Josie's Blog 

Mothers' Day Competition 

21 February 2018 
Would you love to win a cuddly toy and a silver charm? Take a look at the video here.  
 
Rules: 
1. Competition open to children up to age 11. 
2. Entries must be received by post or email by Saturday 10 March 2018. 
3. Winner will be announced via social media on Mothers' Day, Sunday 11 March 2018. 
4. Prizes will be despatched as soon afterwards as possible. 
 

Imagination & Creation Worskhop 

31 January 2018 
On 20 January I held my first Storytelling Workshop, named rather underwhelmingly as "The Story Workshop". At the end of the session I asked children and parents to vote on a new name from a choice of four. The winner was "Imagination & Creation Workshop" so that's the new and improved name. My aim is to take the workshop into schools to inspire children to use their imaginations to create their own stories. 
 
The Workshop included lots of games and activities including "What's This?", "Puppet Stories" and "Talking Tables". The feedback was so positive and I am over the moon that it was a successful event. Not least because all the entry fees and refreshment sales were donated to the charity Brainwave. On the day we raised £76.25, which I added to with the 15% of profit on book sales (to date) to make a total donation of £229.37. 
 
Huge thanks to everyone that attended and to all my family and friends who helped me on the day. 
 

Pre-School Visit 

25 January 2018 
My visit to Park Pre-School last week was a delight. As soon as the children saw me arrive, they rushed over to the story corner to get comfy, that was before I'd even taken my coat off. The lovely ladies at Park had read m book to them before my visit. I find this is best for Pre-School visits, as sometimes with young children they need repeat readings to understand and appreciate a story. That is why you've watched Frozen and Cars 60 times! That is why you keep books on your shelves to re-read. I often find something new in a book when I re-read it. 
 
I took my coat off and rushed over to read "Lum" to the children. I always tell the children that they can join in with Lum's words if they can remember his chant. On this visit, a lovely little girl did just that and then continued to quietly repeat every word I said for the remainder of the story. 
 
I had brought along some pictures for the children to colour, so we all sat down for a lovely colouring session and I saw some wonderful pictures emerge. Some of the older children proudly wrote their names on their pictures too. Before I left the children had a treasure hunt to find pictures of Lum, helpfully hidden by Ros, which they willingly swapped for stickers of Lum instead. 
 
I love to see all the different reactions from the children. There are little shy ones who sit and listen so intently, others who love the excitement of the Lum treasure hunt and the chance to be invited round to play by one little girl who held my hand for most of my visit. 
 
 
 

Competition Time! 

6 January 2018 
Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. 
 
Let's chase the January blues away by having a party! I am launching a new service to primary schools this month and to celebrate the launch will be having a trial of my new Storytelling Workshop on Saturday 20 January 2018. The workshop is open to all children in KS1 or KS2. We'll have lots of fun and will create some fantastic stories.  
 
Pop over to my Facebook page to confirm your attendance. Or send me a message via my contact form
 
Whilst you're on my Facebook page there is a competition to win a Storytelling Workshop for your school. Why not enter? 
 
Competition rules: 
Comment on the post to be entered. 
Liking the post and sharing will encourage your friends to enter, meaning more entries for your school. This is not a condition of entry. 
Liking my page is not a condition of entry (but it will make me smile, so feel free). 
The prize is a Storytelling Workshop run by children's author, Josie Dom, for one class of children in KS1 or KS2 at the winning school. 
Stoytelling Workshop date to be agreed (mutually convenient date) between Josie Dom and the winning school. 
If the winning entry is on behalf of a school in Essex, Suffolk, Kent, Cambridgeshire or Hertfordshire there will be no additional costs. Outside of these areas, there may be an additional cost (to be agreed with winnning school). 
Only entries on behalf of UK schools permitted. 
 
