fiction and other writing

Archive for May, 2018

My visit to St Oswald’s CE Primary School, Cheshire

On Monday I was lucky enough to visit the Owl and Deer classes at the lovely St Oswald’s School in Worleston, Nantwich. I read stories from Desdemona: The Dragon without Any Friends and Pablo, The Storytelling Bear. The children listened to the stories and then asked lots of questions about the stories and about how I set about doing the writing process.

I told the Owls my idea for the next Desdemona story and they talked about some of their ideas. What great imaginations they have!

Some of the Deers were discussing ideas of what we could do to help polar bears survive and showed their caring and scientific side, while others were discussing what Minty or The Enormous Bear might get up to next.

The book is available here.

The book is available here.

If any children from St Oswald’s (or indeed anywhere else) want to write a Desdemona story, a polar bear story, or write ideas about how we can help polar bears survive, do send them to me. I will try to publish some on this site. I’d love to see your drawings too. In the meantime here’s a story to read.

A story from Pablo the Storytelling Bear
Bill is given a small, cuddly polar bear, called Pablo, for his birthday. Little does he know this magical bear can tell stories. Here is one story from the book.

The Enormous Bear’s Recue

‘Why have you been sent to your room, Bill? It’s only 4,o’clock and too early for bed.’
Bill climbed on the bed and threw himself heavily onto the mattress.
‘Don’t you start on me. You’re supposed to be my friend.’
‘I am your friend. Tell me what happened,’ said Pablo.
‘I wanted to play with Emily’s Lego people but she wouldn’t let me. She said she was playing with them and was in the middle of a game, so I shouted at her and told her she was selfish. Mum sent me to my room, so I could think about how I’d behaved, but I really wanted to play with the Lego people.’
‘Sometimes when we want something really badly, we don’t think of the consequences. Let me tell you what happened next to Enormous Bear.’
Bill plumped up the pillow, put it behind his back and settled down to listen to the story.

‘I don’t know how much you know about polar bears, but they feast on seals and fish that they catch, and build up their bodies. When it’s winter the pregnant females dig a den and sleep through the very coldest weather. So they sleep or rest for months and their bodies need the fat that they’ve built up while hunting to survive through the winter months. They stay inside until their cubs can survive outside. The other polar bears carry on hunting, but they adjust how quickly they move through the coldest months or when they have no food.’
‘I couldn’t do that. I eat everyday and I like to snack, but you don’t eat at all, do you?’
Pablo smiled, ‘Toys get their energy from the people they’re with. You get yours from food. The Enormous Bear gets his from food too, but he stores it in his body, because where he lives gets unbelievably cold. It’s not an easy life, but he sees beautiful places. Anyway Enormous Bear made his way to Hudson Bay where many polar bears gather to wait for the ice to form. On the way he got hungry again and when he got to the tundra, he started searching for food. He went down to the beach in the hope that the waves had brought in some food to the shore, but he couldn’t find much. The ice should have formed by then, allowing him to go hunting, but although it was cold, the ice hadn’t formed and so without thinking he carried on walking.’
‘He had to really, because he still needed to look for food,’ said Bill.
‘What you don’t know is that nearby is the town of Churchill and that the people of the town are not too happy to have bears strolling around.’
‘Do polar bears attack people?’ said Bill.
‘Not usually, but one or two have done. The people of Churchill have learned over the years how to live with the polar bears. They adopt a policy of scaring the bears by throwing things at them, making loud noises or firing blanks, which makes the sound of a shot, but doesn’t hurt them. Then the bears run away out of town.’
‘They don’t shoot and kill them, do they?’ asked Bill.
‘Not normally. They really try not to. Anyway Enormous Bear kept on walking towards the town. The Bear Conservation patrol spotted him, just as he was raiding someone’s bin. The Enormous Bear grabbed the bin, tipped it up and was having a good rummage through to see if there was anything to eat. He was concentrating so hard, that he didn’t hear the warnings or see the things thrown at him to scare him away.’
‘Oh no! They didn’t shoot him, did they?’
‘Well they did, but not in the way you’re thinking. The patrol could see he was an enormous bear and they worried he could do a lot of harm, so one of the men loaded his special gun with a tranquillizing dart and fired it at Enormous Bear. He really didn’t know what had happened to him. Then they loaded him onto their van and took him to Polar Bear Jail.’
Bill laughed, ‘There isn’t really a place called Polar Bear Jail is there?’
‘Oh yes. The polar bears are kept there until the helicopter comes and lifts them in the air and carries them away from the town, but leaves them still close enough to get on the ice when it comes. That’s what happened to Enormous Bear. He was so big that they were worried about him travelling in a net underneath the helicopter, but it wasn’t a problem. He had to be tranquillized for the journey, so he wasn’t frightened. Then the conservation patrol removed the net and left him sleeping, not far from the sea.’
‘Wow, whoever thought of that is amazing. They kept the people in the town safe, but they didn’t kill the bear. I’m glad he’s still alive.’
‘So is he, but he doesn’t really understand what happened.’
‘Did he get any food?’
‘He didn’t have to wait that long. The ice began to form and he was able to go hunting, so he’ll survive another year, but each year the ice comes later and one day there won’t be enough time for the bears to build up enough fat to survive the winter.’
‘That’s terrible. Can’t we do something?’ said Bill.
‘All I know is there are people who are trying to help polar bears survive. I expect you’ll learn all about that at school one day.’
‘Thank you for the story Pablo. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I feel better now.’
‘That’s good. In a way you’re just like the Enormous Bear. He did something he shouldn’t. He went too near humans and was put in Polar Bear Jail, which is a bit like you being sent to your bedroom. Then he was put back somewhere safe, so things were back where they needed to be. So how are you going to get to that position?’
‘You’re telling me I must go and say sorry.’
‘Indeed I’m not,’ said Pablo. ‘If you’re not sorry, don’t say it, but I wonder how Emily is feeling after you shouted at her.’
Bill looked sad for a moment and then he climbed down the ladder from his bed.
‘Thanks Pablo,’ he said as he went downstairs.


