February bullet journal

Hello friends!

How are you all? What’s going on in your world?

Last year, I bullet journal’d really well for the first half of the year, but then it tapered off and I just didn’t dedicate as much time to as I should have. This year, I bought myself a new bujo and I found a newly invigorated passion for it. I didn’t share my January set up (because by the time I had remembered January was almost over and my bujo was mostly filled in), but here I am to share my February set up with you all!

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Yes, I went predictable with the whole ‘love’ theme of my title page. Don’t judge me! I’m also really feeling a colour scheme this year. January’s colour sceme was grey and purple (which I LOVED). February’s colour scheme is red and pink.

Next up, I’ve got something new in my bullet journal – a monthly overview and the new addition of quotes in my bujo. I added some in January and I just found them lush, so I’ve stuck with quotes for Feb too. So I’ve done a “monthly overview” type of page. The coloured in days are days when something is happening (yay for half term!) and the grey coloured in days are days which are NOT February. I’ve other things to add to this, but I kinda dig it. 

Then we have the bookish pages in my bujo. The postbox page is OBVIOUSLY a page for my book post. I was much better at keeping track of my book post in January, so I’m hoping that will continue into February.  I have no idea where the inspiration behind the post box came from… but I like it! It’s fun. On the other page, we have a bedside cabinet with my “books I’ve read this month” pile on it! As you can see I’ve already read one book this month (it was The Extinction Trials: Rebel and it was BLOODY GREAT, my review is coming up this week!) and I need to add another book to the pile now! 

My final double spread (before my weekly spreads) is a mood/happiness duet. I saw this honeycomb thing on Google when I was looking for bujo inspo and didn’t have enough space for 28 different honeycombs, so I decided to half them and only use 14. The other side is my mood tracker – I’ve gone for the darker the colour, the darker my mood kind of thing (as you can see on the little gauge at the bottom). These pages end up being some of my faves when I look back through my bullet journals – it’s so important to find something positive EVERY day. There’s ALWAYS something positive to find… no matter how small!

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And then we come to my weekly spread – I’ve blanked out a few things that the world doesn’t need to know about my life. I’m going to admit that I’ve used brilliant Kelly (of Kelly’s Rambles) as inspiration here (you should totally check out her bullet journal posts… she’s like a bujo goddess). I wanted to change up my weekly spread because I wasn’t inspired by the one I used for January… and I think I love this a lot! There’s room to put any daily things, and then room for to do lists too – PERFECT.

And that’s it for now! Share your bujo posts with me… I’m always up for more inspiration and bujo love! 

Do you bullet journal?
What’s your favourite thing about journaling?
Do you have a spread that I don’t have?

Talk to me in the comments, I’d love to talk journaling with someone! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: S.M. Wilson

The Extinction Trials: Rebel – Tense. Thrilling. Tantalising.

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“Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival. Welcome to The Extinction Trials

Storm and Lincoln’s city is burning. The people are starving. The only place left to run is Piloria, the continent of monsters. It’s up to Storm and Lincoln to keep their people alive as they colonize this lethal paradise. But will the biggest threat to their survival be the monsters in the jungle…or the ones inside the encampment with them?”

Rebel is the third and final book in The Extinction Trials trilogy and my word, I was NOT ready for this series to be over. I DEVOURED book 1 and 2 when they came to me and book 3 was NO different. If you haven’t already read them, THEN WHY NOT? (You might find my reviews of book 1 and book 2 helpful if this is the case!)

In Rebel, we begin with how life is looking for our 2 protagonistsStormchaser, who is living on Piloria with her father, and Lincoln, who is back in Ambulus City having gone back at the end of book 2. The stark differences between the two settings was always something that I loved about these books – Ambulus City was always so grey and dank, whereas you have lushness and colour on the island of Piloria (yes, yes, I know, there’s dinosaurs too!) Things start to go wrong when there’s a bit of a revolt and Ambulus City is burning to the ground. Lincoln, and the people who matter most to him, end up leaving the city on a boat bound for none other than, yep you guessed it, dinosaur land: Piloria. 