 
 

From adversity came inspiration 

29 September 2017:  
This week the delicious birthday cake which I had baked for my daughter's (belated) birthday party was devoured by suspect unknown. If I'd had time I would have cried! It was 2 o'clock in the afternoon when I discovered the crime, and with only 1 hour until I collected my daughter and her friends from school, I zoomed down to the supermarket and bought one instead. That was Tuesday. After relating the true story to Nic and a friend, on Thursday morning the scenario inspired me to write a poem, and with true poetic license, well, you'll see ... 
The perfect cake was no more 
The suspects sat upon the floor 
They didn't know what they'd done 
But knew that it was too late to run! 
The party starts in just one hour 
Mum quickly measured out the flour 
She set to work to bake another 
Even though it made her shudder 
For now the suspects are in the clear 
And although they are loved most dear 
Once the party's over and done 
And we have had heaps of fun 
The investigations will begin 
Mum will frown and rub her chin 
But those pets are safe for now 
And with a purr and a bow wow 
They saunter off without a care 
Waving their tails in the air 
And no doubt Mum won't work out 
Which one of them is the lout! 
 

Working Mums 

5 July 2017:  
Goodness me, it is July! Seriously, where have the months gone? I have in my diary to update my website every Monday (just one of the many tasks I need to undertake in this new career as a children's author). Turns out that I do little updates but fail to write a new blog. Not clever for someone that enjoys writing, and I really do, but stories and nonsense are where my heart lies. I wonder if anyone would be interested in my thoughts in a blog and find reasons to do something else. And there is always something else to do. 
It struck me today that as well as having different jobs throughout my life, I even have different jobs in the same day! 
So far today I have been: 
Mum 
Laundry manager (3 loads of washing to do today!) 
Vet's nurse (poor Frank has a poorly eye and needs eye drops every couple of hours) 
Chef (preparing breakfast and lunch, planning tonight's dinner) 
Virtual Assistant (my other paying job) 
Dog walker 
Cleaner 
Housemaid 
Children's author 
Marketeer 
Finance Director 
Still to come, later today I will be Mum again and of course Taxi Driver! 
 

My experience of bullying 

18 October 2016:  
I am an adult. I was bullied as a child until my Dad stopped the bullies. It was a distant memory. It didn’t hurt me anymore. That was until, over 30 years later, I was bullied as an adult. 
I could have walked away. 
Giving in to the bullies would have made me feel worse. I wouldn’t respect myself again. I wouldn’t be able to give my children the right advice if it ever happened to them. 
Bullies are able to convince most people that they are being reasonable. It is only the person who can see what the bully is really like because the bully only reveals themselves fully to the person they are bullying. Even if other people get a feeling that something is wrong, it is easier to keep quiet. They might not want to be the next person to be bullied. They might feel the bully couldn’t possibly be doing it as previously the bully had been helpful or kind to them. They might not want to get involved. Or any other reason. It all leads to the same thing. The bullied person is alone. 
The bullied person needs to feel empowered and able to take action. With others help and support this can happen. The bullied person can regain their self-respect. 
This is what bullying did to me as an adult, both physically and emotionally: 
Headaches 
Diarrhoea 
Shaking 
Feeling sick 
Lost ability to taste food 
Racing heart 
Dry mouth 
Sleeplessness, but having nightmares when I did sleep 
Tiredness 
Stress 
Anxiety 
Tearfulness 
Fearful of speaking to anyone 
Low self-esteem 
Feeling isolated 
Feeling depressed 
Lack of concentration 
Forgetfulness 
Fearful of answering phone and checking emails 
Paranoia 
This is an adult's reaction. An adult who can explain how they feel. What must a child feel like? A child must be so confused by all these feelings and reactions and not know where they're coming from. We hear of children and adults committing suicide and then find out it was due to bullying. By supporting each other when we see a bully in action, the person being bullied can be strong enough to take action to protect themselves. 
I will be supporting the Anti-Bullying Week in November, and hope you will too. 

Pen-Friends 

12 October 2016:  
What a great meeting of Pen-Friends, the Halstead Writing Group, we had on Friday. Last month's homework was "Stuff". Three of us were inspired to write poetry based around our busy days filled with stuff! I'll be posting mine on my Facebook page, so pop over for a quick visit soon. During the month I had in mind a piece on the "Stuff of Dreams". I wrote a synopsis and made some rudimentary notes but the story remained elusive. I'll let it stew in the recesses of my brain and see what comes out. I was particularly taken with Annika's short story which told of a brief snippet of time with a hoarder. Take a look at Annika's blog for the full story (scroll down to 23 Sept). Others had written prose and dialog pieces on the meaning of "don't give a stuff" and an alternative view of stuff in the telling of the sad demise of a family heirloom. It was great to hear the different slants we'd all taken on one single word. Next month we all have a different subject, so there should be lots of scope for imagination. 
 
