What we brought to the School visit,

We brought a lot of goodies, a lot of preparation (which went straight out the window) and of course the main attraction – The Schoolhouse.

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Once the 2nd Class students saw him, it was question and answer time. And all of the good advice we got was spot on.

We did need plenty of water, tea and coffee afterwards.

The questions were interesting, “Did you always want to be famous?” This one had us dancing on the moon.

“Were did you get your idea from?” This was asked of both Sara and myself, along with, “How exactly do you pronounce your name?” and then out of the blue, “What is your favorite color?” & “I scored for our football team last week.”

Yes it was a fast and furious session.

We were impressed by the fact they all expected a sequel to the book, in fact many.

Colin, their teacher had set them all interesting projects to work on – for example they each had to draw one or two of the smaller characters featured in the book.

It was a terrific learning session for both of us and we enjoyed our visit. In fact we learnt as much from them as they did from us. We left feeling ten feet tall.

I would like to thank the Principal Ms. Ava Boyle and Colin Wickham, for allowing us the opportunity of meeting such a great bunch of kids. And yes I would encourage other authors and illustrators to step out from behind the pages of their books to go meet their readers.

Their review has since appeared on Amazon.co.uk

5*

Absolutely brilliant! Great novel to use for school children.
Review written by:
Second Class Navan Educate Together NS

We are a school in Navan, a town in Ireland. We read “The Runaway Schoolhouse” by Maria Matthews in May 2017. The pupils in our class are aged 7, 8 and 9 years old.
We could not be happier about the book. We found it extremely funny. There are lots of exciting adventures that the Schoolhouse Clearie, the teachers and the pupils get up to.
We all really enjoyed reading the novel and would recommend it to any child, teacher or school who wishes to use it for lessons.
“The Runaway Schoolhouse” even made some of us cry with laughter.

Would definitely recommend the book to any teacher to use it for English and Art lessons, it’s jam packed with a creative, funny and unpreditable story line and the pupils in our class were captivated by the novel.

As a teacher I will certainly be using this novel again in future classes!

Help, tips and advice sought – Please.

We, (Sara and I) have been invited to visit a local school and talk to the class of  8 year old pupils about writing and illustrating. The children have been reading our book and have each done a project on it, so I am looking forward to the visit though, I am a wee bit wary. I mean, I have been in classrooms with kids of this age before and you have to be ready for anything. So, with that in mind, I have loaded up on goodies (paint sets, brushes and sketch pads, along with a giant bucket of marshmallows).

What else do you think I need to bring?

The Runaway Schoolhouse

Saturday afternoon games or why I don’t like thick hedges.

My Saturday afternoon was taken over by a game of soccer. I wasn’t watching it, as it wasn’t on TV, or on a local pitch.

I will start at the beginning. The dog next door was barking, not unusual so I paid no attention while I was gardening, weeding to be exact.

The two young voices got me curious.

“I wouldn’t go in there. He looks mental.”

“Hey anybody at home?” This was repeated over and over again.

I stood on a bucket and peeped over the wall. “What’s up””

“Ah missus, this dog is sounding and looking a bit mad. Our ball is in the back and we dare not go in.” The speaker was ten at the most and was twisting the ends of his tee shirt around his hand as he spoke. His friend was hanging back close to the road in case the old woman turned out to be as crazy as the dog.

I nodded. “No bother, just go round the back of the house and tell me where you think it is.”

Easy peasy, I thought as I walked through my garden and hopped the lower wall into my neighbours. “Hi Boot, ” I continued to talk to the black labrador who is overweight enough to resemble a sealion. He and I walked around the large house and entered the back garden. I stood and scratched my head. The hedge was almost as thick as the house.

So the next ten minutes were spent with me scurrying up and down the hedge, dropping to my knees and peering into it. Boot watched all of this with interest. I suppose it was the most excitement he had in hours.

We found, three footballs, one frisbee and one shoe. None of which belonged to the boys. However we did find their mate Derek’s ball. Finally, tired of wearing a hedge, I became Judge Judy.

“Right, here you go, Derek’s ball and one for you guys.” I handed the better looking of the two balls over amidst a protest of “we can’t take someone elses ball?”

“Well it is all I have, take it or leave it and if you are asked where you got it,” I hesitated tempted to say — don’t tell them it was me. “Tell them I gave it to you.”

I returned home wearing a good bit of that hedge along with scratches and scrapes. Could I count this as a random act of kindness or plain stupidity? I will let you decide.

 

The EDITING App You Need – Guest Blog Post by Kristina Stanley

Here is a great idea by an author for anyone else, who, like me struggles with editing.

