Friday 28 December 2018

Book review: The BOAT Adventures by Marieke Steiner

⭐⭐ out of 5

This is an OKish book but very very short for a Middle Grade read.

If you're looking for a quick read then give this book a go, just don't expect too much from it is all.

I realise that I live in a different country to where this book is set, but is it really wise to talk about openly carrying knives and even regularly going for a trip up a river in a boat that's ready to be put in the tip?  Alone?

There is also a lot of telling and very little speech... the total amount of speech in the entire book should ideally have only covered two or three chapters.

Not only that, but the author seems to be writing for adults and has just decreased the age of the main characters 'cos it's more about what the adults are doing and thinking, rather than the children.

Don't expect much from this book.  I was expecting more and have been sorely disappointed unfortunately.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Just worked out how to...

... hopefully embed a link to my visitors list on Twitter, and I'm about to try it here in the blog too.

Bear with me a sec...

In theory, you just click on the link up there ^^ then sign into your Twitter account et voila!

If my two much-valued members have a Twitter account each, just follow the instructions in the members area and we'll get you sorted!

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Twitter lists

I'm a member of SCBWI and there has been talk this morning of using the list function on Twitter.  One of the members of SCBWI-BI posted this URL about Twitter lists so I'm gonna spend the rest of the day working on those.

I'm thinking of four lists atm:

Awesome agents and publishers
Fellow authors
and a private list for my members.

If you want to be on any of the first three lists, let me know your Twitter thingybob (including the @ symbol) and which list you want to be on and I'll get you added!

If my two members are on Twitter, email me with your handle thing and I'll add you to the private list too.  Don't tell me you're a member when you're not cos I know who is a member and who isn't  😉  I'm @books4kidsandya if you want to add me  👌

Steve's been delayed so I won't have any interruptions for the next little while at least, so I can concentrate on what I'm doing  👍

Friday 30 November 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018 public bragging

Did you partake in NaNo this year?

Did you manage to complete it?

Want to brag about it publicly but don't know where or how?

Then you've come to the right place 'cos you just reply to this post with your winners certificate and it'll be here forever (or at least as long as me/ exist) for everyone to see what you've achieved this year!

NaNoWriMo's last day today!

If you've been taking part in NaNo this month, I hope you finish it by midnight tonight!

Don't forget to validate it so that you can be a winner for 2018 too!  Remember to have your document open 'cos you need to copy and paste the entire thing into your dashboard on the NaNo site.

I finished the 50k words on the 9th and the 75k completed novel on the 14th but I've only just had the email about validating it.

Good luck with getting those last words written and validated!

Thursday 29 November 2018

Amazon customer? Live in the UK? Want free delivery for the next week?

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Sunday 25 November 2018

Another software update in the members area

I've updated the story ideas and the writing prompts bit today and it's ready and raring to go for my members who want to buy the software!

Need to add more surnames next time!  lol

Friday 23 November 2018

Book review: Sing Gabriel Sing by Jayni Tremainey

⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a good little book, in theory, but it doesn't meet the industry standard of 28 or 32 pages and there are only 6 unique pages of words that aren't either just the chorus or images.

It's a unique idea, just with very few unique pages.  It's more for the adult than the child and doesn't get going for 3 pages at the start then ends with a music score that a small child would get so confused by.

The author also uses words that a small child would no way understand... did you understand words like carpenter, lovely and crib when you were 3 years old?  I know I wouldn't have and that's just on one page!  Beautiful and foretold are also in the chorus that a small child would just give up on.

It's just too mature for a picture book listener is all... sorry.

Sunday 18 November 2018

Book review: Barefoot by Marnesha Augustine

Barefoot by Marnesha Augustine
⭐⭐ out of 5

This is an OK book, but the author has obviously self published it as it's only 11 pages long instead of the industry standard 28 or 32 pages.

The author also concentrates more on the adults POV rather than the child's which wouldn't interest a child at all... picture books need to be focussed on the child main character, about things children are interested in and talking in a child's language.

It's focussed on an adult main character, trying to educate the child rather than having a child main character wanting to learn about something.  A child wouldn't get past the first page before getting so bored that they don't want to listen to any more.

It's a good idea, just very poorly thought out and in need of being more than double the length.


Saturday 17 November 2018

Members area updated

Just added a new page to the member's area with a competition link... not gonna say anything else so publicly 'cos I want to give the opportunity to my two members and the competition closes at the end of the month!

Now that I've got members, they will be my top priority with the site so they will be the first to know about things like that as soon as I find out about them so now would be a good time to become a member!

Wednesday 14 November 2018

And it's been finished in a stunning...

Just finished my NaNo novel in 14 days.

Officially I finished NaNo on the 9th but kept writing so that I could finish the entire manuscript.

Just written the final full stop at a huge 75,003 words in exactly 2 weeks.

Gonna post the celebration onto Facebook then celebrate with two cans of J2O.  It's only once a year that I undertake this challenge so I think I deserve double the reward!


Four down, last one left to write now

Just put the final full stop into chapter 49 so I've only got 1,500 words to write tonight and I'll have finished 75,000 words in exactly two weeks.

It's been a real struggle at times but I'm gonna miss typing out 6,000 words a day and, assuming that I finish the last chapter in the next 3 and a bit hours, I'll have written 7,500 words today alone, which is incredible going even for me!

Gonna be so proud of myself when I see 74,999 tick over to 75,000 and realise that I've done that in exactly two weeks, then I'll spend all day every day for the rest of November on an edit-athon now that I know how manuscripts should be formatted!

Get the J2O on ice... I'm gonna need it in about 3 hours from now!  lol


The end is within touching distance now!

Three of the days target of 5 chapters written now... if I can bash out the final two chapters before bed time, I'll have written 1.5 NaNo's in 14 days which is truly incredible!

WTG me!!


Two down, three to go now!

In 5 hours today I've already achieved the same as I had done by late afternoon yesterday!

Just got three more chapters to write then the entire 75,000 word novel has been entirely written in two weeks.

I don't reckon that's too bad at all, considering I'd written 51,000 on the 9th and gave myself the rest of the evening off in celebration!

One down, four to go

It's taken almost 3 hours, but that's the first chapter of the last five written and saved and I haven't had me lunch yet!

