Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Meeting Joshua

This is Joshua - and me. Joshua lives in Leicester. He wrote to me a few weeks ago, saying he liked my books.

Because I was in Leicester yesterday, I dropped into his school. Humberstone Junior. It was one of the best moments of being an author so far. I was taken to his classroom where I was revealed as a surprise guest. Then we all did a couple of sessions of my Football Reading Game.

It was really good to meet him and the rest of the children in his school. They made me very welcome.

Thanks for writing to me Joshua. Thanks Humberstone. And thanks Joshua's dad.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Brian Clough

Lots of Leeds fans hate Brian Clough, but I quite like him. Anyway, I was walking round Nottingham with my family today and we ran into him!

I saw him at Leeds once, when he was Forest manager. He was giving a young player a debut. The player was nervous, so Clough put his arm round him and walked him round the perimeter of the pitch, making him look all the Leeds fans in the eye. I thought that was genius. The player played well. Clough helped him overcome his nerves.

I saw him another time, at a Leeds-Forest reserve game. He was a bit worse for wear that night, but still an entertainer.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A Quick Note

Wicor Primary in Fareham, Hants, is a great school. I went today and was really inspired by the corridors full of books and loads of exciting activities and ideas going on.

Thank you, Wicor. You are doing a great job.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Staffordshire Libraries are Fab

I had a great day with Stafforshire Libraries yesterday. I did events in Shenstone, Burntwood and Lichfield Libraries.

And it was excellent. Good audiences. Lots of dads with sons - and daughters. And mums. And... I sold 20 books. I wanted to know why it was so good. So I asked. I had no illusion that it was to do with me.

It was because:

* the library staff took posters round to all the local schools to advertise a range of author events they're doing, hoping to engage head teachers with what they were trying to do

* they talked to children and families who use their libraries, to encourage them to come along

* they had posters up in all the libraries

* they mentioned it at local Beavers meetings, etc.

* they got a mention about it in the local papers

They worked really hard to get an audience!

I used to put on author events in libraries. It was my job. It's a hard job drawing an audience for a lesser known author, like myself. So I know they've worked hard.

I am very grateful. Thank you Staffordshire.

On the way home I listened to Boro v Leeds on the radio. And we won! What a day.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Premier League Reading Stars 2011

Had a good meeting at the National Literacy Trust today.

Jim Sells wants me and Diane Baker (extraordinary teacher from Basildon) to work up a toolkit for Premier League Reading Stars in schools.

We talked it through over spag bol, courtesy of the Premier League.

The plan is to devise ten sessions that can be used in schools to encourage football-loving children who aren't so into books. The best bit is that, working with Diane, I'll learn about what will and won't work in school settings.

We've got six weeks to do it. We'll use some of the ideas that worked so well for PLRS in libraries and some of the ideas Diane and I have used in her school.

If you have any ideas, please do get in touch.

Friday, 8 October 2010

This is where it all starts

I am at an exciting point in my writing life. Planning a new series. I am reading about spies, watching films about spies and planning a trip.

This is Tromso. Within the Arctic Circle, not too far from Russia. This is where it all begins. The story.

But first - and this is the bit that keeps me awake at night because I am so excited - a trip there. In the dead of winter.

I love my job.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Shout About Books

Had a great two days in Lancashire doing four Reads United events with Helena Pielichaty, author of the Girls FC series. It was part of their Shout About Books festival.

Lancashire Libraries are great. They deliver their book prizes and this amazing festival, as well as an annual county read promotion. And Lancashire is a BIG county. Almost as big as next door Yorkshire!

They sorted out great theatre venues, a bookshop (along with book buyers!) and four lots of 200 children. The children had all been visited by librarians in advance, so that they could tell them about our books and show them our websites. They also looked after us brilliantly with lifts and lunches,etc. And it ran like clockwork.

And the library is running a really good football fiction promotion, which you can read about in my blog on www.literacytrust.org.uk

In all it was a great couple of days. Thank you Shout About Books!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Good Week

It's been a good week.

One, I signed a contract with Puffin for a brand new 9+ series. Two books. More information to follow soon. But it's going to involve an icy trip to the Arctic Circle in February.

Two, I got some royalties. I've not really had that before, so it feels great. That means (a) the books are selling okay and (b) I can afford to go to the Arctic Circle, with my family.

Three, I have just (ten minutes ago) finished a book that I wrote during September. It is is a short novel for children, 12,000 words long. Because I had time to write it without a book I needed to do, I thought I'd go for it. It is only at first draft stage. Now I need to read it to my daughter, let my wife critique it and also show it to Mrs Baker of Ghyllgrove Junior School, Basildon and my neighbour, Nikki. Both are great for giving honest and spot on advice.

The shocking news is: it's nothing to do with football!

Next, I would like to go out on my bike, but it's chucking it down. I think I'll go anyway...