Tag Archive | books

Feeling daunted

Goodness you’ve no idea how scary it is writing!

Well – not writing perhaps. The creative part of it is the nice bit – when it’s working of course. But the creative writing is only a very small percentage of a writer’s life these days. You need to be part of the marketing, selling and publicity all which I find as excruciating as being drilled at the dentist. More so actually because it’s public and at least you’re hidden in the dentist’s chair and you can dribble in private.

But far worse than the dentist is the drilling you can get from readers. In fact, the minute you put your writing out there, you feel immediately exposed. Naked. vulnerable. That is quite terrifying. Few are brave enough to do it.

Many people write. Many people say – ‘oh, I was going to write a book’. Many people are forever engaged in the process of doing a book. Many people will even get to the brave point of reading that work to others – usually in the safe confines of a writers’ group.

But that is quite different to going properly public and only the bravest actually get to that point. It is the exposure to all and sundry – even those who think you’re writing’s crap and say so – as well as those who are encouraging, that is the real test of courage.

Everyone suddenly is a critic, those who know about the job and those who don’t. (A bit the same as Home Ed really!) And they can make that as public as they like.

Thankfully, most of my critics and reviewers have been delightful. I am eternally grateful to all those who’ve taken time to review my books and say kind things. For I know there are faults with them – I don’t need reminding, my shame does that every day. And like with most writers, I’m not arrogant enough to assume everyone’s going to like my stuff. Of course not.

It’s just that, like with most writers, I do it to inspire, to share, to hopefully give a little boost to someone else’s life. Writing is the medium I chose to do that by. Others choose other media.

My work happens to be to support a minority community. I don’t write to grab attention – that’s the excruciating bit for me – I write to quietly encourage. Encourage those courageous people choosing more challenging routes through life.

And that’s just what I need, as we all do, to help me overcome the fear! To start writing something new again.

It is your encouraging reviews that keep me going. Thank you so much. And if you’ve read one of my books recently – or anyone’s actually – think about taking the time to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads, or wherever you hang out and share a bit of love and encouragement around.

Encouragement, rather than criticism, makes the world a far, far nicer place to be – it’s good for the human race. And is a wonderful style of parenting and partnering too.

Pass it on!

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Two books:

I thought these two little books that came my way this summer might be of interest.

The first is The Music Man’s Songbook by Jon Lawrence. This is a charming little book of song scripts, with a CD to go with it, that will get the children learning, thinking, moving, counting and finally sleeping! They can use it either with mums and dads or on their own. The author says that he was particularly interested in getting the children moving and the songs are open to as many physical interpretations as you like! Anything to get the kids active! It’s published through Bird’s Nest Books and is available directly from them or through Amazon. Find Jon’s website here.

The second is Katy Elphinstone’s book of advice for parents of autistic children: ‘Dos and Don’ts Autism and Aspergers, Advice for Parents and Carers’. Having read it through I find it full of common sense for parents of any children as well as those on the autistic spectrum. It’s contains the most down-to-earth ideas; ideas that we sometimes completely forget when in the throes of dealing with difficult challenges. A short book, well worth dipping into. You can find more about it – and buy it – here; http://www.dos-and-donts-autism.com/ and on Amazon.

Katy is another home educator, finding it was the best choice for her children and is going to do a guest post here in a little while. The illustrator is Matt Freidman of Dude I’m an Aspie fame.

Please pay your writers!

I was so happy to read in an article last month that folks are still turning to books – the physical kind. It seems there are still people who want to hold, to own, to turn pages and browse through a paper book.

I’m not saying the ebook doesn’t have a place. It equally has advantages. But the downside of it is that it can be easily pirated which means people can access all your hard work without paying for it.

I happily accept that books get passed around and shared – I do the same with mine. But at least I buy one in the first place and it has a life. And although we may think ebooks are more environmentally friendly I wonder if they are in the long run, I wonder what will happen to the planet when it’s buried under discarded technology, whilst books are more recyclable.

As a generalisation it takes about a year to write a book. A year of unpaid work basically – for it is work – and very few writers get paid in the realms of the six figure numbers bandied about the press. Many of us write about minority issues that would never be published by a commercial publisher only interested in big bucks. And earn minority pay – far less than minimum wage. So it comes doubly hard when our ebooks are pirated. And saddening to think that there are people who think that if they can get something for nothing then they’ve got one up on the system. But whilst they get one up – the writers lose out. I wonder if those people would like to do their job without being paid for it?