3 hours x 4 chapters = 12 hours, but hopefully the last four will be quicker than the first one again.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Three down today, so there are five to write tomorrow

Just finished my third chapter of the day so there are five left before the entire manuscript is finished.

I'm gonna get up as soon as I wake up tomorrow, whatever time that is and Steve said to turn the light on as low as possible and not expect any conversation which is fine by me 'cos I'll have me headphones on!

Second chapter of the day is now done and dusted

Just finished the second chapter of the day.  Was really hoping for at least double that, but it obviously just wasn't meant to be today  😞

Gonna write at least one more chapter before I head to bed and I'm gonna come down as soon as I wake up tomorrow, even if it's the early hours 'cos I was so motivated and ready to go at 4am this morning but didn't want to wake Steve up so stayed in bed until 8am when I had zero motivation left.

Not gonna happen tomorrow though... gonna come down as soon as I wake up tomorrow, no matter what time it is!

First chapter of the day written

One down, seven to go for the end of the manuscript, so I'm still on track for finishing a 75k word manuscript in two weeks, despite having a couple of days where I only wrote 3 chapters instead of 4.

I'm sooo close now though!

Monday 12 November 2018

That's 3 chapters written today

Just finished the third chapter of the day so I'm at 63k words now which is only 12k off the complete novel.

Gonna try and squeeze in one last chapter so that I can have the J2O as a reward before I hit the hay.

Wish me luck?  Please?

Only managed two chapters so far today :-(

Just finished the second chapter of the day, so I'm not holding out much hope of getting the other two written in less than 5 hours altogether  😔

First chapter of the day sorted

It took 3 hours to write, but the first chapter always takes slightly longer 'cos I need to get into my writing headspace again.

Hopefully the next 3 chapters will be a bit quicker now that I'm there though!

60k words in 12 days is pretty good going by anyone's standards and it means that there are only 15k words left to write!  Hopefully be down to 10k by bedtime today!

Sunday 11 November 2018

Third chapter of the day is now done and dusted

We're having a take-away for tea.  Only 11 chapters and 16k words to write then the entire 75k word novel is finished in only two weeks.  That means that, in theory, I could write a 150k word novel during NaNo if I really wanted to, which is triple what the total challenge is that I really struggled with the first year I did it!  Look at me go now though... 51k written in only 9 days and, potentially, 75k written in 14 days!

Gonna write chapter 40 while I'm eating me take away then head to bed for a reasonably early night for a change!

Second chapter of the day written

Managed to write that chapter in only two hours so I'm on track for being able to write four chapters today after all, despite not starting until lunchtime today!

Wish me luck that I can get the next two chapters written just as quickly too!

First chapter of the day written

Finished writing another chapter this morning and made a start on the second chapter of the day.

This chapter is discussing the Higher Uppers who have discovered the start of the two main character's relationship.  The main characters think that the Higher Upper who spotted them was just in training because they weren't all-seeing, but a thousand words from now and they will really move their relationship to a slightly more physical relationship now that they've shared their first kiss and been caught!

Saturday 10 November 2018

3.5 hours later and another chapter is written

It's only taken 3.5 hours to write the second chapter of the day and the virus scan is at 93% so I'm gonna try and squeeze one last chapter in before I head to bed so that I've got time to back up everything too.  Hopefully the third chapter of the day will be quicker to write than the first one of the day lol

It's only taken 10 hours, but...

Considering I spent the previous five days writing 6k words a day, I've struggled with even 1,500 today!

I tried to start writing at 8am and it's not quite 6pm now and I've only just written those 1,500 words.

Hoping to get at least one more chapter written today, while I wait for the weekly virus scan to finish, but there's no way I'm allowed a J2O today, considering it's taken almost 10 hours to write a quarter of the reward word count!

Got 4.5 hours to write the next chapter in (because hopefully the virus scan will be finished and my laptop will be backed up) then I'm heading to bed, feeling very disappointed with myself.  😞

Friday 9 November 2018

Fourth chapter of the day finished and...

Just finished chapter 34 which is my fourth chapter of the day and it finished at exactly 51k words.

I finished NaNo2018 after only 9 days and I'm hoping to finish the whole 75k word novel by the 14th.

Already had my J2O and Steve's ordered a celebratory tea for us too.

It's too late and dark for a bath now, so I'm gonna have one tomorrow morning instead.  Relax for an hour or so then start the non-pressured chapters cos there are just over 2 weeks to do 24k words in which is less than a chapter a day which is nothing compared to the last 9 days!!

I can so do this!

That's 2018's NaNoWriMo finished now!

Just written the 50,000th word so NaNo has officially come to a successful end for me again.  Still got 989 words to write to finish off the chapter and 24,989 words to finish the entire novel, but as of now there's no more pressure to write four chapters a day unless I want to.

I'm going to try to keep writing four chapters a day so that I can complete the 75k in two weeks, but as of now, NaNo is over for another year and the only pressure I'm under is what I put on myself.

Means I can focus on my ESA thing now that I've finished NaNo for another year.

If you're doing NaNo, keep writing your novel and you'll get yours finished too... just keep writing as much as you can for the rest of the month!

Third chapter of the day finished

Less than 500 words left to write then I've completed 2018's NaNo... I can almost taste those two cans of J2O and that take away now!  25,500 words to write to finish the entire novel too, which is just as good 'cos it'll be 75k words in two weeks then!


Second chapter of the day done and dusted

Got exactly 2,000 words left to write now, then that's NaNo done and dusted for another year in only 9 days!!  Totally smashing my previous record of 15 days by getting on for a week!

Feeling so proud of myself right now!

First chapter of the day sorted

Just finished chapter 31 so there's less than 3 chapters to go before I've finished NaNo for the year!!  Yaaay!


Thursday 8 November 2018

Four chapters written now... yay!

I'm now at 45,000 words so I'm 90% of the way through after only 8 days!

If I get 5k words written tomorrow I'll have finished NaNo in a record smashing 9 days and a day earlier than even I'd thought which is totally awesome!

Sooo proud of myself right now!

Three down, one to go

After a slow and very late start, I've just finished me third chapter of the day so I've just got one more to write before I can have another J2O and celebrate.

