Category Archives: Writing

school days reminiscences of Debby Gies

School Days, Reminiscences of Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye)

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye), author and blogger extraordinaire. I can’t remember when or how I met Debby, but I do know that very early on I read and thoroughly enjoyed her travel memoir Have Bags, Will Travel. While Debby has done far more travel than I, there was much in her book with which I could identify. I remember laughing out loud in places, surprised to find there was someone else who shared similar obsessive behaviour.

Debby is a prolific writer, mainly of memoir. I have read others of her books and never been disappointed. Her style is open, from the heart, and conversational. You could be having a chat with a best friend over coffee, sharing love, life and laughter. In fact, those are things we both have in our blog taglines. How could we not be friends?

Since our first encounter, Debby has been a constant supporter of both my blogs, always dropping by to share some words of wisdom or encouragement — a true champion.

D.G. Kaye and books

But perhaps I should allow Debby to tell you a little of herself:

Debby Gies is a Canadian non-fiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. D.G. is born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart, and women’s issues hoping to empower others.

Why I write: I love to tell stories that have lessons in them and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest, hoping that others can relate and find that we always have a choice to move from a negative space to a positive. We need only the courage to take the leap.

Describe yourself in three words: Optimistic, funny, worry-wart. (Is that four words?)

Best advice: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Never do something to someone you wouldn’t want done unto yourself.

Welcome Debby.

Now let’s talk school. First of all, could you tell us where you attended school?

I’m born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I originally began grade 1 going to a parochial school. Before the school year ended, I was stamping my feet demanding I wanted to go to ‘real school’, lol, meaning public school. I got my wish and grade 2 was Kenton Drive Public School where I was thrilled to have Miss Jacobs for my teacher as she was very compassionate toward me. In middle of grade 4, we moved (again) and changed schools to Rockford Road Public School till grade 7 where I spent my 3 years at Fisherville Junior High. In grade 10 I went to high school at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate – far out of my living district,  but considered higher academically than the one near my home. It was a half mile walk to the bus and 3 busses there and back a day throughout high school.  After high school I moved away from home and began working and taking night school classes for business and accounting where I received diplomas, which proved useful for many of the secretarial and admin jobs I had through the years. I also became a certified travel agent and then proceeded back to University of Toronto to study voice and theory in music.

Debbie Gies High School Photos

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

They were all government schools.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

High school diploma and the school of hard knocks.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

While in school I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to do. My initial goals were to become a journalist or a lawyer. I had the grades to do so but not the inspiration nor the encouragement to follow through. I worked in the clothing industry for a few years in my early twenties, started as a salesgirl, working my way up to managerial positions and buyer. The fashion bug hit me early. I then became an executive secretary for a general manager of the Carlton Inn Hotel – best job ever! And then I moved on to run an office for a construction company for a friend and later did the same work for an architectural firm. After ‘those days’ I went to ‘dealer’ school where I became a licensed blackjack and poker dealer and worked in the casino business until I met my husband. I also spent the better part of my twenties trying to catch a break in the music industry as a singer. Fun times in bands doing gigs. I recorded a demo tape, but eventually I gave up the dream.

What is your earliest memory of school?

My earliest memory of school was a kind teacher I had in kindergarten – Mrs. Wagner. She knew my emotional struggles and paid me extra attention. I came from a severely, ongoing, broken home situation and a few of these teachers I pointed out were like angels with radar.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Honestly, I don’t have any memories of learning to read other than I loved reading. Nobody ever read to me at home and we didn’t have any books. I must have had some great teachers!

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I couldn’t wait how to learn to write. I do remember I began writing as soon as I learned how to write as a tool to release my thoughts and feelings. I wrote poems and love notes on scraps of paper and made cards. Some I gave to intended recipients – some I never showed a soul.

What do you remember about math classes?

I enjoyed math until high school and always had good grades, but I lost interest when we began learning physics and calculus. I much preferred English and French classes. Languages have always fascinated me.

What was your favourite subject?

It’s a toss up between history and geography. I loved to learn about other countries and cultures, even as a child. But I’ll have to go with geography, which I think stimulated my interest to travel.

What did you like best about school?

My teachers. I had developed several rapports with teachers in many grades. When I look back on those days, I know it had to do with the compassion and extra attention they gave me that I didn’t receive at home.

What did you like least about school?

I hated gym class. I was not an active child, more of a thinker than a doer. I didn’t like the ugly uniforms we wore that weren’t the least flattering, especially for girls carrying extra weight, and I didn’t enjoy sports. I was the proverbial girl chosen last when picking teams. Here’s the girl who always kept a high 80s average throughout high school until the year I actually failed gym, which cut into my good grade average. Seriously, who fails gym?

