Two Truths~ Dana C.Carter

“After the mysterious death of her husband, Renee Morgan is determined to protect her three daughters, forcing her to face a history she has spent a lifetime avoiding. Groomed by her father to join the most elite of secret societies, Brett knows she is destined for something great. But her ambition demands a high price. Sara is ready to avenge her father at any cost. When she finds herself swept up in conspiracies and family secrets, her search for answers uncovers a primeval power. Hadley watched her father die and now he won’t leave her alone. Guided by his ghost, she begins to experience memories of past lives. As the journeys of Renee, Brett, Sara and Hadley converge, two Truths are revealed that change everything they knew about themselves and the world they live in.

Firstly I’d like to say a big “THANK YOU” to ZooLoo’s Book Tours for placing me on this blog tour. For a book reviewer whose been in a deep slump for some time, she’s really taken a chance on me when others have not and I’m grateful for that.

Secondly, let’s get on with the review!

I first picked up the book with high expectations- it had been a while since I had read anything other than murder mystery’s and crime thrillers so I was excited to get stuck in. But sadly I found it a slow read and this could be because it’s a step away from my usual genre or because I may not be ready to dedicate myself to reading again just yet, possibly even a mixture of the two, but read the book was my goal and I did just that. Albeit it very, very slowly.

The characters are all very different; Rennee the mother and her daughters, Brett, Sara abs Hadley all bring something different to the table and they are all very well written with their own issues and missions in life which I found to be a little confusing at times when I was trying to push on with my reading, but did enjoy the different dimensions of each character.

As the title states there are Two Truths to learn and each has its own consequence and chain of events. And Rennee has to learn to live with the fact that even though she is trying to help her daughters she simply must allow each girl to travel their own path and learn for themselves, no matter her thoughts and feelings on it. Which as a mother made me really feel for her.

Two Truths is a well researched and well written novel, and Carver clearly knows her Bible verse as there are numerous references throughout-don’t let this put you off reading it though! It’s relevant and not at all a book about Christianity! It’s a book for fans of Dan Brown though! Never having been a huge fan of Brown, I do find that any follow in titles I won’t be reading as it simply didn’t enthral me as much as I would have liked (again this could be because I’m severely pre-occupied and it’s also not my usual genre, however I was eager to branch out from my comfort zone and glad I did!).

About the Author

Dana C Carver was born in 1972 in Columbus, Ohio. She wrote her first book at seven years old and won the school’s “super writer” award, and has been writing ever since.

She has a degree in psychology with a minor in creative writing from the University of Cincinnati, and did her post-graduate studies in physiology at Portland State University Currently she works as a program manager and coach, helping organizations to implement and evaluate change initiatives. She is the Chair of the Good Programmes Trust, home of the award winning GoodYarn program, which has seen nearly 7000 people educated in mental health and wellness. Previously, she owned her own coaching and training studio, which operated for over a decade serving nearly 400 clients. She now lives on a Dairy farm in the South Island of New Zealand with her husband, Tony, and is blessed with three step-children, a foster-daughter and two grand-daughters

The Flat Share~Beth O’Leary

A fair amount of time has passed since i last uploaded review, but a lot has been going on! I also lost my love for reading temporarily which didn’t help me rush to find the time. However, while taking a well-earned break upon The Magic At Sea (a Disney Staycation Cruise) I had a few hours each day to myself which I used to read a book that had been on my TBR list for what seemed like forever! The Flat Share caught my interest while flicking through social media and other book blogs but had been at the bottom for some time and when I was buying sticker books for my daughter, I noticed it was in a special offer so it seemed silly not to pick it up for myself.

Tiffy has been broken up with Justin (the worst boyfriend ever by the way! Seriously cannot hate a character anymore than I hate Justin!£ for a while but still lives in his flat. Deciding that she needs to take back her life, she moves out. Sadly Tiffy, like many of us, has a pretty low wage and can’t afford her own flat and is pulled in to a flat share of epic proportions with a seriously low price. Why is the price so low? Because it’s a one bedroom flat with one bed, and the other flat dweller is Leon- an over worked hospice nurse with an innocent brother in prison and a less than understanding girlfriend (I think she’s stuck up, but I think each reader will have their own interpretation). How will this arrangement work? Simple! Leon works nights so will have the bed in the day, and Tiffy works days so will have the bed in the night. Weekends are Leon at his girlfriends place and Tiffy being sick he has the place to her self.