There are SO MANY THINGS I loved about this book. I’m going to try and summarise all of my thoughts into concise sentences, but you all know me… it’s not going to happen! I also need to try and NOT be spoilery. (If you wanna know the spoilery thing I loved about this book, then ask me… I won’t ruin it for everyone!)

It’s tense: like there’s some REAL moments of tension in this story. People butt heads, people argue (like you would if you’ve just moved to a brand new island with some of your least favourite people in the world). There’s DINOSAURS threatening your existence. A real thread of built up tension is written beautifully into this story and then there’s a few BOOM moments of fall out. 

It’s touching: seeing the relationships between the characters building was just lush. I have a real soft spot for most of the characters. I was so glad to see some of the old faves back. You see Storm and her dad HAVE to get on with each other. You see them actually LIKE each other and trying to understand each other. You see their relationship blossom into some kind of father/daughte relationship. Friendships, relationships: they’re all explored and it’s so so lush to read.

There’s a REALLY BLOODY GOOD VILLAIN: God, I HATED HIM. I wanted to punch him. But it’s what made him SO SO good. Someone with a CLEAR God complex going on. 

It’s dystopian fiction at its best: like… I BLOODY LOVE dystopian fiction, but this is the first series I’ve come across in a LONG time where I’ve been INVESTED. I love the characters, the worlds, the danger, the peril, the emotional investment. I dare you to read this book and NOT love it. 

Some old faves are back: Aw man. I don’t wanna spoil anything but I did a GENUINE woop at one moment. There’s a very touching moment with Lincoln and one of the characters that really touched me. You’ve gotta look out for the people who mean something to you and those closest to you! I loved that Blaine wasn’t forgotten in this story. I loved him SO much. 

Storm really blossoms in this story: Storm becomes this really empowered young woman. She stands up for herself and for the people and things she loves. She doesn’t seem to be afraid of the Stipulators in this story. She’s developed a real bit of gusto about herself in this story. I REALLY love Storm. She’s brilliant. 

So yeah, I loved this book. I loved this trilogy SO MUCH. I don’t think I can quite put into words how much I loved this trilogy. It ended in SUCH a satisfying way. 

My goodreads review: (lol look at me trying not to be spoilery everywhere)

YES THOUGH. I can’t say too much without being spoilery. But my gosh this was brilliant. It was tense and action packed and interesting and just brilliant. I’d missed these characters and this world so much!

Yes, I managed not to say the spoilery thing. I NEED SOMEONE ELSE TO READ THIS BOOK SO WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT THOUGH. 

If you’re looking for a brilliantly written, fun, dangerous dystopian series with characters you’ll want to read about, then I would whole-heartedly recommend The Extinction Trials. Rebel came out yesterday, so GO GO GO GET ALL 3 AND BINGE. It’s SO worth it! 

Have you read The Extinction Trials?
Do you think you’d survive on dinosaur island?
Are you a fan of a really good bloody villain?

A massive massive thank you to Usborne for sending me a copy of Rebel. I’m so so sad this series is over, but I am so glad it’s in my life!

S x 

 

BLOG TOUR: Sam Wu

Today I have the absolute joy of being part of the Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of the Dark blog tour! I ADORE the Sam Wu books, written by the brilliant Katie and Kevin Tsang, so when I was asked to be aprt of this blog tour, I jumped at the chance! Check out my review below (featuring some quotes from some of my kids!)

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“Sam Wu is NOT afraid of anything. Except for quite a lot of things. Like ghosts. Sharks too. And also THE DARK! And so when Sam goes camping in the woods with his friends and cousin Stanley, who knows what scary kind of things they’ll face . . .?”

The Sam Wu books are a brilliant series featuring the hilariously afraid of everything nothing Sam Wu and his bunch of friends! This third book in the series sees Sam taking on a new fear he definitely doesn’t have… the dark! 

Sam Wu ends up having to go camping with his friends and his cousin… a cousin who thinks he is excellent at everything! There’s MANY hilarious moments in the story – I was in fact cackling from the first page. As well as lots of hilarity, of course Sam’s arch nemesis ends up turning up on the camp site and they have to learn to work together to get over their fear not fear of the dark. There’s a scene at the campsite in particular that made me PROPER giggle – it’s funny seeing the world through a child’s eyes and things like getting from a tent to where adults are sat made me proper laugh. 

