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Showing posts from 2011

Season's Greetings

Season's Greetings
and fond festive wishes
to everyone.
Hugs and Eggnog
from Cathy

Girls Heart Books #2

I blogged about dustbunnies, yoga and punching cushions today. Click on to read it.

December already?

Hello! Sorry I've not posted for a while. I've been horribly busy. Still am. The latest draft of book 4 is almost ready to send back to my editor and I've been working on outlines for another THREE books! In between that I've been drawing, workshopping, teaching, writing reports and organising the art department at school. I'm amazed I've actually had time to eat or sleep!
One thing I definitely haven't had time for is prepare for Christmas. I guess I'll have to do a lot of online shopping this weekend. Eek!
I've got some very exciting events coming up in 2012 - library openings, literary festivals and school visits - so stay tuned for more details very soon.
Pic - my visit to The Howard in 2010

Girls Heart Boys

I started blogging @ http://girlsheartbooks.comtoday. Check out my debut blog about boys!


Lying Workshop @ Swindon Library
I've just had a crazy week. It started with a return to the demands of the art department at school after the half-term break (argh!) and ended with the news that Scarlett Dedd has been longlisted for a book prize (Yay! More details when I get some). In between, I was busier than I've been all year - running around the art department, teaching, writing, drawing, blogging, tweeting and crossing the country to events.
There were two highlights. Yesterday I gave a talk to some of my colleagues and pupils at school, which was lovely and a new experience for me as I usually don't know my audiences. And on Thursday I travelled over to Swindon Library to do a workshop as part of their Youth Festival of Literature.
I had a room packed full of eager work-shoppers, whom I discovered were very talented indeed - especially at lying, which was the theme of my workshop (in honour of Verity Fibbs.) You can see some of their brilliant artwork above.
I don'…

5th November

5th November. Remember Ember...

Telling Fibs in Norwich

Some pics from Norwich
I visited the amazing Norwich Library yesterday. It's huge, impressive, seriously cool and, I'm told, lends more books than any other in the country. And that's the truth! 100%! I promise. Cross my heart and hope to die.
I had to write all that because nobody believes a word that I say anymore. It's all because of my new 'LYING' Workshop. In my latest book Verity Fibbs,the heroine, does a lot of pretending. Verity pretends to be someone else, pretends she's not scared when things go wrong and pretends that she doesn't have a crush on the boy she met at the airport. She lies all the time - to her mum, her best friend and finally to herself.
In honour of Verity's epic lies, I decided to do a creative writing workshop at NorwichLibrary that was all about NOT telling the truth. The results were phenomenal - buildings inside glass bottles, giraffes shopping in Accessorize, elephants squishing cars, zombies, fairies and swarms of be…

My Voice

I wrote a guest blog post for MyVoice. Check it out.


Just as I am starting to calm down after the launch of 'Verity Fibbs' and my heart is finally slowing to a normal rate, I get an exciting invitation and it's all a flutter once again! I'm about to start blogging on the most amazing site - Girls[Heart]Books. If you've never heard of it or checked it out and you are a girl who loves to read, then, OMG, how have you lived without Girls[Heart]Books all this time?!
You won't find my orange-haired photo in the author list just yet, but make a return visit next month and I shall probably be there, grinning stupidly at you!
I'll be posting about all sorts of stuff - what's happening in my studio, where I'm visiting and issues and ideas that concern or excite girls like us who 'heart' books. Of course, you'll also find blog posts by other amazing authors and be able to find out about their lives, their books and how they create them. HOW COOL IS THAT?! Ooo, my heart is thumping again. www.girlshear…

Verity Launched!

About 100 cakes scoffed in the first hour, a bookshop full of friends, excited fans and new readers, and five lucky prize winners - Hazel, Millie, Polly, Ellie and Alexandra - who win an assortment of original artwork, hoodies and goodie bags. The Verity Fibbs Launch Party was my favourite kind of fun. Oh, and I met a fellow artist and writer, Mary, who is super talented and can draw portraits LOADS better than me! Perhaps she'll let me feature some of her work here?

Verity Fibbs Launch Party

Planning a party is always fun. This one is gonna be brilliant! Come and meet my latest cast of cool characters, Verity Fibbs and her friends... and enemies, on Thursday 13th October, at Barton's Bookshop, Leatherhead. The party starts straight after school at 3.30 and there will be a quiz, prizes and lots of cake.

Awesome Drawing

My six-year-old niece did an awesome drawing of Verity Fibbs. I hope my agent doesn't see it or my niece might get all my illustration work!!

