Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

The Sorting Sunday

image

Sunday afternoon spent sorting out my little writing cabinet.

From left to right

– the biggest folder filled with various children’s stories, adult stories, poetry, riddles, role plays;
– book illustrations’ folder containing drawings for The Good Pirate, Mimi Finds Her Magic and The Threshold;
– Average Daydreamer is the current wip chick lit I hope to have finished by early summer 2016;
– The Inner Giant folder with my contributions (stories, poems, essays and illustrations) to the international antibullying project for charity;
– my green folder with The Forest of Trees – slightly paranormal novel which is still simmering down to be revised;
– Dragon Core – teen fantasy waiting for a revision;
– laminated original illustrations for Winky’s Colours, and
– a bunch of notebooks, some filled and some still empty…

Oh my, I really do have my work cut out for me. How about you?

PS: You should see my bookshelves and e-bookshelves;), not to mention my boxes with teaching materials…

image

Leave a comment »

Average Joe, Kardashians & a children’s book

A sort of a small miracle has just happened that made me smile! Got featured with my post about my children’s book in an online magazine http://paper.li/BeachWebDesign/1416585386 .

Below is a screenshot of the magazine layout – you can see my post just above the Kardashian’s image. If you check the title there, I guess Winky just became the Average Joe;)!

Well, made me smile.

image

Leave a comment »

Why teachers and children love Winky

Winky’s Colours is the first children’s book I had published, and even though it may not look spectacular, the content has been tested by myself and my teacher colleagues many times with children, and I truly am proud to say the book engages the children and teaches them positive values.

True, like any other author who believes in lifelong learning, I would love to improve its graphic layout, but not its message. The little penguin Winky has a good and strong heart, and bravely goes after his dream, never giving up. Here are a few paragraphs I wrote about the book, as suggested by my readers and reviewers.

image

About the book

Winky is a little penguin who is unhappy living in his black-and-white world, because all he dreams of are colours. All alone, he sets off on an adventure to find colours. Along the way, he encounters new friends (polar animals and people), but also great danger. Will he realize his dream or risk his life in vain?

This book is written for children, but also parents and educators who believe in storytelling. Each chapter is followed with several comprehension questions to inspire critical thinking, and there are project suggestions in the end of the book.

Introductory description (avoiding spoilers;)

Winky’s Colours is a story about a little penguin who likes colours so much that in order to find them, he risks leaving his white home and his black-and-white family. He wanders off across the ice in search of colours. He comes across a baby seal, a baby orca whale and a polar bear cub, but none of them are interested in colours.

Exhausted, he falls asleep and is woken up by the siren of a passing ship. The ship is red and leaves a rainbow trail in the water behind it. Winky is thrilled! He wants to dive in and get all those colours all over him. His animal friends warn him not to, because they know what it is, but he doesn’t listen. He jumps in happily! But soon enough, his eyes become heavy…

Pssst, don’t worry. Tons of things happen from here till the end and the story ends happily, but I can’t very well tell you everything, now can I?

image

Why I wrote this book

My reasons for writing this book are actually explained in my foreword. I teach English and I work with students of all ages and knowledge levels. When the idea of Winky appeared, it was a very cold winter and I was trying to teach polar animals, and touch on ecology, and Valentine’s Day was approaching, so I was looking for a story that had all that, one which I could tell my preschoolers as well as school children (aged 6-9).

I woke up one night with Winky and Betty in my head, and the pieces just all started to fit. It had all the elements I needed – drama, fear, dream, romance, ecology, friendship and family. I tried it on that very day using just notes and it was a hit. Later on, I presented it on a workshop/seminar for the teachers in our school and many of them welcomed the story and have been telling it ever since. My colleagues and friends were the ones who encouraged me to write and publish the story, and even use my illustrations, which I have.

The story may seem simple to some, but believe me, the looks on children’s faces when Winky sets off on his adventures, the jumping they do as I introduce Winky’s friends, the complete and utter silence as I say ‘and then everything turned black’, and the smiles on their faces as Winky meets Betty… precious!

What I think is valuable about it

Let me judge the most valuable pieces of the book by the things my students and I discuss when we talk about Winky: they tell me their dreams and if they would be afraid to take risks for that, whether they would leave or consult their parents, we talk about different worlds (Winky’s colourless world makes them think about the fact that not everyone is blessed with everything they have), we talk about animals, especially endangered ones (they are never afraid of the animals, because they are babies, and, to quote one of the students – ‘babies are never dangerous, only adults are dangerous’;), we talk about ecology, the danger of throwing garbage into oceans, about various jobs (they admire vets who save endangered species), about their favourite colours and where they find them, and about the importance of friendship, love and family.

image

My message to readers

As mentioned in the afterword, story telling is and always will be important for humanity, for all sorts of reasons. It develops all kinds of intelligences on all levels and connects us all.