Hopefully that'll be by about 8pm then I'll head to bed, but because I'll have taken my prescription before 6pm, I'll have another early morning tomorrow and it's looking good to be finished a day sooner than I was thinking too 'cos I'm currently at 43,500 words, plus another 1,500 words from the fourth chapter takes us up to 45,000 words so it's only 5,000 words to write tomorrow then which is just over 3 chapters so I'll be comfortably finished NaNo if I write the final 4 chapters tomorrow after only 9 days then I've got the other 25k words to write to finish the MS which means that, in theory at least, I'll have written 75k words in a fortnight!

Considering I didn't complete my very first NaNo because of writer's block, I can comfortably complete triple that in the same amount of time and still have time to get back into my normal headspace before the end of November!

I hope that, if you're taking part in NaNo this year, you're coping OK with it too... keep on keeping on and doing your best to finish it.  You can do it... I'll be here with you every step of the way!

Second chapter of the day done and dusted

It only took 2.5 hours instead of double that to get the first chapter of the day written, so I'm gonna take my prescription when the third chapter is finished, write the fourth chapter, celebrate with a J2O then head to bed.... hopefully reasonably early tonight!

First chapter sorted

It's taken all morning to write 1,500 words but they are sorted now, so I'm gonna have me lunch and a mince pie then write the second chapter of the day.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Just finished the fifth chapter of the day

Didn't manage the six chapters I was hoping for, but still managed five chapters today, which is one more than I've done for the last 2 days so I'm feeling pretty proud of myself now.

Up to 78% of the NaNo word count in 7 days which is pretty good I reckon!

Just gonna check my email and Facebook then head to bed.

Just worked out that...

... at 37,500 I'm half way through the entire novel, not just the NaNo length but the full 75,000 word novel.

Not only that, but I will, in theory, be finished the entire novel on the 14th so I'd still be well under the 30 NaNo days too!  How awesome is that!

Going back to writing again now lol

Four chapters written now

It's not even 4.30pm yet, but I've achieved the same today as I did on Monday and yesterday, so I'm gonna stop for something to eat for a bit now then get at least one more chapter written, but I'm hoping for two if at all possible so that I can beat another record for me and write 9,000 words in one day!  How awesome would that be?!


Third chapter of the day is finito now

Just finished writing my third chapter of the day, so I'm gonna find something for lunch now then make a start on the fourth, celebrate with a J2O and potentially write my fifth and sixth chapters of the day too!

72% of the way through NaNo in a week, so that's just over 10% a day, which is awesome!

Today is a very productive day for me, seemingly!

Second chapter of the day finished

Just short of 2 hours later and I'm half way through my personal daily target.

If I keep on at this speed I'll be finished by 5pm!!

If I am, I'll treat myself to a J2O as my reward and try and write a fifth and possibly a sixth chapter before bed time!  How awesome would that be, considering three chapters a day was a struggle for the first three or four days!

First chapter of the day done and dusted

It's not even 11am yet and I've already written the first chapter of the day.

Hopefully I'll get another four chapters written so that I can have my third J2O reward again.

Gotta remember that they have travellators instead of stairs and the option to have either real food if they want the texture or pill form if they just need to stop their bellies from rumbling... you watch me forget by the end of the day though!  lol

Currently 66% of the way through NaNo and it's not even been a week yet!

Wish me luck!

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Fourth chapter of the day now finished

Just finished the fourth chapter of the day and I'm celebrating with a small pizza for tea.

Gonna crack open a can of J2O to celebrate while the pizza is being cooked and delivered.

Only had 2 chocolates today too, which is another reason I'm having a blow-out celebration of the four chapters today.

21 chapters in 6 days is good going by anyone's standards I reckon!

I can so do this!

Third chapter of the day sorted, so...

Just finished writing chapter 20, which is the third chapter of the day, so I'm gonna take me prescription, write the fourth chapter while it kicks in, then celebrate with a J2O and head to bed.

I'm now, after 6 days, 60% of the way through NaNo!  Yay me!

Second chapter of the day done and dusted

By the end of this chapter I'll be 60% of the way through NaNo and it hasn't even been a week yet!  It's the getting the first couple of chapters written that I find hardest in any longer WIP but now that I'm over that hurdle I'm well away with it!

That's the first chapter of the day written!

One down, hopefully three to go before I'm allowed my next reward!  👌

27k words in 5 days and 3 hours ain't bad going, is it!  👍

Monday 5 November 2018

Just finished the fourth chapter of the day!!

Just finished my 4th chapter of the day, so not only have I already half finished NaNo, I've reached the target I set myself and I'll be finished by the 10th as long as I keep the motivation going and write as much as I have today (6,000 words in 9 hours) which is another new record for me!  🎉🎉🎉

Just gotta do battle with the last chapter now, but that'll be after I've finished NaNo 'cos that'll be the final chapter, rather than the word count that I'm going to be looking for then.

Gonna get my can of J2O in celebration now 'cos I definitely deserve it!

OK, got the can opened and I'm going to savour every mouthful now.  It's been tough going at times in the last 5 days, but I'm over half way through completely the challenge now and in less than a week it'll be done, dusted and overwith until next year.

So so so proud of myself!!

After only 5 days...

... I'm now, officially, half way through NaNo which is a new record for me, but as long as I do at least 4x3 chapters and 1x4 chapters, I'll be finished on 10th which is another new record for me!

Less than 500 words away from getting my first reward of the challenge too, which is awesome!

WTG me! 😁

Yaaaay!  🎉

Third chapter finished now, which means...

Just put the final full stop in my third chapter of the day and it's not even 4pm yet so I've got the rest of the day and all evening to write the final chapter of the challenge I set myself and means I can be rewarded with my first J2O of the challenge before I head to bed tonight, unless I get the dreaded blue screen of death again, like I did yesterday.

I'm not gonna even worrry about that though... I'm 75% of the way to finishing the 4 chapter target I set myself then I'll be able to reward myself with chocolate and J2O and be able to check my email and Facebook for the first time since yesterday.

I can soooo do this!

Second chapter of the day finished

Just put the final full stop in my second chapter of the day, so I'm half way to my target of 4 chapters written now.

