Tag Archives: Colin Wyatt

Who Will Be My Friend?

Dreams never die and my dad is a testament to that! Some of you will know he is a Walt Disney artist (one of only a couple back when he started approved to work for Disney) and has illustrated many children’s books and comics over the years. He was a co-creator of the BBC’s Poddington Peas when he brought Paul Needs’s characters to life, some of you might remember.

I worked with him when my little press published The Jet-Set books at Paws n Claws for Born Free helping him to realise the dream of writing as well as illustrating his own characters.

Well I am thrilled to announce that he had another picture book of his illustrations and stories published this month by Chapeltown Books and how lovely this is for its illustrations and beautiful message that in today’s political climate is just what we need.


Who Will Be

The book is available on Amazon; here is the UK link! Dad will be doing talks in schools and has some planned at local libraries next month; this Saturday in Benfleet!

Do please spread the word… Dad taught me that age is no limit and if you have a dream… never give up!


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Filed under a book deal, Acceptance, Acknowledging who we are and why we write, Believe, Believing, Book Covers, Book Launch, Book Launches, Book Review, Book Signing, Book Titles, Colin Wyatt illustrator, Dreamers never disappear, Dreaming, Find a Publisher, Finding true happiness, freelancing, I Have A Dream ..., ideas, In the Spotlight, Inspiring Others, Live your writing dream, Living the dream, Never Give Up, Passion for books, Passion for life, Picture books, Picture Books 3-8 years, Reach your potential, Reading, Uncategorized, Who will be my friend? Colin Wyatt

Talent? Genes?

I was editing a book for a very talented person recently and he made me think about something… how much is talent learning and never giving up and how much is inherent? That old nature-nurture conundrum.

I find this interesting because I think for most there is some talent or leaning towards, so the genes must play some part — but I think it’s 90% hard work and tenacity. What do you think?

In our family, Mum writes poems from time to time and even had one published in a collection. My dad is a super talented artist who used to work for Disney and then was art editor for the 2000 AD comic and did a few of the Judge Dredd covers Colin Wyatt. Oh and he co-created The Poddington Peas… remember them? (If you do you will no doubt be humming the theme song at this point).

And my brother Justin Wyatt, and the real reason for this post, who celebrates his birthday (!) today inherited (or so we say) Dad’s super talent and also works as an artist.

I would like to encourage you to look at this Facebook Page… he does the artwork for Seaquest books…


See on Amazon!

Both Dad and Justin have also drawn some of the covers for Bridge House too.

So is talent learned or inherited?

Well, I can tell you one thing, I can’t draw to save my life but Dad does write so maybe?

Happy Birthday Justin!

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Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Judging the book by its cover …

Yes we all know this expression and maybe we like to think we don’t do it — but we do.

Book covers are big business in the art of selling and marketing books. This seems especially true for debut authors that to the reader are yet to be tried and tested.  And marketeers know if you grab readers with the debut, and assuming they like the book, you are building the audience for future book sales. Most of us when buying a book look at the cover, the blurb, flick and read maybe part of the first page to try to assess the writing (remember the blurb is deliberately there as a sales pitch and the first page is usually always the most polished!)  … but the cover does impact most on selling. Or why else does so much go into it?

Some research indicates that different types of people look for different things in a cover and there is a lot of discussion about making book covers suit genre and in doing so appeal to the audience for that genre. That seems obvious, doesn’t it. You expect lipsticks and hearts in chick lit — oh and pink, you expect black and Gothic and maybe blood for vampire and so on. Literary novels also look for a certain air about them, and this they’re thinking — how does it look when nominated for a literary prize?

Actually, even if you’re unaware of it, you probably know what kind of book it is by looking at the cover. And like genre writing (and let’s label literary as another genre) there are reader expectations being catered for in the cover as well as the writing.

What is interesting is the differences between countries and I know often US publishers will design a different cover for the same novel for the UK.