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These books are so perfect for children who are just building their confidence with reading and those who love a brilliantly illustrated story! The illustrations are just spot on for this story and they add so much to the story. Nathan Reed, the illustrator, has got the whole story and the feel of the story spot on in his pictures. 

Some quotes from the kids I teach:

“I love these books because Sam Wu doesn’t look like most characters in stories. He’s different and it’s good for us to learn about different kinds of people”.

“These books make me really laugh and I hope there will be more” (when this child noticed book 4 cover on the back, there was an audible YAY)

“I just love how some of the pages are different colours and that makes them really fun. I also like that Sam and his friends always work together. And Sam is really scared of everything, he’s just really brave too though”

My goodreads review:

Brilliantly fun! I love these stories. Full of laugh out loud moments, friendship, adventure and beautiful illustrations! This had me cackling from the first page!

Have you met Sam Wu and his brilliant friends yet?
What one thing are you definitely NOT afraid of?

Go check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour! And buy Sam Wu is NOT Afriad of the Dark when it comes out on Thursday! (In fact you might already find it in your local shops, so GO GO GO, or preorder it today!)

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A massive thank you to Egmont for sending me a copy of the book and for inviting me to be on the blog tour! 

S x 

January in books

Hello friends!

How are we all? Hows February treating you so far? 

I’m here to share with you a round up of my January! Are you ready?!

January was a pretty shitty month for me personally, but now that we’re into February I am trying to move on from the crappy things that happened. Easier said than done, BUT we need to take each day as it comes!

I listened to a LOT of Dear Evan Hansen in January – I would COMPLETELY recommend that soundtrack. It came for me at the WORST of times and got me through a lot of tears. I’m still listening to it now and we’re a month on from when I first found it!

However, among all the shittiness, I did manage to read 11 books! I was CHUFFED when I noticed that. I didn’t think I’d get through that many. (It’s only the 3rd Feb as I write this post and I’ve already read 2 books in Feb). 

Would you like to know what I read? 

jan 2019 ya

YA books:

We are Blood and Thunder – Kesia Lupo*
Proud – Various authors*
All The Lonely People – David Owen
Paper Avalanche – Lisa Williamson
Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen M. McManus

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MG books:

Against All Gods – Maz Evans*
Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of the Dark – Kevin and Katie Tsang*
Ghost – Jason Reynolds*
Hotel Flamingo – Alex Milway*
Our Castle by the Sea – Lucy Strange*
Call Me Alastair – Cory Leonardo*

(any books with a * were sent to me by the publisher)

How am I doing for my book challenges?

Goodreads challenge: 11/52
#52books challenge (just kids books): 6/52

How did you do with your reading in January? 
What was your favourite read of January? 
What would you recommend me from your January reading list?

Talk to me in the comments! I’d love to know what you’ve been reading!

S x 

BLOG TOUR: A Pinch of Magic

Hello lovely friends! 

Today I have the ABSOLUTE JOY of hosting a Q&A with author Michelle Harrison – who has written the absolutely incredible A Pinch of Magic. Now, I read this book back in 2018 and guys… it’s PROPERLY stuck with me. I just adored it. It’s one of those that I hope I get to read aloud to my kids one day because I just loved it. EVERYTHING I COULD NEED IN A BOOK: Brilliant characters, magic and charm. WONDERFUL.

Anyway, you’re here for the Q&A, not my rambling on about the story! I asked my kids to help me think of some questions and once they started they didn’t want to stop! 

1. Where did you get the inspiration for the story? 
The idea came from a book called The Lore of the Land, which is all about Britain’s
folklore. I noticed a section on Essex, and read that the village of Canewdon will
supposedly always have six witches there. Whenever one dies, a stone falls out of the church walls. This was the starting point for the curse in A Pinch of Magic. I decided to write about three sisters as I’m the youngest of three.

2. Which character did you enjoy writing the most? 
I loved writing the sections in the past about the mysterious girl in the tower and how the curse all came about, but I don’t want to give too much away here! I also really enjoyed writing about Charlie, she’s a little scamp who brings lightness to the story.

