Sunday, 24 October 2010

Golden Arm is the most entertaining poem written for children......ever, at least 3500 children agree with me

Another spectacular week in the world of the Hairy Plug Monster and Friends, kicked off with my invitation to St Joseph and St Bede's Primary School in Bury on Monday usual I got lost on the way and arrived with just minutes to spare.

With the aid of a cup of tea, I managed to regain my composure and set about preparing for the first reading to a combined Y1 group.  I used to get nervous when I performed in front of classes but over the last year I have managed to integrate lots of little bits into my "act", encouraging audience participation and building up the atmosphere using "Golden Arm" as a finale - which again didn't fail to scare the socks off them.  I was allocated a room for the day and with each year group, I included the other stories such as "Miss Carr's Pies" and "Commander-in-Chief of the World".  As the final Y6 group came in I cast my inhibitions and read the two Zombie specials, " There's Something Wrong with Grandad" and for the very first time "Zombelina".  Again it seems I misjudged children's appetite for more gruesome stories, as they loved it.  Even the teachers enjoyed the sad sorry tale of the Toymaster and his daughter.  It does help though when you have "Golden Arm" to finish on, and seeing as no one else wants to blow my trumpet, I may as well do it myself...

Golden Arm IS the most entertaining poem written for children ....ever.
It was a fantastic day, with a lot of books being sold and a very appreciative school making me feel very much at home. 

I had an email from the Windows Project, who requested that I pay them a visit in Liverpool sometime soon and also if I could include them in my next school visit for "assessment". 

The rest of the week was spent finalising the first of three pieces of music for the film - Rough and Ready, and again I didn't fail to deliver the goods.  The only thing that's missing at the moment is a steady flow of income, to pay for all this.....but I keep telling myself that it IS only a matter of time.

Thankfully everybody else seems to agree with me...

Find out for yourself by visiting and purchasing your very own signed copy of The Hairy Plug Monster.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The wheels seem to be turning again for The Hairy Plug Monster

Last February I had a call from Diane Mitchell from the Wirral library services asking if I was free to do a reading as part of the Wirral Bookfest - in October!!

So 7 months later the date finally arrived and off I popped to Beechwood Library on the Wirral.  I read to two visiting schools in the morning (whose name escapes me at the moment).  No prizes for guessing the most popular story...again.

After a very fine panini in Heswell with fellow poet Angela Topping and the Principal Community Librarian - Julie Barkway, we travelled over to neighbouring Pensby Library for a brilliant reading to some more year ones and reception age children from the local school.  I had to refrain from reading Golden Arm as I didn't want to scare any of the younger children and incur the wrath of the accompanying parents.  It didn't matter though because "The Pot Bellied Cook and The Three Legged Dog" managed to capture the imaginations of the kids just as well.

Angela also recommended that I contact the Windows Project in Liverpool, as they assign writers and poets to schools all across the U.K.  I sent an enquiry with all the links and reviews I could find and now it's a matter of waiting for someone to get back to me.

Following my visit to Bury last week I received a really heartening e-mail from one of the parents who bought a copy of the HPM. 

Dear Leighroy
Our Year 2 children recently visited the Bury Library for a visit with yourself. I purchased your book The Hairy Plug Monster and my children absolutely love this book. My daughter has read this book to her dad and her dolls and continues to ask for it to be read to her. Thanks a lot.
Deborah Barber (Mrs)
School Administrator - St Marie's RC Primary

This is just one of the many reviews that we have got since the publication just over a year ago, and I know that we haven't even scratched the surface yet.  Alison Davies one of the assistant librarians from Bury Library Service also received a call from St Joseph and St bede's  primary school in Bury asking for my details after seeing an article published in the Bury Times last week.  So I now have another booking in Bury for Monday - which is brilliant. 

If the success and enthusiasm shown for The Hairy Plug Monster and my other stories is replicated elsewhere, then its definitely only a matter of time.

Noah and The Hairy Plug Monster
I was sent  a photo from Canada, from a young fan called Noah proudly holding a copy of his book he received last Christmas and thought that it would be brilliant if I could fill the blog with pictures of other proud if you have an image of the HPM you want to send please email it to me at .

Monday, 11 October 2010

A really thick lining of silver....around a big dull cloud

So there I was seven days ago, updating the blog with nothing but doom and gloom... and feeling very sorry for myself. It's amazing what seven days can do for you...

Steve Garry the actor whose voice was utilised for Zombelina, phoned me and asked if I wanted to have a go at supplying three tracks for a yeh, and even though the style required was not really my cup of tea, I still managed to spend my free hours during the week coming up with the goods.  I have a feeling though the the film itself will have an adult rating so I can't really tell you more at this stage.

On Tuesday, I was invited to Radcliffe Library in Bury to spend the day reading to local schools from the area:   St Johns, Chapelfield and Gorsefield. 

Unsurprisingly, the reading went well with all the schools being enthusiastic about the new material
"Miss Carr's Pies" and "The Pot Bellied Cook" as well as The Hairy Plug Monster and of course Golden Arm - which fast gaining cult status amongst the pupils.  A few books were sold, and the librarians were happy. 

On Thursday, I returned to Bury, as the guest author as part of National Poets Day, where this time I played host to Holy Trinity and St Marie's Primary schools in the morning before going to Holy Trinity Primary School in the afternoon. Again I read to about 200 children and they all seemed to be very positive about the whole visit and better still more books were sold. 

I even tried out the controversial " There's something wrong with Grandad" (which my mum disapproves of, due to the fact that Grandad has become a victim to the Zombie Apocalypse.)  However, I mentioned to the class before I read it about my mums concerns about it's suitability and got them to vote on it.

The result 34-0 in favour of Grandad Zombie....there are parts in it as well that make it possible to act like a Zombie, which got them all going..and then when you follow that up with Golden Arm, well you can't really go wrong can you?.

Needless to say The Hairy Plug Monster was a massive hit with all the years  and even though the Plug Monster machine stalled last week, it seems it is back on the road again and firing on all four cylinders.

I am not sure why, (but very grateful) but I seem to be very popular in Bury with both Waterstones and Bury Library Service always making me feel welcome. 

Monday, 4 October 2010

It's easier to see the Wizard of Oz, than it is to get a booking at a school

Now that the schools have settled down a bit, I started a new promotional campaign to get as many readings in as possible.  Unfortunately, getting an email passed the Admin Office at schools is like trying to book an appointment to see the Wizard of Oz.

Sometimes if I'm lucky I will get to at least be able to find out the real names of the people who I need to contact, but quite a lot of the admin staff that I have come across just ask me to send the email directly to "them" and "they" will make sure that the right person gets it....

But how would they know?,

....but then again I expect that they get thousands of emails every week  from people like me, all wanting access to the school - and the various opportunities that it presents..

So if any of the readers of this blog do happen to work in the Admin office at a school, please look out for me at least.

The rest of the week has been spent looking for a job, but alas I am still what they tend to call a "struggling writer".. 

The only success I have had recently is for a possible position that isn't happening until at least April 2011 and even then there are probably still a few hundred candidates going for it.  Similarly, I took an online assessment test to become a Census Coordinator, but even if I am successful, I am not needed until roughly the same time as the other job..( which I am not going to mention by name at this stage).

We didn't make the long list for the UKLA 2011 which surprised me in a way, I thought The Hairy Plug Monster would do well and the exposure would have been marvellous....however the idea of running a marathon dressed as the HPM is really starting to appeal to me...I am bound to get on T.V. and at the same time can raise some money for charity...the hard part it seems is running 26 miles all in one go, but after seeing how many people compete in the London Marathon it cant be that hard.....can it?