What does your main character look like?

A thought suddenly occured to me this morning as I arrived home after dropping my kids off to school. They were dressed up as Goldilocks and William The Conqueror for their Book Character Parade.  It is Book Week, which by the sounds of the many excited children in the playground, tells you that this is a hugely popular week within the school year.

The thought was this:

If my middle grade novel ever got published, and a child wanted to dress up as my main character, Sirona, a 12 year old girl from Gaul in the 1st Century AD, what would she wear?

I already had some idea and little hints are written in the text but the question made me think about it properly.

Could the child make-do and find the whole outfit within her household? Maybe she would need to buy at least one accessory.

In this photo below is my son dressed up as William The Conqueror. Most of his outfit has been found in our wardrobes. The crown is made out of card. All I had to buy was the sword. (Yes, I am hoping I don’t get a phonecall from his school saying there’s been an accident. :-))

Joseph as William The Conqueror


So how does Sirona look? She is a 12 year old girl from from ancient Gaul in the 1st Century AD. I had to do some research as to what type of garments were worn in that time period.

 Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 2.15.04 pm

I looked online. Pinterest was a great help.

I read non-fiction and fiction books, inlcuding Asterix.

Here is my research board for this novel:

The Hidden Hoard – writing research



So the questions are:

How does Sirona where her hair?

Does she wear a long  dress or tunic and breeches?

What colour is her dress or tunic?

What colour are her breeches?

Are her tunic and breeches checked as was the fashion and method was used to create fabric for clothing?

Does she wear sandals or boots?

What accessories does she have on her person?


Even though I thought I knew all of this, considering Sirona’s outfit as something children might want to wear, made it real. It made me think about it in a practical way. Which was great.

So I ask you, if a child wanted to dress up as your main character that you are writing about, what would they wear?



Chapter Book Challenge 2013

Finally, here is my first post for 2013 and it starts with a new challenge. You can read about it here: Chapter Book Challenge 2013. Have you entered? Here is what it is about:

‘The Chapter Book Challenge is an informal challenge, and it is self-directed. At the end of the challenge, you let me know if you have completed the challenge, and I trust that you will be honest. The challenge itself is to write the first draft of an early reader, HiLo book, chapter book, middle grade book or even a YA book, and to write the book from start to finish, during the month of March, from March 1st through March 31st.’

(Quote from Rebecca at  Chapter Book Challenge Blog)


This will indeed be a huge challenge for me as I have not written a complete chapter book before. So in between waiting for feedback from manuscripts I have already sent ‘out there’ to editors, publishing houses and magazines, I will be working towards these other writing challenges.  Including:

I will also be working on all my manuscripts that are works  in progress. Rewriting, revising, polishing, editing, etc. On top of that I will be keeping a close eye on other deadlines and opening dates, such as:

  • New Frontier Publishing – who are looking for submissions to their Little Rocket Series (I don’t have one ready for this, but you might have)
  • Penguin – they have an incredibly useful calendar of the types of submission they are looking for each month

Fingers crossed I am getting closer to having a manuscript accepted in 2013 and goodluck to whatever project you are working on too! 😉


12x12x12 Picture Book Writing Challenge Completed!

At the beginning of the year I wrote about a writing challenge I had decided to join: Participant Badge for 12 x 12 in 2012. Then half way through the year I wrote about it again to mark a milestone: Halfway through the 12 x 12 writing challenge. Now we have come to the end of the year and it is time to write the final update about the challenge and how I went with it.

I am glad to say I did it, I managed to write 12 manuscript drafts for picture books and I am now looking forward to rereading them again in the new year. I look forward to editing and rewriting the manuscripts until they are polished and ready to be submitted to the big wide world of publishing houses. During the journey I learnt many tips on writing:

  • On the very first page start with a strong sentence – let the reader know who the story is about, where they are, when the story is happening and what the problem may be
  • Try to show the story in the words you are using, rather than tell the obvious in story (something which the illustrator will do for you)
  • Make sure your character grows in the journey of trying to achieve their goal
  • Use fresh language that will be a pleasure to listen to
  • resolve your story with a satisfying end!

I’d like to ‘Thank’ Julie Hedlund for creating the writing challenge and if you have also completed the challenge, well done!


PiBoIdMo 2012 Complete

My lovely notebook now filled with a whole months worth of new ideas!
My lovely notebook now filled with a whole months worth of new ideas!

Yesterday I completed a writing challenge – the PiBoIdMo 2012 – which stands for Picture Book Ideas Month. This is the second year that I have participated in this PiBoIdMo writing challenge. I have written previously about it here, PiBoIdMo 2012 and here, PiBoIdMo 2011.

The great thing about this challenge is that I now have 30 new picture book concepts that I can work on over the next year. Last year 2 out of the 30 ideas have turned into complete manuscripts. 2 others have potential and 1 has been turned into a middle grade chapter book. The challenge is great for encouraging you to brainstorm for new ideas. Some will never amount to anything, but that doesn’t matter.

This year I am quite excited about 2 of my ideas, 6 more have potential and I have even managed to come up with a couple of history themed picture books which of course is an area I really enjoy reading and writing about.

