Monday, 20 June 2016

Me, Asperger's and noise

One of the things that does affect me and my Asperger's is noise. Though, what noise it is has changed since I was a child and how it has changed.

When I was a child I hated going through the local subway under the train station. I think I feared the trains would fall down on me. I would stand one end, wait for a train to go over, then dash to the other end. I had to get used to it as it was the main way to get to the station if I had to go to hospital, and later to work. I did get used to it.

Another thing I hated when I was a child, and still do, is a balloon bursting. The bang makes me jump, so if you have a balloon and are with me, please don't burst that balloon. I won't like it, and I won't like you.

It seemed to be sudden noises I didn't like when I was a child, but now as an adult with Asperger's, noise comes to me as a sensory overload. I can't take too much loud noise in a small space eg loud voices in a small room. It makes my head go fuzzy, I can't take any more, and have to go into a quiet room, usually my bedroom upstairs. I think this must have been why when I went to a writers' party, after a while I would go to sit down away from the rest of the authors chatting. If I can get away from the noise, either to another area, another room or outside, then I will. It helps my head to calm down, and therefore, me to calm down, too, because I get upset if I have to leave a room when there are other people there.

So, that is how noise has affected me in the past, and affects me now. If you have Asperger's, how does noise affect you? The same? Let me know.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Me and reading

They say it can be good for a writer if you read, well, I certainly do that. I have read for as long as I remember. Certainly when I was at primary school. I remember reading in a room, sitting round a table, reading I think it was Janet and John books. We read out loud, which I continued doing at home, much to my parents' annoyance. lol. The books I read as a child were: Mr Men, Noddy, then as I got older, to Secret Seven, Famous Five, Nancy Drew and the school based books such as St Claire's. I also remembering reading horsey adventure books.

As an adult, I remember going to the library down the road (now a voluntary centre) and taking out books by Lena Kennedy and Catherine Cookson. There was a period years ago when I bought and read lots of sagas. I also bought books by authors I knew. I wanted to write romantic suspense so bought Romantic Intrigue books by Mills & Boon; that was for a couple of years. Most recently, I did buy My Weekly pocket novels because I thought I could write for them, but I can't, so stopped buying them.

Then I began writing for children, so I bought those types of books, too. Mostly magical realism and fantasy books.

So, what do I read now? I still read both adult and children's fiction, but my tastes have changed, esp for adult reading. I now buy only books that I know the author's works and like eg Nora Roberts, Christina Jones, both write romance with magical realism in. I don't tend to buy books by authors I know, unless it is something I am interested in for my writing. Children's reading, I have been buying a lot recently esp magical realism ones, which I write myself. I am a fan of Linda Chapman's books, and also now like Holly Webb and Lily Small (I think might be a group of authors). I have also bought a few YA books by Teri Terry, which I love cos I find it interesting about what others think the future could be like for children; something I have in mind to write about myself sometime later.

So, my reading habits have changed over the years. Has yours?

Monday, 6 June 2016

Boring Billy - the inspiration

I thought as a way of promoting my new children's series The Rainbow School it would be good to post about the inspiration behind the stories. In Boring Billy, Billy likes literacy and making up stories but he can't tell them so they sound exciting enough. The inspiration behind this one is me, when I was at primary school. I loved English, as it was called back then, and I liked making up stories. I remember in secondary school that I used to get high marks for my writing in English, and the highest mark you could get was an A+. If you got three then you got a star.

I remember in one English lesson at primary school we had to write a story. Can't remember if it had to be on a theme or not. I wrote a true story about how I was coming down the stairs at home, heard a noise and thought it was a ghost or something scary. So I went faster, ending slipping down the stairs on my back, hurting myself. Turned out the noise was a pigeon. LOL. Wasn't funny at the time, but can laugh about it now. Anyway, my teacher liked my story enough to want me to read it out to the class. I said no, being shy with Asperger's (not that I knew it was that at the time). My teacher read it out herself in the end.

So, my liking for writing stories is what inspired me to write Billy and his love of literacy and making up stories. Because of his strange school socks taking him to a magical world where he sees himself as a confident storyteller, Billy turns into a great and funny storyteller himself, making his class laugh as he acts out his stories.

What inspiration is there behind your books?

Monday, 30 May 2016

What I am working on this week

I thought I'd post what I am working on this week. I have just had back the final edits for my mermaid story 'The Emerald Quest'. There were a couple of minor changes to work on, which I have now done. I have finalised the front and back pages, adding a link to a reader mailing list I have now set up. So, all I have to do now is to put it all together into one document, and format it into an ebook, ready to publish later this week. Oh yes, and I have to save the covers from my email account to my Word folder for the book. So, it is nearly all systems go for that book.

