Monday 19 September 2011

Greetings: Back from a Big & Busy Book Tour

It's definitely a Greeting Post today. In fact a whole heap of greetings and thanks to staff and children and librarians and booksellers. I spent last week touring A BOY CALLED MOUSE across Yorkshire and Lancashire.
On MONDAY I had an extremely windy journey on very windy roads (any points for that clever word usage there?) across from Yorkshire to LYTHAM ST. ANNE’S, where the sand swept from the dunes across the coast road. All I saw of the sea were glimpses of choppy grey waves.

I was there because Katie & Carolyn Clapham of the lovely children’s bookshop STORYTELLERS INC. had set up a morning visit to Year 6 at HEYHOUSES C of E PRIMARY SCHOOL and an afternoon visit to Years 5&6 at ANSDELL PRIMARY SCHOOL. What a nice time I had - and such cheerful audiences! The A59 was scattered with broken branches, twigs and scurrying leaves but I got home safely. Thank you, Storytellers Inc and everyone at both these schools!

On TUESDAY I went down the A1 to ROTHERHAM, where I was welcomed with huge (and flattering) enthusiasm by the staff and Yr 6 children of WATH C of E PRIMARY SCHOOL. A really brilliant morning! Then down the MI a bit to meet the excellent Yr 5 classes at ANSTON HILLCREST PRIMARY SCHOOL for the afternoon. Greetings all, and thanks to Gemma Books for supplying the bookstock.

I wasn’t even trudging around by myself as usual. Emma Bradshaw, from BLOOMSBURY CHILDREN’S BOOKS came to make sure the week started well for me, although she’d already done masses of arranging by phone and email. It was great chatting to Emma, but on Tuesday night she set off south to catch up at the office work and get ready for the YLG Conference. Emma is a mightily busy person!

On WEDNESDAY, I was much nearer home in Leeds, visiting GREENHILL PRIMARY SCHOOL in the morning and IVESON PRIMARY SCHOOL in the afternoon – a huge wave of thanks to you all! Over lunchtime, I had a sneaky peek at the various books on the School Library Service shelves. Many thanks to the lovely librarians for arranging this day for me and to Rory of RADISH, the eco-bookshop in Chapel Allerton, Leeds, who brought along copies of my books for children to buy.

I had to wake up bright and early on THURSDAY as it was a three-venue day. At 9am, I arrived at ST PATRICK’S COLLEGE in Stockton to cut the yellow ribbon and open SPARC, the new library & resource centre that Mrs Bellwood the Librarian had worked so hard over the summer getting ready. Some of the Yr 7 pupils were there and I read a quick extract from Mouse and was presented with a huge bouquet of flowers. What a nice surprise and almsot as nice was hearing the news that A Boy Called MOUSE would be one of the Library Reading Group titles later this term. Wonder what they’ll think of my book?

It was definitely as day of two halves, IT wise, although both were enjoyable. My first session about MOUSE wasn't in the Library which is being renovated but in STOCKTON LIBRARY LECTURE HALL. A bright new room it was, with two screens to show my powerpoint presentation either side of the room, and a tiny pen thingy I could click for the next slide. Even the chairs impressed the children, with the mix of toning purple and deep purple upholstery. The Year 6’s of ST BEDE’S RC PRIMARY and OXBRIDGE PRIMARY made such a great audience!

Then on to THORNABY LIBRARY, a sixties building in the shopping centre which is quite iconic for authors. This - pre-austerity - was where the Public Lending Rights Offices were based. Despite best efforts by the library team, daylight blazed in though the library’s plate glass window, bleaching out all the slides. So I went back to my usual method of Voice Only, plus a few pics and props and a good time was had by all, I think! The Year 6's from THORNABY C of E PRIMARY and CHRIST THE KING RC PRIMARY were excellent fun!

FRIDAY was the last day of my BOY CALLED MOUSE tour. There I was on the A59 again, driving over towards Preston once more. In the morning I met a crowd of Year 7’s and visiting Year 6’s at CORPUS CHRIST COLLEGE, and in the afternoon I was over at OUR LADY’S HIGH SCHOOL, talking to the Year 6 pupils from nearby primary schools. Many thanks to Mrs Lavelle & to Mrs Pomford who arranged the school sessions.

Thanks also to the last bookshop on my tour, the wonderful SILVERDELL BOOKSHOP in Kirkham, who not only supplied copies of my MOUSE book but also an essential tub of their award-winning and delicious ice-cream for my lunch - admittedly at my beseeching. I had a sudden and tough case of Talkers Throat, don’t you know?

Then it was Friday night at last. I had survived, so out for a lovely end-of week celebration with Them Home Here, walking not driving. Yes, on Saturday I rested mightily. Huge thanks to everyone for a most memorable week!

Thursday 15 September 2011

Shhh! Blog in Progress!

Or - oh help! - this has turned into "Where do the blog MONTHS go?"

Or "The Blog that Once Was."

Hmmm. Well, it's like this. One of the problems of blogging is that there's so much bloggingly good stuff out there, not here. I've been reading lots of it and even hiding inside some of it lately.

In early summer I got more involved with the Awfully Big Blog Adventure blog, especially the new Review section where there's a team of the most fantastic Awfully Big Reviewers possible - as well as Guest Reviewers once a month.

I was asked - amazingly - to join another group of bloggers: The History Girls. These are such smart ladies that most of my historical thoughts quiver with fear whenever I try to grab them, but - aha! - I have brought in a cunning link to help with my HG post this Saturday. But even on HG there's such an astounding array of posts that I wallow there instead of fretting about over here in my Diary.

I spend useful Diary time scanning other Blogs I Like, few of which have been updated on my list yet. They all seem so full of incredibly interesting facts, links and lives and pictures that my own blogwords - such as "did laundry" - don't quite wash.

Mind you, I did sneak over to Katherine Langish's wonderful Seven Miles of Steel Thistles blog with my Fairy Tale Reflection about Wayland Smith and Smithy which was fun. (The series ended just after but I don't think it was my fault for rasing malevolent spirits. With luck some of the FTR posts will appear again soon.)

There's also been a bit of facing up to Facebook and squeaking back at Twitter, plus other distractions such as writing events and holidays and work and combing the cat. All work as excellent reasons for staying away from the Blogger New Post page.

But now it's September, and a time for a fresh start and a new copybook ready to be blotted. It is time to Be Positive and jolt Penny Dolan's Dire Diary blog a bit closer to what I'd like it to be. So I am creating some new categories. They aren't stunning but maybe they'll help me get blogging more often.

So . . .

Occasionally I will be posting Greeting, but not the Scots "waily waily" kind of greeting, hopefully. but messages to people I've met on visits and such like. A massive example of this kind of post will follow as this is a Busy Week.

Occasionally. I will be Reading - and posting my thoughts on various book related things.

Occasionally, there will be Writing - though I fear this category may be moans & groans about various WIPS (works in progress) rather than news of megabuck contracts or swoops by film companies (I'm waiting, I'm waiting, okay?)But one lives by small hopes, so no need to get out the tissues on my behalf.

Occasionally, I will also add in Musing, so I can put in all the other things that puzzle, delight or astonish me, like the price of Writers Sheds.

And - I hope - occasionally I'll have a reader or two.