New cover reveal – The Mermaid

The Mermaid has a new cover! I love it and hope you do too. The cover is a design made by Sharon Brownlie and I cannot thank her enough. The paperback version will also have this new cover but it may take up to six weeks.

If you are an author looking for a well designed cover, why not head over to Sharon Brownlie’s book cover facebook page and see some of her amazing work. Her facebook page link is here.

The Mermaid is a book of short stories for adults and has a wide and diverse set of short stories for adults, for you to enjoy. One of the stories was a prize winnnng stort for the Chudleigh Phoenix Competition a few years ago. You can buy it here for $2.99 on Amazon’s Kindle. It’s £1.99 to buy on kindle in the UK.

Here’s a taster story for FREE

Killer’s Lost Bark

Killer looked at the bowl of heaped food in front of him. He couldn’t believe Wayne was giving him such a treat. It was a shame that he’d tied him in the yard again, as not being able to wander where he wanted, took the edge off the joy of the big meal in front of him.
“Guard the house, Killer,” Wayne called as he went through the back gate and into the alley.
The words Wayne had said meant nothing to Killer, but he recognised his name and understood that Wayne was going out. He might as well eat the food. There was nothing else to do. When his belly was full he lapped up some water and settled down on the warm tarmac for a sleep. All seemed well with his world.
The next day dawned and Killer drank the rest of his water. There was no food in his bowl, but he often missed a day’s food when Wayne forgot to feed him. The sun grew hotter. He decided to bark in the hope that Wayne had come back and would remember to feed him. He barked until his throat hurt and then Mrs Nosey Parker (that’s what Wayne called her) poked her head over the fence and shouted at him. He understood that she was cross so he dropped down flat on the ground and she went away.
It was a long day. He panted to try to cool off but there was no shade until early evening. As the temperature dropped he started to pace the yard, back and forth. He was bored. He barked a little but Wayne didn’t come out of the house. He tugged at the chain, until his neck became sore and then sank to the ground.
During the night he slept fitfully. Mrs Nosey Parker’s cat came and sat on the wall and grinned at him in that unkind way, which said, ‘you can’t chase me’. Strangely he welcomed the company. He let her know he was hungry and thirsty but she just shrugged. There was nothing she could do about it.
Dawn came again. Killer was hopeful that this day would bring Wayne back. He was now very hungry and thirsty. He didn’t get up or bark as it seemed to make the hunger worse. Mrs Nosey Parker looked over the fence, but unusually she didn’t shout at him. The sun burned down onto him and his thirst was dreadful. Sleep came and went and he was aware that the cat came and sat quite close to him, but she wasn’t tormenting him anymore.
The evening brought a down pour. Killer stayed where he was. There was no shelter he could reach. His coat became heavy and drips fell off his nose, his ears and lots of other parts of him. Then he started to feel cold and shiver. With his body shaking he finally gave in to feeling dejected and miserable.
‘Where was Wayne?’ He knew he annoyed Wayne from time to time, because he’d get a belt across his back or a kick to the legs, but he’d never been this thirsty or hungry.
In the morning he woke to silence. Then he heard the cat mew. She was sitting by his water bowl. He lifted his head, which felt unusually heavy. Someone had filled up his bowl. She ran off as he crawled over to it and drank and drank. ‘How wonderful was water,’ he thought. Feeling a little better he checked out the food bowl but it was still empty.
Although Killer felt less thirsty, he was still very hungry. Then Mrs Nosey Parker came in through the gate. He really couldn’t be bothered to get up and greet her, but he lifted his head and made a little bark. It came out as a bit of a whimper, which surprised him. She stared at him for a minute and then shook her head. He couldn’t help feeling so ill. He’d have given her a proper bark if he could’ve managed it. It didn’t look like Wayne would be back today. Luckily he wasn’t feeling bored any more. He was just tired, so he settled down for a nap.
Time passed but Killer didn’t know how much time. He heard people talking on the other side of the fence and one of them was Mrs Nosey Parker. Then she opened the gate again. In she came with a woman in uniform. He tried really hard to lift his head and greet them but his head had become too heavy.
There was some more talking and then his chain was being unhooked from the pole. Suddenly the uniformed woman was lifting him in her arms.
“Come on Killer,” she said. Her voice was gentle and soothing. Mrs Nosey Parker gave him a stroke on the back. ‘Well, that’s a first,’ he thought. He rested his heavy head on the woman’s soft front, until she settled him into a cage in the back of a van. She smelt of roses.
The afternoon went by in a blur of people. Gentle hands probed and prodded him. His eyes and teeth were looked at and then a smelly sticky stuff was rubbed into the back of his neck. He managed a few greetings but for some reason his voice had gone quiet. He was wondering what had happened to his beautiful bark when suddenly a wonderful food smell wafted through the air. A bowl was put down in front of him, containing some sludgy looking, mud coloured stuff.
‘Not my usual biscuits,’ he thought, ‘but food was food. It was smooth but not as liquid as water.’ Although he felt tired he licked the bowl clean. Then he was stroked and patted. Soon he fell asleep on a soft rug. Fleetingly he wondered if Wayne was around but then he thought of the lovely tastes in his mouth.
Within a few days he was going out for walks on springy fresh grass. He could smell the tantalising odour of other dogs, but couldn’t see any, although he could hear them. Killer met lots of new people and felt much better now that he could say hello to them properly. His bark was back. He wondered if anyone was going to shout at him or give him a kick but nobody did. He couldn’t believe all the strokes he was given and the food was delicious. He licked his lips just thinking about it.
Lots of people came and looked at him, but one day a boy called Will peered into his kennel. Will reached through the gate to stroke him. He liked Will’s scent so he gave him a big lick. Will came over to him and spent time hugging him and patting him. Killer couldn’t believe that anyone was a lovely as Will and enjoyed chasing him and following him around the field.
Killer liked everything about Will. He liked his size and his voice; he liked his scent and he loved the cuddles. Before Will left he gave him another big lick and enjoyed listening to Will giggling.
Although he fell asleep happy he wished that he could spend more time with his new friend. Had anyone ever been so friendly to him? If they had, he couldn’t remember it. Several days later Will turned up again and attached a lead on his collar. He wasn’t sure what was happening as so many people patted him, but eventually he was sitting on the back seat of a car, next to Will.
Somehow Killer understood that he was going to spend a lot of time with Will in the future. Happiness washed over him. In the back of his mind he knew he’d lived somewhere else, with someone else, but the memory of Wayne had faded.
‘It’s amazing how good life can be,’ he thought as Will tickled him behind the ear. He rested his head on Will’s lap in perfect contentment.

