Tag Archives: blogs

Space Dust

It’s here! My blood, sweat and tears arrived today in the post and I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

The setting is as close to perfect as I can get it and my illustrations have come to life on the white, glossy pages. The true test, of course, will be whether the children engage with the book and if the story fires their imaginations. After testing it on my book club members and year Reception at school, I have optimistic hopes of getting them to love this story as much as I do.

Now the fun part: this story was written for the library service in my borough, inspired by their theme Space Chase. I didn’t want to write a generic book about racing through space and instead, took inspiration from the imaginings of the children as they gazed up at the moon. Is it made of cheese? Does it have alien trees?

Using these ideas and brainstorming with Mark Hickling, one of our teachers at my school, and my youngest sprog, a new concept was born. I created Little One – a character who could be a boy or girl, giving the story a gender neutral balance. Little One’s mum has gone away and, like most young children at some point in their lives, Little One feels as if the separation is for a long time. Big Ox, the adult in charge, decides to take Little One on an adventure to help his tiny friend cope with Mum’s absence. What better way to occupy the mind of a small person than take them in a canoe ride across space, using Big Ox’s absolute favourite spoon as an oar?

This space story aims to entertain young and old alike with various visions of space through eyes that aren’t jaded by time or a lack of imagination; instead it inspires silly questions and adventure.

If you’d like to order your copy of Space Dust, click on the pic below. It will take you to my author site with all my book titles available to purchase.

Thank you for stopping by.

Advertisements

Book Tuesday – Andrew Joyce’s ‘Mahoney’

Welcome to a long-awaited guest post for our book lovers out there. Today’s guest is Andrew Joyce, a wonderful fictional writer who takes the journey to America, hoping for a better life, to a whole new level.

Without further ado, I’ll hand it over to Andrew…

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Eloisehas been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, Mahoney. So, I thought I’d tell you how it came about. But to do that, I gotta tell you how my mind works.

A few years ago, I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. I had them as adults in the Old West. Kind of like Wyatt Earp type characters. It was a modest success and won an award as Best Western of 2013.

I think my favorite book of all time is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I’ve read it a number of times over the years. The last time being two years ago. Now, for those of you who may not have read it, it’s about one family’s trek from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of the 1930s to the “Land of Milk and Honey,” also known as California. Of course, California wasn’t a land of milk and honey. If anything, the family was worse off in California than they were in Oklahoma. The subtext of the book is how those on the lower rungs of society’s ladder are oppressed and have very little voice to fight against that oppression.

Near the end of the book, Tom Joad, the protagonist, runs afoul of the law and must leave his family or else be arrested on a trumped up charge or be killed by the big landowners’ goons.His mother, quite naturally, will miss him and is worried for him. The words he spoke to her in that scene have become iconic.

“I’ll be aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be everywhere-wherever you look. Wherever there is a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there is a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folk eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build—why, I’ll be there.”  Tom Joad, TheGrapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

So, here’s what I did. Just like with Huck and Tom, I started thinking about what ever happened to Tom Joad after he left his family. I wanted to write about injustices and the people who suffer those injustices. I thought I’d follow Tom around and write about what he encountered from about the mid-thirties to 1963 when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I have a Dream” speech.

However, there was just one problem with that: copyright laws. The character of Tom Joad belongs to the heirs of John Steinbeck. So, I had to come up with another angle. After somethought on the matter, I decided to expand my initial time frame from between 1933 and 1963 to 1849 and 1963. I’d start the story in Ireland during the potato famine and work my way to America and then I’d end up where I had originally intended.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

In this compelling, richly researched novel, author Andrew Joyce tells a riveting story of adventure, endurance, and hope as the Mahoney clan fights to gain a foothold in America.

In the second year of an Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey. After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849. Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

Well, that’s how Mahoney came about. For those of you who may read it, I hope you enjoy it. It took me almost two years of full-time research, writing, and editing to get it to where I wanted and to tell the story I wanted to tell.

Thank you, Andrew. For anyone interested in a taste of the book, here’s a little excerpt to tantalise your reading taste buds:

The reflected firelight flickered across awestruck faces and mirrored in the eyes of those who listened as stories were told of yesterday’s indignities and tomorrow’s aspirations. The look in those yearning eyes spoke of hopes and dreams. The laughter heard around the fire conveyed a sense that somehow it would all work out. For a few short hours, on Saturday nights, in the deep woods of a place none of them had ever heard of before, the constant fear that lived within their hearts was banished from their lives.

In time, they would prevail. Their sons and daughters would one day stand straight and tall as proud Americans, as proud as their fathers had been to be Irish.

Follow Andrew’s writing journey here and please remember, ever author survives on reviews. Please don’t forget to leave yours.