 

Finchingfield, Family, Friends and Future 

27 September 2016:  
Last Wednesday I visited the children at Finchingfield Primary School, they and their teacher, Mrs Dean, made me very welcome. It was the first school I'd visited where one of the children gave a little welcome speech and I felt like a very important person! After the children had heard the story of "Lum" they created some unique houses for him out of Lego. As I left, Mrs Dean invited me back to read my next book, so even more reason to get "Lum's Mum" finished. 
 
Since publishing my first book "Lum", I have felt like an author, but I'm also still a wife, Mum and Virtual Assistant. Fitting all that entails (if you're a Mum, you'll know) into my days can be exhausting, and the occasional bout of insomnia doesn't help matters. On Sunday night I only slept for approximately 4 hours. I think it was caused by the start of a cold and worrying about "stuff". Which meant Monday was pretty much a blur, as well as a whirl of activity on behalf of my VA clients. All day I needed to get out to the supermarket as we were almost out of food, no milk or bread even! Eventually, I set off at 4.30pm and got back at 6.30pm. Rather a long trip, but partly taken up with sitting in the car at the supermarket chatting with my good friend, Gemma. It was good to fit that into my day! 
 
Talking of friends. When a large corporation or even a small business decides to attend an exhibition, they will have employees or they might outsource to get exhibition staff. For a one-man band, that's not an option. This is when I can say thanks to my friends. Both Julia and Lisa have promised to help me. Here we are on my wedding day. We might not look as young or as glamorous as we did that day, but we'd love to see you on 16 October at the Herts & Essex Baby & Toddler Show in Bishop's Stortford. 
 
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams", so I will keep believing until being a full-time children's author becomes real in the future. 

Exciting times ahead! 

20 September 2016:  
I'm very excited to be returning to school visits again tomorrow. Obviously no school visits throughout the summer holidays! 
Tomorrow I'll be visiting the KS1 children and their teacher, Mrs Dean. I'm very much looking forward to getting to know them and introducing them to Lum. 
 
Next month I'll be exhibiting at the Herts & Essex Baby & Toddler Show on Sunday 16 October. This is very much a first for me, and I'll be recreating Lum's house at the show. Be sure to pop along, you'll find me on Stand 21. 
 
I'm also really pleased that Nic is working hard at creating pictures for my next book "Lum's Mum". Keep popping back to find out more about this book, with sneak previews coming soon. 
 

New Term! 

6 September 2016:  
It's been a quiet summer in terms of "authoring". So what did I do?  
 
I made my mark on Dawlish beach in Devon and uploaded a new picture for you to colour here. Aside from that, I spent my time being Mummy during the school holidays. 
 
Nic has been flying! (At GoApe.) However, he did manage to find some time to paint pictures for our next book "Lum's Mum". 
 

Reading at Chicken & Frog Bookshop 

25 June 2016:  
I am very grateful to Natasha and Jim of the Chicken & Frog Bookshop in Brentwood who invited me to join them to celebrate IBW2016 (Independent Bookshop Week). As it was a Saturday, we were lucky to have Nic Phine join us too. He's more used to working quietly on art for my books than meeting readers, so a real change for him. "It was a lovely experience to meet children and hear their thoughts and ideas. They really got involved with creating monsters and drawing Lum themselves, which was great to see."  
 
The children heard Lum's voice trying to scare them and worked together to draw a monster. I then went on to read the whole story to reveal that Lum wasn't as scary as they first imagined. Iris wanted to know if Lum was real! Harrison and Max were keen to find out more about Lum's future. 
 
The children chose then to do their own drawings of Lum. Head over to Facebook and Twitter to see the drawings. 
 
If you're looking for a book for your child (and they've already read "Lum" of course!), pop in to this fantastic bookshop. Natasha and Jim have created a wonderful space where you can browse books, chat about what you'd like to read and choose at your leisure. 

A visit to Bab's Barnyard 

21 June 2016:  
I ran a competition on my Facebook page, and the winner of a copy of "Lum" was Joanna Smith of Bab's Barnyard. Today I popped over to see Jo at work and deliver the book to her. 
 
