Virtual Author Visits

I am an award-winning author with over twenty published books for children and teens. I enjoy giving talks and creative writing workshops in schools, and am now able to offer these as online sessions, via Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

  • Engaging, interactive workshops for young people
  • Good knowledge of Zoom and Microsoft Teams
  • 100 Mbps wired ethernet connection – no lag or pixellation

Years 1-2: African picture books

I read my picture book DON’T SPILL THE MILK, accompanied by hi-res illustrations onscreen (Christopher Corr), and then help the class to produce ideas for a sequel, DON’T DROP THE MANGO!

Years 3-4: Creating interesting characters for your stories

Using photographs of children from around the world as a springboard, I lead the class through the process of coming up with intriguing and believable story characters.

Years 5-6: ‘Limited third person’ point of view

Using examples from my book SURVIVOR TITANIC, I introduce the advanced technique of ‘limited third person’ storytelling and give students opportunities to experiment with it themselves.

I also offer thriller-writing or travel-writing workshops for secondary level students.

Read testimonials about my in-person school visits.

For more information, or to make a booking, email Yvonne at Authors Abroad yvonne@caboodlebooks.co.uk

I look forward to joining your class from afar, wherever in the world you may be!

Dear teachers

I understand that your capacity to invite visitors into your school is much reduced this term, and maybe further ahead as well. All the same, I want to let you know that I’m still available for visits, either real or virtual. Happy to engage with your class via Zoom/Teams if need be.

Drop me a line any time to discuss possibilities, or email Yvonne at Authors Abroad.

Warm wishes,

Steve

PS The display of Titanic memorabilia above was in Year 6 at Freeland C of E Primary School in Oxfordshire – just one of many amazing Titanic displays I’ve seen in your classrooms over the last few years.

Drawing lockdown

Lockdown is not good for writing. For one thing, I can only write when I’m relaxed. For another, I am only productive if I get uninterrupted time to feel my way into a writing session.

Research and editing seem to use a different part of the brain. I’ve done some non-fiction research and various Hilda edits since the start of lockdown and they’ve been straightforward enough. But first draft fiction? Forget it.

I get grumpy when I’m not doing anything creative, so I’ve turned to drawing instead. I’m never going to be an author-illustrator, but I’ve started messing around with a dip pen and a bottle of ink, and am enjoying it just as much as I used to when I was a boy.

So here goes: a cartoon chronicle of lockdown:

Lockdown Block
Hope
Homeschool
Joe Wicks for Seniors
Goldilocks

Take a break

March update

Dear friends, what a difference two months make. Re-reading my start-of-year newsletter, it seems absurdly carefree. All of us are affected by the various challenges presented by Covid-19. It is good to see friends and neighbours pulling together to help vulnerable members of their communities.

The closure of schools means that all of my school events this term have been cancelled or postponed. I do hope to offer virtual school visits at some stage. Watch this space for videoed talks and workshops.

A LOT of children’s books are going to get read over the next few weeks. If you can’t get to a library, the Libby app is brilliant in bringing your library to you.

For parents needing further literacy resources, the industrious librarian Mr Maxwell at Glenthorne School has compiled this useful list:

Reading & Literacy Resources 

Authorfy (www.authorfy.com) Free to join, contains several videos of authors reading from their books, creative writing challenges and much more. 

Book List (https://bit.ly/3b6O8oY) A searchable list of over 200 books that are popular at Glenthorne. Unless otherwise stated, all books are suitable for ages 11+. 

Booklings Chat (www.soundcloud.com/booklingschat) Hear Glenthorne students interview 30 different authors when they visited the school. 

BookTrust Book Finder (www.booktrust.org.uk Click “Books & Reading” then “Book Finder”) Great resource on finding books on a wide variety of genres. 

British Library (https://bit.ly/33tLmas) Make your own mini book with instructions from the British Library. 

English Media Centre (https://bit.ly/2xInjsE) Free Home Learning Pack for Key Stage 3 students. 

Goodreads (www.goodreads.com) Free to join, students can write their own reviews of books they have read, find book lists, take part in quizzes and discover new books to read. 

Grammar Cereal (www.classroomcereal.com) Practice your grammar with downloadable short stories. 

NPR Comic on Coronavirus: (https://n.pr/33s261Q) A short comic book and 3 minute podcast for kids that will help dispel fears, bust myths and reduce panic surrounding the coronavirus. 

Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org) Project Gutenberg offers over 50,000 free e-books in various formats.

Reading Realm (www.thereadingrealm.co.uk) Creative writing resources that can be used with a free app. 

Reading Zone (www.readingzone.com) Book reviews, competitions and activities for all ages. 

Scholastic Learn at Home (https://bit.ly/33rFZss) Four new learning experiences posted every day for a wide range of ages. 