Without niche market writers writing about minorities as many of us do, without Indie publishers (like Bird’s Nest Books) who struggle against the big publishing giants, we would never get to read some really important stuff. Home educators for example would never get the support I’m offering through the books I write.

So, if you enjoy books, please consider buying them, in whatever format – and I don’t mean just mine, I mean any subject. Books mostly cost little more than a magazine, less than a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine and are better for the waistline!

But far more importantly it means the writer (and the publisher and illustrator) get paid! Perhaps you could consider this when you next need a book to support you.

I thank you!

🙂

Sibling conflict and The Wrong Adventure

 

Have you come across Harry? He’s the star of the story ‘Who’s Not In School?’ and he gets up to all sorts of adventures in a typical family week with kids at home.

In book two; ‘The Wrong Adventure’, he decides to tunnel out. Why? Because he wants to get away from his older brother and sister as everything he does seems to annoy them. He’s not doing what he does specifically to annoy, as all older siblings seem to feel, but because he’s curious. and it gets the better of him. He ends up exploring things he shouldn’t!

It’s typical in most households and was loosely based on what happened in this one, when the youngest was constantly fascinated with the activities of the eldest and wanted part of it, or hands on it, or to do the activities for herself however inappropriate. And however much I tried to involve both in activities at their own level there were times it seemed impossible, times when the eldest just wanted to absorb herself in what she was doing without having to guard against little fingers grabbing stuff all the time.

You have to be careful how you react to this scenario, I discovered. You can find yourself involved in a sibling competition to get you onside.

You have to be canny. You have to try and resolve it without that happening. Better still, you have to lead them to resolving it themselves to the satisfaction of both – but this can only happen with a certain maturity and there are times when they’re just no old enough.

I tried talking, explaining, compromise and keeping respectful and if all that fails distraction and diversion. And have to admit sibling rivalry could become quite wearing. But all would be resolved in the end, togetherness restored, even though I got it disastrously wrong at times as all parents do, so don’t worry, it’s not just you! And they’ve forgiven me!

And the only fights they ever get into now is united, side by side, in fierce loyalty against any challenges to it – together! It’s been lovely to see and not something I could ever have imagined when crayons were flying across the room!

So, why is Harry on the wrong adventure? Well, if you haven’t guessed by this post, I’ll leave you to find out for yourself when you read it. Read it together with your little ones and it might give you an opportunity to talk about how siblings treat each other and how it could be improved in your household when everyone is at loggerheads. For what’s required is to see each other’s point of view and hopefully this story will help that.

 

‘The Wrong Adventure’ is published by Bird’s Nest Books and is also available on Amazon.

Blues and spirals

The only snag with going away and having a fab time is the blues that hit you afterwards. After a super time with my daughter last week the isolation of a writer’s life seems suddenly unappealing!

I was having an utterly downward spiraling day yesterday. Writing can get you like that sometimes.

Then I read the reviews of my latest book on Amazon.

I rarely look at them. Mostly I don’t feel strong enough. There are things said on occasion that you have to brace yourself for as a writer. And even though you don’t expect everyone to like your work or agree with what you’re saying, it does take some weathering when you’re attacked. Home education is a contentious subject anyway and we’ve all been gored by remarks from those who are less than kind.

But WOW! Those reviews of ‘A Home Education Notebook to Encourage and Inspiremade me spiral in a different direction. Upwards!

THANK YOU!

If you’re the author of one of those reviews thank you SO much. I am deeply grateful for you taking the time to leave such inspiring messages. You are succour to the writer’s soul and the inspiration needed to keep going.

However, apart from making me feel better – for which I’m truly grateful – you are also helping so many others. Did you know that?

Many people don’t realise this but reviews have an impact on a book’s reach. Obviously, if it’s a good review, it’s going to encourage others to read it. But much more valuable than that is the fact that the more reviews there are the more the book gets noticed. And the more that happens the more likely it is that the people who need it find it.

We become so immersed in our home educating world we forget sometimes that others don’t even know it’s an option, let alone a workable one. And I think about those parents who are struggling with an unhappy child in school, wishing they could do something different, suddenly finding a book which suggests they can! Your reviews help that to happen. That’s what you do by taking the time to post on Amazon, Goodreads, wherever.