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Oh my, that’s a loaded question. Even though I never had children, I’m quite aware how much the system has changed. There have been many cutbacks in after school programs, classrooms have too many students in them, and I hear complaints from parents that their kids are inundated with homework nowadays. Not to mention, the whole computer era that wasn’t our world then. The saddest thing I think that’s happening is the decision to no longer teach cursive writing. How on earth can they not teach that anymore? It’s sad the art of letter writing is on its way out with time. It also makes me wonder if children will even learn how to sign their name where print doesn’t cut it.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

I’m not too familiar with what’s happening nowadays in classrooms, but I do know from having a 7-year-old great niece and having picked her up from school a few times, the system for safety seems to be excellent before picking up children from school. I must sign in, and my niece (her mother) must call the school to alert them someone else will be picking up her child.

How do you think schools could be improved?

They could definitely use more government funding, more teachers, more after school programs, and more benefits for the children whose families can’t afford supplies and books for their kids, and for field trips.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Debby. It’s pleasing to know that you enjoyed school and that you had compassionate teachers who helped you blossom. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I learned so much I didn’t already know about you.

Find out more about Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye)

and connect with her on social media or any of her author and blog pages

www.dgkayewriter.com

www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (Of course there’s a story to this name!)

www.facebook.com/dgkaye

www.linkedin.com/in/DGKaye7

www.mewe.com/i/debbygies

www.instagram.com/dgkaye

www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7

Debby invites you to come join our Literary Diva’s Library Facebook group for writers and authors

And our #ABRSC –Authors/bloggers rainbow support club.

We are also on Mewe – https://mewe.com/join/theliterarydivashangout

 

 

BOOKLINKS:

Conflicted Hearts

 Conflicted Hearts

Meno-What

MenoWhat? A Memoir

Words We Carry

Words We Carry

Have Bags, Will Travel

Have Bags, Will Travel

P.S. I Forgive You

P.S. I Forgive You

Twenty Years After I do

Twenty Years: After “I Do”

