Dennis Mews's Blog

December 26, 2016

The story was based around the school where I taught and the summer camp to South Wales where I regularly took my Year 6 class. We would leave school on Monday morning and return on Friday afternoon, to the delight of many of their parents who could look forward to a child-free week. Many of the kids were horrified to find their parents not at home when they rang. I reassured them that they were almost certainly out on the town.

For many children, this was their first experience of being away from home with relative strangers and their reactions and responses varied. The boisterousness on arrival soon gave way to anxiety as darkness fell. An often sleepless first night meant grumpiness the following day - and that was just me! The constant babble of the nearby brook and the bleating of lambs in the field opposite took some getting used to after city life. There were many advantages, though, like no traffic along the lane for days at a time.

It was only when I stopped going on these summer jaunts that I felt the need to relive the experience by writing it all down on my shiny new computer screen. This had the added benefit of clearing my head of all that historic junk.

I had in mind a real pupil when developing my main character, Nadia, although other kids regularly intruded into my thoughts. Craig was a naughty boy I taught and I wrote about him as I imagined him a few years later. Most unfair of me - he probably became a teacher. Robin, the teacher in the story, was modelled on how I saw myself. I decided to rotate the point of view around these three characters, in soap-opera style. It was great fun to write as I tried to keep the pace fast with plenty of incident.

Do read the book and tell me (and everyone else) what you think.
Lost In the Woods by Dennis Mews
Lost In the Woods
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Published on December 26, 2016 14:38 • 6 views

October 1, 2016

My stories take place within a mythical school environment. I was lucky enough, during my teaching career, to work in some great schools and my characters and storylines are a jumble of people and situations which existed in each of them.

Of course, every work of fiction needs drama and conflict and we can all think back to our own schooldays for examples of the sorts of issues which arose when children were thrown together in a closed environment.

My first novel explores what happens when a young girl begins a new school and how she develops in challenging situations. This happens often. The second book shows what happens when schools and parents collude to falsify exam results. Of course, this doesn't happen. But it could.

The theme of my third novel is bullying. I am aware that the subject means different things to different people - I found it hard to define the word.
"He's bullying me."
"I was just messing about."

School stories generally view life from a kid's viewpoint. I try to broaden this out to other members of the school community.
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Published on October 01, 2016 04:38 • 68 views • Tags: children, kids, school

January 23, 2012

As I flicked through Amazon pages on my Kindle the other day, I noticed that each Fiction genre lists the number of books available. Not having spotted this before, I started to take note of the larger categories. Predictably, perhaps, the largest genre in Fiction is 'Romance', followed by 'Crime/Thrillers/Mystery' and then 'Children's'. The fourth largest genre is 'Action/Adventure'.

This list is, of course, based on the numbers of titles listed rather than sales. I was encouraged to see that my genre is popular, among writers if not among readers. We are told that something like 80% of all book sales are to women, so presumably they are the ones who buy children's books. As children acquire their own Kindles, I wonder for how much longer will this hold true?

I haven't yet discovered sales figures from Amazon by genre. Since my Kindle connects to AmazonUK, I do not have figures for, but I would expect it to be comparable.

I've been wondering why most of my downloads (70%+) yesterday were from dotcom rather than, as I had expected, dotcouk. I had assumed that my English school story would contain little of interest to readers in the US.

Since yesterday was a freebie, no money changed hands, but I did derive much satisfaction from knowing that hundreds of folks now have my story on their Kindle.

Who knows, some of them might even read it.
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Published on January 23, 2012 01:41 • 236 views

January 21, 2012

I'm doing a promo through Amazon today. The price of my children's novel, 'Nadia Hamilton', has been reduced to ZERO. So if you'd like to download a copy and read it on your Kindle,

go to Amazon at

or AmazonUK at

Review here
Nadia Hamilton by Dennis Mews Nadia Hamilton
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Published on January 21, 2012 01:12 • 88 views

January 18, 2012

Years ago, I used to write on an A4 pad with a chewed biro. Then, in the late 1970s, along came the computer, which was great, apart from a complete absence, on my part, of any keyboard skills. Many years on, and numerous iterations of computer hardware later, I now tap the keys alongside the best and Microsoft Word has been my software of choice for quite a few years.

