Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Don't look back

I've just had an 'oh my goodness it's July tomorrow' moment. Where HAS the year gone?

Sometimes life just doesn't turn out the way you expected, does it? That certainly applies to me this year. But right now, the sun is shining, Ted is asleep at my feet, my friend is hoping to be out of hospital this week, friends are coming down to stay this evening, I'm going up to Yorkshire next week....and life is pretty damn good. If I was sad for the first couple of months, I certainly seem to have been laughing for the last three.

On January 1st I was looking forward to an exciting year ahead. It hasn't turned out how I expected so far, it's just gone down a different path. It's an unusual one, lots of twists and turns, a bit dark in places but it's FUN, leading to lots of new challenges, introducing me to lots of new people.

My niece Emily always laughs at me because whenever I say 'goodbye' to anyone - at a station, after a meal, after an evening out - I never look back. I do my 'goodbye' things and walk away. I don't know if that's right or not, but it's me and it's how I deal with things....I look forward to the next thing.

Right now I'm looking forward to my visits to Primary Schools in Calderdale, West Yorkshire next week. 5 schools, 4 days.......CAN'T WAIT!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Things I have learnt this week #2

1. It is really not sensible to dance until 2.30am in heels when you have a weak back. It might be fun at the time (oh it was, it was!) but you will suffer for it later.

2. Some people can be unbelievably rude when you have given up your time to do something. The best thing is to remember why you are there, get on an enjoy that and RISE ABOVE!

3. Given 2 alternatives people have a tendency to choose a 3rd: the one they suggest themselves.

4. People cope with adversity in hundreds of different ways, all of them are right.

5. It seems to be the nicest most undeserving people who are struck down by illness. Life is so unfair.

6. I will definitely put more 'bottoms' in my next book - laughter guaranteed!

7. I need to perfect my accents: my 'Newcastle accent' is particularly rubbish.

8. Wimbledon is a particularly splendid place to be at this time of year: I so love the buzz when the tennis is in town.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Going Underground!

Yet again I am completely behind myself.
The party was fab - brilliant costumes, lots of laughter, perfect!
I couldn't believe that so many people had made such an effort to be there - I have wonderful, wonderful friends.I am VERY lucky.
I am very sad too that other friends couldn't make it - some due to distance and particularly my dear friend who has been struck down by ill-health.
I missed you and I am sending you lots of love.
And actually a public thank you to Robert - you did a fantastic job as always!You can have a rest now!

Friday, 12 June 2009


I've always liked the name Sophie, it has a certain ring of sophistication about it. Sophies always seem like top friends: fun, loyal and effortlessly cool. Sophies seem down-to-earth, sensible, whilst knowing their way around a sparkly eye-liner. Sophies also sound as though they recognise a damn find book when they read one. So it was no surprise when Ian forwarded to me a review of our book which had been written by Sophie Grierson, who is a very cool 14 year-old. It was written purely because she wanted to do it - a VERY cool thing in itself - and a mighty fine job she's done of it too!

So BIG CHEERS to you Sophie; you've made my weekend and I'm pretty certain that you've made Ian's too. I'm going to copy it all in here because it is certainly worth a read and hopefully will encourage more reviews - because they are worth their weight in gold.

The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World Of Little Doogs.

