Tuesday, 11 June 2013

I think it is time to start blogging again: Pedagogy - but why?

I haven't been on here for what seems like a year (2 months in fact). I have been very busy expanding: www.bedfordtutor.co.uk and am pleased to say my hard work is finally paying off!

The tutoring phenomenon got me thinking about that wonderful word - pedagogy!  This is possibly one of the most clumsy examples of Greek vocabulary and one word that seems to jolt off your tongue!

But laying this aside, can you teach someone to teach? This has been debated on my Facebook page for a few days and everybody seems to disagree with one another. I am afraid I am still of the mindset that teaching is a vocation and something that certain people are simply 'born to do'. Whilst one may get better at educating, some people are always going to be better teachers than others. I have always felt the need to educate, but cannot exist in a bureaucratic classroom environment where the only creativity exists in the rarely used art cupboard. Computers are rapidly replacing the kinaesthetic activities that taught me to count, spell and recognise a great diving beetle from a dragonfly nymph, and I hate this! Bureaucracy ensnares the naive teacher like a piece of fly paper, taking away creativity and replacing it with a series of carefully modelled exams and a curriculum which sees a screen as the new human. Children need their progress to be tested, but children also need to be children. My pupils learn through enjoying themselves and I am determined to ensure they leave their sessions smiling and happy! Why does the government now insist people are taught to teach? My mum was never taught pedagogy, but she managed to get me to recite the alphabet at two years of age. My best friend never gained a PGCE, but he trained me in creative writing and helped me publish a book! Many people still think you need a PGCE to teach, but frankly, I think this is ridiculous. I have always been a natural teacher and don't think other naturals should have to spend £6000 just to gain a piece of paper saying 'they can teach!' Even with all these 'wonderful' rules and regulations, we still have some terrible educators working in our schools - why do you think the private tutoring business is booming? Although I agree teachers who work in schools need to be trained, I think this training needs to be altered to encourage them to be creative and love their subject - rather than obsessed by testing and continually checking progress. Children are being mentally damaged by continuous testing and need an environment where they can learn at a pace that is right for them. We are all different and it is time society understood this. Some children may be reading certain words at 3, others may not reach this stage until they are 6. My job is to help children reach their potential, not the government's. I am not a trained teacher under government guidelines, but I know I can teach and will continue to help struggling children. I have a TA certificate and a degree and am willing to show the world teaching is an art - not just a set of rules that can be understood by anybody who wishes to part with £6000. If you have something to give to the world - go on and deliver!

Rant over... :)

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Murder at Libre Manor: Free from tomorrow for five days!



Monday, 8 April 2013

Rest in Peace, Maggie Thatch

It is with deep sympathy that I write this blog post - yes I am one of those few people that had respect for the late Mrs. Thatcher!

I was born in 1989, so never saw this prime minister in action. I do, however, respect her for carrying out a job that is still dominated by men and regarded as a traditionally masculine pursuit.

Maggie enraged the country with poll tax and annoyed the nation when she took away free milk - but she did have many personality traits that must be admired. Mrs. Thatcher was determined and believed in herself - qualities that all good leaders must possess. She had faith and ensured she never gave up - if only more people could be like her!

We need more strong leaders. We need people who believe they can make a different to the world. Leading isn't just a job for men, women can lead with just as much determination and assertiveness. We all make mistakes and we all have regrets, however, learning is only achieved through mishap. If we understand that good leadership comes through strong belief, we will see how our own leadership skills can be developed effectively!

Anybody can lead, but not everybody can lead well. To lead one needs to understand people, to respect and make decisions for the greater good. Margaret Thatcher made mistakes, but, by jove she was a great leader!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

So, what are the rules for writing?

Hello, everyone - I am writing this after spending a wonderful day cruising around the countryside on a warm spring day... yes, I did say SPRING! 

However hard I try, I still cannot get the whole 'local library won't have my book' thought out of my head. I have tried everything, but nothing appears to shift it - I reckon it may be there for a while yet! As I pondered earlier, I was inspired to write a blog post about the 'rules of writing'.