Book Review: Darkly Wood 11 by Max Power

Darkly Wood 11 draws the reader back to the terrifying wood with old characters and new ones. Holly and Charlie are skirting the wood, when Holly decides they will go in and explore. It all seems harmless enough to start with and that is the skill of this writer. He builds suspense expertly. There are lots of side stories, which help the reader build up what has happened in Darkly Wood in the past and why it is, as it is, now.
The significance of Holly is that she is Daisy May’s granddaughter, so Daisy May and her daughter decide that they must go and rescue Holly.
Daisy May has been told that what she thinks happened in the wood all those years ago was just a bad dream, and although Daisy May knows the truth in her heart, she has always wondered. Back in the woods again, she meets Woody and a new monster, but there is also Wormhold to deal with and he is far more threatening.
This is the second part of a trilogy, written with such skill that the story will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book. Highly recommended.

Darkly Wood 11 is FREE on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and £2.40 on Amazon’s Kindle. You can find a link here.

Book Review: Mindful Monsters by Sylva Fae

This a delightful book, written in rhyme, for the younger age group. The mindful monsters are the colours of the rainbow, each bringing gentle messages to help children live full and happy lives. At the end of the book the mindful monsters have games and puzzles, so the children can interact with the book. I loved the jokes. Throughout there are charming illustrations. Highly recommended.

Mindful Monsters is £4.00 to buy in paperback and £1.50 on Amazon’s Kindle. It’s free on Amazon’s KU. The link to Amazon is here.

Book Review: My Ice Age Struggles: What Was It Like Then? by Rich Linville and Edu Clips

This is told as a story, written in the first person, about what life was like from the Ice Age to the time when humans became farmers. Really it’s a factual book written in a way to make the information easily accessible to young children. It is a short, clearly written book with good illustrations, which will help children’s historical knowledge. I think that children from 4-8 will enjoy it the most. Highly recommended.

The paperback version is £7.25 and on Amazon Kindle it is £4.67. Free on Amazon’s KU. Link to Amazon here.

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