I have been helping my illustrator (his photo above) with his new website recently. It was during this time that it occurred to me that I have not done a spotlight on him yet. Gavin Childs works as a Design teacher, but also has worked as a scenic artist. When I started writing my stories he would read them and would come up with ideas for illustrations. It only seemed natural that he would put his ideas on paper and on the computer.
Five books later we are still working together. I guess I should also let you know that he is also my fiancé and that we work in the same school. Lucky for us that we get on so well and are able to work together creatively.
Here are two of his favourite illustrations from my books. You can also see more of his work by visiting: www.gavinchilds.com
This is Doris from Delilah Dusticle's Transylvanian Adventure.
Spiders appear a lot in Gavin's illustrations. This is from Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest.
Today I am forty and I would like to give you a present of a Sunday night bedtime story. I bet it will leave a smile on your face. You can download Eliza Bluebell, for free ,today only on Amazon.
On Sunday, 19th March I turn 40. I could say where did the time go and look back and wonder if I have made the right choices in life, but instead I would prefer to look forward. The best is yet to come and I am truly grateful for the warm, loving people in my life. To celebrate my naughty forties, I am giving away Eliza Bluebell in eBook format , for free, on Amazon for one day only.
Mark Sunday, 19th March, 2017 in your calendar and make sure you download your copy. Eliza Bluebell has been described as fun, magical and reminiscent of Mary Poppins. It is a tale to tell your children or Grandchildren, and a tale to read before you go to bed to put a smile on your face.
If you would like to read some reviews, click the link below. It will take you to Goodreads, a book reviewing site.
Someone once asked what I would change in Eliza Bluebell. I have been thinking this through and I think I would add that she arrived in Blossom Brook on a snowy Christmas Eve. There is something beautiful and sad about snowfall. It is also certainly a time when magic can happen.
I hope you enjoy reading my little fable, and please share her story with your friends.
Here is the first chapter to whet your appetite.
Eliza Bluebell became best friends with her shadow at a very young age. Having spent her life travelling from place to place, she never stayed anywhere long enough to make friends. As soon as she found someone she liked, Eliza would suddenly find herself on an adventure to somewhere new. She wasn’t able to take friends with her on her travels. But her shadow would go with her wherever she went.
When they were small, they would play hide and seek. Her shadow was very good at hiding. She could slip down cracks in the floorboard or merge with another shadow in the room. When on quests to find sweets, Eliza would send her shadow ahead to see if there was anyone coming. Fortunately, only Eliza could see her shadow doing these things. Her shadow was invisible to other people – unless, of course, her shadow was doing what normal shadows do.
Eliza spent her youth moving from home to home and from family to family. She grew up to be a magical girl and, with the help of her shadow, she could do wondrous things. As soon as she was old enough, they set out into the world looking for her real family.
They would visit big cities and small hamlets, staying long enough to make things better for those whose paths they crossed. They would watch over each other on their many journeys. Like best friends, they were inseparable and together they were a team. Really, they were one and the same. And so, it was the village of Blossom Brook that was to become home for Eliza Bluebell and her shadow. But just for a while.
Remember you can download the whole story, for free, on Amazon on Sunday, 19th March, 2017 .
It is all about the work that is happening behind the scenes at the moment. I have been chipping away at various projects. The current story I am writing is going through a rewrite. Even the title has changed. The illustrator and I are also looking at ways to illustrate photographs. I feel very much in the experimental phase, which can be the most the creative.
It is not easy though. I have to keep pushing myself. I really want to publish two further stories this year and it easy to find other things to do at the moment. In order to create you have to just sit down and wait to till it happens. I am in a frame of mind where I struggle just to sit down. My mind wonders and before I know it, I am away from my computer doing something else. Perhaps this is what I need to do right now? Or perhaps I need to be more disciplined?
