This is what Beckie has to say about my interview and her page –
Beckie Sanderson owner of Miss Digital Media interviewed The Simple Mum about writing, blogging, building a brand, and publishing children’s books.
The purpose of the interview was to write an inspirational and informative guest post for Beckie’s Classroom Blog, to help other aspiring authors, bloggers and businesses with tips on how to create a brand, write a blog, publish a book and build an audience.
Check out Beckie’s Classroom Blog for helpful articles tips and advice on branding, design, online marketing, self-publishing, and more.
Beckie is always looking for other businesses to collaborate with! Please get in touch with her if you would like to contribute a guest post to this blog.
Miss Digital Media offers a variety of services to help businesses to boost their brands, publish books and promote their businesses.
My day didn’t start out that great. I wasn’t in a rush to get out of bed this morning so I lay awake looking through my phone. I decided to check Amazon to see how my books were doing when I noticed someone had left another review of my book The Book of Silly Rhymes.
I excitedly swiped down to find it eager to read what they had thought of it but that excitement was short lived. My stomach dropped as I saw the 1 out of 5 stars on the review. As I read the full review I felt sick and wanted to cry, it was not good.
I quickly put my phone away fought back the urge to cry into my pillow and tried to get on with my day but however much I tried it was in the back of my mind. The thought that someone hated my book made me worry and panic that it was bad and that everyone would too.
Thankfully the week before The Book of Silly Rhymes won an award. I know it was read and judged by at least 15 people and beat loads of other books to win silver so I had to remind myself that I know for a fact that not everyone dislikes it.
That made me start to think that I can’t hide away from it and shouldn’t just sweep it under the carpet. As much as I hate to say it, critics are just as important as the glowing reviews (which thankfully I have far more of the glowing ones).
So I built up my courage and re read the review a few times analysing it to see if there was anything I could take and learn from it.
The one star review read –
“Don’t believe the other reviews.
Cheap and simple rhymes in a book that looks and feels like it was made in 1989, not 2019. Despite the font supposed to be aimed at children with dyslexia (a positive thing about the book hence the star), there are way too many rhymes that are about disliking school (school is boring), demeaning people/making fun of teachers (Mrs Balderdash), parents being disfunctional (mum’s had too much wine) and the remainder is basically just about poo or farts.
The rhymes themselves are simple and basic with very little humour found in word play that you could expect a preteen girl to write in the back of a school notebook. Perhaps this is the target audience but nobody should pay 50p for this in a charity shop, let alone over £5. Go spend your money on done roald dahl, Julia Donaldson or Michael Rosen instead. “
As you can see it is quite long and I had a lot of points to get through and analyse but in fact the more I read it the more it didn’t bother me anymore. This book is full of rude rhymes that are short and it clearly states this in the Amazon description as I know this book is not for everyone, but it is made clear the rhymes are a bit rude so anyone who doesn’t like this sort of thing can be warned not to buy my book.
The Amazon description for The Book of Silly Rhymes –
“Do you chuckle, chortle or cackle? Are you more likely to smirk secretly, sneak out a snigger, or would you prefer to belt out a big belly laugh? Do you howl like a monkey, roar like a lion or snort like a pig?
However you get the giggles, this hilarious collection of rude, ridiculous and rambunctious rhymes is sure to tickle your funny bone!
The Book of Silly Rhymes is a collection of poems written to amuse and delight children in equal measure. Each rhyme is short, and can be read quickly and in any order with the aim of appealing to reluctant readers. The text has been printed in a font designed to be easily read by those with dyslexia. “
I don’t really even understand the bit about 1989 and the book being cheap. I think my publisher has done a wonderful job of producing a great book and the illustrator to produce colourful fun illustrations. When Amazon first bought copies and put it up for sale they had it on higher than the RRP of £5.99 for ages so they obviously thought it was worth more.
I 100% agree that they are simple rhymes as I have always claimed and have put in the Amazon description this book is designed for reluctant readers and if you have ever been a reluctant reader or have children who are, then you will know how hard it is to get them to read. Having a book that is full of short silly rhymes that they can read with ease and dip in and out of the book is a great way to inspire reluctant readers.
Yes there are all those rhymes in the book which are a bit rude and yes not to everyone’s taste I completely get that and accept this comment. Most children I know love to laugh over poo and fart jokes . You could compare my rhymes to Marmite, you either love them or hate them.
The rhymes are simple I agree but then again this is mentioned in the description but the book is also filled with 37 of them that I have put a lot of time and effort into writing. I believe they are funny and I have been told by a lot of others they are funny so I guess I will just have to leave this down to personal opinion and have knowledge that everyone sees humour differently.
I am a bit older than a preteen girl but I did write them in the back of my notebook to start with so there is some truth in that. There are a lot of talented pre teens out there who can write amazing poems so I don’t take this as the insult I feel it was intended to be.
