Psst! You guys are AWESOME!

I didn't meet my first author until I was a grown-up on the brink of becoming an author myself.There were no book clubs where I could trade information about my favourite books. And there weren't as many amazing books for young people as there are now.

Me as a child. Where were all the book clubs? Why was I wearing that massive bonnet?
So I have to confess, I am dead jealous of the children I meet when I do author visits to schools, libraries and festivals. I mean, talk about having the world ... you children of today are so LUCKY!

Some exceedingly excited and lucky children at Bishop's Stortford College .
Taking a moment from all the excitement to pose for the camera
What was really terrific about my visit to Bishop's Stortford College today was that so many of the children had already read the book, thanks to super librarian Rosie Pike.

One girl informed me that she had finished the book in just THREE hours! I told her it took me ten months to write it, so it's only fair that the reader take a bit longer to read it!

Aww. The library display was fab. And I wonder who did the sparkly writing for my name.
Over lunch, I met up with the book club and answered questions about Tall Story - we talked about everything from rabies and witches to how they would react if they met someone who was eight feet tall like Bernardo. "I will accept him and treat him like a normal person," one book clubber said, "unless he's not nice."

There was a long table of book club members waiting to get their teeth into me when I arrived in the dining room. As we ate, even more came in until the back of the room was packed!
Everyone was very nice about the book - although nobody could quite sum up what sort of book it was - which was one of my great fears about Tall Story ... I mean, booksellers might find it hard to sell something they can't easily put under the usual labels (mystery, fantasy, etc). 

At the same time ... the one thing everyone said they liked about Tall Story was that it was DIFFERENT! That it wasn't like anything they'd read before. Cool!

When one of the teachers asked the children if they wanted to say what they didn't like about the book, one girl said, "I didn't like that it was so GRIPPING that I couldn't put it down!"

I didn't like that it was so gripping that I couldn't put it down

This is the sort of criticism an author likes to hear. I got the chance to quote Sol Stein to the kids - "A good author never takes the reader where he or she wants to go!"

Super librarian Rosie made sure I met as many children as she could muster and then we had a quiet sit down in the staff room where we talked about  ... guess? Books! Apparently the book club is all set to read Grace by Morris Gleitzman which got me all excited because I only just finished reading Grace and loved it! You can read my review on Amazon.

This is the first time I've blogged properly about the school visits I've been on. The reason I haven't done this before is because I'm trying to be a Good Author and finish my next book.

I'm almost done now so I hope I can post some more stuff about the awesome children I meet (and their names! So many children, so many fascinating names! Today I heard a lot of names I'd love to put into a book! Hmm ... watch this space!)

I'll tell you one thing - you guys are really, truly amazing. I am so impressed by how much everyone reads, how much you take from a story, the intelligence of your comments, and the insight that you bring to a discussion. You are just ... WOW. And don't let anyone say otherwise.

I'll try to post more photos of my school visits in the future - if you can't wait, I've been posting a lot of photos on Tall Story's Facebook page. Go check it out. And thank you to the teachers who took photos of me with the children!

Meanwhile ... a few weeks ago, I visited Princes Risborough library where my friend Teri Terry (remember the name, you'll be seeing it in a bookstore near you very soon) works.

I met some brilliant children in the Chatterbooks group that she runs there and afterwards, they drew pictures of the characters from Tall Story  and sent them to me. I loved the drawings so much, I just had to use them in my book trailer ...and here it is!!!!

Well that's all for now ... but before I go, here are some other awesome children I met when I visited schools in the Philippines last year!

The Nest School
Ateneo de Manila High School
Mater Carmeli
Saint Pedro Poveda College
Angelicum College

I am participating in Authors for Japan - an auction organized by author Keris Stainton. I'm offering three critiques of 2,000 word opening chapters of middle grade and teen manuscripts, as well as two Tall Story paperbacks - I will autograph and draw a cartoon on the title pages. I will post a link here when details of the auction are ready. I hope we can count on your support! Here are more links to charities and relief organizations on the Color Online blog

I've donated two signed (and doodled on) paperbacks of Tall Story! Bid here

Browse and bid on Authors for Japan