chunks over two days. It helps me weed out some of my bad writing. If I read it aloud I spot things I just don't see if I read it silently.

Such as repetition of words close to each other, sentecnes that don't flow so well and using real people's names.

One big change in between draft two and three is Danny's fate. I had to decide between keeping him alive - or not...

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Do you want some free posters?

I am having some posters printed that show my books in a footbally way. They are double sided, as you can see.

Would your school, SLS, library or whatever like some for free?

As well as promoting my books, one side has a how-to-use-the-library-to-find-out-about-football panel, as you can also see:

Please email to let me know how many you would like, along with your postal address.

Also, if you could tell others about this offer, I would be very grateful.


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Killer Character

I am writing a story for the National Literacy Trust website (see picture). A five part story to be read over a week in classrooms.

I'm struggling.

The idea is pretty good: a Russian billionaire, that I have based a character on, comes after me as revenge for my portrayal of him.

I have done 4000 words today. 1000 to go.

I've devoted the whole day to it (except a three-hour cycling and tennis break with my daughter). But I'm not happy.

It could be one - or both - of two things:

(1) that it is in the first person and I am not used to that

(2) it's rubbish


I will show my wife. She can cut through the **** better than anyone.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Rugby stories for boys (and girls)

Lots of England footballers have written children's football. David Beckham and Theo Walcott to name two. Although it seemed to act as a curse for them, as neither made it to the World Cup finals.

Or was that a blessing?

There are - as we know - a lot of football children's books about. Pielichaty. Palmer. Coleman. Morpurgo. Freedman. Peet. Smiley. Arksey. Bradman. Etc...

But there is not much rugby fiction. I go around schools in rugby league country and where rugby union is played and often get asked about children's rugby fiction. Is there any?

The only one I know is The Flea Thing by Brian Faulkner. An excellent story about rugby league in New Zealand.

But in autumn 2011 Barrington Stoke will publishing a rugby (union and league!) novel by Tom Palmer.

Tom Palmer (above) is a rugby union England international. He has played for lots of top clubs, including Leeds Carneigie.

But it's not by him. It's by me (below).

Friday, 13 August 2010

Encouraging reluctant readers... and writers

I have been asked to do some work by the National Literacy Trust.

We wanted to build on the resources we produced around the World Cup in the summer, which led to over 100,000 downloads of a toolkit (aimed at using the tournament to encourage reading in schools and libraries) and free classroom read stories.

So, this autumn, NLT will have the following material on their website, launching in early September:

* a national writing competition where children in schools can finish a story started by me
* the toolkit, but updated so it is about all football, not just the World Cup
* eleven new football writing exercises, aimed at encouraging children to write around sport
* a set of free downloadable classroom-read stories for KS1, KS2 and KS3

The competition has several prizes for the children and their schools/libraries. They are:

* free author visits
* 200 copies of my books, signed
* one child to have a character named after them in my new series

This is a really exciting project. It will add to the quality stuff NLT have on their Reading the Game website.

If you need more info please contact me at

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Leeds 1 Derby 2

First home game of the season: first home defeat.

But it was a good afternoon out. Did you watch it? That was never a penalty. And we hit the bar twice.

The Leeds fans came up with some charming songs as the evening unfolded.

Nigel Clough got 'Your dad's a **** - and so are you. Your dad's a **** - and so are you.'

Then, after he made some amazing saves, for Leeds, Kasper Scmiechel got 'Your dad's a **** - but you're alright...'

When I got home I decided to try and get over it by running from my house to Stoodley Pike, for the first time. If you know the Pike you might be impressed. But, to be honest, I walked most of the way up.

Next game, Lincoln at home. My daughter's fourth Leeds game. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

New stuff for schools

The National Literacy Trust has just asked me to do some material for their website, to launch at the start of the school autumn term. It will include:

* a reworked toolkit of ideas for classroom and library activity based on the World Cup toolkit, Love Football: Love Reading (see image)

* reworked World Cup writing exercises

* free downloadable stories (by me) aimed at all year groups, including one in five parts that can be used over a week of acitivity

* a national writing competition to finish an adventure story

The materials will be aimed at readers, reluctant readers, football fans, everyone really. I'll let you know more when it is on its way.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Good Day

I wish every day was like today.

First, I wrote 2000 words in the Bear, a five minute walk from my house. I got Danny into a boat, rowing across Lake Como at 3 a.m. then, sadly, left him for dead. Will he survive?

Second, I went to play tennis with my wife and daughter.

Third, I did some other work. Admin. Research. Etc.

Fourth, I went on a two-hour walk in the hills with my wife and daughter. As you can see. I would show you a picture of them, but they want to remain anonymous.

Now I'm going to watch a DVD with my wife. Cranford.

This is all great. In term time I am in schools or libraries five days a week, in hotels three nights a week and on trains eternally. Even weekends can be work-centred.

Don't get me wrong. I love going into schools. I like trains. I like some hotels. I need the money. But this is better.

Until September...