Friday, 21 February 2014

Beth's New Blog

Hello!  I'm Beth Jenkins. Have you read of my adventures with my friend Meg from 200 years ago in Adventures of the Time Travelling Friends?  I went to stay with funny old Aunt Hippo while my mum went into hospital to have my baby brother Ben. While I was there, Meg appeared in my room one day.  Although she lived a long time ago, somehow she found me and we became good friends switching between 2014 and 1785.  We had such adventures trying to find Meg's stolen silver cup and looking after her 4 wonderful horses. Do you like horses? I'm back home now but I still think about Meg all that time ago.  What would she think of our world today?  Would she like nail polish, pink hair, funky dancing, videos and One Direction? There wasn't any of this back in 1785.  Why not leave a comment and tell me what Meg would like?  Would you like to have lived 200 years ago?  

Saturday, 18 January 2014

 Create an appealing and consistent main character but not a perfect one.  Start how you mean to go on. Sudden changes in traits confuse.

Create original characters. Have a cricket-playing granny or a brother who likes to make his own wacky clothes.

Remember we are loved for our little eccentricities!  It's OK for your main character to have some. Have fun building your characters.

Humour is a funny thing!  Keep children smiling where appropriate to hold attention. Children appreciate a joke, a smart answer, a neat duck of the issue and gentle irreverence.  Avoid making your characters too cheeky or bad role models.

Ask: find out what children talk to their friends about, what they like and don't like, what they eat, play and do in their own time. Listen to how children use the language and what expressions they use. What they would keep or get rid of if they ruled the world?

Expect the unexpected: a surprise event, invitation, bad weather, a present, something gets lost, a problem arises. How does it change things for the better in the end?

Keep dialogue snappy. Every word counts. Be ruthless with editing. Keep the story moving.

Be modern: include one-parent families, new step-brothers or sisters, mum or dad's new partner, multicultural issues, disabilities, school friends, after school and weekend clubs, hobbies, treats, eating out, cinema, homework with friends on Skype or laptops. How might children use a computer in a new way?

Find out what books sell well for your target age group and why children like reading them.

Keep yours unique. Make it stunningly individual. Think up new words for tired clichés.  

Keep a note of everything introduced and bring it in again later in the story. Tie up all loose ends neatly-  eg: medallion on a chain. Only bring in if you plan to use it in some way later in the story.

Get a professional proof-reader to do the job.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

New website launch

I'm very pleased to launch my new website. It contains information about all of my writing, including my latest book for children, Adventures of the Time Travelling Friends.

Adventures of the Time Travelling Friends

Adventures of the Time-Travelling Friends is about 14 year-old Beth who has to stay with strange old Aunt Hypollita (Aunt Hippo) while her mum has a baby. Beth shows off about going but once there, gets to quite like funny Aunt Hippo.

One night Meg, a girl who lived in Aunt's house in the 1780s magically appears in Beth's room and they become friends. The story flips between Beth's time and Meg's time. Meg's mum plans to marry Meg to a rich Scottish Lord who the girls call 'The Fuzzy Ginger Beard'. It's up to Beth to save her with the help of Meg's friend Bryan and his beautiful horses and Marigold Maybelle, a good witch who makes magic with her rap songs!

All the time the girls have to dodge nasty Seawick, Meg's mum's sinister manservant who they suspect of stealing Meg's last treasure, her lovely silver Chalice.

Can they find it and save Meg from the Fuzzy Ginger Beard?

Buy Adventures of the Time Travelling Friends from Amazon now.

The Flower of Remembrance

My article "The Flower of Remembrance" in the November 2013 edition of the Countryman Magazine traces the history of the Poppy and how it became a worldwide symbol of commemoration of the fallen, to John McCrae's famous poem: In Flanders Fields:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

The idea of a manufactured poppy was pioneered by Moina Belle Michael of the YMCA in New York in 1918. Inspired by McCrae's poem, she hunted down 25 manufactured red poppies and sold them to anyone willing to buy.

The story quickly spread and ever more poppies were demanded.

Anna Guérin of the French YMCA Secretariat was enthralled by Moina's idea of wearing a manufactured Flanders Field Poppy as a poignant memorial and potential fund-raising initiative. In France she organised the production of cloth poppies on a grand scale with the help of women, children and veterans.

The idea took off and in the following years millions were made and sold to support war veterans and their dependents. Poppies were soon being assembled, sold and worn with pride worldwide, every one a deed of courage remembered.