Visit me at my Amazon Author Page

School Days, Reminiscences of Charli Mills Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications. This week, I am pleased to introduce Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye), author and blogger extraordinaire. I can’t remember when or how I met Debby, but I do know that very early on I read and thoroughly enjoyed her travel memoir Have Bags, Will Travel. While Debby has done far more travel than I, there was much in her book with which I could identify. I remember laughing out loud in places, surprised to find there was someone else who shared similar obsessive behaviour. Debby is a prolific writer, mainly of memoir. I have read others of her books and never been disappointed. Her style is open, from the heart, and conversational. You could be having a chat with a best friend over coffee, sharing love, life and laughter. In fact, those are things we both have in our blog taglines. How could we not be friends? Since our first encounter, Debby has been a constant supporter of both my blogs, always dropping by to share some words of wisdom or encouragement — a true champion. But perhaps I should allow Debby to tell you a little of herself: Debby Gies is a Canadian non-fiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. D.G. is born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart, and women’s issues hoping to empower others. Why I write: I love to tell stories that have lessons in them and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest, hoping that others can relate and find that we always have a choice to move from a negative space to a positive. We need only the courage to take the leap. Describe yourself in three words: Optimistic, funny, worry-wart. (Is that four words?) Best advice: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Never do something to someone you wouldn’t want done unto yourself. Welcome Debby. Now let’s talk school. First of all, could you tell us where you attended school? I’m born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I originally began grade 1 going to a parochial school. Before the school year ended, I was stamping my feet demanding I wanted to go to ‘real school’, lol, meaning public school. I got my wish and grade 2 was Kenton Drive Public School where I was thrilled to have Miss Jacobs for my teacher as she was very compassionate toward me. In middle of grade 4, we moved (again) and changed schools to Rockford Road Public School till grade 7 where I spent my 3 years at Fisherville Junior High. In grade 10 I went to high school at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate – far out of my living district, but considered higher academically than the one near my home. It was a half mile walk to the bus and 3 busses there and back a day throughout high school. After high school I moved away from home and began working and taking night school classes for business and accounting where I received diplomas, which proved useful for many of the secretarial and admin jobs I had through the years. I also became a certified travel agent and then proceeded back to University of Toronto to study voice and theory in music. Did you attend a government, private or independent school? They were all government schools. What is the highest level of education you achieved? High school diploma and the school of hard knocks. What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice? While in school I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to do. My initial goals were to become a journalist or a lawyer. I had the grades to do so but not the inspiration nor the encouragement to follow through. I worked in the clothing industry for a few years in my early twenties, started as a salesgirl, working my way up to managerial positions and buyer. The fashion bug hit me early. I then became an executive secretary for a general manager of the Carlton Inn Hotel – best job ever! And then I moved on to run an office for a construction company for a friend and later did the same work for an architectural firm. After ‘those days’ I went to ‘dealer’ school where I became a licensed blackjack and poker dealer and worked in the casino business until I met my husband. I also spent the better part of my twenties trying to catch a break in the music industry as a singer. Fun times in bands doing gigs. I recorded a demo tape, but eventually I gave up the dream. What is you earliest memory of school? My earliest memory of school was a kind teacher I had in kindergarten – Mrs. Wagner. She knew my emotional struggles and paid me extra attention. I came from a severely, ongoing, broken home situation and a few of these teachers I pointed out were like angels with radar. What memories do you have of learning to read? Honestly, I don’t have any memories of learning to read other than I loved reading. Nobody ever read to me at home and we didn’t have any books. I must have had some great teachers! What memories do you have of learning to write? I couldn’t wait how to learn to write. I do remember I began writing as soon as I learned how to write as a tool to release my thoughts and feelings. I wrote poems and love notes on scraps of paper and made cards. Some I gave to intended recipients – some I never showed a soul. What do you remember about math classes? I enjoyed math until high school and always had good grades, but I lost interest when we began learning physics and calculus. I much preferred English and French classes. Languages have always fascinated me. What was your favourite subject? It’s a toss up between history and geography. I loved to learn about other countries and cultures, even as a child. But I’ll have to go with geography, which I think stimulated my interest to travel. What did you like best about school? My teachers. I had developed several rapports with teachers in many grades. When I look back on those days, I know it had to do with the compassion and extra attention they gave me that I didn’t receive at home. What did you like least about school? I hated gym class. I was not an active child, more of a thinker than a doer. I didn’t like the ugly uniforms we wore that weren’t the least flattering, especially for girls carrying extra weight, and I didn’t enjoy sports. I was the proverbial girl chosen last when picking teams. Here’s the girl who always kept a high 80s average throughout high school until the year I actually failed gym, which cut into my good grade average. Seriously, who fails gym? How do you think schools have changed since your school days? Oh my, that’s a loaded question. Even though I never had children, I’m quite aware how much the system has changed. There have been many cutbacks in after school programs, classrooms have too many students in them, and I hear complaints from parents that their kids are inundated with homework nowadays. Not to mention, the whole computer era that wasn’t our world then. The saddest thing I think that’s happening is the decision to no longer teach cursive writing. How on earth can they not teach that anymore? It’s sad the art of letter writing is on its way out with time. It also makes me wonder if children will even learn how to sign their name where print doesn’t cut it. What do you think schools (in general) do well? I’m not too familiar with what’s happening nowadays in classrooms, but I do know from having a 7-year-old great niece and having picked her up from school a few times, the system for safety seems to be excellent before picking up children from school. I must sign in, and my niece (her mother) must call the school to alert them someone else will be picking up her child. How do you think schools could be improved? They could definitely use more government funding, more teachers, more after school programs, and more benefits for the children whose families can’t afford supplies and books for their kids, and for field trips. [thank you] Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Debby. It’s pleasing to know that you enjoyed school and that you had compassionate teachers who helped you blossom. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I learned so much I didn’t already know about you. Find out more about Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye) and connect with her on social media or any of her author and blog pages www.dgkayewriter.com www.goodreads.com/dgkaye www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7 www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (Of course there’s a story to this name!) www.facebook.com/dgkaye www.linkedin.com/in/DGKaye7 www.mewe.com/i/debbygies www.instagram.com/dgkaye www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7 Debby invites you to come join our Literary Diva’s Library Facebook group for writers and authors And our #ABRSC -Authors/bloggers rainbow support club. We are also on Mewe - https://mewe.com/join/theliterarydivashangout BOOKLINKS: [image] Conflicted Hearts [image] MenoWhat? A Memoir [image] Words We Carry [image] Have Bags, Will Travel [image] P.S. I Forgive You [image] Twenty Years: After “I Do” Visit me at my Amazon Author Page [books] If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here: Charli Mills Sally Cronin Anne Goodwin Geoff Le Pard Hugh W. Roberts Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST. Coming soon: Pauline King Jules Paige D. Avery With more to follow. Note that, as next Sunday is Easter Sunday, I won’t be posting an interview. Pauline’s interview will be posted on 28 April. See you then. [thank you] Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

bio infographic of D.G. Kaye

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh W. Roberts

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

Pauline King

Jules Paige

D. Avery

With more to follow.

Note that, as next Sunday is Easter Sunday, I won’t be posting an interview. Pauline’s interview will be posted on 28 April. See you then.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

school days reminiscences of Hugh Roberts

School Days, Reminiscences of Hugh Roberts

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Hugh Roberts, author, blogger and WordPress Whiz who generously shares his knowledge and advice to assist others along their blogging journey.

I’m not quite sure when or how Hugh and I met, but it was probably over at Geoff Le Pard’s blog some years ago. They are both now involved in the organisation of the Annual Bloggers’ Bash celebrating its fifth anniversary in London later this year (find out more on Hugh’s blog here).

Hugh Roberts and Books

Hugh features many interesting series on his blog and always welcomes new readers and often contributors. I read and enjoyed Hugh’s first book of short stories Glimpses. The second volume More Glimpses has recently been released, and I am looking forward to seeing what twists and delights Hugh has in store for me now.

Hugh also entered both Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contests that I hosted. Although they are judged blind, Hugh won the first competition and came second in the second. That’s a fair indication of what I think of his story telling. 😊

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Hugh to tell you a little of himself:

Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping and while out walking his dogs, Toby and Austin. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived around various parts of the United Kingdom, including London where he lived and worked for 27 years.

Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of on-line friends he considers as an ‘everyday essential’.

His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain in taking the reader up a completely different path to one they think they are on. One of the best complements a reader can give Hugh is “I never saw that ending coming.”

Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was published in March 2019. Hugh is already working on the next volume.  

A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and enjoys relaxing most evenings with a glass of red wine.

Hugh shares his life with John, his civil-partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.  

Welcome, Hugh. Now let’s talk school.

First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I spent my whole school life in the town of Chepstow; a town on the south-east border of Wales and England in the UK.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

They were government-run schools.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I left school at the age of 16 with five ‘O’ Levels and three GSCEs.  I then did a brief stint in college on a hotel and catering management course. A job offer meant I left the class before it finished.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

My first job was as an office junior before I went into retail.  I enjoyed an office environment, but it wasn’t customer facing (which is what I wanted). I told my careers teacher at school that I wanted to join the police force or fire brigade. Unfortunately, I didn’t qualify to join either because you had to be above a certain height. I was a couple of inches too short!

What is your earliest memory of school?

I was the only one standing up in class crying my eyes out while I watched all the mums and dads walking away. It was my first day at school, and I didn’t want my mum to leave me there. I was very emotional and felt she had abandoned me and was not coming back. Of course, she did.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

I remember the ‘Peter and Jane’ books which started at 1a, 1b and 1c and went up to 12c (which was the last book in the series). They got harder as you moved up to each one, and you were only allowed to move on to the next book when your teacher was satisfied that you could read the current book satisfactorily.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I remember the first ink pens given to us to practice writing. They were very thin and had to be filled with ink from a bottle, which we had to fill ourselves. It could sometimes get very messy.

While many of the children around me were doing ‘joined-up’ writing, I was doing all mine in block letters. I can remember being taken aside and told that I had to join the letters together. It took me a long time to gets to grips with joining the letters together, and it wasn’t long before I was left behind.

What do you remember about math classes?

I was not too fond of maths. Numbers did not interest me. All I wanted to do was make up stories. All my maths teachers were rigorous, which didn’t help in me gaining any confidence in numbers. I saw them as nasty, uncaring people, who didn’t seem to care about the children around them. I’m sure they did, but I didn’t see it that way.

What was your favourite subject?

Geography. I enjoyed learning about other countries and the people who lived in them. I was fascinated by maps and the names of towns and cities and the roads that connected them. Even the positions of countries intrigued me, and when I discovered time zones and realised that it wasn’t ‘lunchtime’ everywhere at the same time, ‘time-travel’ entered my life.  I remember wishing that it would become part of the Geography education module before I left school.

School Photo - Hugh Roberts

What did you like best about school?

Drama class. In primary school, I could run around being who or what I wanted to be. Whether it was a tree, an animal or somebody driving a vehicle, I enjoyed the fun, laughter and enjoyment of the class.

As I grew up, Drama got more serious, but I enjoyed playing different parts in the school play.

What did you like least about school?

Playing sport. I had no liking for playing any physical games, especially on cold, wet days on muddy fields. After Easter, we would do athletics which I enjoyed a lot more. The long jump was my speciality!

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Unfortunately, I think there are now more children who have no respect for their teachers than there were in my school days. Not only that, but some of the parents also have little regard for the teachers.

It also saddens me to hear about schools not being able to afford to buy the basics like pens, pencils, books and even toilet rolls, because their budgets have been cut so much. Many now turn to the parents asking them to help fund children’s education when it really should be the government which funds it. I was so lucky to have ‘free’ education but, these days, ‘free education’ is something that is disappearing fast.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

I hear more and more about schools inviting authors, writers and experts to come in and talk to the pupils about a particular subject. Whether it be about self-publishing, how to be safe on social media, or help and advice on careers or money matters, it gives those who want to help a chance to pass on their knowledge to new generations to come. I think it’s fantastic that they also ask people to come in and talk about their memories about specific events. It helps keeps memories and ‘past ways of lives’, alive.

How do you think schools could be improved?

More needs to be done in educating children about diversity and the hate crimes we hear so much about nowadays. Nobody should feel afraid to go to school because they are bullied or just because they’re told they are different and don’t fit in. Children should be encouraged to read about different ways of lives and to speak out about bullying. As a child who was bullied at school, my life was made much worse because I was afraid to tell an adult what was happening. These were the days before social media where bullying and hate crimes have now taken up residence. Children, these days, have a lot more to put up with, but I think there are also more bullies these days than there were when I was at school.

thank you for your participation

That’s an interesting observation with which to conclude, Hugh. Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I’m sorry you were bullied in school and wish bullying was something we could eradicate.  

 

Find out more about Hugh Roberts

on his blog: Hugh’s Views and News

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Connect with him on Social Media

Twitter: @HughRoberts05

Flipboard

Mix.com

Purchase Hugh’s books here:

Glimpses by Hugh Roberts

Universal Link for buying Glimpses

More Glimpses by Hugh Roberts

Universal Link for buying More Glimpses

 

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

Debby Gies

Pauline King

Jules Paige

D. Avery

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

celebrating Christmas with a strawberry torte

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Berry Delightful by Norah Colvin

I’m having a delicious time over at Sally’s this week, sharing my post about berries. Won’t you join me?

