Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Preparing for World Book Week

HPM had another large day today, after I took full advantage of the girls return to school - Feeling pretty "smug" about all of the bookings for next week, it suddenly dawned on me that outlets for the HPM are still limited to shops in and around the Stockport area.

Having already established a small profile with Waterstones, I rang the Warrington, Bury and Blackpool branches and told them how good the book was, and that I was in their respective areas during World Book Week and would they like to stock my book - this resulted in orders from all three shops, and an additional reading at the Bury branch on Friday 5th.

I also managed to place books with Plackitt and Booth in Blackpool, http://www.plackittandbooth.co.uk/page5.html

and also the pleasantly named bookstore "Curiosity Bookstore" in Runcorn. http://curiositybookshop.tbpcontrol.co.uk/TBP.Web/CustomerAccessControl/Home.aspx?d=curiositybookshop&s=C&r=10000147&ui=0&bc=0 So after a relatively slow start, February looks like it is going to be a good month.

I also contacted the organisers of the Edinburgh Book Festival, to see how my application to take part had been received, and was told to not be so impatient as these things take time. ( patience isn't my strongest characteristic.)

A couple of weeks ago, I made contact with Honor Giles, the organiser of the local Lymm Festival who seemed quite enthusiastic about my taking part. I emailed Honor again today and had a good chat about "Golden Arm" which I told her I heard once as a small boy and re-jigged. I was delighted to receive her version of "Golden Arm" which she orates as part of her other role as a real "storyteller".

The version below is distilled for publication and much more detailed in the telling.


The version I tell involves a rich landowner's beloved and beautiful wife who loses her arm in a riding accident. He can't bear to see her so depressed, especially when she won't go out in company any more or wear her gorgeous frocks, so he gets all the famous doctors in the country to come up with a solution, and one comes up with a new technique to attach a false arm, but it has to be made of solid gold. The landowner sells most of his assets to pay for the gold, and for a year the transplant is a success and his wife becomes sociable again and even becomes quite proud of this new limb. By this time her husband has very little land or money left and has to beg for work, but to him the sacrifice is worth it. His wife eventually succumbs to infection and dies, and is buried with her arm. After grieving terribly and becoming more or less penniless, he realises that the only way he will survive is by reclaiming the arm and selling the gold. He goes to the graveyard at dead of night, choosing Halloween so that the neighbours will think it is the ghouls and ghosts at work, and digs up the coffin (lots of ghastly description of what a rotting body feels like to touch!) and eventually he finds the arm and runs home in a dreadful state, dashes upstairs and flings the arm under the bed, jumps in and covers himself with the blankets. Once his heart has stopped hammering, he calms down, but then he hears the sound of a horse coming up the gravel drive, then the sound of footsteps coming to the front door, then the footsteps coming up the stairs, then along the corridor, then the sound of the bedroom door opening, then the footsteps coming towards the bed, then the covers are pulled back from his face and sees the spectral figure of his wife. He is so overwhelmed by her loss of beauty that he asks her "Where is your beautiful chestnut hair" and she replies "Gone ... all gone" in sepulchral tones. He asks about her eyes, nose, lips and lily white throat and she repeats her reply in an ever-increasingly ghoulish fashion. Eventually, forgetting himself for the moment, he asks "And where is your beautiful golden arm?? ................YOU'VE GOT IT!

I think it is really interesting that there are versions which reverse the gender role, and where as your version is strong on revenge and just deserts, my version depends on a build up from a love story into something horribly macabre. I was told it by a storyteller Taffy Thomas, who heard it from Norma Waterson who said it was a Yorkshire tale, but I suspect one can hear versions of it all over the UK!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

More tales from the book tour. http://hairyplugmonster.com

With Arisha and Maya being on holiday (again) and all the schools joining them, it was a quiet week for the Hairy Plug Monster. Although, having said that, we did spend an enjoyable Monday in Halton just outside of Runcorn at the Halton Brook Children's Centre and the Brookvale Children's Centre to give readings of the book.

Again the reading went well, and again the parents and children seemed to love it. The day was rounded off quite nicely with a craft session where the children made their very own Hairy Plug Monster out of play dough, wool and glitter. (I did have a go myself, but my efforts were pretty poor, it must be said).

The rest of the week was spent taking the dog for a walk in the daytime, around various parts of the Peak District, and together with Maya and Arisha, we built several shelters in Lyme Park out of branches and leaves....a-la Ray Mears.

Saturday, was again devoted to spreading the word of the HPM with an invitation to give a reading at the newly opened Young Children's section at Bolton Central Library, where I had a really enjoyable afternoon reading to the " young Boltonians" and chatting to the library staff, who seemed very enthusiastic about the book and my other verse. For anyone who hasn't been to Bolton Central Library and finds themselves in the vicinity - it is well worth a look. Especially the Aquarium on the basement floor. ( The museum on the first floor is closed until November 2010, but there is more than enough going on to keep you occupied for a few hours in the rest of the building.)

After reading the book and a few other poems to anyone who would listen, and having a chat with Rebecca and Iklas - a couple of young aspiring writers. I made my way to Didsbury and my second booking of the day Razma Reads. http://www.razmareads.com/ where I hosted story time to a packed bookstore.

The Childrens Literature specialist, Razma Reads was the perfect place to spend a chilly February afternoon in the company Claire, the owner and her staff and after refuelling at the in-store coffee bar I was more than ready to read the HPM again for her clients.

