Posts Tagged ‘author event’

Daisy bouquets and spontaneous applause

May 14, 2016 1 comment

This week I visited Davidson’s Mains Primary for some author sessions with the P4s and P5s.  I’ve done quite a few school visits over the years, but this week two things happened to me which have never happened to me before.

First there was a spontaneous round of applause after I read a chapter from The Wishcatchers.  I can’t tell you how lovely that was! And then, later in the day, before I’d even started my session, two girls presented me with a little bunch of daisies.  How wonderful was that?


Not only that, at break time I was offered chocolate in the staffroom.  Yum!


The rest of my visit went well too.  The P5s hung up some brilliant, nail-biting cliff-hangers (not on a cliff, but on a string instead).  There were some amazing ideas there, involving anything from escaping snakes to the sudden realisation of magical powers.  The P4s went to some very interesting places in their imaginations.  Some of them even travelled to other planets.  They also got really good at describing objects to each other – sometimes even without using any adjectives at all.

So a big thank you P4 and P5 at Davidson’s Mains Primary!  You were a fantastic audience and you made me feel very welcome.



Ever wonder what happens on an author visit?

June 10, 2014 1 comment

Every writer has their own way of doing school events, but I can tell you a bit about what might happen at one of mine.

A couple of weeks ago I visited the P2s at Blackridge Primary and we had a whale of a time.  Literally – as you will see if you look at the photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  There are a few whales on there – including, if you look carefully, a blue squirty whale on the table.  That whale was quite special, because he was a prize.  When I go into schools, I always take my wishing box and the children have a chance to write their own wishes and put them in.  There’s always a prize for the best one – something sea- or beach-related, but not always a whale.

That’s just one of the fun things we do on a school visit.  At Blackridge, we talked about creels and dog whelk shells and woke up our imagination by playing the “what if” game and I can tell you that the P2s had loads of great ideas.  We also did some wondering about what could be in my sparkly box.  (It’s a secret!  I can’t tell you what it is.  But it’s very, very important.  And if you come to one of my author events, then you’ll find out the answer.)  I read a bit from my book, The Wishcatchers, and the children asked lots of really good questions.  As you can see from the pictures, P2 at Blackridge was a fabulous audience. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Before I left, I signed some books.  That’s what I’m doing here, although you might be forgiven for thinking there was more chatting than signing going on.


And finally, there was a big surprise for me – a lovely bouquet of flowers!

flowers resized

I enjoyed my visit to Blackridge Primary School hugely.  I wonder what stories the P2s have been thinking up since then…

Superheroes, villains and lots of wishes

October 14, 2011 Leave a comment

I had a brilliant time with the P4 classes at Carrick Knowe Primary yesterday.  They got to have a sneak preview of the next Wishcatchers book – and they had very interesting  ideas as to why the wishes were not coming true any more.  It’s just as well that I know the answer, or I might have been tempted to use some of those ideas instead!

We moved from wishes to superhero agents and everyone had a chance to invent their own superhero or baddie and make up a fact file for them.  Some extremely intriguing characters emerged – how do you fancy meeting Poo-boy? (I don’t need to explain to you what his weapon is, do I?) Or the evil Mr Wood with his splinter gun?  I loved the idea of the superhero whose weapon was a huge fire-shield – and also the idea of a Supergirl whose powers are to make everything clean and tidy. ( I could certainly do with Supergirl in my house!)  There were loads and loads of fabulous heroes and villains being invented in Carrick Knowe yesterday.  I hope they don’t just stay in their fact files but get to go out and cause mayhem in some stories.

At the end of the session, everyone got a chance to make a wish and I’ve been reading through them this morning.  There’s a prize for the best one in each class and it’s always so hard to choose a winner, but I’ve just about managed it. The wishes were absolutely brilliant and show how thoughtful, funny and profound children are.  Thank you P4A and P4B at Carrick Knowe for a wonderful afternoon!

Hi ho, hi ho…

October 13, 2011 1 comment

…it’s off to Carrick Knowe Primary School I go.  I’ve signed lots of postcards, packed up my props and books, all ready to go to visit the P4s at Carrick Knowe Primary School this afternoon. 

