I am flattered and excited to have been asked to take part in the Northern Children’s Book Festival (NCBF) again this year.
As a proud Northerner it is always great to have an excuse to return up north, especially for the chance of visiting some brilliant schools.
The NCBF is a very special festival, in my opinion. It goes to huge efforts to get authors into schools that don’t normally get those kind of opportunities. This always guarantees the most amazing welcome from the most excitable kids around. It’s such a fun event to be part of and is organised and supported by the hard-working librarians in the area. I can’t wait to get involved next week.
I had so much fun on my visit to Seven Stories celebrating Roald Dahl Day. It was an honour to be asked to take part and talk about my chocolatey book. We also had a workshop where my lovely audience dug into their own imaginations and came up with chocolate stories and apocalyptic ideas. I was incredibly impressed with them.
It was also fantastic to see Sophie Anderson talking about her amazing new book, The Girl Who Speaks Bear and her inspiration from folk tales. I was thrilled when Sophie and her family stayed for my event too!
Huge thanks to everyone who came along, including Sandra Russell who drew this amazing sketch of me during my talk. The staff at Seven Stories were wonderful and many thanks to Sharleene for inviting me along and for the photos in the bookshop! A truly gloriumptious day!
It is a thrill and an honour to be asked to come along to Seven Stories, The Nation Centre for Children’s Books, to help them celebrate our greatest storyteller, Roald Dahl‘s birthday.
Mr Dahl needs no introduction at all, as his stories have been loved by generations of readers. It will be wonderful to add my own chocolatey twist into the celebrations and talk about my own book, reveal some unusual chocolate facts and join my audience in writing their own chocolate story or create their own apocalyptic story plan.
I’ll be there on Saturday 14th September from 2pm at Seven Stories, 30 Lime Street, Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ. Booking is required here. There is limited space, so get your tickets quick!
Why not call in and see the wonderful Sophie Anderson talking about her new book, The Girl Who Speaks Bear, too? It would be great to have a lovely audience of readers and chocoholics!! It’s going to be gloriumptious!
It was wonderful to be invited back to sign copies of ‘The Great Chocoplot’ in store at Waterstones Durham. It is one of my favourite bookshops in one of the most beautiful places around, where I also always get made to feel incredibly welcome.
I was even treated to a queue of keen and patient readers/chocoholics for an hour or so after first arriving. I try to arrive at these events nice and early to get set up and shake the nerves away, but I was greeted by a couple of young readers sitting on the floor, already a few pages into their new copies. What a thrill to see that!!
Thank you to everyone who came along – some travelling quite a distance! It was an honour and I always appreciate these special occasions of meeting my readers and scribbling in their copies. After a few fantastic hours, here’s a picture of me emerging into the strong sunlight, with a bag full of newly purchased books (Fiona is an unstoppable bookselling machine!). I especially like this man’s ‘who are you?’ expression to immediately burst my short-lived ‘famous author’ bubble!! Great day!
I had a great time at the recent Tees Valley Education Book Awards in Middlesbrough. It was an honour to be on a shortlist that included some of my favourite authors, who are also all fab people (yes, authors are people too!).
Catching up with Gabrielle Kent, Em Lynas and Dan Smith is always a pleasure, but it was a shame Sophie Anderson couldn’t make it (as she was adventuring in Canada!). I also got to meet Tom Palmer for the first time, which was brilliant.
It was a pleasure spending the morning in a local school and getting to meet lots of the keen readers involved in the process. An awards scheme like this is all about the readers – we just come along at the end and steal the glory! The teaching staff and all the pupils had put huge amounts of work into it and had obviously had fun. The awards ceremony itself was wonderful entertainment. A choir sang (thankfully not including the authors), awards were given out to the outstanding readers contributions and there was a quiz too! Although my book didn’t win (and you can see by the photo that I wasn’t upset by that!), I think the children chose very well as Tom’s Armistice Runner is an amazing book and a worthy winner.
Hugest of thanks to everyone involved, especially to Dan Mount, who came up with the idea and organised the event. Good luck with next year!
After a recent website update, this site has gone all wobbly!
The basic information is there, but pictures, links and other bits and bobs have decided to have a little holiday. I’m in the process of sorting it out, so please don’t think this is how my website always looks.
I’ll be there from 11am to talk about my silly story and tell you some unusual chocolate facts. In addition, you’ll get to write your own chocolate story or create your own apocalyptic story plan. How does that sound?
After that, I will be signing books and chatting to anyone who’ll let me. Come along and say ‘hello’.
It is a massive honour to be shortlisted in the inaugural Tees Valley Education Book of the Year 2019 Award!