I'm feeling pretty confident that I can do it today! 

First chapter of the day has just been written

Only took 2.5 hours and that included bringing the rubbish bag and recycling box in so I'm a quarter of the way through and it's not even lunchtime yet.

I really want to do the four chapters today... those cans of J2O keep tempting me to cheat but I have to be strong 'cos it will taste even better to taste it without cheating!

Wish me luck for getting the next chapter written without cheating?!

Sunday 4 November 2018

Third chapter written, but...

Wrote my third chapter of the day, saved it, tried to come here to share the celebration but got blue screened and I've spent the last 45 minutes trying to sign in everywhere again, so no J2O's tonight but we're still having a take-away then I'll have another early night.

I'm seriously hoping I get the 4 chapters written tomorrow so that I can have my first J2O that I was going to celebrate with tonight before I got blue-screened!

Ho hum!

Second chapter written

The J2O's have just been delivered and I'm half way to my daily target so I'm gonna go and clear up the pup's poo, wash my hands, have my chapter reward then carry on writing... I'm half way there and it's only 2pm!

First chapter of the day sorted

Just written my first 1,500 words of the day and popped my first two chocolate bite things as a reward.  Just another 3 chapters to go and I can be rewarded with my first can of J2O of the year, assuming it turns up today of course!

I'm going to do the full 4 chapters today, for sure.

No more excuses allowed.

Saturday 3 November 2018

Third and final chapter of the day finished

Just finished the third chapter of the day.

15k words in 3 days is good going by my standards so gonna celebrate with a mince pie and couple of chocolate bite things then head to bed for a well-deserved early night.

Second chapter of the day done and dusted

Just finished my second chapter of the day and Steve's just had a message to say the J2O is now expected between the 4th and 7th instead of today, so I'll just write one more chapter today and have an early night as I won't be getting any rewards for writing 4 chapters until tomorrow at the earliest now, so I'm not going to force myself to do it until the J2O's are finally here.

Makes me wonder if I should add a pack of 4 bottles to the shopping that's coming on Monday evening to encourage me to write 4 chapters or not.


What do you reckon I should do?

First chapter of the day finished

I'm at 12k words already and it's only been 3 days... not bad going at all!

Gonna have one of me cold, left-over chow meins for a celebratory lunch then get on with the second chapter.

I can so do this if I keep the motivation going like I have for the last couple of days!

Friday 2 November 2018

7 chapters in 2 days!

10,500 words in 36 hours ain't bad, unlike my maths lol

Celebrating with a Chinese then I'll keep writing when I've finished eating me chips 'cos I'm gonna save the 2 chow meins until tomorrow.

The J2O's are being delivered tomorrow too but I'm only allowing myself one if I've written at least 4 chapters during the day.  In theory it's possible as long as I start early and finish late.

I love the annual challenge of NaNo!

As of now, I'm already, officially...

... a fifth, or 20% if you prefer, of the way through NaNo, after only 2 days!

If I keep on at this pace (and I seriously hope I do) I'll write my 50,000th word on the 10th and completed another year of NaNo despite having the ESA application to sort out too!

Are you doing NaNo?  I highly recommend it if not!  👍😀

It's *my* maths that was wrong in the last post

Still assuming that Steve's calculation of two fifths being 40% it's my maths that was wrong, 'cos 10k is one fifth of 50k so it'll be completed in 10 days, like I originally thought this morning, not 5 days like I said in my previous post.

It's things like that which are the reason I struggled with maths GCSE lol

Still a fifth of the total in two days is nothing to be sniffed at and I'll still be proud of myself when it's completed in under two weeks... means I can relax until I get the ESA form that way!

If Steve's maths is right...

When I finish writing chapter 7 I'll be at 10,500 words which, according to Steve's maths, is 40% of the NaNo total in only 2 days... gotta get there first though!  lol

If the maths is right, I'll have finished the entire 50k words in only 5 days which is so totally astonishing for me, considering I was still struggling with writers block 20 minutes before the midnight deadline on my first NaNo.

It's all thanks to yWriter that I plan each WIP before I get started now... couldn't be creative without it now!  Just wish I'd planned the scenes out when I planned each chapter this time though... it would have been a breeze to do it within 5 days if I had lol

Second chapter of the day written

Just written chapter 6 which is the second of the day.  One more to go then I can have the Chinese as a treat.

Apparently there are 12 cans of J2O arriving for me tomorrow, so I'm thinking that as long as I write 4 chapters a day (ie 6k words which'll be a new record for me I think) I'll be allowed to enjoy a can when I finish writing for the day and I'll go to bed with the sweet taste of J2O on my lips to hopefully encourage me to keep writing 4 chapters a day and I'll be finished in a record 10 days which is good going considering how much of a struggle yesterday was!

First chapter of the day finished

Bit of a stop/start morning, but I've written the first 1,500 words of the day so going to celebrate with a cheesy bean slice for lunch then we'll share the mince pies if I manage 3 chapters.

Apparently we're having Chinese for tea again... so much for not having any more take aways for a while, eh?

Thursday 1 November 2018

Third chapter of the day finished

After a veeeery rocky start, I managed to write chapter 4 (chapter 1 had already been written so that I didn't waste time pondering on what to write to start it.

I'm over 10% done already.  6k words written ain't bad going... just gotta keep up the motivation now!

Second chapter of the day done and dusted

I'm back into the writing headspace now so just need to work out a new routine just for November and I'll be sorted for getting NaNo finished as well as getting the ESA forms done and dusted which'll be awesome.

This MS has got 50 chapters at 1,500 words per chapter which is a huge 75k words by the time it's finished.  Gonna aim to write a minimum of 2 chapters a day at the very minimum but I'm hoping for 3+ chapters a day now that I'm in the NaNo headspace.

Almost 10% of the way through it already so as long as I can keep writing at least 2 chapters, I'll be done and dusted for NaNo by 11th November then I'll just finish it off at my own pace around the ESA thing.

I'd love to get NaNo finished as well as the ESA assessment, but I'm not pressuring myself and it's no big deal if I don't do the 50k words by the end of November 'cos it's just a personal challenge with no pressure this year.  The ESA assessment is more important this year.

