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Little Yellow Boat writing

How The Little Yellow Boat book was born

Picture of The Little Yellow Boat book by Diane Woodrow on the beach with dog paw prints above it

A question I am often asked is “How did The Little Yellow Boat book come into being?” And then the next question is “Are you going to write any more children’s books?”

In answer to the first question the idea for The Little Yellow Boat came from a series of daily writing promotes I was doing with my friend, David, a fellow writer who was encouraging me to write every day because I was struggling to focus on writing. The prompt came, from the book “A Writers Book of Days”, although I cannot now find the actual promote that started it or the original words. . But I do remember David suggesting I turned it into a children’s book

The Little Yellow Boat is very much my story. In fact I find this often when I do free writing prompts, that I explore me as much as anything. But then maybe that’s what we all write about really – ourselves?

So I am the one who was, and still is, always dashing off out to have amazing adventures but then the sea gets rough, I get scared on my own, and come back with something half finished. I have been teased about it lost confidence with it. Since moving to North Wales I have gathered round me more and more people who are real friends, who when they see me too far out and the seas getting rough come to support me rather than tell me I’ve gone too far on my own again. It is so refreshing and so empowering.

So David had suggested this as a children’s’ book but as I cannot draw or paint I put a request out on Twitter and Instagram asking for an illustrator. Interestingly the only person who got in touch with me was Danielle, who used to a friend of my daughter’s when we were living in Scotland in a Christian community. I was also friends with Danielle’s mum but we had not been in contact with each other for about 15-20 years as we’d just gone our different ways. I say “interestingly” because really the story of The Little Yellow Boat is about how she connects with friends, people she has known and not leant on, who help her to go on adventures. Having reconnected with Danielle it felt like the message of the story was being fulfilled.

I have to be honest even when Danielle had finished all the illustrations I was still reluctant to go further. My inner critic, and all the criticisms I had received in the past were kicking in, but I wanted to encourage Danielle and help her on her adventures which is the main reason I plucked up the courage and got in touch with some publishers.

I had no idea about how one went about publishing and didn’t think to get in touch with some of the writing groups I’m loosely connected with – Writers HQ, Writers&Artists, Write Day – so I just googled “children’s publishers taking submissions” and emailed the first three that came back.

This is where it starts to get exciting. All three of them got back in touch very quickly, all wanting to publish my book via contributory contracts. I pondered over them, read the contracts and then picked Olympia Publishers because they gave me the best contract and were the most communicative. I have not been disappointed with them. They are a very supportive, easy to communicate with publishing house.

It has been a long slog, especially during lockdowns, etc, to get the book marketed and out there. But I have learned so much – how to make my own website, set up two Instagram accounts, set up a Facebook page and to email various people to ask if they will sell my book. I do need to pluck up the courage to go into bookshops now they are open, and need to remember to take flyers with me when I’m out dog walking or even shopping. It has been fun signing books for people too. I love the look of pleasure in their eyes when they hold a book from an author they know. That has been a good feeling.

As to whether I’m going to write another children’s book? Well I don’t know. I never intended to write one in the first place. The prompt came in the middle of me trying to write things about female Celtic saints who get raped as part of their way to sainthood. It is female issues, voices not heard that generally fill my writing time. At the moment as well as looking into female Celtic saints I’m also exploring the things some of the mistreated women in the Mabinogion really felt when they were abandoned, raped, spent a year sleeping with a man who wasn’t their husband, were made out of flowers, etc. So exploring abandonment, lack of partnership in relationships, etc. I’m also looking at writing my memoirs but for now that is sat on the back-burner and I’m probably exploring things from it via these Medieval women.

So for me having my first published book as a children’s picture book is a bit of a shock to the system but I am loving it. It fits in with the serendipitous ways of my life

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The Little Yellow Boat Makes A Video

The Little Yellow Boat book by Diane Woodrow on the sand with small footprints around it.