I do believe the book is worth more than 50p (this is actually all I make from the book sale through amazon anyway) and I didn’t set the price myself my publisher did after lots of research and knowledge of the market. As I said before Amazon was selling it for £6.99 for a long time after it was released so they even believed it was worth more.
I agree, Julia Donaldson, Roald Dahl and Michael Rosen are some of the best children’s writers ever. I am not even going to try and justify this and put myself in the same league as them. In fact a lot of people do spend their money on their books and not mine that’s why they sell millions more copies of their books than I do. Hopefully one day I will be in the same league but I understand anyone who would buy their books over mine.
The Book of Silly Rhymes is intended for a different type of audience than most books. It is aimed at children who are reluctant to read that need to start with something a bit simpler, the rhymes are funny and a bit rude to help keep them engaged and bring some humour to reading time.
I do welcome criticism and the only way I will ever learn and better myself is from hearing it and taking it on board. The reason I have written this post is not to discredit the bad review or the person’s opinion but to make clear what The Book of Silly Rhymes is about and who it is intended for so people looking to buy my book know what is in it and can decide if it is a book for them or not. It was not intended for the masses and I always knew it would not be welcomed by everyone. It was written especially for a certain audience and as I have heard from other reviews my intended audience enjoy my book.
I also rave and love to share with everyone the good reviews and positive feedback that I get from my books so if I hide away the bad ones I would feel a bit of a Hippocratic. I want people to see both sides and make their own choices on whether to buy my books.
When I first read this comment I wanted to hide away and never write again but after sitting down and reading it more closely I am now inspired to write more starting with this post and then I will be getting out my notebook to start writing children’s stories again.
I have been so busy lately but with the time we have all been given with lockdown I have no excuse and plenty of time to get on with it.
My other book Pete The Cheeky Parakeet is written for a completely different audience and in a different style so I know I am capable of adapting my style to suit the intended audience the same as I do when I write blog posts for an adult audience.
As you may have noticed I have not been blogging lately and have had a bit of a break from my blog and social media pages. I have to admit I had so much going on in my life I was really struggling to do it all and I ended up sending less and less time with my family so something had to give and unfortunately that was blogging.
So what has been happening?
Well we decided to put our house up for sale and was going through the marketing process, carrying out stressful Military style deep cleans every time we had a viewing when I was then hit with the news I was being made redundancy at work.
Now it wasn’t an entire shock as I knew my office was closing in March 2020 which would have gave me plenty of time to move and then sort a new job out. However the powers above decided that they would close the office early. One day we were called into a meeting and told that our last day would be 31st October 2019.
Following that meeting my evenings have been filled with job searching and application forms, I can even tell you how many I have done, it has been endless. It has literally taken over my life and left me with not much time for anything else.
So unfortunately blogging has had to take a back seat for a while.
The Good News!
I have now secured a job so no more applications (woohoo) and I am looking forward to getting back to my blog and all my wonderful readers and followers.
I will be working a full time day job from November and when we find a new house we will have the stress of moving so I will be running the blog in between my hectic everyday life so do please bear with me if I am a little slow.
To kick start off getting back into blogging, I have been asked by BBC Somerset to discuss my blog on the radio show Connected with Charlie Taylor . You can catch me live on Thursday 10th October at 8pm talking all things blogging and social media.
When I was younger I loved to write, I would always be writing funny stories to make my friends laugh and I remember wanting to be a journalist when I grew up. However things changed dramatically when I reached high school. No matter how hard I tried I always seemed to get things wrong. Maths was a real struggle (it still is), reading was difficult especially when I was made to do it out loud and I found writing hard.
I struggled so much that I ended up trying to avoid reading and writing as much as possible doing only the bare minimum. My GCSE results weren’t great but I managed to scrape by and get into college.
At college our whole class was asked to carry out a dyslexia test and a few days after the test I received a letter through the post saying that due to my test results they believe I have dyslexia and to go to the student services for help. It was the first test I had ever past even if for the wrong reason.
I finally had the chance to get the help and support I needed so did I go and get help!
No, instead I hid the letter away ashamed and worried what people would think of me if they found out and I carried on without any help as I had all the years before.
I am 31 years old and it is only in the last couple of years that I have accepted my dyslexia and started telling people I have it and last week in the talk I did at a primary school for World Book Day was the first time ever I have spoken about having dyslexia. After receiving such wonderful feedback from the teachers on how my talk was an inspiration and how it will help children that have dyslexia in the school, I thought I would write a post about my own struggles to help others and build more awareness.
Although I find writing a struggle it is something I love doing and I have been recently been able to accomplish my dream of being a writer despite being dyslexic.