Up until now, I believed I could write in a correct way - but what is correct? I have read extracts from Ulysses and the style here certainly deviates from that taught a school. Quarter-page long sentences were hardly praised when I was still in full-time education and the use of commas, rather than full stops, doesn't fit in with my traditional view of 'Correct English'.

But since having my book refused by the library, my beliefs have changed with regard to the rules of writing. I do not believe there can possibly be solid rules for something as fluid as literature. Jane Eyre is a classic I am ploughing my way through at the moment, but her use of punctuation is completely different to anything I have seen from contemporary authors. Does this make her wrong? I don't think so!

Language evolves in the same way as human beings, altering to match its surroundings. I was criticised for using the word 'quintessential' in my book, as some people do not believe it is suitable for teenagers. While I do agree on one hand, another part of me wonders why young people cannot simply look up the meaning of a new word - surely using unusual vocabulary helps to teach people something? Every book is different and every writer uses language in a different way. I use more commas than some and less than others. I may use a hyphen instead of a semi-colon, or three dots instead of a simple full-stop. But does this make me wrong? Surely writing is there to be understood, just as art is there to be enjoyed. If people can understand a story, does it really matter if there is a comma out of place. We all speak differently and we all interpret in our own unique ways... what may be beautiful to one, may be ugly to another.

I thought I'd share my Crocus with you. I think you will all agree that these are beautiful! Our late spring has allowed them to keep flowering into April...

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Should anybody be able to get a book into their local library?!

I am writing this blog post after my recent experience with Bedford Borough Libraries. My book - Storme: www.belravenne.co.uk - is selling very well (over 150 copies in 8 weeks) and I thought that getting it in the local library would be a 'piece of cake' - pardon the cliche. However, this optimism was soon destroyed when I was told by a senior librarian that the book didn't fit 'their criteria'. I expected a ream of information as to why the content of the book was unsuitable for their library, but instead I was presented with a number of subjective reasons as to why the physical attributes of Storme were not acceptable. They picked up on the cover - my pride and joy and a popular design among teenagers - and even raised the issue that the spine and binding were of poor quality. I actually chose my specific publisher because of their high-quality bindings - how they picked this up as an issue I will never know? They also commented that the book has smudges - again incorrect, and even went as far as to mention the overall quality of the book. Pardon me, but I have been told that Storme is of 'exceptionally high-quality'; someone here is definitely pulling the wool over my eyes! This brings me to my main point! Shouldn't local books be given a place in local libraries? Waterstone's have my book and ARE selling my book. The library insists that it doesn't follow their criteria - but for goodness sake, there is no sex or nudity - it is not a 'Fifty Shades of Grey'! I am fighting this battle and will continue until I win. But, what do you think? Should local libraries encourage local authors? or should bureaucracy keep its tight hold on all our public services? Sometimes I wonder what I pay council-tax for?

Sunday, 31 March 2013

This weather...

I don't know about you, but I am starting to get utterly sick of this awful weather! We cannot go to the seaside, picnics are out of the question and it is even too cold to enjoy a nice cycle ride. Britain has never been blessed with the best climate, but I cannot ever remember a winter extending into April. Apparently the weather isn't set to improve until at least May, so better wrap up warm and keep those woollies out... What do you think of our long winter? Do you love it? Do you prefer ice and snow, or sun and sandals? I would love to hear your views!

Friday, 22 March 2013

New blog name and design!

Well... my blog has finally been given a proper name and new design!

What do you think, guys?

'Chasing Ravens' is a community blog: I am looking for short-stories and poems to review, so if you have anything, please send to: bel.ravenne@gmail.com

Thank you for visiting - enjoy the site!

Bel X

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Night Horses


It is not often that I am asked to review a book by a twelve year old; but Anaka Jones, even though still at school, has penned a children's book that can only be described as 'brilliant!'

'The Night Horses' is well-written, beautifully illustrated and would make an idea bedtime story. The tale flows wonderfully and is imaginative and whimsical - a perfect read for any animal lover!

The book is available to buy on Amazon: ISBN 1452882789

Well Done Anaka!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The BEST way to write a book?

What is the best way to write a book?

Should you plan it chapter by chapter?