So what stops this arrangement working? Leon and his girlfriend split up, meaning he has no refuge for weekends. Justin (the creep) keeps turning up and literally ruining things for poor Tiffy. Meanwhile Leon’s brother as struggling in prison, and Tiffy’s discovery of a bag of crocheted scarves under the time-share bed helps her and Leon out no end, meaning Tiffy and Leon become involved in each others lives more than they had ever bargained for.

When I first started to read The Flat Share I kept thinking it won’t work, I won’t make it to the end, the brother will turn out to be guilty and it’s going to be one of those books that has too much hype and not enough meat on its bones. BUT how wrong I was!

What really blew me away, was how O’Leary can write to narratives from two polar opposite characters and get it so right! Even the dialogue is set out differently and somehow it’s more “readable” and easy to follow! It was as if Leon and Tiffy were written by two different people! I also really enjoyed the end result and how Justin got exactly what he deserved! I also kept wondering if Leon’s brother was innocent or guilty as we had to take everything about his story at face value, and I was waiting for a twist about him but was really relieved that it all worked out.

Over all, The Flat Share was a pleasantly surprising read and well worth sticking with through to the very end and I’ll be recommending it to everyone as a really good and alternative summer read.

Author Biography

The Flat Share was O’Leary’s debut novel and was written on the train while working as a children’s publisher in 2019 and has since gone on to publish The Switch: A Novel, The Switch 2 (both in 2020) and The Road Trip (available now).

Author Post by Mac Altgelt

Inspiration. Process. Disappointment.

As a debut author, I don’t mind admitting that I was slightly intimidated when asked to create a blog post covering simply a “subject of my choosing”, while to me it seemed the obvious goal must be to achieve greater visibility for my forthcoming novel.  Surely then, promotion was to be the subject, right?  Actually no, said they, you can write about dishwashers if you want.  Scratching my head, I observed to myself just how little this advice accomplished in the way of assuaging my concern.  However, feeling my inexperience as an author to be approaching a little too close to the surface for comfort and threatening to expose me for the fraud I undoubtedly was, I feigned comprehension and asked no more.  

The truth is that, strictly speaking, I am not a debut author.  I have been published before.  To say the contract was traditional, however, is perhaps a bit of a stretch.  In a technical sense, it was traditional in that I did not pay to have it done, nor was I obligated to buy anything afterwards.  The problem was that nobody else paid anything either, not least the would-be readers upon whom I relied for success.  So concluded the exciting chapter, forgive the pun, of my initiation into that coveted and exclusive club of published writers.  It was underwhelming, but had a charm reminiscent of childhood (and all the naivety inherent therein).

When in the wee hours of one early morning I awoke from a dream, the complexity and vividity of which still astonishes me today, and jotted down its essence so as not to lose it back to the realm of sleep from whence it had come, I never would have dared to guess that from it a complete novel would be born.  Why I even bothered to write it down I still don’t know with any degree of certainty.  Time dragged on as time invariably does in the days and months that followed, and nothing had been done in service of the great dream.  Gradually, and due perhaps in part to the diminishing recollections I maintained at that point with regard to the dream itself, I decided to write a short story based on the notes I had taken on that fateful night.

The process started off simply enough, my verbose style coming through in true form and echoing a far-less talented version of Proust.  This early draft would, of course, have to later be scrapped due to its overly ambitious language that served only to inspire nausea in its readers, as might an excessively sweet candy.  

Obstacle overcome, and progress ensuing, it soon became clear that there was more to the story than could responsibly be confined in a mere short.  As I am what’s called in the writing world a “planter”, my story grew quite of its own accord once I started writing.  I had at my disposal a simple 1-page story outline, on which each bullet point inevitably lent itself to a full chapter in the text itself.  Once the purpose of the chapter had been established, it fell to me only to move the story along to its predetermined end by whatever means I fancied.  This unstructured approach, perhaps unsurprisingly, led the story far from its original syllabus and into territories that had never been foreseen.

Thus, IN THE BEAST’S CAGE slowly came to quiet fruition.  Drafts and edits followed, along with long periods of a stubborn unwillingness on my part to accept the sound advice of editors, viewing as I did their suggestions for bettering the narrative as an affront to my artistic vision.  In the end, I bent, and it was the right decision to do so.  For sentimental reasons, I have preserved my original drafts, but I admit now with dignified humility that the story of today easily triumphs over the story as it had been.

