Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back to school - not yet surely...

It's the last day of July and the shops and internet adverts have decided it's back to school season already - so what happened to the summer holidays? What happened to lets play in a paddling pool, go for a swim, play on the beach  or just sit back and read a book...?

Seasonal merchandising:

I have become an observer of what is currently in the seasonal isle of supermarkets - and I'm not talking about the obvious ones like Christmas and Easter, which, although they pop up way too early, at least have their place. But my interest is in the times in between when retailers don't know what to push next...

The most amusing time to look down the seasonal isle is just after Christmas when all sorts of random things can crop up, my favourite being dog baskets - now I'm not sure that dog baskets have a season, unless they're targeting the people who, against all current advice, dared to get a dog for Christmas - because believe it or not, some people can get a pet for Christmas and still want it for life...

On the Eve of August, shouldn't we be promoting fun and leisure, instead of all the things we need to buy in a month or so's time? Life is an adventure, and the classroom isn't the only place where children learn. We all learn by experiencing things,doing new things, and reading a book for pleasure, not just because somebody told us to.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Is the internet a giant game of hide and seek?

Congratulations you found me! 

The internet is starting to feel like a giant game of hide and seek, and I seem to be an expert at hiding...

I sell most of my books at book signings, where people are delighted to meet a real live author, as if I'm some rare and endangered species.

Please visit my bookshop, have a rummage around and read the blurbs.

There's my new book for adults - where I share probably more than I should about how I got outnumbered by cats - is it normal to hiss back at your cat...? She was certainly surprised!

But most of my books are for kids - from picture books to share, to the Doodle series to either read aloud or leave new readers to discover alone.

Jump into a book and find a new friend. Talk about it with an old friend... read yourself into places you never thought you'd go...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hidden treasure...

OK I know I've said it before, but I have a little bookshop... and like any bookshop it has treasure within, in the form of books. So the mission is ongoing to draw people into my bookshop.

I've tried links and keywords, sharing, posting and tweeting, and what have I learnt...?

I've learnt that people will follow a link to my blog, but rarely to my website, I'm beginning to think that my bookshop is hidden by some sort of invisibility shield...  or someone bigger is stood in front of it, so no one can see it. Well this little bookshop is breaking out, going on the rampage... and going to get noticed.

There's a competition running - everyone loves something free right? It started on page 4, but maybe I should bring it out into the open, put it on the homepage - in the window...!

I can't be the only one struggling to get a little online shop noticed - if you have one too, leave a comment and we can share ideas...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Win a free signed book

I have an online bookshop... it's tucked away down a back alley where no one can find it.

So what is the mission...?

Well to open up that back alley of course, or at the very least, to put spot lights around the entrance and make everyone who passes want to know what's down there... 
So what's the plan...?

Well... in light of it being the beginning of the summer holidays I'm going to offer one Free, signed copy of Doodle Mayhem to help inspire the next generation of readers. 

 Check out the blurb in the online bookshop

So how do you get a signed copy of Doodle Mayhem free?

Tell me in 140 characters or fewer, why I should give you a book.

Post your entry on either my twitter or facebookpage, or email me

Make it imaginative, and have your entry in by noon (GMT) on Saturday 26th July 2014

I'll announce the winner on Saturday night (volume of entries permitting).  

I'll choose the one I like the best and get in touch for details of where I can send your free signed book.

Ts & Cs only one copy of Doodle Mayhem is up for grabs in this competition and my decision is final. 

To gazebo or not to gazebo...?

This summer I find myself drawn to some of the outdoor events, rather than indoor craft fairs, but my dilemma is I don't have a gazebo.

So do I buy a gazebo, even though it will probably get me into all sorts of trouble... I have, in the past struggled with one of those little beach shelters - the type that you can change in, if you are very flexible and don't need to stand up to get dressed. Or maybe I should take the little beach shelter and snuggle my books into that, while I stand outside and stand my ground against the elements...

Is there such a thing as a virtual gazebo...? I think that might suit me better, an online gazebo instead of an online bookshop...

Ramblings of an author trying to crack the clicking code

Is it just me, or does everyone come up against these constant learning curves...?

So what is the latest one? Well to get people into my bookshop - it's a little bookshop with big ideas, I think I've mentioned that before but hey, you might have missed it... 

So where are all the customers? They seem to be flocking past on the world wide web, on an endless treadmill of shoppers, all heading for the main shopping outlets.

But I believe there is a growing trend of people who are tired of the endless pushing of goods we probably don't need, and if we search something on the web, then that product turns up on every facet of what we're doing. 

A prime example would be when I recently bought a safety gate at a mainstream online outlet - well the search engines, or whatever causes these things to pop up didn't know what to do with this uncharacteristic purchase, and started sending me adverts for baby products and dog products - I have neither a baby or a dog, so they had failed to second guess what I needed a safety gate for... and I'm quite happy to leave it that way, I don't like to feel spied on, and certainly don't want to give them the satisfaction of knowing the answer to that little mystery...

