Friday, 26 February 2010

Guest Post from Greg McQueen

I’m delighted to welcome Greg McQueen here today. He is the inspirational force behind the fundraising book 100 Stories for Haiti. Welcome Greg. Over to Greg...

I am not going to rattle on today about how the book was made ... Well, maybe a bit.

Maureen Vincent-Northam refers to herself (mostly) as a non-fiction author. She co-wrote The Writer's ABC Checklist, and wrote The Greatest Genealogy Tips in the World. What follows is an extract from her award-winning children's story, Betsy Fudge & the Big Silence.

Like all the writers included in 100 Stories for Haiti, Maureen donated her story to the book for free. The paperback costs £11.99 + P&P. Like all books, it's a big clump of paper and glue, it costs money to make, costs P&P to send it in the mail. This one costs £3.80 to make. PayPal and banks take a cut for sending money back and forth, nothing we can do about that. So approximately £7.50 goes to charity if you order it directly on the website.

I say approximately because ... Bank fees change. PayPal fees change. The price of making a book can change. In our case, I hope for the better ... The more people who order the book, the less it costs to make. You're already familiar with that concept, right? Of course, it's called "bulk buying." More orders means Bridge House Publishing order more copies from the printers, which means they cost less.

If you buy the book on Amazon, or order it in a shop, there are more links in the chain, so to speak, more companies taking fees for selling the book. It's difficult to be exact, but it could be as little as £1.50 going to charity if you buy it from a retailer.

I don't want you to feel bad about that. Buy the book where you feel comfortable. I started this project with the aim of raising money. Somewhere along the way it also became about raising awareness. Haiti will need our help for a long time to come. Every time someone sees the book, whether it's on their shelf at home or online or in a shop or library, they'll be reminded of why 100 writers gave their stories for free to help one of the most poverty-stricken places on the planet.

Okay. Enough from me. Enjoy a bit of Betsy Fudge!

Betsy Fudge & the Big Silence

By Maureen Vincent-Northam

Well okay, so I talk a little.

Fact is, I totally have to tell all my friends everything about my life. There is SO much interesting stuff they absolutely need to know. For example, how I am an almost-mega-famous-actress and also how my little brother invented pizza-flavoured ice-cream (do NOT ask).

Oh, all right. I admit it. I do find it close to impossible to keep it totally zipped, even when Miss Wiley says: ‘HUSH! Betsy Fudge, this is QUIET time’.

But it’s not like I chatter non-stop.

So it is totally unfair when know-it-all Neville Nugent tells everyone I could win prizes for yakety-yakking. He also says I could never win a bean for keeping silent. I’ll bet you anything that is what put The Idea into Miss Wiley’s head.

‘We are having a Big Silence on Monday,’ she announced ever so casually. ‘The winner will be the pupil who can remain silent for the whole school day. The prize…’

(There had to be some good news).

‘…will be tickets to Amazing Mazes Mania.’

I could hardly believe it. Amazing Mazes Mania! Sweet!

I also could hardly believe this. Silent for a WHOLE DAY!

What was Miss Wiley thinking? She totally must have flipped her lid, gone bonkers and lost every single one of her marbles.

I mean, no talking. At all. How was I supposed to communicate? I would need to have a fool-proof plan because I absolutely had to win those Amazing Mazes Mania tickets.

Only a crazy person could waste a TOTAL weekend thinking about school. So okay, call me crazy. But getting my hands on that prize was going to be worth it.

I snuck a look at my brother’s Code Book for some inspiration (Toby is a secret agent in his spare time).

There was a chapter on Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. You know the sort of thing: 2 birds, a triangle, some squiggles and a goat = this pyramid is private – keep out.

The pharaohs and mummies were clever at reading little pictures (which was handy for them). But there is a total shortage of clever pharaohs and mummies in my class (which is not handy for me).

Then there were the secret tapping codes. Dot – blip – dash – dot – blop. But the blips and the blops all sounded the same and could easily get mixed up.

And not only that. Tapping codes can seriously damage your free time. For example, when Toby sent dot-dash messages through the bedroom wall Mum got totally spooked and thought his room was haunted. She refused go in there for ages, even to make his bed. Toby was NOT amused because making beds takes up a lot of valuable secret agent time.

No, blips, blops and dots were not a good idea. So I scrapped that one, too.

I liked the semaphore flags. In fact I like flags, full stop. We got to wave a Union Flag on a stick last year when the Queen visited our town. She waved back. But she didn’t have a flag on a stick. Maybe Her Majesty looks in a mirror and waves a Union Flag at herself in private.

Yes, semaphore flags might be a good way to communicate. But would Miss Wiley understand that I was signalling ‘the answer is 27’ and NOT ‘I am dying to go to the toilet’.

Then it dawned on me. The absolutely perfect answer. And it was totally brilliant. I would no longer be just an almost-mega-famous-actress; I would become the greatest mime artist in the history of the universe.

Know-it-all Neville had brought the hugest writing pad ever.

He wrote: I am going to win.

I mimed: On your bike!

He wrote: The Amazing Mazes Mania tickets are mine.

I mimed: In your dreams!

He wrote: You don’t stand a chance, blabbermouth.

I mimed a pig.

All day long he wrote messages. He posted them everywhere. For example, on my locker. And in my book bag. And inside my lunchbox.

Neville Nugent had totally taken a wrong turning on the road to maturity.

On the other hand, Jessica Dooley is the politest girl in our class. She was also the first one to break the silence. Sometimes being polite isn’t the cleverest thing to be, especially when Miss Wiley is handing out the reading books. Saying ‘Thank you’ was Jessica’s BIG mistake.

No, this keeping silent lark was NOT going to be easy.


Ah, don't you hate it when that happens?! Well, click here, do some good, and you'll get to read the end of this story very, very soon.

Next stop: Teresa Ashby's blog, A Likely Story

And you can find out more about Maureen Vincent-Northam on her site.
Thanks for allowing me on your site, Rosemary. I am enjoying this blog tour a whole-heck-of-a-bunch!

Thanks very much, Greg. Look forward to reading the rest of the story and all the others.


Teresa Ashby said...

Another great post, Greg!
As Rosemary says - looking forward to reading the rest of this one and the others!

womagwriter said...

I read on a blog a while back that a certain small publisher (Linen Press) actually LOSES money every time someone orders one of their books from Amazon. I was so astounded by that fact I decided I'll always order direct from publishers from now on, unless I'm ordering a mass-produced novel from one of the big players. So yes, if you're reading this and considering buying the book, DO follow the links to Bridge House Publishing and buy it there. Even more important since the money's for charity!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for that comment, Womagwriter. It's something I too shall do from now on.

Looking forward to the next post from Greg on your blog tomorrow, Teresa.

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