Monday, 17 May 2021

Just updated the writing software...

...for my members only - if you wanna have a see what it's like before you buy it, then a free trial is available to non-members, a full version that isn't updated is available in the shop but the members who buy the software get free updates to it for the entirity of their membership.

 

To save you a bit of cash, I recommend that you download the trial version first to see what you think to it and if it has the potential to help you with your writing, then sign up to become a member then when you've been approved there's a members only shop where you can get things for cheaper and it comes with updates to the software throughout your membership and you will have access to a members only email address to contact me on.


My current members had the opportunity to grab a copy of my latest book before my non-members too.


Prices won't go down, so now would be a good opportunity to take advantage before I increase them!


Thank you for your continued support, Amanda really appreciates it.


Saturday, 15 May 2021

Book Review: "YADIRA: The Beloved Friend" by David Chapman


⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

 

As with all the books that I review, this one is starting off with the full 5 stars and I'm especially liking the front cover before I even start reading it 'cos it looks interesting and the three cover stars are NOT all white and smiling, like a lot of children's books are, so top marks already for the author and illustrator... I'm wondering which sister is which though, 'cos there are three different ethnicities on the cover, so I'm guessing that maybe they are step sisters or adopted or there's some kind of magic within it that changes their ethnicity or something?  I'm intreagued (sp?) to know what happens already, so lets get started!

This book is aimed at 5-7 year olds and I'm wondering if they would keep reading alone judging by the character called Arya?  I'm just wondering if maybe the author could have chosen an easier to read name than Arya for such young children to pronounce is all.

The pictures have just answered the questions I had right at the start lol  I won't spoil it for you though, you'll have to get the book to read and find out for yourselves  which of the three girls on the cover are the two sisters lol

I was wondering why the horse was blue in the pictures and was tempted to knock a star off for being so realistic, but I'm glad I didn't now 'cos the horse has just explained it to me in the story.  It's an obvious fantasy book, which children will love as long as it doesn't get too far out there otherwise it'll confuse them when they are called back to reality.

I'm getting confuzzled by all the things that have happened already... in the space of a few paragraphs, Arya and Maya have discovered a new world, which they weren't allowed to explore, given very brief instructions from a stranger then they're back home and it's the next day and the task has been completed.  Then they are told to undo their baskets and pour the contents onto the floor... if an adult already has questions about it, then I'm guessing children would be totally flummoxed and may have given up reading already, so that is, unfortunately, the first star gone.  I had really high hopes for this book, based on the cover alone... I hope the author is just finding his feet and it'll improve as I read, 'cos I don't like knocking stars off anything  :-(

Oh boy, days are passing by in less than a paragraph now, which would leave the child reader asking the adult they were with what happened and the adult genuinely not knowing.  I've only just started chapter 2 and another star is already on its way out, unfortunately.

The author is semi-frequently using words that such young readers wouldn't have a clue about... "forth" in the first chapter and now "emerge" in chapter 3... I certainly didn't have a clue that those words even existed when I was still in the infants part of Primary School, but the author doesn't seem to understand that, unfortunately, so the second star is on the verge of being dropped already... I was really looking forward to reading this book just based on the cover, but I was seemingly duped by the illustrator - they set my confidence and interest levels too high, unfortunately.

Oh boy, now not only has the author chosen to use "rose" in the middle of a sentence (a 7 year old would only be aware of the flower rather than the verb), but now he's using the points of a compass too, which I'm pretty sure I didn't have a clue about until I was at least 9 or 10 years old, so that's the second star gone.  Same with "remained" - the language is much too mature for children who are just starting to read for pleasure and maybe alone.  If the author had taken the trouble to leaf through a children's dictionary at his local library or asked someone who had daily contact with the age group he wrote this for along with a lot more speech between the characters then it would have still been very much 5 stars, instead of its current three.

Now a week has passed in a very short sentence and the author is expecting a 5-7 year old to read, pronounce and understand what a sphere is!!  The author really doesn't understand the knowledge and abilities of his young readers unfortunately.  He's used "understand" now as well!  If it had been a story for 9-12 year olds then I wouldn't have had an issue with any of these things, but the authors word choices are way too mature for the age group he's written this book for, unfortunately.  

A couple of paragraphs later and the author has used "tambourine appeared" and "rhythms" which a 5-7 year old may know what the words mean out loud, but they are much too mature for them to read unfortunately.  "Unified"  and "glorious outburst" too now!  The author really doesn't seem to understand the abilties of the age-group he's writing for - vocab wise it's aimed more at the top end of Primary School/lower Secondary School, but his ideas are spot on for his chosen age group.