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

This is the third post from the archives of Norah Colvin and this week she shares her childhood memories of mulberries and her flash fiction that week in 2017 in response to the Carrot Ranch Literary CommunityIn 99 words (no more, no less) include music and berries. It can be fantastical, such as the music of berries or a story that unfolds about a concert in a berry patch. Go where the prompt leads.

Berry Delightful by Norah Colvin

mulberries

What is your favourite berry?

Which berries make your taste buds sing?

When I was a child, there was a huge Mulberry tree growing in the backyard of one of our neighbours who was kind enough to allow access to the multitude of children in our family. Each summer the tree would be laden with fruit and we would pull at its branches to gather as much as…

View original post 730 more words

Interview with Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Interview with Teena Raffa-Mulligan, author of The Apostrophe Posse

Today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Teena Raffa-Mulligan, author of a fun story for young readers The Apostrophe Posse.

This interview is part of Romi Sharp’s Books On Tour PR & Marketing and just one of several celebrating the launch of Teena’s book. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Teena’s work.

Note: Mostly, I publish these interviews first on readilearn but, until the readilearn blog schedule is resumed, I am sharing them here first.

About Teena Raffa-Mulligan

About Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a reader, writer and daydream believer who believes there is magic in every day if you choose to find it. She discovered the wonderful world of storytelling as a child and decided to become a writer at an early age. Teena’s publications for children include poetry, short stories, picture books and chapter books. Her writing life has also included a long career in journalism. She shares her passion for books and writing by presenting talks and workshops to encourage people of all ages to write their own stories.

About The Apostrophe Posse

Trouble comes to Tea Tree Bend…

In cowboy movies the sheriff forms a posse to round up all the bad guys. Cam and Ellie from Daisy Cottage and their friends Billy and Louisa have formed a different posse. Their mission is to find and fix all the signs in Tea Tree Bend with missing apostrophes. The summer holidays are almost over so they have just nine days to complete their task.
How can doing the right thing go so wrong?

My thoughts

I couldn’t resist reading a book with the title The Apostrophe Posse. Many writers, children and adults alike, have difficulty with apostrophes and I could just imagine a posse going out after all the missing or misused apostrophes. I see so much of it myself and would love to round up all those apostrophes and put them where they should be.

I also found the consonance and assonance in the title appealing. It hinted that the book would be fun, and it is.

The book would be a great stimulus to discussions about the placement of apostrophes, but it’s too good a read to be limited to that alone.

Let’s find out what Teena has to say.

The interview.

 Hi, Teena. Welcome to my blog.

Thanks for inviting me.

Teena, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I grew up in an English/Italian family, surrounded by natural story tellers whose tales about their lives captured my imagination. Once I learnt to read, books opened a wonderful window into the world of make believe and I knew from a very early age that I wanted to become a writer. I also wanted to be a ballerina, so I thought I’d write novels in the dressing room between performances while travelling the world. Reality woke me from the dancing dream, but I didn’t give up on the ambition to become an author and began submitting short adult fiction and poetry to publishers in my late teens. When I became a mum at the age of 21 and began sharing books with my small son, I realised I wanted to write for children.

Where do you write? Do you like to be by yourself in the quiet, or do you like to write in a noisy space?  

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's roll-top desk

I write in the lounge room in my recliner chair near the front window, in bed, at the kitchen bench, on the back patio, out on the deck overlooking the back garden, and I also have the luxury of my own office at home. When my children were small, I wrote anywhere around the house in snatched fragments of time. I didn’t have an office (they needed somewhere to sleep!) so I had a gorgeous timber roll-top desk in the kitchen that I bought with my first earnings from writing stories. It wasn’t quiet or peaceful with the business of the household going on around me and that didn’t seem to matter then. Those days are long gone, and I have become accustomed to my peace and quiet. I don’t even play music while I’m writing.

What do you use to write – pencil and paper or computer?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's writing process

I like to get started with pen/pencil and paper… a few paragraphs, some dialogue, a scene or two. Being confronted by a blank computer screen sends my words into hiding. They don’t come out to play until they have some friends to join. Once I have something to work with, I prefer to stick with the computer. I write, revise, edit and proof on screen.

When do you write?

Not often enough! I spend hours every day on writing related activities but not necessarily on progressing my current WIP. I’m volunteer coordinator of the local writing centre so that keeps me busy. I also visit schools, libraries and community groups to present author talks and writing sessions whenever I get the opportunity. I recently ventured into indie publishing, releasing some of my own books and also my late father’s collection of spiritual writing. Then there’s social media to keep up with, plus reading blogs and watching videos to develop new writing and publishing skills. My new writing happens around all of that. I do set myself deadlines each week but they’re rather elastic.

When do you get your ideas?

They can come anytime and anywhere. The best ideas often arrive unexpectedly in the middle of the night, especially in winter when the last thing I want to do is leave my cosy, warm bed. I’ve learnt to keep notebooks handy after losing some wonderful stories because I thought I’d remember them in the morning. Once I have an initial idea, I don’t plan my stories. I start writing and see where they take me. This means I often don’t know what happens next. Walking, driving and washing dishes are great times for figuring that out.

