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EXCITING NEW WRITING COMPETITION FOR KIDS

Exciting news… Cartridesave Christmas Writing CompetitionI’ve been asked to judge a fantastic new writing competition for kids. If  you, or a child you know, live in the Manchester area, check it out. The themes for the competition are Christmas and Winter and there are some brilliant prizes up for grabs. So spread the word and get scribbling. I can’t wait to read the stories! It’s the perfect boredom-buster for the half-term holidays.  For more details click on the picture or follow this link: www.cartridgesave.co.uk/writechristmas 

Martin August 2011

In other news…Happy Halloween! (well, nearly!) As a huge fan of all things ghostly, I’m always excited at this time of year. I’ve ironed my best black clothes and looked out my reddest lipstick. (I’ve already got the black cat!) But this year is even more thrilling, as the final part in my Screaming Sands trilogy has just hit the shelves – Battle of the Beach Freaks!9781846471698 If you like the seaside and the dark side, this one’s for you. Check out the awesome new cover design, too!  US flagMeanwhile, the Undead Pets series is storming around the world.UPETS_ROTHHAMSTER The books are now available in the US, Canada, France, Sweden and South Korea. I wonder if Uncle Charlie has spotted the books on his travels!  Have a great half-term. Sam x

 

 

 

Undead Pets in the USA

Exciting news from the zombie den. Undead Pets are now in the US. The first two titles in the series have just been published by Penguin in the States! With the other books to follow soon. Click on the picture of Dumpling for more information. The series is also now available in South Korea, Sweden, Canada and France. Zombie Pets take over the world! US flagUPETS_ROTHHAMSTER

 

 

Don’t put on your make-up in the dark!

I reckon I visited some 500 children last week. And for someone who seldom leaves their bat-cave, that’s an awful lot of smiling! (My face still hurts!It was an amazing week, kicking-off with Monmouth Literary Festival where I worked with a top team of sixth formers from Monmouth Comprehensive, performing an Undead Pets workshop at local primary schools. 

Monmouth Lit festival 2014Then it was on to Leicester for the ‘Our Best Book Award.Our-Best-Book-award-imageWow! What a reception!! Highlights included being mobbed by hundreds of kids for autographs – (who me? Seriously?) and watching pupils perform an awesome Undead Pets zombie tribute dance!  Then it was back on the bus and on to Literally Coventry to meet some keen Undead Pets fans in Waterstones!Coventry Book fest

Phew! What a week! So many highs. No lows. But some valuable lessons learned about life on the road, such as:

1. Do get yourself a good deodorant! Even the bravest among you will probably get the willies when faced with 300 enthusiastic young readers who appear to have muddled you up with someone from One Direction!  (Thank you Leicester Our Best Book Awards. I had the best time EVER!) Remember: sweaty armpits don’t win friends.     

2. Don’t leave your secret stash of Dairy Milk in the car while you’re performing on a sunny day. Treat chocolate like you’d treat a pet dog/child/old auntie. Keep it cool. Rivers of melted chocolate around your gear stick is not helpful when navigating the M42.dairy milk 2

3. Do practise following the Sat Nav lady. This will avoid:  ’does she mean this left, or that one? NOOOO!’ (author now heading the wrong way down the M1!)

4. Don’t put on your make-up in the dark before you set off for your event. You will look like a corpse.

5. Do arrive early. But not so early that you scare the organisers. See above.  

6. Don’t break in your ‘presentable’ shoes on the day of the event. Sore feet and friendly- smiley-face are not friends. 

7. Do have more than one set of ‘presentable’ clothes. By day three the smell may put-off the children! 

8. Don’t be freaked-out by extremely personal questions. How much money do you make? How old are you?

9. Do be prepared to return from your brief moment of glory to the humdrum life you left behind that morning: washing everyone’s pants and cleaning the loo.

What a week!

As well as meeting some amazing kids, I met some astonishing adults too! A special mention must go to the team behind Leicester ‘Our Best Book Award,’  Paul Gobey and Sandy Gibbons. They are doing an exceptional job of bringing books to young people in Leicester. Thank you for including Undead Pets in your wonderful competition!UPETS_ROTHHAMSTER  

And great to meet my new friend Fleur Hitchcock too. As well as being a super author, she’s also a lovely lady. Her new book is out this week and I can’t wait to read it!

Thanks to the fantastic team of sixth form volunteers at Monmouth Literary Festival. I wish I could take you with me everywhere! You guys are going to be running the world soon! 

And thanks to Literally Coventry and Ashley and the team at Waterstones for hosting me and the Undead Pets. 

Saving Sophie

Catch up soon!

