Friday 27 August 2021

Can you help me with my research pretty please?

I asked this on Facebook back in December 2019 and I didn't get any replies, so I'm trying again for JanNo22 that I'm hoping to plan out today, before I forget the idea yet again.

This is what I posted back in 2019:

"Hello everyone

I don't suppose any of my Facebook friends are teens with Cerebral Palsy and/or Cystic Fibrosis are they?

My muse has just whacked me round the head with ideas for two YA short stories but I need to pick the brain of a teen who has either Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis or both so that I can get my facts straight before I even start writing them.

The main characters in both of the stories will be 16 years old and studying for their GCSEs and I just want to be sure I'm getting things right is all.

If you or your teen has just done their GCSEs and you/they have either Cystic Fibrosis, Cerebral Palsy or both could you/they do me a huuuuge favour and make up a name then set up an email address at Hotmail or Googlemail or Yahoo or whatever with that name (so that I can maintain their anonymity) so that I can pick your/their brain to make sure I'm getting my facts and emotions straight.

There won't be any intimate questions (unless, like with Endometriosis, it's all part of their illness) and as long as the teen and their parents are happy, I'd prefer the parent to read every email I send and every reply the teen sends to me so that everyone knows that this is genuine research.

If you are happy for that to happen, can you/your teen email me at and give me the basics of how your/their Cystic Fibrosis/Cerebral Palsy/both affects you/them on a day to day basis, how they coped with their GCSEs, if they feel they got enough support while they were studying for the exams and how you/they feel now that they are over and done with pretty please.

If you want to find out more about my writing, my author site is at

Thank you in advance."

If you or anyone you know can help me out, that'd be fantastic, but pretty please set up a free, throw-away email (Gmail has the largest mailbox but Hotmail is groove and cooly too) and use a totally fictional name so that I can protect you and the teen's confidentiality.

I've just had an idea for a couple of chapters within the novel, so could you ask the teen to let me know about their birthday/celebration plans too... if the teens family can't afford to have a party then that's good for the story too as I wanna help the families who can't afford parties and gifts too!

Thank you so much!


Tuesday 24 August 2021

Book Review: "The Road to Lily Pad Swamp" by MJ Spires

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

Like with all the books I read and review, this one is gonna start off with the full 5 stars and the hope that they will still be firmly in place by the time I reach the last page.

I'm immediately thinking, without even opening the front cover, that this book has been self-published purely because the reading age is "Baby - 12 years" which covers 4 different age ranges that are the industry standard.  I'm guessing it's a picture book because of having 32 pages, which is the industry standard for picture books.

I've got the Kindle version, so lets open the book up and start reading so that I can review the content of it for you all.

Just opened it and cor lummy is the choice of font and size of the text hard to read!  I can imagine an adult picking the book up in a shop, and giving up after less than a sentence.  That's without even mentioning the front cover being waaaay too mature for such a young audience!  The first star is already teetering on the edge which is unfortunate.

There's no way a child under the age of about 8 would understand "Delicious" or "complimented" so maybe the author is aiming it at closer to the top of the advertised age range but didn't have enough ideas to write any more than 32 pages?  Either way, the first star is coming off already.

I've got a headache and eye strain from having to hold my Kindle so close to my face to be able to read the text.  Apparently it might have been written for newer Kindles (I've got the first generation one) so I'm not knocking the second star off for that, just in case, but I'm in pain and my eyes are sore now, so I'm grateful it's such a short book after all.

This is definitely not suitable for children under 8 years old, purely because of the word choices, but a 12 year old wouldn't read it because it's not mature enough for them, so this should be aimed, I reckon, at 8-10 year olds, rather than birth to 12 and as a very short story rather than a novel.

In 4 paragraphs of literally a sentence or two each, we've gone from Tansy thanking Granny to reading the list, arriving at the swamp and rescuing a dragonfly.  This book has definitely been self or vanity published 'cos there's no way a traditional publisher would put this book on the market.  With a thumping headache, I'm knocking off a second star.

