Moment XII

Last night I ate sea urchin. It tasted of the ocean. The body soaked with the tears of whales crying for the loss of their children. The warm fur of a white seal pup before it meets its end at the hand of cruelty. The plastic embrace of a shopping bag around the throat of an arctic tern. It cried for its fish brothers that nevermore would dart between its feelers searching for food. It whispered to me of lost porpoises trapped in nets raping the sea. It told of sharks too fearful to leave the sunken ships of death’s folly. I heard the boasts of old sailors swapping trinkets for lives. I stopped a moment and put the chopsticks down. Then ordered another item from the menu. One without the bitter taste.

This came about after going to a restaurant and trying sea urchin for the first time. It got me thinking about how we abuse the sea, the plastics and rubbish littered there, and the depletion of fish numbers as well as other mammals.

Moment

There is that sweet moment of the day when silence seems to descend and time holds still and even the bustle of a packed café remains unnoticed as you let your mind wander, take a turn down a path, untrodden, overgrown with branches forming a canopy of green, and as you wander you begin to notice the magical figures that flitter between the leaves, darting from flower to flower to add a sparkle of colour, and just ahead you glimpse a white steed, a unicorn, drinking from a brook as an elf plays a lullaby on a panpipe, an it is at these moments you paint a scene, craft a character and place them, give them words to say and a task to do, a quest to strive after, to reach for like the words you seek to place on a page, a phrase of imagination, and then you pause for a moment, look around, and realise where you are, in that café, surrounded by people.

This came about when wondering what to write. It had been a while since I wrote something new as I had been spending my time editing a book of mine ready for submission so the creative muscle was rusty. And whilst sat there in the open with a coffee nearby, it reminded me of all those times when time stood still as I wrote, how it could take you places and how a good piece of writing could also take its reader places. So I wrote about that moment.

POEM: Contentment

Ball of contentment
sweet dreaming of warm log fires
and a little mouse

This poem came about because I was trying out different poetry forms. I like poems with clear structures that constrain you but at the same time free you as you don’t have to worry about how many stanzas you are going to use, or what rhyme pattern you are going to go to battle with. This poem is obviously about my cat and how content he looked settle on my lap before a winter’s fire.

It’s all in a book

Let me talk about the importance of books and reading. You might think the book in your bag is not all that but let me try to change your mind.
When I was at Primary School, i was not the most avid reader. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have seen me with a book. It wasn’t something I did for pleasure. Maybe it was having learnt to read through the Peter and Jane reading scheme meant that reading did not equal enjoyment for me.

5b OUT IN THE SUN Vintage Ladybird Book Keywords Matt Hardback Peter and  Jane Circa 1968

So come Year Six most of my writing was underlined in red pen by the teacher due to the poor spelling. At Parents’ Evening, my teacher (Mr Patchett) told my mother I needed to read more to help my spelling. My mother promptly passed the message onto me, with strong emphasis. So the next day, I searched the classroom bookshelf for a book until I chanced on The Otterbury Incident by Cecil Day-Lewis.

The Otterbury Incident - Wikipedia

It was about two gangs of boys who team up to help raise money for a friend. There were cunning tricks and battles with crooks. It was brilliant. So I read it again. And again. And again. After that, I thought “I’ll try something else,” and the reading bug was born within me. That book changed my life.

Governments need to celebrate the power of books. Libraries should be given all the funds they need. Schools given grants for author visits. WORLD BOOK DAY should be everyday.

POEM: We Go A Wandering

Photo by  Abhinav Narayan 


It is interesting how the mind works. I haven’t written any new poems for a while or posted on here but thought it was about time I did. So what to write. I decided on a poem but my brain was empty of ideas. So I went to bed having written nothing.
A bad nights sleep. I kept waking up. I woke up at 3AM, wide awake. So I decided to listen to a Frank Skinner podcast on poetry. The poet he was referencing had written a poem using ABC structure so I thought “I’ll try that!”. Then I fell happily asleep.
It was that time when you are half-awake, half-dreaming. I was dreaming of people walking in the countryside and a song/poem filled the air. I came to. The words still clear in my head. I wrote them down. I wasn’t sure of some of the words – did they even exist. I checked. Yes, they did. I had written a poem in my sleep state using real words I didn’t think I knew. How strange!
So here is that short poem.

Here we go a wandering
A trundling
A trolling
Here we go a wandering
In the glade

Trundling = to move in a wagon; to roll along
Trolling = to say in full, rolling voice

POEM: Man In The Moon

Half moon

 

There was a man in the moon,
Who switched the lights off too soon,
Day turned to night,
All people in fright,
Running in fear of the doom.

