Category Archives: Wild n Free Book

Going Animal

Animals have always had a very special place in my heart.

I feel a spiritual connection to animals on the deepest of levels and it’s why I originally (after wanting to be a writer before everything else of course) went to vet school (only not  completed due to ill-health) but did go on to get an honours degree in Zoology and later a Masters in Ecology.

My love of writing and love of animals kind of went hand in hand and I used to write so many animals stories as a child, winning my first writing  competition at the tender age of ten with an animal story. So the work I now do with Paws n Claws and the Born Free Foundation is a natural step, a way of bringing the two together in a very important and worthwhile way. Animals belong in the wild and my mission is to try to change what people believe about that, to rethink what you see in zoos. And if that means changing the mind of one child when I visit schools, then I am succeeding.

Yesterday I got to upload the next two Paws titles to my printer and can not thank enough the people around me who made this possible: the pinnacle of many many months of hard work. And you can not do that alone.

And to celebrate the huge amount of very satisfying work, Dad and I went to London by special invite to a Born Free Wildlife Art Exhibition and Celebrity Auction headed no  less by TV’s auctioneer, James Lewis.

For me meeting Tara from Born Free who has worked tremendously hard on the new poetry book, was fantastic, numerous late night emails as we proof-read and phone calls so we feel we already know each other!

It was of course also wonderful to see Virginia McKenna again and since we have also had a lot of recent phone calls involved in this special book (details of which I will share soon!), she came right over with a hug. She is a truly remarkable woman!

So who else was there? Check out the Born Free Page here: LINK

Well, Vic Reeves and his glamorous model wife, Nancy; Anneka Rice, Elizabeth Emanuel (designed Diana’s wedding dress), Lauren St John (who has been on this blog, writer friend and judge for the poetry book and the first Paws competition), some more TV Flog It/Antiques Roadshow faces I didn’t know but Dad did! In fact a few faces I thought I knew and I finally got to meet the ever so charming and lovely son of Virginia and Bill, and head of Born Free, Will Travers.

Some amazing artwork by celebrities (see the list of names on the link above) and well-known artists and I watched as James Lewis swung into action and had the room lapping up the paintings. I stood on in awe trying NOT to twitch and find myself bidding on a £5000 painting!!!

The most expensive piece was a tiger painting drawn on the spot during the auction by the talented Sherree Valentine Daines that clocked up an impressive £10,225!  http://www.sherreevalentinedaines.com/

The art exhibition is open this week at the Clarendon Art Gallery until tomorrow so you can get to see some of the wonderful paintings: http://www.bornfree.org.uk/get-involved/events/

Once again I was humbled at how hard people at Born Free work and while some charities do get bad press, ALL the money goes to the front line where it’s needed.

So, here I am — selfies with Virginia and Will, and why not?

 

Debz and Will Travers 11112014

Will Travers CEO of Born Free and little old Debz Hobbs-Wyatt!

Virginia McKenna and Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, London 11/11/2014

 

 

 

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Wild n Free: Celebrating Literacy and Raising Awareness

I had the most wonderful day in London on Saturday where I got to meet more than 20 of the children whose FAB stories and drawings made it into Wild n Free Too.

I have photos taken on my camera, Dad’s and my brother’s so will pick the best ones and create an online album for those who fancy a gander (no not talking about geese here!) But there is an animal theme of course!

I will also share some on here!

The Wild n Free project started life when I first met children in schools and started talking to them about the work of Born Free as well as teaching the mechanics of good story writing. This is the second book and I am so proud to see the way the children and their families have responded to it.

From a financial viewpoint I do lose out, although Born Free benefit from a royalty — but it’s not about that and when I get to meet the children as I did and see what it means to them, I know I have to do it again! And we are.

I wish I’d had more time to talk to individual children afterwards but the time just flew, but I am so glad I did meet them and their lovely families.

It’s a pity the local press never seem to want to come along because there is so much bad press about literacy in children and this book proves the talent is there and it needs to be nurtured. Schools do the best they can to teach ‘literacy’ but this is a whole lot more than that and story telling is a refined technique and one that requires the great imaginations children have — so we really do need to tap into that more. This book proves not only that children have amazing talent, but represents a wonderful way to teach children about empathizing with other animals. We have a right to protect them and we need to teach this young.