Playing the road trip game

This book is obviously meant to be read by children from the ages of about seven to nine. The writing is big, and the size of the book with pictures on every page keep children interested.
The basic storyline is a group of animals always on the move because one of them is trying to get business, and always fails. So they have to keep moving, to find other places. They can’t seem to agree where to go next, and when they eventually do they get very lost. The Schnoops are meant to create funny solutions that maybe children would think of as well to everyday problems. This is meant to be a funny read that will gather the Schnoops many little fans.
It is a good idea that immediately, when you open the book, you get a clear, good idea of which characters do what and what they look like. The language in this book is simple, yet it is also what you would think goes around the head of a child.
The subject and storyline of a group of animals travelling would keep a child reading, because children love exploration and animals. You can tell from the first few lines on the characters descriptions that the kind of things you find out about them are rather random. For example: when you first meet someone and get to know them, they don’t tell you straight away that they like to collect sweet wrappers and spiders.
The name ‘Schnoops’ is quite childish, and children love new words. Throughout this book many new words are used. Sometimes, they use modern language that teenagers use today. For example it says: ‘it smells well rank’.
The Chapters also have the name that the first sentence of that chapter will carry on, for example: “There must be some mistake!” and then the first sentence of that chapter is ‘“There must be some mistake!” Honey snapped.’
Also, sometimes when the authors are trying to demonstrate what these animals are saying or doing, they put the sentences into swirl like shapes or curve them round. For example: ‘enormous’ is written hugely and in a slanted bold font, to demonstrate how big they are describing something.
The main narrator in this story is Little Doogs, who keeps a notebook, and uses it like a scrapbook and diary, and you find out what a lot of the made up words mean at the end. For example: ‘nab the gate’ means ‘navigate’ and ‘Snoepjie’ is a Dutch word for ‘Sweetie’.
This book is a perfect example of what children would love to read, and seeing as it is targeted to that age group, this book should do well.

Love ya Sophie!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Chill out!

We're getting ready for a party. I love a party. I love seeing all my friends, being silly....DANCING!

But I always worry that things might go wrong, that no-one will turn up, that the music will a) fail b) be so crap that no-one will want to dance. (I think I've got the last one covered thanks to iTunes but you never know....!)

What I need is to relax. To chill out. To just let everything go over my head.

Just like Ted!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Key words and phrases

I check the stats for my website www.fionacummings.co.uk every day - because I'm a bit sad! I usually get a healthy number of 'hits' which is good (I don't trust google analytics any more because I think they just pluck a number out of the air.) What amuses me most of all is the key words, or more to the point, the key PHRASES that people type into search engines which lead them to my site.

Fiona Cummings + author
Fiona Cummings + children's books
Fiona Cummings + sleepover club

are quite common.

I've had

Messy Jessie + children's book

which gives me a thrill because that was one of my favourite stories which I wrote years ago.

But I also have some weird ones too:

Fiona Cummings + hairy scary
Photos of Cummings home
Big blue gym knickers
My old English Sheepdog hates other dogs

And one which we should perhaps draw a veil over:

Fiona Cummings + dogging!!!!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

10 random things I have learnt this week

1. Cats are more difficult than dogs when it comes to administering tablets. Ted eats them as though they are treats, Charlie Cat next door hates the sight of them. Which is unfortunate as he has to have one every morning. We're looking after him this week. It's a two-handed job but I think we've got the hang of it.
Fish are easy - no tablets, just food!

2. Ironing is a killer for the back.

3. It is really tought when parents get old. Espcially when they are quite far away. I feel very guilty that I am not around to help more.

4. Always check what advance publicity there has been for an event you are taking part in. Panic if there has been none. But do not be surprised if nappy-wearing toddlers turn up expecting story time for the under-fives when you are reading from your book which was written for 7-year olds.

5. Remain calm when aforementioned toddlers get restless whilst you are reading, wander around grabbing other children's hair while yelling 'Bye Bye'. Carry on regardless.

6. Remember your friend's advice: when you are reading to a group of children and adults, remember your focus is ALWAYS on the children. Do not try to talk on two levels.

7. The Internet is a wonderful way of connecting people - reuniting old friends and creating new friendships. It is also a way of making connections with people who can help you - great to be the person who can do the 'helping' once in a while.

8. Sometimes you feel a connection with someone even if you have never met them. Make the most of it, it's called fate.

9. It's always interesting (and a bit nerve-wracking) to read what a journalist has made of your words. Best if it is before publication. Great to find out that you come across as happy, fun and passionate about what you do. Even if there isn't a mention of your new book!

10. Everyone's free (to wear sunscreen)