 

This type of poem is called a limerick.  It was made popular by Edward Lear in the 19th century. I just love these types of poems. They are great fun to write because of the clear structure and rhyme pattern. 

A limerick has five lines with a clear AABBA rhyme pattern:

There was a man in the moon, A
Who switched the lights off too soon, A
Day turned to night, B
All people in fright, B
Running in fear of the doom. A

and a da-de-da-de-da, da-de-da-de-da, de-da-de-da, de-da-de-da, da-de-da-de-da rhythm to it.

Why don’t you have a go?

There are more examples here: https://www.brownielocks.com/kidlimericks.html

Wishbone Billy on Audio!

dfw-sf-wb-cover-3d-nologo

CLICK HERE: Wishbone Billy – audio book
Also avaible on Spotify SPOTIFYand itunes ITunes(Apple).

First three Chapters now available to listen to for free!

A non-stop, edge of your seat ride with Billy on his magical journey in search of new, better parents. Have your parents ever annoyed you? Have they ever done something you could never forgive? Well, Billy has annoying parents. In fact, he has the worse parents IN THE WORLD! They are lazy, selfish and cruel. His life is terrible. What can save him?

This audio book is full of eccentric, zany characters that will have you laughing out loud.

“It’s a brilliant, amazing and clever book.” – NIAMH, AGED 9

Check out this new episode!

POEM: My Sister Loves Worms

Girl with wormA

My sister loves worms
She loves how they wiggle
My sister loves worms
She loves how they jiggle
My sister loves worms
Wherever they are found
My sister loves worms
Under muddy ground
My sister loves worms
On her comfy bed
My sister loves worms
On her silky head
My sister loves worms
Sat on our telly
My sister loves worms
Squirming in her belly

The Writer’s Life

Writing and pen

When I visit schools, children often ask me questions about being a writer and what it is really like so I thought I would attempt to answer some of the most common questions I am asked here.

Are you rich?
The answer is no. Most writers are not rich. The average yearly wages for a writer is £10,500 so that means most writers have another job as well, like me. Unless, you are super succesful like JK Rowling. Then you can write all the time. I’m afraid to say I don’t live in a big house and have twenty-eight cats. I have two and a goldfish.

Are you famous?
No. Very few writers get recognised on the street. The ones that do tend to have been celebrities before they became writers, like David Walliams. They were famous for something else first. Of course, there are a few exceptions like Michael Rosen, Roger McGough or Anthony Horowitz who have also been on TV after their books became well-known. I’ve only been recognised in the street once by a girl whose school I had visited. She yelled, “Look, there’s that writer who came to my school. He’s going into that house!” Otherwise, I walk about never noticed. I could be sat by you and you wouldn’t know.

What do you do when you write? What’s it like?
When I write, I take myself out of the house away from distractions like the TV, cats, fish, reliable internet and go to a place I call ‘the office.’ There I can get endless cups of coffee for just £1.25.
I settle down at the table, look at the outline of my book I’m currently working on, open up my tablet and keyboard and begin writing. I write using a programme called Scrivener which was specially made for writers. While I write, I usually listen to music without voices to cut out any background noise that may distract me and put me off. I might write non-stop for an hour or three. It depends how easily the writing is coming. As I write, I talk to nobody except my characters and imagined audience. They are my only concern.
Writing can be lonely. You sit by yourself, not speaking, not knowing if your writing is any good or worth reading. You just hope it is and carry on. That is why I am also a member of two Writing Groups. There, I share my work, find out what people think of it, if my jokes work, and talk about writing issues such as the best way to solve a problem with point of view.
Sometimes things are different. Sometimes I get to meet my readers when I am invited to a school to do a talk or run writing workshops. Then I get to share my love of writing and talk about books and we do some writing together. It’s great fun.

Have you written any other books?
Yes. Three others but they’re not published yet. One is for grown-ups, one is a kind of Tolkien adventure, and another is about an elf which I’m sending to Literary Agents. I am also working on another one at the moment.

I hope all this helps clear up the things I’m most asked. If you’ve any other questions, just ask in the comment’s box below.

POEM: Pages


We’re going on an adventure
Through tall trees and over mountains
Past great creatures in fields
And in taverns littered with gold

We’re going on an adventure
Across wide rivers with sea serpents
Through boggy lands where monsters hide
Two brave heroes with armour of foil

We’re going on an adventure
Across plains of racing dinosaurs
Past cavemen crouching over fires
With our jam sandwiches in our packs

We’re going on an adventure
Under the three moons of Mars
Zooming across the planet on jets
Eating protein pills for energy.

I love books and the imaginary worlds they can offer. This poem is about that.