So I hope people out there will not only tell their own children but also can I ask one thing — print out our poster and take a copy to a local school, church, Brownies meeting, library and help me spread the word! Please.

Here is a link to the poster and the current competition is open until January 31st! POSTER

Also do look at getting the book for Christmas: Amazon here and we have a Kindle version! WILD N FREE TOO

Thanks so much for your support!

I will be posting photos here too and on the dedicated Wild n Free Blog that has been a little neglected of late so we also need to start publishing the other stories and drawings that did not get into the book but deserve to be read!

The venue was Millbank Primary School near Pimlico and very well attended. I was delighted to see so many there!

We started with refreshments kindly organised by my lovely mum while my dad and brother sold raffle tickets and books and helped children find their badges and sign a few things for me! I was flitting around!

I was also so thrilled that the amazingly talented multi-award winning children’s writer Gill Lewis and the other multi-talented Dr Who writer and YA novelist Daniel Blythe — two of our main judges, made it along and spoke to the children.  Also thrilled that Anne, the Marketing Director at the Born Free Foundation, managed to find tie as I know she really had other commitments, to come along with lots of goodies for the children and told the about the valuable work of the Born Free Foundation — which is really what this project is about. Thanks Anne!

And of course the real stars of the show are the children themselves who came to the front, one by one, for their moment in the spotlight, that I know would have been a bit daunting for some, but EVERY single one of them did really well!  Made me so proud! Thank you.

I appreciate some of the quiet voices were hard to hear at the back and another time I will try to get a microphone, but I tried to avoid as this can be more frightening for the children.

I so so wish we’d had more time for signing and photos but I think, from what people said, they all had a good time and appreciated what being in this book does for the  confidence of a child. Thank you. That makes me know how worthwhile the project is and why I want to keep it going.

We raffled a few things I bought for the event and made £26 for Born Free which isn’t bad for a small raffle.

I also asked all the children to sign a card for Virginia McKenna that I will be posting off today as well as Darragh’s copy of the book as a runner-up that is now being posted off to Canada!

So more photos to follow but I will leave you with one that shows us all!

Some of the talented children from Wild n Free Too! Millbank Primary School, London, Saturday December 14th 2013

Some of the talented children (and me!) from Wild n Free Too! Millbank Primary School, London, Saturday December 14th 2013

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Celebrating Literacy

Well late today posting and this will be short and sweet.

If you want to see some of the talented young writers in the Wild n Free Too book we are having a special launch in London tomorrow afternoon and 23 of the talented children will be there!

Authors and judges Gill Lewis and Daniel Blythe will be there as well as someone from Born Free!

Festive nibbles too!

Hope to see some of you there!

Come along!

Come along!

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Glowing in the Limelight

A little later than usual this morning as got up and got on — lots done early, mainly house cleaning!

But here I am. I’ve had a crazy few busy days since I came back but three big crits successfully delivered and can now just write today and look forward to my visit from Lee’s parents and my trip back to Essex tomorrow. I have other work lined up too so will get to that before Christmas but nice to relax a little and do what I love the most — WRITE!

I will keep this post short and sweet and leave you with the link from my interview in Glow Magazine!

GLOW

Enjoy!

Keep on LIVING THE DREAM GUYS!

Keep on LIVING THE DREAM GUYS!

 

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Getting inside your head

The aim of a truly great novel is really to get into your reader’s head. To ‘possess it’ for a while in the best possible sense. Or at least that’s my aim when I write anything.

I just love it when I can disappear into the pages of a book and lose myself for a while. People ask me, as an editor, and a writer, if I find it hard with some books to turn that off and find myself reading the book as if I’m critiquing and the short answer to that is yes — in a way. I hate it though as I think well look this is published, edited etc, so who do I think I am? But I guess it goes with the job. But then again if I can truly lose myself in a book then I see that as a measure of how great it really is.

