Saturday, 12 October 2019

Author Update by Children's Author Kurt Chambers

Meeting Old Friends



This has been an incredible year for me. After spending the previous year finishing and publishing all of my novels to reach a milestone, I thought things were about to start winding down. But the year began with my first ever visit to a primary school, (see my precious post) which was an amazing and uplifting experience.

My book sales kept on an even keel and I had a surprise boost that came out of the blue where I had over 2000 copies of my free novel, Truth Teller, downloaded in just one day! I still have absolutely no idea of what caused this sudden boost in sales, but a massive thank you to whoever was responsible.

As a writer, I grew up in a writing group, The Young Adult Novel Workshop, that sadly no longer exists now. But in my time there I made friends with the most amazing people I had ever met. We all grew up together as authors going through all the highs and lows of the publishing industry. Despite being amazing friends for many, many years, I had never met any of them in person. To give you an idea of how awesome my friends are here is an old blog post from 2010 that puts it into perspective.

This year I did get to meet one of my friends from the forum. Tamara Hart Heiner, an accomplished author, mum of four children and a great friend, was travelling to Europe for the first time from central America to attend a writing conference in Edinburgh. An opportunity that just couldn't be missed! I went to Heathrow airport to pick her up and welcome her to England!

We came back to my humble little house where we had prepared a spare room for her to stay. Tamara got to meet some of my family including two of my grandkids, and we all had a traditional English breakfast together, beans on toast, lovingly prepared by me. Then I took Tamara to the train station where we just about managed to get her boarded on the correct train with just minutes to spare.

It was such a great experience to finally talk face to face and compare the many different things after being such good friends for about ten years. We do really live completely different lives on opposite sides of the world. It was a shame that we had such little time together, I hope we get to all meet again! But we did it, girl. We totally pulled it off. Yay us!




Best of All



I had the incredible honour and privilege to be invited to another local primary school where about ninety children in three classes have been doing a project on my latest novel, The World in Johnny's Back Garden. How cool is that!

I received such a massive warm welcome the moment I arrived from everyone. Mr Barlow introduced me to everyone we met, adults and kids alike, saying, "This is the author of the book we have been doing." as though the whole school had read my book. As we made our way to the library, one of the teachers we met said to me, "Not only have you inspired my whole class, but you inspired me too. Everyone is talking about your book." I was actually blown away by that, I didn't even know what to say. I thanked her a lot. What an amazing start, I hadn't even done anything yet.

I was introduced to six children, two from each class, who took me on a tour of the school. It is a lovely school. I loved the way they have recently decorated the canteen with plants on each table. It was like stepping into a cafe. On the way around, we got to see the new staff room. I asked them if any of them had seen inside and went on to tell them the story of how school staff rooms were mysterious places in my school days where no child ever entered! Funny enough, only one of the kids had seen inside so they got proper excited to explore it themselves. I joked about how unfair it was that they had a better room with cooler stuff and quickly pointed out that the coffee machine also made hot chocolate as well as coffee, just for the record.

After the fun tour, we took the children back to their classrooms. I went into each class and told them my story of how I went from being the least likely person in the whole world to even attempt writing a book, to becoming a published author of five novels. It's a great story in itself and one I hope inspires them to do what they love doing, knowing that anything is possible. Then they got to ask me questions on my book. And boy, did they have questions! It was amazing. There were conspiracy theories on whether Maisie was a murderer. What happened to Johnny's special abilities? Do trees really talk to each other? Was the bully really mean or just understood? The conversation just spiralled off in so many directions.

We returned to the library after this where I did a book signing for the kids who had bought copies of my books and did a photo shoot which they wanted for an article in the local newspaper, The Comet. I was limited to the books I had, so we had to do some juggling so that no one went home disappointed. They all made me feel like a real star.

Next, we went into the hall where six children were chosen to read me the alternative endings they had written for my book. They were all so brave and amazingly good at reading and writing. I love their imagination. They had so many question about my book, everyone was eager to find out what happened to Maisie's husband. I told them that even I didn't know and that I would have to write another book to find out myself. In the mean time, you will just have to use your imagination. While I was trying to answer all their questions, one of the teachers passing through the hall stopped and asked, "Are you the author? You have caused such a massive buzz in this school, you wouldn't even believe!"

