Saturday, 25 May 2013

A precious gem of a song that will make sunflowers bloom in your heart

Review of Sunflowers and Precious Gems, a song written and performed by Chris Hoskins

I'd like to introduce you to a beautiful song written and performed by Chris Hoskins, a very talented poet, songwriter and performer, who I'm proud to say is one of my dear friends.

So, although in one sense I can't claim that this is an impartial review, let me assure you that it is entirely honest and heartfelt. I already knew that Chris was an outstanding writer, composer and performer, but nevertheless I was astonished and delighted when I first heard the song. That was several weeks ago, when Chris made it available for download from her website. Yesterday, I viewed the accompanying video on YouTube for the first time, and was even more overwhelmed by the beauty of the words, the music and the accompanying imagery, and the way they combine together to produce something out of this world.

I don't usually review music and am hesitant to make comparisons, but Chris's work evokes for me two of my favourite singer-songwriters, one very well known and one a little less so. Her words have Paul Simon's subtlety and poetic precision and her melodies his gentle perfection, while something about the clarity of her voice and the fervour of her performance calls Eddi Reader, the Scottish singer and songwriter, to mind.

Let me give you a bit of the background. Chris wrote the words originally as a poem, submitted to a competition run by Amnesty International in 2005. The poem, unsurprisingly, won first prize. A few months ago, prompted by the shocking rape and murder of a young woman in India and recent terrible events involving young girls in the UK, she decided to set the poem to music and create a song in support of Amnesty International's work to stop violence towards women and girls.

It is, of course, impossible to fully describe or explain any work of art in another medium. So rather than my scrabbling around trying to find words to do justice to Chris's song - here is where to find the song and accompanying video and enjoy it for yourself.

Sunflowers and Precious Gems - song and video

If you decide you love it, you can support Amnesty International by purchasing the song by download from Chris's website:

Sunflowers and Precious Gems - Download here for 99p.

It will only cost you 99p. Half of the proceeds will go to support Amnesty International and the other half will help to cover Chris's costs. Please download it, make the song your own and do your bit to support Amnesty International and help to make sure that violent abuse of women and girls, in the UK and worldwide, becomes a thing of the past.

Happy listening

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

An Inspiring School Visit - King Henry VIII School, Coventry

I've now done several author visits to King Henry VIII School, Coventry and I always have a great time there. Last week I spoke to a big group of Year 7s - a wonderful, enthusiastic crowd, many of whom clearly love books and reading. They had lots of well-thought out questions for me, which really made me think. But let me hand over the story of the visit to one of the Year 7s, Onyeari Egbuji, who has done a lovely write-up of my visit.

In Onyeari's words:

On Wednesday 8th May, Rosalie Warren, a local author, visited our school. She did numerous talks to pupils in Year 7, while advertising her latest book: ‘Coping with Chloe’. She told us what it was like to really be an author and how hard it is to have a book published. We learnt about the stress, emotion, frustration and happiness that goes in to writing a book, which includes writing a book, finding a publisher, editing, choosing a cover and actually having it sold in shops. She told us how she was inspired to write ‘Coping with Chloe’ and how she came across the idea of using twins
   She read us a chapter of her amazing book, ‘Coping with Chloe’, making almost everyone want to know what happened next. Then she said whoever came up with the best question would win a free book. We were all trying to think of a great question to ask her. She answered questions such as, ‘What is your favourite book?’ and ’What is your favourite library?’ I asked her, “Out of all the books you have ever written, which one has been the emotional and the hardest to write because it was personal to you?” She said that she cried a few times while writing ‘Coping with Chloe’. We had a lot of fun listening to her answers. Luckily I was the winner, and won a free book. I can’t wait to read it…   


Thank you so much, Onyeari. Your question was a very good one and deserved to win the prize. It really made me think.

Here's a photo of Onyeari and me, with her prize:

 And here's a picture of me with some of the Year 7s:

Thank you all for making me so welcome and to librarian Mrs Kirsty Kinmond for organising my visit. Good luck, all of you, with your reading, writing and everything else. And to all you budding young authors - keep at it!