Do you think of the story in your head before you write it?

Always. I compose sentences, mentally write paragraphs, describe scenes and devise conversations.

What gave you the idea for The Apostrophe Posse?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's thoughts about apostrophes

I’ve spent most of my adult life working with words, as an author, a journalist, a sub editor, an editor, a proof reader. I cringe at the widespread misuse of apostrophes and itch to correct them. I love the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. I was driving to my job at the local paper one morning after dropping my children off at school when the idea for The Apostrophe Posse popped into my head. I watched quite a few cowboy movies as a kid and the sheriff often gathers his posse of men to ride out of town to catch the bad guys. In my story that’s Cam and company and they want to find and fix all the incorrect signs around town.  Perhaps there’s a secret part of me that would also love to go out under cover of darkness armed with my editor’s pen and make a few corrections.

What do you like best about The Apostrophe Posse?

The way Cam, Ellie, Billie and Louisa want to put something right, but everything goes wrong.

Do you like the way Veronica Rooke illustrated the cover?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's thoughts on Veronica Rooke's illustrations

Veronica has illustrated three of my picture books and created covers for four of my other books, so I was happy to have her create the cover of Posse. She’s talented, versatile, creative and professional. I usually give her a couple of vague ideas and she works her magic. I’ve never been disappointed.

How did you feel when you wrote The Apostrophe Posse?

It was fun coming up with what could go wrong when a group of well-meaning country kids set out to do their good deed for the community. Of course, everything worked out happily in the end, as it always does in my stories, so I sat at my computer with a big smile on my face.

How do you hope readers will feel?

It would be great if my story brought a smile to their day and left them with the feeling they’d made some new friends.

How would you like teachers to present The Apostrophe Posse? to children?

I hope it will be presented first as a book to enjoy, a fun story about a group of kids whose good intentions get them into trouble. Discussion could follow about community, cooperation, consequences and, of course, punctuation and why we need it if we are going to communicate clearly with each other.

Are there any messages you would like them to discuss?

Cooperation and the importance of working together to achieve something positive. Facing the consequences of our actions. Children could also think about why we have rules and guidelines in our communities and what might happen if there were none.

Do you have any advice for teachers in their role as writing guides?

If you’re excited about books and language, students will pick up on this. Create a spirit of adventure around writing stories and encourage them to explore where words can take them. A lot of kids get stuck at the start because they’re convinced they don’t know what to write or how to express the ideas they do have. It’s important to stress that they don’t have to get it right, just get it down. In the beginning, it’s all about creating something to work on.    

Do you have any advice for children as writers?

Teena Raffa-Mulligan's advice for children as writers

Writing stories is fun. You get to create characters, put them in weird and wonderful situations and then decide what happens next. In your imagination you can be anyone, go anywhere and do anything at all. What will you be today? A super hero? A detective? An astronaut? Where will you go? Deep beneath the sea? To the top of the world’s highest mountain? To the farthest stars? It’s up to you! Don’t worry about whether what you’re writing is an amazing story. Just play with the words. Let one follow another and see where they take you. It’s an adventure.

What is your favourite children’s book?

I’ve read so many wonderful books for children over the years and it’s impossible for me to choose just one. Books I loved reading when I was in primary school were Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series, E. Nesbitt’s Five Children and It and The Railway Children and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. What Katy Did also struck a chord, as did books by Elizabeth Goudge. As a teenager I discovered John Wyndham and read all of his books including The Chrysalids, Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes. Fantasy also captured my imagination, particularly Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern series.

Who is your favourite children’s author? What do you like about his or her work?

When I visit schools and children ask me which of the books I’ve written I like best, I always tell them I have three children and they are all special in their own way. I could not choose one ahead of the other. I feel the same about authors. I am in awe of some of the writing being produced, from picture books to YA novels, and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve come to the final word in a story and closed the book on the thought, ‘Wow! I wish I’d written that!’

When my children were small, I enjoyed sharing the Dr Seuss books with them. I loved the way he played with words.

thank you authors and illustrators

Thank you, Teena. I enjoyed meeting you and finding out a little more about your writing process, your fun book The Apostrophe Posse and your purpose for writing it. As you said, there is much more to your book than a lesson in apostrophes. It is a lesson in life. You have shared so many valuable thoughts with us. I found myself nodding along with you and thinking, “I wish I’d said that!”

 

Find out more about Teena

from her website: Teena Raffa-Mulligan

or her blog: In Their Own Write

Connect with her on social media

Facebook: Teena Raffa-Mulligan.Author

 

The Apostrophe Posse blog tour schedule

Check out other posts about The Apostrophe Posse on the Blog tour schedule:

Monday April 1 – Friday April 5: www.justkidslit.com/blog

PLUS!

Tuesday April 2: www.instagram.com/thebyrdandthebookworms

Thursday April 4: www.authorjillsmith.wordpress.com

Friday April 5: www.littlebigreads.com

SPECIAL FEATURE!