Author Week

It’s that time of year again at our little primary school, when we gather the children and throw them into a time machine, a fantasty world or, in this case, an evacuee’s body and transport them to another place. Welcome to this year’s theme: The Midnight Garden. Continue reading

Saturday thoughts

It’s 5.54am and I’m wide awake. Continue reading

Tarzan

The house is still, no sounds to wake

The two-legged oafs

Who cried and moaned and quaked,

When sleeping is all the effort I’ll ever make. Continue reading

Saying Good-Bye

Last night, I had to say my last, I love you, and sing my last Goodnight song to another member of our family: Tarzan, our 17 year old cat.

Watching him suffer over the past few months meant it was a bittersweet moment when he closed his eyes for the last time and I held him in my arms, a moment that I barely managed to cope with. As I gulped down the lump in my throat and gently stroked his ragged fur, my children’s lives flashed before my eyes. This beautiful feline had filled their daily moments with such happy memories, memories which were coming to an end as the light dimmed in his eyes.

Darjeeling was no ordinary cat. He was run over in the first year of his life, was rushed to an unknown vet and disappeared from our lives for about three months. I still don’t know how I managed to track him down (he hadn’t even been chipped yet). I do know it took several phone calls and visits to shelters in different towns, RSPCA centres and endless calls to random cat people who knew someone who knew someone. In the end, I tracked him to a cat shelter in Twyford and sped off with my two babies in tow, determined to rescue my little Darjeeling cat.

He is the only cat I’ve ever met who could call both my Hubble and myself by name in a voice loud enough to wake our neighbours. Standing on the flat roof of our downstairs cloakroom, which was just below our bedroom window, he would call our names out to the stars until we woke and opened the window for him. If we didn’t wake in time, our neighbours would kindly inform us that he was calling all night long!

Fighting various common cat illnesses throughout his life, he managed to live up to the strength of his name – Tarzan – and was a legend in our family. He will be remembered for his love of climbing thin branches and swinging from them; giving us the stink eye when he wasn’t fed on time; and bravely staying with us through five house moves in his lifetime.

His final resting place, our dream home, will be a testament to his well-deserved rest after a very full life. To say we loved him would be an understatement. He was our cat legend, our sweet Darjeeling, our Tarzan.

Bloggers Bash 2019

Good morning readers. Today, I’m taking you on a journey to London to meet the blogging family. Nerves are jingling and I’m tingling because I haven’t travelled by train since my last trip to the Bash a few years ago.

As the day progresses I will send you photos and updates and hopefully catch up with you along the way.

I’m on my way to Victoria station in London and the sights have been relaxing so far. Peaceful, rolling hills with wild flowers swept past my window and horses grazing near streams reflecting the morning light kept my fears of travel at bay.

Only a few more stops left before I get to see familiar faces I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing for years. Not long now!

We’re early but the committee are already here and prepared. It’s wonderful to see the old venue and bright smiling faces welcoming us.

Some of our speakers are stuck on trains but that’s not going to stop the day. With a shuffle and a jiggle we will get to them once they arrive and the guests who are approaching but can’t quite get here yet.

Now, Susie has announced the best writing blog and the winner is…

Head full of dreams.

Best entertainment blog is

Just Another Blog from A Woman.

For those not here but have won a prize, your certificate will be in the post.

The presentation for the blogging competition is next.

Hugh is giving us a breakdown on the competition entries and how incredibly good they were.

Gareth, one of the judges, is about to announce the winners…

The lovely Samantha Smith has won!

Laura from Full to the Brum takes us on an delicious adventure into her blogging life. With her love of burgers and what she was searching for in a blog, she gives us the scoop on the tone of her foodie blog that doesn’t follow the pretentious palate of mainstream food reviewers.

Adam is about to present the best food blog…

The Tennis Foodie

Best lifestyle blog is…

Invisibly Me.

Jemma Todd presents: a talk on how she got into writing and landed a deal with a big publisher.

Find her blog here.

A quick break for lunch and we will be back to business soon.

Back late so I’ve missed some of the awards unfortunately. We have now reached the exciting part of the afternoon with the Q&A panel who will be answering questions from the audience.

First question asks whether receiving an award like the Sunshine Blogger’s award. The panel agree that it’s a great way to be motivated to write more and a way to show appreciation for blogs you love but don’t hold a lot of value compared to, say an award from the Times.

Is there a place for blogging with the new types of social media presence available for followers, such as podcasts?

Comments from the panel agree that there has been a change in media but people might be looking for something more personal such as newsletters. Blogging will still have a place even if podcasts or vlogging take over social media because it is personable, easily accessible, cheap and flexible. You get a sense of the writers as there more is more an intimate contact through mail or blogs rather than the commercial click bait showcasing perfect lives on social media.