Should you come up with a skeleton story-line and work around this?

Should you plan as you go along?

Should you do no planning whatsoever and just let it 'write itself'?

I am afraid I always seem to go for the latter. I have never enjoyed planning creativity. To me, planning a story is like building a fence around your imagination. Yes, some people need to plan - I accept that; some stories need direction - e.g. a murder mystery can hardly be written without any design!

But, dear friends, we don't always need a blueprint for our stories.

I am not planning this blog post and I didn't plan my first novel. Storme flowed from me like Niagara Falls, never stopping to check it followed that scientific pattern of 'how to write a story'. People may criticise me for not following a structural plan - but for goodness sake, life doesn't progress in a regimental fashion, so why should all writing?

Some books are designed to be planned - like my Libre Manor novelette - and some ARE NOT! Storme is organic writing, a novel that has been plucked from my imagination like a home-grown carrot is pulled from the ground. Storme tells a story, it is a tale of two lives. It has been written as I have grown up - every chapter a reflection of an experience I have had! It is not artificial and not copied - it is natural and alive!

We all hear the doctors telling us what to eat and drink. 'Organic', 'unprocessed' and 'natural' are three words frequently used by those who understand what we need to live healthily. Why should this be any different in writing? I have read so many books that are mirror-images of other stories, planned in the same way and written in the same style. Isn't it time we 'broke the mould' (pardon the cliche), and leapt into that wonderful imagination we all posses as writers?

Now is the genesis for a new style of writing! We CAN write good books without meticulous planning, we CAN achieve literary glory without following convention. Storme has been praised for its readability and flowing storyline - something that was achieved by letting my imagination 'run wild'.

We have a wonderful tool at our disposal - the human imagination should never be caged! We need inventors, we need artists and we NEED writers. Einstein didn't get where he was by following convention! NOW IS THE TIME TO BE REBELLIOUS - TO WRITE IN A WAY THAT HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE! GO AHEAD AND SHINE, DEAR FRIENDS, WRITE A BOOK WITHOUT A SCIENTIFIC PLAN - YOU'LL BE SURPRISED HOW AMAZING IT IS!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Indie Book Review: Greays Hill - Jon Beattiey

This fast-paced book, set in the 1790s is a joy to read – compelling and realistic, with a wonderfully diverse group of characters.

Historical novels can be difficult to write effectively, but here Beattiey manages to successfully convey the era in an imaginative, yet accurate way. The countryside is beautifully described – ‘rolling up towards the Scottish border’ and the characters are realistic and ‘lovable’.

The storyline in itself moves well and the addition of Northumbrian dialect allows the reader to almost magically ‘drop’ into the book. The subjects of inheritance and community are fully explored in the book and the central character ‘Jack’ is beautifully described throughout.

Overall, this is a wonderfully written book with a good storyline. The scenery is superbly described and the characters are appealing. Greays Hill would appeal to a wide audience and would make an ideal holiday read.

To buy this book click here

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Indie Book Review: Twelve Girls - Jon Beattiey

Jon Beattiey demonstrates his abilities again in this unusual piece of fiction which captivates the reader as soon as they open the cover.

'Twelve Girls, Twelve Lives Told' – a catchy and memorable subtitle encourages the reader to discover more about this book. Who are the twelve girls and how do their lives differ? Will they be linked in some way or will the twelve lives remain isolated from one another?

As one would expect, the twelve stories are separated by traditional chapter headings, each girl given her own few thousand words. The stories are all set in London, so the book is instantly given a modern and metropolitan feel – the contemporary vibe of the novel also encourages a younger readership.

Each tale is different in its subject matter, but the captivating writing style of Beattiey ensures they all flow with a subtle fluidity. Although tragedy is a subject fully explored in this novel, Beattiey ensures it is dealt with sympathetically and with the utmost respect for the characters involved.
The dialogue between protagonists is stimulating and believable and here Beattiey truly shines as an author. 

His characters are well-defined and realistic, allowing any reader to fully engage with the book. Beattiey is articulate in his language use and descriptions are well-formed, allowing readers to effectively imagine the locations described;  although each story is short (under 10,000 words per section), this does not stop Beattiey from creating twelve wonderfully complex and memorable tales – each beautifully unique and important in their own right.

