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Being Cool or Being Prepared

A confession -

We all like to think we're cool. And it's generally seen as the cool thing to do to leave work until the last minute, wait until you have to get it done, right up to the deadline or even beyond.

I'm not cool, far from it. And I can thoroughly recommend being that way.

I've been fortunate enough to get invitations to teach at some excellent writers' schools again this summer. There's the wonderful Winchester in June -

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And the splendid Swanwick come August -

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Treading New Ground

I had to give myself a good telling off this week.

I got an invitation to compere an evening of authors and poets giving public readings of their work at a writing school this summer.

Immediately I thought - Hmm, haven't done something like that, not sure whether I should or not...

And then felt bad about my reaction.

Why did I start writing novels, ten years and more ago now? Because it was new and different and I wanted to challenge myself. Why did I start doing talks about my work... why did I start teaching etc?

Same answer. So shame on me for even deliberating, and I've now said yes.

I realised I have this instinctive thing that I always want to try something new, to push myself, to innovate. I was teaching media careers last week...

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The Power of Books

One of the reasons I count myself so very fortunate to be a writer is the power of books.

I've been dabbling with a young adults novel of late, and part of its theme is the inevitability (or not) of our futures.

It's a theme which has fascinated me for as long as I can remember; whether there's such a thing as fate or whether you can change what will come to pass.

I can't help but wonder if much of that is due to a book I read when I was 11 or so, in English classes at school.

Those were the long ago days when we did group reading in class and I remember it well. My first teacher was a hugely engaging and very smart lady called Mrs Nolan, and the lovely Sarah D, who all we boys fancied, was sitting just next to me.

(No wonder I remember it.)

Anyway, as I've been writing my young adults story, I've found myself thinking of this book, and trying to remember all about it.

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The Seeds and the Fruits

Springtime is casting her warmth, light and regenerative spell over the land, which means the season of book events is upon us, happily.

I was in South Molton, in north Devon this week, for a couple of very touching events, and what an uplifting time it was.

Firstly, you can't help but be happy and humbled when people make such an effort to welcome you. This was my first sight on arriving at the library -

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From there onwards, you know you're in for a good evening.

My first event was to launch a book club for the local school, with a chat about the magic of reading, writing and storytelling, and it was a joy. How wonderful to see youngsters so engaged with books and keen to hear how I invent characters, plots and settings. It was there the word seeds came to mind...

... which was then built on beautifully in the evening, when I did a talk about my books to the adult readers of the library.

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The Natural Highs of Writing

Who needs drugs when you've got writing and all it brings to lift you to a natural high? Come share the simple, but heartfelt, smiles of this week -

I heard from one of my students, that she's got a meeting with an agent who's interested in her novel. 

An invitation to teach another course at the wonderful Swanwick Writers' Summer School arrived.

I took time to prepare a session on teaching youngsters about the joys of writing and storytelling, to mark the formation of a book club.

I began rewriting the young adults novel I've been working on, and what a pleasure it's been to get to know the characters and their lives again.

A walk around my beloved River Exe brought a stunner of a sunset, and inspiration with it -

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