The role of the writer is to create a world that lives in someone else’s head and what lives in one reader’s head will not be exactly the same as what lives in another’s but so long as you write it well and show what you want to show, the world you create will be pretty similar for each reader. And as I have said many times it’s so important that you connect to your readers. Or should I say — that the characters do. This is why I have such an obsession with getting voice right. For me it’s not the author the reader wants to hear but the characters and that’s why when I give readings I have to act a bit as well. (Help!)

And to effect this I truly believe the reader has to be part of the story. I have found myself working on a lot of manuscripts of late where I say SHOW it, FILM THE SCENE. What I mean is don’t tell me how a character feels or why they said something. Or even how what someone says makes them feel, SHOW it. What is so often lacking, or so it seems to me, is SUBTEXT. To complete the whole getting inside a character’s head and that total immersion I think you need, the reader has to be active not passive to the process. By this I mean they have to be watching events unfold, part of those events, rooting for the characters and trying to second-guess. It’s vital they have to work to resolve things, pick at the threads, try to work out what’s really happening in the story. If you tell them too much it becomes a much more passive process for the reader.Subtext, body language, things SHOWN allow the reader to think, to become part of solving the dilemma the novel poses and without that and too much telling, the reader becomes of a passive bystander and so the story lacks the WOW factor. This for me is why you have to SHOW and not TELL.

So, I had a busy working weekend although I did have a lovely mean in Chester with my partner in crime from Bridge House on Saturday but of course we talked writing and books! What else!

I am so looking forward to next Saturday when we have the official launch party for Wild n Free Too when I get to meet all the talented children and their families!

Tonight remember I am signing at Hintons Bookshop in Conwy and I so hope people show up! If you let me loose in a bookshop with no guests but lots of books to look at I might spend too much money!

So, best write but one final plug for the event tonight. Hope to see some of you there!

And remember -- my novel is still 99p on Kindle and made it into the top 500 Kindle books and was 94 on Crime and Mystery yesterday!

And remember — my novel is still 99p on Kindle and made it into the top 500 Kindle books (now at 344!)  and is 77  in Crime and Mystery this morning! DOWNLOAD IT! Tell all your friends!!! Thank you!

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Write What You Know or Know What You Write? Dispelling a myth

You hear it all the time: Write What You Know.

If I did that literally I’d write books about writers (oh and so many do and I always groan), about a 40-something year old white girl from the south of England, maybe some science thrown in there. So no murder, lost children, other planets?

I think this terms is somewhat misunderstood. In a world where the answer to just about any questions, takes what less than a minute, a few minutes max to find, by the power of Google, then we can know just about anything and so perhaps the write what you know put simply just means make sure you learn it so you know it? And that is what we have research time for. We do have an obligation to truth even in fiction a I have talked about before although we are still allowed to make it all up! What fun!

I actually think writing what you know has a deeper meaning than that. I think it means connect to your reader and that means tapping into something universal. It’s what I teach the children in my animal writing workshops — imagine yourself into the role of something else, imagine you’re a lost animal, you’re hurt, sad, lonely, missing home. While behaviourists and zoologists still like to assume animals cannot possibly have the same emotions as us, we all know that this  is ridiculous and of course they do! (And this is coming from someone with a Zoology degree and an Ecology Masters.) Look at your pets. And in much the same way this is why we cry at ET when he comes back to life and when he gets to go home. We tap into what we know and what we feel as humans and this is where I think write what you know  comes into its own. And all you need to get that part right is not to travel into outer space in the name of research — good luck with that funding application — but to be human. Plain and simple.

And I think most of us know how to do that — don’t we?

Have a great day all!

eBook out December 1st!

 

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Yippee!

The showcase was fab last night and when I came home what was sitting on my mat?

THIS!

WNF2

Check it out on Amazon and please add to your Christmas lists as it supports Born Free!

LINK

Back cover

The eBook version will be available by the end of November!

It all looks fab so I will approve it which means orders can be made and order forms sent out! Yay!

 

I think that’s all I’m going to say today. We had a photographer at the showcase last night (and I sold all my spare copies of the novel) so hopefully some good photos will follow!

And people in Essex look out for me in the Canvey Island and Leigh Times!

Also from next week I will offer signed copies of the my novel through my website if you have PayPal £12 with p&p in the UK — will have to check on postage outside of the UK! Lots have asked so thought it seemed like a good idea!

Now must write!

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