The Little Things You Love (TGBOL)

This week’s prompt for The Great Book of Lists are the little things you love…

1. A hug from my wife after a rubbish day at work.

2. Walking my eldest son (aged 6) to school, holding his hand, talking about everything and nothing.

3. Giving my youngest son (aged 2) the “prompt” line from his favourite book (Ten Little Pirates), and smiling as he says “no ship, no food, no way home”. Every single time.

4. Writing a line of poetry that makes me smile, or makes me feel … hopefully others will share this feeling.

5. Emptying the fluff filter of the tumble dryer, while the fluff is still warm. Seriously. I love this. This is like the best bit of owning a cat, without the mewling for food every time you walk through the kitchen.

6. Crossing things off lists. Write week 2 list post. 

7. The first “like” on any blog post I publish. I fret incessantly until “someone” in the world has read my words, and taken the trouble to click on the “like” icon. Only when I get that email ping do I allow myself to relax. I’m not at all sure this is healthy!

 

 

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Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/fncll/9593217572

The Great Book of Lists, Chapter 1.2 : The little things you love

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How the SCBWI Conference Blew My Mind

I spent last weekend in Winchester at the annual SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Conference, in the company of nearly 200 wonderful writers and illustrators. I’ve come back absolutely buzzing with inspiration and ideas, buoyed by meeting dozens of new people, armed with a host of invaluable tips on craft, and possessed of new insights into the industry around children’s books.

I need to catch up on family life and more mundane matters now, but here are five things I learnt at my first conference  :

1 – Expect … Anything!
If a well-spoken man wearing a suit and bowtie comes on stage, do not be surprised if he starts with a clip from Pulp Fiction and invites the audience to dance along with Travolta and Thurman. This is apparently completely normal. All three keynote speakers (Sarah McIntyre/Philip Reeve, Jonny Duddle, and David Fickling) were wonderful, engaging, and interesting, in very different ways. I found myself humming the “eep-eep-eep-eep-eep-eep-eep-eep-eep-eep” song to myself many hours later, and again as I type this…

2 – Dare to share…
Scoobies really are the warmest bunch. I met dozens of people that I recognised by name from the Facebook group. I’m a social wallflower, but the atmosphere so was friendly that it was never an issue for me, and I met so many lovely folk, including two of my online critique group who I’d never met offline. (Hopefully all of my crit group can meet up at a future event/conference.) Special thanks to Liz Miller for introducing me to so many people, and being my personal guide (not to mention transport) to the conference!

3 – Writers are people too…
When I realised that the writer of my younger son’s favourite picture book was at the pirate party, I had to box my introvert and say hello. I told him that my son (nearly 3) is a late developer in terms of language, and can’t yet say mummy or daddy… But he does try to say “no ship, no food, no way home” and other lines from Ten Little Pirates. Mike Brownlow seemed genuinely touched. One of the reasons I write picture books is to hopefully one day be on the other end of this, having inspired a similar reaction in a child 🙂

4 – Nearly everyone loves to dress up as pirates
Some had suspiciously good outfits (my personal favourite was Katherine’s treasure map dress, hand-illustrated and wonderfully detailed… even down to the location of Duddle Island)… Are there lots of secret weekend pirates in SCBWI?

5 – I need to raise my game…
The creative energy was invigorating, but a snapshot into a school visit by Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve – complete with songs, games, outrageous costumes, amazing illustrations and bags of FUN – sets the bar pretty high for the rest of us! Inspired by George Kirk (and Reeve and McIntyre), I’ve asked my wife for a ukulele  for Christmas… Neighbours, beware!

Sadly I didn’t get to talk to everyone that I wanted to say hello to… So I guess I’ll need to go back next year and put that right 🙂

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Photo is of the engaging and piratical Jonny Duddle talking about his book, The Pirate-Cruncher

Beware the Chocolate Spiders! (poem)

Beware! Beware! Beware!
The haunting time of year!

When chocolate spiders hatch,
Spreading candy fear!

You may think that’s just a costume,
A Halloween disguise

But take a second look:
Count that creature’s eyes!

Don’t think of trick OR treat:
To them it’s all the same!

Weaving caramel webs
Around your window frame…

Lurking in the darkness…
Hiding out of sight…

Then dropping down in front of you
Giving you a FRIGHT!

You yelp and drop your candy;
Sprint off down the street

Those spiders give a cackle
And eat up every treat!

Beware! Beware! Beware!
The chocolate spider scare!

 

 

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This was written for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloween challenge – write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words costume, dark, and haunt. Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!) Get it? Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 🙂 

http://susannahill.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/the-5th-annual-halloweensie-writing.html

“W is for… Why?” (poem)

“Tell me, Daddy, tell me why!
You’d put an apple in a pie!

“Where do thoughts come from?
Where do dreams go?
How do I know that I know what I know?

“How do clocks know what time it is?
When I have a cold, and I’m streaming with snot
Do I have inside me, a mucus-y pot?

“What does Santa do, the rest of the year?
Why is the moon as big as the sun?
How can battles be lost, and won?

“Where do my socks disappear in the dryer?
What is light made of? What does it do?
Why is my soul on the base of my shoe?

“Come on, Daddy, tell me please!”

“Err… maybe your mother can help you with these”

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“O is for… Other People’s Children” (poem)

Other people’s children,
Sleep right through the night,
Other people’s children,
Never scratch or bite

Other people’s children,
Can read before they’re four,
Other people’s children,
Don’t drop food on the floor

They don’t paint things on the wall,
Tape things to the cat,
Play ball in the hall,
Or smear their hair in… that

Other people’s children,
Do exactly what they’re told,
Other people’s children,
Rarely get a cold

Other people’s children,
Never shout or curse,
Other people’s children…
I can’t think of anything worse!

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“K is for… Kick-about” (poem)

Lined up straight outside the gym
Just one thought – pick me, not him!

(School’s okay, but without a doubt
I live to have a kick-about!)

Steve and Ed take their places
Staring hard at our faces

Don’t pick Pete! He’s two left feet!
(Though in goal he’s tough to beat)

Not Raj Brown! He’s such a clown!
Always fooling all around.

Jamie ‘Jamus’! His dad’s famous…
Pity he’s an ignoramus

(I’m not that big and not that fast
Please don’t tell me I’ll be last)

Big Bosh Brendan tackles hard
Leaves limbs strewn across the yard

Next picked out is Billy the Boot –
He’s a brute of ill repute

Anthony Rose, bogey nose!
But he’s missing two left toes!

Smelly Si and Limpy Lee.
What about me? What about me!

Evan Bevan? Willy Nilly?
This is all just getting silly!

Come on Steve! And c’mon Ed!
Time for you to use your head!

Pavel’s next… Just one to go…
Eeny. Meeny. Miney. Moe

Yes! It’s me. I won’t let you down!
I’ll give this lot the runaround.

I get the ball and dribble away…
Till Brendan hacks my legs astray

He passes right, to Billy’s Boot
It’s only going down one route

He blasts it high, he blasts it hard
It flies at speed across the yard

It keeps on speeding to the net
Before my team can break a sweat.

All eyes turn to me, in blame.
I hang my head.

I hate this game.

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