Author Archives: kirstyes

Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood & Carl Osborne – Blog Tour Book Review

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42141736-jackson-saves-an-owl

Synopsis

Jackson Superhero might not be a real name, but it is a story about a real boy, and as the name suggests, Jackson is far from ordinary. By day, a rare disease limits his ability to move freely, but at night he is far from grounded. When the sleeping hours come around, and weightlessness takes over, Jackson takes to the skies. He knows what it means to need the support of others, which is why when he hears a call for help, he is quickly there to lend a hand.

Author

Darren Garwood is the father of Jackson, a real boy living with a rare and terminal illness called Krabbe disease. Darren came up with the Jackson Superhero series because as Jackson can’t move during the day, Darren wanted to help him dream at night, when he was free to be anything he wanted to be. Jackson Saves an owl is written in lively, fantastic rhyme, and is the first in the Jackson Superhero series.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jacksons_smile

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jacksongarwoodsmile

Illustrator

Carl Osborne

What I Thought

This is an adorable picture book about helping others simply because you can. It is A4, around 20 pages and is set out in rhyme.

Of course I was touched by the story behind this. See more about Darren and Jackson’s story on YouTube – https://youtu.be/xiZ65fP0u3U.

But, what kid doesn’t want to be a superhero though? Your littlest readers will love listening to this, exploring the pictures, making sounds, and when they are ready, reading it for themselves.

The illustrations are stunning and I love that they look so drawn and coloured in. The pencil shading is a retro touch in this age of computerised drawing. I also love the subtlety of the initial drawing of Jackson sat in his beanbag chair with a stomach tube, a slight prompt for children to talk about but not essential to the story.

The heroics are also something very simple, no laser eye beams, showing children that it may be easier to help others than they think.

All in all this is such a cute picture book, created for one special boy but with much wider appeal.

Do check out the other stops on the blog tour. Thanks to Faye and the publisher for my copy for the purposes of this honest review.

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A Storm of Ice and Stars by Lisa Lueddecke – Guest Post – Writing that Difficult Second Book


Today I’m pleased to welcome Lisa Lueddecke to the blog with a very insightful piece on why writing your second published book can be tricky.


Writing that Difficult Second Book

Writing my first book, A Shiver of Snow and Sky, was one of the most exhilarating, organic things I’ve ever done. The story came from me so easily, to the point where I could write more words per day than I ever had before, for any consistent amount of time. I was bursting with ideas, and trying to find room to fit them all into one story, working hard to ensure that any future readers, if I were lucky enough to get an agent and a publisher, would see the world as I saw it. Could feel the world as I felt it. I wrote obsessively, over long and delirious hours, unable to quiet the characters and the scenes floating around in my mind. I wrote from before dawn, until afternoon or evening. I sometimes carried a notebook with me, so I didn’t forget anything if I was away from my computer.

When I did get lucky enough to get an agent and a publisher, I got something else as well: a two book deal. Instead of just editing the first book and preparing it for publication, I had to then think about writing a second one. This was good for me, because I already knew the story, and I knew how it would fit into the world and the bigger picture. I knew roughly where I wanted to go with it, and I thought that I would sit down and do what I had done before: let the story take over, and just write. But instead of writing thousands of words a day, I was writing a few hundred words per day, maybe a thousand. I found myself being extra careful, second-guessing myself and my voice, and editing as I went along. I realized very quickly that it was a completely different experience than writing my first book, because I knew that this one would be published. People were going to read it, and I knew when they would read it, and it silenced that thrilling voice and that sense of excitement that had been so vibrant the first time around.

For me, it wasn’t a case of having run out of ideas. I knew my world well, and I knew what stories still lay beneath its icy surface, waiting to be told. Instead, I found the knowledge that, as soon as I was done with it, and sent it from my computer, people would read it. It wasn’t simply between me and my keyboard, and even though I had hoped to be published while writing the first one, I didn’t know if I would. I just wrote it for me. Being published changed my relationship with writing, and in a way, I think it had to. It is different writing with deadlines than with all the time in the world, and it’s different writing to be read than writing for yourself, at least in my experience. While this is something that I am still working on to this day, I did manage to get through writing that second book, and I’m taking the things that I learned into writing new things. Publishing will always have deadlines, and books will always have readers. My job is to train my voice to carry on, and to be brave enough to keep telling stories I love, even though some things have changed.