Middle Grade Mavens Podcast: www.middlegradepodcast.com

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

the benefits of play and using imagination

Let’s pretend — play and imagination

If the title conjures up images of children playing dress-ups with forts and castles, saving princesses and defeating dragons, that’s good. Such was my intention.

Pretend play, in which children use their imaginations, allows them to try out different roles, experience different possibilities and enact a variety of solutions to problems they encounter.

But play and imagination isn’t just for children. It is through playing with ideas that new discoveries are made, inventions are created, and innovations implemented. Without imagination, everything would always stay as it always was. Science wouldn’t progress and stories wouldn’t get written.

Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge Eminence

When Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses the word eminence. It’s a rich word full of different meanings. Explore how it sounds or how you might play with it. Go where the prompt leads!, I knew that imaginations the world over would be employed to respond.

Every week when Charli sends out a prompt, writers play with ideas to engage readers with unique and imaginative perspectives on the word or phrase. When all have been submitted, Charli searches for threads that bind the diverse stories together and compiles them into a connected whole.

Charli’s use of the word ‘eminence’ in her flash fiction story was unfamiliar to me, so I opted to stay within my comfort zone. With such a serious and imposing word though, what could I do but play? I hope you enjoy it.

Your Eminence

She glided in, regal robes flowing, loyal subjects lining the path.

“Your eminence,” they bowed as she passed.

She occasionally extended her gloved hand to receive their kisses of adoration or stopped to bestow a gift of royal chatter. Though her crown and responsibilities weighed heavily, she held her head high as she proceeded towards the throne. Decorum dictated every move. She dared not breathe out of sync. Her subjects depended upon her.

When seated, she motioned for all to sit. They obeyed, listening respectfully.

“I decree– “

“Lunch is served, Your Majesty.”

“Aw, Mu-um!”

“You’ll reign again later.”

Thank you blog post

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Geoff Le Pard's reminiscences of school days

School Days, Reminiscences of Geoff Le Pard

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Geoff Le Pard, author, blogger, humourist and all-round nice guy. I met Geoff through Anne Goodwin, if I remember correctly. We engaged in conversations on Anne’s blog first, then followed each other and engaged in conversations on each other’s blogs too.

Anne and Geoff had already been lucky enough to meet in person on a writing course, but I hadn’t known either for long when I visited family in London for the first time in 2014. I very timidly emailed Geoff and asked if he’d like to meet up. (This was prior to the Bloggers’ Bash of which Geoff is now on the organising committee and I didn’t yet know of any other instances of bloggers meeting up.)

I was both anxious and thrilled when Geoff, Anne and Lisa all agreed we’d meet up at the British Library. I think we were all wondering if these ‘strangers’ were who they said they were or if they might be potential axe murderers. Fortunately, though some of us may have a been a bit stranger than others, none were axe murderers and we had a very pleasant afternoon together.

Norah, Anne, Geoff, Lisa beside the lock

Since that auspicious occasion, Geoff has entertained thousands, if not millions, of readers with his blog posts that are sometimes hilarious, sometimes serious, often compassionate and always with his own tangent on life, love and anything in between. He has published four novels, three anthologies and one memoir. I have no hesitation in recommending them to you.

But perhaps we should get to the real purpose of this post, which is to provide Geoff with an opportunity of sharing his reminiscences of school.

Before we begin the interview though, I’ll allow Geoff to tell you a little of himself:

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

Welcome, Geoff.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

My schooling started at 3 at Miss Stark’s nursery school in a large house about half a mile from home (mum walked me everyday). From there, at 5, I went to Maple Road Primary in Whyteleafe, in leafy Surrey this time about 2 miles away (I caught the bus – until I was 6 with mum, after that with my older brother (he was one year older). At 11 I moved to a local Grammar school, Purley Grammar school for boys, about 4 miles from home (I cycled) until I was 12 when the family moved to south Hampshire and joined Brockenhurst High School, also a Grammar, where I stayed until 16 when I moved into the adjacent sixth form college until 18 (the school was seven miles away and involved a daily train journey after a cycle ride).

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

The nursery was private but the remaining schooling was Local education authority funded. Grammar schools were an attempt by the post war governments to give the best equivalent of a private education to those who couldn’t afford it. To enter you had to pass your 11 plus. I failed mine, had an interview as I was ‘borderline’ (makes it sound like it was a mental health issue) and was granted a place – I still think Paddington Bear was my saviour – this post explains my reason for thinking that.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I went through the sixth form, took four A levels (two maths, history and French plus S level maths – not sure what the ‘S’ stood for but it was meant to be equivalent of first or second year at uni – I managed 100% I was told – get me, much good it did me) and then attended University (Law, at Bristol University), and later in life went again for a masters (Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam)

Geoff Le Pard's highest level of education

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

I chose a law degree at Uni that lead to a career in the Law. I can cite the following influences from school:

  • One of my school friends had already chosen law and it sounded cool;
  • I went to a careers’ evening organised at school and the two reps from Southampton University were law lecturers and they were the coolest people there
  • My maths teacher wanted me to go to Cambridge and do maths and he was anything but cool

What is your earliest memory of school?