I am starting to teach again at the end of the month, so I am busy planning, creating differentiated work and learning to use an animation software package, which is fun. This is part-time and I hoping I can stay on in the library the rest of the time. It is not just the books that thrill me, but the work librarians do on academia. I have been running sessions on citing, plagiarism, research strategies and bibliographies. It is interesting to see students suddenly become aware of copyright and how their ideas have probably already been thought of by someone else.
There has also been a huge focus for me recently on my leisure time. I have been putting days aside to spend with my fiancé. We recently went to an outdoor spa on a Swedish farm. They have now turned their land into a vineyard and built the most amazing outdoor spa experience. The temperature was around freezing all day. There was an underground sauna where you could sit and watch fish swim past. The outdoor hot tubs were my favourite. I sat for what seemed like hours watching the ducks swim on the partially frozen pond. The light in Sweden this time of year is just beautiful.
Today is Valentine’s Day. I was surprised this morning with a heart shaped cake. The picture is below. It says ‘To my Darling’ in Swedish. I will be devouring this later.
So, is it time to find the discipline and sit at my computer or should I just wonder off and find something else do? I will see what happens after lunch.
Seasons Greetings one and all!
I have been working in a school library since April and it has been a great experience. I think many people see being a librarian as an easy job, where you check books in and out. Lucky for me, I have been working with a qualified and passionate librarian who broke this myth on my first day. I have had to get to grips with the software used to check books in and out, learn the Dewey cataloguing system, become an expert on how to do research, learn what source database are and how to use them, be aware of the different ways to cite a source, explain what source criticism is and so on.
Most importantly, I have learnt all about the many roles a library has. Yes, it is a place to read and study, but it can be for many students a safe place to be during break. The library also organises most of the cultural activities in the school and I have loved organising a Skype visit from an author based in New York. I shan't say who yet. I am still waiting for the contract and would not want to publicise this until it is set in stone. The library is very much the heart of the school and I am grateful for the opportunity to have learnt so much. The job will come to end next year and I now need to think of what next. I am, as ever, hopeful.
In the meantime, the students and I have been having fun decorating.
Just in case you have missed it. I am doing a Giveaway on Goodreads. On Christmas Day one lucky person will be selected to win a paperback copy of A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story. Below is a screenshot of the competition page. To Enter, click here! Good luck!
Some say that the best creative output comes from a hard place. This can be from struggle, hardship or even pain. There is also those who feel they need space in between creating to live. This is so they can base there work on the real things that happen in life. When you create something you hope that it will resonate with the audience in some way. That is will make them feel something or recognise something in your work that raises questions.
I have been taking a break from all kinds of writing recently. Life has been stressful and sucking up all my time. I had to cover the start of the lesson the other day. I was exhausted and stressed from all fronts in life. As the kids started their work I had the sudden urge to write again. And so I did. Within ten minutes I had penned a poem. Here it is.
Here is the new cover for Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest. I find the eyes very spooky. All the Delilah Dusticle books have had a make over and I am really pleased with the new look. I hope you like them too!
Enter for a chance to win a truly magical gift this Christmas! I am giving away a paperback copy of A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story. To enter you must have an account with Goodreads. I have also had to limit this Giveaway to USA, UK, Canada and Australia residents only this time. To enter, click the link below!
A week tomorrow it will be Halloween. If all goes well I will be on my annual trip to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. It is a beautiful place, especially in autumn when the leaves are falling from the trees. The illustrator, Gavin and I have been working on the redesigns for my books. I am really pleased with the latest one. The story is set in Transylvania and features a very peculiar Dracula. It is very apt for this time of year and the book is full of magical surprises. Wishing you a fun and spooky Halloween!
Here is another cover that has been redesigned. I am so happy with what Gavin Childs has done with this cover. It feels magical, dreamy and slightly Tim Burtonesque. It will take a week before the cover is up everywhere and the print book is still being sold with the old cover. I think it will take a least two weeks to show up everywhere. In the meantime you can see it here.
A.J. York is a middle grade and Children's writer. From the UK, currently living in Gothenburg, Sweden. Author of Delilah Dusticle, Eliza Bluebell and A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story.