Welcome

Liz Baddaley is an author and freelance writer for leading UK charities. Her debut novel – The Finding of Freddie Perkins – was published in May 2013 after a remarkable story of its own and went on to be shortlisted for two awards. Since then, she can’t stop writing fiction, whilst she continues to tell some remarkable true stories of hope from all over the world… and undertakes a considerable amount of rabbit care. Her latest allegorical short story – The Wonder Weavers – is currently being brought to life in the window of the Sanctuary in Ilkley.

wonder weavers best blanket shot

 

My second story window!

It’s been really exciting to be part of a second story window project with the Sanctuary in Ilkley… this one bringing to life my short all-age allegory The Secret Beauty of Sand. The story was inspired by the discovery of the amazing truth that when viewed from a magnified perspective, every grain of sand can be seen as it truly is

sand window final

Today I’ve been writing on glass for the first time! And, on the hottest day of the year, it was hard work! But the whole project, start to finish has been a labour of love.

The hand holding a gem that is the star attraction in the window was sculpted by my very talented friend Barbara Macnish – a particularly beautiful thing to have happened as the story is dedicated to her! And it helps bring to life one of the central characters in the story. Intrigued… have a read!

Lots of people walking and driving past are already stopping to look and read and it’s great to see their faces light up in response to the colour and poetry beaming out at them.

When can we do the next one?!

Welcome

Liz Baddaley is a children’s author and freelance writer for leading UK charities. Her debut novel – The Finding of Freddie Perkins was published in May 2013 after a remarkable story of its own and went on to be shortlisted for two awards. She is currently working on her third novel whilst telling some remarkable true stories of hope from all over the world… and undertaking a considerable amount of rabbit care.

Finding of Freddie P_6165D0

Some December stories…

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

Finding of Freddie P_6165D0

When you publish a book you connect with many new people as it is picked up in shops, advertised on websites, curled up with on sofas and clutched tightly on public transport. And children and adults meet and get to know the characters you see as friends.

I frequently hear stories of new people meeting Freddie… just yesterday I was having a coffee with a friend who had lent her copy to her grandma, only to have her like it so much that it was a while in coming back – because it had been shared with all her friends first!

But my favourite one in a while is from two weeks ago. I was on the phone to one of my freelancing clients sorting out a vital BACS transfer of Christmas present buying funds following a commission I had delivered to them when my contact there asked how Freddie was getting on…

This is not the first time he has asked. He is polite, kind and genuinely interested in my fiction writing as well as the work I do for him.

But this time there was a different motivation.

The previous evening, he told me, he’d gone upstairs to kiss his son goodnight when he noticed my name sat on his bedside table! Apparently Freddie had come to their house because his wife knows someone who knows someone who knows a friend of mine. And, at every stage of this chain going the other way, each individual had enjoyed the story so much they’d passed it on to lots more people they knew until here it was…

It’s like being given a present every time I hear someone loves the book.

If you’re still looking for something to give someone this Christmas – Freddie and I would be delighted to help you by suggesting his story…

Freddie excited to visit St Albans’ first Literary Festival

I’m getting excited. It’s less than a month till the city where I was born and grew up in is holding it’s inaugural Literary festival. I’m going, Freddie’s going… and so how about you? If you’re anywhere at all near… it would be great to see you in St Albans for the adults’ event (6pm Friday 7 Nov) or the children’s one (3pm Saturday 8 Nov). Find out more here or read the details below.

Finding of Freddie P_6165D0LitFestBanner-01Adults’ event (free admission) book here

Hope and Loss in Children’s Literature
Friday, 7 November, 2014 – 18:00 at Debenhams Ottaway Solicitors

In this hour long event, Liz will discuss the themes of Loss and Hope in Children’s Literature. She will include readings from The Finding of Freddie Perkins as well as exploring some classic children’s books that deal with some difficult themes. Through lively discussion and personal accounts Liz will talk about how books can help children deal with loss. This highly popular event promises to provide an interesting discussion that will appeal to teachers, care professionals and parents.

Children’s event (¬£2) book here

Come and explore: The Secret Art of Finding Stories
Saturday, 8 November, 2014 – 15:00 at Maltings Arts Theatre

In this interactive session Liz will introduce you to her novel The Finding of Freddie Perkins, which was published in 2013 and has been shortlisted for two awards. Using extracts from her book, Liz will guide children in the secret art of finding stories. Join her in a search for lost things, find some new stories and learn how to weave a little story-telling magic yourself. The event is 1 hour and all children must be accompanied by a fee paying adult.  Unaccompanied children will not be admitted.