The Little Yellow Boat and I have been busy over the last few weeks. We’ve been working with a local film maker to get a promotional video made for The Little Yellow Boat book. It is now ready and scheduled for release on Saturday 15th May. I will put the link up here on Saturday morning as I’m not quite sure how to link to my YouTube site as yet. Hopefully that will come once the video is live.

As you will know from my post Be Who You Really Are, it has been a challenge for me to say what I wanted. Or more precisely to know what I wanted. But once I got my head round that I was able to keep sending the video back and forth to the maker until I had what I wanted.

Though my struggle now is with technology. I think I’ve got the site sorted and I think it will work on Saturday and so would really appreciate all my followers clicking on the link when I post it up, around 11am GMT, just so I know it works. I will also post it on my Instagram page and Facebook page and hope for the best.

There are still many things with YouTube, Facebook and Instagram I am grappling with but hopefully it will all come together.

There is much more to publishing if you want to get sold than just writing the book!!

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being me The little yellow book

Be Who You Really Are

Film maker George Frost setting up on Pensarn prom to film Diane Woodrow for a promotional video for her book The Little Yellow Boat
Film maker George Frost setting up to film me for a promotional video for The Little Yellow Boat

Even though my book, The Little Yellow Boat, is a tale about a boat learning an important lesson, all the way through this process of writing, of collating, publishing and promoting the book I have been learning important lessons.

Yesterday was the second time I had been to my local beach to film the words I wanted to go with the video about The Little Yellow Boat. The first time I was mixing together words George, the film maker, had suggested and words I felt I ought to say. I also had another project I was trying to get finished so that was hovering at the back of my mind too.

On Monday I had been working with a group of young people on a writing project of theirs and shared how The Little Yellow Boat came into being. As I did this I realised that these are the words I wanted preserved on my promotional video. I also realised that even though the shots of me standing leaning on the promenade wall looked really good, personally I preferred to sit down. Interestingly George arrived yesterday one of the first things he said was “can we give it a go with you sitting on the pebbles?” Sometimes it is interesting how, when we think things in a positive way they filter through to other people

So we did a couple of takes with me standing on the prom and then I went to sit on the pebbles. I also spoke words very similar to those I had shared with the young people on Monday. I was relaxed and confident with my words so they flowed slowly and calmly on all occasions of filming, but it was when I sat on the pebbles I totally relaxed and that was the take we are going to use. Yes I did stumble over my words a bit but it came over as me sharing with a group of friends rather than a performance piece.

So the latest thing The Little Yellow Boat has told me is that I am to be myself rather than what I think other people might want for me. Also I realised if we are ourselves we let people help and support us in a way that we are not resentful about and can enjoy.

Check out https://aspirationaladventure.com/little-yellow-boat/ and also “like” or “follow” The Little Yellow Boat’s Facebook and Instagram pages to await the arrival the finished video and check out other adventures of the The Little Yellow Boat.

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World Book Day 2021

Front cover of the book the Little Yellow Boat by Diane Woodrow, illustrated by Danielle Chapman-Skaines
Available to purchase at all online outlets

I think an appropriate start to a post around World Book Day would be to give myself a big shout out!

A week ago today I published my first book. It is a children’s picture book which was accepted by the three publishers I sent it to leaving me to pick the contract I liked best. Read more about it on my growing website https://aspirationaladventure.com/little-yellow-boat/. Or follow its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LittleYellowBoatBook This is my dream come true – both publishing the book and growing my own website.

World Book Day comes with lovely memories of my children eagerly awaiting the actually date to go and spend their £1 book day tokens. The tokens would arrive from our favourite home education support group a week or two early but my two would wait until it was actually World Book Day before spending them. They never bought the book that was the one especially put together for that specific World Book Day, which only cost £1. Instead they would add their own pocket money to the token and would spend ages in our favourite independent bookshop searching until they had found just the right book. It was delightful. And came only second to the delight of discovering that my daughter had taught herself to read when she was about three years old in the “book cave” I had designed for them.