I was even accosted by another children's writer who was in the same position that I was in 15 months ago, with a story that he wanted to turn into a book and wanted to know the best way of going about it. So after a good long chat, he hopefully left with a better idea of what needed to be done.

I did leave him with the disclaimer that I was by no means an expert, and only have one book published a the moment, so my experience in the big wide world of publishing "may count for diddly".

However if he does see the project through - I expect a mention somewhere in his book, ( you know who you are.)

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

World Book Week, bookings for the HPM

1st March Armitage School, Ardwick
2nd March 9.30 - 10.30 Warrington Library

11.30 - 12.30 Padgate Library
14.00 - 15.00 Orford Library

3rd March 09.30 - 10.30 Thames Primary School (Blackpool)
11.00 - 12.00 Venue Hawes Side Primary School
13.30 - 14.30 Venue Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary school
15.45 - 16.30 Venue Children's Area @ Palatine Library.

4th March Manley Park Whalley Range

5th March Bury Tottington Library


Monday, 15 February 2010

2 down - A few to go.......www.hairyplugmonster.com

I am Commander-in-Chief-of-the-world and I haven’t got time to tidy my room,
Alien invaders need to be stopped,
Only I can save us from doom.

If you give me five minutes, I’ll stop the attack, and send them all back into space
For I am Commander in Chief of the World, and everything else has to wait.

“Tidy your room, and take out the trash – I’ve asked you enough times already today”
“Mum – wait till I’ve won, I’ll be quick as a flash…it’s important to finish my play”

As he gripped the controls on his smart games console, the spaceship explodes with a flash and a hiss
He was winning the war, with an all time high score.
Nobody nowhere was better than this.

Then the TV. went blank and the world wasn’t saved – somebody, somewhere,
had turned off the power.
“You need some fresh air, it’s a beautiful day – Go out and I don’t want you back for an hour”

and so he went out,
without lasers or guns,
no spaceship to take him around
The Commander in chief – had to wait for a bus
While his mother drove off into town.

While he stood at the stop at the top of his road, and played with the bus fare he held in his hand.
He was joined by a wizened old man with a bag
-That was tied with a thick rubber band.

Politely, The Commander-in-Chief of the World, said “Hello”, and the wizened old man nodded back.
He ask with a laugh, “Do you know what I have?” through a smile that was toothless and crooked and black.

"Inside this bag, Is a game that I’ve made",
as he pierced the Commander in Chief with a stare
"It’s a game like no other before - that you’ve played, So real and intense,
You could swear that you’re there".

He opened the bag for the boy to look in, and his eyes opened up as he stared deep inside
A shimmering, shiny ,strange light glowed within, pulsating and spinning like something alive.


Find out what happens to The Commander-in-Chief of the World in "Spooky Stories" due for publication Halloween 2010

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Word is slowly getting out.

Quite a busy week for the HPM with 5 readings booked all over the region.

St Mathews C of E Primary in Edgeley invited me to read on Monday, and were kind enough to give me a selection of the pictures that some of the pupils had drawn. Again the children were very receptive to both Hairy Plug Monster and even more so to Golden Arm.
Tuesday saw me return to Broadoak Primary School in Didsbury for a bout of book signings in the morning and the day after I spent a pleasurable morning at Lane End Primary in Cheadle Hulme. On Thursday, I took the HPM all the way up to Crumpsall in north Manchester to Bowker Vale Primary and spent a full day reading to 10 classes ranging from nursery school all the way up to year 6.
Golden Arm again proved a great favourite amongst the pupils and their reaction was brilliant, it seems the more children are engaged in the story and following each verse, then the more likely they are to jump right at the end.
Etchells Primary in Heald Green rounded off a busy week on Friday, with me reading to the nursery classes and a few year one classes that I didn't manage to reach the previous week.
Orders for the book were strong, but more importantly the books that we sent to the regional library headquarters were well received and have resulted in a booking at Halton Children's Centre on the 15th Feb, followed by a prestigious reading at the opening of Bolton Central Library on the 20th. Warrington Library on the 3rd March and Blackpool Library on the 4th before heading over to Tottington Library on the 5th, before returning to Blackpool on the 9th.
Copies of the HPM have even been sent across the Pennines and I received this email from Shelly Bullas in Halifax.
Hello Leighroy

Thank you for sending us a copy of The Hairy Plug Monster. What a fantastic book! I loved the illustrations and rhyming story. I can’t wait to read it at story time. I will definitely buy some additional copies for our branch libraries.

Many thanks and good luck!

Shelley Bullas
Co-ordinator: Children's and Young People's Libraries Services
Discover: children's & schools' services, libraries, museums and arts
Central Library


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Dates for your calendar in February

1st St Mathews Cof E Primary Stockport
2nd Broadoak Lane Primary Didsbury
3rd Lane End Primary Cheadle Hulme
4th Bowker Vale Primary School Crumstall

15th 10-11am Halton Lodge Children's Centre.Grangeway, Runcorn WA7 5LU.
11-12pm Halton Brook Children's Centre, Fernhurst, Runcorn WA7 2NJ
12-3pm Brookvale Children's Centre, Woodhatch Rd, WA7 6BZ

2oth Bolton Central Library Guest Author for the re-opening
20th 3pm Razma Reads Didsbury Story time
21st Waterstones Stockport Storytime.