So... how to play the search engines at their own game...? Gathering clicks in the right place - clicks are the new footfall. OK, now I have a theory - and a bigger mystery than ever... arhh

So help me crack the code - click on my Little Bookshop with big ideas and help me buck the trend... or leave comments below.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer reading, and teaching kids a love of books

It's the summer holidays at last - time to read a book, read aloud and share books...

I still remember one summer holiday many years ago when reading finally clicked for me. It was The Faraway Tree, yes like many of my generation I was brought up on Enid Blyton, but The Faraway Tree was the first one that I devoured by myself. Reading had been a bit of a struggle, not helped, I suspect by Janet and John books which were surely written to put everyone off reading...?

But once I started reading The Faraway Tree the struggle of reading was left far behind, and I was part of the story, going up that tree and meeting the magical people who lived in it. And that's what a truly good book does - it welcomes you in and the characters become your friends. 

And since then I've read many books, and some even envelop me in the same way as I enjoyed that summer, but not all... I've learnt that not every book will be one that I want to live in - but every so often it happens, and when it does it's worth the search: and it's not always the high brow or the classics, right now it's Bridget Jones Beyond all Reason, which is surely a modern day classic. I've loved the films and read the books after the films, and now there's the new book: Bridget Jones Mad about the boy, which is sitting on my bookshelf waiting... 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why my dictionary is my most used book...

A child at a book signing was surprised to hear that even an author needs a dictionary, but my dictionary is my most used book, it comes out all the time, and is starting to look a little shabby... and a shabby book is a loved book, just like a favourite teddy.

I love my dictionary, it has all the ingredients for a bestseller, all I have to do is find the right recipe, measure out just the right mix of words and arrange them in the right order.

...and hope that Iver No-Idea from the doodle series doesn't jumble them up again.
Iver No-Idea and his dog HB from Doodle Mayhem

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Finding inspiration on twitter...? who'd have thought it...

Finding inspiration...

Well here's a first, I've been on social media and found something inspirational, and now I need to write before anything else can burst my bubble.

So what was the secret, well for a start off I was on twitter, and so much of it is people or companies just after a follow or trying to sell their product, but today I put in a search for new kids books, and a wonderful article came up about Terry Pratchett. He's got a new book coming out soon, and gave an interview to the Guardian giving some insights into his life and books that he's read. I even learnt a new word: segue, and if you're new to this word too, look it up in a dictionary - trust me you're more likely to remember it than if I tell you...

So maybe I've been using twitter all wrong, there's some weird a wonderful things on there, but also stuff I really don't need to see - ah well maybe I'll figure it out eventually. or am I just over thinking it...?

So what books have I been reading lately?

Well I've just finished The House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurie, which I read after seeing the dramatisation of two of her books on the telly, and I was curious... I found it pretty dark, and probably wouldn't read another of her books, but I'm glad I tried it. Now I've started reading Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding. I've always loved the Bridget Jones films, and now I'm working my way through the books... I do love to read an eclectic mix.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Little Bookshop with big ideas...

The mission: to reach out across the internet to book lovers everywhere and share my love of books.

The conundrum: my bookshop is tucked away in a virtual back alley - the sort of shop that people seek out, if only they know it's there in the first place...
There's no coffee shop: but with a bit of imagination you can put the kettle on and make the drink of your choice, curl up in your favourite chair and read the blurbs...

So have a rummage, read the blurbs and find a new friend.

...choose a book, shop in the online shop and I'll tuck the book of your choice into comfy envelope and post it out to you.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A little bookshop with big ideas

I have an online bookshop... it's tucked away down a back alley where no one can find it.

So what is the mission...?

Well to open up that back alley of course, or at the very least, to put spot lights around the entrance and make everyone who passes want to know what's down there...

So here's the plan...

I'm running a special promotion:

When? This Friday 18th July 2014

Why? because I can - I love being my own boss.

What? I'm calling it 'Make me an offer Friday'

What the...? On Friday There'll be one book up for grabs, and I invite everyone to make an offer on that book, and the best offer gets the book.
The details...? The details will be on this page in the coming days, so watch this space...

Terms and conditions - lets keep it simple. There will be one book only, up for grabs on this offer. The highest offer gets the book, by the end of Friday 18th July 2014 Uk time, and my decision is final.

Author rambling about books...

It's Monday and the sun is shinning, what a great day to have a clear out and start afresh...

And where better to start than with my website homepage.
So here we go with a new look - the books have come down and gone back to their bookshelves in the online bookshop, where you can read the blurb and add to cart - what an exciting prospect that is, buying a cart load of books... but you can just buy one at once of course.

So have a rummage, read the blurbs and find a new friend. 

Most of my books up to now have sold at craft fairs and book signings, and that has taken time to build, learning how to venture out from behind the computer and take my books out into the world; how attract the attention of passing strangers and spark up a conversation. The books help of course, people are naturally drawn in by the colourful covers, and once they've picked one up they've started a process that will hopefully lead to a sale...  