Meantime, I have begun working on a short story for Woman's Weekly that I started a short while ago. I want to finish that and get feedback on that. The other story I have put aside for now to think about it more.

Also, I am writing Susie's story, which I am having fun with. Am learning lots as I research the lessons that Year 6 do now, as I want to write lessons that do happen and can help Susie get more confident in the story.

If you want to be one of the first to know when I have a new ebook out or one coming out in print, then why not sign up to my newsletter at You will get a free short story called 'Billy, Literacy and News Presenters', which is the prequel to the first book in my next series called The Rainbow School.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Me, Asperger's and primary school

Following on from my last post about a workshop on group dynamics, I thought I would write about what the group I was in at primary school was like. I told the interview group in the workshop this, and I think I might include this in a memoir as part of my Asperkids series of books. Here goes:

At primary school I was very quiet. I went round with two other girls, whom I shall called J and K. One was white, the other black. The white girl I felt was the leader of the two. When I was with them, they wanted me to do things with them, their way, and it included some not nice things. Wanting to be friends with them I went along and did them. When I was on my own, I used to either be on my own and do other things such as dance or play recorder, or play with the younger children. Looking back now, I don't think they liked me doing things on my own without them, so they made me stop going do barn dancing, which I liked, and stopped me playing recorder, which again I liked and was good at. (I remember playing the theme tune to Match of the Day).

I only saw the white girl only once or twice after we left primary school as she went to another secondary school as me, but the black girl went to the same secondary school but was in another group.

The above incidences I still remember all these years later, and I will put them in my children's series 'The Rainbow School' as things to happen to the main characters but something good will come out of it for them.

So, there you have one group dynamic I belonged to. Because of my Asperger's, I just tagged along with others, wanting to be friends with them.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Finding your inner child workshop with Melvin Burgess

I can't believe it was 2 weekends ago that I went to the retreat. One of the talks I went to by Melvin Burgess was 'Finding your inner child'. Here is what we did:

We talked about group dynamics and the different types there are. There are the ones with a leader, a star, a sidekick, a topper (who's top at everything), the one with a leader who likes to be in competition, the star who wants to be in all the groups, one that has a third wheel (that was what I was in), dropkick group with no friends by default and go together (another I belonged to).

Then we had to write down about a group you belonged to, write the characters, their appearances and group dynamics. This made me think about a group of girls I went around with at secondary school. There were 3 girls (2 Asian and 1 white) belonging to one tutor group, and a group of 2 (Asian and 1 white) in another group. The latter white girl was slightly on the edge of the group, and there was me - the invisible wheel. We had to write in the pov of the leader and what you thought they had thought about you at the time. Interesting exercise.

We had to write a couple of incidences at school.

The last exercise was a group of 3 exercise. We had to interview each other and get a story about their childhood days. One member of mine talked about moving schools so found it hard to get on until later years, the other talked about coaching younger ones. Both these stories I made a note of for my Rainbow School characters and what they could do in the books. I talked about my primary school days and how I felt about that being shy and quiet with my Asperger's, which I didn't know it was back then.

All in all, I found it a very useful and interesting workshop. So, thank you, Melvin.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Writing retreat - Writing and thinking

Last weekend just gone I went to a writing retreat in W Sussex. It was the annual SCBWI retreat. I always find it v productive and I did this time, as well as a lot of thinking about what I want to write for children. Over the weekend I wrote the first three chapters of the third in the Rainbow School series, which is Susie's story, and a short story for a competition and the prequel to Susie. I don't know how many words I wrote as I didn't count them, but I reckon it must be at least 3-4000. That was what I wrote. So what thinking did I do? Well, it was all about my fiction for children and the books about children with Asperger's. I mentioned what I was writing to my new friend, Anna (Hi, Anna) who I met at Waterloo station to go to the retreat and she suggested putting all this fiction under a brand. It got me thinking. Then over the weekend, I talked to a few people about what I was currently writing and planning and got loads of encouragement, and someone said that it was a good idea to help children learn about Asperger's and cope with their own diagnosis. This made me realise that what I am doing can be really good, both for children and me. I started thinking about all the other books I have planned, and thought, yes I can make the children autistic by remembering my own childhood and use those memories. As well as buying books about Asperger's for children and families and biographies (have planned to buy Chris Packham's book). So, I have decided that is what I am going to do, starting with the Rainbow School series. I will have one big name called The Asperkids books, which I will put on my website, and under that have the title of each series. I am looking forward to doing this, and maybe do talks about it, too.

The other encouragement I got was from YA author Melvin Burgess. I had a one-to-one with him and he had read the first two chapters of Billy, and he said he really liked Billy, felt for him and enjoyed the story. He gave me a suggestion to put at the end of the story which I will do.

So, watch this space...