3. Do you think you’d survive in the world you wrote?
No way! It’s damp and miserable in Crowstone ‒ I’d HATE it! I don’t handle the cold
well, and my hair is a lot like Betty’. One bit of damp weather and POOF. Fuzzball.

4. Is there one of the characters you think you’re the most like? 
Well, according to the quiz in the back of the book I’m most like Charlie. I’m fond of
animals and I’m usually thinking about my next meal. But there’s also a touch of Fliss, as I enjoy baking and homely things, although I’m not a disaster in the kitchen like she is. I’ve probably given my heart away too easily in the past, too. 

5. If you could have a magical object, what would you choose and why? 
From the book it would have to be the travelling bag ‒ the potential for adventures
and mischief would be impossible to resist. But if I could choose anything it would be something pretty like a dragonfly pendant or ring which could allow me to fly. I used to have lots of flying dreams when I was younger and they were so much fun I was always sad to wake up!

A massive massive thank you to the publishers (Simon and Schuster) for inviting me to be on this blog tour, and for Michelle for taking time to answer my kids’ questions! 

You should all DEFINITELY go out and buy A Pinch of Magic (if you need any more convincing, it’s also Waterstone’s Children’s Book of the Month) I really really loved it!

Go check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! I can’t wait to read the rest of the posts! 

APOM BLOG TOUR

S x

S4S – LGBTQ+ books

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the little hiatus last week… I’d had a very busy weekend and I didn’t have my usual blogging time! I am back now, with a blog EVERY DAY next week to make up for my silence! 

Today we have a good old #SixforSunday post, with this month celebrating LGBTQ+ month! I can’t wait for us to be shouting about all the brilliant LGBTQ+ books there are out there! 

Today’s #SixforSunday prompt is:

LGBTQ+ faves

Some of my utter faves, in no particular order:

Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

The Lovers Dictionary – David Levithan

I Was Born For This – Alice Oseman

More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera

Proud – Various authors (review to come!)

Jack of Hearts and Other Parts – L. C. Rosen

I am so so glad that #SixforSunday is supporting and celebrating all things bookish LGBTQ+ this month. Please share your favourite LGBTQ+ books, chracters, authors and illustrators this month! 

Let’s show the world we are PROUD.

S x 

 

 

S4S – Bookish hates

Good morning Sunday! 

How are we all in this here final #SixforSunday in January?! How did that happen? Where did January go? (To be fair, I’m glad… because it measn it’s closer to Summer and WARMTH) 

Anyway, you’re here for #SixforSunday I see? And what will we be talking about today…

Bookish hates

Oooh, controversial one Steph! So things I don’t like to read, or things that put me off books?

  1. Series that are 378343568 books long
    This is INTIMIDATING. Unless I’ve started a series from book 1, I am SO unlikely to get nvolved in a series longer than a trilogy. 
  2. Girl changes for bad boy trope
    NO SIR. This bothers me so so much.
  3. Covers with actual people on the front
    I don’t know why… but I just am not a fan. 
  4. When names aren’t capitalised on the front covers of books
    I know sometimes this is done for stylistic reasons, but it bothers me so much (I think this is teacher me talking here!)
  5. Comments which say “you can’t possibly say that every book you read is 4 or 5 stars”
    I mean, I can? Because I choose all the books I read, so I’ll generally choose books I think I’m going to enjoy.
  6. Long chapters
    By this I mean like chapters that are LOOONG. I love a short-ish chapter length. (I can’t put a number value on this dislike right now… but long chapters turn me off so much)

LOL. This are such non-committal things, but still, things that I don’t enjoy about the bookish world I live in. 

See you next week for February’s #SixforSunday, in which we start celebrating LGBT books! Don’t forget all of the prompts for January – July can be found in this blog post!

S x 

There’s always a reason to smile…

2019 has been a bit of a shit rollercoaster for me to be honest (don’t worry, we’re on the up again, I hope). However, through all of the crap, I’ve made sure that I’ve found reasons to smile. So today, I bring you my first happy post of the year.

Even when things aren’t great, there’s always a reason to smile. 