It’s going to be a slightly different school visit for me, because this is the first time I’ll be doing an event where the audience has all read my book. (P4 at Carrick Knowe have been reading The Wishcatchers as their class novel.)  So I’ve been working out some new things to do on my visit – hopefully they will turn out to be fun!  It will be interesting to find out if I have different kinds of questions too.

The vexed question of book signing

October 6, 2011 2 comments

I’ve just read Oliver Pritchett’s highly amusing article on book signing etiquette in the current issue of Slightly Foxed – he has lots of good advice, including what to do when your author friend finds a copy of the book he signed for you in the local charity shop and whether it is permissible to sign another author’s book.  If you think these are dilemmas you might face, you would do well to read the article…

It got me thinking about the whole vexed question of book signing.  Until very recently, I never used to bother about getting books signed.  I’d go to a reading, buy the book and then head on home without joining the signing queue.  It’s really my children who have changed my tune on this – they are so keen to have their books signed, largely, I think, to have a chance to speak directly to their favourite authors.

And since March, of course, I’ve been asked to sign books of my own, so the whole question has taken on a new meaning.  I have seen authors in the past sitting sadly at a signing table, with nobody in their queue, just waiting all alone, because, presumably, they have been told to sit there for a specific length of time. Before my book was even out, I was practising how to deal with this in my head.  How to look nonchalant and unconcerned. How to stop blushing and getting twitchy.  How to pass the time.   Could I take my knitting along, I wondered.  Or perhaps I could write erudite thoughts in my notebook and look like I was working.  (By the way, Oliver Pritchett has some splendid advice on how to deal with such a situation.)

So far, I’ve not had to face that hurdle.  I’ve only done a family and friends launch and some school events so the situation has not arisen.  (Perhaps this is a good time to mention that I am, of course,  happy to do book festivals, bookshop readings, or any other events which might require some kind of writerly presence…) 

But I have come across other challenges in my book signing so far.  Such as, what to write.  Just my name seems a bit stingy, but “best wishes” seems awfully formal and “love” is definitely too much the other way.  One friend (she knows who she is!) asked me to write something suitably insulting.  You can imagine how hard that was, to come up with something acceptably acerbic on the spur of the moment.  You might not be surprised to find that I was judged not to have come up to the mark.  I’ve not quite solved the “what to write” question yet.  All suggestions would be gratefully received. 

Another issue is where, exactly, to write.  I’ve been writing on the first inside page, the one that only has the title on it (there’s probably a technical publishing term for it, but I’m afraid I don’t know what it is).  I’ve been writing there, because it’s the first page I come to and because there’s more room there – and my writing, particularly after signing for a while, is quite big.  A scientific survey of books in my collection signed by other authors seems to point this up as an unusual practice.  Everyone else seems to sign on the next page, the one with the title and author name and usually the publisher’s name as well.   That put me in a bit of a panic – is that something that “proper authors” just know is the right thing to do?  Is there some kind of rule that nobody has told me?  Am I getting it all wrong?  Who knows.  And really, once I’d calmed down, do I really care?  I’ll stick to my page, unless someone gives me a good reason not to, and keep on happily signing whenever I’m asked.

Imagination overload!

September 8, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m not long back from a morning spent with the P4 and P5 classes at Corstorphine Primary.  We had a high old time delving into our imaginations and coming up with all sorts of things. The children were all enthusiastic and were brim-ful of amazing ideas.  I wonder who would notice if I sneaked some of them into one of my next books? 

I even road-tested some of a work in progress.  It’s called Operation Anti-Slime and involves some unlikely superheroes pitted against the evil Slimemaster and his slug army.  It went down a storm and lots of children asked me where they can buy it.  I’d better get my writing skates on and finish it then – so far I’m only at chapter 7.

When I do a school event, the children get the chance to make a wish, just like the children do in The Wishcatchers and I offer a prize for the best one.  The hardest part of any school event is then deciding who gets the prize.  It’s incredibly heartening to read what the children put in their wishes – they are so funny, profound, thoughtful and imaginative.  I’ve been so touched by some of the wishes, while others have made me laugh out loud.  I had to choose one winner in each class, but really there could have been many more. 

Thank you Corstorphine Primary for such a lovely morning, for all your ideas and questions and, of course, your wishes!