In retrospect, all of this led me to understand that this process is full of disappointment, rejection, and compromise.  It would be foolish to think such things would not apply to any aspiring writer.  It requires diligence, and an uncommonly strong constitution.  The important thing for carrying on is that one must never lose confidence in their own work, and in this they will surely be tested beyond what’s humane.  It is a veritable Pandora’s Box of despondency and distress, but we are fortunate to retain that most precious of gifts with which we just might persevere: hope.    

In The Beasts Cage.

Harbouring a dark secret from his past, immortal Lord Blake from medieval England arrives mysteriously in a sleepy coastal town in Georgia, USA. There he meets Hugo Wegener, an ex-doctor who is burdened with his own dark secret, and life-long resident Ginny Harrison, who is involved in her aging father’s absurd dream of refurbishing and reopening the town’s long-defunct zoo. As Blake’s relationship with Ginny blooms, he finds himself involved in the insane zoo project and, when Bruce Kelly, an exotic game smuggler from South Africa, arrives in town on the eve of the grand reopening with a plan to rid the zoo of its valuable animal species, it is up to Blake, Hugo, and the old man to stop him, without revealing the terrible secrets of their pasts.

Author Biography

I am a Risk Management executive and Investor in Texas but I moonlight as a writer, short-film maker, musician, composer and world traveller (or, I was a world traveller in the pre-COVID days). In music, I have released 2 full-length albums (one of which is still available) and 2 E.P.s. I have published one humor book entitled 101 TIPS AND REVELATIONS FROM A MODERN DAY CYNIC (Black Rose Writing, 2017). IN THE BEAST’S CAGE is my first novel, but I have a second already in progress and no plans of slowing down. I have also written countless blogs, poems, short stories, essays and movie scripts in addition to my more sprawling fiction projects. Because of my work in the Risk Management industry, I spend a great deal of time in London working closely with Lloyd’s and can be found in that country often as a result. I have a wife (Alejandra) and two children, a 3-year-old daughter (Sophia) and a 1-year-old son (Otto) who was born in the midst of this pandemic. My wife is a dual-citizen of Mexico and Spain and had been living in London for 2 years prior to us meeting.

Death on the Lake~Jo Allen

DCI Jude Satterthwaite is back on book five of this incredible series by Jo Allen. I read the previous book (Death at Rainbow Cottage) a few months ago WITHOUT having read the previous three. I have noticed that Allen’s flow of writing and style means that you actually can read the series as stand alone books, which I actually really appreciate and love! I wanted to read the previous books but moving house, studying, new contracts etc meant I literally had no time to go off plan sadly.

So, Death on the Lake- what’s it about? Well it starts with two twins who hail from a wealthy family waking up on their family boat minus their party-going friend who spent the night with them. However soon they get themselves together enough to notice she’s floating face down in the water totally naked. It seems they quickly think up of a plan to move her body so they’re in the clear. After all Summer Raine (yes that is her name!) had a reputation as a summer worker, didn’t she?

Moving the case aside, we get to see our main character, Jude Satterthwaite making his way through his personal relationship with work partner DS Ashleigh O’Halloaran while ex girlfriend Becca tries to pull away from her new relationship with Jude’s old friend (who was known to be supplying drugs). Sounds a little bit like one of those morning daytime TV shows BUT I promise you it’s nowhere near as cringeworthy as that and makes for some very interesting reading!

Over all, Death on the Lake is a crime thriller that I have simply adored reading! And I honestly cannot wait to finally sit still for a weekend so I can enjoy the previous titles!

Allen’s work just files so well and the narrative used just fits nicely. The characters are interesting and the places (based on real locations but names changed) are described so beautifully that I can’t help but want to visit them myself despite the deaths!

About the Author

Jo Allen lives in the Lake District, which is where she has based the DCI Satterthwaite series, and began writing under the name of Jennifer Young and publishing short stories in the romance and romance suspense genres after a career in economic consultancy. 2017 saw Allen taking the plunge in to crime thriller, her personal favourite genre, and really enjoys football (being a ticket holder for Wolverhampton Wonderers) and likes cats and her Instagram feed features squirrels, cats, alpacas and nature (woman after my own heart!) and is quite possibly the most thoughtful lady I have ever spoken with and really hope to promote her books again in the future.