Birthday presents. Unexpected compliments. Conversations about cake. Messages from strangers to tell me they’ve read a book because I recommended it. Having 200 kids sing happy birthday to me. Positive feedback on the work I’m doing. Messages from my favourite authors. Emails from people I admire. Playing pool. Being able to look back on memories and smiling. London plans. Waiting for books to be released. Spending time with my family. My mam. Reading books. Buying books. Recommending books. Lovely messages from people. Meeting author friends for the first time. Smiles from my kids. Saying good morning to my kids every morning. Pictures of my twiglets. Spending weekends reading. Working really hard on something and watching it work. Friends letting me cry. Finding songs that you need RIGHT at that moment. Laughing with friends, when it’s hard to think of anything but crying. Breakfast with friends. Solo Starbucks. Birthday Starbucks. Dear Evan Hansen. Being OK. Witchy trio. Lin Manuel Miranda. Drag Race. Rewatching films you’ve seen 600 times before because they’re comforting. Dating advice from my kids. Karaoke. Rereading books. Watching my kids be enthusiastic about something I love so much. Watching one of my kids devour 3 books in the space of a week. My job. My kids. Books.

S x

NYA Lit Festival

EXCITING NEWS!
THERE IS A YA LITERATURE FESTIVAL THAT IS GOING TO BE NORTH OF LONDON. 
HOW EXCITING!

I know, I know. It’s quite unbelievable… but it’s true!

Last year saw the first ever NYA Lit Fest (Northern Young Adult Literature Festival) held in Preston. It was a BRILLIANT event and I was SO very pleased to hear that it was coming back for a second year… and with some PRETTY STELLAR author guests too! 

So… which authors are coming?! And what panels are there?

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The first panel on the programme is ‘YA Thrillers’ featuring M.A.Bennett and Will Hill! 

I ADORED After the Fire and I’ve heard Will speak a few times, so I’m thrilled that he’s going to be there! After the Fire is a VERY special story. I am FOREVER recommending it to people! 

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YES FRIENDS. LOOK IT’S MY QUEEN. *ahem*

The second panel is going to be BLOODY BRILLIANT: ‘Feminism and Fantasy in YA’ with Queen Melinda Salisbury chairing with Samantha Shannon, Laure Eve and Rose Edwards.

Lol, guys. You KNOW that as soon as this was announced I was like I AM THERE. This panel promises to be BRILLIANT. I ADORE Mel (obv) and I love hearing debut authors speaking! 

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The third panel is ‘Inclusiveness in YA’ featuring co-founder of Knights Of, Aimée Felone, chairing Non Pratt, Bali Rai, A.J. Hartley & debut author, Mel Darbon.

This one promises to be brilliant. There’s been such an incredible conversation starting around the inclusiveness in published books recently that I can’t wait to hear what these brilliant authors have to say! 

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The next panel sees the Katherine Webber chairing a panel on shaming with Melvin Burgess, Tamsin Winter and Laura Steven

I can’t wait for this panel. I adore Katherine Webber as a chair person and to see that it features Laura Steven made me so happy! Laura wrote one of my favourite books of last year, The Exact Opposite of Okay, and she’s just brilliant. I missed the chance to hear Melvin speak last year, so it’ll be brilliant to catch it this year!

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LOOK AT THIS FINAL PANEL MAN.

The final panel of the day takes on Mental Health in YA with Lisa Williamson chairing a panel with Sara Barnard, Alexandra Sheppard, Akemi Dawn Bowman and Alice Broadway. 

WELL ISN’T THIS A WINNING PANEL? I adore everything these authors have written. Sara and Alice are two of my favourite humans. I can’t wait to meet Alexandra though, I read her book Oh My Gods recently and I just ADORED it. 

So yes… this is A BUSY DAY. Along with these panels, there’ll be signings and a whole host of stalls. If you came last year, this year it promises to be even bigger and better! 

So what do you need to do now? What do you need to know?

When?
16th March 2019.

I need more info, where can I go?
Check out their website here 
Get tickets here!
Follow NYA Lit Fest on twitter here.

I can’t wait! I have my tickets already. Let’s support this brilliant literature festival! 

Let me know if you’re coming along. It promises to be an incredible day, filled with so much bookish goodness! 

S x 

An Amazing Blog Tour

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Today I have the ABSOLUTE joy of being part of the Amazing blog tour. I was so incredibly lucky to be asked to host a Q&A with the incredibly brilliant Steve Antony – author and illustrator extraordinare.