And the book has finished in literally 11 pages, the other 21 are 2 front covers, a page with just the title, a page with the ISBNs, yet another title page, the copyright page with a poorly placed dedication,  images, 11 pages of the story then "support the author",  acknowledgements, about the author then the back cover.  There's almost more about the author and the necessary copyright and stuff, but each page, without fail, has an image after it.

This is obviously the author's first book and she has no idea at all about how to write something for the appropriate age and obviously couldn't be bothered to even begin to research it before she hit the "send" button on her manuscript and got all the butterflies when she had it in her hands for the very first time, which is fair enough, but there's no way that a child would read this book willingly, sorry.

Book Review: "Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost?" by Celia Jones

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

If you've read any of my other recent book reviews, you will already know that every book I read starts off with the full 5 stars and that I always hope it'll finish with 'em all still in place too.

I'm taking a risk with this book 'cos ghost books usually give me nightmares for several days afterwards, but as this is a picture book and the ghost on the front looks like a cartoon and I'm reading it in the afternoon instead of close to bed time, I'm hoping I'll get away with it this time  ;-)

I've been OK with the first two pages... I'm wondering about the word choice of "complexion" though, 'cos a small child wouldn't have even heard the word before, let alone know what it meant and might have to interrupt the person reading it to find out, so it's a wobbly star already unfortunately, just not for the reason I was thinking is all.

The author has used complexion again on the next page, along with another new word, frail, that small children wouldn't have a clue about either... the star is currently clinging on by the tips of it's fingers.

Not sure I approve of the image on page 3 - the way that the adult male is chugging from a bottle makes me think it's a bottle of alcohol and the character drinking it is drunk... not a good image for a child unfortunately.  A second star is wobbly now.

Now the author has chosen a third word that such small children wouldn't understand, so that's the first star gone.

"Utmost" is used on the next page... I realise that the author is trying to introduce new words, but using four new words in four pages is a bit much, especially as there's no explanation of what each of the words mean within the book!

Now we've got the image of a man in his undies, a can on the floor, bottle on the table and a bowl of popcorn which is screaming alcoholic to me unfortunately.  Like with the words, the images have one more chance otherwise the second star is coming off.

Just finished reading the book and thankfully there weren't any more inappropriate images for such a young audience, so the book finishes with four stars... it's like the author has been desperate to find rhyming words and those words and images have been too advanced for such a young audience.

It's a good book, but at 40 pages long (the industry standard, in the UK at least, is either 28 or 32 pages), the word choices and a couple of the illustrations, are just not appropriate for a Picture Book unfortunately.

News on 24th August 2021

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24th August 2021

Jill Murphy, children’s author and illustrator, dies aged 72

Children’s Books: Back to School We Go!

Children’s book of the week: Oddity by Eli Brown

Bedtime stories turned into children’s books by Hong Kong mother who found diverse representation lacking in kids’ literature

Heartwarming kids’ book about LGBT+ families published with 18+ label in Russia

These 11 Japanese Children's Books Are Next-Level Adorable

How this children’s publisher defied the downtrend to boost sales during the pandemic

‘Sexist’ Tiger Who Came to Tea causes rape and harassment, say activists

Formy Books launches as Community Interest Company

Retired teacher releases children's book about bullying and prayer

Centre people with learning disabilities in your planning, publishers and festivals urged

Raising Boys Who Have Empathy and Emotion

New and Noteworthy Kids' and YA Books: August 2021

Yunho's children's book release raises people's eyebrows

Free children’s book teaches about saving and investing

Free children’s book aims to teach the basic concepts of investing

Tuesday 17 August 2021

That's my NaNo story planned out

It's taken all day, but that's it until NaNo is over and done with, then I'll plan out my JanNo novel and might write another ECB or tackle my editing pile before then... I'm just gonna bask in the glory that I'm prepared and ready to write starting on 1st November.