Scar set to haunt the US!

I was sent rough cover artwork for the US edition of Scarlett Dedd last week. Woohoo! How exciting is that?! It looks very cool and quite different from the original. As soon as I have pics of the final cover, you'll get a preview of it here first.

You are invited...

Check-out Verity's book trailer via the link on my VIDEOS page above.

Back to School

The Autumn Term starts tomorrow. Hurrah! My uniform is ironed, pencil case full and bag packed. Boris has asked if he might take his pet to school, but I have a hunch he'll be disappointed. Enjoy your first day back everyone. And Boris.

Juggling Chainsaws

Since my first book was published back in 2009, I've understood why the word 'juggling' is entirely apt when describing a busy life. Two or three balls flipped in to the air (work, family, domestic tasks) are a doddle for any self-respecting clown - even one wearing enormous shoes and a comedy wig. But, throw in a chair, a sword, a couple of pineapples and a chainsaw, and the act becomes alot more interesting, rather dangerous and somewhat like my life as an author! Juggling the roles of part-time art teacher, full-time auntie and domestic goddess is easy-peasy. When you add illustrating books by other writers, blogging, tweeting, delivering schools workshops, promoting book 3, editing book 4 and planning/writing book 5, then you've got a pretty awesome spectacle. If I concentrate, and keep the comedy wig out of my eyes, I can keep them all impressively tumbling without losing a limb. As long as I don't trip on those enormous shoes.

Olympic Fever

I thought I was immune, but today I felt the first tiny shivers of Olympic Fever. I've been grumbling for the past month about the planned shut-down of our Surrey village for a test run of the London-Surrey Cycle Classic. Well, sure enough, the roads closed early this morning. I grumbled again about having to find alternative parking space and not being able to leave until the afternoon, then headed out to the village green to see what all the fuss was about.
By ten o-clock it seemed that the whole village was there, chatting, taking pics, drinking tea(!) and there was a kind of buzz in the air. This might actually be fun, I thought. Twitter announced that the race was on its way and the first support vehicles were greeted with enthusiastic cheers and waves. It was a small taster of the hysteria that was to come. Every police outrider then received similar cheers, whoops and raised thumbs, until the arrival of the first actual cyclists, when all hell broke loose.
By the time the m…

My Other Editors!

I sent the first draft of book 4 to my 'cousins' in Somerset over the weekend, *waves at Grace and Millie* and I have to say that I'm anticipating their comments with some excitement and trepidation. I've had some amazing feedback in the past from the teen members of my family *waves at Grace and Rachel in Sheffield* and ALWAYS take their suggestions very seriously. They have been my most supportive fans and honest critics which is, for a writer, a resource beyond value. Thank you girls. The peeps at my writers' group are pretty fab too, of course!
BTW Here's a pic of the new man in my life, Mister Wolf! Quite a looker isn't he? He's part of a top secret project and I can't tell you much yet, but watch out for more info towards the end of the year.

Holiday Project

Verity Fibbs is being printed (published in Oct) and the book 4 first draft has been delivered to my editor (more details very soon). Hurrah! So, I'm working on a holiday project for a month. It's a picture book and I'm having SO MUCH fun creating weird and wonderful characters. Here's one of my faves. It's totally amazing working in full colour, which I so rarely get the chance to do. It's also a lot harder than writing a novel (honestly) because I have to fit an entire story, with loads of visual jokes, into just 12 spreads! Aargh!

Lost Voice after Weymouth MY VOICE!!!

I attended the Weymouth MY VOICE Roadshow yesterday and have just about recovered. What an awesome event! I got quite excited on the journey down from London, then more so on the walk to the library in the sunshine, because Weymouth is at THE SEASIDE! Woohoo! A day at the beach! I'd almost calmed down after that thrill when I was led in to the venue via the back entrance where a graffiti artist was creating murals with a young team of Weymouthites, which was totally cool and set the tone for the rest of the day.

I had missed the Meet the Publishers panel where the speakers - marketing, publicity and editorial experts (Commissioning Editor of Teen Fiction no less) from Headline - had been given a grilling by their audience. I hear they gave excellent answers. I already had an audience gathering for my workshop so, after a small technology delay (!), launched in to a short introduction (viewed on a very small screen!) followed by a Cartoon U drawing session. Here are the results. Gr…

Latte and Emos in Petersfield

Just got back from Petersfield, where I was chatting, signing and sketching at Waterstone's. Thanks to the whole W Crew (you rock!) and everybody who posed for me (click on the 'sketchbook' page). P.S. Terri-Anne, Emma and Brianna: Cool meeting you and don't forget to go back to buy a book! I signed some for you:)

A Doodle

Here's an old doodle I found in my sketchbook. Not sure what to do with her. Next book? A whole book to herself? I like her blue hair and nails. Kinda cool. Any ideas?