And shhhhhhh! If you’re very lucky… and you go to a certain junior school on the Hatfield Road, you’ll also get the chance to hear the inside story – the story behind the story of Freddie’s story – on the Friday lunchtime…

The beauty of a story window

Last year, I was delighted to speak about The Finding of Freddie Perkins at Ilkley’s literature festival. This year I’m even happier to be sharing an abridged preview of an as yet unpublished short story for all ages – The Blossom-Maker – with the whole town. And how? Through a story window! Yes, for a limited time only here it is…

Blossom maker full window low resSo if you’re in Ilkley, come along to 6 Church Street and find out what all the blossom is about… And if you’re not? Well I’m sure the story will be shared in other ways soon too…

The next chapter…

I love the feel of a fresh start so I like September and its sense of new beginnings despite the fact it’s been more than a decade since my life really followed the school year. My ‘September’ this year is beginning right as it ends because I took my summer hols late. I had a wonderful break in Ireland; topping up on inspiration and beauty for my next book and for myself… but I also picked up this sign at an arts festival. I thought it was too funny not to share on my website too.

careful novelPlease be reassured though… I have no tracking devices here to make this a real – or virtual – danger for any of my online readers!

More soon when I’ve caught up with myself and all those Septembery emails…

Summer reading

August gives most of us a bit more time… I’m using some of mine to write of course. But I’m also enjoying more time to read. Here’s some recommendations from my recent favourite reads – and a snoop at what I’m reading right now…

summer reading

So, here’s a glimpse of what I’m speeding through this month…

I’ve been thrilled to discover L.M. Montgomery’s trilogy about Emily of New Moon and am already on book two – Emily Climbs and looking forward to taking the third and final one on holiday to Ireland next month.

This series by the author best known for Anne of Green Gables is equally magical for some of the same, and some very different reasons. My favourite thing of all about it centres around Emily’s fascination with ‘the flash’.

But that’s all I’m saying… you’ll have to read the books to find out what that is and why it’s so wonderful…

Another series, I’m in the midst of at the moment is The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place which is a beautifully written mock gothic romp. In fact, book II – The hidden gallery is in plain view on my bookshelf, tempting me to pick it up before I finish Emily Climbs. But I will resist… I have strict rules about these things.

The Tiger Rising is a stand-alone novel but I know in advance I’ll be able to recommend it, because Kate Di Camillo is rapidly rising up my cherished authors list with every book of hers I read.

And what have I finished recently that I’d also recommend to you?

For everyone:

In addition to the first books in the Emily of New Moon and The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, I very much enjoyed the laugh out loud read that was A. f. Harold’s Fizzlebert Stump – The Boy Who Ran Away From The Circus (and joined the library).

I’m usually more of a fan of the whimsical than the outright funny, so another Di Camillo novel, Because of Winn Dixie has haunted me since I read it last spring. But Chris Riddle’s Goth Girl: and the Ghost of a Mouse and Polly Horvarth’s Mr and Mrs Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire (translated from the Rabbit) had great concepts and were great fun at the time but haven’t lingered with lasting impressions.

And a couple just for those bigger readers?

I’d highly recommend two books recommended to me by my friend Alison – and devoured very quickly straight afterwards with equal delight but dissimilar reasons:

Ann Shafer and Annie Barrows’ brilliant The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and Ian Morgan Cron’s Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s tale.

Whatever you choose – from my list or yours – enjoy!

And to finish with… here’s one of the most idyllic locations I’ve spent time reading in this summer – the beautiful and ruined to perfection Jervaux Abbey… Doesn’t it just make you want to step inside, sit down and open that first tantalising page?

summer reading 2

 

 

A very bad rabbit…

It was Beatrix Potter’s birthday on Monday. And to celebrate this – and to keep my general promise to share some unofficial summer holiday type writing – I thought I’d share some correspondence from another very bad rabbit…

A very bad rabbit

This was ‘written’ by my very own Mr Bunley Hopkins when I was going away for the weekend a few weeks ago:

Dear stand-in Rabbit serf,

May I begin by taking this opportunity to congratulate you on accepting the privilege of being my visiting butler during my first weekend hutch-alone. I do hope none of your fly-bys coincide with any of the wild adolescent parties I am planning…

Anyway, here is a job spec I have prepared for you:

ESSENTIAL TASKS

1. Please visit my stately hutch on the following occasions (you will find it located in the paddock landscaped by Buckability Green located next to my human’s paltry residence):
– Friday late afternoon or evening
– Saturday morning at some point and then at the end of the day/eve as per convenience I suppose.
– Sunday morning. (My usual serf is returning to work very hard for me later on Sunday to make up for her shocking desire to take leave. I shall make her clean out my whole residence immediately as penance.)