Gonna go for yet another wee, take my prescription then aim to write one last chapter before I go to bed.

Wish me luck!

First chapter of the day written

Was tough going to get started, but then it is with all the manuscripts I write.   Just gotta re-enter my writing headspace and it all flows eventually.  I'll be in full flow by bed-time tonight then I'll be well away starting tomorrow morning.

It's only once a year that I need to block out everything and concentrate on my writing and I think Steve understands that now that I've been doing it for so many years.

NaNo starts today!

The annual challenge to write 50k words in the 30 days of November starts today!

I'm about to start writing when I've published this post... are you going to join me?

Saturday 27 October 2018

Book review: Bad Girls by Jacqueline Wilson

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

What a disappointment!

It's so similar to "Double Act" by the same author, that I knew what was going to happen after the first couple of pages except that this is a girl in glasses instead of twins... everything else is pretty much the same though!

They are good to read, but save your money and choose one or the other 'cos they are waaay too similar to read both.

I'm sorry, but it smacks of laziness to have two books so similar to each other.
Do your readers a favour and don't copy and paste ideas in future, Ms Wilson. By all means, use bullying as the theme of more than one book, but don't change so little that it's obvious you've made good use of your copy and paste function.

You're a good author, Ms Wilson, but this copying and pasteing has really sent you spiralling down in my opinion of you now.


Thursday 25 October 2018

Book review: A Tale Of Dreams by Annette Spenner

⭐ out of 5

What a weird book... the random capitalisations of A in the middle of sentences, the amount of speech between the characters was under a thousand words throughout the book and it was waaaaay too short to be a Middle Grade book.

It's incredibly rare that I give a single star rating, but the only reason this book is getting a single star is because I can't leave a rating without any stars.

The publisher obviously found something good about this book that I've obviously missed, but it needs to go through some major editing IMO.

Seriously, unless you can afford to lose £1 and several hours of your time, don't get this book.


Monday 22 October 2018

Book review: The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

⭐⭐ out of 5

Good in theory, but unfortunately it's another disappointment in reality.

Fluff for most of the book, table of contents at the back yet again and only a few pages of emotions.  The first page of emotions lulled me into a false hope that there would be loads of pages of emotion names, like with the Positive traits book, but I was wrong... unfortunately it's more like the negative traits book.

If you're looking for a book that gives you loads of names of emotions, like I was, then you will be disappointed.  If you want to teach your granny how to suck eggs then this might help.  The positive traits was the most helpful book of the three for what I wanted.


Book review: Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a really short book that has very few negative traits in it.  Useful if you really can't think of any negative traits, but there are only a few and it's all back to front with most of it telling your granny how to suck eggs and very little useful information unfortunately.

The table of contents is at the back again and I went straight there this time and there were only maybe 3 or 4 pages of negative traits at the back and a load of padding over the first three quarters.

It's good to have it in one place, but there are more negative emotions than are in this book.  The positive traits book had several pages of emotion compared to the handful in this one.

Useful at a stretch, but could be a lot better and more useful to writers if there was more negative trait names and less fluff at the start... would be good if the table of contents was in the right place too!


Book review: Positive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a useful book for writers but, IMO, it's all back-to-front... I had to go 95% of the way through it to find a list of personality traits because the first quarter goes on and on about character traits, the second quarter gave loads of details about each trait, the third quarter was a list grouped into various ways you would use each trait and the final quarter is the table of contents.

If it had been written from back to front then it would have got the full 5 stars, but it's all topsey-turvey and confusing.

If you are looking for a book that will give you a list of positive personality traits, get this book but read it backwards to how it's presented.  If you are hoping to read it front to back, you'll get frustrated and confused.  


Sunday 21 October 2018

Started adding details to the new software...

I'm only up to E in the first book so I've got a looooong way to go but I'm hoping to have finished the first book's details by bedtime tomorrow, then start on the details from the second book for the software on Tuesday!

This software will be for members only and you won't need the current software to make it run... they are two totally separate bits of software!

Apply now so that you can get your hands on it as soon as I release it!!

Another, small, update for the writing software

Just added a few more first names to the writing software.  Nobody has bought it yet and there is going to be another software programme dooberry soon that I'll put in the shop... go and get the current software while it's still such a good price!  😀

Saturday 20 October 2018

Opinions please!

This is the current start to my query email for Keep Out! and I'm after some opinions on how it sounds please?!

I am submitting my novel, Keep Out!, for your consideration.  The story is a realistic Middle Grade novel about a mixed race family who are all racially bullied.  Jools, Emma and Jason become inseparable friends.  They go shopping for their CornerRidge Secondary School uniforms together and while Zion (Jools’ older sister) passes her uniform onto Emma to save money, Logan (Jools’ younger brother) throws a strop about not getting anything out of the shopping trip, even though he hasn’t grown out of his current uniform and he’ll be able to go on a shopping trip of his own when he starts at CornerRidge in two years’ time too. 

Keep Out! is a 50,000 word novel for readers aged 9-12 and would appeal to those who have enjoyed Billionaire Boy by David Walliams plus the angst of having a sibling as described in Jacqueline Wilson’s Double Act.

Thoughts please?

Book review: Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a good book for tweens, but after the author's popularity around her books, I was left a little disappointed.

I also got very confused about which twin was talking and writing because the only tell-tale switch between them is the use of the authors italics.  If a different font or different colour or even just the name of the twin followed by a colon immediately before the account entry then it would have been better, but I very quickly got confused about which twin was writing which bit.

It's a good book if you've got a good memory and can put some work into closely following which character is writing in italics but I just found it too hard to keep up with which twin was saying what.

I wish I could give this book more than 3 stars, considering how popular the author is, but I'm left feeling disappointed at the end of it.


Friday 19 October 2018

Learnt something new this evening!

Apparently what I was missing last night was something called "x meets y" and only needs to be a single sentence rather than the paragraph I was thinking!

Maybe "this manuscript is a British 11 by 12 meets Billionaire Boy" instead of going into why they are similiar!  I'm gonna read the 2 Kindle books I bought yesterday then try and come up with the correct x meets y thingy by the time I go to bed tomorrow.

I can so do this now and it's all thanks to SCBWI-BI!!

