Happy spring, all!
I hope you’ve had a good start to 2023. Here in London the huge magnolia in our garden is in full bloom, and the daffodils and crocuses are out — and, of course, the days are gradually getting longer. I love this time of year!
Earlier this month we celebrated UK World Book Day week where I had five days of in-person school visits meeting children from Reception Year (kindergarten) up to Year 6 (fifth grade) around London and the south-east. One of the joys of writing across so many age groups is being able to meet pupils from across the whole school. All the children I met were a delight, with the little ones adoring the live fox footage that’s included as part of my Ferdinand Fox storytime, and pupils in the older year groups asking so many wonderful questions about writing, where I get my inspiration, and how books get made.
Return to the Secret Lake — Double Celebration!
I can hardly believe that this month marks the first anniversary of publication of Return to the Secret Lake — how time flies! It has sold over 11,000 copies in English, and is proving extremely popular in German — and will be published in Czech later this year. There is also another foreign offer in discussion. It was also recently shortlisted as a Finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards, judged by UK Primary School Children and teachers. I love the finalists’ medal, seen below!
Thank you so much to all of you who have left ratings and/or reviews online — your feedback has been wonderful! And special thanks for not giving away any spoilers, which is so easy to do with this plot!
Cornwall Writers’ Retreat
In other news, I have just returned from a week in Marizion in Cornwall with a group of six fellow authors who write mostly for adults (or YA and adults). The house we rented looked out to St Michael’s Mount, which you can walk to when the tide is out. The St Aubyn family, which had owned the island since the mid 1600s, gifted it to the National Trust in the 1950s but still live in the castle on a lease arrangement with the island operating as a visitor centre. The current residents, Lord and Lady St Levan (James and Mary St Aubyn) have been there since 2003. If you choose the right day to visit you can take a tour inside the castle, and climb to the top.
There are a few other homes there with residents all working on the island and children going to school on the mainland. (One of the boatmen doubles up as a teacher in the local primary school — what a great way to get to work!)
It was wonderful to get away. Most days were rainy and blustery, with one day of glorious sunshine. But it didn’t matter. Looking out onto rolling waves provides all the inspiration and calm you need to focus. Much work was done by all — writing, editing, plotting and research. We also held an impromptu marketing meeting, seen in the image above.
For my part I was steeped back in Edwardian London where I am researching and planning for book 3 in The Secret Lake series. 😊 We did, however, get out and about! Below you can see the causeway that leads out to the island, and more from a spur of the moment hour’s walk I made into Penzance.
Zoom visits around the world
In between World Book Day week and heading down to Cornwall I squeezed in various zoom sessions: two with elementary schools in the USA who have been reading The Secret Lake, and one with an English language school in Bulgaria where the children have been reading Eeek! The Runaway Alien. Both sets of pupils had such interesting observations about the stories and the Bulgarian pupils had completed activities showing which new English words the text had taught them. The first time I met the Bulgarian pupils was when they were in Kindergarten, with my Ferdinand Fox picture books, so I really feel as if I’m watching them grow up! It was also wonderful to receive thank you letters from the pupils below from Columbia Virtual Academy in Wyoming!
Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about my Zoom school visits at home and abroad. I love meeting my readers, wherever they are in the world. I can speak with whole schools (as seen below) or small book groups of a few children!
Authors love reviews 😊
If your children or pupils have read one or more of my books but not yet reviewed them online, if you could find a moment to help them do so it would mean a lot— a short review is fine, whether on Amazon, Goodreads, Toppsta or your other preferred site! It will help other families, teachers and children discover my stories. Children also really enjoy seeing their words published online! Thank you!
And finally — our magnolia
I can’t sign off without including a picture of the glorious magnolia tree in our garden. They bloom for such a short time, —I just love them in the days before the buds fully open up. I hope you enjoy, along with my Mother’s Day flowers!
That’s it for now. Happy spring reading! 📚