The clever layout of this books means that a reader can delve in and out at will, each account only taking around an hour to read (although this does depend on reading speed). The conclusion is believable and fits in well with the rest of the book – although it does see the reader begging for more…!

All in all, a wonderful novel with a unique layout and contemporary feel. Twelve Girls would make an ideal holiday read, being gritty enough to make it interesting, but tame enough for older children to enjoy. The book is expertly written by an experienced novelist and demands the reader’s attention throughout. If you are looking for a unique novel that will have you crying in one section and laughing in the next – Twelve Girls is for you!

Buy direct from: www.jonbeattiey.info

Look what I just found...


Highly Anticipated Extract From 'Storme'...

To buy the complete book please CLICK HERE

Somewhere in the depths of a grim North London Estate a seventeen year old girl sat on a wall staring at the sky.  In her hand she held a looking glass with a silver gilt pattern on the handle, together with a small book tied together by a purple ribbon.  The girl was tall for her age, with a medium build and long brunette hair.  She wore the most unusual clothing - a long black skirt with purple blouse, and a ribbon to secure her plait.  As she sat on the wall, tapping her feet to a familiar rhythm, she hummed a tune - staring at the icy moon as her eyes filled with incipient tears.
Below her feet, a previously grey puddle was beginning to crystallise with ice, the cold January evening only serving to amplify the girl’s bitterness.  A gang of youths walked past her, their littered lager bottle breaking the delicately frozen puddle.  They stared at the girl, laughing and gesturing as they made their way towards the nearest tower block.  The dark haired teenager hummed the tune she knew so well and began to silently cry, her tears now running down an already reddened complexion.  She held the diary tightly under her arm as though warning any onlookers it was for her eyes only.
Stephanie stared at the milky white moon and touched the purple velvet ribbon tied around her wrist.  Above her the stars shone through the ominous density of rainclouds creating pinpricks of subtle light.  She shed a tear which rolled down her saddened face to fall onto the looking glass she held in her hand.  Staring at her reflection she shed another tear; the deep gash on her nose only illuminated further by the winter moonlight.
Stephanie took the diary from under her arm and laid it on her lap, the photos on the cover less clear under the watery moon.  She opened it and traced the writing with her finger as though to remember every word.  Held in a sewn pocket in the cover were a number of further faded photographs; one in particular she took out and held closely to her chest.
She sat and cried as she remembered her parents, finally a smile appeared as she recalled happy memories of days spent with her family - occasions now only dim recollections of a past life.  She remembered what she had been told at the children’s home, when she had asked about her Mummy and Daddy.  She remembered how Matron once took her into a tiny room and told her every intricate detail, her stern manner only serving to intensify the child’s loss.  She tried to remember spending time with her parents, but never could, these photos her only companion and only reminder of her family.
Stephanie peered down at the looking glass and saw a dark cloud moving across the moon, obliterating its milky hue.  A shiver ran down her immature spine and she softly whispered ‘Storm’ under her breath.  Staring at the clouds, she repeated the word over and over, becoming aware of its every intricacy.  Her mind started to race as she joined the word with her surname, repeating it over and over as though she was attempting to carve a memory.

Her scrapbook was almost full, but she knew the last page needed to be written.  Stephanie took out a pen and wrote ‘January 31st 2013’ in the same curly handwriting, taking care to draw her trademark heart at the end.

I am now eighteen and it has been six years since I last wrote in this scrapbook.  I am still living with the same people – Ella now has a boyfriend and she has calmed down quite considerably.  I am starting university in seven months time and hopefully will be going to Brighton.  I’m not too bothered about leaving school as I don’t really have any good friends and Ellesmead has never been a place where I have felt at home.  Last year I decided that I wanted to become a historian and I am determined to achieve my dream.  I have also written many short stories and poems, although I know I would definitely like to work in history.  My life has changed recently and I am happy to have left my childhood behind.  One day I hope I will meet someone who will become a lifelong friend, somebody with whom I will share my greatest secrets.  For now I just have to look to the future and achieve high marks in my A-Levels.  One day I will write a scrapbook just like this one, but it will be a wonderful, happy storybook.  I would like to end it ‘happily ever after’ and share it with my best friend.  One day I will do just that...........one day.