A few things I did to try to make writing my second book a little bit easier:

• I set up a designated writing space that I found inspiring, devoid of clutter or too many distractions.

• I would turn off my wifi from time to time to keep myself from checking Twitter or other social media websites.

• I would play music I found inspiring for that scene, or music that I listened to while writing the first book.

• I made sure to take walks outside, or to at least sit outside to get some fresh air. It always seemed to reset my mind.

It may not always be as easy as it was when I was writing my first (published) book, but in time, I can learn to let go of the worries and the pressures and just do what I love the most: tell stories from the heart, and then set them free to find their homes.

A STORM OF ICE AND STARS by Lisa Lueddecke out now in paperback (£7.99, Scholastic)

www.lisalueddecke.com

#ICEandSTARS

@LisaLueddecke

The Truth About Archie and Pye by Jonathan Pinnock – Blog Tour Q&A

Synopsis

Something doesn’t add up about Archie and Pye…

After a disastrous day at work, disillusioned junior PR executive Tom Winscombe finds himself sharing a train carriage and a dodgy Merlot with George Burgess, biographer of the Vavasor twins, mathematicians Archimedes and Pythagoras, who both died in curious circumstances a decade ago.

Burgess himself will die tonight in an equally odd manner, leaving Tom with a locked case and a lot of unanswered questions.

Join Tom and a cast of disreputable and downright dangerous characters in this witty thriller set in a murky world of murder, mystery and complex equations, involving internet conspiracy theorists, hedge fund managers, the Belarusian mafia and a cat called μ.

Author

Jonathan Pinnock is the author of the novel Mrs Darcy Versus the Aliens (Proxima, 2011), the short story collections Dot Dash (Salt, 2012) and Dip Flash (Cultured Llama, 2018), the bio-historico-musicological-memoir thing Take It Cool (Two Ravens Press, 2014) and the poetry collection Love and Loss and Other Important Stuff (Silhouette Press, 2017). He was born in Bedford and studied Mathematics at Clare College, Cambridge, before going on to pursue a moderately successful career in software development. He also has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. He is married with two slightly grown-up children and now lives in Somerset, where he should have moved to a long time ago.

(Incidentally I first met Jon on a writing forum Slingink and am happy to have kept in contact to see his success now).

Q&A

What came first, character or plot?

Probably character. My plots tend to be pretty sketchy at first until I find out what’s going on, and it’s definitely the characters – and, specifically, the way they interact – that drives the development of the book.

Who is Tom Winscombe and how is he placed to handle the mystery he is landed with?

Tom Winscombe is a junior PR executive who has lost his way in life, to the point where at the start of the book, he has just set in train a sequence of events that will wreck his career, leaving him with plenty of time on his hands. He is, in pretty much every respect, very badly placed to handle the mystery he is landed with. However, he does have three things on his side at the start: 1) a suitcase containing the clue that will solve the mystery (once he manages to open it), 2) an ability to stumble on solutions to problems without really intending to (although he does also have a habit of creating problems that didn’t previously exist) and 3) a good heart. You can probably think of him as a less furry Paddington.

Why a mathematical mystery?

Good question. It was originally going to be a literary mystery, but I realised that I didn’t really know a lot about literature although I did know quite a bit about maths. So it became a mathematical mystery. Also, there aren’t a lot of those about, which is always good.

Who are Archie and Pye?

Archie and Pye are the Vavasor twins, mathematicians who both died in mysterious circumstances ten years prior to the opening of the book, giving rise to a whole swathe of conspiracy theories as to what actually happened between them.

What does Vavasarology mean to you?

You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? You’ll have to read the book to find out… (Sorry)

I wonder if anyone here got close?

https://youtu.be/7W7C1wvkFPw

Here was mine:

What are your top 3 editing tips?

Top 3 editing tips: 1) Listen to your editor – mine (Abbie Headon of Farrago) was absolutely brilliant at pinpointing all those bits that I knew deep down weren’t any good, but hadn’t admitted as much to myself yet. 2) If in doubt, cut. 3) And then cut again.

I really enjoyed Mrs Darcy Versus the Aliens and suspect Jon’s wit and humour will shine through again in The Truth About Archie and Pye. If you are a fan of maths, mystery or mirth pick up a copy.

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