Modern parents, me included, are all so stressed out with work and recession, that we sometimes disregard how much storytelling would help us and our children. I have met so many adults (parents, teachers, etc.) who are kind people but simply have no strength or imagination at the end of the day to tell stories in a way to engage the child. Bogged down by all the media, gadgets and a multitude of resources, we forget the basic wh-questions, the simplest, non-technological, free and effective way to engage children.

So I have included a couple of questions after each chapter, to sort of lead an adult or child reading it to take a break, feel the story and think. No preaching, just little hints. I hope the readers like Winky, see him for the dreamer he is, and feel his big heart.

image

Winky’s Colours is available as an e-book and paperback on all major purchase sites. Thank you very much for reading and leaving a brief review.

2 Comments »

And what do YOU have to say? – LE Fitzpatrick – interview no.31

It has been a tremendous pleasure to meet so many wonderful authors, trying to find their spot in this huge world by putting their work out there, for all of us to judge, fairly or subjectively. I met amazing people through several authors’ groups, such as the very supportive and amazing #Awethors.

One of the #Awethors I have been honoured to read (fantastic Safe Haven, my review here) and even collaborate with on two anthologies (Awethology and December Awethology, is the tireless, multi-talented LE Fitzpatrick – author, editor, proofreader, mother, pal, joker, and overall a very kind person. It is such a huge pleasure to introduce LE Fitzpatrick right here on my blog. Enjoy LE’s words and grab her fantastic new book The Running Game fast!

INTERVIEW TIME

image

1. Why do you write and who are you when you are not writing, if ever?

I’ve always written. Mostly I started writing for myself and afterwards I started writing for people like me. I am me when I am writing, at other times I’m just an imposter pretending to live a normal life.

2. What came first – the novel or the novella? The Running Game has a fantastic intro in Safe Haven, but how did the process of creating the whole thing go?

I’m not very good at notes and research, if I’m trying to work things out in a backstory I tend to write a few short pieces of dialogue or a few paragraphs of scene setting. The Running Game joins the characters after a lot of significant events have happened to them, mainly because this series is about them as a collective, rather than individuals. But I had to work out where they all came from and what shaped them into who they have become. Charlie, the hero (if you can call him that) has lost his wife and daughter, he was once a super criminal and now he’s just a shell of his former self. Rachel too, my starring girl, had a sister and a family, we join the story when she’s alone. The Running Game is about the characters coming together but also it focuses on Rachel’s past, so when I was writing it I was constantly working on what happened to Rachel and more importantly to her sister. By the time I had finished the novel I had so much written about her sister I felt that she needed a little bit of the spotlight too, hence Safe Haven.

image

3. Apart from you, who else gets to see and handle your writing before the actual publication? How much do you rely on and trust beta readers, proofreaders, editors, cover artists, etc.?

First off everything goes to my partner to check. He tends to be fairly muted in his responses but I can normally tell if I’m on the right track by the tone of his hums. In the past, when I was self-publishing, I relied on lots of beta readers, who were incredible at helping me polish the story and now I’ve published with a publishing company I was given a whole team to take care of me. Now for the rest of my series I’m sticking with team work all the way and I’m very pleased to tell you my manager, editor and incredible cover artist are all onboard for book 2 in the series, Border Lines.

4. How do comments and reviews affect you? What part of the whole process of ‘getting the book out there’ is the most difficult for you personally?

I’ve been ridiculously lucky in that nearly all of the feedback I’ve had (and I’ve had a lot) has been really positive, but when a critique comes through it does hit you hard. I think the hardest thing for any author is to put themselves out there, you risk getting negative comments, or worse – no comments at all. For me I’m often conflicted between putting myself out there and just knuckling down to write. It’s a tricky balance and I probably haven’t got it right yet.

5. What do your friends and family think about you as a writer? Who is your strongest supporter and/or critic?

Most of my friends have been very supportive. I’ve always written so I think it was sometimes difficult for some family and friends to see my „hobby“ as my chosen career. For the past few years I’ve been moving towards becoming a full time writer and it was only when I took the plunge that I felt the full support from the people around me, but I think this comes from the fact that I had to truly believe in myself before they did. It’s all well and good saying, „when I write a best seller“ – I had to see the potential in The Running Game and just go for it. But even in the darkest times my partner has always been the biggest supporter of my writing. He’s always seen this as the path I would go down and had more faith in me than I ever thought possible.

image

6. Being an indie author can be quite difficult, but we do get support in places we might least expect. What surprised you most pleasantly about author networks?