So, If you have also completed the challenge this year, don’t forget to sign the pledge over at Tara lazar’s website here: Take The PiBoIdMo 2012 Winner’s Pledge!

I'm a winner are you?
I’m a winner are you?

Choir to sing words to my book!


How cool is this??? I can now start to market my new book. Plus, the choir my aunty sings in is going to sing the words to my little self-published Christmas book, ‘The Jersey 12 Days Of Christmas’ on the 29th November! I so wish that I could have been there, but we are saving our money for our trip back to Jersey next July.

So if you are in Jersey, Channel Islands between 6-9pm ‘Hot Bananas Choir’ will be singing Christmas carols as well as the words to my book.

“On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me…a puffin in a pear tree.”


Adding sound effects to ebook

Front cover of my ebook

While I am waiting for the proof of my self-published paperback version of ‘The Jersey 12 Days Of Christmas,‘ I am using the time to add sound effects to my ebook. I have mentioned before in a previous post “A Puffin In A Pear Tree‘ that I have been using Book Creator on ipad to make the book. To add the sounds a friend recommended Soundrangers as a good place to purchase sound effects from.

It is another huge learning curve for me but I am enjoying it. Book Creator also gives you the option to record sounds straight into your ebook. This is great if you want to add a voice over so children can have the option of listening to the story.

To add another dimension to my ebook I have been able to add sounds that will work the moment a child taps on each illustration. So the ebook will develop the following skills:

  • reading
  • counting
  • listening
  • and best of all singing along to themselves or with family and friends!

Hopefully, (with fingers crossed) I will be able to launch the paperback book and the ebook at the same time!

PS: I am not on any commission for any websites I recommend, I am just sharing the information with you about the resources I use.

Self published Christmas book!

© Ramona Davey 2012

A bit of holly is added for the decorative touch!


In the very near future I will (fingers crossed) be announcing the end of some very hard work and the beginning of my first self-published children’s picture book. Although I am aware that this is not the end of the hard work, as marketing your book can be tough.

The book is aimed at anyone with connections to Jersey, Channel Islands, the book contains illustrations to go with a very classic Christmas rhyme. It can also be used as an early reader and counting book.

How good is that, reading, counting and singing all in one book!

The self-published route is a huge learning curve. Here are just a few of the things you have to consider and decide upon:

  • Title
  • Page size
  • page count
  • paper weight
  • gloss or matt
  • hardback or softback/paperback
  • binding
  • delivery

And not every publisher/printer uses the same terminology. Although I have been quite a bag of nerves over making all these decisions it has also been quite empowering.

I have already shown some examples of the artwork in previous posts:


A puffin in a pear tree

And here are some works in progress:

One of my ‘9 pots of bean crock!’

I love line drawings and use the ink pen for all the outlines.

6 seagulls soaring!

This is a screenshot of my work on ART RAGE digital art software using a wacom tablet. Another new skill this year. I will hopefully also be putting the finishing touches to the e-book version.

So watch this space and soon I will be able to share with you the finished product.


PS: And if you know anyone with Jersey connections (as in old Jersey), I would be grateful if you could pass on this news. 🙂

PPS: And maybe I will have to change the title of this blog.

Picture Book Ideas Month 2012

It’s that time of year again where you can challenge yourself for the whole month of November. Today is the last chance to sign up, as it starts on the 1st November 2012.

What’s the challenge?

It’s PiBoIdMo 2012 organised by the inspirational Tara Lazar – it means on everyday of November you have to come up with an idea for a picture book.

Just the idea, that is all. How hard can that be? Surprisingly enough, some days it can be quite tricky! If you can write a first draft from that idea, even better but not necessary.

I entered PiBoIdMo 2011  last year – it was my first writing challenge I had ever entered. Out of the 30 days of ideas I managed to come up with, I have turned two picture book concepts into fully fledged manuscripts. Both  are now out there in some slushpile waiting to be picked up, loved and wanted (hopefully I say with fingers crossed!)

All you need is:

  • a little imagination
  • a pen and notebook or computer
  • cup of tea and biscuit


Children’s drawings

I have recently been trying to anthromorphise my drawings. I find it difficult.  Maybe I am trying too hard. I watch my 8 year old son who seems to manage it with such ease (but then I think he practises much more than I do and maybe that’s the moral of this story).

Joseph – age 8

I just love the expression on the shark’s face, the little piggy looks stunned and the crocodile has no idea what’s behind her!


Backgrounds for me are a tricky thing – I never know whether to leave it blank, add a bit of colour or add detail. IWhen adding colour I need to consider consistency of colour. Am I keeping the same tone with each illustration. Does it look right if some background colours are bold and others are softer?

Here are two examples;

Pumpkins 1


I initially used a green background as pumpkins grow in Autumn where I am from. But then I got thinking about the colour wheel and how opposite colours make each other stand out more.

Pumpkins 2


Plus, we associate pumpkins with Halloween, so I decided to make it night and add a yellow glow inside them. The only trouble is, all the other illustrations I have used for this counting picture book have soft pastel shades in the backgrounds.


I wonder, does it matter if one picture stands out from the rest? What do you think?