I was delighted to be invited to attend the opening of the new Uclan Campus bookshop at Media Factory, Uclan, Preston. The bookshop is fabulous and filled with all the amazing books published by Uclan and will be open to students and staff.
A host of Uclan authors and illustrators were invited to the launch - with author Liz Flanagan (Wildsmith Series) cutting the ribbon. Author C.G Moore brought along his puppy dog too!
There were lovely cakes for guests and I enjoyed signing copies of my Gracie Fairshaw and Kintana books.
I enjoyed catching up with poet Dom Conlon, author Jake Hope and Gracie Fairshaw/Kintana illustrator Jenny Czerwonka as well as the students - who have nicknamed themselves Team Gracie - who are about to typeset my third Gracie Fairshaw mystery as part of their MA Publishing course.
Thanks to Uclan, Jenny Czerwonka and Team Gracie for use of their photographs.
I had not one but two library visits lined up for World Book Day! In the morning I drove over to the lovely Formby Library to deliver a Path to Publication talk with Q&A to Year 6 children from Redgate Primary. Then it was over to Maghull Library in the Meadows Centre to speak to Year 4 children from St George's Primary School who wanted my autograph! Thanks to Sefton Libraries for arranging everything and the wonderful library staff who helped with technical issues and made me feel very welcome.
I am inviting young scallywags and their Captains (responsible adults) to join me for some pirate fun at Tyldesley Library on Saturday 4th February 2023 as part of National Storytelling Week! I will be reading from my Madagascan treasure hunt adventure KINTANA AND THE CAPTAIN'S CURSE and sharing interesting facts about the amazing island and its fabulous wildlife! Examine buccaneer props including flags, spyglass, and replica flintlock, smell some stinky pirate aromas and hold a huge replica elephant's bird egg! Then make a feathery paper parrot to take home! This event is suitable for ages 5-12.
I will be in pirate costume so why not dress up too! I will also have copies of my books available to buy including her Blackpool based Gracie Fairshaw mystery series books - Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest and Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower at a special price of £5 each (RRP £6.99) My books are suitable for ages 7-12.
This free event takes place between 10.30 and 11.30am. Please ring the library on 01942 488497 to book your free place.
As part of the Time Tunnellers, I have contributed to a new feature for the SCBWI British Isles online magazine, Words & Pictures. Historical Know How: Part one is all about finding inspiration in the past. You can read our top tips by clicking on THIS LINK. SCBWI is the society of children's books writers and illustators.
I was delighted to be invited to be part of the celebrations for the reopening of Hoyland Library, Barnsley. I went along in my pirate outfit to read from Kintana and the Captain's Curse and to help children explore facts about Madagascar, its history and wildlife through my props. This time I had an actual piece of real elephant bird egg to show them as well as the full sized replica egg.
I was also interviewed by All Over Tarn who were covering the reopening of the library - you can watch their video on YouTube by clicking here - I am towards the end of the feature.
The library is gorgeous with a wonderful children's section and a fabulous sculpture of Billy Casper and his kestrel from the book A Kestrel for a Knave by the Hoyland author Barry Hines.
It was a lovely surprise to discover that Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower has been recommended as part of The 12 Days of Christmas blog tour.
@faeryartemis wrote an incredible review on her Lily and the Fae blog saying why she loves the book, saying: "Amongst deeper truths and thoughtful pauses, Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower is gorgeously warm and festive in a halcyon way. Simply, its the perfect cosy mystery to read on a December afternoon, and be inspired by the closeness of the past and the enduring traditions of family, friendship, kindness and Christmastime."
This month I am celebrating taking part Mass Book Launch at the SCBWI British Isles conference.
I have been to the conference in Winchester several times and often wondered if I would ever get to be published - dreaming that one day I might be stood holding one of my books for my writer and illustrator friends to see.
With covid, sadly conference was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 - but then the fantastic news that there would be a conference in 2022 and best of all - in Manchester!
I was chuffed to be able to proudly hold aloft my debut - Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest as well as the sequel Trouble at the Tower and Kintana and the Captain's Curse.
Part of the tradition at the Mass Book Launch is a beautiful cake featuring debut book covers - and if you look closely you might be able to spot mine! The cake tasted wonderful too!
It was brilliant to be invited back to Churchtown Primary School to deliver workshops to Year 6. This time we looked at using maps to prompt ideas for stories. A school spokesperson said: "The children came up with character names using some of the place and street names found on the maps. They then decided on a specific place that their main character would live and three places they would visit. Finally, they had to decide why they were visiting these places and what would happen there. We were so impressed by their creativity and imagination!"
For my latest turn on the Time Tunnellers blog and YouTube channel I chose to look at the history of the BBC - focusing in particular on its long tradition of children's programming.
You can read my Time Tunneller blog by clicking here.
It was a real pleasure to be interviewed by Emma Suffield for her Library Treasures blog. Emma is a school librarian and is currently writing a YA novel. I first met Emma at the NYA Litfest where we chatted about all things books so I was thrilled when she asked if I would be interested in doing one of her Q&A sessions.
In the article I talk about the inspiration behind Gracie Fairshaw, the changes my book went through and my writing process. I also talk about my favourite books and authors and share some writing tips too. I hope you find it interesting.
To read the Q & A click here
It was my turn again to feature on the Time Tunnellers blog and You Tube channel and I thought I would focus on the history of the industrial canals. I visited Worsley Delph earlier in the year while researching my current work in progress which is about the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. My main character, Edward Entwistle, in some accounts is reported to have worked at the Duke of Bridgewater's Manchester works and a Tyldesley historian told me this was likely at Worsley Delph. The railways were designed to move coal quickly and cheaply, just as the canals had in the previous century. You can read my blog by clicking HERE and watch the YouTube video by clicking HERE.
It was wonderful to visit Platt Bridge library for the second of my illuminations workshops for Wigan libraries.
Councillor Chris Ready, who is responsible for the library offer in Wigan, came along to see my talk and to congratulate children who had completed their summer reading challenge.
The children created fantastic Illuminations designs using black card and pastels after looking at original postcards for inspiration.
Earlier in the month I visited Shevington Library were budding young artists also created gorgeous Illuminations designs. You can see images from both workshops below.
It was a real pleasure to be invited back to The Brow Primary in Runcorn to help them celebrate World Book Day. I gave an assembly talk to the whole school about my second Gracie Fairshaw book Trouble at the Tower and the real life people and places that inspired the book. I also delivered my Using Historical Newspapers to Write stories workshop to class five and class six. The stories the children came up with inspired by news articles, press photographs and advertisements were so imaginative and I loved hearing them read aloud.
I am excited to be appearing at this year's NYA Lit Fest - Uclan Publishing's northern literary festival in Preston. This year the event will take place over the weekend of 21st & 22nd May.
The Saturday is dedicated to Young Adult books and the Sunday - when I will be taking part - is the KIDS literary festival.
You can book tickets for the event HERE
You can register for NYA Lit Fest HERE.