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

dan your humble host

Kristina Stanley has been a friend of the blog for quite a while. As a fellow author she noticed several things we writer types struggle with and set about finding a way to help. I’ll let her explain, but it’s been a fun and enlightening journey watching this evolve.

Kristina is the best-selling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. Her short stories have been published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and The Voices From the Valleys anthology. She is the author of THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES.

She is the co-founder and CEO of Feedback Innovations, a company started to help writers rewrite better fiction. She loves the self-editing process and wants to help other writers learn how to do a structural edit on their own work.

Today, I asked her to talk a little about an editing app she’s been working on.

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What connects dogs to their two legged friends?

Have you like me ever wondered about the strong bond we have with our canine buddies?

Scientists believe the answer lies in their genetic makeup. But you still have to wonder how or why they choose you from the many people they have met.

I have known seven dogs in my lifetime and on each occasion I was aware that the dog chose me or the family member they arrived home with. 

I am also aware of how they are feeling from the tone and variation of the bark. Ellie, the BC is a great example, if she is searching for an individual she becomes excited and yaps incessantly at the rescue group to hurry up. When she locate s or finds the person her tone is louder deeper and slower. 

They, get to know our feelings too. And if you have ever been ill or in pain you will know what I mean. Both of our dogs seem to search our faces, stare  into  our eyes before they decide if we need their assistance or company. I have witnessed Bob attach himself to one member who is asthmatic and allergic to many things. He knows before the rest of us that an attack is on the way.

 Do you agree or disagree with any of my observations?

Dogs are always pups

For some dogs never grow up and we have plenty of shredded evidence. I bought Bob a soft rug . It lasted two days, so I resorted to making dog duvets for him from old (washed) duvets. 

Now I don’t know what to try next, as you can see she (Ellie) shreds everything. And  Bob? He patiently waits to see if he will be left with anything to lie on.

Books I have recently read.

I joined Goodreads. Why? To find interesting indie writers to read and to find people to review my books. I have found a group of highly talented people who simply write for the enjoyment of producing a finished item, a little like Nanowrimo. I feared it would be more like the first auditions in Britains Got Talent or The X Factor, it is far better. So I would encourage anyone who is looking for interesting new writers to try it.

Some of the books I have read and reviewed are:

Eyewitness Blues. Tim Baker

I chose this book of Tim Bakers because of the cover and title.  I enjoy thrillers and mysteries and this promised much. I was not wrong.  His characters were strong and full of personality.
The main character Martin, was born on the wrong side of luck. Lorenzo and his boss, Don Gammino featured in Martin’s run of bad luck and set a string of events in motion. .
Romance arrived with Mercedez, who I felt had a soft spot for Martin, this she proved later on in the book. Ike was a mysterious character, tough and ready to help anyone who needed it, I wanted him to adopt me after reading a few chapters where he featured.
The plot was strong and flowed sweetly with the odd hiccup or surprise, just enough to keep me reading.
I recommend this book of Tim Bakers to anyone who likes a thriller with a twist and I will be reading more of his work in the future.

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Christmas at the Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley

I enjoyed this book which is the second novel, featuring Demelza. A young woman who appears to have climbed, with a little help from Cal out of a bad place into a life she loves. Cal’s rival for Demi’s love is Kit. I found Kit a little disturbing and wondered from the start what sort of game he was playing. Of course I loved Mitch, Demi’s dog, as I love 99.9% of dogs, real or imaginary.
I did wonder at how much patience Demi had with Cal and his mysterious past. There was a few occasions where the story line repetition had me sighing but beyond that it flowed enough to keep me hooked on which guy she would end up with. All in all if you are looking for a gentle story this is one I would recommend.
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And as I love writing children’s stories, I sometimes read children’s fiction to see what is out there. So far this year I have read:
This is a very different book  to the usual children’s fantasy book as Lieve is a wildlife photographer, who has created a very different book.
The photographs and images were cleverly input into the story. I could imagine reading it to a five or six year old and they becoming immersed in the story. I enjoyed it, though I am not five or six and would recommend it to parents whose children love animals.
Marie and her sister Lowieske are from Belgium and, like me, did not know what a woodchuck was prior to their meeting with Margot. The images of the groundhog wearing glasses etc were amusing and again this would appeal to children. 

Cleaning house

I started cleaning a press and discovered a box of sketches I had put away.  I have always wanted to paint and some day I will but for now it is only odd bits I sketch and pretend to be an artist. I keep saying when I grow up (?) I will paint and draw.

Bob on a skateboard !

 

A box full of paper made me want to draw and doodle again. Have you ever had a nostalgic moment like this?