Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Brilliant Blog Panel Interview

The SCBWI Webgoddess, Candy asked the Writers Day Blog Panel some interesting questions...

Why blog fiction?

Hmm. I suppose some cynical folk would say that most blogs are a work of fiction and they may be correct but a 9 year old boy called Wilf, who is into inventions, stick insects and Buzz Aldrin, I am not.
But there are reasons for it - honest.
Firstly, in the olden days when I lived in storyland, I believed the following: all editors took long lunch hours and to relieve the boredom they trawled through the internet, searching, actually searching for new work because obviously their slush piles just weren't painful enough. As they meandered across the net one day, they would stumble upon my fiction blog and just stop right there, floored by its brilliance. Then there would be a big fight for it etc. I understand now that editors do not do that.
Secondly, I wanted the freedom of not having said editor telling me to cross my i's and dot my t's. I can write as I wish, in the way I like and not according to any market dictat. Annoyingly, I now have a sort of bossy internal editor who is quite strict about the i's and t's thing.
Thirdly (there's always a third thing), I wanted to be part of a community and by putting Wilf out there and through making links and forming the fictional bloggers group, I have found a bunch of similar minded folk I might never have known (ah).

What is your readership?
I average 20 hits a day which is a bit rubbish actually. I have a solidly interested group of 6 (return when I blog once a week), mildly amused, 3 (pop back every so often) and a,' what the heck is this about?' contingent of maybe 12 or so. The latter are usually as a result of google seaches like these I found:
"how do you draw a dead sheep?" or "interesting places in Bracknell" or even "my friends are aliens".
Oh dear. Not quite the thousands I was after and certainly not the 8-12 age range the book of Wilf will be targetted at. I knew that I would never have the young readership on the blog but I am inspired by Candy's talk and aim to explore ways and means of doing that.

How did you find a publisher?

I heard about a publisher called, 'The Friday Project' who publish blogs as books. They are medium sized and independent (bit like me) and importantly, their sales, marketting and distribution is handled by Macmillan. I submitted my blog to the commercial director, Scott Pack. He liked it and made suggestions for how it could be formatted which I liked. Basically, there is a 15 000 word story seamlessly blended with facts and inventions. After a year of slog I signed the contract and 'Wilf and the Big Cat' comes out in August 2008! Why don't you give it a go?

What will happen to your blog after publication?
Assuming I retain my sanity, Wilf's Blog will continue. It is not a huge slog to do because I only blog once a week and it is fun to write! The idea is to develop the readership through the books (I hope to write a series) . I would like to make the blog more exciting with maybe games and forums and I want to learn to muck about with the format and create a more interesting look (thanks, Candy). And maybe take over the world.

Here's to my fellow panelists!
writes education books as well as fiction and is a fanatsic and generous children's writing informant.
is an artist, an actor and soon to be pulished author with her first picture book, 'The Quiet Woman and the Noisy Dog' coming out with Andersen Press.
is a wonderful artist with a brilliantly orange jacket

Check out what they have to say!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Rules for Keeping Stick Insects

Here are my Newish Year Resolutions:
-to be more helpful around the kitchen and try out some recipes
-to be more vegetarian, except for bacon
-to be more interested in Dad's teeth collection
Mum does not approve of resolutions because she says they are never kept. Dad says he will shave off his beard for charity which is a funny kind of resolution but then he is a funny kind of person. Grandpa Jack has threatened to get married to someone unsuitable and I really have no idea what THAT means.

Anyway, it is time I made a move on the stick insects. We are well into the New Year now and Miranda says that Stinky's babies are no longer babies and more like teenagers and that I had better collect them soon before they all start getting really angry for no apparent reason (I think that was a joke).
Miranda has given me all sorts of warnings about the do's and don't of looking after sticks (as we in the know call them). Here they are:
-Thorny stick insects are happy at normal room temperature but keep windows shut as they are unhappy in a draught
-Sticks need tall cages with mesh sides as they like to climb. If you put little pics of other sticks on the walls it will encourage your sticks to climb and be sociable
-Sticks are generally clean but give off Phasmid Exusions which can be fatal to furniture
-Sticks do not like cats, so make sure your feline is kept well away from them - the sticks will attack.
-Sticks are not keen on telephones and it is wise to either muffle your phone or make tiny earnuffs for your sticks
-Clean your sticks by placing them in the dishwasher on a low temp setting. Follow up with a polish
-Don't answer them back - the sticks will attack

Hmmm. I am not sure about some of these rules. And I still have to think of 10 good names for them. Sticky, Stocky or maybe they respond to the more classic , Hazel, Rowan. I just don't know. I am abit afraid, if I get it wrong - the sticks will attack.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Facinating Invention - No. 8 The Game of Rugby

In the books I got for Christmas, one of the games you MUST play is rugby. Emily, at my school, is rugby-mad and she is the smallest year 5 I know; the ball is almost as big as she is. My godmother is also rugby-mad or probably just mad but she likes rugby ALOT. On the other hand, Dad, who is a dentist and big on teeth, gets mad at rugby because he reckons they do not look after their gnashers. Mum says she doen not understand rugby but quite likes the look of it.

Above is a picture of William Webb Ellis. He was supposed to have invented the game of rugby when he was a schoolboy at a school called Rugby (that is quite a co-incidence!) In 1823 he is said to have been so cheesed off with playing with just his feet that he picked up the ball and ran with it. Hmmm. What do we know about William Webb Ellis? Not much. What we do know is that the boys (definitley no girls then) used to play football at Rugby and they liked to make up their own rules as they went along which sounds excellent.

-Let's have 100 players on Team A and 4 players on Team B and see who wins!
-Let's have a pitch with no boundaries!
-Let's NOT have a referee!

So, I do not think that someone picking up the ball would have been a. unusual or b. against the rules -since there weren't any.
William Webb Ellis's name was probably picked out of a top hat. Anyway, what is true is that rugby was invented by boys (yeh!) and soon loads of schools and even adults started playing it.
This stone says that William Webb Ellis, "...with a fine disregard for the rules...
first took the ball in his arms and ran with it thus originating the distinctive
feature of the rugby game"

Thing is, nobody asked William about it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

About a Boy's Christmas

So, I got books and books and more books for Christmas and ALL of them telling me how to behave like a boy. I got , 'The Dangerous Book for Boys', 'The Boys' Book - How to be the Best at Everything', and 'Girls Are Rubbish' or something. These are the essential boy rules:

1. You must be interested in facts.
2. You must like making stuff.
3. You must like getting wet , dirty or both.
4. You must enjoy injuring yourself.

Otherwise you are a girl. And that is a bit boring to be frank.
So now I know how to shave, how to warm my feet up using cayenne pepper and socks and how to survive a volcanic eruption (basically run for the hills) amongst other useful things.
None of my books make any mention of MP3 players or portable playstations or IPODS which is what Dexter got for Christmas. And surprisingly there is no mention of stick insects either which is a pity because Miranda is bringing Stinky's babies round in an old ice-cream tub soon. This is top secret information by the way, so no blabbing.
The nearest I got to a bit of technology was a CD of 'Just William'. The Parents bought it for me so we could play it in the car on the way to visit my Disturbed Aunt Harry. More of her later, I am afraid. Anyway, 'Just William' had The Parents laughing greatly. The best story was the one when Ginger's Uncle Cedric came to stay for Christmas and would insist on a boy behaving in a 'manly fashion'.
This seems to be what all the boy books are about anyway, 'Just William' is just funnier.