To finish the day, all three classes were brought into the hall where they were set a task to choose a picture to write about for a project next week, and to take advantage of having an author present who they could ask for advice is they wished. One of the most asked questions was, do I know J.K Rowling? This made me laugh so much and it became apparent that the kids didn't see any difference between me and J.K. We were both authors of books they had done at school, end of! I had loads of kids asking me for an autograph and all the ones who hadn't been chosen wanted to show me the pictures they had draw of my characters. It was such a massively beautiful and humbling experience. It totally touched my heart. I hope and pray that I managed to inspire at least one of those amazing children.

I have spent over fifteen years of my life on this writing journey. There was a lot of heartache along the way. I wanted to give up on more occasions than I can count on my fingers. I faced so much rejection and criticism and never made any money out of all my hard work. Then out of nowhere the universe offers me an opportunity like this and all of a sudden it all makes perfect sense. This is why I did it and no amount of money in the world could compare.

On this day I discovered two very exciting developments about my book, but I will save that story for a future post.





Saturday, 10 November 2018

My First Ever Author Visit to a School by Kurt Chambers



This week I was invited to visit a local primary school who have been doing a project on my newest novel, The World in Johnny's Back Garden. They were the perfect age group to review my story being aged between 10 and 11 years old. I had no idea what to expect as this was my first ever author visit.

Mr Barlow, their awesome teacher, made all the arrangements and sent me a rough guide with some ideas of how he planned for the day to go. I was happy to agree with whatever he thought best. You could tell he thinks the world of the class he teaches by the massive effort he put in to make this visit work for the maximum benefit to the kids. They thanked me for coming in, but the real praise should go to Mr Barlow for organising and arranging this event in the first place. Thank you!

The day started first thing where I got to meet the class. I got to tell them my story of how I became an author, talk about how I write books and discuss some of the issues and things that happened in my story. The kids were awesome! They asked the best questions ever. They wanted to know everything about me and my stories. They made me feel like a rock star. And they were so funny. I really enjoyed our discussion.

As part of their project, the class had re-written, The World in Johnny's Back garden, in their own words. Some used my original story, pointing out the parts that stood out to them, others made up their own version with changes to the story, even different endings. One at a time they all read out their own stories to me so I could give them feedback and encouragement. From my perspective it was great to see the different parts of the story that stood out to different children. And the alternative versions were so funny. The kids reading was brilliant. They didn't hesitate in the slightest to read out loud their versions to me. I was very impressed.

Then came the school assembly. I won't lie, that was scary. Mr Barlow is dressed as a Mexican Cowboy. He claimed he was trying to blag his way as a character in one of his books. He introduced me to the school and then it was down to me. I started talking and realised within about ten seconds that how I imagined me telling my inspirational story about becoming an author just wasn't going to work. The kids in the class were the oldest in the school and the crowd in front of me went all the way down to about five-years-old. I started to stumble. I could hear myself starting to waffle. I was trying to wing it and beginning to fair.

Mr Barlow came to the rescue with his back up plan. A board with some post-it notes so I could demonstrate how I put a story together. This was doable, I'm back on track. First we need a scene. I decide to make it interactive and ask the kids. Hands shoot up everywhere. The suggestions come thick and fast and in many varieties. This is going well, we settle on a school, somewhere everyone can relate to. Then we need a character. How could I not choose Mr Barlow, the Mexican Cowboy. Post-it note number three came out as America somehow and post-it four, the ending, was a horse. What can I say? lol

Mr Barlow discreetly mentioned we could start wrapping this up now and turned to the audience and said, "Now this is how the author would turn these ideas into a story." Now call me naive or stupid, but I swear to God I didn't see this coming. I think I replied, "No pressure or anything then." I will try and re-create my off-the-cuff story.

Once upon a time (one of the kids suggestions.)

There was this school in England that was quite unusual. What made it unusual was there was a Mexican Cowboy that used to roam the halls and corridors. Nobody knew who he was or what he was doing there, but every day the Mexican cowboy would always be there wandering around. Everyone was too polite to say anything to him so they never found out who he was.

What they didn't know was their school building had come all the way from America. They do that, you know. Take buildings down brick by brick and ship them to other countries and re-build them. Like London Bridge was taken down and re-built in America. Somehow, the Mexican Cowboy had got packed up with the building and shipped over to England with it. Because he only spoke Mexican he couldn't ask anyone the way home. He didn't know what they were saying.

So he stole a horse and rode off into the sunset to find his home and hopefully lived happily ever after. (Notice the classic ending.)