Recently, I've purchased a copy of Scrivener and my productivity has now moved up a gear. Let me intercept your wry smiles to assure you that I have no connection with the software company, Literature and Latte, other than as a satisfied customer.

Scrivener is written with the author in mind and is undoubtedly stuffed with features I have yet to discover. There are four key aspects to the software which I find invaluable. The corkboard is a planning environment which allows a story synopsis, using cards, to be jotted down, organised and reorganised. This can be developed into a first draft, monitored all the while by a session and project targets panel. I can only leave the keyboard when my session word count is realised.

I find I am easily distracted while writing, so the full screen writing mode is invaluable to keep me on the straight and narrow. No clocks, no email, no distractions of any kind.

When my work is complete (that didn't take long, did it?) my final draft can be compiled in many useful styles, including Word, pdf, Kindle, ePub, or screenwriting formats.

I imagine every author/writer would use the software in their own way but, for me, it has made the writing process so much easier and more productive.
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Published on January 18, 2012 07:15 • 126 views

January 14, 2012

The gadget of choice for this Christmas was surely the Amazon Kindle eReader, and I was one who was not to be denied this latest bandwagon. I must admit, though, it has transformed my reading experience and even my view of books. Like many readers, confused by too much choice, I would previously head for authors names I knew, or failing that, a quick squint at the top ten lists. Now I scour the lists, looking for 'my sort of story'. I know what I don't like but I still don't know what I like.

My original reluctance to buy a Kindle stemmed from a preference for paper over a glaring screen. All I can say is, I shouldn't have worried. These latest e-ink screens are superb, and just like ink on paper. Perhaps I should also admit, at this point, that I did get mine for a good price. Various promotions gave me £40 off the list price, so I eventually emptied my pockets and forked out £50 of my own money. I have to admit though, that the full price remains a bargain. We are told that Amazon sells them for less than the cost of manufacture - they've obviously been talking to Canon and Hewlett Packard.

One of the facilites I like is to be able to download, for free, a few specimen chapters of any ebook to see if I like it. If not, then I've lost nothing. If I like it, then I can download the complete novel. I always read reviews by other readers to help me with my choice, although I have become more aware of how the system may be abused by some. Of course, this technology means that we acquire so many books (I have about 100 at the moment) that we can't possibly read them all.

If the word processor led to an explosion in the author population, then maybe gadgets like the Kindle will provide the corresponding expansion amongst readers. As a former teacher, I know that anything which encourages youngsters, and particularly boys, to read has to be A Good Thing.
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Published on January 14, 2012 00:10 • 143 views

January 11, 2012

It is still dark as I stumble downstairs to grab my early-morning shot of caffeine. I hold a hundred good ideas in my head and I need to get them down on paper (remember that stuff?) before I forget. Everyone is still asleep as I fire up the computer and check emails. I process videos of distant grandchildren and arrangements for the coming weekend's orienteering and begin writing.

I need to have a plan. I'm not one who can make it up as I go along (if you see what I mean). I devise my snowflake and develop each branch. Eventually, and this takes time, I have a beginning, a middle and an end. I use a program called StoryMill to help me with this. I then switch to Scrivener to develop my plan into chapters and scenes. Having done all this preparation, I can now proceed with a first draft. My target is 2000 words a day for consecutive days until completion. I sometimes miss out Sundays because I'm usually out orienteering all day.

Of course, my characters often show little enthusiasm for the plan and I need to make adjustments as I go. Eventually, however, I have my first draft. Now the fun begins.
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Published on January 11, 2012 14:05 • 133 views