For a chance to meet goats, duck and sheep 
Pop over to Bab's where they're knee-deep 
In rabbits, g-pigs and chicks 
Feed, hug and take your pics! 
Have a day making memories to keep! 
 
Thank you for making me and my daughter so welcome! 
 

Did Lum eat any naughty children? 

16 June 2016:  
The children at Gosfield Community Primary School now know the answer to this question asked by one of the boys in Class 3. If you'd like to know too, you can buy the book here
 
I spent the morning with the KS1 children at Gosfield Community Primary School. Lucky for us, the rain stayed away so the children could have a fantastic time running around outside searching for Lum to earn a sticker each. Later on their teachers will give out the bookmarks I left with them. It's thrilling to be able to go into schools to read my book, and leaving a little gift for every child is a bonus. Of course, everyone loves a sticker! 
 
Today Daniel, Austin, Abi and Gracie helped me read the story to their friends. They all read their parts beautifully. Thank you very much all of you. 
 
The children will be drawing pictures of monsters from their own imaginations and I'll look forward to seeing those soon. 

Inspiring young minds 

24 May 2016:  
Compliment of the day from a little girl in Year 1 at Hogarth Primary School, who told me that she would go home and make her own book. It is an honour to feel that a child has been inspired to create something after listening to me read my story and explain the process of writing. 
 
In other classes at the same school, the children drew some fabulous pictures and worked together to build houses for Lum. 

The waiting game - between book readings 

12 May 2016:  
I went to Halstead Library to read to the children at the regular Monday morning Toddler Rhymetime session this week. 
 
As well as reading "Lum" to them, I also read them some of the rhymes that I have written for toddlers, based on my experiences as a Mum to my two children when they were small. 
 
Mandy, the librarian, made me very welcome and it was wonderful to see the children with their parents enjoying this event as I was a regular with both my children, Oliver and Abigail, when they were small. 
 
This morning, as I walked to school with Abigail, she asked me "Mummy, when do you next go to a school?" It gave me the opportunity to ask her how it made her feel that Mummy was going to schools, her response "Happy! Because it means that more children get to hear your book. And I like it that other children like your book too." 
 
So when is my next book reading? Next Thursday. 
 
In order to have enough time to continue with my other work, have time to look after my family and house, I decided that I would only go out to do one author visit per week. Somehow, I couldn't resist saying yes to a few schools all at once, so in a couple of weeks' time, I have 3 visits in 1 week! I will be a busy bee! But then we have half-term and things will be quiet again. 

Best welcome ever! 

4 May 2016:  
I've had the loveliest afternoon at Ridgewell Primary School. On arrival, the children were in the playground, so I sat down on a miniature chair to wait. Gradually the children arrived and politely sat on the carpet, until Harry came in. He rushed straight over to hug me. Which meant all the other children got up and hugged me too. That is the best welcome ever! 
 
Today, for no reason, before I went out, I was especially worried and nervous. I have no idea why I felt that way but the children soon put me at my ease, and I had a wonderful time. 
 
To mix things up, this time, firstly, I just read Lum's words to the children: 
"Fee Fi Fo Fum 
Here comes a hungry Lum 
If there's any kids not doing what they're told 
Lum will eat them before they're old!" 
 
It was heartwarming when the children all joined in. I then challenged the children to draw an imagined monster based on the words they'd heard. As you can see, they all rose to the challenge and I received some great pictures to bring home with me. 
 
As I left, Mr Irvine told me that the children had all enjoyed the story as could be seen by how attentive and engaged they were during my time with them. 
 
Thank you to Mrs Mason, Mr Irvine and the children for welcoming me to your school. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In anticipation 

27 April 2016:  
I have two book readings today. This morning I will be attending St John The Baptist School in Pebmarsh, and in the afternoon I will be with the children of Butterfly Montessori in Halstead. 
 
All the paperwork is ready to put in my car - bookmarks, stickers, the book itself (wouldn't do to forget that!), order forms for the children to take home, feedback form for the teachers. I just need to gather up the two cuddly Lums who are off exploring upstairs. 
 
Last week I had my first book reading at a nursery, the day started with bright sunshine which filled me with positivity. I'm pleased to say that today is even more glorious! (The picture below is from my house looking towards Pebmarsh.) And so I'm feeling GOOD!  
 