So if you’ve read any of my books – remembering there’s one just for mums too – please click the review button on the Amazon page and post a review, doesn’t matter how short, and you may help others trapped in an unhappy cycle of school, or lack of support, or just looking for a bit of help.

And once again, a heartfelt thank you to all those who already have.

Parenting and home educating – the long, long haul

 Going out to work day after day takes some grit. Unless you’re lucky enough to love every single bit of your job and there’s few jobs like that.

Writing is the same. There are good bits and bad bits and in between those bits there is the long long haul of grit required to keep going and get a book done.

And guess what? Parenting can be like that too. A few years in and I began to realise that this was the longest I’d ever stuck at one job. Before that I’d get restless and switch, or climb, make a break. Can’t do that with parenting!

I totally adore and love being a parent. (Even though my children are in their twenties now). I consider it a privilege.

I totally adored and loved being a home educating parent. It was the best thing ever. But that too is a long long haul and like with all jobs there’s good and bad. And sometimes I felt I so needed a little bit of comfort and reassurance from a grown up on a bad day! A grown up who understood and didn’t raise their eyebrows in criticism of our choice, or a ‘what-did-you-expect’ kind of silence.

Those kind of times are exactly what prompted me to write ‘A Home Education Notebook to encourage and inspire’. To offer you a hand to hold on that long haul and a friendly voice from someone who gets it and knows that the bad bits need climbing too. Knows that bad bits don’t mean it’s going wrong. And to reassure you that this is the best thing you could be doing and to encourage you to keep faith in your convictions.

I know exactly what the long haul is like. Keep going – it will work out okay and if it isn’t you will change it till it does!

And if you haven’t got a copy to keep beside you for those wobbly bits now’s a good time to invest, because the publisher Bird’s Nest Books has a special offer on at the moment. Click here to find it.

Hope it brings you any encouragement you might need.

Deformalising learning to read

It’s so exciting to find researchers who acknowledge that home educators’ approaches make a valuable contribution to ideas about education. Harriet Pattison is one such person.

She describes herself as an erstwhile home educator still puzzling over the meanings of education, childhood and learning.  She continues to fly the flag for the alternative as a lecturer in Early Childhood at Liverpool Hope University.

Harriet on a day off from work and writing!

Harriet on a day off from work and writing!

But all the while she’s been researching the way in which home educated children learn to read and from those examples considers how all educators could do with rethinking, and perhaps deformalising, their approach to it.

She told me how her research for her new book ‘Rethinking Learning to Read’ came about:

Education is supposedly about opening up children’s minds.  I think those of us who home educate might say actually it is about opening up adult’s minds.   Certainly home educating made a great start on opening up mine.  It’s amazing watching children; just watching them – not watching them learn or watching them develop but just watching them live.  Therein for me has lain an on-going puzzle.  The living is crowded in with an adult agenda and what was just being becomes doing and doing becomes learning.  But learning is what the adult sees because that’s what we are looking for; what the child does is be.  The puzzle reached its crescendo over learning to read.  How can children just live their way into reading?

Stories about children who ‘just started to read’ always fascinated me.  I wasn’t prepared to find it going on in my own house though.  I wasn’t prepared for the different ways in which it manifested itself.  The more I saw and the more I thought about it, the less I seemed to understand what it was all about.  When I couldn’t get out of the dead end of my own thinking, I started asking everyone else.  All home educators it seems have a tale about reading and I was lucky enough to share some really mind-blowing ones; ones that really rattle the cage of educational convention and demand some heavy re-thinking.

311 families with 400 children contributed to the research, answered my questions and shared their  stories and insights.  What emerged was a kaleidoscope of experiences, shimmers of similarity that turned away from each other, reflected but unsettled each other.  Beautiful, certainly but also unknown and, maybe even for that dangerous.  This was a rough ground of real life; tangled and complicated and wild – not something over which a neat frame of ready to hand theory could be tidily laid.  The stories, the wilderness, the puzzles demand that reading be re-thought because, somehow, our children have lived their way into a new territory of meaning.

‘Re-thinking learning to read’ is my foray into that wilderness.  I take with me a back pack of questions from the old world – all the things we worry about, the educational cares but also a strong desire to take nothing for granted, to begin again,  to rethink.

I’m reading the book at the moment and shall do a longer post about it soon.

Harriet is also co-author of the book ‘How children Learn at Home’ with Alan Thomas which researched the way in which children who are home educated learn through their experiences outside school.