Both my two are still avid book readers even though not as much as myself. I devour books. Last year I read over 100 different books which I posted on Instagram and I’m hoping to read as many this year. For me and for my children, and most readers I know, books are a way of not just escaping but of learning about new worlds, people one wouldn’t meant in regular life, or reading about how others think and feel which taps into how we think. For myself I come away from a book with greater wisdom about myself and others, whether historical figures or contemporary. Books give one connection to something bigger than just ordinary life, which I think has been so important in these lockdown time.

One of my exciting finds this year has been the Shelter Box Book Club [https://www.shelterbox.org/book-club/] which with a monthly subscription sends out a book from an author from a part of the world Shelter is working in. Through these books I am going all across the world learning about diverse cultures. To learn more about my reading over the past year check out https://aspirationaladventure.com/2021/01/13/2020-goals-100-books/

As I was pondering this and knowing I was going to be posting it on to the Godspace site I was thinking how I could tie in God. Well of course Jesus is “The Word” which is actually isn’t so very different to a book. I believe each reader reads a book differently. We all dive in with our own ideas, thoughts, life experiences and prejudices and read the story through that. As I pondered this I felt that this is what we all do with Jesus if we choose to dive into him. I do not believe we can get to know Jesus without bringing our own stuff with us. I believe that is why Jesus isn’t a static word but “the living word” because we all change who he is by what we pour into him from us, and he then changes who we are by what we take away. .

I also think this makes God even more amazing than ever. When I wrote my book I had an idea not just what it meant but how I hoped people would feel about it, and what they get from it. It is only a 34 page children’s picture book but I still want to sit with each person and tell them how it should be impacting their lives. Yet God released his Son, the living word, as well as the Bible, into the hands of people. People who were going to read and interpret it through their own lens. I know we sit with God and explore his word with him but I don’t believe he ever dictates to us what we should get from him.

I believe God trusts each of us to read his Son and his Bible through who we are, through our own lens, through are own life experiences. And I think that we need to trust others to read through their own life lens and listen to what each other learns. Maybe we need to read the Bible and share what we’ve learned as we would a book club that would make a difference to our growth as followers of Jesus? We should not listen to what others are learning so we can tell them where they are wrong but, as with the book club idea so that we can learn about them, learn from them – and maybe in the process learn about ourselves just as we do when reading a well written novel.

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2020 Review

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Normally I would do my end of year review to coincide with Christmas cards I was sending, whether physical or electronic, but this year I have decided to wait until 31st December to post, and am even tempted to wait until midnight just in case. It is not that I am fearful but this has been an “unprecedented” year.

At the time I would normally have done this post I was still laid up with bruised ribs from falling off that horse though was starting to plan what I would write, and I suppose even Different Christmas was a lead up to that. But then just as I was in the planning stages for that my husband got shingles and has been very sore with that. Then on Saturday 19th Dec Wales announced that all was change for Christmas and we were going into lockdown again – though from the volume of traffic I would say that only means that pubs and cafes have now closed. Not sure if I can see much other difference on the roads. It is definitely not back to April’s sparse traffic volume. But then on Sunday my daughter announced that she had tested positive to covid and so, even though she wasn’t coming up here for the holidays it did mean she was going to have to spend it home alone! All this in just a week!

This has been the strangest of years. Even to the point that our cat went from eating biscuits to demanding that we feed her cat meat from a tin. She now has meat twice a day and ignores the biscuits that sit waiting for her to be hungry enough. If it hadn’t been for the local cat rescue places being closed all the tins that had been in the cupboard for the last few years would have gone to them but now she’s eaten them all.

Talking of pets – our crazy rabbit died in the summer, happily of a possible heart attack whilst he was sunbathing before begining yet another digging project. He was buried inside his own warren of tunnels that he had constructed over the four years he had been living here. He is still very missed and the amount of veg peelings in our food recycling bin has increased.