Death on the Lake~Jo Allen

DCI Jude Satterthwaite is back on book five of this incredible series by Jo Allen. I read the previous book (Death at Rainbow Cottage) a few months ago WITHOUT having read the previous three. I have noticed that Allen’s flow of writing and style means that you actually can read the series as stand alone books, which I actually really appreciate and love! I wanted to read the previous books but moving house, studying, new contracts etc meant I literally had no time to go off plan sadly.

So, Death on the Lake- what’s it about? Well it starts with two twins who hail from a wealthy family waking up on their family boat minus their party-going friend who spent the night with them. However soon they get themselves together enough to notice she’s floating face down in the water totally naked. It seems they quickly think up of a plan to move her body so they’re in the clear. After all Summer Raine (yes that is her name!) had a reputation as a summer worker, didn’t she?

Moving the case aside, we get to see our main character, Jude Satterthwaite making his way through his personal relationship with work partner DS Ashleigh O’Halloaran while ex girlfriend Becca tries to pull away from her new relationship with Jude’s old friend (who was known to be supplying drugs). Sounds a little bit like one of those morning daytime TV shows BUT I promise you it’s nowhere near as cringeworthy as that and makes for some very interesting reading!

Over all, Death on the Lake is a crime thriller that I have simply adored reading! And I honestly cannot wait to finally sit still for a weekend so I can enjoy the previous titles!

Allen’s work just files so well and the narrative used just fits nicely. The characters are interesting and the places (based on real locations but names changed) are described so beautifully that I can’t help but want to visit them myself despite the deaths!

About the Author

Jo Allen lives in the Lake District, which is where she has based the DCI Satterthwaite series, and began writing under the name of Jennifer Young and publishing short stories in the romance and romance suspense genres after a career in economic consultancy. 2017 saw Allen taking the plunge in to crime thriller, her personal favourite genre, and really enjoys football (being a ticket holder for Wolverhampton Wonderers) and likes cats and her Instagram feed features squirrels, cats, alpacas and nature (woman after my own heart!) and is quite possibly the most thoughtful lady I have ever spoken with and really hope to promote her books again in the future.

The Problem With Poppy~Emma Sandford

Poppy has a slight problem; she doesn’t have a single friend. She seems to frighten them off with her (physically) prickly nature, despite her really not meaning to abs trying so hard to make friends, poor Poppy is so very lonely.

That it is until this little porcupine scares away a tiger cub by the name of Rory. On a mission to find him and apologise, Poppy bears witness to little Rory being taken by poachers. But it’s Poppy’s quick thinking and small act of bravery that sees her rescue Rory and make forms friends for life.

The Problem with Poppy is a beautiful tale of making friends despite appearances and being brave when the problem seems bigger than you are. Truly an inspirational story for children of all ages! My four year old daughter abs class of Yr 4 children adored this picture book and really got their interest- I had so many questions about poachers and deforestation that it really became a bit of a project to find out more!

Part of the sale of this book is donated to such a good cause to preserve the forests and these animals homes and keep them safe from poachers. So it’s a book that works to make a difference in the world!

Author Biography

Emma Sandford is a children’s author and businesswoman based in Cheshire. For many years, she has wanted to write a children’s book that draws on her own experiences and helps young children overcome personal issues. One day, inspiration hit her: she realised that a porcupine has a very obvious defence mechanism where it shows its quills, stamps its feet and chatters with its teeth when feeling threatened. 

Unfortunately, due to traumatic events in her life, Emma has also been defensive in situations where she didn’t need to be, and was frightened to let people get close to her. The Problem With Poppy is a fun way of teaching kids that while everybody has a natural defence mechanism, there is a time and a place to use it. By the end of the story, Poppy has learnt this valuable lesson and she makes a lifelong friend in the process. 

Emma is planning on writing more books in the future that have similar important messages for youngsters. Watch this space!

The Happy Family~Jackie Kabler

Imagine being just 10 years old when your mum walks out the door and is never heard of again. Imagine having a life full of more downs than ups. Imagine finally getting your life on track and having gentle waters to navigate when thirty years later there’s an unexpected knock at the door and it’s your mother.

This is exactly what happens to Beth in The Happy Family. Only Beth brings her mother in to her life a lot quicker than I would, and while her mother lives with her, friends start to slowly become more and more distant, nasty and dark rumours run a wild course and odd things begin to happen in Beth’s life.

Beth seems to be a major soft touch as she lets her ex walk all over her and treat her terribly, her poor children bear witness to it. And once her mother is back in her life, Beth suddenly becomes more forgetful yet “super mum” is on hand at the drop of the hat to come to the rescue and find lost items. It’s highly suspicious and full of twists and turns and dark secrets about the past.

I know a lot of people have had mixed reviews with a few readers feeling like Kabler hasn’t kept to her usual high standard of story telling, but this being the first of her titles I have read means I had a clean slate, so to speak, with no specific expectations. I actually enjoyed it though! A few times I wanted to shake Beth and tell her to toughen up and put her foot down as well as give her dear mum a slap BUT the narrative was good and I enjoyed it! I’m eager to read more of Kabler’s titles in the future!

Author Biography

Jackie Kabler spent over half a dozen years as a GMTV news reporter covering large scale news such as the Madeline McCann disappearance, President Clinton’s impeachment trial, the Asian tsunami, the Kosovo crisis, famine in Ethiopia, the Athens Olympics, and the Soham murders. 2008 saw Jackie leave GMTV to become a freelance reporter and worked as a media trainer and in media simulation – in particular with the armed forces – and produced, wrote and presented corporate and promotional films. January 2013 saw Jackie joining the UK’s biggest shopping channel, QVC, as a presenter.

In 2015 Kabler published the first instalments the Cora Baxter Mysteries, a series of humorous murder mysteries set in a television room, and of psychological thrillers Am I Guilty? and The Perfect Couple after releasing

Arlington Terrace~Tracey Martin-Sommers

As you may remember, I read Martin-Sommers’ previous book, Gordon Square, not so long ago which introduced the readers to the dynamic duo of Mike and Mel, the most perfectly imperfect couple of investigators you could ever wish to read about. I loved the first book and I loved the second book! So much so, that I spent most of my time reading it pestering Tracey about the plot! I couldn’t get enough!

I don’t know where to start at all! This is a follow on of the story of the Gordon Girls and we see where they are a few years down the line and there are many developments! Mike and Mel are now Mr and Mrs as well as Mum and Dad! And the twists and turns are literally immense! And the cliff hanger has been well set up for a third instalment which I cannot wait for!

With the previous book, I did mention in my review that there were some grammatical errors which have appeared again in the second instalment, and the time-leap isn’t all that obvious so I did have to read a certain section three times to picture abs understand where it was the reader was meant to be, and a clear cut but confusing error on the same few pages, but I still enjoyed it a lot and was able to overlook these to enjoy the plot over all. I loved Mike and Mel’s development and their latest venture in to parenthood and a new neighbourhood as well and can’t wait to see how they develop further now they’re both back at work!

Author Biography

Born in Harrow Weald, Middlesex in 1964, growing up in a loving family home, Tracy married her first husband in 1990, has two grown-up children and a granddaughter. She studied a variety of topics via moduled learning, embarking on City and Guilds and NVQ courses, ranging from a brief spell in hairdressing to administration, and now works for a utility company in North West London. Tracy has numerous hobbies consisting of landscape painting to landscape gardening and always likes to paint the scene, even if it’s changing the colour scheme, yet again, within her home. Tracy has always enjoyed writing and used to write short stories for her own children’s amusement but it has only been in the last few years that she has taken this more seriously and has gone on to write her first debut crime detective novel called Gordon Square. Tracy married her second husband in 2014 and now lives in Bedfordshire in a sleepy hamlet where she writes whenever she gets a spare moment.

Not In My Name~Michael Coolwood

Imagine 2003 was not as you remembered. Not In My Name is a story about activist Phoebe Green and Tony Blair has held a referendum in order o decide if the UK should engage and go to war with Iraq. And the majority vote was “yes” by a mere 4% of the majority votes.

Now imagine being part of a protest where all but two of your group were arrested and later on another was violently beaten to death inside a pub. It’s a throwing thought isn’t it?

As we read more, we bare witness to Phoebe running to help a friend who is now under attack but finds he is dead before she arrives. Phoebe and another friend, Sefu, somehow manage to track down and trap one of their friends attackers and learn of the members of their group is the killer and used a sword belonging to Sefu. Phoebe and Sefu try to narrow down who it could be, and if the murder of both of their friends are linked somehow, and who will be next and when.

Not In My Name isn’t my usual sort of book, but it’ was the idea of an alternative 2003 that pulled me in. I feel like it was slow to start but by chapter three I was well and truly riveted and it really was a rollercoaster read! It’s basically one of those “who did it?” With a big underlying political theme from which you can really take something away from and really gets you thinking. So I guess you could say it’s two genres combined together to create a real gem of a read!

The ending was slightly lacking and had a feel of a closing statement from a tv drama but other than that it was one of those books I’m going to be shouting from the rooftops about whenever I get a chance!

I have a copy of one of Coolwood’s other titles (thank you Book Loving Dragon subscription box!) and can’t wait to get stuck in despite it being an alternative to my usual genre.

Author Biography

Michael Coolwood writes what is known as “feminist cosy mysteries”. His work is deeply political and his characters are driven by a desire to make the world a better place and is driven to write characters this was somewhat partly due to a respect for passionate, caring people, and somewhat partly because cuts to the health service in the UK have ensured he can barely leave the house due to his swamp of health problems. His cosy mystery series is called Democracy and Dissent and grapples with issues of the day. Coolwood has also written other titles which focus on feminist science fiction and fantasy.

Author Q&A; Sue Wickstead

My own overly-loved teddy bear (Huw Bear) whose been adopted by my daughter (renamed Honey Bear)

As part of the blog tour for Barty Barton, I was lucky enough to hold a Q&A session with Barry’s author, Sue Wickstead, and it was the loveliest author Q&A I’ve done to date. Read on to discover Barry’s own story and that of Sue.

The OG Barty Barton

MR; Firstly, I’d like to say how much my daughter and I enjoyed reading Barty Barton! We just adored this well-loved bear and I really felt for the mother who didn’t want to part with him! At the back of the book there are pictures of the real life Barty, what made you go about creating the story of Barty Barton?

 

SW I’m really pleased to hear you and your daughter loved Barty’s story.

My son had always loved Barty too, he had slept with him and used Barty as a pillow. Barty had become flattened and floppy with all the love.

I asked if he might want him for his son, but he said no and to throw him away as he was old!

I was a little bit sad. Yes, Barty was worn and well-loved but he didn’t need to be thrown away.

My daughter agreed as she remembered all of her soft toys with affection and knew Barty too.

 

MR– When Thomas leaves home, Barty is left wondering if Thomas will remember him- is this a feeling that parents of older children are left with when their children fly the nest?

 

SW- I think you are right.

You always worry about your children when they move away, will they still come and visit you.

As a parent you are always there for your children although you might not see them as much.

Barty was not put away in the loft, like the other toys, and secretly when my son came home, he still slept with Barty.

I think the other message in Barty’s story being old doesn’t mean you should be thrown away and discarded. (People, treasures, memories too)

 

MR- I love how you include all the detail and leave out nothing when the mum painstakingly and lovingly washes Barty and restores him-have you given your own family’s Barty the same “freshen up” and was it as simple as it looked in the book?

 

SW- When my son said he did not want Barty, my daughter and I decided to sort through a lot of the old toys. We had several bags full.

My daughter selected those that had meaning and just needed a clean.

This was exactly what we did.

Into the washing machine went the white toys and then Barty.

But yes, Barty came out lumpy and bumpy, his stuffing was kapok and had lumped together. I thought he was ruined.

I wrote a tongue in cheek post on my Facebook page and several people commented on it asking if it was my new book.

Another author friend encouraged me to write it so I decided to work on it.

(The lumpy bumpy feelings and having to turn him over sort of reminded me of the Covid infection and hearing of people’s experiences in hospital.)

Repairing him was quite easy. He still needs a little more stuffing but that will happen.

 

P.S.I have sent a copy of Barty’s book to the teddy bear ladies at the BBC ’Repair Shop’. I hope they got it.

P.P.S My son did in fact give Barty a big cuddle when he was repaired and showed him to his son.

MR-Your previous children’s books mostly focus on transport, will there be more books focusing on toys and the relationship families build with their beloved cuddly animals?

SW-I do have quite a few ideas in the pipeline, but some, like Barty’s story, come along unplanned.

My next book is another unplanned story which is about my brother and his play adventures. While being involved with the Early Years, ‘EYFSHome’, days I was asked to tell a story. It was for my ‘mother earth day’ and was about recycling. I remembered my brother playing at being a binman and I told the story. Then I remembered I had written it a while ago so gave to another look.

Not a bus but a bin lorry.

But I do have a few other ideas for toys? Maybe? Especially my own bear ’MacMac’ who has a loose glass eye. She nearly lost it when I took her to school.

I also have a few more bus stories based on my experiences with the bus.

(When I wrote the first bus story my daughter said she would like me to write about all the fun things we did including the Carnival.)

MR- As you’re a teacher and two of your other children’s books focus on being in the education environment, have you found it easy to transition from writing from a viewpoint point of a professional to writing from a viewpoint of a parent?

SW- I’ve always focussed on children writing for imagination rather than prescriptive tasks. Speaking and listening is a key skill and I loved writing with the children and using their ideas too.

A Spooky Tale’, definitely was a lot of their ideas. I had kept this book and read it many times. One of my ex-pupils had drawn some lovely illustrations. It was always a favourite and I would read it to each new class so I knew it worked.

Another teacher friend had encouraged me to develop it for the younger children and I’m glad I did.

The Christmas Nativity Rehearsal’ was also a book I wrote with my year group; I was the person in charge of the Christmas play and I know how tricky these things can be. One year it was particularly tricky, my mum saw the production and told me although there were a lot of things that went wrong, she could see how hard the children had tried for me. I wrote the story for the children to say thank you.

In fact, I always used to write with the children and alongside them.

Poems; letters; reports etc..

I have a chapter book about a pirate adventure but who knows if I will ever finish it.

I’ve also part written a book called ‘The Weather Witch’, this is a story I have told when visiting as a teacher. The story is as long as I need it to be and can fit a gap, big or small.

MR– I’d love to hear more about your own experiences as life as a teacher-will you be releasing your own biographic book on your experiences within the classroom and writing?

SW-Teachers Diary: – I have always kept a record of my planning and wrote ‘day books’ when teaching.

As I began supply teaching, I was visiting so many different schools and age groups that I thought I should keep a record of what I did and where have I been.

I’ve used it to look back on and there have been so many surprises along the way.

I have carried this diary on into lockdown. I doubt if it willever be written but I have used it to look back and check. It certainly has been a fun journey.

Children do make you laugh.

 

MR-Finally, what advice do you have for those working within the education environment (such as teachers, TA’s, and students) when it comes to getting on the same level as children to promote learning, supporting emotional development and supporting families during and after the pandemic?

SW- I was trained to teach children 9-16 but did not teach much before having my own children.

During my first teaching job my dad suddenly died. A year later my son was born and I became involved in the Playbus.

I was lucky to be involved with the Playbus project and met so many different play-workers. I loved attending rallies and enjoyed learning new skills.

I learnt so many practical things and liked to implement them into my teaching.

The local school knew of my reputation and that of the Playbus and I was enlisted to join the staff team. (The Playbus was unpaid work), I could them support the bus, work with the school and the community and also loved teaching.

We had hoped to develop groups, which we did but most of all the bus captured my heart.

 

The break with the bus began with OFSTED. Times became difficult and as I was an ‘old’ expensive teacher I was pushed aside (Sounds like Barty?)

 

When I doubted myself (due to difficulties in school) my daughter said “Mum you are an inspirational teacher and that is why the children always loved being in your class.’

Aww praise indeed.

I did once ask a class when I revisited them, why they were pleased to see me? “Because you talk to us and you listen.’ I hope that is me.

 

I think my play-work on the Playbus did make me put children first.

My advice would be to listen to children, chat alongside and play at their level.

 

I always played with my own children and shared time together, as they grew up and they wanted to do their own things the Playbus kept me going. My children always said I had three children. ’A boy, a girl and a bus!’ lol

 

My grandson is now one and I have time with him one morning a week. I’m enjoying being creative, finding things to do, playingand sharing our moments together.

Teaching is definitely a work of the heart.

I always found that children will naturally come to me and smile. My children sometimes found this disconcerting.

 

P.S. During lockdown I have not enjoyed being the ‘Lockdown Nanny’ (a blog I hope to write someday), being unable to help out and support with child care. But at least now I am enjoying my Thursdays. My books are too old for Alexander but one day… and he will just have to loved buses!

 

P.P.S. Also. During lockdown I became involved with Early Years online learning using my books (EYFSHOME). Although my books are older than early years it seemed to take me back to my Playbus days and thinking of ideas to support the book, to play, create and sing songs… I’m having fun.