A move to my Summer Studio

Between the showers, I've been working outside, so this is what my temporary Summer Studio looks like. Pretty, huh? It's been a bit chilly and soggy so far - more socks and cagoules than sundress and shades - but, perhaps I'll get more use out of my 'shady writing nook' later in the hols.

School's Out!

Yay! The summer holiday has arrived. No more school for nearly eight weeks! I can now switch my brain from 'art department' mode to 'author/illustrator' mode. In fact, I did it before I'd even left the school grounds and began planning the next chapter of book 4 while driving home. I hope the weather gets a bit better soon 'cause this soggy stuff doesn't feel at all like 'hols', does it? Ick! My damp trainers are where my turquoise flip-flops should be and there's a wet brolly in the hallway instead of a beach umbrella. I might put away that factor 50 sunblock. So much for a sizzling summer.

Exuberant Reigate Grammar!

Spent the day doing sequential art (that's posh for comics) with 60 4th years. Exhausting (it got very hot today) but some fantastic outcomes. Thanks to everyone for making it such a fun day. A particular thank you to Tom and Matt for carrying my very heavy box of books. I thought some of the strips would make brilliant animations, so here's one of mine...

Visual Storytelling @ Tormead

I spent the day at Tormead School writing scripts, drawing comics and making videos. Thank you everyone for making me so welcome (especially Mrs Clarke) and for being SO creative. You were awesome. I was really impressed by the abundance of talent - writers, artists, directors and actors (and comedians!!). I look forward to making a return visit with my next book. Highlight of the day? The dead body in the library (not a real one, obviously!).

Really Lovely Redhill

I spent today at Waterstone's in Redhill, Surrey, sketching and signing books. Lots of very cool-looking teens posed for me (check-out the 'sketchbook' page) and I chatted with some totally awesome readers. Redhill rocks! I MUST mention six girls who particularly impressed me. First, three friends who, finding they couldn't afford a book each, decided to share one copy between them - genius! (I just about found room for all their names when I signed it!). I wonder who will get to read 'Ember Fury' first. I must also mention Lori, Amie and Shirley, who were SO polite and charming. Here are the drawings I did of them. Currently my FAVE fans! :D

New Job

I started a new job today - Art Technician at St John's School (waves at lovely new colleagues whose names I have already forgotten... um, Jason, Sally2... um...) It's great to be back in art studios again. I'd missed the smell of paint and the feel of charcoal under my fingernails. But don't worry book fans, I'll still be writing (and drawing) in the afternoon, at weekends and all through the school holidays.

8 Holes?

Half-way through Half Term week and I've spent half the day inside (at my desk) and half in the garden. Had half a sandwich for lunch, half a tub of coleslaw, half a banana, drank half my cup of tea when hot and half when not (as usual!). I have sunburn on half my face (ouch!) and have half a mind to down tools in half an hour, but, as I'm half writer and half artist, I might attempt half a sketch first . . . and eat the other half of my sandwich! That makes 8 holes! (I mean wholes) *giggles*

Pics from Hove Park...

Lots of great pics have arrived from my workshops at Hove Park School last week (thanks Mrs Iliffe) but my fave has got to be this one. LOL! This is me holding up a beach towel I designed for a department store many years ago (if you were wondering!)

Lincoln Book Festival

I've never been to Lincoln before but my first ever visit was certainly short and sweet. It's such a lovely looking city with really friendly people; even the taxi drivers, which, as a Londoner, is a real novelty! Unfortunately, Lincoln is quite a trek for me, especially as I decided to do it in one day. It meant I was travelling for 10 hours (8 trains and a car) for a visit that lasted for 3! Just enough time for lunch and a couple of hours of sketching and chatting about teen books, graphic novels and (inevitably) Doctor Who! Here are some of the cool people I met and who agreed to pose for me.


I'm giving my favourite propelling pencil a little rest today after a long weekend of drawing. It started on Friday afternoon when I skipped over to Headline HQ for a Bloggers Party. It was so cool to actually meet some of the people I've been chatting with, facebook-ing and tweeting for a while now. What lovely folk book bloggers are. After a devilish book quiz (I was hopeless - sorry team mates!) we all trooped off to the pub, where I got out my sketchbook. Whahahaha! (evil laugh) Here are some of my 'victims'. Can you spot some Headline authors among the bloggers?