Yeah, okay, in hindsight I should have gone for borrowed a horse, but I was under pressure. The assembly was over and I could breath a sigh of relief.

We went to the staff room for a tea and Mr Barlow introduced me to some people including the head. We made our way back to the classroom for the final part of the day, the creative writing workshop. The kids had to choose a picture from a board of very inspirational pictures and write an opening line for a story whilst we guided and encouraged them with ideas. They wrote an opening line and I gave them ideas on how they could make it into a great hook to draw the reader in. They really took on board my suggestions and totally got everything I explained to them.

We all had cake that Mr Barlow had made himself and the conversation went on into the afternoon covering everything you could think of, most of which wasn't even writing related. By the time lunch time came around I gave a final summery and said goodbye to everyone.

It was such a brilliant day. I have to say a super special thank you to the kids for all their hard work and for making me feel so welcome in their class. You rock! And thank you, Mr Barlow, for being such an awesome teacher.


The World in Johnny's Back Garden


Amazon US

Amazon UK


Sunday, 30 September 2018

Achievements by Children's Author Kurt Chambers

This week is a very challenging week for me. Life can be pretty crazy sometimes as I'm sure you all know too well. So to cheer myself up I decided to write a post about all the achievements I managed to pull off this year so far to help put things into a much better perspective. Despite having to deal with some pretty horrific scenarios, this year has actually been a very good year in so many ways.


January 1st 2018




Yes, New Years Day is a day I will never forget. The birth of another beautiful granddaughter, Athena. What an amazing start to the New Year! She is the most beautiful, cutest kid you could ever meet. Admittedly, I may be a little bias being her granddad, but she really is. I have this amazing connection with her, like she can sense all the unconditional love just pouring out of me.

I love all my grandchildren so much, they are like little gifts from God for all the hard work we put in as parents. And now my youngest daughter is expecting and is due at around March next year. I can't wait!



Home Improvements



I made some massive improvements to my home this year. We had a new roof fitted earlier in the year and one of the scaffolders dropped a pole onto my patio door causing some irreparable damage. So as compensation, they fitted a brand new unit and paid us £500. It's a great improvement and really brings the garden into my living room.



I was also given some massively expensive metal artwork that we took out of some posh flats in Harrow. We had to remove them as they were deemed a fire hazard. So I used them to replace the tatty old trellis in my garden. They came out awesome and were a big hit with the plants!




This year we also managed to purchase a brand new set of sofas. My old ones were second hand and about at the end of their life. It has been over 20 years since I was able to buy a brand new sofa. I also redecorated my living room changing it completely. New curtains, lights and carpet throughout the whole downstairs and the upstairs landing. I love new carpet. That too is something I haven't been able to do for many years.




Holidays



I have had two amazing holidays this year. In June we went to visit Wales for the first time. The weather was spectacular! The site was awesome. It had everything you could ever want and it was within walking distance to the beach. We went to visit some awesome castles. It was just a great holiday.





Our second holiday was in the beautiful county of Devon. I love that part of the country and have been there many times. It is a spectacular part of the world. I love the fact that going on holiday twice a year is the norm for us now. I hope it continues.





There was one small downfall. We had to borrow a car because my car was having a problem with the lights, so we simply swapped cars. We were almost at our destination, about 10 minutes away from Dawlish when we got a phone call saying..."I am so sorry! We crashed your car and have written it off!" What a way to start your holiday!





But this tale does have a happy ending! I was given the money to buy a new car to replace this one. And I'm so happy with my new car! It's the most beautiful thing I have ever owned in my life, sad as that sounds. I got a big reaction when I bought it. "It's a girls car! It's a hair dressers car! Are you having a mid-life crisis?" haha!! I just say, It's just so me! I love it.




Book Stuff


And lasts but not least, I have had such a brilliant reaction to my newest novel, The World in Johnny's Back Garden. It all started when it was featured at a book club in a local junior school. Here is an article I wrote about it. https://geniusborderinginsanity.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-world-in-johnnys-back-garden-book.html Since then it was picked up by another teacher who wanted to use it at his school and ordered a host of paperback copies for his class. He wants to arrange for me to come in for an author visit and mentor the children in his class. On top of that a lady from the council was so overwhelmed by the story she sent it to her brother who runs a book bus tour each year on the Isle of White and said they will probably want me to go over during the tour on another author visit. I'm excited to see how this will all pan out!