How Dyslexia affects me and how I overcome my struggles
As I now write a lot I know what mistakes I usually make so I can go back over and amend them without much hassle. My main struggles are ‘B’s and ‘P’s and ‘who’ and ‘how’s I will always get these the wrong way round when writing.
When I first write a post, rhyme or book I am focused on what I am writing not how I am writing and my dyslexia is automatic. I will mix up the words and letters but when I read back over my work consciously thinking about the words and how they are written I can see the mistakes and easily change them. I will read back over everything I write at least 3 times before sharing with anyone, even if it is just a Facebook comment I will still go back over and read it through a few times before posting.
The other way I really struggle with dyslexia is what I call a brain muddle, it is so frustrating when it happens and I still get annoyed with myself. A brain muddle is when I write a word that is normally simple and easy to spell and that I know how to spell but at that moment my brain gets muddled and I convince myself it is wrong.
A great example of this is when I was making my Powerpoint slide for my school talk. I put the title ‘World Book Day’ without any problems then I added some pictures and was playing around with the lay out when I looked to much at the title and suddenly the word ‘World’ was alien to me. I was then so convinced I had spelt it wrong I had to google it, even then I wasn’t sure Google was right it took me a few minutes for my brain to accept that it was spelt the right way. Although it is frustrating as long as I have google or a dictionary available when writing I can get through a brain muddle.
Years ago these struggles were enough to put me off writing but since I took the leap and started up a blog I have found my love for writing again. I have now found the more I write the less my dyslexia affects me and the better my writing becomes, unless I am trying to write when feeling tired then I have no hope. I have learnt to embrace my dyslexia and now since looking into it more I believe it is what has given me my creative side.
Dyslexia can be a struggle and frustrating at times but don’t let it stop you achieving your dreams.
There is lots of help available and ways you can work around dyslexia just don’t give up.
Nearly all my life I have been a meat eater, I was brought up eating meat and would have it everyday and enjoyed eating every kind of meat.
I loved bacon, beef & lamb roasts, burgers and all things meat related, I would always go straight to the hog roasts at fairs and moan that I didn’t get enough meat on my plate at the carvery.
I always said that I would never be a vegetarian as I loved eating meat and back then I was under the impression that your body needs meat to give it the nutrients it needed.
How wrong I was!
Turning vegetarian all happened very gradually for me until one day I realised I just couldn’t eat meat anymore.
It all started when we become more aware of the health issues of eating meat to often and the effects it can have on your body. We were hearing more and more about the link with meat and cancer.
The NHS website recommends that people cut down on red and processed meat as their is likely a link between these and bowel cancer.
We also started to realise that meat is not what it used to be. The animal welfare these days is awful, meat is being mass produced on such a large scale that the animals can never be looked after as they should be and free to spend their days roaming around the fields. Not to mention the quality of the meat we are eating due to the way the animals are kept and all the antibiotics and special feeds they are given.
Healthline.com warns of the issue of both antibiotics and pollution ending up in our meat and the damaging effects it can have on our health.
After we had looked into it more we decided that we would cut down on our meat consumption and have at least one day a week where we had no meat. This is where we started meat free Mondays.
We carried on with meat free Mondays for a while and found that it wasn’t that hard to have meat free days. Dino then watched a video about meat which showed them cutting pus and cysts off of it and then just selling the rest of the meat as normal.
After watching this he was completely put off eating meat and he started to go longer without eating any meat until eventually he had completely given up. At this time I was still eating meat (I didn’t see this video if I had I probably would have given up eating meat sooner) the rest of the week but I did start cutting down a bit more. It took me a good few months after Dino to cut out meat from all my meals but after doing it a while and finding good vegetarian meals and substitutes it was easy to maintain.
We both started to see and feel the benefits of not eating meat, both of us had more energy, felt less bloated and after a big meal we didn’t end up in a food comer.
I had been vegetarian for 3 months when we went on a holiday to France, none of us spoke French so we had to rely on pointing and hoping for the best while there. However food was a big issue as not a single restaurant we found had any vegetarian dishes unless we wanted to eat chocolate pancakes for the whole week.
They also didn’t understand a lot of English and we didn’t speak French so we couldn’t ask for anything off the menu. Towards the end of the week I was so hungry I caved in and ordered a burger. However when I eat it I just didn’t enjoy it, the burger it’s self was a decent burger and before I would have thought it was delicious but after not eating meat for so long it just tasted wrong. I also found afterwards my tummy ached and I felt so bloated.
This was the last time I ever eat meat and I have been a vegetarian for 8 months now I have not looked back nor craved meat. When I first started to give up I would see meat and still want to eat it but now I have no desire for it and I don’t even like looking at it.
I have to admit that I do eat fish now and again but no meat and I feel so much better for it, both health wise and morally.