Samx

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

Undead Pets Blog Tour

Phew! The Undead Pets are exhausted after a busy week on blog tour! Big thanks to all the amazing bloggers for hosting.  If you missed any of the stop-offs, click on the links below for a catch up. Undead Pets Blog Tour

Check out Serendipity Reviews to find out more about  world building and making sure a series makes sense! 

Then beetle over to Armadillo Children’s Magazine Blog to learn more about amazing Uncle Charlie and why everyone needs a magic uncle.Uncle Charlie 

On Wednesday, they were in the hot seat being grilled by the Young Writers Blog. 

Find out how to cope with a zombie pet at Wondrous Reads.

Discover what scares the Undead Pets at Little Fiction Fascination.

And meet the NOT undead pets – the real animals  behind the characters at Sarah’s Book Reviews.

Thanks again to fantastic bloggers!

Hope the Undead Pets didn’t leave too many crumbs/zombie hairballs/feathers/fluff and muddy paw prints on the soft furnishings!  

Samx

 

 

Super Furry Undead Pets Fans

Introducing a new group of Undead Pets fans – the Guinea Girls! jilly ruby and boo

Jilly (the dark brown one), Ruby (with the magical red eyes) And lovely Boo (sporting the best hair-doo ever!). These gorgeous guineas belong to eight year-old Bryn and his mum and dad, Jane and Chris.
Jane Ruby Bry Boo Chris Jilly
Bryn’s a big Undead Pets fan and he wanted to share the books with his guineas – especially Gasp of the Ghoulish Guinea Pig!
Bryn and Boo 

Mum Jane, who works at Monmouth Library, says the Guinea Girls are very interested in the books, but they’re not very good at sitting still for long without needing a wee. Not so nice for the person they’re sitting on!

Just like the guinea pigs in the Undead Pets book, these girls have big personalities. 

jilly, bryn and boo

Jilly is friendly and outgoing and a bit greedy. She often overeats! Boo is Jilly’s little sister. She got her name because Bryn reckoned her crazy hair made her look like she’d had a fright. She’s the baby of the gang and runs around – a lot! And Ruby is a laid-back peaceful little guinea, who enjoys a bath and is a great swimmer!  

It’s always fun to meet Undead Pets fans – especially the furry ones! Thanks to Bryn, Jane and Chris for sharing their lovely Guinea Girls. And if you live in Monmouthshire, checkout Monmouth Library this Easter – there’s loads going on for kids. Plus they’ve got a brilliant selection of children’s books that you (and your pets!) will love.Monmouth library 

Other Undead Pets news…  Book 8 – ‘Hour of the Doomed Dog’ – the last instalment in the series – had its official launch date this week. UPETS_HOTDDOGLook out for it in libraries and shops. And so excited to see Swedish editions of the series this week, too.UNDEAD PETS SWEDISH

Trevlig läsning! 

Samx

P.S. This is what we’re reading in my house this week.

Me: the Black Book of Secrets by HE Higgins & Collar the Lot by Peter and Leni Gilman

Alice: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Archie: Kaspar, the Prince of Cats by Michael Morpurgo

James: The Gold Mine Effect by Rasmus Ankersen

Black book of secretsCollar the LotMurder Most UnladylikeKaspa Prince ofGold Mine

 

 

 

Urgh! What’s inside my keyboard!

Half-term’s over and the house looks like a king-sized tip, with knobs on, but I’ve finally got five minutes to write something… HURRAH! though I’ve just had to unpick the dust, and crud and biscuit crumbs that have been jamming up letters ‘O, L and P’ on my keyboard. If the Health & Safety people did home visits, they’d close my keyboard down. (Please no one tell me how keyboard bacteria is worse for you than eating your breakfast off a toilet seat!) Actually, my keyboard looks like a cool DNA science experiment. There are so many cultures growing on it, it seems a shame to clean it. Maybe if I leave it for a few more weeks some new life form will appear… If you don’t hear from me ever again, it probably ate me.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had housekeeping issues. I used to have a magnificent old Honda Prelude car. (Remember them, older readers?) It was an astonishing thing: sunroof, pop-up lights, low-slung racing-style bucket seats. 140,000 miles on the clock! Super cool! Only problem was it leaked a little, so there were a few mushrooms growing on the back seat….  I miss that car.

So, anyway, it’s been a good week. UPETS_HOTDDOG My latest Undead Pets book – number 8, Hour of the Doomed Dog, is out and available in all good book shops and libraries and online emporiums! It stars Frankie the undead dachshund who comes a-cropper in a revolving door. OUCH! Mysterious old Uncle Charlie even makes an appearance. Check out the amazing art work by pen-master Simon Cooper. It’s the last in the series, so I’m a bit sad…

But, I totally cheered up when I  paid a visit to the fan-tabulous Pickled Pepper Book shop in leafy Crouch End. Wow! What an amazing place to hang out. Brilliant selection of books, super friendly staff and a great atmosphere.

