Procrastination: A Step-By-Step Guide


1. You can’t write unless your house is spotlessly clean. Spend some time with the Cillit Bang.
2. Check your email. Your inbox could be full of acceptances. While you’re on the computer you might as well have a look on Facebook and Twitter and browse the Internet.
3. Check your email again, just in case acceptances came in while you were Facebooking.
4. Realise you have the wrong notebook. Search through the extensive collection of stationery scattered around your house till you find the right one.
5. It’s lunchtime.
6. You’ve been stuck in the house all day. Go out for a walk to get some air to freshen up your brain.
7. Now you need a rest. Have a quick sit down with a good book.
8. Keep telling yourself you’ll stop reading and start writing when you get to the end of the chapter.
9. Make sure your pen works. Gather up plenty of spares in case it runs out.
10. It’s dinnertime.
11. Check your email again. There are bound to be acceptances by now.
12. There must be something worth watching on TV now.
13. At midnight sit at your desk and gaze at the blank page until you can’t keep your eyes open anymore.


The Story Museum, Oxford



Story Wheel


The Story Museum recently opened in Oxford with the aim of showing how important stories are. At the moment it is still a work in progress with one exhibition (26 Characters) and different events going on.

On the day we went there was a Roald Dahl event, where Anthony Pedley, who played the BFG in the original stage production, performed a one-man show reading extracts from the book and acting out scenes with a Sophie puppet, bottles of frobscottle and whizzpopping sound effects. It was performed a large studio which at first seemed drab and uninspiring, but with just one small corner being used, laid out with two short rows of chairs and a rug for children, the show had an intimate feel and Pedley kept the audience spellbound with his performance.

Dr Jekyll's lab

Dr Jekyll’s lab

The 26 Characters exhibition is running until the 2nd November, and features scenes from stories chosen by 26 children’s authors, with photos of those authors dressed as their favourite characters. Each exhibit is assigned to a letter of the alphabet, but this is slightly confusing as there seems to be no connection between the stories and authors and the letters, and they aren’t always in alphabetical order.

The exhibits are varied and many of them can be entered or touched. Our favourite was the wood in Lord of the Rings, where we had fun putting on the ring and “disappearing.” Entering Narnia was a magical experience and Malorie Blackman made an impressive wicked witch from Oz.


There was also a dressing up room, with a long rail of clothes for children (and adults) to use to become their own characters, and once they are dressed up they can slot words into a board to name their character and be announced as they sit on a throne. A story wheel in the middle of one of the rooms encourages people to make up stories, spinning it three times to find a character, place and theme.

The exhibition is aimed at children, but there were unaccompanied adults clearly enjoying themselves too. Entrance costs £7.50 for adults (£5.00 concessions) and £5.00 for children. On their website you can find details of forthcoming events for adults and children.


Books That Stay With You

A few months ago there was one of those Facebook things- “List ten books that have stayed with you in some way, don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard.”

I’ve looked back at my list, and now I’m wondering, how could I have missed out Slaughterhouse 5 or The Color Purple and so many others, but I’ve tried to think, what made me list the books I did? What is it about these that made them immediately spring to mind?

childrenofthedust1. Children of the Dust- Louise Lawrence

I read this when I was eleven and it terrified me. I remember lying in bed at night, the images of a world ruined by nuclear bombs burned into my mind. It’s a powerful book; harsh and yet strangely beautiful.

waves2. The Waves- Virginia Woolf

I read this in my late teens, and I loved how it got into the characters’ minds, even if I wasn’t really sure what the story was supposed to be. In times of trouble I used to close my eyes and open the book on a random page. Seemingly magically, I always found something relevant.

primolevi3. Collected Poems- Primo Levi

Levi’s ‘Song of Those Who Died in Vain’ was printed in the booklet of a Manic Street Preachers tape. I had never heard of him before, but the pain and strength of his words led me to seek out more. It’s a powerful collection.

snowspider4. The Snow Spider- Jenny Nimmo


As a child I loved how this book mixes magic and reality; Gwyn is discovering his power, but at the same time facing school bullies, arguments with his friends and a difficult father. It made it seem like magic was really possible.


dontlooknow5. Don’t Look Now and Other Stories- Daphne Du Maurier

I found this on my parents’ bookshelf one dull Sunday afternoon when I was nine and read the title story. I didn’t fully understand it, but the feeling of fear was unmistakeable. Re-reading it more than ten years later it was still just as terrifying.


downwardtoearth6. Downward to the Earth- Robert Silverberg

This is probably the book that made me like science fiction. Set in a brilliantly imagined world, the story is magical and mysterious, and speaks of humanity.


brisingamen7. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen- Alan Garner

It’s the scenes in the caves I can’t forget. I felt them closing in on me as the tunnels became narrower and narrower. I found myself gasping for air, not knowing if I’d ever get out. This is perhaps the most horrifying children’s book ever written.




solitude8. One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This is beautifully written, evocative and compelling. The story contains both humour and tragedy, and never stops being believable. It is amazing.




earthsea9. The Earthsea Quartet- Ursula Le Guin

It is, of course, no longer a quartet, but I can never think of the last two books as being properly part of the series. Earthsea is a fully-formed world full of magic, and it, and its people feel as real as  this one.




scenesmuseum10. Behind the Scenes at the Museum- Kate Atkinson

I love the narrator, Ruby, she’s so perfectly characterised it seems impossible that she doesn’t really exist. The book is both funny and heart breaking, and can be reread many times without losing its freshness.




A Feeble Attempt at Introducing Myself and My Blog

So… This is my first post.

I’m starting a blog to try to connect with other writers and readers; to share information, inspiration and book recommendations.

I write short stories and poetry and I’m also attempting a YA novel.

I’m currently a stay-at-home-mum of two and a volunteer in a charity bookshop.

Writing about myself is always the hardest thing, so now having made a cursory effort to introduce myself, I’ll find more interesting topics for future posts.

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