Book review: Billionaire Boy by David Walliams

 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

A fantastic friend recommended this book because I'd asked for books for tweens that heavily featured bullying.

I was initially suspicious because David Walliams is so well-known - surely he's not that good, right?  He must have paid for all the positive publicity or something?

I was wrong. 

So wrong. 

So very wrong.

This is a truly fantastic book for tweens and the author has got everything sooooo right... the language, the humour, the gross bits... Mr Walliams is waaaay up there alongside Enid Blyton for me now!  He returned me to the feeling of being engrossed by a book and wanting it to never end!

Book review: 11 before 12 by Lisa Greenwald

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

Just finished reading this book and it's not as good as the other reviewers make it out to be unfortunately.  It's slow to start and doesn't really pick up the pace or excitement.  There's very little reason for British tweens to keep turning the pages and there are too many reasons for putting the book down and never picking it up again.

I'm proud of the author for putting her work out across the Atlantic and maybe American tweens would find it more interesting, but I can't give it above 3 stars unfortunately.


Saturday 13 October 2018

Book review: Deputy Paws and the Puppy Mill Cause

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

I'm very rarely speechless about books but this one has to be read to be believed!

It raises the issue of puppy mill dogs and their health in an incredibly sensitive way for youngsters.  It shows that dogs who are bred and survive in puppy mills are incredibly unhappy pups and that they are either euthanised or handed in to shelters with seemingly no thought.

Our pup is a rescue pup so it's a very important cause to me.  The author has raised a very important reason to avoid pet shops and go to rescue/rehoming centres instead.  The author is reaching out to the next generation who will hopefully put up a fight against puppy mills in the future.

A must-read for everyone!

WTG Peggy!

Thursday 11 October 2018

Just been rejected by an agent

At this time last year I'd have been ready to throw in the towel at the rejection, taken it as a personal attack on me or whatever.

Not any more though.

I realise that my manuscript just wasn't right for them right now and I'm gonna get straight on with subbing to the next agent.

The rejection still hurts, but I'm not gonna give up, I'm gonna put todays date into me spreadsheet along with their comments and click on the URL for the next agent on the list!

Ho hum.  😞

Get creative!

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Competition for UK children's writers

I've just found out about a competition for writers of children's fiction here and wanted to let you all know about it as soon as I could.

It's judged by children and the prizes sound awesome.  There's a £25 entry fee per novel you submit but there are no limit to the amount you can enter so if you enter one novel it would cost £25 but if you enter 5 then the price would be £125.

Apparently there have been authors taken on from this competition even though they've been rejected by the same agent that takes them on, so it's worth entering!

Good luck and don't forget where you heard about it if you're awarded a multi million pound contract with one of the agencies judging it!

Book review: Children's writers and artists yearbook 2019

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a must-have for every children's writer or illustrator, but most of this years book seems to cover other countries and stuff.  For such a huge volume there are only maybe 50 pages of agents and publishers in the UK which is OK if you are looking for contacts around the rest of the world and by the time it was published most of the information was out of date.

In previous years I'd got a lot more UK agents and publishers on my spreadsheet, but only about 10 entries *combined* out of this one.  It's good that they cover the world's agents and publishers, but it seems to be at the expense of the UK unfortunately.

I've never got this every year (last year I bought this was the 2016 yearbook in 2015) and have always valued it covering every agent and publisher of children's books in the UK but seemingly not any more.

If you've never bought the yearbook before, or you want to find worldwide agents and publishers then this yearbook will hopefully help you, but if you've bought it in the last few years, save your money on this one because more things have been taken out of the UK part than put in!

And another update to the software this morning!

I added another 20-odd names to the software and uploaded it this morning... for the first time since it's creation, I did it all meself this morning without any help from the in-house geek who programmed it for me!

Just about to review the Yearbook too - unfortunately it only gets 3 stars from me this year  😞

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Another update to the writing software

Just uploaded 50-odd additions to one of the parts of the writing app.   Now would be a good time to become a member and buy the software because while the free version will always be free, there is unlimited access to the paid for non-members version, but only members get free updates as they are uploaded for their entire membership!


Learn from my mistake

I published a book with Author House back in 2013.

I spent literally tens of thousands of pounds when I was originally told that it'd be less than $750.

I've made a grand total of £17.62 since then and I've had nothing but problems from them, trying to force me to pay thousands more for things that just won't happen.

Now they want me to pay tax on my earnings this year.  I've opted out now so I'll have to pay 30% tax.  Fine by me 'cos 30% of nothing is nothing!  It'll cost them more to work it out and send me the letter/email than it will in the money I'll have to pay back. 

I know that right now you want to be published.  That's totally understandable.  That's why I went with Author House in the first place and it'd be less than £500 to get the book published and I'd be getting thousands a month, right?


I spent getting on for £25,000 and I've had a total return of £17.62 in the last 5 years.

Learn from my mistake and run for the hills instead of going to Author House!

Monday 8 October 2018

Book review: What Is Me? by Brett Coon

⭐⭐ out of 5

The author seems very confused about who his audience is and how long the book should be.

He's said that it's a picture book and it's got pictures in, but it's only got 11 pages instead of 28, covers issues of gender and sexuality that would confuse a 4 year old that would be better placed in a Young Adult novel for teens instead of a small child.  In the age bit on Amazon apparently for "8-18 year olds" so why is a picture book (which is the age range of birth to five years old) aimed at such a huge 10 year gap in the market?

Even Middle Grade readers (9-12 year olds) would struggle with the ideas presented in this book, so you're looking at teens (Young Adult) who wouldn't pick up your book because it's too short and immature for them.

It's also been put in the "crime, thriller and mystery > thrillers" section yet there is absolutely nothing in it that fits anywhere in that category at all!

Sorry Brett, this needs a lot of work and thought about who it's aimed at then re-written and expanded for that audience.  I'm in a good mood this morning so I'm giving you 2 stars because of the rhyming for a book that would usually struggle to get a single star.


Friday 28 September 2018

Just added something for my 2 members!

Just uploaded an updated page to the member's bit so log in and have a look!

I'm not going to say what it is here on the blog or on the site, it's one of the benefits of being a member of the site to get to know about these secret things as soon as I do!

