Wednesday, 28 September 2016

New York Times By The Book Tag

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New York skyline, as seen from my the Empire State on my 2009 trip

I have been eyeing up the New York Times By The Book tag for quite a while now so I thought there was no time like the present to turn my attention to it. 

Pick a question, or a few, or if you're keen all of them, and leave your very own answers below as it'll give me something to peruse whilst I endure abdominal surgery recovery!  

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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Beautiful Book Covers Tag

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If there is one thing I am good at, it's buying beautiful books. Luckily for me, a billion years ago, my ridiculously handsome buddy Jason created the Beautiful Book Covers Tag and I thought it was time to showcase some of my favourite designs. Not gonna lie, I had a tough time narrowing all the books down so I may have to do something like this again at some point. Please do tweet me photographs of all your beautiful book covers because I always have room for more!
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Saturday, 17 September 2016

How to Write A Children's Picture Book

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I am currently in the process of writing my first children's picture book and, since I shared a How to Write Short Stories post a while back, I thought now would be an appropriate time to share some tips on how to write a children's picture book. Today I am not only calling upon my own wisdom as I have roped in my friend and elfin picture book oracle Sarah. to tell us more. Since I'm lousy at introductions, I thought I would let her introduce herself...with a beautiful illustration by me: 


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'Hello! I'm Sarah. I'm a Picture Book Publicist for Penguin Random House Children's Department. I create and execute PR  campaigns, write press copy, arrange and accompany authors at events and tours, host parties, brainstorm ideas around kids trends and pitch ideas / stories to media contacts'.


I didn't refer to her as a picture book oracle for nothing, pals! I do hope this proves to be useful for some of you and, as always, feel free to leave your own advice in the comments below.



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1. be clear with your basics

Pick your protagonist, work out their motivation and assess their obstacles. You've got a limited amount of words and pages in a picture book to really nail your basics so if they're clearly outlined at the beginning of the planning stage you'll make life a lot easier for yourself! 


2. what's your motivation? 

At the start of each writing project, I like to write myself a little mission statement of sorts that clearly outlines what it is I am aiming to do with said project. Do you want to educate children about a particular thing? Are you hoping to evoke a particular feeling? Work alongside your motivation to ensure that you've got a clear idea running throughout. 


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3. have a hook

Alongside a motivation, you need to have a hook. Sarah says, 'Have a hook and make it as creative as possible. What's in your book that isn't in anyone else's?' . It doesn't necessarily have to be something too complicated either. Simple hooks can often work best! 

4. don't be afraid of being different 
Sarah says, 'Don't be afraid of being different. Want to make it sad? Go for it. Want to play with taboos? Great. Make your content matter'. Be bold and stand out! 


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5. kids are intelligent!

Sarah says, 'Kids are a lot more intelligent that they often get credit for. You don't need to dumb anything down, language or ideas'. It can be tempting to keep your language simple through fear of children not knowing particular words. However, children expand their vocabulary through reading. They often have a parent or guardian on hand and children, unlike most adults, are happy to ask questions about things they may not understand. 

6. don't just explain the pictures

Sarah says, 'Your words should never just explain the pictures. The pictures should never just illustrate the words. The best picture books are those which give things away without showing them, which tell you things without talking'. Publishers will pair you with an illustrator so try not to get too invested in that side of things as you're writing. Have some vague ideas for different panels, sure, but your job is to create a solid manuscript first and foremost. 


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7. you don't have to have a message 

Sarah says, 'You don't have to have a message or a moral. You can just have a plot. And it can be fun. That's fine!'. I have got a message with mine and I'm currently working out how to place it throughout without it feeling forced or laid on a little thick. Make sure you have a balance.

8. read other books!

Sarah says, 'Read as many picture books as possible. Note what you love about them. Get a feel for the length and pace. Look at what works'. Read them aloud, to yourself and others!


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9. nail your ending

Sarah says, 'Absolutely nail your ending! Whether it's humour, grief, shock, or silliness. It must be a crescendo!'. You want to ensure that you've resolved whatever it was that your character was struggling with, be it societal issues or personal or whatever. Children carry ideas around with them so give them something to mull over post-read. 

10. read your work aloud!

Children's picture books are pretty much written to be read aloud so do just that as you go along! Are you going to go with a rhyme or not? The most important thing, regardless of whether you're rhyming or not, is to keep an eye on the rhythm and the cadence of the words you're using because they can make or break a picture book.  