Especially as my book is alongside some AMAZING books by fantastic authors – most of who I am friends with! I hope that doesn’t cause any problems to our friendships!! It is an award that encourages school children in the area to share, express and hopefully develop their love of reading and this year it has focussed the shortlist on Northern authors.
It is a thrill to be involved. Thank you to all the organisers and best of luck to everyone.
I’ve been lucky to not just be able to celebrate World Book Day, but I’ve been out and about for a busy World Book Month!
It’s been my busiest year and I’ve almost lost count of all the schools and libraries that I’ve visited during this time. It’s a huge honour to get to do what I do. I’ve been able to talk (and sometimes shout) about my silly story and had so much fun. It’s been an absolute pleasure meeting so many keen readers and book fans – and chocoholics too!
I must admit, there were a few times when I didn’t think my voice was going to make it! Strepsils have been my saviours!
Thank you to everyone that has made me feel so welcome in your halls and classrooms. And to everyone who has shouted, ‘Chocopocalypse!!!’. And many thanks to Authors Aloud, who have been so brilliant at helping me organise all these amazing events.
I’m a tired, but extremely happy author. I hope everyone keeps on reading and having fun all year round!
Thanks to Arthur Bugler Primary for this wonderful photo.
It was an ideal opportunity for me to meet some Beanstalk volunteers, as I have been considering becoming a volunteer myself. They all spoke so positively about their experiences of reading one-to-one with pupils who are struggling with reading. I was one of those kids myself. Reading was extremely hard work when I was young and as a result I didn’t read much at all. I certainly never read at home or for my own pleasure, which is something I wish I had done. I’m busy catching up on all the wonderful children’s books now, but feel like I missed out on so much of the magic of a young reader getting lost in an amazing story.
It was a lovely morning where I also got to meet the wonderful Beanstalk staff and author – and Beanstalk volunteer – Matt Oldfield, who writes fantastic football stories. There was also a chap called Jon Snow – Channel 4 News legend!! He was a real gent. It was brilliant to have such an esteemed reader supporting the event. And his socks were just as jazzy as his tie!!
As for myself – yes, I have started the process to become a volunteer. I’m excited and also nervous. But really looking forward to it. Hopefully, I’ll help young readers, like myself, to discover the pure joy of reading.
Last year, as a Northerner, this was the first London school that invited me to come in for an author visit. I was hugely impressed with the fantastic welcome I received, and the incredible school itself. It is such a stunning building. When my family and I moved into the capital, we were delighted that my wife became the Deputy Head there. What a coincidence!!
I’m convinced my role as Patron was nothing to do with my wife … but I’m sure it helped!
It’s a school, and an area, that has a lot of challenges ahead. I’m delighted to be part of the big plans that are being put into place to build upon the character and enthusiasm that so clearly exists. It’s an exciting time and I’m a little nervous, if I’m honest, but I can’t wait to get involved.
Reading should be a pure pleasure. I hope to encourage the joy of reading and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot along the way.
One of the pleasures of being a children’s author is connecting with my readers. I love hearing comments and seeing art and stories generated from my book. I don’t mean that in an egotistical way (although, there is a bit of that!), but I always learn something from this too. Hopefully, that will make me a better writer.
I had the honour of a school choosing my book to be a name of a group of pupils – ‘The Great Chocoplot Group’ has a nice ring to it, do you think?!. We’ve exchanged a few things and it’s been great seeing all their fantastic work.
To say ‘thank you’, I did a little video, which is something I don’t do very often. But as they had been so amazing, I felt I had to up my game!
I got a lot of help from my daughter (a youtube whizz!) and quite enjoyed it. Maybe (maybe) I’ll do more and even consider doing some Skype calls to schools – see, always something to learn!
Thank you to Kestrel Class for all your work this year – the video is here, if anyone is interested!!
And a very Happy Christmas to you all (don’t forget to eat plenty of chocolate!)
It’s been wonderful hearing of schools using my book as part of their lessons or topic work (although it is still just as wonderful hearing of children reading it purely for a giggle!). I’m often asked about school resources … so, I’m delighted to reveal that Educational Consultant supremo, Jane Considine and The Training Space have put together some amazing English Unit Plans for Year 4 around The Great Chocoplot.
A little while ago, my family and I made the huge move from Newcastle to London. It’s been stressful, if I’m honest, but our welcome has been wonderful. I’ve already had the pleasure of visiting a few schools in and around our capital and it’s been amazing.
The schools down here are MASSIVE!! Leading to extremely loud assemblies!
If you work in a school, or know of one in the London area (although I do travel too) and you’d like me to come along and share my silly chocolatey story, please get in touch with Authors Aloud – the lovely people who help me arrange visits.
The problems regarding getting copies of The Great Chocoplot that so many have been having – and which have been causing LOTS of problems for my events – are about to be over!
