My blog is about writing and illustrating children's books which I have been doing since 1974. www.gillianmcclure.com has all my books. I also have another blog: www.paulcoltman.blogspot.com where I publish my father's poems.
This boat in Thaxted church inspired the boat in the story I'm working on at the moment; a boat so unseaworthy that only great belief and faith could keep it afloat. Perhaps that's why it's there in Thaxted church; I can see no other reason.
Meanwhile, as I work on the boat in my story, more seaworthy boats pass on the river at the end of my garden and I catch a glimpse of those onboard sipping wine as they sail on by through August.
Here are the four prize winners of the first Elsworth School Writing Competition; they were taken to Patisserie Valerie for tea last Wednesday. Booksellers at Heffers judged the entries and I handed out the prizes at school the day before. I was very impressed by the standard of writing coming out of this small village school. The link between good writing and the love of reading was evident, especially in the style of William Wisson-Burton's story Turning the Page. William was the overall winner and his name was engraved on a cup - hopefully the first of many names to be engraved. Elsworth School will be looking for another children's author to hand out the prizes next year.
Last week I went to Birmingham for a Royal Literary Fund Fellowship meeting for returning fellows. This is the scheme that places writers in universities for two days a week to help students with their essay writing. I did it back in 2005-7 at Kent University and, in September,will do it again at Essex University alongside crime writer, Martyn Waites.
The day in Birmingham wasn't arduous - there was a short brief from Steve Cook, the Fellowship Officer, a leisurely meal followed by petits fours and coffee, lots of chat with other writers who'd come from all over the country and a goodie bag (above) containing two mugs and a lot of pens to take away.
A sprinkling of children's writers were present - as there should be - because it's Winnie the Pooh who is funding this scheme: that 'bear of very little brain' but a very big honey pot of riches thanks to Walt Disney .
While there, I visited an independent children's bookshop, Kidsbooks and met the bookseller, Phyllis Simon. What struck me first about her shop was its size and then after a long browse its huge range of books.
"Business thrives," Phyllis told me, " because parents in Vancouver are very concerned about their children's literacy and they support the bookshop".
Phyllis, who has a library background, is an Anglophile and is enthusiastic about our children's literary tradition. She wanted to talk about Philippa Pearce and Minnow on the Say, Lucy Boston and the Green Knowe stories, Anne Fine and Helen Oxenbury. However, there was a note of disappointment when she described the range of books she saw in a large London bookshop when she was recently in the UK. Whereas the best of the UK's children's books get into bookshops in Canada and the US she didn't see it happening so much the other way round and, as a result, thought the UK was missing a lot of good books originating in North America.