What happened to that thing called time? Another year is spinning on, everyone seemingly more busy than ever before, as if it could get any busier!
There is much happening at madaboutsnailbooks; e-books on the horizon, the new book Slime in Time coming out, appearances at festivals, bookshops and schools. Workshops are increasingly popular. There’s nothing I like more than helping children to understand how writing works, especially in the real world, through leafleting, design, newspapers and the marketing of books.
SLIME IN TIME
Speaking of marketing, an invitation to order your copy of the new book is just about to hit your letterbox, so keep an eye out for it and let us know if you’d like us to reserve you a copy.
Launch date is the end of August, but it may turn into an autumn launch, all in time for the right setting of this spooky, Halloween tale!
Want to try before you buy? Here’s the first chapter for you to read. Enjoy! And remember, if you’re ordering any of the madaboutsnailbooks , you can do so via Paypal on-line, thus by-passing the need for stamps.
Talking of stamps, for all orders placed during the month of May 2012, we are happy to swallow the p&p costs. We’re not an Amazon, but we know you’re watching every penny. We’d love to discount our books, but a quality book comes at a price and we hope you understand. So, wherever you are and however many books you want, place your order in May 2012 and there will be no charge for p&p.
Slime in Time is aimed at confident readers aged 7-11 and up.
CHAPTER ONE: CHARLIE DROPS A BOMBSHELL
In the school playground, the children stared at Amy. They stood as still as statues, waiting. When Bill Bracket spoke, their mouths would fall wide open.
‘It’s the film crew, isn’t it? They’re coming, aren’t they?’ he asked of soon-to-be film star and snail freak, Amy Lolly.
Amy stuck her nose high into the air, closed her eyes and sniffed.
‘Yeah, they’re coming this week,’ she said, almost not believing the words that had escaped out of her mouth.
‘Film crew? The film crew? The snail trail film crew?’ ran a whisper as Amy’s best friend, Charlie, bit hard into a lip.
‘It doesn’t matter. Any of it,’ Charlie mumbled into her curtain of long brown hair.
Nobody heard. All they wanted to know was what Amy would say next.
When her face broke into a smile and she punched the air, everyone smiled back.
‘We get the script tomorrow!’ she yelled, jiggling around on her feet.
‘Tomorrow?’ ran the chorus.
‘What’s a script?’ asked a little girl at Amy’s side, her head tipped back, her face looking up.
‘It tells us what to say and when,’ was the reply.
‘Don’t you know what you said?’ Keira asked, laughing.
‘No, Keira!’ Amy giggled back. ‘It’s the script writers who write the script.’
‘Oooooh! Script writers write the script!’ sung the girls who had gathered around.
Dark-haired Emily Buddy stood apart. She began to moan.
‘It should have been me in that film!’ she began with a face like thunder.
‘You didn’t find the snail! They did!’ Bill spat, turning around to face her.
‘Old McSlithers is practically family!’ Emily protested.
‘I used to play with him …’
‘Then why did he run away? You must have been horrid …’
‘I gave him lettuce … let him crawl up my arm …?’
‘Smothered him in salt more like!’ Bill joked.
‘It still should have been me in the film! Not her …’ Emily repeated, growing angrier by the minute.
‘You can’t even act!’ Bill hissed. His hair stuck up like horns from the top of his head. His face was red.
‘I’m having lessons …’ Emily protested.
‘Shame you didn’t have them before Summer Holiday!’ he spat without thinking.
There was a sharp intake of breath, then a pause. Everyone watched Emily’s face turn pink.
‘Grrr!’ she growled and she stamped a foot hard on the ground.
Down in the snail park, something was beginning to stir. A tentacle appeared from inside a dark shell, like a periscope from a submarine far out at sea. On the end of it, there was an eye; a very small eye, still sleepy, still warm.
On the playground, Charlie spoke up.
‘It doesn’t matter. Any of it,’ she repeated, though louder than before.
‘We’ll have chocolate, Keira! All the sweets we want! Bath bombs!’ Amy carried on.
‘You hate baths …’ Charlie mumbled.
Amy shot her a frown.
At last Charlie had her attention. She fixed her beady blue eyes on her friend and delivered her news.
‘I can’t do the film! Any of it. We’re moving to Australia. We leave next week,’ she told her friend. ‘I’ve been trying to tell you …’
Amy glared at her.
‘That is so not funny!’ she hissed back, almost wobbling her head like it was made of jelly and someone had poked it. When Charlie said nothing more, Amy wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.
Bill came to her rescue.
‘First you say you’re going, Charlie Cummings, then you say you’re not …’ he began, moving two steps closer, throwing his face menacingly into hers.
‘Charlie’s right,’ Laura Crust told them, coming up from behind. ‘Mr. Skinner’s not well. He can’t fly. Something to do with his heart? Charlie’s dad’s going instead.’
Emily Buddy broke into a sudden and raucous laugh.
‘D’you mean it? You really going to Australia?’ she howled, the thunder long gone from her face.
The girls closed in, their eyes on stalks.
In a panic and feeling she might faint, Amy spun around. She closed her eyes and waited. When the girls screamed with delight behind, she knew Charlie must have nodded.
‘Who’ll they get to take your place?’ someone asked.
It was Emily’s turn to stick her nose into the air, to close her eyes, to sniff.
‘Well, it has to be me!’ she announced, as noisily as she could.
In the snail park, Old McSlithers, the giant African land snail Amy had discovered with Charlie high up on Zig Zag common, sat and shivered. He recognised the voice of the girl who had tormented him; he’d recognised the anger in her words. Unable to see her with just the one eye, he pushed out another tentacle and peered out from the safety of the snail park fence. It wasn’t long before he saw her.
Emily was throwing back her head, laughing the laugh of a hyena. When he saw her face through fuzzy eyes, the snail trembled in his shell.
‘We can’t do the film without Charlie!’ Amy whispered to Bill. ‘What are we going to do?’
‘We?’ he offered, smiling, feeling quietly pleased.
‘Didn’t your dad lose half his bottom in a parrot attack?’ Emily asked of Charlie.
When loud fits of giggles burst into the air, Amy snuck a look over her shoulder. The girls were sticking out their bottoms like pink flamingos. Even Charlie was at it.
Old McSlithers sat and watched. Wishing he could join in the fun, he quietly scrunched up his foot, threw out his bottom, but quickly lost his balance. Toppling to one side, he bashed his head against his bowl and lay, eyes spinning on the end of their stalks like plates balancing on sticks.
‘Can I come to tea?’ Bill asked Amy excitedly.
‘They only told me last night …’ went a little voice behind.
Amy’s back grew stiff.
‘Cool! Come to tea, Bill. Why not?’ she said, through gritted teeth.
‘We could go onto the common?’
Amy blew warm air out into the cold, autumnal day.
‘Never! Never ever going back there! Too many bad memories! Let’s go down the old railway. To the woods? Nobody ever goes that way …’
‘Railway line it is!’ Bill replied, smirking from ear to ear.
Old McSlithers waited for his eyes to stop rolling before glancing back over the fence. He could see that Amy had left, that Bill was already walking away. When he saw Charlie stumble as Bill passed by, he frowned. Feeling sad for his friends and worried he might never be fed, Old McSlithers crept back to the warmth of his deep, dark pit, and to the comfort it offered.