I've already kicked a star off for vocabulary choices, so I won't knock off another one, but the author really needs to invest more time in learning about the age-group he's writing for.

Chapter 6 was considerably better... a couple more word choice niggles, but other than that it was a good chapter.  I hope that means the author has got into his stride and the heads of Arya, Maya and Yadira now and last half of the book is better than the first half!

Chapter 7 was a good'un too... a couple of iffy word choices again but the author has got the descriptions and length of each chapter bang on now... just a shame that there were five chapters' worth of niggly things to get there  first  ;-)

And after a good couple of previous chapters, things have rapidly gone back downhill in chapter 8 unfortunately - word choices again, mainly, but using phrases that young readers would only have heard in passing when their grandparents were talking about their own parents... to quote directly from the book:  '"Come," he said and beckoned them to sit down' is just one example, and 'Arya, Maya and Yadira bowed their heads in assent' is another example of the next paragraph.  One of my nephews is of the right age to read this book and not even his granny (my mother in law) would say that, but her parents might just about have done, so the author is using phrasing that is at least three generations out of date and his intended readers would have flung the book across the room in utter frustration by now, unfortunately.

The chapter lengths are pretty much spot on now... chapter 1 was waaaay too long and chapter 2 (or was it chapter 3?) was way too short, but the author has found the right length for each of his chapters now, thankfully.

Oooh!  Chapter 9 was good... my Goddess is even mentioned by name right at the end, I wonder if that was deliberate on the authors part, to get his readers asking questions and getting inquisitive or if it was just a lucky guess?

I'm reading chapter 10 now and it sounds like the author either personally knows what happens in Wicca or he's stumbled onto Wiccan practises after a search online.  It's not exactly what Wiccans do, but it's not that far off either and with a bit of fantasy woven into it, makes it sooo believable!  WTG on your descriptions in this chapter, Author!

Chapter 11 is back to using more mature language than his intended audience would understand again, unfortunately... maybe the author wrote this chapter on a different day to the magic he had created in the previous couple and his muse hadn't woken up properly yet?

Chapter 12 was a bit of a disappointment after such a good second half... it's kinda like the author had suddenly spotted his word count and realised that he had maybe 500 words to finish the entire novel before it was too long for his young readers?  If he had completely cut at least the first chapter and possibly the second, he could have immediately gained the interest of his readers, weaved the backstory in and would have had more time to finish off his book.

Overall, it's a good book, especially the second half, but the first half was a huuuge disappointment and most of it could have been taken out and used better in the last couple of chapters of the book, the author just needed to choose better, more understandable words for chunks of the book and it'd've got at least one more positive star out of me then.

Friday, 14 May 2021

Can you help me with my research pretty please?

Afternoon all.

Literally just before our lunch was dished up (thank you Steve!) my muse smacked me over the head with an idea that I'm gonna need help from twins with to even make a start on it.

If you're not a twin and/or don't know any twins, then you can safely stop reading.

I'm after a pair of twins (obviously  😜) who have an at-best OK relationship with each other.  If these twins are usually in each others pockets other than the occasional "I wanted that biscuit/cake/toy!" etc argument but they are back to being best friends within hours then that's great for them and their family and friends but they can't help with this research.

If you, as the adult, spend more time breaking up fights and squabbles and arguments than breathing a sigh of relief that you can listen to/watch your favourite programme on the telly or radio or you can read another chapter or more in a book or you can do a few puzzles or whatever then keep reading!

Everyone seems to think that twins always know what the other is thinking and that they will always support each other and stuff, but I can't help wondering about those twins who don't have such a close relationship with each other and, as with the majority of my manuscripts that I've written so far, I wanna help those two children to feel less alone by writing a book about twins who don't have the best relationship in the world.

That's literally all my muse gave me, so I'm asking that you, as the adult, email me and first off tell me the age of your twins so that I know what sort of book to write then ask each of your twins to make up a totally fictional name and from that point on, when you're talking to me about them, please use the fictional name that they have chosen so that I can respect their privacy as much as possible.

As long as you are happy that this is genuine research, can you help each twin to set up a throw-away email address (like Hotmail or Gmail or whatever) with the fictional name that they have chosen and with you sitting right next to them (or at least in the same room as them when they read and reply to each email) get them each to email me at research@stories4childrengroup.com and first off tell me their fictional name that they want me to use in the research, how old they are, then give me a run-down of a typical day and how they feel at each point for them... no specific times or identifying details at all please, just something like:  "7am - Jessica woke me up with her snoring yet again, which made me angry, so I threw my slipper at her and yelled at her to shut the freak (or whatever word they would realistically choose) up.  8am - Jessica finished off the dratted cereal again.  Well just for that I'm gonna finish of the orange juice 'cos she hasn't had any yet and there's only grapefruit left which she hates lol" etc etc.