It was lovely to meet the owners, Steven and Urmi and their fantastic kids. And a huge thanks to all the Undead Pets super-fans (and parents) who showed up to say hi. Blimey! What a bright bunch. They were SO knowledgeable.  They knew more about the books than I did. I expect to see them on Mastermind soon. Specialist subject: 101 things everyone should know about zombie animals appearing in Undead Pets books 1-8! 

Some even brought their own outstanding Undead Pets fan art. Thanks Hania. You rock!photo 4 (8)photo 3 (5)

Thanks too, to (my super) special agent Gemma Cooper and her amazing fan NAIL art! How does she do that??photo 4 (5)

 

After coffee and cakes, I headed into central London, with my advisers – (daughter Alice and mum, Shonagh). First stop, the Natural History Museum. BIG mistake! It was WAY too busy. We wimped-out of the two-hour queue and went next door to the V&A. Less busy; still scary. I live in the country now. I’m not used to people!  Then a toddle down the Brompton Road… and finally a collapse in Harrods searching for the jelly bean bar that I was sure I remembered from when I used to live in London. It’s still there!!! A bit smaller, (isn’t everything), and now located in the toy department. I got back to Wales 15 hours after leaving it. A grand day out! Can’t wait for the next one!

Samx

P.S. This is what we’re reading in my house at the moment:

Me: The Screaming Staircase, Jonathan StroudLKW2[1]

James: The Chimp Paradox, Steve Peters9780091935580_1[1]

Alice: TRASH, Andy MulliganTrash_Andy_Mulligan and Wimpy Kid, (all editions – again!!)by  Jeff Kinney

Archie: Earth’s story

 

Why I like Mondays

It’s cold, it’s wet, the garden looks like a boggy swamp, but hey! – it’s Monday and as usual at the start of a new week, I have this freaky Ready Brek glow of positivity. (It doesn’t last long. By Tuesday I’m back to my usual Eeyore slump.) But today. It’s MONDAY! Anything could happen. Really. It could.

Pixar might call.

My Premium Bond might come up.

I could find that half-filled in passport application. (My house is the size of a hamster cage so not sure how it’s scientifically possible to lose anything.)

Mondays aren’t all good.  Apparently it’s the most common day to have a duvet day or to be late for work or school. Clearly Mondays aren’t good for everyone.  When I was a kid I hated Mondays, too. Mondays meant school and I hated school even more than Mondays. But now Mondays are like having a clean sheet of paper and a brand new pencil. Or like buying a lucky-dip bag of sweets and guessing it’s at least half full of fizzy cola bottles. Or receiving a white envelope with a publisher’s frank. There’s so much promise about a Monday…

And this one started well. The postie knocked – (soaking wet, busy and not bearing a Ready Brek glow of love for Mondays, which is understandable considering the rain). He was clutching a big bag of advance copies of Undead Pets 8, the Hour of the Doomed Dog. Thanks TEAM STRIPES! UPETS_HOTDDOGThe art work is spectacular. The cover looks amazing. And Uncle Charlie makes a dramatic return. I love it. Can’t wait to April for publication day. I’m also dusting-off my best lipstick ahead of a visit to the wonderful Pickled Pepper book shop in Crouch End on Saturday. www.pickledpepperbooks.co.uk

Guy Bass: You’ll be a hard act to follow! www.guybass.com

In other news, the Return of  the Hungry Hamster (Undead Pets 1) has been shortlisted for the Leicester Libraries ‘Our Favourite Book of the Year’ award! Wow! So kind. I get to go to the Leicester Tigers’ home ground in June for a wee shindig and to meet loads of kids who’ve been voting for their favourite books. I love Mondays. Hope you’re having a happy one too. Samx

P.S. This is what we’re reading and recommending.

Me: The Children’s War by Monique Charlesworth. Absolutely wonderful WW2 novel.  Great for young teens+CHILDREN's WAR

My daughter: Trash by Andy Mulligan and Mrs Frisbee and the Rats of Nimh by Robert O’Brien. Two classics!Mrs Frisbee

My son: Dirty Bertie - every book in the series! By Alan MacDonald and David Roberts.  Dirty Bertie continues to be King in our house.

My School groups: Trash by Andy Mulligan. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Holes, Louis Sachar and Itch, Simon Mayo.  Trash_Andy_Mulligan