Also what’s interesting is how an author is ‘branded’ by the publisher. All Jodi Picoult novels for example look the same, photographs of children or parents, same font etc. With reprints there is some scope for ‘reinvention’ but it can’t deviate too much from genre or expectation or how else will the book sell? And that is what it’s really all about.

At Bridge House we are very proud of our covers and we are also lucky my dad and brother are professional artists and so is Gill’s son so they mostly contributed although we have used photographers as well. Does this impact on sales? Well hard to tell with a small press like ours, mostly because these collections tend to sell to family and friends of the featured authors and very few sell beyond that. They are not generally on book shelves in stores to be browsed and sold that way — as the big presses do. But I still like to think they look attractive on Amazon etc.

What’s been fun being sat Bridge House (and at Paws) is being allowed to design and think up designs we want for covers! When Laura Wilkinson had her novel published by us (she won our novel competition) she was clear what she wanted for the  cover and had studied some of our covers. She wanted something photographic so we introduced her to the photographer Bexs Robertson and allowed her to directly liaise and I know she was happy with the final choice. In fact she had a few to choose from and made that final decision. This is unusual in the industry, but we’re a small press so we can do it. With big presses the decision is left to the people who know — as I say this is a big decision and once you’re branded — you’re kind of stuck with it.

Here’s Laura’s cover: see what you think? (By the way this is a great novel, so if you haven’t read it — I urge you to!)

Cover by Bexs Robertson, Fronwen Photography


Here are some others by BHP:

By Justin WyattHe also does a lot f graphic novel and  comic art and works for Disney website

By Justin Wyatt
He also does a lot  of graphic novel and comic art and works for Disney website


What about this?

By Ashley James

By Ashley James

And by my dad …

by Colin Wyatt Walt Disney Artist, co creator Poddington Peas

by Colin Wyatt Walt Disney Artist, co creator Poddington Peas website


I know what I want the cover to be for While No One Was Watching my Kennedy novel, I see it in my head. But when it’s published (when not if I hope) then how much say I will have in the cover probably depends on who publishes it. We’ve featured some great covers In The Spotlight … what are your thoughts?

So when someone says “Don’t judge a book by its cover” — ask them how? Is it even possible?


Filed under being a successful writer, Blogging, Book Covers, Bridge House Publishing, In the Spotlight, Living the dream, Publishing


Well as I come to the end of a phase dedicated to research, I thought I would say a few words about it. It might be useful to take some of the things I’m thinking as I start writing the new novel, for this Blog. Any useful insights. If I have any!

And so I guess a good place to start is research.

How much should you do and how much do you need?

Answer: How long is a piece of string?

Every project is different. Yep, true enough. So I will say it again: every project is different.

I am really brushing up on research I did for the short story I am adapting into a novel, but that does mean I need to explore some areas in far more depth. I am still in the phase but ready to write.

Obvious as this might seem, (but I’ll say it anyway!), the amount of research you need,  depends very much on your current knowledge of the subject. If you are indeed ‘writing what you know’ and ‘what you know well’, perhaps you don’t need as much. Personally I don’t like the phrase ‘write what you know’ because 1. you can get to know almost anything, right? Kind of?  And 2. if we only wrote what we knew, how many fantasy and Sci-Fi books would get written? If you write what you know, is your knowledge accurate? Validated? Unbiased? Can it ever be unbiased? Write what you know about being human — this is what translates in any genre.

I don’t spend weeks and weeks researching because I need to write, like I’m driven by some primeval instinct, and if I don’t my head will explode, but I need some research for sure. If I was writing historical fiction then I’m sure it would need more research, unless I was a professor of history but then my life would be about researching! But I do spend a fair amount of time. This can be fun, reading books, watching movies even. I did a lot of this for my JFK novel. In fact it was that,  that made me realise how blurred the line is between fact and fiction.