Cartooning In Brighton

Just back from a day of fun and drawing at Hove Park School (*waves* Hello Year7s!), and some of the most creative students I've EVER met. Almost everybody raised their hand when I asked 'who loves art and design' then proved it by producing excellent cartoon versions of themselves. I particularly liked Isabel's hair and Molly's eyes. For only the second time, a student had the courage to do a portrait of me. Like the nose. Thanks Alex... I think! (P.S. Thanks to everyone at Hove Park for looking after me today.)

Book 4 Begins...

So, I'm really getting stuck into writing book 4 this week. I've just agreed a first draft deadline so am being very disciplined and writing for several hours every day (including weekends, which don't exist for most self-employed people, by the way). I had fun working out how to start the book and how to introduce the different characters in a really cool way. Now that the three main protagonists are fully-formed, I am going to spend some time drawing them. I always need to know exactly what they look like, how they behave, and the quirks of their speech, etc. before sending them off on an adventure. And, boy oh boy! what adventures I have planned! This one has loads of drama, angst, excitement and emotion. I can't wait to get to my desk again tomorrow to write the next chapter...

Here's the first pic...

No sign of rain yet.

Nice Day for a Wet Wedding?

I was planning to stroll over to our Royal Weddingvillage street party this Friday and do some drawings for you (it's going to be just around the corner from my cottage and so close I could watch from my studio window) but the forecast is for thunder storms. Oh dear! I suppose I could still do some sketching in the rain, under a brolly, of damp bunting and damp people eating damp sandwiches. Well, what do you expect in England at the end of April, huh? We've been due some April showers since... January! v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v-v(This is supposed to be bunting, by the way!!)

A Peek Inside my Studio

Readers are always asking me about how I create my illustrations. They want to know if I have a fancy computer-filled studio and interesting stuff like what paper, pens and brand of ink I use. I look forward to questions like this at book events because it's probably the part of my job which I enjoy the most. I love turning to a new page in my A4 sketchbook (I start a new one each month) or a nice fresh A3 layout pad. I love picking up my favourite propelling pencil and beginning to draw. Then I love opening a bottle of black ink and dipping in a nice new pen nib. When the ink is dry and I've erased the pencil lines, I scan the drawing and open Photoshop on my Mac. I've been working with Photoshop since the very first version hit the market (oops, I've given away my age!) so I feel just as comfortable with a Wacom stylus and tablet as I do with a pencil and paper. But I never forget that my computer is just another piece of equipment, another tool, in my studio. Being…

Thomas Bennett Villains!

Here are my fave villains from Thomas Bennett, although 'fave' is not quite the right word. 'Most terrifying' perhaps. Or 'the ones that gave me nightmares'. *shivers*

Crawley WordFest

Wow! Just about recovered from my completely brilliant day at Wordfest. I has SO MUCH fun and was looked after all day by Jamie and Jo (you're both incredible and thanks for all the chocolate biscuits!). The highlights were the questions asked at my Library event and the Graphic Novel Panel where I met some fantastic fellow 'creatives' and, I hope, new contacts. There was amazing talent in the audience too, which was very exciting. Congratulations to all on a truly excellent festival.

Ember makes a Top 10 List

The YA writer Cat Clarke included emo firestarter Em on her 'Top 10 books with teens behaving badly' list this morning in the Guardian. Yay! Thanks Cat. Check it out.


A new festival starts this week, WordFest (2nd-8th April), and I'm lucky enough to be involved in three different events. On 7th April I'll be doing school workshops during the day, followed by a library event, then I'll be one of the 'experts' on the Graphic Novel Panel! Check out the WordFest website for all the other exciting events.

Portfolio Revamp

The Association of Illustrators' Portfolios have just been given a slick makeover, so I took the opportunity to update my own pages. I've added some new images and re-sized some old favourites. I've made Verity my intro icon too. Check it out... and tell me what you think.

240 Villains - My Faves

Well, at last, I've looked at all 240 of the amazing villains created by students at The Howard of Effingham School earlier this week. Wow! They are all brilliant and a few will be giving me nightmares for years! I wish I had space to post all of them but I've selected just a few of my faves. As well as the great pics above, I also loved the doughnut van, Ninja Mouse and the hamster sidekick with a weapon twice his size! Sorry if yours isn't included but even my initial shortlist of 100+ would have taken until Easter to scan! I'll be in the Library tomorrow lunchtime, signing books, if you want to come and chat.