She said; “I want to be an author, just like you.”

I learned a lot about the process of working with a school to produce a complete unique masterpiece.  One of the most humbling of experiences happened during the Sydenham Primary School book project.

When finalising some of the characters, I asked an 11 year old whether she wanted to be an artist. Her response surprised me and made me realise the impact that I have had on so many young lives by being involved in this project.

Her response was “No, I want to be an author.” Then she looked directly at me and said “Just like you.”

I was taken back by the determination in her voice.

At that very moment, I realised that being a children’s author is so much more than being a writer. It is a responsibility.

In the Sydenham Primary School project, I gave the power to the children to help them expand the boundaries of what is possible.  I’m not talking about a ‘cookie-cutter’ rule book where everyone follows a book-making template.  I’m talking about ‘real creation’ from the ground up and the best thing was, the children got it.

I remember in particular, where we had very big gaps between the start, middle and end of the story.  We discussed many ideas and in the end the children’s imagination made it possible.

The school teachers, should be held in the highest regard, as they were determined and believed that the children would come up with the result and they sure did.

The talented young artist brought my attention back to her, when she pointed out that (unlike me) she wants to also illustrate her books as well as being the author.

I was delighted by her enthusiasm and have absolutely no doubt that she will realise her dreams.

 

 

Slowly I asked, “You want HOW many children involved?”

The Unique Unicorn Book Cover Image

A few weeks ago I took some vacation from my day job at IBM and spent a week with a primary school in the UK to embark on an extremely rewarding experience.

So why would I take a number of vacation days and dedicate it to a school?

The school had previously got in contact with me (as a children’s author), because the teachers were having different themed days celebrating the culture of the different languages (now 25) that are spoken at the school. They asked if I could read to the children on English day.

This was a simple enough request, as readings only take a few minutes, but the conversation took a somewhat unusual turn, as they started to enquire about the process of book creation.

Within minutes I found myself enthusiastically agreeing I would be delighted to help them bring out their own book and given the current theme, the subject was very quickly decided on as diversity.

Then something I hadn’t thought about, happened next.

“Well,” one of the teachers said, “we would have to involve all 330 children.”

I looked at both teachers, whom were wide eyed with excitement, but I needed clarification of the statement and quite slowly asked; “You want HOW many children involved?”

The reply hadn’t changed and whilst the teachers were chatting away about the possibilities and wonders of bringing out their very own book, my brain was racing with thoughts of “I’m not sure it’s possible…” and “how on earth?”

For me the publishing process tends to be;

  1. I write the story
  2. I work with my illustrator
  3. A lot of editing of both
  4. The book gets published

But to include 330 potential illustrators and authors seemed crazy.  How could I possibly include that many people in one story?

The stop of chattering of the teachers brought my thoughts sharply back to their attention as I realised they were both waiting for a response from me.

“I’m not sure how I can include that many children…” I began to say, but one of the teachers sweetly smiled and explained that diversity in their school meant the inclusion of every child.

They were absolutely right. I had to find a way to achieve it.

In a few days time… you will see the result.

www.facebook.com/TheUniqueUnicornBook

 

Through tears she said: “If you can help those with Dementia, then you must.”

In 2014, I participated as an IBM advisor for the students in the International Healthcare Competition hosted by Warwick Business School.  The case study was based on how technology can help the carers of those with Dementia.

After the event, I was having dinner with a group of friends and was explaining some of the ideas that the students had came up with and how impressed I was at their suggestions.

What happened next, shocked me.

One friend, leaned across from the table, grabbed me, and through the tears running down her face she said, “If you can help those with Dementia, then you must.”

She made me promise.

My friend, who was a nurse on a Dementia ward, told me of the agony that the family, friends, nurses and carers go through on a daily basis.

Over the following months, I discussed this with lots of people and was saddened by how many were affected.

It dawned on me the incredible heartache that is associated to each person diagnosed.  The on-going battle of emotions of love and frustration of every generation involved.

For months I kept asking myself, “what can I do to help?”

I considered how heart-breaking it would be, if I had to explain the situation to my own children who adore their grandparents.

As a published children’s author, it was this part that I felt I may be able to make a difference.

In January 2016, I published “The Buttercup Game” (Amazon UK , Amazon US) which is for children aged 8 and younger. It follows a young rabbit called Grady Grey, whose Nana is losing her memory but he wants to find a way to still have fun.

I believe I am only just getting started on what I can do to make a difference, but for now…

I hope this helps.

 

His question was: “Are you famous?”

As I sit in my home office on a somewhat drizzly, cloudy Sunday, working feverishly away on the release of my 3rd children’s story, I look out of my window and smile at the memory that I just had. On finding out that I was an author, the gentleman behind the counter at my local post office immediately asked me if I was famous.

This happens every time someone discovers that I write stories, and I now believe that the words ‘famous’ and ‘author’ should be joined together in the dictionary.  My reply to the gentleman was the same as every time I get asked;  “Tell me what you think ‘famous’ means and I will then tell you if I am famous.”

Another assumption that people regularly make, is that any travel that I do must be related to book-signing activities. Alas, this is not the case and I politely explain to them that the books are not my ‘day job’.

I live a very full and diverse life, where balance is everything.  I’m married, mother of two children, work full-time at IBM as a business unit executive, run a small hobby farm, have two books published and working on four more.

I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t give up my ‘day job’ to write stories full-time, however the fact is, I get inspiration for the stories from this diverse life that I lead.

When I start the creative process, I call upon many different areas and experiences of my life.  Inspiration for a story can sometimes jump out of nowhere, based on a few words that someone might say and then my mind explodes with ideas on creating a story around it.  Other times the story is based on true events that happened on my hobby farm.

A great example of how my diverse life helps, is that my third story (for the Adventures on Honey Bee Farm series) to be released would never have happened if I hadn’t volunteered to represent IBM Analytics at Warwick University’s International Healthcare competition in 2014.

For me, a story is like pulling pieces of puzzles together and these different areas of my life help to do that.   Even if I’m lucky enough to sell so many books that I no longer need to work for an organisation, I’m not yet convinced that I would want to give up that side of my life.

I presume it may just purely come down to the balance and time that I have left, after doing all of the activities that famous people do.