January and February have been BUSY – and it’s not stopping yet. In January I managed to finish the first draft of the new book, which I hope will be out in 2012, but meanwhile I was organising the blog tour to celebrate the launch of Sequins, Stars & Spotlights in the UK.

If ever you launch a book and you’re thinking about doing a blog tour – do it! Book bloggers are wonderful people. They love books. They are kind and generous to writers. They help you out, give you ideas and make your simple words look beautiful with their glamorous graphics. It’s been great to get to know my blogging friends a bit better, but it’s also been like writing ten English essays in a month, which I don’t necessarily recommend unless you’re feeling brave. I’m thrilled, but tired and I definitely need a few days off.

I’ve also been travelling for real. Up to Edinburgh to visit the Royal High and Holy Rood schools, and off to Hertfordshire to visit Loreto College, Bushey Meads school and Rickmansworth. Then I’m off to Hamburg, to meet the winner of the  fashion competition that was organised when Threads came out in Germany, then more school visits.

The best thing about them is – unsurprisingly – that I get to meet readers. Real readers, who ask real, fascinating questions and give me more ideas to put into future books. It’s always a pleasure when there are boys in the audience. They’re very patient – sitting through really quite a lot of discussion about the fashion industry – and they ask great questions later. One day I really must write a book that’s less … well, pink. Not that I mind talking to girls – quite the opposite. But I wouldn’t mind writing a book that my sons would enjoy reading too, for example.

Another great thing about school visits is the unexpected stuff you learn. Such as that the incredibly beautiful view from Holy Rood’s library is of the loch that probably inspired this picture of the Skating Minister, by Raeburn, that I’ve loved for years:

Also, on a sadder note, I discovered that the cafe where JK Rowling famously wrote the first Harry Potter while her daughter slept in her buggy is now a bistro called Spoon. And before that, it was a Chinese takeaway! No! There’s another cafe, which I didn’t get to visit, where she wrote some of the later books, but even so, I do wish there was a proper place of pilgrimage for us Potter fans.

However, the rest of Edinburgh is fabulous. I’ve decided to take my older son, who’s an avid reader, to the Festival this year (in August) so he can see some of his favourite authors in action. Most of them will be there. I’ll be in the front row (I hope), making notes. And with any luck, I’ll have completed and resubmitted the new book by then. Wish me luck!

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