eBooks and the Internet
As the full moon calls, each cat slinks through the shadows to where the storyteller waits.
Will you saty in your cosy bed? Or dare you go and join the Scaredy Cats and hear the tale of Bluebeard’s Cat and her master’s nasty, creepy secret! Watch and listen as Shoo reads this gruesome story. Are you prepared?
When you are finished,maybe you’d like to watch and learn how to Draw Bluebeard’s Cat in the video below:
I was childishly pleased when I came up with the series title, Little Horrors. They’re horror stories for small children, whom we often call little horrors themselves. Actually there’s no horror in them at all, just the suggestion. They are meant to be funny with moments of doubt… Shiver with fear.. shake with laughter, as the series slogan goes!
I love reading these stories to Key Stage 1 children. Some hug each other, some pose and pretend they aren’t scared, some burst into tears, but most laugh and join in with the noises and actions. Sadly the publishers, Orchard Books decided not to reprint. But that gave me the opportunity to bring the stories back to life again.
Online, print-on-demand publishing is an amazing thing. The first book in the series, The Swamp Man in now available in old fashioned print and as an ebook for the iPad. When I discovered the Open Dyslexic Font, I made it available as a Dyslexic font edition on the ipad too. The type is weighted so the letters behave themselves and sit on the line and the page colour is cream.
If you would like a signed copy of the Swamp Man, then click here
The Swamp Man – Little Horrors book.
However. Let me crystallise what I thought I said yesterday and add a bit from the Twitter discussion last night.
1. What is a child for the sake of book marketing and prize giving? Ask any primary school teacher and they will tell you something strange happens to their children midway through year six – that’s between eleven and twelve. They sprout! Quite literally, they sprout in all directions, their moods change, and they start itching to get to secondary school and begin their new, Young Adult life. They close ranks with their age group and become obsessed with hair and fashion. That’s when they start being ready for Young Adult books that lead them into the adult world.
So, I would say a child is probably eleven or under.
YA books used not to exist. Children used to go from children’s books to adult books. Now those years are carefully managed by the marketing department, such is progress. YA is a marketing strategy that has worked very well. As adults have become more and more infantilised, they read YA books – often with an adult cover and a hike in price, because these are the books that adults crave. They have a beginning, a middle and an end – and they deal with exciting and meaty themes, unlike literary fiction that gets all the attention but does not satisfy the general reader. This kind of book used to be published by adult publishers. This is why Hollywood loves YA books. And because Hollywood loves YA, YA Authors love writing them.
Young Adult books need their own big prize to inspire authors to write their amazing books. but…
The Carnegie is for Writers of Books for Children.
2. What is a children’s book? I’d say it was a book a parent would be happy to share with a child at bedtime. I remember reading and sharing the Hobbit, Roald Dahl, and Alice in Wonderland quite happily. These have been quoted to me as being full of violence. Yes, but it’s a kind of violence that is easy to answer questions about when children ask. It’s play violence in a make-believe world – that’s what children do, remember? Children play – it’s how they learn, although as adults we seem to have forgotten that. It’s training violence. Yes, the world is cruel, but you don’t need to leap straight into the dark brutality of the current trend in YA novels.
You don’t start children off with a book on particle physics. You start give them a book about the wonders of the Universe.
We all instinctively know what a children’s book is.
The trouble with the Carnegie prize being given to YA books is that it sends a message out that children’s books don’t matter anymore. I know many, well-respected children’s book writers who have given up and gone into YA writing because that’s where it at. No one wants to write for children any more. Any glamour in the business has been stolen by the YA marketing machine.
Ask any children’s publisher, they’ll tell you they can’t get proper children’s books anymore. Nobody writes them because they get no recognition.
Would it be so difficult to set up an award for YA novels? All those bankers with bulging pockets could start easing their consciences by setting up a prize for YA and then, maybe we can get back to the business of writing books for children.
3. Violence. What I hoped to say was that the more violence we let children be exposed to, the more we come to accept that violence and so expose them to even more. This is the basic rule of marketing and social control. When the dads themselves are still playing violent video games, shooting, killing, maiming and having fun on the living room screen, then what signal does that give to the children? What are we to do? We write books that are increasingly dark and violent, of course. If you can’t beat them, join them. And so our threshold of acceptance lowers. The Carnegie prize says dark, brutal, violence is good for children. We shrug our shoulders and say, “well, they must know what’s best for kids – they are librarians after all.” And so it goes. Drip, drip, drip.
Oh, and please don’t tell me video game violence has not been proved to cause real world violence. Any data you have was paid for either by the NRA or the video games industry. Constant exposure to violence and the sadistic role-playing of video games lowers one’s tolerance to violence and will make that jump into real-world violence easier.
You will no doubt want to tell me all the violent adult books you read at the age of six and how you are now a University Professor at the age of 16 and how violent books never harmed you. You are unusual. You are unusual in that you read books in the first place.
Caring parents will look after their children and give them what is good for them. But not all are caring – many are really quite careless. At least let some fun, fantasy and entertainment lighten the lives of those children when, and if, they get to read a proper children’s book.
The Carnegie Prize needs to be given back to children’s book writers to encourage the Writing of Books for Children
There – and no more on the subject – there’s drawing to be done!
Millie and Bombassa are on the iTunes Store.
This video is about How to draw Bombassa the loveable rhino that is the hero of my Millie and Bombassa books. You Can watch me tell a Millie and Bombassa story here:
Unless your’e a YouTube geek like I am, you probably won’t know that things have been changing a lot in the background over the last three months. As a YouTube partner, I earn a share of advertising revenue for my videos. The more viewers, the more I earn.
Although, on the face of it, what I do on YouTube is exactly what they want to promote, the new algorithm, that chooses suggested videos that appear alongside the video you’re watching, has not been too kind to me.
I’ve been racking my brains and studying my statistics trying to work out where the problem is and I think I’ve finally got it down to the fact that my drawing videos are far too random and are appealing to a far too diverse audience.
The defeatist voice in me says, “packit all in, don’t waste any more time on it.” Luckily, the positive voice in me has said, “work out what the problem is, work out where to go and move on!”
And that’s what I’m doing. I could probably do quite well just doing explained and military vehicle drawing videos but that’s not really me and I’m only doing it for the money and there are people who do much better than me.
I do believe in following your heart and my heart really lies in children’s books. I know there is a large audience out there who will be interested in stories, others will be interested in the illustrations side and others will be interested in my self publishing journey in the wild West world of acts and e-book’s.
I’m going to make videos following how I plan sketch and make the books and books for online printing and delivery using pencil, paper, watercolour, crayons and a whole gamut of software suites.
It’s going to be a very interesting journey from me and I hope this could be an interesting journey for you. Make sure you are subscribed on you Tube and make sure you are subscribed for my newsletter as well. Here is a video with a bit more explanation of where I stand at the moment. http://youtu.be/ADQ07IA78Xc
if you can’t wait for the Ginger Ninja to come out in the iPad version (I’m can’t wait!) then you can console yourself with a tshirt!