The lovely people at Chicken House Books are printing a whole load more and they will be (apparently) available from Tuesday next week (16th October).
I am incredibly sorry to anyone who has been trying to get their hands on one – especially to schools keen to use them in topic work. It has been a very frustrating time and completely out of my hands, but I am grateful for everyone’s patience and understanding.
I have my fingers firmly crossed that everything will be back to normal very soon!!
I’ve been hearing that some schools have been having difficulties getting copies of ‘The Great Chocoplot’ in advance of the start of the new academic year. My lovely publishers at Chicken House are aware of the problem from some distributors (Amazon are showing a wait of months!!) and we will try and sort this out.
There are plenty of ways to get copies, so I’d be grateful if you have any difficulties to try other routes. Obviously, there are libraries and your local bookshops, but there are plenty available at Waterstones.com. You could even be adventurous and get the American version – which is pretty much the same, they’ve just changed the names of some of the bars of chocolate! And the kindle version is easily available.
I’m sorry to anyone who is having difficulties and appreciate your patience!
It’s been a mad few weeks, for all the best reasons.
I’ve been book signing in a number of Waterstones. Yeah – like a proper grown-up author with a chair, table and everything! Getting to scribble in a book that you’ve written, for someone who is going to read it, is crazy wonderful! And quite nerve-wracking. I’m always worried no one is going to turn up. Luckily, quite a few did, and they were all lovely. I’m still doing more to come, so please keep checking my ‘Events’ page.
Also, I was involved in a mad cap scheme called the ‘Great North Author Tour’, alongside fellow writers Dan Smith, Em Lynas, Chloe Daykin and the incredible (soon to become legendary) Richard from Drake’s Bookshop. We were celebrating the start of Independent Book Shop Week by visiting six independent book shops scattered around our region (see earlier post for venues). We received such a warm welcome in all the shops – although I suspect that most of the customers didn’t have a clue who we were! It was so much fun and I’m sure this is an event that will get bigger and bigger.
It was a thrill to be invited along to the North East Book Awards – even though I wasn’t nominated (but I’m not bitter!). It was exciting, but terrifying, to be sharing a stage with a host of amazing authors like Ross Welford (nominated for ‘The 1000 Year Old Boy’ and who did some magic!), Mitch Johnson (nominated for ‘Kick’ and speaking intensely about child labour in Indonesia) and my fellow ‘Tour’ authors Chloe Daykin and Dan Smith. We listened to the passionate readers on why they had enjoyed reading the fantastic shortlist. Huge congratulations to Helena Duggan (who unfortunately couldn’t be there) for winning the award with ‘A Place Called Perfect’. It was a wonderful evening.
There’s also been my regular school visits too. It’s been hectic, but so much fun.
And there’s lots more coming. So please stayed tuned …
Independent bookshops are huge supporters of all authors (not just the celebrities or heavily promoted ones!). They are also an important part of our book community, offering readers a knowledgable and enthusiastic service. It’s a pleasure to be a part of it. It would be brilliant to see lots of friendly faces along the way, but you can keep up to date with the tour on the day with
Can I call it a Book Signing Tour if I’m visiting a few places soon to sign some books? Yes?! OK, I will. I’m thrilled to be on the road on a new ‘Book Signing Tour’ over the next few weeks. I’ll be popping into a few Waterstones and visiting the countryside to take part in my first ever County Show. I hope those country folk will be kind to this city boy! Really thrilled and grateful to have been invited along to the following:
I try not to make a habit of checking my Amazon ranking and ratings because it can be an easy way to spoil a perfectly good day! But I do pop in now and then (and maybe more than I should – I envy those cool authors who say they don’t check, but wonder if I believe them!!), and sometimes I get a nice surprise.
Lucky, the last time I checked, this is what I found! My chocolatey book snuggling up next to Charlie and Mr Wonka and looking like best friends (am I looking too much into this?).
I know that it doesn’t take much for Amazon’s sub division lists to fluctuate, but a sight like this seemed like a great ‘screen-shot moment’ before it disappeared. I try not to take rankings and rating too seriously, but they can sometimes put a little spring in an author’s step.
If you have read a book that you’ve enjoyed, it’s a great idea to leave a comment on Amazon (or other platforms like goodreads) to let the author know. It also helps that author get more notice as Amazon will promote the books that get reviews, which is a great help to all of us struggling writers. Consider it a polite ‘thank you’, and it’s something the author will be very, very pleased with (so long as it’s positive, obviously!). You don’t even need to have bought the book on Amazon to leave a review there – you could have borrowed it from a library or a friend.
Thank you to everyone that has already left a review and I’ll keep checking back and crossing my fingers!