Despite all the bad things that have happened this year, it has also been a year full of amazing things and some really big achievements. What an exciting year! I wonder what else it has in store for me?



Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The World in Johnny's Back Garden Book Club by Kurt Chambers



Being a children's author it is always exciting to get some feedback from your target audience. Unlike authors who write for adults, a children's author doesn't get to network with their audience for obvious reasons. Luckily for me, my new novel, The World in Johnny's Back Garden, is currently being reviewed by a book club at a local junior school here in England. They are year 4 children aged nine-years-old. They have reached chapter four and were asked by their teacher to write a short one-line description of what they think of the book so far and passed this on to me.

I had to share this on my site because it's just so AWESOME! I love these kids. I hope to do my first author visit to the school at some point in the future.


Ellen:


It's amazing and very gripping. I feel like I'm inside it!

Romilly:


The book makes me feel like I'm part of it a lot. I like Johnny because I also like animals.

Daisy:


It's really good and exciting and every time we stop I get really curious of what's going to happen next.

Emile:


It's an excellent imaginative book. I feel like I am part of the book.

Sophie:


I think the book is excellent and it's very interesting.

Renee:


I think it's a very good book because it's very interesting and a bit funny and I'm enjoying it, thank you.

Adele:


I think it's brilliant. A lot about nature.


It's official, my book is a roaring success so far! This totally made my day. Thank YOU kids, you're all totally awesome! :)


The World in Johnny's Back Garden


Amazon UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/World-Johnnys-Back-Garden-ebook/dp/B077YZN7SW/

Amazon US:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077YZN7SW

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Gratitude by Children's Author Kurt Chambers



I wanted to write this as a way of saying a massive, THANK YOU, to the universe. The universe has always given me everything I ever wanted and dreamed about. Only, I didn't always realise this. In fact, I believed for many years that I was actually cursed! The curse of the 12th century monk. A very funny true story, worth a read if you want to have a laugh. I hated God and blamed Him for everything! It's actually quite funny now I look back on it. It was back in the day when I didn't realise I was responsible for everything that happened in my life, it was always someone else's fault.

Now, I live in a completely different world. I live in a world of gratitude! And I have so much to be grateful for. I have the most amazing life partner. My wife, Lesley, is the most genuine, loving person you could ever meet. We have been a couple for 35 years and even now I am still in awe with her kindness and generosity to anyone who needs her help. She would do anything for me and takes great care of me. I love my amazing family. I have three children, two girls and a boy, and six grandchildren. We are all very close and I'm constantly surrounded with unconditional love and laughter. I live in a beautiful house in England with a massive well-kept garden. I have a steady job that is probably the best job I've ever had. I go on holiday twice a year. I never really want for anything. I have published 5 children's novels, which for me was an almost impossible task when I started out. I made the most amazing friends from all over the world in the process. I was a cool dude in a rock band in my youth. Life has been one long crazy party. I have stories you wouldn't even believe!

I know what some of you may be thinking, especially if life is giving you a hard time at the moment. Yeah, it's easy to bang on about being positive and having gratitude when you have life handed to you on a plate. Let me assure you that isn't the case. My mum died a few weeks ago. She fought a year long battle with cancer, broke her back in a fall after having chemo and we had to care for her with absolutely no help from anyone. It was the most messed up thing I've ever had to deal with. My dad died six month prior to that happening, also from cancer. One of my daughters was mentally and physically abused for years and there was nothing I could do about it. My son had a heart attack at the age of 18. My other daughter spent her whole life becoming a dancer and is now disabled and can barely leave the house. This is just to name a few things, the tip of a very big iceberg. But the truth of the matter is, you find that you learn the most important lessons in life that come from tragedy and heartache, and I am genuinely grateful for all that this has taught me.

It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, what beliefs you have or don't have. Being grateful is a choice that only you can make. And I'm not saying this is an easy thing to do especially when life seems to be kicking you in the teeth. But if you try to practice gratitude, I promise you, it will bring more happiness into your life than you have without it. Watch videos, read articles. There are many to choose from. It might just change your life for the better.  