The sandpit at nursery and the leather indoor slide and being made to stand in the corner for running when told not to.

I recall the terror of my first day at primary school, the sun in my eyes through the high windows and all the other children; I also remember the old fashioned radio speaker on the wall – a large wooden box with a brass speaker in the middle and listening to a story on it. There was a separate playground for the first and second forms (years 1 and 2 nowadays) with a high wire fence around it, like a tennis court that we stared through, like caged animals, at the older children in their playground

What memories do you have of learning to read?

I’m pretty sure I could read before I went to primary school but unlike my older brother I didn’t really enjoy it. I have to thank him for inadvertently (in the sense that I was an irritating little shadow who he needed to rid himself of) persevering in finding me books to read and converting me to the joys of reading. This post may give you a sense of my journey

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Ah me! Handwriting has never been a strength – a school report, noted in the post above, said I achieved a B in my handwriting exam and the remark from my teacher was ‘I don’t know how he managed it’). We had lined books in which we repeated our own take in cursive writing and mine were not things of beauty – again, perhaps I should indulge another post, here with examples of my work.

What do you remember about math classes?

I was always ‘good’ at maths (if you ignore the geometry report cited above – ‘utterly confused in exam – good term’s work’). I didn’t always grasp a concept immediately like some but it didn’t take long and I generally could work back though to first principles if taught properly.  For some time it looked as if maths was my way into university until I was lucky enough to have an inspirational history teacher in the sixth form (years 11 to 13 now) who taught me to widen my horizons. He was cool.

What was your favourite subject?

History and the more modern the better.

Geoff Le Pard tells what he liked best about school

What did you like best about school?

Play time, friends, being praised, winning badges, some school dinners and certain teachers. In secondary school I would add in sport and, after the age of 14, learning.

What did you like least about school?

Geography, biology, any sense I was in trouble, shepherd’s pie, girls until I was14 (my terror was different from there on) and certain teachers.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Harder work, more pressure put overtly on children to perform (we had exams that were as difficult, we just weren’t bombarded with how important they were meant to be), a more rigorous structure to what they learn, less scope for great teachers to go off topic, far more Big Brother is watching you – we had scope to break rules, places to subvert – it seems today the rule breaking has to be in public and so is more likely to be chastised. I hear evidence that in certain places behaviour has degenerated but good teachers have always controlled classes. The punishment regime is less physical today and children are believed more than before. Perhaps the biggest changes are children are listened to more and teachers have less time to teach (or should that be to educate?)

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

When they do it well they inspire lifelong learning and in my experience that comes from the spark of an individual teacher capturing a child’s imagination. They give a child tools to learn, to teach, to educate him/herself – reading and writing and, no doubt today IT skills and after that to be inquiring, not to accept what they are told is the answer but to question – the ability to frame the right question is perhaps the greatest gift a teacher can give a pupil.

Geoff Le Pard says teachers need to teach children to ask questions

How do you think schools could be improved?

They can spend more time educating and less teaching. The tyranny of the curriculum is one of teaching’s greatest challenges. The notion that if you learn to a script and regurgitate that script and you will succeed is one of life’s top five fictions; no actor worth their salt merely delivers a script – they have to understand it, live it, get beneath and inside it. That is precisely the same with learning. Get beneath the surface, go round the back, take off the lid and see the workings and that way so much joy will be had and so many avenues will be opened. Good education acknowledges the world is round and that all we can ever do is proceed to the next horizon and see what’s there; bad teachers are education’s flat earthers.

 

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Geoff. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I learned so much I didn’t already know about you. I enjoyed hearing your perspective on education and agree with much of what you had to say about it.

Find out more about Geoff Le Pard

on his blog

TanGental: Writing, the Universe and whatever occurs to me

and his author page

Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page

 

Geoff’s Books:

My Father and Other Liars by Geoff Le Pard

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

 

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle by Geoff Le Pard

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Life in a Grain of Sand by Geoff Le Pard

Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Salisbury Square by Geoff Le Pard

Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.

This is available here

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Buster and Moo by Geoff Le Pard

Buster & Moo is about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Life in a Flash by Geoff Le Pard

Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Smashwords

 

Apprenticed to My Mother by Geoff Le Pard

Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Life in a Conversation by Geoff Le Pard

Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

 

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

D. Avery

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Whose story is it anyway by Norah Colvin

I’m over at Sally Cronin’s wonderful blog this week, sharing a post from my archives about family history. Sally and I would love for you to pop over and have a read and share your thoughts.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

This is the second post from the archives of  educator and storyteller Norah Colvin and this week Norah shares her own experiences of telling real stories about family to young children, not just their immediate family but passing on living history about those relatives we have met but the younger generation may not have.

Whose story is it anyway by Norah Colvin

Nor and Bec reading
Children love stories. They love being read stories and beg for them to be read, over and over again.

Equally as much, if not more, they love being told stories, especially stories of their own lives. They beg for them to be told over and over, listening attentively and with wonder as their own stories (her story and his story) are being revealed. They commit these tales to memory so that eventually it is difficult to distinguish the genuine experiential memory from the telling. Even as adults they…

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