Might be worth becoming a member now while the prices are low!

Monday 24 September 2018

If you're interested in the writing software...

Me again!

Just added 40 surnames to the members version of the software.  I'm working on a huge update to it with surnames as well as other things within the software like theme's and random words and chapter ideas and things like that.

It will be a huge update so the price will go up, but only members will have access to it... the 45 day and full version will stay the same as it already is, that won't change, only members get the updates I add to it on top of other things I find online like competitions and open submission windows and things like that.

The two members that have already joined will get every update I make at no extra cost - why not be my next member and download it before the price increases?

Just trying to save you money is all  😄

Software updated

Got about half of the update done alone, but I needed Steve to talk me through using the repos thingy to move the file into the software then rebuild it in Visual Studio.

It'll take a few tries 'cos it's all totally new (as in less than 24 hours including the time I was asleep) to me, but I'll get there in the end!

Struggling to name your characters?

Just seen this on Facebook - mainly female names but a few (like Kim or Chris) are gender neutral names.  I'm gonna add them to the member's version of the software now, hopefully without asking Steve for help!

Saturday 22 September 2018

Just seen this on SCBWI-BI

I'm a member of SCBWI-BI and this was posted there this afternoon.

According to this image, my WIP is an UFO that is pretty much NESTY let alone a PHD and WITHWIT!  😜

Tuesday 18 September 2018

We've now got two members!

Thank you so much to both of you for your interest and support... you just need to accept the invitation I sent you both so that you don't need to constantly refresh the members area constantly... it's where I'll post information that is only open to you members. 

I promise I'm not a spammer and will never sell your information to anyone... the only exception to that is if I'm required to by law. 

Nobody else gets your information from me. 

Hand on heart promise.

Thank you both so much for your support in this!  I really appreciate your confidence in me and wanting to grow with the site too!

😃 👍

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Scheduling a chat with me

I've just put up a scheduling dooberry that you can schedule a chat with me on a calendar in the help bit of the site.  It's available to both visitors and my member... don't schedule a member chat if you're not a member 'cos I'll check the database of members each time I get a member chat request and cancel your chat if you're not a member!

You get 30 minutes with me as a visitor or 45 minutes with me as a member.  Could you put in a brief description of what you want to discuss in your slot so that we can get straight down to it instead of you having to spend the first five minutes explaining what you want to discuss pretty please?

Thank you so much.

Saturday 8 September 2018

Guest post by Danielle James

Before I start, I want to thank Amanda for so kindly allowing me to write a guest blog for her wonderful site.

I have always been an avid reader - now, at aged (AHEM … *CLEARS THROAT*)  I am literally never without a book in my hand.  I read everything I can get my hands on (including the backs of cereal boxes - trust me, you can learn a lot from them) and treasure all my books (my favourite is over 120 years old and is in bad condition - it was like that when I was given it).

I often work with children and they roll their eyes when I tell them off for desecrating their books - turning the corners over damages them.  Who knows, maybe your favourite book will become a collector’s item one day.  

Who are your favourite authors?  Do you like any of the classics and - more to the point, what makes a classic?   I love Enid Blyton even at my age - in fact, it was one of her books (The Little House At The Corner) which revealed my path to me.  The minute I read that book, I knew I was going to be an author (which is a dream I have fulfilled).

I remember one of the first books I ever fell in love with - sadly I can’t remember the title but the subject and cover remain firmly lodged in my head.  It was about an astronaut and the training he went through (fiction but based on fact) and, bizarrely had a black and pink cover.  Why do I recall that book with so much affection?  Because I went through a phase of copying the stories out by hand - this was the first one I did it with.

Now, before you adults shout ‘PLAGIARISM’ at me, let me explain.  I never intended to publish and pretend it was my own.  The aim was to learn my craft and - even from a young age - I knew that there is a connection between the brain and hand.  

I learned about sentence structure and length - if you write a poem, it is fine to have, say five words to every sentence but it becomes monotonous if you try to do it in everyday writing.

I also discovered the importance of choosing JUST the right words.  Without that, the scene can be black and white - not even any contrast.

Imagine someone who is tired.  They may be described as yawning or rubbing their eyes … that tells you nothing about HOW tired they are.  However, what if they COLLAPSED into a chair with a heavy sigh of relief and wiped the sweat off their face?  Now you get a completely different picture of how they feel - it is more realistic.

I think that’s one reason I love Enid Blyton so much - she brings a scene to life.  The characters sing and dance off the page - she also has the gift for making you laugh with her descriptions.  Check out the Five Findouters (which are available in huge books, each containing a trilogy) and I challenge you not to laugh when Freddy is disguised as the author herself. 

Sure, she is classed as ‘old fashioned’ and no book is above criticism (even my own).  Her writing style is third person omniscient (also known as head hopping).  Now that is out of favour at the moment but I don’t see why.  She goes so far as to tell us what Kiki the Parrot is thinking in one story … OK, so maybe that IS going a little too far but she’s still immensely popular today and a little known series of her books have been found recently - as a result, she appears to be having something of a resurgence.  

So, am I saying that she’s the only writer worth reading?  NO!

As a writer, I’m forced to keep up with current trends (oh, what a tiresome job it is, too - NOT!) so I have to read books by modern authors too.

Today’s books are very different to those I grew up with.  Back in the 1970’s we had titles such as Mrs Pepperpot, Milly Molly Mandy, The Five Children and It and the Swish of the Curtain.  Fast forward to modern times and the trends have changed dramatically - very few books have survived the test of time.  Now David Williams and Tom Gates have the top spot, along with Michael Morpego and JK Rowling.

I think what I like about these books is that the stories may well be silly and laugh out loud (certainly in the case of David Walliams) but they usually raise some very important issues (such as prejudging people in the case of Mr Stink; and what life would really be like if you had billions of pounds - not as much fun as you might expect as Joe from the Billionaire Boy discovers).  I am delighted to see a few classics have stood the test of time such as Stig of the Dump, I am David, Anne of Green Gables and the wonderful Heidi.  Sadly most books do not remain popular for long enough to become a classic.  

