Sunday, 23 November 2014

Daniel's school report

Daniel’s school report

Daniel's written work
Leaves a lot to be desired
In fact in ancient Egypt
It's a shoe-in he'd be hired.

His pictures of the olden days
Are highly innovative
It's sad that he still feels the need
To draw his natives naked.

He wants to be an astronaut
And tells me you agree
But will not do his maths and science
And constantly breaks free.

We are truly sick and tired
Of his jaunts across the grass
Will you please ensure he always knows
He needs a playground pass?

Daniel is a charming boy
We all think he is great
But if you got him up on time
He wouldn't be so late.

We want him to succeed, you see,
And think it would be better
If he could do as he is told
And learn his sums and letters.

We know what is best for him
And what is best for you,
So please remind your Daniel
To do as we tell him to.

He'll be glad we taught him how
To do only what he's taught
And follow all the rules
To be an astronaut.

He needs to walk when told to walk
Not hop like he's a flea.
Space wants nothing with naughty boys
Who do just what they please.

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Friday, 14 November 2014

Writing about people you know - make me a Heathcliff!

It's a standard question, isn't it? Do you write about people you know? Do you include real people in your stories?

The standard answer is to either fudge the issue and say you base your characters on people you know or to be fervent about it and say you always use people you know as inspiration.

But what about the people themselves?

Do they want to pick up your latest psychological thriller and recognise themselves in the errant wife, caught with her lover? Do they want to get halfway through the book before realising why the awfully unsympathetic main character seems so familiar to them?

Do they really want to know you noticed every single time they poked their ear in public? Or that their tendency to spit when they talk has become the main feature of your homage?

I think people like the idea of being included in books. If they are already fans of reading then they might imagine themselves portrayed as a modern Heathcliff, all brooding sex appeal and irresistible to the opposite sex. Unfortunately, unless they are already like Heathcliff then they are hardly going to be presented that way on the page.

It comes down to the self-image of people you include: are they honest about how they appear to others? Or are you picking up on features of their behaviour and personality which they have never been aware of, until now, until this very moment when they read it on your page?

The crux of the matter is that most people see it as a compliment to be included in a book or story, without considering whether their warts-and-all real self is likely to be complimented.

What they forget is that brooding, handsome, sexy Heathcliff was also the ardent lover who had Catherine's body uncovered from the cold ground, just so he could see her again. And beat his wife because she wasn't Cathy. And let his dogs sort out random visitors. And generally became someone everyone in his life avoided unless they really had to visit him.

Even the great heroes and anti-heroes of literature can be people who are real enough to be unlikeable, it's just you forget about this when you read about them because you are enjoying their story too much.

Like real people (and to me, Heathcliff is a real person), characters in stories have bad habits and full personalities. It can still be a compliment to be included in a book or story but don't be surprised if you find your other self doing something you think is just downright wrong.

After all, in stories we can do what we like and perhaps there is that about you which makes me think you would like to be written as an unrelenting busybody or as a life in tailspin. It's a compliment, honest, it is.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Once upon a samples

Once upon a story…

So many tales and treasures come from fairy-tale worlds and the strange and wonderful creatures we meet there. Dragons and trolls, heroes and princesses, goblins and witches and many more characters to fill our stories with fun and adventure.

Once upon a story… uses the fairy-tale theme to bring creative writing and literacy alive for children. Familiar characters and situations help children think of their own unique stories, turning well-known ideas into new and vibrant life.

Fairy-tales are played with in Once upon a story…The princesses are not helpless, the dragons are not all hungry, sheep-eating villains, the witches might not turn people into toads and the trolls under bridges…well, I can’t make any promises there.

The exercises and activities in this book are funny and thoughtful. They help children explore their own imagination in the safe framework of fairy-tale lands. Children feel they know about this subject before they start, which gives them the confidence to take new steps and create their own worlds.

Each exercise is clearly laid out and explained, with lots of guidance and example answers. Children are not expected to simply know what they are doing – they are helped every step of the way. This book is suitable for keen writers and the more reluctant ones, with flexibility so that children do not feel overwhelmed.

There are lots of pictures throughout the book, for visual learners and just for fun. The exercises are built around the pictures and move from story-starters to a full story project by the end.

Once upon a story…is part of the Creative Writing for Kids series and follows on from Winter Tales. All the Creative Writing for Kids books can be used separately and they each have their own personality and different kinds of exercises.

Once upon a story... and Winter Tales have also been combined into an omnibus edition, as Creative Writing for Kids 3 & 4 so look out for that on my author pages!

Enjoy the free samples and for more details please visit

For details of other children's books and more free samples, visit

1.2: Once upon a time

We are going to use the favourite beginning of so many fairy-tales, Once upon a time.
Look at the story-starters below and choose one from each set. Then write a short story based around each choice.
Have a look at my example to get you started.
It was once a big city
Once around the village
Once a week, he fed his magic cat
There was once a boy
A golden palace upon a silver pond
Upon a broken tree
Came upon a little man
There, high upon the table top

Example: There was once a boy
There was once a boy who lived near the ruins of an old castle. One day, while he was walking his dog, he found a very old chest sticking up from the ground. He dug it up and tried to open it, but it was locked.
‘Try my key,’ said his dog, handing him an old brown key.
‘You never spoke before!’ the boy said, amazed.
‘I never needed to,’ the dog said and waited for the boy to open the chest.

2.1: Make me into a place

You are going to set the scene for a fairy-tale story. First, I want you to decide on what kind of setting or background you want for your story. This means you need to choose where your story will take place.
Look at the settings and choose one. You will need to describe this setting so make sure you choose one that you will enjoy writing about.
A misty mountain
A cold, wild beach
A hot, desert land
A place of forests and streams
A busy city
A grand castle
A snow-swept village
A floating cloud land
Deep, winding caves
An under-sea home

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Sunday, 9 November 2014

A Girl in the Nook

The shape of a girl,
Curved into the nook,
Tree-vines supple changes making,
A face, an arm raised under her chin,
A shoulder loose, relaxed,
Hair swept round above it.

Her back mellows out in a slim, young curve,
Becoming wood again as the image withers,
Rooted in bare soil where nothing grows.

A tree twisted in time making a face
That would have been the witch.
A face in the nook looks out,
Hand under her chin as she meets your gaze.

Move aside and the image shatters,
Only seen from one way.
Does she lose you too, when you move?
Or can she follow,
Seen again,
In other places.

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Sunday, 2 November 2014


I know I loved him then,

When life streamed ahead,

Ribbons in the wind,

And me behind

All tousled smile,


Somewhere I struggled,

A wing trapped in cedarwood,

Waiting for night,


Listening to the working

Of my last breath,

Holding onto day and


The minutes

Were hours.

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A story somewhere