Yesterday I got my first Christmas card.
Despite the fact that December has only just arrived, already we are inundated with Christmas images, (apologies for adding yet another) and Christmas sales promotions.
I know some people are organised and are already preparing for Christmas but it all seems a bit too soon for me- I am not quite ready to throw myself into festive preparations, quite yet. I am still in writing mode
I went on my last school visit of 2011 yesterday, and it was wonderful.
|Hamish McHaggis and his Hoggle|
|The Hamish McHaggis Whirry Bang|
And on my last school visit of the year I was able to tell them about a new beginning, the latest Hamish book which is coming out next spring
Hamish McHaggis and the Great Glasgow Treasure Hunt
I also showed them one of the beautiful drawings Sally J Collins has done for the new book.
This is always an exciting time, when I see my words and her pictures coming together.
Writing a picture book involves, for me, a very visual approach. I think visually when I am writing, seeing it in my mind's eye and that is not so different whether it is picture books or novels.
But the difference with a picture book is that someone will be drawing the pictures on paper instead of the reader creating them in their mind. So I think about what the pictures might look like, and I read the story out loud so that I can remove any extra text that is unnecessary and evident from the images on the page but also so as the book reads easily for the parents or children who will be reading it aloud.
Working with Sally on the Hamish books, as I have done now for several years, it is easy to imagine what the images will look like but other times when I have worked on picture books the end result is so different to the pictures I had in my head that it has often taken a while to adjust. Thankfully almost always the result is excellent, just different!
As often happens I have also been working on something else, at the same time.
At the moment I am completing the first draft of my new YA novel and it couldn't be more different.
Spider and Dead Boy Talking are both gritty hard hitting stories, with real life themes including knife crime, car theft and bad decisions often leading to terrible consequences for my characters, so they are about as far from a cuddly haggis as you could imagine.
The new book Don't Judge Me is in a similar vein.
But perhaps that makes it easier to move from one to the other as I am writing. It certainly adds variety and means that, as happened earlier this week, I can be speaking to 14 or 15 year olds and children at a nursery - all on the same day. It certainly keeps me on my toes!
So as the frosty nights arrive and the days are ever shorter I am not quite ready to discard 2011 yet. There are in fact another 28 days to go and most of them are before Christmas!
Are you finishing, starting or preparing for Christmas?
Linda Strachan is the author of the Hamish McHaggis series, YA novels Spider and Dead Boy Talking and writing handbook Writing for Children