Tuesday, 23 April 2013

You can take the teacher out of teaching, but you can’t take teaching out of the teacher…

Ahhh, the good old days.
I left teaching X years ago. Really? That long?

I still miss it. I miss the children mostly, and next I miss the whole creative challenge of finding a way to make learning interesting, and fun! I don’t miss the meetings, the marking, the orders from above about HOW and WHY and WHEN you teach something… No, seriously, don’t get me started on that one, Mr Gove.

And I love being a writer and a publisher and all that entails.

But one day, a few weeks ago, I got to thinking about how MY BOOKS might be used if I were still teaching. And the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. It became kind of a personal challenge to see if I could write a scheme of work around my writing. Whilst I don’t claim to be William Shakespeare or Morris Gleitzman, I thought my books (and especially BRING ME SUNSHINE) might provide the right ingredients for lessons which are both interesting and fun.

So that’s what I did.

I wrote a teacher resources pack for Key Stage 2, based on the PSHE curriculum, and I wrote another one for Key Stage 3, based on the English curriculum.

You can download either from my website - here - for FREE!

The KS2 pack includes information, discussions, games, drama, writing and drawing activities relating to the issue of young carers. It is aimed at children in year 6.

The KS3 pack includes a variety of activities based on BRING ME SUNSHINE and extension activities which can be used in any KS3 English lesson. I had some help from friend and fellow writer KateHanney with the KS3 pack, because my natural home is the primary school; Kate is a secondary English teacher.

If you do look at my free resources packs, please let me know what you think. I had fun creating them, and I’d be really interested to know how they are received by those people in education who matter most; the children.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

20 Questions to Katie Hayoz

This week, I have donned my interviewers hat to ask my fellow Mslexia Children's Novel Comp runner-up - Katie Hayoz - a few questions. Katie's first book, UNTETHERED is now available on Kindle from Amazon UKAmazon US and Barnes & Noble, and the paperback is due for release on MAY 1st 2013.

Q 1. Tell us briefly, what UNTETHERED is about..
Untethered is a young adult coming of age novel that explores the world of jealousy and obsession when paired with paranormal ability.

Q 2.What was the inspiration for writing this novel?
When I was 17 I read Stranger with my Face, by Lois Duncan, which touched on astral projection.  The whole out-of-body experience thing fascinated me.  I wrote a short story that same year and twenty years after that, I finally decided to expand that original story into a novel.

Q 3.Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
My intended audience is anyone age 14 to 114. Untethered isn’t just a story about astral projection; one of the main themes is self-acceptance.  Everyone - but mostly girls and women - struggles with this on a daily basis.  Learning to love ourselves for who we are, as we are, is not always easy.

Q 4.How did you come up with the title of your book?
Ha! I didn’t come up with the title.  I had a horrible, horrible title that I’m embarrassed to even mention here: Precious Possession. Oof. Cringe-worthy, huh?  A friend of mine was talking about the book to her husband and he said, “Why doesn’t she call it Untethered?”  Whew.  Thank you, Robbie.  I’ll be going to him for suggestions on titles for my next novels, too.

Q 5.Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
Nelson, hands down.  He’s just…such a sweet guy. And yet he’s not afraid to be different.  I mean, he’s got blue hair and paints his fingernails.  I think, though, the real reason I like him so much is that he’s partially based on a guy I had a crush on in high school.  The guy never talked to me so I have absolutely no idea what he was really like, but in my fantasies he was how I’ve created Nelson.  Only he had a Mohawk instead of blue hair.

Q 6. When and why did you begin writing?
I don’t know exactly when or why, but I can tell you that some of my earliest memories are of my mom sitting in her recliner with a bowl of popcorn and a book.  She always looked so interested - enraptured even - that I had to find out what the heck was so great about words on pages.  That’s how I was bitten.

Q 7. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Ugh.  I wish I had a schedule.  But it’s all chaos.  Whether I’m writing or not.  I’m completely unorganized when it comes to my time.  One day I’ll write five hours, then next few only five minutes.  Everything depends on what’s going on in my daughters’ lives.

Q 8.How do your family feel about you writing?
My daughters think I’m some sort of celebrity.  But they’re still too young to realize the truth.

Q 9.What’s your best/worst experience as a writer?
Best experience: When my agent took me on, said she loved my book and that it should it sell quickly.  Worst experience: When my agent told me 26 publishers decided to pass on acquiring it.

Q 10. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
Does being able to twist my tongue upside down count?

Q 11. What would your fancy dress costume of choice be?
I’ve always wanted a reason to wear one of those super luxurious dresses from the 1700’s that show off cleavage but hide hips.  Oooh, and I’d  have piles of hair stacked up on my head like a tower.

Q 12.What super power would you like?
That’s easy: telekinesis.  Because I’m lazy.  I wish the apartment would tidy itself up.  But astral projection wouldn’t be bad, either!

Q 13. Do you have any unappealing habits?
I whine.  A lot.

Q 14. Who would you invite to the dinner party of your dreams – and what would you eat?
Margaret Atwood for the intellect, Robert Downey Jr. for the eye candy, Tina Fey for comic relief,  J.K. Rowling for the stories, and Jamie Oliver to cook for us!  I’d eat anything he’d make, but I’d want something chocolaty for dessert.

Q 15. If you could say sorry to one person, who would it be and why?
I’m sorry I didn’t make time for my friend Sue when she called me that one day over 20 years ago.  Maybe we’d still be talking.

Q 16. If you could say thank you to one person, who would it be and why?
Have to break the rules here.  I’d say thank you to two people: my parents.  Because they have always, always, always been there for me through everything.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  They amaze me.

Q 17. Favourite colour?
I know I’m a freak, but I don’t have a favorite color.  I like turquoise, purple, pink and green.  Oh, and red.

Q18. Star sign?

Q19. Who would play you in the film of your life?
Ha ha ha.  I’m laughing too hard to answer this one.

Q 20. What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on a novel that involves the devil, a remote village, the missing Roanoke colonists, and some really ugly masks.

Thanks, Katie. Great answers x

Katie Hayoz
And here are those all important links...

To buy UNTETHERED, go to
Amazon UK , Amazon US or Barnes & Noble

Check out the Untethered FB page, where you might win a kindle when you share what you would do and where you would go if you were untethered and could astral project!

Visit the website of the book or Katie's own website.

and follow Katie on Twitter: @katiehayoz