I do, however, have a few butterflies in my tummy to keep me on my toes! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Book Reading at Little Pickles Nursery, Halstead 

18 April 2016:  
What a fantastic way to spend a morning! My very first book reading was at Little Pickles Nursery today. I was welcomed to the nursery by Claire, who I’ve known for many years since she looked after my children, now aged 10 and 7. 
 
When I arrived, it was snack time and the children were keen to know who had just walked through the door. Claire introduced me and then the questions started. Children of this age are so inquisitive and don’t have inhibitions so they just asked me whatever they wanted to know. 
 
I was given pride of place in a reading chair and the children gathered around me, all telling me their names or their dog’s names or giving me a present (I got a stone from Alfie). With all that information shared, I read them one of my poems about ladybirds. Whilst talking about names, I explained that when I was writing or reading my books my name is Josie, but on other days I use my real name, Sara. I then said, not expecting a reply, “What would your name be if you could change it?” Straight away there was “Lily Bananas”! Children are so quick and clever! 
 
Next, what we’d all been waiting for, I read my story “Lum” to the children. They all sat around me so nicely, I hope that all my book readings will have such well-behaved children. At the end of my story, Lum “does so many nice things” and Harry asked “How can he do nice things if he is so small?” That gave me the opportunity to say that “even though they are all smaller than me they do nice things.” So wonderful to hear the reactions to the story, everyone can take something different from it. 
 
Whilst I read my story, Jess very kindly hid lots of pictures of Lum around the nursery and the children had a great time searching for them, just like the children in the book searched for Lum at the park. Later the children sat down to do some colouring and there were some fabulous pictures of Lum, I was lucky enough to be given four pictures from Zara, Alfie, Callum and Lily. 
 
I’m really honoured to have been asked to attend Little Pickles Nursery and can’t wait to return to read my next book to them. 
 
Lum made a friend too! Photo of Lum and doggy to the right. 
 
 
 

Book Launch Party 

9 April 2016:  
The day started bright and early for me. Leaving my house at 5.20am to take my parents to Stansted Airport (somehow I had managed to book my party for a date they were on holiday, so they unfortunately missed it). However, I knew I'd be awake early that day worrying, so happy to help them with a lift to the airport. 
 
Getting ready for the party involved: 
collecting cakes from Hume's of Halstead (thank you to Judith, the cakes looked lovely and tasted great!); 
having my hair cut at Pink Magnolia - thank you Janine (looking good started even earlier with colour advice from Thomasin Newton, and a manicure at Jenni'z Beauty Salon on Thursday); 
filling party bags with help from my friend Julia; 
loading the cars; 
setting up the hall with help from my family and friends; 
making plans with Gavin Conlan, the photographer; 
chat with Gilly Ryan from The Griffin, running the bar, I should have ordered a drink! 
 
And then it was party time! 
63 children sat down to listen to me, either on cushions around me or with their parents on chairs. I had a little chat with Emma and Jack who sat near me, and then read the story for the first time to a group of children I didn't know. They seemed enraptured and feedback given afterwards was "kept the children interested all the way through", "captivating for children", and "children listened nicely to the story", so I'm more than happy! 
Following the story, there was a hunt for Lum with sweets as prizes, time for colouring, drawing and crafting. It was lovely to see the children so involved with their activities. 
The hour flew past, but there was just time to read the story again, with help from the children who had already heard it, especially Abigail and Imogen. 
Thank you to everyone who came to the party, enjoyed themselves, bought the book, and gave feedback. 
 

Visit to Halstead Rotary 

18 February 2016: I was made very welcome at the Halstead Rotary meeting. After a pleasant meal with good conversation, I gave a presentation about my new book "Lum" and the charitable aims of Josie Dom Ltd. The Rotarians had a chance to look at a mock-up of the book and all gave positive feedback. Some members were so impressed with the story, illustrations and ethos of the company that they placed pre-orders for the book. 

Book Launch Party charity partner confirmed 

I am pleased to partner with the Halstead & Sudbury NCT
 
The NCT were a great help to me during my first pregnancy and throughout the early years of her children's lives. You can read more about the reasons I chose to support the NCT on my Facebook page
Josie Dom Ltd | 5 Pebmarsh Road, Colne Engaine, Colchester, Essex, UK CO6 2HD | Tel: 01787 474442 | Email: shop@josiedom.co.uk 
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