Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Prophecy, The Prologue

‘It’s quiet, isn’t it?’ said the commander of the Scouting Vessel 2195, Western Sector 3.
‘Well, that’s what you’d expect, isn’t it?’ replied his young trainee, Kyle Thomas. ‘No craft landing. Nor any coming from it,’ remarked Kyle. He looked down at the milky blue planet. They were quite close to it now, and it filled almost half of the screen. It seemed so still, as if it were surrounded by a pool of quietness.
The rest of its solar system was buzzing. Small scouting vessels like their own, and bigger cargo ships were busily going backwards and forwards between the planets. It made navigating this stretch of the Sector 3  rather tricky. He was glad the autopilots were amongst the most sophisticated available.
‘Well, it sure is still a fairly blue planet,’ Nielson continued.
‘Shame, though. It used to be so much prettier than this. It was even bluer. And you could see greens and  brown as well, before the poison cloud.’
‘Why do they bother?’ asked Kyle. ‘They have a poison cloud and they’re still living there? They could live anywhere.’
‘I suppose they feel safe enough down there, ‘replied Nielson.
‘What with all their farms and things tucked up nice and safe in those caves of theirs. The rest of us could learn a thing or two, if only they’d let us get a bit closer.’
‘Not much chance, though is there?’ replied Kyle. ‘What with them wanting to keep disease out. They won’t let anybody in.’
‘Yeah, well,’ said the Commander. ‘That’s something else it would be great to learn about. It’s funny how  they’ve gone so shy. Considering it all started there in the first place.’
‘When was the last time anyone moved from the planet?’
asked Kyle.
‘2309,’ replied Nielson.
‘Just after the first colonies formed?’ asked Kyle. ‘So, over a millennium ago? It’s mad.’
‘Yep,’ replied Nielson, ‘and they’ve reported being diseasefee for just over two hundred years now. So, it ain’t just that 9 that’s keeping them there. I reckon they’re just using that as an excuse.’
They were beginning to leave the blue planet behind.
‘Right, we’ll go on to manual now,’ said Nielson. ‘I want to see how well you can steer this thing.’
Kyle felt the power surge as the scout switched over.
‘One wide orbit around Terrestra and then out to the end of the solar system,’ said the Commander.
Kyle turned the craft. It wobbled and juddered a little. He fought hard with the controls for a few seconds and then she began to glide gently back over Terrestra. He began to get the scout under control. He had the measure of her now. She was purring along. It was then that he noticed it. A flash of green lightening
ripped through the soft blue mist that surrounded the quiet planet. A cascade of sparks followed. Kyle opened his mouth to say something.
‘Watch it,’ said Nielson suddenly.
A smaller scout was nudging its way across their flight path.
‘Watch the dataserve,’ said Nielson. ‘You must follow its coordinates.’ Kyle concentrated on the controls  again.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Build a Book Workshop Chapter 3

Chapter 3 Working with a charity

Some advantages

Working with a charity can be extremely motivating for your students, and indeed for you. It gives your anthology a purpose: you want it to be good so that it will make money for the charity.
If you can tie the theme of your students’ work in with the charity, even better. This will actually provide some content for your students’ writing. For example, if you support a wild animal charity you might get your students to write about animals living in the wild. If you support a charity that looks into drugs for children with cancer, your students might write pieces that would amuse children. If you support a children’s hospital, you might produce work that would cheer up hospital patients who have a long wait.
If your book is good enough, and you have a good relationship with your charity, they may be willing to promote it for you. In addition, you could arrange further events for the charity and continue to sell the book. Your connection with this charity can become more than just about the book.    
It may seem rather obvious to pick a charity that is going to be popular. Our young students find charities to do with children or animals easy to relate to. Sometimes it’s good to pick one that has a direct contact with your school. It’s certainly good to pick one that has a local contact. Perhaps ideal is one that has a local connection but is part of a bigger organisation – a national or even international one.
You could, of course, also pick a school project – e.g. raising money for a new stage or a new floor for the Sports Hall.
The charity commission provides a searchable database: There are even instructions here about how to start your own charity, which might be appropriate is some cases. Oddly, this does not show some of the most obvious charities. ‘Remember a Charity’ does, even though it’s primarily an organisation for helping you to leave money to a charity in your will:
 Simply Googling the word “charity” brings several lists you can use.  



It is essential that you get your relationship with your charity right. Remember, you are there to support your charity; the charity is not there as a convenient hook for you and for your students’ work. These organisations have a real concern and are doing a real job.
One always has to be careful anyway that helping a charity is not just a way of making the helpers feel better about themselves. There is a world of difference between this and inspiring genuine passion about the cause in your students. However, it’s likely that the students will actually feel a genuine care. This will be reflected in the writing the writing and will motivate them to complete the book to a high standard.
As soon as you do anything for a charity – even just taking a collection at the end of a concert - you are in a relationship with that charity.  They need to be consulted.  Whatever you do is now associated with that charity. There must be nothing in what your students produce that is contrary to the aims of the charitable organisation. The book has to be good. It becomes a permanent link – it may turn up in any bookshop and sit on anyone’s bookshelf – especially as you are likely to use a print on demand printer so that the book will never go out of print. This means that you may never be seen to be doing anything contrary to the ideals of your chosen charity. Ever.  
You normally have to obtain a letter of engagement from your chosen charity. This will often enable you to use the charity’s logo in your book, mention that you are working with the charity and use the charity’s name in the promotion of your book.
Great, of course, if they can endorse your book, and perhaps provide a foreword.  


 Advance Planning

It is great to have your students chose the charity. However, if you wait for the start of the workshop, you miss all of the opportunities for advance planning.
So, it’s absolutely ideal if you can have access to your students beforehand so that you can discuss what sort of charity they would like to support. You could even get them involved in finding information. You may want to plan a series of meetings.
If you do this, you might even set up a small committee of students who can keep their eye on how the finances will work and who would be able to kick start the marketing.
Once you have decided on a charity, you need to get that all important letter of engagement. This will involve establishing:
·         How the charity will benefit from the book (I suggest offering £1.00 per copy and links to their JustGiving site)
·         How often they will be paid
·         Whether they want to provide some copy for you book – maybe a blurb about the charity or even an introduction to the book
·         Whether they can be involved in any book launch
·         Whether they can advertise your book at all
·          How long your agreement will last (though as mentioned above, your relationship will be permanent as you have a permanent link to a book whose sales may dip but that will never be out of print)