I did a fair amount of digging for my Isle of Pelicans novel (now resting, it has ‘issues’) … in fact it was a visit to Alcatraz that inspired it. So I did a lot of reading and went back there. By then I had a first draft. The internet is a great source of information, but a word of warning … you can also find a lot of nonsense there. So be wise about your interpretation. As I pointed out to my paranoid friend, anyone can post anything. I have an MSc and worked as a scientist before this. I could post some ‘fact’ that says if you sneeze more than 5 times a day you are 10% more likely to get cancer and, someone somewhere will believe it.  I did just type it, in fact and on the internet. But it’s not true, well as far as I know! But get my drift?

Perhaps it’s my background that makes me more aware when researching. I often had to look up scientific information in my last job, and that meant using reputable publications and websites. I had to seek validation of those facts from at least 5 sources.  Just be wise, especially when looking for historical information. But you all know this anyway because you’re all so clever!

Deciding what was ‘fact’ and what was ‘fiction’ about the Kennedy assassination was not easy. Those pesky grey areas, and there are a lot. Then you can go with what you feel. Accuracy in fiction I talked about before. Your call. It is fiction after all. But you decide. How credible and how real do you want your work to be? No one says it has to be truthful, but if you want authenticity then you need some truth.

When I did pay another visit to San Francisco it was part of a 40th birthday trip I took with a few fellow ’40 club’ friends. So it was not just for research, if only I had the agent and publisher willing to fund that, right? But I did go armed with a notebook and dragged my friends to all sorts of places. The best was Golden Gate Park where a body was found (in the book people!). We rode the amazing carousel they have there, one featured in my story, and I took lots of photos of the kiddies playground. I hope no one thought I was some pervert! I did not take photos of children, although some might have got in the panned shots. But the oddest thing was asking my mates to help me look for a good spot, near to, but out of sight, of the playground where my character was beaten to death! And like good sports they joined in. “Over here? “No, too dark.” “What about here? The legs could stick out under this tree?” “No, too exposed.” … you get the drift. “No Mr American cop with a big gun, I don’t really plan to kill someone and leave the body in this park. Honest.” No that last one didn’t happen. But imagine!

I did email the San Francisco Police Department and the wardens at Alcatraz for information, mind. I wanted to know if you could hide a kidnapped child on Alcatraz after it closed. I did have to explain I really did not have any intention of doing this of course. The nice man told me no as it’s all lit up and they check after it closes so the information was helpful! And the cop sent me a great email about procedure. He even said ‘let you imagination go wild here!’ when I was asking about forensics!

You can learn a lot from books and the internet and many people have published successful novels having never visited the place. I think it helps, but is not always possible.

I would love to have visited Grapevine Texas, the setting of While No One Was Watching (what a name for a real place where a reporter lives, eh?) And I still want to stand on the grassy knoll. I have been to Texas and to Dallas as I have travelled a lot in the USA so I am not setting novels there for the fun of it. It just seems to fit my stories.

You might not have to go there but it helps. Being in a place can allow you to add an authenticity that’s hard to capture otherwise. It’s in the little details. I found myself standing in the Golden Gate Park noticing the shapes made by the trees in late afternoon. I noticed smells and we asked someone who told us what blossom you get at that time of year. These are the things that can make the difference. So if you can go, do. But as I say, not always possible.

I Am Wolf  is set in New York briefly (I have been and know it enough for what I need), Moscow and a small Russian village … hmm this has been part of my research as this is new to me. I don’t need lots of detail but I need enough. And a small part in Alaska which I would love to visit. But I have enough for this. I already delved into linguistics and psychology but have bought and read a few more texts.

When you have digested the information you need and you get writing, you will always need to dig more as your novel takes you in fantastic unexpected directions of its own. But this is exciting.

Where writers often stumble — with this newly acquired knowledge — is in its deployment.

Ever read those novels where the action is paused for huge information dumps? I know what people think, I have thought it. Well I learned all this, I want to show it off. NO. Please don’t. Like those small details, smells in a park for example that you use to add authenticity, it’s the little things from your research that can say more than big info dumps.  The same can be said about all the scenes you end up deleting and all the background information you know about your characters that you never directly use. I’ll tell you why. Knowledge is powerful. You all know that. But hey, let me say it again anyway: knowledge is powerful. 

