em and two girls

Last summer my daughter went to teach in a school in Kathmandu. I freaked out over Japanese encephalitis, rabies, malaria, food poisoning, loneliness, smog – I  worried about everything. I even posted her a food parcel ( it never arrived). One thing I wasn’t too worried about was earthquakes. It’s just not really on our agenda to worry about earthquakes, is it? I mean, I checked the foreign office website but they didn’t say ‘don’t travel, earthquake imminent’. And daughter didn’t tell me about the earthquake drills they had when they arrived. I was blind to that particular risk. I just assumed she’d be safe from major natural disasters.

And she was.

Girls from HVP Central

But she might not have been.

Had my beautiful, kind, feisty, funny, brilliant daughter been there a few months later, she might have been caught up in the devasting trauma the country is now suffering from.  My daughter, and all her wonderfulness, is safe. But there are other daughters and sons and mothers and brothers and uncles and cousins and sisters who are not.


Thankfully, despite a nearby temple being completely destroyed, the children and staff of HPV Central are fine, for now. They are amazing and resilient  people but they are living in devastation. They need water and sanitation. They need to clear up. They need our help. They need your money.

You can give to the charity that my daughter worked for last year, HVP Nepal.

You can give to the Disasters Emergency Committee

Or you could consider bidding on one of the Authors For Nepal offers. Mine is for a character name in my book, plus a signed copy of More of Me, plus an interview on this blog. Please have a look and consider bidding . All the money will go to help people in need in Nepal – I’ll even pay the ebay fees . There are lots of other offers there too – some for mentoring, some for signed books – all sorts of authory things.

UPDATE12/05/15: The BBC are reporting another serious earthquake to the East of Kathmandu

UPDATE 16/05/15: Authors for Nepal have rasied over £10,000 thank you, thank you! Keep at it, my offer ends in 10 hours.

The problems have not gone away. Please help, even if you just share this post.

Thank you.

Some writers seem to have a knack for world building, Ellen Renner does it to perfection in Tribute, her world is textural , you can feel it, smell it, sense it. Philip Reeve and Sarah Macintyre are masters at it – in Oliver and the Seawigs and Cakes in Space they use words and pictures to create crazy worlds that are completely, somehow, incredibly, believable.

How? How do they do that?

Elizabeth Wein, a brilliant world builder herself,  does a great workshop that encourages us to play – no spoilers for her session (which I thoroughly recommend) but play truly is at its heart. I learned a lot when I took part in that workshop but I needed to translate it into something practical that would work for me. My stories tend to occupy ordinary worlds where something extraordinary is going on. How do you recreate that convincingly? Well, here’s what I do:


Get on Right Move or Zoopla and find a property your characters might live in – from country houses to two-up-two-downs, you can nose about inside, check out the floor plans, imagine your character’s life indoors:


Use Google satellite images to see where your characters go – print off maps so you can doctor them but still be confident you aren’t muddling things in your readers minds:


In map form you can find areas that fit your rough idea of your world and fill in the details yourself – this hospital complex might make a good under ground bunker:


Once you have the skeleton you can build your world in your mind, furnish your homes, understand your streets.  The world you have in your mind will bleed into your book – small details will colour your world and if you are confident in it, your reader will be confident too.

I hope.

That’s my plan anyway. When I stop looking at castles I want to live in.

You can take part in Elizabeth Wein’s World Building Workshop for SCBWI  In Edinburgh on 9th May 2015 But places are limited so do hurry!



Today I am giving up my blog to a  little boy who lives in a bubble.

Here he is:

He’s beautiful and he’s brave and if you could do a tiny thing to make him smile, wouldn’t you?

Well, you can and I did!

And although  this isn’t about raising money, if you want to donate, you can do that too:



You’ll feel better for it, and so will he :)

V. Kathryn Evans:

This is just great – am reblogging so I don’t lose it!

Originally posted on Girls Heart Books:

A lot of people give advice about how to write a novel, and that’s great. But I’m more and more getting the feeling that all anyone can really tell an aspiring writer is ‘start writing and keep on writing until you’ve finished the story’).

It’s rarer to see advice about what to do once the book has an agent, and a book deal, but actually, I think that this sort of thing would be far more practically useful. I thought it would be simple (and slightly magical), but it turns out that there are lots of surprising pitfalls, and lots of people around you who think you know what you’re doing – whereas in reality you barely know which way is up. So here are some things that I think every new author ought to know.

  • That advance? It isn’t all yours. Not only does some of it go to…

View original 1,072 more words

Thanks to Maureen Lynas for the Pciture :)

Thanks to Maureen Lynas for the Picture :)

I feel the need to come clean. Many of you who are friends with me on Facebook and Twitter think that I’m dyslexic. I make an unimaginable  number of typos when I dash off a reply or a status update in the few seconds I have to spare while dropping in to have a quick chat. Quite a few people have commented on my dyslexia. I am so, so sorry. I am not dyslexic. I am lazy. Even before typing, my fingers wrote things wrong. I  spinout words as fast as my brain can conjure them and my fingers can’t keep up. Then, instead of checking what I’ve typed/written/scrawled, I press send and litter the internet with the wordy mess my brain has spewed out.

I know a lot of people with dyslexia. They are infinitely more careful than me in their postings. In many cases, I suspect you wouldn’t know they are dyslexic, so careful are they.

My accountant once  told me he’d be suspicious of any email purporting to be from me, but without any typos. I am a disgrace.

I hang my head in shame. I am an afront to all people with a genuine problem.

Sadly, I can’t see matters changing in the near future. Sorry about that. I will try but, you know…lazy.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m tlakiogn about ( oooo, that was a good one) here is an uncreected selection of this post:

I feel the need to come clea. Many of you whoe are friends of mine of facenook and Twitter think that I’m dyslexic. I make an unimaginabel numebr of typos when I dash of a reply or a stauts update in teh few seconds I have to spare whiel droppping in for a quick chat…..I mano dysalexic, I am a diosgarece.

Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Please feel free to poke me with sticks.


IT’S GREAT!!!!!!

That’s pretty much it – except to say it takes a loooooong time. Or this one did. Lots of behind the scenes negotiation in which my agent, Sophie Hicks, more than earned her money. The skeleton deal was done four months ago, in November 2014.  My first lot of edits have already gone back. Still, this felt like a significant milestone on my publishing journey Continue Reading »


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