When I started out as an indie the communities were brutal. I’ve always been ultra conscious of my social presence online so hopefully you will always see that I conduct myself with a degree of professionalism. But that’s not the case for a lot of writers. There are groups on Amazon, Facebook and Goodreads which are minefields for trollers and haters. I probably avoided a lot of „socialisation“ because of this and I doubt I’m the only one. But then last year through author DM Cain, I was invited to join a group called the Awethors. This collective of multi-genre writers has been one of the most supportive and positive places I could have stumbled across. The people I met, writers, poets etc. Have become some of my dearest friends. We share our work, work together, and promote each other. This is the first place I have found where you can rely on your fellow writers to help you, console you and encourage you.

7. What do you think makes your writing unique? What makes you write and publish? Do you have a specific audience and message when you write a novel?

I try to give my stories a little piece of me, most of my books tend to be touched with dark humour, slick dialogue and a lot of drama. I like intense, realistic characters, that are often broken and tormented. And mostly I like to push the boundaries of my imagination. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t written and I can’t imagine not writing. It’s like a compulsion, some people like to play music, like to cook, like to walk – for me it’s writing. But publishing became a later ambition when I realised that the reason I was writing was for an audience. And the audience? Well like I said above, I write for people like me. I write the books I like to read, creating characters I can love. Who are people like me? I guess people who love good, dark stories.

image

8. What is the one genre you think you would never write and why?

I don’t like the idea of confining yourself to a genre and I’m always open to new directions. I think though I would struggle with just a straightforward contemporary romance. I like romance in my stories, but I also need to blow up stuff and shoot people.

9. If you could live in any book and be any character in any book, not your own, which would it be and why?

My favourite series is the Charlie Parker books by John Connolly, but I wouldn’t like to live there. I guess a fun place to go would be Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series, they’re a great fantasy series of novels set in a really quirky world, complete with pirates.

image

10. What are you hoping for with The Runing Game?

I really hope to get The Running Game to as many people as possible. I am very proud (even though my modesty is trying to make me say otherwise) of this story. I love this book, these characters and this series. So that’s my mission.

11. Would you like to add anything about your current work or send a message to the readers?

The Reacher Series is big and there are lots of free short stories and snippets available. If you like them please share them with your friends and other readers. Authors rely on readers and fans to spread the word and encourage their work, although we don’t get the opportunity to thank you personally we are forever grateful for everything our readers do for us.

Thanks for your time, LE. Best of luck with The Running Game!

Psst… short blurb for The Running Game…
On the surface Rachel is just an ordinary doctor, trying to stay alive in war torn London, but she has a secret. Rachel is a Reacher – wanted by the government and by the criminal underworld – for her telekinetic powers.

Charlie and his brother John have been hired to find Rachel, but on discovering what she is they decide to turn against the gangster that hired them and help her.

Even with the help of dangerous and dubious allies, can Rachel turn the game around and save herself?

Meet LE Fitzpatrick:
Website: lefitzpatrick.wix.com/lefitzpatrick
Blog: l-e-fitzpatrick.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lefitzpatrickbooks/
Twitter: @L_E_Fitzpatrick
image

Leave a comment »

Teaching has rhyme and rhythm

Why I love poetry? Ever read The Gruffalo? Vocabulary, rhythm, intonation, TPR, and a positive message! Tons of things to think and wonder about. Teaching with stories/poetry rocks!

image

Just finished my Gruffalo week, working with a clever group of amazing preschool kids and then a wonderful team of dedicated teachers.

Teaching Narnia, Taya Bayliss and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, depending on age groups. Awesome!

Day job at its best!

PS: Plus, all my students passed their B2 and C1 Cambridge exams. Woohoo

2 Comments »

Get warm

image

1 Comment »

Wink and hug

Have you hugged anyone today?

image

#hugday2016 #childrens #kidlit 
Winky’s Colours has been nominated as favourite indie children’s book for the 2016 Summer Indie Book Awards.

Leave a comment »

Hug?

One of my favourite books to teach (not my own;). The Hugless Douglas series by David Melling, perfect for little kids and all who wish they were! Happy Hug Day!

image

Leave a comment »

Getting personal?

Well, apparently authors are far more interesting if they share their personal data and peculiarities than their writing. Supposing that’s true, I wonder how peculiar one has to be to get attention. Puzzling, really!

Anyway, here is a picture of something that carries tons of personal info on me… I mean it.

image

Leave a comment »

Sharing memories with Winky

Just been cleaning my tablet and sorting out videos and photos, and I came by this video review for Winky’s Colours by Boostmeh. It’s quirky and cute.

Video review for Winky’s Colours by Boostmeh!

image

Leave a comment »