2. On your morning visits please:
– open my sliding door so I can access my long gallery to promenade and feast during the day.
– top up my designer crockery right to the brim with delicious victuals (stored rather embarrassingly in the green wheelie bin next to the human’s squat).

3. On your evening sojourns please close my sliding door just in case any uninvited guests come calling at night…. I hardly dare mention this as it seems a little patronising, but you can never be sure with serfs… Pls make sure I am in my private quarters when the door is shut, rather than still strutting my very fine stuff in my outer courts…

4. Speaking of embarrassing requests… Can you make sure whenever you come that any disgusting slugs or – not that a rabbit of my sophistication would do these – squidgy poos are removed from my top floor? There is kitchen towel in the same green bin as the food as apparently you humans think it’s not the done thing to use your paws… Pls throw undesirables into the other green wheelie bin, not mine!

DESIRABLE

– If you would be so sensible as to desire my actual company, well done. I would be delighted to hop, flip and do all manner of impressive bungnastics for you to watch, praise and adore. And in return, I suppose I might agree to some cuddles. Actually… it’s a little needy of me to admit it but of an evening- well – sometimes they’re even quite nice.

For paddock and snuggle time, pls feel free to fully liberate me in my grounds etc. I only ask that when you have to drag yourself away you ensure my bottom gallery’s door is securely on and I am – again apologies – on the correct side of it.

Yours with yet more congratulations on your good fortune,

Mr Bunley Hopkins Esq

Ps if you have any questions due to your human brain struggling with my Bunley poet ways at any point… Pls do not hesitate to correspond with my usual serf who doubles up as a tolerable PA.

Did you know that Beatrix Potter’s first book, ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ started life as a letter to Noel – her friend’s five year old son? That was in 1893, which by my calculations means the original very bad rabbit was first born into imagination 121 years ago! By contrast, Mr Hopkins is only five months old.

Summer fruit

As school is over for almost everyone, the sun is out, and I am feeling somewhat holidayish… I thought I’d post a light-hearted blog or three over the coming days with some of my behind the scenes just for fun sort of writing.

nectarine

Here’s the first. In it I’m sharing the not-entirely-serious-epic piece The Necatarine of Peace written for – and dedicated to – some (mentioned) friends after an eventful evening of babysitting at their house.*

In the Macnish house there was some sense of unease,
Four hearts secretly yearning “please oh please…
May the fifth in the pummet turn out to be mine.
That lonesome little nectarine looking so sublime!”
This once innocent roundling was causing some friction –
Would it have to be quartered to stop fruit-fuelled tension?

The feisty food swelled with pride and with swagger
To be so much desired – well it was no bragger… –
But what fruit could not be a tiny bit impressed
To look delicious enough to cause family distress?
It found that it wasn’t even slightly perturbed
At the effect of its presence – a small community disturbed!

But just as slicing or fighting loomed as perilous danger!
Into the house walked a well-timed stranger.
Helena the wise who was brave, bold and winsome
Cried “Let’s give her the fifth to show her she’s welcome!
Then the family won’t be forced into a fight
Or the fifth in the pummet be ruthlessly sliced!”

Suddenly in Macnishville everything shifted,
The sense of tension suddenly went up and lifted!
The not so sweet naughty nec causing unease
Was transformed instead to THE NECTARINE OF PEACE!
It was laid out in state – hailed with praise and with thanks
Until eventually into it the new friend’s teeth sank.

And now this juicy tale is immortalised in rhyme
For if you look carefully there’s a moral to find…
By welcoming in and sharing with outsiders
Families find perspective and get beautifully wider
And those coming in feel loved and so glad
To help with redeeming fruit that’s turned bad!

So next time you’re feeling quantitive unease,
Simply find someone to welcome and voila – there’s peace

*The evening was not literally as eventful as the poem suggests. There has been some creative liberty taken with exactitudes for the purpose of humour.