Toppsta (www.toppsta.com) Giveaways and hundreds of book reviews and activities for a wide variety of ages.

Warmest good wishes to you and yours. Keep home, keep well, keep reading.

Happy New Year

Warmest wishes to all my readers for a happy and productive 2020. Looking forward to reading lots of great new fiction this year, and to writing some more of my own stories as well. September sees the long-awaited release of Hilda season 2 on Netflix as well as the publication by Flying Eye of the first of three brand new Hilda books written by me and illustrated by Seaerra Miller (numbers four, five and six in the series).

Since visiting Cairo with Authors Abroad last year I have become obsessed with Ancient Egypt. I have surrounded myself with books on the subject, am learning to read hieroglyphs and am haunting the British Museum like a very tall, camera-wielding spectre. Here’s hoping that something creative will come out of this obsession in the not too distant future.

In the meantime, I have loads of school visits planned for this term and next, both in the UK and further afield. My Key Stage 2 Titanic-themed workshops (based on my book Survivor: Titanic) are popular and space in the diary is rapidly diminishing, so please do enquire sooner rather than later if you’re a teacher wanting to organize a visit. Drop a line to Yvonne Lang at Authors Abroad yvonne@caboodlebooks.co.uk.

A special shout out to Sayes Court Primary School in Addlestone and Ditton Park Academy in Slough who I’m glad to serve as patron of reading this year. I’ll be keeping an eye on all new mid-grade and young adult fiction coming out over the next six months, and shoving plenty of recommendations your way.

One rather special book I discovered over the Christmas break is Pharaoh’s Fate by Camille Gautier and Stephanie Vernet, illustrated by Margaux Carpentier. It’s a thrilling story set in Ancient Egypt where YOU play the part of detective, following clues and deciphering codes in order to foil a plot against the pharaoh’s life.

Keep adventuring and keep reading!

Venus de Milo – a poem

This poem is part of a longer one I wrote for my mum’s 70th birthday. The crossword clues are from the London Times, 5 August 1949.

In an incandescent corridor

perched on a folding chair

Ron Tippett’s ink-stained fingers

rake through crinkly brylcreamed hair

All there is for him to look at

is a worn No Smoking sign

a desiccated cheese plant

and a dog-eared London Times.


The crossword might distract him

from the cacaphonic noise

“They do not pay for seats in stalls”

That’s easy: CHOIR BOYS

“Their business is a blooming sell”

could FLORISTS be the word?

and “Stymie on the table”

must be SNOOKER – that’s his third!


“Venus de Milo does not need it”

(two words, five and four)

Could it be WRIST WATCH? No, too long.

BOARD GAME?

APPLE CORE?


She doesn’t need a SPACE SUIT cos she won’t be blasting off

and she doesn’t need a COUGH DROP cos she hasn’t got a cough

You could try her on a PEACE PIPE but the Louvre says No Smoking

and she has no use for STEEL WOOL – she leaves her pans a-soaking.


“Venus de Milo does not need it”

(Two words, five and four).

That clue is really nagging him

He’ll have to think some more.


Venus doesn’t need a CHECK BOOK cos she’s got no way of cashing ‘em

She lives in dread of ITCHY FEET – she’s got no way of scratching ‘em.

No AGONY AUNT can help her, she’s a hypergloomy Gus,

and she doesn’t need a GRAVY BOAT, cos honestly, who does?


Our Venus needs no VOICE MAIL to keep track of any messages

It’s hard to set a MOUSE TRAP without brachial appendages

She doesn’t need a WEDGE HEEL – it would make her feel unsteady

And she doesn’t need a POKER FACE, she’s wearing one already.


She doesn’t need a LIGHT BULB cos she wouldn’t reach the switch

And she doesn’t need a DRESS RACK cos she never wears a stitch

She doesn’t need a TRAIN FARE cos she’s got no place to go

and she doesn’t need a SLIDE RULE (she’s got a Macbook Pro).


KOALA? PANDA? GUMMI BEAR? She’s just not into bears.

And she doesn’t need a STAIR LIFT for she’s not allowed upstairs.

PHONE BOOK? CHILD CARE? DEBIT CARD? Perhaps a FUNNY BONE?

You really don’t need much when you’re a goddess made of stone.


“Ronald!”

Someone’s calling him! It’s time to sally forth

and The Times is now discarded on the disinfected floor.

Those Barratt boots are galloping towards the sunlit ward

Moving fast as Water Biscuit on a firm dry summer course.


And there’s his wife! And there’s the nurse! And there’s the tiny cot!

Well, well, well (as camels say), what a perfect girl they’ve got!

Oh my, thinks Ron, she hasn’t got much ELBOW ROOM in there

then suddenly he laughs out loud and leaps into the air!