Sunday, 2 March 2014

A short vacaction

I'm sending Burly and Grum away on a short vacation while I move house. I'm sure they'll have a great time on the beach while I'm slaving away, sorting through 23 years worth of stuff in my attic, shed and every available cupboard! They'll be back I think in about 6 weeks relaxed and raring to go!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Taking that first step along the book app route

If you read my previous blog then you'll know that I'm very interested in turning the Burly & Grum Tales into book apps. I have had some reservations because most book apps for children consist of pictures that the child can interact with whereas Burly and Grum have a few black and white pictures scattered throughout the stories. But it's quality, not quantity that counts isn't it?! The Burly & Grum drawings are brilliant and will come alive even more if I can somehow make them animated and interactive. Simon's Cat is black and white and look what happened there so nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that! 

I discovered a great site called Authorly - it's relatively new and the founders had the brilliant idea of encouraging authors to convert their books into apps for free. They provide the technical backup and support but basically an author just gets on with it (although they do have a production service for those who don't want to do it on their own). I have been a quaking my proverbial boots, but do you know what? I learnt to self publish when heck, I hadn't even heard of a kindle! I've learnt so much over the last couple of years that it makes my head spin and yes, I want to learn more! Why not?

In case you're wondering why there are odd Halloween pictures scattered throughout this blog it's because I've chosen Burly & Grum's Halloween Adventure as the first short story I'm going to convert. I've chosen it primarily because it's already an audio book it so adding word by word narration should be straightforward. She says optimistically. It will be another fascinating journey and I'll let you know how I get on!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Whole World is Out There

    Before Christmas I took an 8 week Storytelling course with Iversity. It was online and it was free - yay! - I spent about 2 hours a week working on it although I could easily have spent a lot more time going through the different modules. It really opened my eyes to endless possibilities especially with regard to transmedia and it left me feeling restless and wanting to do a lot more with Burly and Grum. But what and how without any money behind me? 
    So this year has started off quietly because I've been thinking a lot and also having long chats with my friends Pat Scullion (who did the voice-over for The Halloween Adventure and who is a talented designer, artist, animator) and also my publisher, Stuart Wakefield, a talented author in his own right. We've talked about doing audio blogs, redesigning the website, more social networking, audio books, book apps, approaching agents - in short I've gone around in circles. Nothing new there I hear you say! 
   But somehow, out of all of the ideas that have been discussed, creating a book app is the most appealing - I can put in a bit of animation (I think animation would suit Burly and Grum beautifully and bring their characters to life) and get creative but it is expensive so I'll have to put my thinking cap on and find a way around this. That's what thinking caps are for - finding solutions to problems.
    This week you'll find me researching book apps and I have to say I'm really quite excited about it. I can see very clearly in my mind's eye what I want and I feel as though I've just taken that first tentative step although the right path so (a) keep your fingers crossed and (b) I'll keep you posted with how the journey goes!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - What a Wonderful Year It's Been!

I have to admit that over the last few weeks I've been wondering where I go next with Burly & Grum so taking the time to look back over the past year has been a good exercise; it's given me a few ideas and also a bit more faith in myself.  
    I started the year by writing a short story 'Burly & Grum and The Tiger's Tale' for the charity Save Wild Tigers.  It was superbly illustrated by the incredibly talented Rob Jones and received a wonderful review from the actress Jenny Seagrove. 

Pat Scullion and I attended the 'Tiny Tigers' weekend at St Pancras Station and had, as you can see below, a brilliant time reading to children.

   This year I've been out and about visiting a number of schools and bookshops, talking to children about writing. In one particular school I spoke to over 180 students in three groups of 60 and their ages ranged from 5 to 9. It was quite a challenge but absolutely worth it - whether they coloured in pictures or wrote, they all worked incredibly hard, asked very interesting questions and created some wonderful stories. Below are just a few of the children I've met throughout the year - can I just say, you've all been marvellous and thank you for your incredible support!

     In September I had the honour of being chosen to be a judge alongside Michaela Strachen and Sally Spedding for the respected children's 'Paws & Claws' writing competition.  The competition closes on 31 January 2014, so if your children are bored tell them to start writing and enter their story as soon as possible!
     I was incredibly proud when 'Burly & Grum and The Secret City' was nominated for The People's Book Prize 2013/14 (children's section) and even more proud when it became a finalist! I'll have to wait until next year until I find out whether or not I've won and everything is crossed! I was humbled by all the support I received from Burly and Grum fans - thank you all so much for taking the time to vote for me.
     November was very special because I became involved in a local event created by the Imagine In-Print team which aimed to to tap into people's artistic talent. A huge 3D mobile was created and hung in High Chelmer Shopping Centre 

and everyone was given the opportunity to read out the story or poem they'd written. We had a wonderful time!

      Looking back I can see how wonderful the year has been. I've met many very talented and dedicated people along the way, I've learnt a lot and I am really looking forward to 2014. But I can't leave without saying a huge thank you to Stu and Lewis from Magic Toy Books - you are absolute stars and here's to 2014!

PS: I can't leave with telling you that my aim for next year is to look into animation - how cool would it be to animate Burly and Grum? Oh yes,very cool indeed! 

Saturday, 21 December 2013