Should a blogger be focused on a specific area or well rounded?

If you’re a lifestyle blogger you might dip into different things whereas if it’s a type specific blog the audience will be attracted to those blogs that focus on the topic they want answered. It can help to help to define your blog but you’re best served to write on what you’re passionate about, even if it is a mixed bag.

Do people still sign up for mail shots if they are getting updates on blogs about their books or being inundated with newsletters on selling books?

There are great mail shots delivering information that conveys a letter style of information with various topics or upcoming events which adds value to the mail shot as well as selling the latest products.

That personal element of a mail shot gives authors a chance to reveal extra special give aways such as Sacha’s mailshots which contain marketing tips as well as more info on her books. It proves as a great way to connect with your audience.

Do you thinking using polls and asking for feedback from your followers adds value to a blogger or author?

Yes! It helps the rest of the audience too as they might be on a different part of the journey to writing. Engaging your audience is a great way to share information and help others as well as yourself as a blogger.

What advice would you give to a blogger who doesn’t get much feedback or interaction on their blog? How would you encourage them to stay motivated?

Shelley and the rest of the panel advise that when you’re doing it for a business, plan. Have a key word or a theme that will stimulate new ideas. If something comes in the news that’s relevant, that might be a way to keep your content fresh and relevant to your audience. Have a bit of banter with fellow bloggers and spend time visiting other blogs and leave comments. It’s a great way to get other bloggers to read your work and it could stimulate new ideas for your blog after reading their content.

It’s also good to bear in mind that a lack of comments does not necessarily mean your blog is not being read depending on which platform it has been accessed from.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Participate in events or competitions on other bloggers accounts too to promote your blog.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made when blogging and what’s the best piece of advice for bloggers?

Expect your first few blog posts to be rubbish! It takes time to find your voice and the only way to get started is to make mistakes and keep going. Work our the values of your blog too.

The worst thing was really terrible photos posted on a blog and saying yes to lots of events which clashed with personal events.

Esther advises not to make your blog posts too long or wordy as the audience tends to disengage.

Her worst post was posting a pic that offended a reader and having to deal with the aftermath.

Shelley advises a new blogger to know what’s available in terms of platforms. If it feels too stressful or like slogging, figure out why and change it so that it’s an enjoyable experience.

What do you do with a follower who becomes incessant after reposting your blogs and now expects favours in return?

Copy the url of the blog site and paste it to the option to block a blog page in your dashboard which will stop that blog from making comments on your blog.

The Q&A is now over and the event will move on now to a flatlay workshop.

The final awards will be straight after.

Geoff is presenting the best travel blog…

Lisa Dorenfest.

The best book blog is…

But I Smile Anyway

Sacha is closing the event with a big thank you to everyone who attended, the fest speakers and judges.

A huge thank you to the committee for a wonderful event.

Friday

It was a day of two halves… Continue reading

Thousands sailed

Thousands sailed

https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2019/06/04/thousands-sailed/
— Read on janedougherty.wordpress.com/2019/06/04/thousands-sailed/

Saturday

It’s the start of the bank holiday weekend and all I can think of is work!

With all the little fires burning in my head proclaiming their importance in the grand scheme of things, it’s very hard to switch off. Only two weeks are left till my final exam for my first year of uni to be complete and in that time I could be writing or illustrating my books. So, you see the dilemma: study or keep working at those time sensitive manuscripts. Not any easy choice.

This week, I had the pleasure of meeting various authors at a special event hosted by the Bracknell Library. We were invited to an author visit from David Barker, a Cli-fi (climate fiction) writer with a set of crime thrillers called the Gaia trilogy (Blue Gold, Rose Gold and White Gold). The stories are based on the effects of climate change and how the greatest commodity on earth (far more valuable than any precious metal) would become a source of temptation for cunning countries and super villains to steal. His books are set in the future and follow the theme of a high action thriller as two detectives try to uncover who is stealing what everyone needs to survive: water!

David spoke about climate change and how little we know about the impact of losing our most valuable resource, which got me thinking about how much water we all waste on a daily basis. Though his books are only fiction, his professional knowledge and the further research gathered whilst writing his trilogy make them all the more believable and worth the read. That will be my treat once my exams are over. I can’t wait!

Apart from meeting David and his lovely wife, Fiona (a children’s author), I also had the fortune of meeting another crime fiction writer, Harry Dunn, who is the author of Smile of the Viper and Forever Evil. Needless to say, my summer holidays are going to be very busy with all these fantastic thrillers and crime novels added to my reading list.

The bank holiday weekend may be a working one and a wash out but it will definitely be worth it once all the work is done and I get a chance to free read again.

Happy weekend to you all.

If you’d like to read David Barker’s thrilling trilogy, click on the link below: