Tag Archives: teaching

How to get published

I am now the proud author of 5 published books. It’s quite amazing really. I have been asked by many of my friends how it all came about, how I got published. Did I send of my manuscripts to hundreds of agencies? Did I go, cap in hand, to publishing houses and alike? The simple answer is no. The simple answer is that I wasn’t really looking to get published at all.

I wrote the original Squidge book for a wedding, my wedding in fact. I decided that the kids at the wedding should have something to take away with them. The name of the elf was my affectionate name for my wife. I wrote the story, printed it on a standard printer, nicked loads of images from a royalty free website and laminated the front cover. As far as I was concerned, that was the end of it. I got married (December 2008) and the book was left on my computer.

Fast forward 2 years. I have new baby boy, and I hadn’t thought about Squidge in many months. I met another new father (our wives had met through a push chair exercise class. Seriously). He mentioned that he was branching out into publishing and my wife, not me as my memory is sieve like, mentioned I had written a book. He said he would take a look, I emailed it over and the following things happened…

1) my publisher sent it to the editor, she gave it the thumbs up.

2) the editor found many, many, many punctuation errors and typos. She suggested some small, and very good changes, I agreed and sent it back with my my very own thumbs up.

3) we got an illustrator involved. He sent me the first draft of Squidge (which, he won’t mind me saying, I wasn’t keen on), I sent off a descriptive paragraph, he tweaked it and Squidge had a face. And A very cute one at that.

4) the book was digitally put together. This is the bit I have no idea about. I know what an editor does and how they do it, same with an illustrator. The digital side is a mystery to me. It looked awesome though.

5) the book was released. Kinda says it all really.

And there you go. Maybe not the nuggets of info you were expecting but it does go to show that it can happen any place, any time.

As an aside we decided to put together an education pack and free fun downloads. All here www.squidgeelf.com

I really enjoy writing (both blog and books) and hope that people continue to care enough to read them.

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The best and worst Trilogy

What makes a good trilogy? Is it a good idea? is it something that gets better as you watch or read each one? Is it something that is well thought through? I am unsure what makes this magical thing of 3 great things, I can however tell you what makes a bad trilogy. Here are my top 3 bad trilogies.

1) The Godfather. This may surprise some, especially those that know me, but the Godfather trilogy is guilty of committing a terrible, terrible crime. The first Godfather film was amazing, made even more so by the fact I hadn’t seen it until the age of 25. I loved the interwoven story line, the effortless violence and completeness of it all. I loved it. Then came number 2. It was even better than the first and added another great Italian actor into the mix. The dual story lines went extremely well together and the whole ‘how times of changed’ angle was great. Number 3 was s**t. End of story. From such high expectations came a less than mediocre film. Why oh why!

2) Back to the Future (although the illustrator of the Squidge series disagrees). The first 2 films were interwoven so well that you couldn’t just stop at the first, although it dies stand alone very well. The ideas behind it, the great acting, and the fact that it makes you feel smarter than you are by being able to follow it. It hits all the right notes. Number 3 though, oh dear. It is all the things a western shouldn’t be and it really feels tacked on to the end as a money spinner. A flying steam-powered train? Really?

3) The Matrix. What a concept. seriously, what a concept. The real world isn’t the real world, the real world is a desolate waste land. Only one (the one) can save man kind. WOW. I walked out of the matrix thinking ‘how will they ever follow that up?’ The answer? Badly. I think that the idea of Zion was a very bad one, as did many other people. So much so that you can watch the Matrix de-zionised. check out U-tube. 

So then, to the best 3. Trilogies that I love.

1) Star Wars. It’s Star Wars, what else do you need? And yes, I am ignoring the prequels. Mr Lucas was given the green light on one film, even though he had 6 (or 9 if you believe certain quarters) he chose to start at number 4. He basically went for the best one for commercial viability. It gets better with both Empire and Jedi.

2) Lord of the Rings. Either the books or the films, I’m not fussy which. All films and books are wonderful, clever, linked and, as with all great stories, a tale of good versus evil. Now some people think they are a bit long and others liked them enough to buy the extended version. Guess which one I was! I would quite happily spend an entire day of my life watching back to back extended films. I have already done it with the 7 star wars films (I included the clone wars animated film).

3) Squidge: Little elf, Little bear. Ok, Ok, I admit it may not be the greatest of trilogies but it is close to my heart. It’s the story of an elf, a bear, some lemmings and a wolf pack. It was really fun to write, lets hope it is as fun to read.

Squidge: little elf, little bear.

That’s it from me. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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A piece of cake

April is my friend. April the person, not April the month (all though I quite like that too).  A very simple statement, but one that took a lot of thinking about. It’s not that I had to think about whether or not I like April. She is a very lovely lady who I have never heard say a bad word about anyone. Even further than that really, as she always seems to find the positive. If I say that someone is a horrid person she will respond with a ‘yeah I suppose,  but maybe they were just having a bad day’ or ‘maybe they would be nicer if…’
A very wonderful quality that I most certainly don’t possess.

It’s  just that she was my friends girlfriend for a while before she became my friend as well.  Let me try to explain what I mean, in list form of course.

1) up to 1 month. You meet the person once or twice and have a very quick ‘aren’t they nice’ or ‘what the hell is he doin with her?’ if you get the first comment then phase 2 comes in

2) 1 month to 6 months. How do they get on with your partner? You rely on the judgement and opinions of the significant other in your life because, let’s face it, you chat with your mate and leave the girls to it. Sexist? You bet. I didn’t make the rules though.

3) 6 months to 1 year. You end up in a one on one conversation with them. This may have happened before but this conversation is much longer. Do you have much to talk about other than your mate, their boyfriend. If so then that leads us to…

4)1 year and on.  would you meet them for a coffee/drink, email/text them or chat on the phone with them without you, them or your respective partners thinking it is a bit weird or odd or awkward?

If you can get through all of these, and April and I have, then you can call them YOUR friend and not ‘my friends girlfriend/wife’.  So yes, April is my friend.

Anyway, on to the real reason for chatting about my friend April. She is an author. She has a book. You can buy it on amazon and in various good bookshops. April is a cake magician.

I don’t mean that she makes cakes disappear , quite the opposite in fact. April makes cake pops. She takes a piece of chocolate cake, puts it on a stick and then makes it look like anything you want. Bride and groom cake pops, celebrity cake pops, you name it, she can do it. My favourite by far though is the one that looks like a bag of popcorn you get at the cinema. The other great thing about them is that they taste as good as they look.

 

So if you have the time, and if you are so inclined, go check her and her book out.

Top of the cakepops

Aprils website

 

 

 

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School trippin

Going on a school trip is a lot like childbirth. Bear with me here and I will explain. The school trip, like having a child, involves planning, anticipation, worry, lots of information, a risk assessment,  but above all else, the ability to forget the pain.

If you speak to a woman just after child birth they can’t even think about doing it again. And yet, we don’t have a nation of single child families. After a couple of weeks the pain subsides, the memory fades, and you are left with a wonderful feeling.

With the school trip, you ask a teacher who has just returned how it went and they will tell you that the are exhausted, that they didn’t get a break, and that they will never take that bunch of little terrors out again. A couple of weeks pass and the kids talk about the trip with fond memories, remembering facts and information that you have forgotten. It’s one of those ‘why I became a teacher’ moments. The making a difference in society kind of thing. So you start to think about the next trip and the cycle starts again.

Now I’m not silly enough to believe a link much past my silliness, but the thought tickled me.

So, our class trip was a huge success. The kids loved the interactive elements as well as the reading and thinking parts. I would have to say that it was one of the best I have been on. Here is why (bring on the list) …

1) the journey was pretty short and on the  DLR (docklands light railway). This was fantastic as they had plenty to look at.

2) no parents(we took student teachers). I have been in classes where the parents come along and they might as well bring a massive bag of cotton wool to wrap the kids in. “it’s raining, he might get sick”, “such and such called my daughter a name”. They also spend a fortune on their child in the gift shop, even though the other kids have been told to bring a maximum of £2.00.  Which brings me onto…

3) we avoided the gift shop. Children spending half an hour trying to decide if they want to buy an overpriced pencil, eraser or badge. All being followed around by a security guard, ready to pounce on any dangerous 10 year old pen thieves.

4) we had lunch early. This meant that no child had the chance to ask when lunch was or moan constantly about being starving. Something about having a pack lunch on your person seems to do this.

So, a good school trip with a large class, 4 trained staff members and a fun time had by all.

We even managed to ‘deliver’ all the children back to school safely. The mums will be happy!

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Bestselling Author?

Strange as it may seem, and odd as it may feel, I am charting in both IBooks and Amazon Kindle and actually selling my books.

Let explain the oddness of this. Last year I had 1 book out, a publisher, an editor and an illustrator. This to me was odd. How could I, a hyperactive teacher, have all of these things? The book did really well, but that, I told myself, was because we were giving it away. Still, it did 50,000 or so and I felt a real pride of accomplishment.

Fast forward to this year. I was out with the lads yesterday (a very stereotypical gathering of men whose wives, girlfriends etc… had gone to a baby shower) and they asked me how the book was doing. A very simple question, but I froze in answering. What I should have done is go on a 10 minute sales pitch about the http://www.squidgeelf.com, or this website with all the links to the books, the kind of ‘tell all your friends and tell them all to tell their friends’ thing, but I didn’t. I told them that it was doing well, asked if they had read it, answered any questions, and left it there.

I think that because the book is selling, because it seems to be doing well, and because they are my mates from way back when, I was worried about sounding a little up my own backside!

I am very proud of what I and the proving house team have done but I do find it difficult to see myself as an author.

Andrew Thomas

Author?

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A double whammy today of poems and a pic. This is the poem from the second book, Little Elf, Big Problem.

Some issues arose with the name as it has, just as Big Trouble did, some negative connotations. I think though, Squidge being a cute fellow who gets in the kind of trouble that a child who was left with a jar of opened chocolate spread would, can pull it off.

 

 Squidge – Little Elf, Big Problem.

If you eat lots of chocolate and you’re not very tall,

If you can’t go on rides ‘cos you’re ever so small,

If you just cannot reach that jar on the shelf,

You’re either a very small child or an elf.

In our story today it’s an elf who’s the star,

Squidge, the littlest elf by far,

But before we meet Squidge and join in his fun,

Before we find out why our friend has to run,

We need to make sure that some other stuff’s done

And so our adventure starts: three… two…

 

“One more and then we can get out of here,” shouted the chief elf as he put the last of the covers on the big machines. “Right oh,” came the reply from his assistant.

 

Hope you like it. The full book is available here

Squidge IBooks

And here

Squidge amazon

Ands lots of free stuff here

Squidge Elf website

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A week of poems

We have been writing poetry all this week using the Sharon Creech book ‘love that dog’. It’s so easy to get lessons from and introduces children to classic poets in a fun way. In the book, we learn how to write poetry with a boy who believes that poetry is for girls. Anyway, here is my poem about someone who inspires me. It’s the kids turn later. Hope you like it.

Inspired by Roald Dahl.

An author I love who goes the extra mile, the fabulous, wonderful, great mr Dahl.

Squishy things wriggling that look just like pasta, enormous peaches and kids who learn faster. Orange men dancing while making their sweets, children called George concocting his treats. Giants that take away all your bad dreams and foxes fantastic with eyes all a gleam. Stories to listen to over again, with characters funny and some round the bend.

An author I love who goes the extra mile, the fabulous, wonderful great, mr Dahl.

With so many books it’s hard to chose which, the one about tortoises, no let me switch. The one about chocolate, yes that’s the one. Whichever you read it’s guaranteed fun. No wait, I can’t make up my mind let me switch. Ah yes, the best one, all about the high witch.

An author I love who goes the extra mile, the fabulous, wonderful, great mr Dahl.

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