As soon as I knew I was doing a Q&A, it was inevitable that I had to get my kids involved, so they helped me write the questions (there were SO many they had, so I had to whittle it down!)

Check out the questions and some brilliant responses from the man himself! 

What’s your favourite thing about going to schools?

Apart from chomping biscuits and nattering with teachers in the staff room, I always enjoy seeing all the artwork that classes have created. Whether it be acrylic self-portraits, cardboard dioramas, character pumpkins or even something as simple as paper snowflakes, I really do believe that art brings a school to life.

Funniest memory of visiting schools?

The funniest moments come during Q&A. Children don’t have filters, do they? The younger the audience the odder the questions. Is the Queen your granny? Are you Ed Sheeran? Why don’t you comb your hair?

Also, being greeted by over 200 children (and teachers) dressed as pandas on World Book Day was something I will never forget.

What memories do you have of reading as a child?

Most of my earliest and clearest memories of reading take me back to my school library. I remember that feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of stories just waiting to be discovered. I was never a fast reader and I preferred books with pictures, I still do, but there was something empowering about just being in my school library. Sadly, many children may never know that feeling, which is why the #GreatSchoolLibraries campaign is so important. The campaign aims to bring school libraries and librarians back to every school in the UK, because every child deserves a great library. You can find out more about the Great School Libraries campaign at: http://www.greatschoollibraries.edublogs.org

I also have fond memories of our public library. That’s where I discovered some of my favourite authors and Illustrators.

Do you remember the first book you read as a child that made you want to write?

Even as a very young child I loved to draw. But it was picture books like Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and The Munch Bunch (created by Barrie and Elizabeth Henderson and illustrated by Angela Mitson) that inspired me to imagine my own characters and tell stories with drawings.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I believe that inspiration is everywhere, but you have to tune in to it. I like to prove this theory in my story-building workshops. By the end of each workshop almost everybody has an idea for a story, and some even have synopses!

Books are a fantastic source of inspiration, which is why the library is the perfect place to feel inspired. Many of my stories were inspired by something I’d seen in a book, magazine or newspaper.

What is your typical writing routine? From first draft to final draft?

People often think I spend all day writing and drawing, but there’s so much involved in being an author and illustrator. In fact, last week I only spent around 5 hours working on my next picture book because the rest of my time was spent on emails, events, my website, blogs, taxes and marketing. As part of this blog tour, I wrote a ‘Day in the Life’ guest post for Acorn Books, which you might find interesting. https://acornbooksblog.wordpress.com

It takes about 4-5 months to start and finish a picture book. Normally my publisher will select a couple of ideas from my sketchbook for me to develop (this usually happens when I’m at the tail- end stages of finishing another picture book). In order to develop ideas into stories I do need plenty of time and space to breath because I find it hard to tap into my imagination during busy spells. I normally get a gut feeling if a story is working or not. As a general rule it has to feel easy, and if ever I feel like I’m rowing upstream, I let go of the oars. Once I’m happy with my story concept, I move on to character development, pacing and paginating. This can take weeks or months. The very last stage involves drawing the final artwork and tweaking the text, which can take anywhere up to three months.

What’s next for you?

Magic Light Pictures are currently developing the Mr Panda cartoon series, which is incredibly exciting. I’ve got more books in the pipeline, including a brand-new character that I’ve yet to create! The next Mr Panda book, We Love You, Mr Panda, comes out later in the year. I’ll soon be meeting with Swindon Libraries to discuss the next borough-wide art completion (I hold at least one art contest with them per year). Also, I hope to start writing a chapter book soon, but not even my publisher knows that yet! But before any of that happens, I’m going on my honeymoon, because I just got married!

It’s only day 3 of this blog tour and it has already been amazing (no pun intended!). Go check out the other blog posts so far, and watch out for the rest of the posts coming in the next few days! I am so incredibly excited for this book.

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Massive massive thank you to the brilliant people of Hachette Kids for asking me to be on this blog tour and Steve Antony for answering our questions! My kids and I had such a blast, and it’s been a pleasure reading Steve’s answers. I’ll be sharing them with my kids at some point today! 

S x