Looking back at 2018
2018 has been a fantastic year for JoJo Gnome and myself. We have visited so many places and met so many wonderful children who are packed full of imagination and stories. So as not to go on too long I’m going to pick 3 particular highlights.
1. JoJo Gnome’s Story Podcast
This has to be my top highlight of the year and probably the hardest work. It was on 8th September last year I released the first JoJo Gnome Story Podcast. The idea was that in each podcast there would be a story and a story starter, which would allow children listening to join in with the story and add their own ending. My reason for starting this was quite simple. I know that when I go into schools, nurseries and libraries to do workshops the children I meet love the stories. However not all the parents can afford books … so I wanted to be able to leave them with some stories. So hence the story podcast, which is free to download.
My background is in radio production as well as writing but I hadn’t realised how much work would to go into the podcast. It’s not the making of the podcast as such (that’s the joyful bit). It is the telling people it’s there that takes the time and effort. Sometimes I think there is a bit of suspicion when a thing is free … where’s the catch? With JoJo Gnome’s Story Podcast there’s not one. So I keep spreading the word in person and on social media. Is it a success and worth it? In my opinion yes. One download means that a whole class will enjoy the story. The feedback from teachers and parents has been great. It’s good for children to hear their own accent in media too. So if you’re reading this and know someone who has a 3-6 year old please tell them about it.
One of my biggest hidden allies in the project is Al Fleming, a very talented musician and friend, who brings to life dragons dancing, squeaking mice racing about and story starters with his imaginative music.
I’ve also had new talent, like writer and poet Anna Miles, appear on the podcast. So next year more stories poems and surprises.
I also love the drawings and story suggestions that come from the children. Strathblane Primary’s Christmas trees this year were a joy and Our Lady of Peace’s JoJo portrait drawings make me smile.
Yes I do still record the podcast in my garden shed! Even if I do have to wrap up warmly recently.
Remember to listen to the first episode in the New Year, which is all about challenges and not being afraid of making mistakes.
2. JoJo Gnome and The Presents
This is the third JoJo Gnome book published and although I say it myself, my current favourite. Publishing is a long process from start to finish. I’m an ‘ideas and people person’ so the concentration and staying power of publishing a book is real work! Apart from my family (who are long suffering) the person who gets me through is Mary (Queen of Commas) who makes me pay attention to all the details. She’s a real talent and very creative (also quite strict!). Love you Mary!
3. The Weans (A Glasgow word for children …in case you weren’t sure)
This is perhaps what gives me most pleasure from JoJo Gnome. I love meeting and working with children across Scotland. They are funny, they are talented, they join in and they are honest. Trust me a four year old will just get up and leave if the story isn’t good enough (what a critic!).
(3b. Kites…an extra one)
This one is pure indulgence. I love kites, I can’t explain the simple pleasure I get from flying kites and mix in the elation of when you make your own kite and it actually soars into the air. Last year after visiting a kite festival I was given advice as to how to fix my home made JoJo Gnome kite and get it to fly. I took it to Tiree and it soared! Joyful!!!. Look out for the 2019 kite which I hope will be a bit bigger and will also fly. It too will feature JoJo Gnome of course.
I wish you and your’s an interesting New Year. May you have health, peace of mind and a bit of ‘what ever floats your boat”….or flies your kite!
love Jo & JoJo Gnome xx