As with everyone 2020 started normally enough, though it was odd for us because my husband chose to stay home for New Year’s instead of going to a youth hostel with old university friends. So actually even the start of the year was different for us with us being together when we woke on 2020. We went away as always for our wedding anniversary at the end of January, which was followed by my husband going off for a week of intensive Welsh learning on the Llyn Peninsular. He managed to get away climbing with friends in Scotland at the start of March, but by the time he went away then things were starting to change and covid was being muttered about. We had two Airbnb guests, both in the medical profession, who went from saying it was nothing to worry about to slowly getting more and more concerned about it, to our guest from Burma having to cut short his stay so he got home before all airports were closed.

I was supposed to go on my regular March writing retreat but felt uneasy about going which was just as well because suddenly things got serious. So instead of being in Gwynedd I went Cardiff to bring my daughter to stay with us when the pubs closed. We bought her some walking boots the day before the country went into full lockdown. We thought we were going to be walking all over North Wales, but then the 5 mile rule was introduced and we finished up doing lots of walks around where we live. We have seen my daughter more this year, probably a good 4 months of the year, than we have since she went off to university about 7 years ago. I picked her up yesterday, now that she is over her coovid isolation time and will spend New Year with us and stay until this lockdown lifts. So even though we have seen so much more of her this year when it comes to everyone else – my son and our mothers and our friends – we’ve seen them less than normal.

My husband changed jobs at the start of lockdown and has now been working for his new company for 8 months and never seen the inside of his office or met any of his colleagues face to face. We are so grateful for our lovely big house and him being able to work upstairs in his own office. But his is the only work going on in the house because, with all the guidelines and restrictions, it is not safe to run our house as an Airbnb rental home for the time being. Read more about that on Humility. And since not having guests coming and going it has changed how I see the house and what it is for. For now I’m not making any decisions how things will look regarding Airbnb and room rentals in 2021, but I do know I see this place much more as a family home now than a business.

We did manage to get away for a flying visit to Somerset to see our mums and a couple of friends at the beginning of August and my son and his fiancee came up to us for a long weekend in mid August. Both times we were blessed with great weather. And we managed 6 days in Northumberland in late September, though because Northumbeland went into tier 3 we were not able to see one friend who had moved there a couple of years ago, and also a friend’s 50th wedding anniversary party was cancelled. But we did manage 6 days of walking, reading, and resting together.

As well as Airbnb all my work has stopped – no more writing groups, no more schools work, no more workshops in the library. All very strange. But I have been doing a lot of my own writing and a few of my blogs from here are being published on Godspacelight.com which is quite exciting. I have also been working with a young illustrator and we have a book called The Little Yellow Boat which is with BumbleBee Publishing in the process of being put together and published later in 2021. I will tell more about that once it is out in the big wide world. My plans for 2021 are to work on more short stories and other ideas and of course to blog more. I do not want The Little Yellow Boat to be my only publications. I have also been working towards an MA in Celtic Studies and have loved the modules about the Mabinogion, especailly the Four Branches. I am thinking of doing some stores around the women from the Four Branches.

Every year we do not know what is going to happen, but I think 2021 is probably the one where we have the least idea. Will the vaccine prove effective enough to bring back “normal” life? Will we have enjoyed some of the changes and not want “normal”? For some their business will never be the same again. Many will be bankrupt. For others there plans will be delayed and will be able to move forward a year or two later. But also within that not knowing are things we do have control over. I plan to continue with the Quantum Energy Counselling healing work I’ve been doing. I will work on my own writing and develop a body of work and look at being published. I will meet up with people when I walk with my dog and have great conversations. I will email my friends. And I will carry on reading. All these I have control over. As to whether I’ll start Airbnb rental again or whether I’ll be able to restart writing workshops and schools work, that I have no control over, so will hold lightly. Also I do have control over how I behave towards what is going on around me and I hope I can hold Joy and Hope in the right place and walk as God wants me to through whatever is thrown my way.