...and what, you might wonder are those sheep doing on my table of books...?

Well, they are just a few of the characters from one of my books, and a very popular addition they have proved to be - they're running around my online bookshop too... 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Random ramblings of an author with a bookshop...

I have an online bookshop... it's tucked away down a back alley where no one can find it.
So what is the mission...?

Well to open up that back alley of course, or at the very least, to put spot lights around the entrance and make everyone who passes want to know what's down there...

I have an idea, it's been growing in my mind as I went about my day - so while I may not have looked busy today: playing with my cats, going for a swim and mooching around a stable yard, and holding half a bucket of water for a horse to drink - cos it didn't all fit in her main bucket, and she just couldn't see it go to waste... but under that calm exterior, cogs were turning, and I have a new idea you're going to love...'s crazy, and it's coming soon... 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Great Yorkshire Show, gentle giants, storms and all things woolly...

 It's a busy time in Yorkshire, with the Great Yorkshire Show in full swing. I was there on Tuesday, sat on the grass banks waiting for the heavy horses to come into the main arena, as heavy clouds gathered overhead... The storm clouds went wild, sending everyone rushing for cover and purchasing anything waterproof - my daughter and I totally carried off the kiddies rain ponchos in fetching doggy print.

Luckily the heavy horses were calmer than the weather, they're such gentle giants.

The shopping was good too, so much more fun than chain store shopping, from kitchen knives and an olive wood chopping board, to some beautiful artwork they had it all covered.

So my hands were pretty full of shopping by the time I made my way to the sheep pens, trying to find some sheep who looked like my characters from But I'm Not Sleepy. There were some funky looking sheep, and I think the ones most like mine were tucked away in the sheep shearing pen, but I did find these:

I wonder what this sheep is trying to say...?
"A up Pearl, sit up, we're having our photo taken..."
Knitted sheep, adding a woolly dimension to story time... 
“We’re not trouble makers are we Pearl?”
“No Hilda, certainly not.”
“It’s just that we’ve been rounded up so many times our heads are spinning.”
“Yes spinning.”
“Spinning into wool?” asked Lucy.
“No… spinning into a flock of dizzy sheep,” said Downboy.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Random ramblings of an author with a bookshop...

I have an online bookshop... it's tucked away down a back alley where no one can find it.

So what is the mission...?

Well to open up that back alley of course, or at the very least, to put spot lights around the entrance and make everyone who passes want to know what's down there...

Tomorrow Tour De France goes past the end of my road, so maybe I should nip out and redirect all the signs and send the race through my bookshop... no...? not such a good idea...? well maybe not - back to the drawing board as they say. 
So now I need a drawing board to go back to... 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

How long does it take to write a book...?

How long does it take to write a book? The question people love to ask, but writers hate to answer - it's enough to send your brain to mush...

For a start off, no two books are the same, some might have a clear starting point where you start to write, and keep your head down until it's finished. Others might have floated about in the imagination for months or even years before being caught and committed to print.

Some books might get shelved in favour of another, and then rise to the surface when the time is right. And then of course there's the time when technology gets in the way of what you're trying to do... you know what you want to do but just can't convince the computer to let you.

Picture books have another dimension, when the story is written, but the words have to shuffle about to make space on the page for the pictures, often throwing up new ideas and possible changes to the script...

Of course there are other times when life just seems to get in the way, and things don't get done as fast as you'd like, so when asked how long it takes to write a book, instead of being totally struck dump, or trying to waffle something as I try to remember when each book started, maybe, at the risk of sounding rude -  I should just be honest and give one of the two possible answers:

  1. I have no idea
  2. It takes as long as it takes 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Spreadsheets... argh!!

My brain has now gone to mush after catching up on my spreadsheets. I always say I'll keep up to date with them, but there's always something more interesting to do... I think I'll need to do a lot of daydreaming now just to reboot my creative brain... or read a book... or go for a swim... or maybe even all three.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The secret to a bestseller is to write a great book and then don't keep it a secret

The secret to a bestseller is to write a great book and then make sure you don't keep it a secret...

So today I'm shouting about my #1 bestseller But I'm Not Sleepy

It's my bestseller at almost every book signing - why?
It seems that everyone has a Lucy...

They say don't judge a book by its cover - well news flash - the cover is the first bit people see, so that's what makes them pick it up or walk on by...

The title strikes a cord - who hasn't heard those words...? And who hasn't jumped up and down on the bed instead of going to sleep in...? Most parents moan that their kids do it - a few admit that they used to too...

 Then they open the book and see the bright colour pictures,  not knowing that they started out from my kitchen table...
 First came the book, then came the sheep...
These little characters made their debut at Christmas fairs and were an instant hit, appealing to all ages.
 Soon there was a little flock of them - don't ask me to count them zzzzzzzz
So why should you buy my book?
Because it's one of those bedtime stories that you can share again and again and build those special memories with your child that last a lifetime...