Now that Christmas is over, tree, cards and decorations removed, I can get back to work. It always takes longer to get back into it when you’ve had some time away from your desk, but I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it again. And while I was enjoying Christmas I was also having more ideas to add to the book – so it’s back to spreading out the index cards, reorganising them and adding the new ideas. What fun! I don’t mind if it snows – I have plenty to do indoors!
Both busy months, dealing with the two projects I was working on before, as well as all the pre-Christmas stuff (cards, letters, presents, visits etc.) so no time to write anything here!
This has been a busy writing month, with two projects both needing my attention. I’ve been revising the first of my Roman novels for older children prior to getting it published, and I’ve also been planning a new venture: a crime novel for adults. I love puzzles, both jigsaw and crossword, so the prospect of making my own puzzle in the form of a crime novel was irresistible. However, it is longer and rather more complex than my previous books, so takes a great deal of plotting and planning. For example, I have to make sure I drop in clues (and red herrings) at intervals all through the book, enough so that the reader has a chance to guess the outcome (or the whodunit!) but not too easily.
I like to write all the plot points on index cards and then spread them out on the floor while I decide in which order to tell them in the story. All useful stuff!
All of this organisation takes time, so it will be a while before it’s written to my satisfaction, and ready for publication, but I’m really enjoying the process.
Other news on the family front is that we have a new grandson, born at the end of October. He is gorgeous!
Maybe, some time in the future, there will come a month that isn’t busy! In the meantime, these are a few of the things that happened in September:
I gave a talk about Writing Books for Children to a women’s group called Tangent. They were a very friendly group and my talk was well-received. Afterwards several people bought copies of my books. A good evening.
I went to the theatre once (“The Shakespeare Review”) and the cinema once (“Bridget Jones’ Baby”). Both very enjoyable.
We had friends to stay for one weekend, and went out for a special Afternoon Tea to celebrate Jean’s Big Birthday, which had happened two weeks earlier. We all enjoyed it.
Another weekend my sister-in-law came to stay. It was good to see her.
We attended a Golden Wedding celebration in Devon which included Handbells (and I played some too on this occasion!) It was a long way, but a good time was had by all.
Other than that I read a lot, had several lovely walks in the countryside,
and, most importantly, started work on my new book! I look forward to getting a lot more done in October.
This has been a very busy month. At the end of July my husband and I flew to Vancouver for a week-long International Handbell Symposium. My husband writes music for Handbells, which, for those who don’t know, are small bells which can be played by a team of ringers to make tunes and harmonies. Each bell set comprises anything from 12 to 72 bells, each with a different note, so almost any music can be played on them, depending on the ability of the ringers. Here they were all spectacularly good. This is a group of schoolchildren from Singapore, playing brilliantly.
Handbells were originally used for church bell ringers to practise with, but are now used as instruments in their own right. Every two years handbell ringers from all over the world meet together for an International Symposium, during which groups from the individual countries perform pieces, as well as some pieces composed or arranged for Massed Ringing, which, as it says, involves all players performing the same pieces. On this occasion we met in Canada, but all the countries contributing have their turn to host the Symposium. This time there were about 750 ringers of all ages from Canada, the USA, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and New Zealand, as well as the UK.
In the past my husband has conducted his own compositions, but this time he was one of the ringers, while I was able to attend the concerts and hear what a wonderful sound the massed bells made.
It was an unforgettable experience.
This month I went on my annual visit to a beautiful old manor house in Oxfordshire , along with several other children’s writers.
Every year we meet together to chat about writing, go to sessions devised and led by members of the group, or to do our own writing. The sessions vary from useful subjects like editing and discussing work in progress, to imaginative work with drawing, collage or guided visualisation, to hugely fun comedy workshops, but it is entirely up to us whether we want to go to them or work on our own. There is a marvellous atmosphere of shared creativity around the place which feeds into our work, both while we’re there and when we get home again. And because we’re all writers, we’re all used to sitting on our own to work, usually in complete silence, so it is a wonderful release to be able to get together with other people who understand! (Sometimes the decibel levels get quite high as we all talk and talk and talk…) Although every year there are a few new faces, while some familiar faces are unable to come, we all appreciate the magic of Charney, and many of us look forward to returning year after year. I am one of those, and I’m looking forward to next year already.
The first thing I want to post on this page is not really news – it happened back in November last year, when I did a SCHOOL VISIT to Milford Junior School in Yeovil. The school was extremely welcoming and I had a wonderful day there, talking to all the Year 4 children about my book “RAIDERS!” (which is set during the Viking invasion of Britain) and to the Year 5s and Year 6s about my book “JIMMY’S WAR” (set during World War 2).
The children were all very enthusiastic and excited about my visit, and wanted to know what had inspired me to write the books, and how long each had taken me to write. (This last question is always a difficult one to answer, since each book can take many months to work out in your head before you actually start to write it.) All the children especially enjoyed taking objects out of one of the two bags I’d brought with me and hearing what connected them to the books. One bag contained things mentioned in “Raiders!”, such as a model Viking longship and a set of tiny Viking warriors, and the other contained things mentioned in “Jimmy’s War”, such as a ration book and a tiny wooden mouse. They were all keen to be the next one chosen to dip into the bag. Then each year group made up a new story together, based on their own ideas, which they also enjoyed.
After each session a large number of children queued up with money to buy my books – the school had very helpfully written to all the parents beforehand to tell them that I was coming, and that my books would be available for them to buy at a slightly reduced price, which I would sign for them. I had also taken in bookmarks for every child and signed those too, so by the end of the day I really did have writers’ cramp!
However, it had been a brilliant day which I shall always remember, and I have been waiting to get my new website up and running so I could write about it. Grateful thanks to all at Milford Junior School, especially to Mrs Christiane Charles for arranging it.