Saturday, 15 June 2019

Ottoline and the Purple Fox by Chris Riddell



Ottoline is an interesting character.  She lives alone though is cared for by servants.  She is accompanied everywhere by Mr Munroe, an almost humanoid pet who has very long light-coloured hair. “wherever they went , Ottoline and Mr Munroe looked out for each other “ (5).  



Chris Riddell offers not just an engaging story but some fascinating pictures. They are mainly line drawings thought the colour purple is added generously throughout.  There are also examples of lists, Ottoline’s own drawings and other pages from her notebook.   

Ottoline’s life is quite sophisticated: she organsizes a fancy dress dinner party, acts as matchmaker between the Purple Fox and the Crimson Vixen, and generally survives well despite or perhaps because of her parents’ absence.  

The book has a respectable spine and is some 175 pages long. The text is ragged right but uses an adult, serif font, with difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s. It is double-spaced and is very clear; a sharp black on a very white background.  

Although the illustrations may help a struggling reader they also amuse and add to the story. They are part of the book’s quirkiness. Added to this are the instructions on how to make a Fancy Dress Fortune Teller. There is even a sample one included at the back of the book.       

Writing Prompts




Do you ever use them? Do you love them or hate them?  Has any decent writing ever come out of using one?

Some of my students grumble when asked to write according to a prompt.  They have plenty of good ideas already. Well, I still have quite a few ideas but I find writing from a prompt adds some discipline. To some extent one becomes more creative because choice is more limited. And sometimes it just opens you up to some new ideas. I’ve often managed to turn something I’ve worked on in workshop into a piece of viable writing.      

I am using them quite a bit with my U3A creative writing group.  We operate partly as a critique group and use one hour of our hour and a half on a creative writing exercise.  I collect these and have plenty to choose from but I also invite members of the group to contribute

Listed below are a few I’ve used.

Writing by dice roll

This week we had to role a dice to choose two characters, the main trait of each character, the weather, the location and an object. We wrote for fifteen minutes and then shared our stories. I myself have a viable story from this session.

Names

Put a surnames and Christian names in separate containers.  The writers draw out two of each to create two characters. They now write a scene between two characters.

Consequences

This is a group activity. Each person decides on the following. After each decision they fold over the paper and pass it on: 
1.      Character one and one physical, one intellectual, one emotional and one personality trait.
2.      Character one’s main motivation.
3.      Character two and one physical, one intellectual, one emotional and one personality trait.
4.      Where the scene takes place
5.      When the scene takes place

After 5 the participants open their sheets and write a scene between the two characters

 

Treasure chest

The group leader obtains a treasure chest and fills it with objects. You can obtain such items easily from Amazon or e-bay. Each participant takes out two objects and writes a story around then,

Dates

Did you no that every single day of the year is special in at least one way?   You can find suggestions at: http://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays. This incidentally might be inspiring for CaféLit.             

Paint charts

Oh yes, what can you make of Dixie Bell Blue or Honky Tonk Red?

 

Twitter inspired

I’ve actually published one collection of flash fiction 140 x 140. It contains 140 stories, each 140 words long and each one prompted by the first picture I saw on my Twitter feed that day.
Now I’m working on 280 x 70 ….  

More sources of prompts

Mslexia provides quite a few and in fact that’s where I get many of my ideas from. You can also find some under the hash tag #writingprompts on Twitter.   
      
 

Sunday, 2 June 2019

New 2 June 2019



 

Exciting new enterprises  

I ran my first editing workshop last week. I really enjoyed it. The time just flew by.  We used an Etc venue. They really look after you well and the prices are very reasonable compared with other conference venues I’ve used. The delegate price included continental breakfast on arrival, lunch, and refreshments throughout the day.  They supply fresh fruit and juices as well as tea, coffee and biscuits. 
I envisage running another course like this soon and also one on marketing.
I’ve also enjoyed preparing my The Business of Writing Course for next Saturday morning. It cost the vast sum of £5.00. It takes place at 10.30 in the St John Centre just opposite Waterloo. More details here: https://www.waterloofestival.com/writing-workshop-2019
If it’s successful I shall certainly run it again. 
In the afternoon we have a celebration event: https://www.waterloofestival.com/writing-competition-celebration2019 This event is free and includes readings and open mic.
  
          

News about my writing

I’m plodding along still with my on-going projects:  The House of Clementine and 280 x 70 – the sequel to 140 x 140. This works in a similar way.  Each time I write I look at the first picture I see on my Twitter feed and write a story about it in exactly 280 words.
I’m also still writing a longer short story after each edit of Clementine. Next up: The Black Dog and the Meringue. Now, that title should keep you guessing 

 

Catalogue of books for children

You can find it here.  Do take a look if you’re into children’s books. This month I’ve included  The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff (YA), Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (fluent reader / teen), and The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen (teen).

