Author Interview – External link

The author ST Sanchez recently did an author interview with me, which can be found over on her blog.

It was a great opportunity to reflect on my writing and consider my approaches to the process of creating a book. Check it out if you’re interested in the book and my writing!

Just a short post today.

Further information on my WIP in the future…!

Book promo and Author Visit – Limited time offer!

Teachers!

Are you beginning the topic of the Stone Age?

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Currently offering first 5 schools who book, a 50% discount

What I have learned this year…

Last night, I went to my writing group which is made up of teachers from across the region. It is run by a former lecturer/tutor on the course, who is undeniably passionate about writing and in particular, writing for pleasure.

One of the exercises that we did was to reflect on this past academic year (with being a group of teachers, this was our last session). She asked us to consider what we had learned in regards to writing and what we had learned in regards to teaching writing. With my status as ‘former teacher’ I was unsure how to proceed with this latter question and so focused on the ways I have grown as a writer in general, not just within the sessions. After all, my profession may no longer be within the day-to-day education of children, but I feel that the best writers are those whom we can model ourselves after.

And so to my list. It isn’t long or particularly innovative. It is purely a self-reflection on how far I have come since I first sat down at my computer screen and introduced myself to Osha et al.

This year I have learned…

To write without inhibition.

The joy of interesting language.

To respond to what’s around me and be inspired by the mundane.

To view things differently.

To enjoy the writing process not just the results.

The power of good writing.

That less is often more.

To make mistakes, change, write again, change, try a different way, change, before maybe being satisfied???

Punctuation can come last.

To be a writer/author who taught as opposed to a former teacher who writes.

The last one feels particularly of note.

That day, 18 months ago, that I chose to begin my story, and saw in my mind’s eye the little girl staring in awe at a cave painting, I thought of myself as a teacher who had left the profession and was going to write. The difference is subtle but it’s an important one. I am an author and I was a teacher. Both feed off one another and I can draw on skills and ideas which I used in the classroom, but they are two separate spheres. When I go into schools it is as an author not as a teacher; my passion is books, reading, writing, language, plot, character, dialogue and all the rest, as opposed to education and teaching.

Thinking about this year, I can see this big difference in the “pruning” that I gladly did of my book. Ironically, it was the removal of those aspects of writing that we teach children (…thanks Mr Gove!…) that helped the flow and brought the book to life. I let go of the feeling of rigidity of ‘writing to teach’ and instead allowed myself to write a plot which children would respond to. That was the key.

I really hope that a child (or several) will read my book(s) and enjoy them. Yes they can learn historical ‘facts’ and draw lessons from them, but that is not the focus as it once was. Writing Osha, I fell in love with her as a character not as a literary device. She is real to me, as I hope she will be for others and these are lessons that I can take forward as I embark on the next one.

…I just hope it doesn’t take 18 months this time!…

What have you learned this year?

Is there a difference in your writing now than previously?

Comment, like, share. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Announcement: From the Cave Wall available for purchase now!

And so the journey has arrived at its conclusion. Or maybe it’s better said that this section of the journey has. The book is now available at Amazon!

It has been a long labour of love and devotion, and I have loved every minute (mostly!)

I hope you enjoy it. Please leave a review and remember, if you want more then please join my readers’ club: The Source Detectives (aimed at children…whatever age!)

Now comes the hard part!

Timeline…a fun addition!

I have just added a timeline here on my website – wow it’s interesting. It’s so large that it is almost impossible to read on the screen. Luckily, the page describes what is in the image and there is a downloadable version for a more detailed view.

This has been my project as a part of Behind the Cave Wall: Osha’s World – the accompanying guide that I have been working on for the last few days. I am thrilled with how it has been progressing. The intention is to release it just as an e-book at present (the pages will move by clicking on them – it looks like a real book!) however, if there is enough interest, I may look to have it produced in print.

As a a part of this project, I have been returning to a lot of my research that I gathered over the last year. As I have always said, it is not my intention to ‘dumb down’ (a loathsome phrase!) the history for children. Instead, I will make the ideas in a lot of historical research more accessible, while maintaining the information and facts that are put forward.

In particular this week, I was thrilled to be able to make contact with some people behind the research and images that I have filed away! One of these was the anthropologist Leslie Van Gelder, who very kindly allowed me to use a lovely image of finger flutings from the Rouffignac caves, which I had come across when reading about their use as evidence of children’s involvement in cave painting. Through forensic analysis, they have been able to determine that these particular markings were created by a young girl around 13/14,000ya – perfect timing for Osha!

This has been one among several communiques with copyright holders. As I stated on social media the other evening, it’s a lot easier making the stuff up!

A new website…and an apology…

As is obvious if you are reading this, I have dramatically changed and updated the website to reflect my work and the plunge that I am going to be taking in a few weeks…

I have decided that I am going to self-publish From the Cave Wall. This means that I am going to be marketing it strongly over the next few weeks and months – after all, I would like it to gain a decent amount of interest!

I have also started thinking about the next in the series….

I would like to apologise for the lack of posts for a year! This will not be repeated. On that note, if anyone is interested in any aspect of my writing, which I have not discussed here, please feel free to get in touch via my contact page.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Stone Age Research

Over the last week, I have been down the rabbit hole!

I started properly writing last week. I am now at 2 complete chapters. This may not seem much, but my feelings of accomplishment are enhanced by the amount of research and “setting” I have been able to do.

When approaching a story about the Stone Age or any prehistory, you must first work out which epoch you are going to look at? The simplest way to separate these epochs is to split them into 3:

Paleolithic (Early Stone Age)

Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age)

Neolithic (Late Stone Age)

This is a very simplistic way to look at this complicated and detailed subject area, but as a starting point it helps.

Due to the nature of the story I wanted to tell, I knew that I would be setting my story during the Paleolithic times. I knew that I wanted to explore the nomadic side of the people of the stone age – more than anything because it is so vastly different from most 21st Century living arrangements. The concept of migration due to climatic and seasonal changes was something that I felt would be an interesting starting point.

Putting it very very simplistically, by the Mesolithic into Neolithic times, this behaviour was not necessary in the same way: the highly changeable climates of the Ice Age were largely over and the climate was more settled. This meant that people were able to begin to develop the skills to build more permanent settlements, create homes and learn the skills of planting crops for consumption; a situation which is far more recognisable to modern children.

The next problem that I faced was deciding which end of the Paleolithic I was going to focus on: Lower/Middle/Upper (again very simplistic). I settled on the late Paleolithic as this fit with a lot of the ideas that I was mulling over. From millions of years of the development of early man, I had managed to bring my focus into about 40,000 years of history.

I was thrilled with this. I could generally place things in Europe and work around the discoveries and evidence of human activity from about 50,000-10,000 BCE.

What I didn’t expect; in fact never dreamed of, was to be able to pinpoint my story down to 1000-2000 years…

…Down the rabbit hole: Into the Wonderland of writing!