And knowledge will seep through in the way you write and the little things you add. Your readers are astute and will sense the depth of your characters when you know far more than you write, because it will be there in the subtext of your words. The way you know your subject will do the same. This is where fiction writers can use their power.

If you want to show the world in a different way, reveal some flaw in human nature, show another perspective; whatever your theme or intention, fiction makes it seem real. Unlike documentaries or factual books, fiction can be emotive, you can get right into the psyche of your characters and become them for a while. Maybe this is enough to produce the paradigm shift, the change in thinking that no factual book could give you?

Would you sit and read a text-book on self-actualisation and linguistics in feral children? Wolf biology? The history of Russia? Perhaps you would, perhaps you wouldn’t. But through fiction knowledge is imparted. Now I have to say that again don’t I? Well I will anyway: through fiction knowledge is imparted. It’s another way of learning, but a very intimate one and one that the soap writers are more than aware of. You can bring the world’s attention to many things through films and books and I am sure these outsell the factual books, when you are often preaching to the converted.

So do your research and use it wisely.

Now I will leave you all in peace. Have a great weekend y’all!

‘I Am Wolf’ drawn by Colin Wyatt


Filed under Animals, Learning to be a writer, Literary Fiction, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Psychological Thriller, Publishing, Research, Self actualisaion, Theme, thoughts in fiction, time to think, Truth in Fiction, Wolves, Writing

Easter Weekend Book Event…

Just thought I would pop up on this wet bank holiday, not really for a proper post but just to say hi and loving Julie-Ann’s Blog 7. I am one of her chosen ones so this week I will post as well as pass it onto another 7 writers! Busy time as the family are here, so later in the week.

But I thought I would share with you the link from BBC Radio Wales that will work until Thursday for those that missed it:


We had great fun over the weekend meeting the families that came along to GreenWood Forest Park! We read some of the Jet-Set stories, and Disney artists (Colin Wyatt and Justin Wyatt) drew Disney characters! We were there for a couple of hours each day and they drew 60 pictures! Half the £2 fee per drawing was for Born Free so £60 will be on the way to them this week. The other £60 is to GreenWood, for their eco-work! So thank to everyone.

We didn’t sell many Jet-Set book on Saturday but set things up a little differently yesterday and sold about 12 books. But it was really about raising awareness! We talked to lots of people about the Born Free message and I gave out flyers to some of the older children about the next Paws Competition.

It’s great fun talking to children about books and writing, a lovely way to spend Easter 🙂

Some photos for you…

If you want to get copies of The Jet-Set books, visit the website: www.thejet-set.com, all profits support The Born Free Foundation and the message of the books is that animals belong in the wild…

Colin Wyatt (front) and Justin Wyatt (behind) drawing to raise money for Born Free 08/04/2012

Signing Event at GreenWood Forest Park 07-04-2012


Filed under Children wriitng, Publishing, Reading

Facing rejection with a smile

None of us like to be criticised and none of us like to be rejected, yet for writers this can happen on almost a daily basis. One thing, it fuels the fire to show them-  or it does me, a drive to succeed, which links with what I talked about earlier this week, how we respond to positive and negative feedback.

But it’s tough. And it gets tougher because the better you get, the more you buzz at the frequency that says I am really doing this. Someone might actually publish this, and so when they say no, you feel it all the more in the gut. It’s tough and it’s difficult, but you have to keep the faith. Nothing comes without the slog.

Do we actually face rejection with a smile, well, that’s tough too but what you shouldn’t do is crawl in a hole and say that’s it, why do I bother? Let me say this:

Getting your MS accepted first off … is one in a million, the odds might be one in more than a million. It is not the norm.

Authors that are accepted — it is not normally their first novel, sometimes not even the second or third.

Authors accepted by one agent or one publisher have usually been rejected by many many more, the same version of the same MS. There are many reasons why they don’t choose yours and it can be the writing, the genre, what else the agent/publisher has to look at (there is always something better!), financial (as I talked about yesterday) and what I think comes with all of these — they were not WOWED enough. And this is the crux. A lot of the other stuff goes out of the window if they LOVE LOVE LOVE your MS.