   

 

Current reading recommendation

This month I have chosen The Reading Cure by Laura Freeman. Warning: this book may make you hungry.
Laura Freeman was anorexic. She always loved reading. After diagnosis and as a cure began she was confined to bed and could do nothing but read. She slowly began to relearn how to enjoy food as she read about it in books.
Freeman doesn’t trivialise anorexia. She would probably describe herself as a recovering anorexic.
She does point out just how much the food in books adds to our enjoyment of them.       
Give it a go. You’ll find it here.  
     

Giveaway

This month I’m giving away The Best of CaféLit 6 in which some of my stories appear.  
Access it and lots of other freebies here.
Note, that normally my books and the books supplied by the imprints I manage sell for anything from £0.99 to £10.99, with most on Kindle being about £2.99 and the average price for paperback being £7.00. We have to allow our writers to make a living. But I’m offering these free samples so that you can try before you buy.   
Naturally I welcome reviews.

 

The Schellberg Project

I’ve added a couple of post this month about Käthe Edler, Renate’s mother. She was quite a feisty woman and I’ve included material about here being a female scientist and one of the first women in her town to obtain a driving license.
The posts may be helpful for teachers who are familiar with the Schellberg stories or who are teaching about the Holocaust. These two items are also being included in the Discovery Packs in the teacher’s / workshop kit.      
You can read the posts here.      
I’ve added in also The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, another story of survival via the Kindertransport, to the stock of recommended books.  You can find it here.  

 

School visits

I’m still promoting my school visits associated with The House on Schellberg Street project. I’ve now developed a whole workshop for this. It starts off with a board game, includes some role play and creative writing and ends with a discussion.
It is now possible to purchase the kit to work on on your own. Find details here.
Costs for my workshops = travel expenses plus £400 for a full day and £200 for a half day. This includes all materials and some freebies. Two schools near to each other might consider splitting the day and halving the travel expenses and fees. This is open to negotiation in any case.       
I also offer a free half day visit, though you pay my travel expenses, if you allow me to promote my books.      
I’m continuously adding materials for schools to the site that are different from the ones I use for the workshops. I’ve recently added in resources and books to do with the topic. See them here:      
Query for a school visit here.
I’m also happy to tailor a visit for your agreed donation. This can be for either a Schellberg Cycle visit or a creative writing workshop. Any monies raised this way will go specifically to a project I have for a non-fiction book about a journey that will follow the footsteps of Clara Lehrs. I’m hoping to do the whole journey by train, including departing via my nearest Metrolink station. It’s important to feel the rails beneath my feet.       
I offer as well standard author visits which include readings from my books, Q & A sessions and creative writing exercises.
Please remember, with these as well, I’m open to negotiation if you can’t afford the full price.

 

Some notes about my newsletters and blogs

They do overlap a little but here is a summary of what they all do.

Bridge House Authors For all those published by Bridge House, CaféLit, Chapletown or The Red Telephone or interested in being published by us. General news about the imprints. News for writers. Links to book performance. Sign up here.

Chapeltown Books News about our books. Sign up here.

The Creative Café Project News about the project and CaféLit – for the consumer rather than for the producer.  Sign up here.   

Gill’s News: News about my writing, The Schellberg Project, School Visits and Events. Find it here.   

Opportunities List Remember I keep a full list of vetted opportunities on my writing blog. See them here. New ones are added several times a day. Roughly once a month I go through it and take out all of the out of date ones. At that point I send it out to a list. If you would like to be on that list, sign up here.  


Pushing Boundaries, Flying Higher News about conferences and workshops to do with the young adult novel. (infrequent postings) Sign up here.  


Red Telephone Books News about our books and our authors. Sign up here.

A Publisher’s Perspective Here I blog as a publisher. Access this here.   

The Creative Café Project Listings and reviews of creative cafés. See them here.   

CaféLit Stories Find these here

Gill James Writer All about writing and about my books. View this here.

Gill’s Recommended Reads Find information here about books that have taken me out of my editor’s head.   

Gill’s Sample Fiction Read some of my fiction here.

The House on Schellberg Street All about my Schellberg project. Read it here.

Writing Teacher All about teaching creative writing.  Some creative writing exercises. Access this here.     

Books Books Books Weekly offers on our books and news of new books. Find them here. 

Happy reading and writing.