Ali Sparkes and a Sparkling Talk at the Local Library

ali sparkes out of this worldI’ve just seen the fabulous Ali Sparkes give a talk at our local library and….WOW! That’s how an author talk should be done!

Ali writes for children, and she was funny, informative, and engaging. I won’t give away her ‘trade secrets’, but she has quite a few clever props, some for fun, some to illustrate her points, and a final magician’s trick for the end of the talk, which brought some real gasps from her audience.

I might have to make library visits one day, (though I’d have to finish a book first!) so here’s what I picked up from Ali’s talk.

  • Engage the audience in the first few minutes. Ali had us responding to cue cards straight away, and it really got us in the mood.
  • Keep the audience involved. Ali asked questions, she called people up to help, and she used props throughout the talk to keep us interested.
  • Choice of readings. Ali chose a couple of really fun passages from her books, and these were spread out in the talk, but gave a real insight into what to expect if we read her stories. She put a lot of expression into it, but I suspect she’s a natural performer!
  • Be funny. Well, there again, you’re either funny or you’re not – but it certainly helps!
  • End on a high. The magician’s trick. We were ALL impressed, mums and dads too!

And what about writing advice? The talk was aimed at children, but the main message is clear. Don’t give up. Her work was rejected for years, but she kept writing and submitting. She got close a few times, only to be rejected at the last minute, but she kept writing. She was finally published in 2006, and has written 40 books since then!

We’ve never read her books, but on the basis of this talk, I think we’ve missed out. We bought ‘Out of this World’  yesterday, and now that it’s signed, my daughters can fight over who gets to read it first.

The talk was part of the summer reading challenge, which we’ve always taken, but this year… well, to be honest, the girls read longer books now, and the reading challenge would be a bit like Nanowrimo – all about quantity rather than quality. I’m sure they could pick six books to read, but they’d be chosen for their brevity to meet the six week deadline. I’d rather they read a few ‘bigger’ books slowly.

This is the third author talk I’ve attended at the library, and though I’m an aspiring writer I’ve never hovered around afterwards to ask insightful questions, or chat with the ‘proper’ author.  (Actually, I think there were two ‘proper’ authors in the room, I think I spotted Kate Kelly, in the audience, who’s blog I’ve followed for a while.)

I didn’t hover around for a chat this time either, I wish I was the sort of person who could do that though – just walk up and introduce myself, and start chatting about the writing process.

But is that the right thing to do? What’s the social etiquette for collaring authors after talks? Should you save that for conferences?

What do you think?

 

Making Mondays – Tagxedo word art

Always looking for ways to make easy art with the children – this site is a dream!

Instead of a simple word cloud, at Tagxedo.com you can choose from an astonishing array of shapes, and make real  ‘word art’.

tagxedo dog trudyktaylor blog4

  • Firstly, paste in your blog url, or text, or individual words.
  • Choose your shape. Hearts, elephants, bats – I even saw a witch’s hat in there!
  • Choose from a beautiful range of colour themes.
  • Even choose your fonts!
  • Then create, and save to jpg, or share on Facebook or Twitter.
  • They have a shop where you can buy mugs and stuff with your word picture on it.

I can see tons of uses for this:

  • A family word picture, with all our names on it.
  • For Father’s Day, the word ‘Dad’ repeated, and printed out to stick on a card.
  • For Valentine’s Day, the word ‘Love’, to stick on a card or frame and give to someone special.
  • Your child’s name, printed out to frame, maybe even print out 16 or 25 of them, each one in a different colour theme, in a smaller size, and then collage them together!
  • The words of a favourite poem or song.

The possibilities are endless!!!

These are the words it picked up from the blog.

Strangely, at some point I have used the words ‘sandwich’ and ‘rice’, which taken out of context seems a trifle odd! I’ve also used the word ‘really’ a lot more than I should. Happily, ‘Chocolate’ seems nice and emboldened, but where is ‘coffee’? This blog runs on coffee, yet no mention of it – strange…..perhaps it is my guilty little secret, only now revealed…

(Upon further investigation, I’ve uncovered ‘sandwich’ tins, ‘rice’ krispies – see, makes more sense now!)

Have you tried this? Can you think of any more uses for tagxedo?