Best wishes,

Follow me on Twitter @Ros_Warren   

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Coping with Chloe in Clapton! An Amazing Afternoon With Some of my Readers

 I had a wonderful experience recently when I visited Clapton Girls' Academy in London to meet some of my readers and talk about my book Coping with Chloe and the possible sequel.

The girls of 7C and their teacher Miss Feltham gave me a wonderful welcome and were so kind in the things they said about Coping with Chloe. I felt a bit like a celebrity for an afternoon! The girls had all read the book as part of Pop-Up Booklinks, which  is a brilliant project that provides classes with a copy of the book for each student to read and then arranges a visit from the author. This was great as it meant the girls had all read my book and given it lots of thought. They asked me some very good questions, which I did my best to answer. I then read them the first chapter of the sequel and they gave me some useful feedback.

 But the best bit for me was when they showed me the work they had done on Coping with Chloe. Each girl had written a review and the teacher had bound these together in a book with a beautiful cover, for me to take home. The reviews inside were really well written and very good for my morale! The best thing in the world for an author is when you discover that someone has not only enjoyed but 'connected with' your book - it has affected them and made them think. I was overwhelmed to read all these reviews and I will treasure the book always. One of the reviews was even published in the Guardian.

The students had done lots of other things too - including writing some brilliant alternative endings to Chloe and performing two short plays - one of which was my favourite scene from the book (Anna and her Dad going out to lunch and failing to communciate about Chloe). The class could not have known beforehand that it was my favourite scene - so that was a wonderful surprise.

They had also made models, puppets, posters, a powerpoint presentation and lots more. I took home with me all the things I could carry in my bag, but I could not bring everything as I had to get two buses across London to my son's flat and then a train home!

I would really like to thank the Booklinks Project, my publishers Phoenix Yard Books, Miss Feltham and the other members of staff at Clapton Girls' Academy - and especially the wonderful and brilliant girls of 7C for working so hard and giving me such a lovely warm welcome to their class. They are all very intelligent, capable and enthusiastic and I am sure they will go a long way in life. Those who want to be writers - I would say go for it! Don't let anything stop you. But don't rely on writing to earn you a living because however good you are, it probably won't. In the end, the best reason for writing is because you want to (or feel you have to!) do it. But meeting your readers is a truly wonderful experience and I will never forget my visit to your school.

Very best wishes and good luck to all of you
Rosalie xx

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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Review of 'Holes' by Louis Sachar - by Heena Pala, aged 13

Hello everyone - and a very belated Happy New Year (it's still January - just!)

As promised, I'll be featuring some more reviews of YA books this year by a young reader, Heena Pala, aged 13. Here is the first of the year - and it's of one of my all-time favourites. It's a great read for adults as well as younger readers: Holes, by Louis Sachar.

 “Holes” by Louis Sachar
Reviewed by Heena Pala

“Holes” is a book about a young boy of 11 who is accused of stealing a famous baseball player’s sneakers. Not being able to prove he hadn’t taken them, he has to be punished, he is given a choice of jail or a juvenile detention centre called Camp Green Lake. He chooses to go to the camp, where he has to dig a hole a day, five feet deep and five feet across to “build character” or so they say.

Stanley makes a loyal friend, unlike in school where he was continuously bullied for being overweight. One morning, when he finds his friend missing, he decides to go and look for him. After managing to escape from the camp, Stanley finds his friends, but they are both stranded in the desert for a week. Starving and surviving on onions and dirty water, the two boys give in and make their way back to camp, only to discover what the motive for digging holes is.

I like this book because it was so in depth that once I picked it up it was glued to my hands! This book at times has made me fill up with tears but burst out with laughter at the same time. It has also made me think about how lucky I am just to have loving friends and family around, which most of the boys in this book haven’t.

Please make time to read this book and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thank you, Heena, for another great review. Happy reading, everyone.

Best wishes

Book Details:
Title: Holes
Author: Louis Sachar
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing plc
Publication Date: October 2000