Once you've read it, hand it over to other people to read to you aloud. What does it sound like? Do they stumble over anything? Does something not quite work? Sometimes you may have to do a little edit in order to make things translate better from page to speech.

And those are mine and Sarah's tips on how to write a children's picture book! Let us all go forth and write picture book masterpieces! Do you have any further tips on how to write a children's picture book to add?

If you'd like to scroll through all of my advice posts then you can do so.



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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Book Reviews feat. Sarah Waters & Kim Gordon

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Last month I read a musician's memoir, a dystopia I hauled just last week and added a new book to my 'favourites' shelf. What did you read during the month of August? Anything you'd recommend based on what I read? 


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Saturday, 10 September 2016

24 Things I've Learnt In 24 Years

24 things i have learnt in 24 years blog post

I turned 24 on July 3rd, 2016 and to mark that I've decided to share 24 things that I have learned in 24 years. I like to think I have learned a few more things along the way but these are some of the most important lessons...


I'd love it if you left your own little list with me or, alternatively, told me which lesson you related to most because I just love being #relateable. In the meantime, please enjoy my life lessons and a series of photographs of miniature, more youthful, Bee. Please tell me how cute I am.


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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Book Haul feat. Sarah Waters

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As my surgery was looming, I decided to treat myself to a fair few books in August in order to stash them away ready to read during my recovery.  Because I clearly don't already own enough unread books...

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Saturday, 3 September 2016

Behind the Photos: Instax Edition

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I've been snapping away with my Fujifilm Instax Mini camera for a fair few years now and so I thought it might be quite cool to delve into my collection and share the stories behind some of the images with you. As sometimes, the stories behind the captured moment can be just as good as the images themselves!

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July 2016. Some of my best buds all wrapped up in my blankets with mugs of tea at my birthday BBQ once the sun had gone in. I had to take this photograph because they all looked like little pensioners. This was such a lovely day. The sun shone. We all ate too much. All but one of my best friends could make it. I was very happy. And yes, that blue slug is Lyzi. Hilarious.   

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July 2014. We were staying at my Aunt's house up in the Scottish Borders and she bought us ringside tickets to the Borders Show for a day or two. We wandered around the craft tent, cooed at all the donkeys, laughed way more than we should have at the size of a bull's bollocks and ate fresh lobster caught that morning for lunch. It was my first experience of lobster and I enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed watching my sister try not to vomit it back up and her boyfriend managing to spill salty lobster water all over himself. If you'd like to read more about this trip, you can do so as I shared an Adventures with Bee post all about it. 

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July 2014. A photograph taken on the same trip to the Scottish Borders. I tend to try and escape all of my cousin's kid's schemes by sharing graphic details of my shark attack. Heads up, I told these two that I was a victim of a shark attack by showing them my abdominal scars in order to get out of numerous games of Tag. In this photograph, they're holding up a ransom note for my Mother, who wasn't so lucky, who they had captured in the contraption they're perched on above. I just had to capture the moment because, for me, it just encapsulates youth. Oh, to hold members of your family captive at parties again.  


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September 2015. Graduation day on Plymouth Hoe! I was really depressed on  this particular day so I don't exactly have fond memories of it but it's nice that I have a few photographs of the day, I guess. Looking at this photograph, however, makes me realise how much I miss skulking around Plymouth on a sunny day. I'm definitely going to have to return for a day trip at some point. If you'd like to hear more about my Graduation, as I've really sold it to you here with my tales of woe, head over to my Adventures with Bee post from that very day. 


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Christmas 2014 at the old house playing a family game of Cards Against Humanity. We all squashed into the kitchen and played round after round - terrified and greatly amused by Luke's Grandad's offerings each round. I think laughter is my favourite thing to photograph and I'm glad I captured this moment between Luke, his brothers and Bruna. 

instax review

Summer 2015. I had not long been out of hospital and we were invited to our Mum's best friend's wedding do so I threw on a maxi dress and hoped for the best. I love this photograph because us 4 are very close as a unit, my sister's boyfriend is essentially Luke's best friend, and it just reminds me of the fun we had raiding the buffet for the honey and mustard sausages. It has also become a running joke that we can't take an Instax without one of the boys being a victim of lens flare - there's one unfortunate shot where the flare makes it look as if Luke is entirely bald. Oops!

Aaaand that's a little insight into the stories behind some of my Instax photographs. I'd love it if you too shared your very own photos and the stories behind them so do let me know if you do so. In the comments, I'd love to know about a photograph that you managed to capture that has a funny or heartwarming story behind it...




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