Storme Donoghue

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Too many adjectives...?

Can you use too many adjectives?

Can the ancient, creaking, brown, oak door, be conveyed in any other way?

Does a reader know what you are trying to convey when you describe your spooky cellar as 'cold and dank'...? Should you go further than simply using a few carefully placed descriptive words - is it acceptable to overload a sentence with adjectives when the conveying of something specific is of utmost importance?

I believe adjectives are the gloves on a cold day, the honey in a Rooibos or the sun at a picnic. We cannot write without them and I personally, cannot get enough of their beauty. I am criticised for overusing these words, but I have never seen it as a problem. Atmosphere and ambience are not kindled by a couple of adjectives cautiously placed in a paragraph. If a location is spooky, suitable adjectives are the way to convey this. I once won a writing competition for my good adjectival use - I am not saying I am always right on this, but there is no way I am about to change my delightfully, descriptive writing... So there!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Review of 'Precious': Aoife Marie Sheridan

I am a poetry enthusiast and greatly enjoying both reading and writing poetry. I rarely come across a piece of work that 'tugs at the heartstrings' (pardon the cliche), but this poem manages to cultivate an emotion that simply makes me beg for more...
Here, Aoife has created a marvelous piece which captivates and inspires, whilst remaining pure and true. Roses have been long associated with romance, and this poem - like a slow waltz on Valentines Day - is graceful and melodic. Although the piece addresses death directly, Aoife deals with tragedy in the most mature and sophisticated way. Although the poem is focused on a red rose, it was personified throughout - allowing the reader to effectively imagine a heartbroken person in place of the dying flower!
All in all, a fantastic piece of work. Aoife tells me she won first place in a Co.Meath competition with this - well I can understand why! The poem is beautifully written and would warm even the most cold heart. Fantastic - a great read for a dreary Tuesday morning!

Here it is: 


Copyright: By Aoife Marie Sheridan

A rose is so wonderful,
So powerful and is full in all its glory.
The breeze makes it dance to a slow tune;
The sky makes the red, look like blood,
So mysterious, yet so sexy.

It pulls you in,
You want to cut it and bring it with you,
But it looks so content and natural in the soil.
But you can’t help it so you place it
In the most perfect and beautiful spot in your home.
People admire its appearance.
But it doesn’t have a daring look about it,
Day by day a petal hits the man-made piece of wood.

Its graceful head begins to drop
And now its head bows before you, because you are its master,
It has no way but your way.
And soon you realise by making it yours
You have destroyed everything it once was.
You have taken it all away.
So you try to replace it but it’s no good,
You didn’t take its roots you cut its stem.

Monday, 11 March 2013



Who murdered Simeon Soames-Brown? Find out in this thrilling and spooky murder-mystery novelette that will keep you guessing right until the end!

'Libre' - an organisation almost as old as the Stonemasons and with as much history. Only five ladies remain in the old order, meeting every Sunday at 'Libre Manor'. All is calm in Libre, until one day a murder is committed and all five members are potential suspects. Will Detective Inspector Bates discover who killed Simeon or will the ancient old building hide this gory secret for all eternity?

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Indie books wanted for review!

If you are indie author (like me) you may find it hard to get decent reviews of your books!

Well, fear not... I am looking for books to review. Please send the title of your book and author name to: bel.ravenne@gmail.com I will then source your book, read it and write an informed review!

Thank you!

I hope I can help!


Friday, 8 March 2013


Who murdered Simeon Soames-Brown? Find out in this thrilling and spooky murder-mystery novelette that will keep you guessing right until the end!
'Libre' - an organisation almost as old as the Stonemasons and with as much history. Only five ladies remain in the old order, meeting every Sunday at 'Libre Manor'. All is calm in Libre, until one day a murder is committed and all five members are potential suspects. Will Detective Inspector Bates discover who killed Simeon or will the ancient old building hide this gory secret for all eternity?