How are their school days different to weekends and school holidays?  Are they in the same tutor group/sets etc or different ones?  What do they do at break and lunchtimes at school?  Do they have the same friends or different ones?  Do they deliberately avoid each other whenever possible 'cos they don't get on or do they feel forced together purely because they're twins and that gets on their nerves too (maybe it's the only thing they agree on)?

I just need to get into the head of my potential new main characters is all and I've got absolutely no experience of the day-to-day life of twins who don't live in each other's pockets constantly.

Please, please, PLEASE, have parental software running the whole time and if possible read every message I send them before they see it and each of their replies to me... I haven't got a clue who they are and that's how I want it to stay, so I wanna do as much as I can to keep your twins safe.  Don't edit their replies and let them off the swearing (if that's realistic for them), just while they're helping me with this.  If they swear, could you get them to put in the usual adult punishment in their own words, then you email me separately and tell me how you would react, whether that's a particular look you give them or shouting or yelling or huffing or grounding them or whatever else.  I need to be able to get into the head of each of the characters in the real modern-day world, instead of the one that's painted usually.

I'm willing to answer any questions you've got for me before you agree to letting your twins loose on me... you can find all my sites and blogs linked to at amandas.website and I'm qualified to work with children aged 12 months to 7 years 11 months.  I don't have a current CRB approval 'cos I haven't worked since 1999 due to my disabilities but you are more than welcome to run one on me if you want to and it would help to reassure you that I'm genuine, you would need to pay for it though, sorry!

I'm around all day, every day (except Monday early afternoons 'cos that's when our groceries are usually delivered and this coming Tuesday 'cos someone's coming over about a grant for something in the house that we might be able to get.  I've got a hospital appointment on 24th June too, but let's get May out of the way first, eh 😉) and I'm happy to do my best to answer any questions or provide any reassurance you need whenever you want me to.

Feel free to ask any questions whenever you want and I'll do my best to answer them for you.

A huge thank you to you and your twins in advance.
 

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Bit of advanced warning about the next couple of weeks

Good morning everyone

 

I'm having my second covid jab tomorrow early afternoon and if it's anything like the first one, I really won't feel well enough to be doing the news and stuff, so you might be having a break for a couple of weeks.

 

I'll still have my computer on every day, but won't feel up to doing anything much with it.  I'll do the news when I feel up to it and I will of course still be around for my members, but I prolly won't be myself until my body has recovered again.  I promise it's nothing personal, I'm prolly just gonna be feeling lousy for a while, but I'll be back with you all as soon as I possibly can.


Thank you for understanding.


Saturday, 1 May 2021

News on Beltane (1st May) 2021

Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com

1st May 2021

10 Best Children’s Authors to Help Kids with Reading

When the Other Writer in the House Is Furry and Uses a Litter Box

Children's author gets royal approval for his latest book

'Book fairies' bring stories to life for children in lockdown

Don’t Racially Pigeonhole Children’s Books

Who Is Ned, and Why Is He So Happy?

'Everybody Poops': Surprising Debate About Feces in Children's Books Engulfs Swedish Media

Rewriting history: why book publishing must embrace LGBTQ+ stories—and soon

 

Research question for my next novel

Quick question for my LGBTQIA friends 'cos I've just been smacked by inspiration from a headline that's gonna be up on my author site soon.

At what age did you realise that you were NOT heterosexual/the gender you were born with please?  Is it something you've always known and talked about openly with friends/family/professionals or did you keep it hidden for aaaages before you officially "came out" to everyone?  What kinda reactions did you get and what would have helped you more?

I'm thinking this'll be a MG novel for 9-12 year olds, so the MC will be 13/14 - is that accurate for you or should I make it a YA (teen) novel please?

If you aren't comfortable talking about it publically, just email me at research@stories4childrengroup.com and give me a look inside of your head as that child/teen that had no idea that their feelings had a name.  If you aren't comfortable with me probing you as the person I know you as, then feel free to set up a throwaway email address with Hotmail or Googlemail or whatever - either way is totally groove and cooly for me, I just want to try and get inside the head of the main character(s) of my next novel as I plan it out is all!

Thank you so so much.