Today’s reader is required to think more than their ancestors (now I am showing my age, using that word).  When I was young, most of the stories were just that - fictional, exciting tales.  We would read them and play games based on their adventures.  However, these days, books seem to be focussed on messages.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this - just that I miss the days of reading for pure pleasure. 

I guess that’s why I write the way I do … but even I have been forced to conform if I want my work traditionally published.  My stories, I now realise DO contain messages of hope but I hope I don’t ram it down the throats of the readers.  I hope they are fun and make people laugh - only you, the reader, can judge.  In this paragraph I have committed the cardinal sin of repeating the word hope close together several times - but that is done for effect).

One book that did surprise me was Chris Colfer’s The Land of Forgotten Stories.  I love the premise of this (which has become a running theme recently).  In this series (I believe we are up to book 6 now …) which make me laugh and cry off the page (quite the achievement, believe me!) the author asks what happened AFTER the fairy story ended.  Did Snow White and her stepmother bury the hatchet?  What happened to Red Riding Hood?  And WHO is the Frog Prince?  These and other stories are explored in depth, with the twist being that the famous Fairy Godmother actually has two grandchildren from our world - both of whom fall into a huge book and find themselves in their land (somehow I love the frog prince best).  I expected it to be silly but it’s so easy to engage with the characters and you, the reader, delight in the joy of rediscovering old friends - the only one I don’t think he’s brought into it is Beauty and the Beast (sad, as that’s my all time favourite fairy tale).  

Just like Enid Blyton, Chris Colfer writes in third person omniscient and pulls it off.  Personally, I don’t like first person (which is the current trend) - it’s rare that I find a book it works in.  For me, the problem is I cannot suspend disbelief.  I’m really not riding into the sunset towards Cinderella’s castle with wolves baying at my back … OK, I’m mixing my stories but you get the idea.

Many children have asked why I love reading and writing - well my answer will always be the same, regardless of the activity.

ESCAPISM.  Remember, you can never be lonely when you are a reader because the characters will keep you company.

Even Disney have started adding messages to their books and films - that’s a subject for another blog if I’m ever invited back! **HINT!  HINT**

I’m on a personal drive to make reading fun for children.  Let me know in the comments which your favourite books are and why.  You never know, I may be inspired to read one of them and perhaps they may even become a favourite.

Friday 7 September 2018

That's the trilogy sorted ready for Friday!

Three days of constant editing and the trilogy is done and dusted now!

Means I can have three days off and an early night on Sunday so that I can make sure I'm up in time to have me hair cut on Monday!

Thursday 6 September 2018

7 hours

Edited the second novel in the trilogy today, so just got one more to do tomorrow then I'm gonna work my way through all the others slowly but surely.

Wish me luck!  👍

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Oh. My. Goddess!

My very first member has just paid and been added to the members area!

What an awesome feeling!

Welcome along, W. B!

The thing with becoming a member is...

Someone paid to become a member of the site this afternoon... totally awesome feeling to have the first member, except that they haven't filled in the application form so other than their email address used on PayPal, I know precisely nothing about them so can't add them as a member!!

I've emailed them at the address on the payment confirmation letting them know that they need to apply too, so that their details are added to the database and I can let them into the members area, but without the form I've got no way of doing it manually when all I know is their PayPal address!

If you are the person who paid for the membership, please fill in the application form using your PayPal address so that I know you don't need to pay again, then I'll get you added!

Thank you so so much for wanting to be my first member!

Spent the day editing the first in the trilogy, so...

I'm gonna submit to an agent next Friday after a personal recommendation so I want to be sure the Toni trilogy is sparkling by then!

One down, two to go lol

Tuesday 4 September 2018

That's the chat installed too, so...

After an incredibly productive day today, I'm gonna give myself the evening off... go and take a look at the new pages and schedule your free 15 minutes with me!

What a productive day!

Just updated the About Amanda page with my LinkedIn profile and the Facebook group, created the Help page and put my calendar up too... remember to hit Ctrl+F5 if you're using Chrome or FireFox as your browser each time you visit the site so that you get the most up-to-date version of each page!

Both shops are online now!!

Who's going to be the first person to buy something?

I haven't got any members yet but the visitors shop is live and waiting for you to buy something!

If you become a member you get discounts on things in the shop as well as member exclusives so it's well worth signing up!

One shop done and dusted, one to go!

The visitors shop is now, officially...


Gonna work on the member's one now... it's amazing what a night's sleep can do for shop design! lol

Working on the shops today

Found somewhere to create the visitor and member shops last night so I'm gonna work on those today... wish me luck that I can get them sorted easily!

Monday 3 September 2018

That's the headings sorted, so now I just need...

Just added some headings to the front page and rearranged parts of it, but I still need those meta tags!

If you're not comfortable leaving your suggestions publicly, that's totally OK and totally respect that, just email your suggestions to me here instead and I'll use your suggestions but keep your identity totally to myself!

Book review: To Laugh Well: A Novel by JC Alaimo

 ⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

It's a good book, but aimed at the older end of young adult rather than the younger end.

There's a lot of swearing, drunkenness, drug taking and sex so it's really not suitable until the reader has left school due to it's maturity.

It starts off with an immature main character leaving for college/university and follows his drunken first term with his three roommates.

There is swearing and drug-taking throughout it on top of the pretty much constant drinking of alcohol.

The author takes you on a journey with the main character but doesn't seem to understand that his younger readers might use the constant drinking, drug-taking, swearing and sex might influence his younger readers to try it because it happens so much in the book.

In short, it's a good but irresponsible read for the older teen readers and anyone below 16 should avoid it.

Gonna work on the site this evening/tomorrow

Thank you to the 3 people who regularly read this blog... I really appreciate your support.

I'm gonna be reading and reviewing a YA book until either this evening or tomorrow morning, then I'm gonna work on getting the site further up in the search engines but I need your help.

Imagine you are looking for something to do with stories for children. What would you search for (the exact words you'd use in the search engine including quotation marks if you'd use them) and what headings would you expect to find on the pages please?

To get good position in a search engine apparently you need headings (which I haven't got any of atm) and meta tags that people search for (that I've got a few of).

You don't have to give me your name unless you want to, just the first initial or even a totally made up name is totally cool and groovy... it's your feedback I'm after!

Any help on this would be fantastic! Thank you so much!