Friday, 30 March 2018

Book Review - Alligators Overhead by C. Lee McKenzie

General Information


Author: C. Lee McKenzie 
Year of publication: February 19, 2018
Number of pages: 151
Publisher: C. Lee McKenzie



Plot summary: (blurb)


Alligators, witches and a spooky mansion aren't your average neighbors unless you live at the edge of the Ornofree swamp in the backwater town of Hadleyville. The town's bad boy, Pete Riley, may only be a kid, but he's up to his eyeballs in big trouble, and this time he isn't the cause. This time the trouble arrives when a legendary hundred-year-old mansion materializes next door and the Ornofree alligators declare war to save their swamp from bulldozers. Things only get worse when Pete's guardian aunt and several of her close friends vanish while trying to restore order using outdated witchcraft. Now Pete must find his aunt and stop the war. He might stand a chance if his one friend, Weasel, sticks with him, but even then, they may not have what it takes.

Positive points:


This is an unusual story with a very original storyline. The plot is filled with action all the way through and will have you cheering for the characters to succeed in their quest to save the swamp. It has plenty of twists and turns that make it an enjoyable read.

Negative points:


Maybe the author could have ramped up the emotions a little more. I really love to squeeze out the emotions in the characters in my books. That is the only thing I can think to say that's negative.

What makes this book unique:


Talking alligator clans conspiring with witches against developers.  Is that unique enough for you?

Overall impression:


This story started off from page one with action and kept me turning page after page all the way to the end. This is a great story for any middle grade fans that enjoy an exciting adventure. It was well written and filled with realistic characters.

My rating:



Five stars from me!

Book links:


Amazon US
https://www.amazon.com/Alligators-Overhead-Adventures-Pete-Weasel-ebook/dp/B079Y4PJ5L/

Amazon UK
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alligators-Overhead-Adventures-Pete-Weasel/dp/1732010307/

Meet the author, C. Lee McKenzie



My Passions:

Besides reading and writing, I love to do two things: I love to hike. I love to practice Yoga. Well, three things if you count eating. I love to eat. That’s why I love to hike. Might as well make it four things, because I love to spend time with my family and friends. Wait! I love to grow my own salad. And cats—I love to grow them too, so now I’m up to six things I’m passionate about. I know there’s more, but I’m out of space and you don’t need to be bored.

My Favorite Books:

Anything with Hobbits.
Anything Stephen King writes, except I don’t like some of those stories at night when I’m alone or even if I’m not because I’m a real sissy in the dark.
Anything with a dragon in the title or on the cover.
Barbara Kingsolver’s books.
Edgy Joyce Carol Oates books.
E.B.White’s Essays, and stories that start, “Once upon a time . . . .”

Author Links:


Author site:
http://www.cleemckenziebooks.com/

Blog:
http://writegame.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/cleemckenzie

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/cleemckenzie

Thursday, 15 March 2018

For the First Time Ever! Truth Teller Trilogy for FREE!!

Yes! You heard me correctly. This is no joke or scam, for the first time ever in the history of mankind, the, Truth Teller Omnibus, full fantasy adventure is completely FREE in this one-off special promotion. Maybe you could be the first reader to review this epic adventure! The race is on!

Truth Teller Omnibus




Now you can read all three of the Truth Teller fantasy adventures, Truth Teller, The Wrath of Siren and Favian's Law in one omnibus edition. See below for individual blurbs for each book.

You can purchase this ebook on Amazon for absolutely FREE! This special promotion runs from 15th March to 19th March. So, don't miss out, go and grab your copy right away!



Happy reading everyone!



Truth Teller:


How could ten-year-old Charlotte ever envisage that magic really existed. For her, the world of other realms belonged in children's fairy tales—or so she thought—until she discovers a strange shopkeeper, which begins an adventure that will change her life forever.
                     
When she finds herself lost and alone in a far away forest, she must embark on a journey where heart-stopping danger and real life monsters are real. However, a far greater threat shadows her every move. Even with the strengths and skills of her new companions, they cannot protect her against a ruthless druid assassin.
                                                                           
But in this realm, Charlotte is not the vulnerable little girl she thought she was.




The Wrath of Siren:


Elderfield accepts a Gateway into another realm in a desperate bid to protect the human child, Charlotte, from the Dark Druid. His good intentions go horribly wrong, threatening the destruction of all his people and condemning the Truth Teller to a life she can never escape.





Favian's Law:


Thirty years pass in a flash of elven magic and Charlotte loses all those dear to her. She tries to put things right but is forced to return home, leaving Elderfield to face certain death.

She has no way to save him, but worst still, no way to save herself. The discovery that her own world is changed beyond recognition leaves her no choice but to give up her gateway forever.