It’s about finding the right fit at at the right time, a ton of really hard work, a professional approach and a sprinkling of magic.

But if you want it, you’ll do it. So look that rejection in the face and … gulp back a few tears of regret … and smile. It will make you stronger by making you want it all the more.

I will leave you on that positive not and won’t Blog for the next 4 days, it’s Easter!

So whatever you’re doing, have lots of fun.

Anyone in North Wales, I’ll be at Greenwood Forest Park near Bangor, 12 – 2 Easter Saturday and Sunday with my family. Dad will be reading from the Jet-Set books and signing copies and then him and my brother (both Walt Disney artists) will be drawing, £2 line drawings of your favourite characters – £1 to Born Free. You do have to pay to go on the park but it’s a fun eco-friendly Adventure park! Link below:


Happy Easter, if you’re having a rest — enjoy it! And we’re also off to be interviewed for the Roy Noble Show about the Jet-Set later today 🙂 It’s a great life,  smile through rejection, celebrate the highs…


Yay, another rejection closer to success!


Filed under Learning to be a writer, Literary Fiction, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Publishing, Reading, Rejection, Securing an agent

Recipe for a Launch Party

  • Take one fabulously talented children’s illustrator and writer. Check.  Colin Wyatt.
  • Take one amazing idea: Check.  Picture books about superhero animals that rescue wild animals in trouble.
  • Take a great charity that helps real wild animals. Check. The Born Free Foundation.
  • Take a venue that’s perfect and ideally located for the writer. Check. Just Imagine Children’s Bookshop in Chelmsford Essex.
  • Take a representative of the charity who will speak to the children and tell them all about their kid’s club WildCrew and bring along a special guest; Roary the Lion, the Born Free Mascot. Check.
  • Add animal-related crafts for the children. Check.
  • Bring along refreshments and a celebratory cake. Check.
  • Give a time: Check. 10.30 t0 midday.

And all you need now is to add are plenty of excited children who like animals and books, their mums and dads and lots of friends. Oh and a pile of the books.

What do you have? All the ingredients for a very special launch party.

It’s this Saturday, January 14th. Colin will read to the children and there’s colouring, face painting… etc.

The Jet-Set were conceived by Colin Wyatt, albeit different characters then, some years ago. But they have since been refined and developed, with the input of Born Free to show them how these loveable characters can show children aged between about 4 and 8, that animals belong in the wild… and not zoos. This is the philosophy of The Born Free Foundation: visit their website here: http://www.bornfree.org.uk

The stories are magical and enchanting, edited by yours truly, and there’s even an animal fact file at the end of each story about the featured animals so the books are educational too.

And what’s more, for this first series, my publishing company Paws n Claws has put up all the set up costs and devoted all our time for free. While the printer and bookshops will make a small profit we don’t, meaning more money goes straight to the charity to help real animals and what a great charity it is. I have become a friend of Virginia McKenna since I launched our Bridge House adult animal story collection in 2010, and she is fully behind the project.

So if you live in Essex, then please do come along on Saturday, which also happens to be Colin’s birthday, and help us celebrate these books.

And if you can’t come, you can follow the links here on the website to Amazon: www.thejet-set.com

Being a new and small press, with next to no marketing budget, it is hard selling books and getting the message out there to the masses, although I have tried and I do still hope for some TV coverage. So this is where word of mouth and events like this and of course social networking comes into its own. So please please do tell your families and friends about The Jet-Set.

As I say, this is not shameless money-grabbing marketing on my part as I am not set to make a penny. I just want to get the name out there.

And who knows where it might lead?

So here is a quick summary:

Date: January 14th 2012

Time: 10.30 – midday

Place: Just Imagine Children’s Bookshop in Chelmsford: here’s the website: http://www.justimaginestorycentre.co.uk/

Who will you meet? Colin Wyatt, Born Free, Roary the Lion… come on!

Visit the Jet-Set website to find out more http://www.thejet-set.com

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