MARCH 2013.



Monday, 4 March 2013



by Bel Ravenne

This is the story of two girls; ordinary, but with their own individual traits. Every girl has to express her individuality some way, and these two are no exception.

Maria is not afraid of growing up; she’s only concerned with how she’ll make her mother proud of her achievements. Born in a village in North Bedfordshire, she has a dream of going to university and perhaps write a book, but struggles with autism. 

Storme – Stephanie – at 18 has her own struggle; she’s trying to break away from an upbringing in a North London estate, an upbringing that no girl should ever experience. Her guardian Ella is far from an ideal foster mother. 

These two very different girls, from very different backgrounds, are brought together at university, but with their unusual friendship comes great shock and tragedy. Will a strong bond help Storme and Maria face a world that is often against them? Storme is a revealing and honest dramatisation of what today’s young people have to face. 

In Bel Ravenne’s debut novel, the reader will be able to emphasise with both of the girls in some way and will be drawn quickly into this gripping story. Storme is unique in its narrative style; the story is split between a third-person account of Stephanie’s life and first-person journal entries by Maria. Will these two girls grow increasingly able to face realities in this difficult and demanding world? Storme will appeal to female teen readers aged 13-18. Bel has mainly been inspired by Jacqueline Wilson.


5.0 out of 5 stars A good tale well told. 21 Feb 2013
By Paul G Perry
This is a good tale told with sensitivity. It captures the concerns of young people as they embark on their first moves into the adult world. The issues and themes that it covers will resonate with many young adults. I look forward to reading more from this young author.

5.0 out of 5 stars New Author Bel Ravenne Stormes into the lead 21 Feb 2013
By Mr. V. W. Gaskell
A fantastic read. Though I'm a male in my 40's, not quite the target reader, I immediately got into the book and the main characters were very well rounded out, and one could immediately sympathize with them. It's an innovative narrative style with the diary entries and the story telling which manages to capture one's attention and fill you in on the background without you realising it. Even in her first book, Bel shows great command of the art of story telling. Highly recommended. While nominally aimed at teen fiction age group, I think it makes a great read for all ages.

So, what makes a great writer?

What makes a great writer?

Is it somebody who takes command of the English language as an admiral takes command of his crew?

Is it somebody who never fails to use the correct punctuation, grammar and spelling, even when texting?It it somebody who never stops writing, even when on holiday?

OR, is it somebody who is creative, poetic, inspired and adventurous...?

I would always opt for the latter.

Writing is a discipline, yes. We all need to master the basics of punctuation, grammar and spelling as these allow one to write in a way that is universally understood and accepted. The science of writing is vital and all good writers must be able to recognise inaccuracies and be able to competently rectify them.
But, dear friends - if one simply sees writing as a science, one can never understand the beauty of putting together flavoursome words. Adjectives inspire velvety descriptions which can ooze beauty or equally attack the reader by being hideous and devious... Verbs create feeling and allow one to be transported to other worlds and situations where fantasy and reality can merge into something wonderful. Nouns can name the protagonist as a beautiful being of utter perfection, or render the antagonist a vile monster. The interaction between these characters can be liquid pleasure - like drinking a cool glass of iced-tea on a bitterly hot day...
One must never forget that writing is an art - a pleasure - a wonder that can inspire!
Once one learns the basics, there is no right or wrong way to write... Everybody has a different style and each style should be nurtured like a mother would nurture her child. We are all unique and each writer is different. Learn to ignite those adjectives and chase those verbs - whilst making war on the antagonist who stole your nouns!

Enjoy writing!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Book Signing

Book Signing!

It is time to start getting ready for the book signing in Waterstones Bedford on 9th February 2013!

There will be a competition, magic, prizes and fun for all the family - books can be signed with any personal message!

This is not an event to be missed - I look forward to seeing you all there!


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Storme delivered!

Storme delivered to my house today!

Storme was delivered just before lunch today - the journey begins!

I am so pleased with the overall appearance of the book and cannot believe it has all finally happened!

If you would like to order a book please e-mail me at: bel.ravenne@gmail.com