Saturday, February 28, 2009

ABBA Again

Please visit me here! Joan.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Slideshow ...

... finally. Sorry about that, but there's been a lot of family stuff, and Christmas, and then the webmeister's computer died, got better, died again ... But here it is - the promised slideshow of that wonderful day at the Rising Sun Country Park! The website also has some great new stuff in the Readers' Writing section (just under the Readers' Gallery) and a link to those fun activity sheets that Ed on the Web made for The Ferret Princess. So well worth another visit if you haven't been there in a while. And ...

... another carrot. Something new is being cooked up this month, to celebrate the publishing of Wag and the King, the second book of the Catnip series Tales from the Keep. What? What? I hear you cry. Well, you'll just have to wait and see. But with any luck, not too much longer ...

Watch this space - Joan.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Invasion of the Nazi Zombie Unicorns"

I was directed to this excellent article and would like to quote some bits from it that I really liked. It's written by the children's author Joe Craig.

"To be creative, you have to be wrong most of the time. Unfortunately, being wrong doesn’t go down very well at school. In fact, I think creativity is being educated out of kids when they get into Secondary School, and it’s a big problem...

When I visit a primary school, I’m often bombarded by dozens of ideas that amuse, surprise, entertain and sometimes even astound me. But within just a couple years that ability to conjure up the wacky, the off-the-wall, the daring – the creative – has virtually disappeared...

In the creative world of a writer there is no such thing as a bad or embarrassing idea. So to me, anything the kids come up with is great. But I get a very clear picture of what happens in the classrooms when I’m not around. Gradually, kids are getting the message that certain realms are out of bounds to their imaginations. As soon as you have to check whether what you’re thinking is OK, or safe, or acceptable, you’re being trained to be non-creative... Creativity is not safe.

I would love to see, in the context of an English lesson, the classroom transformed into an environment which rewards wacky, crazy-stupid and yes, even sometimes violent ideas. Until it is, boys’ creativity will continue to be ‘educated’ out of them at the upper end of Primary Schools and the lower end of Secondary Schools. And they will continue to give up on reading.

My favourite story suggestion this week was this: an army of Nazi-zombie unicorns invading from another dimension. Brilliant. That was from a group of boys whose wacky ideas weren’t just tolerated, they were nurtured. And as a group, they were big readers. Their teachers laughed with them, never once looking like they were about to issue any of those terrible phrases I’ve heard too often in schools: “Don’t be silly,” or “Sensible ideas only, please.” As soon as you hear anything like that, you know the very person trying to get you to read, or to write creatively, is actually putting obstacles in your way.

So do be silly. Don’t censor your imagination before it’s even had the chance to get going. When it comes to creative thinking, there are no sensible ideas."

Yes! And if that group of boys doesn't write "Invasion of the Nazi Zombie Unicorns" pretty quick, I think I will!


Sunday, February 08, 2009

From Short Shrift to Shortbread

Short stories are notoriously hard to place. I'm always encouraging young writers to write TONS of short stories - you can learn so much, the constraints are an excellent discipline, they are achievable in ways that the (much preferred) 12 million word trilogy isn't, and they're FUN! But then the question follows, "And where will I get this published?"


Well, I still don't have an answer to that question, but if you would like to know "And where can I get this up on the internet?" then I can now be more helpful.


This is what they have to say for themselves:

"SHORTBREAD stories is a FREE community website dedicated to revitalising the short story. For authors, it provides a showcase for their work, giving worldwide exposure, and for readers, it offers free access to short stories which can be read as a text document or if selected by our members listened to as an audio file ... [The stories are available] in PDF and MP3 format and are downloadable straight to your iPod or onto CD ... was founded by author Robin Pilcher and bookseller William Thomson."

Have a look. See what you think. I think it's great. I've sent them 3 stories so far - Diary from the Rim, Eternal Triangle and Robin Hood and the Rather Rude Martian. So if you visit the site, feel free to check them out and, oh, I don't know, maybe even click on the "Nominated for Audio" button. No pressure ...


P.S. After typing the words "short shrift" I realised I didn't exactly know where they came from. There are undoubtedly readers out there who DO know. The Comments box is eager to hear from you!

P.P.S. I got the photo of shortbread from the internet and it's by Dave Souza.