Plastic is everywhere – so much so, that we might as well give Planet Earth a new name: “Planet Plastic”.
Explore the environmental issues of plastic waste, pollution and solutions in a 2-page worksheet I created for you.
It’s suitable for anyone aged 9-14 years or older, and it’s best to use it with someone else, perhaps a teacher or parent or in a group, so you can benefit from discussion, research and debate of the topics it covers.
This worksheet has lots of facts, website links, questions and activities to help you delve into and investigate the topics further.
The worksheet is similar in style to WonderWorksheets set B – a complete booklet of interactive worksheets exploring all sorts of environmental issues and English literacy skills, available free. Within them, worksheet 3b covers some further facts and activities on plastics.
Have fun thinking, exploring and researching how to save planet Earth! 🙂
When I started self-publishing books, I searched the Internet for how to do everything, from file formats, to book cover designs, to best self-publishing platforms.
My biggest frustration was that there’s so much information out there, and tons of conflicting advice and opinions. It can be overwhelming for author newbies, who after all, just want to get on and write, then publish their book.
And as an author based in the UK, the advice was often not even relevant to me – as the US frequently leads the way with a plethora of self-publishing websites and authors, while the UK often seems like the poor cousin!
So here are the top 5 things I’ve learned along the way (relevant to all self-publishing authors), and the things I wish someone had told me when I started out as a self-publishing author:
1. Don’t worry too much about the standard advice on word counts or ‘write what you know’
Find out what the experts say, and then break the rules!
It’s good to know what the typical or expected word counts are for novels in your genre – see this article on word counts, for example.
But don’t be completely bound by them. If your complete novel is longer or shorter, and there is a good reason for this, then publish it as it is. Just beware of writing novels which are very short (say under 20,000 words if aimed at young adult or adult age groups) or very long (over 120,000 words) because readers will expect something to be a certain average length, and either be disappointed or lose motivation.
As for the old adage “write what you know” – well again, there are reasons why this rule was created in the first place.
But if every author wrote about only what they know, books might be very boring indeed! However the danger with writing about something you don’t know or aren’t familiar with is that the scenery, character, situation or event might come across to your readers as stilted, lacking in details or simply unrealistic.
So, if you’re going to write about things, places, people or feelings that you haven’t experienced personally, then do your research, speak to others about it, and put everything into using your imagination, calling on experiences you’ve had which have some bearing on this, and empathising with what’s going on in the scene/book you’re writing.
Do ensure your manuscript is as flawless as humanly possible!
Edit, edit, edit, and/or find a professional copyeditor/proofreader (the differences between those processes are spelled out here). It is annoying to readers and creates an unfavourable reputation for self-published authors if your finished book is less than perfect!
2. Beware of assisted and hybrid publishing companies masquerading as ‘real publishers’
As a new author you might be convinced that your book should be published through a traditional publisher. Think of the kudos! You might even imagine you’re the next J K Rowling!
But remember that if this is your hoped-for route to publishing, you’ll probably need a literary agent, as most of the large traditional publishing houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts (unless you’re J K Rowling).
And there are so many options these days that thankfully, using a traditional publisher isn’t the only way to get your book out there.
To find out more about all the different routes to publishing available to authors, have a look at this continuum of key book publishing paths by Jane Friedman (pictured above).
If you decide to look for publishers, be careful of the smaller ‘publishers’ who are sometimes no more than assisted self-publishing or hybrid publishing companies.
They often make most of their money by charging authors thousands of dollars to ‘publish’ their books, not from selling books. And some of them have aggressive marketing strategies aimed at authors (not readers). Read the fine-print because some of them may tie you into exclusive contracts for years.
3. Use a combination of Ingramspark and Createspace/KDP as your self-publishing platforms/distributors
This is my advice, based on my experiences with a number of self-publishing platforms, especially if you’re wanting to get your books into brick-and-mortar bookstores too.
Publish your book and ebook on Ingramspark first, then the same book and ebook (same formats, size and ISBNs) on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Amazon have now closed down Createspace – you can now publish both ebooks and paperbacks via KDP.
The order is important! You need to get your book into global distribution platforms, databases and bookstores through Ingramspark first.
Ingramspark offer standard industry discounts to distributors and bookstores, making it the most sensible platform for self-publishing, because from the point of view of distributors and bookstores, it places your self-published book on a similar footing to books which are traditionally published, and bookstores will more readily stock your book. With Ingramspark, there is a fee for setting up your titles (around $25-$49), but they do occasionally run promotions where you will be able to set up your titles for free.
Then, to ensure Amazon always shows your book as available (not out of stock), you need to publish the same files, with minor amendments, on KDP (an Amazon company).However, with KDP, do NOT choose global distribution options.
You can find out more here about the combination of Ingramspark and Createspace/KDP as self-publishing platforms.
If you do it the other way round, ie. Createspace/KDP first, this can create issues with the global distribution listings. Also, do NOT use the free ISBN offered by Createspace/KDP – this will tie you to publishing only through them.
4. You don’t have to have your own ISBNs, but it’s better if you do
If you go with my advice about publishing with both Ingramspark and Createspace, you will need your own ISBNs (usually two ISBNs per title – one for your paperback, and one for your ebook, depending on your book format choices).
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and it’s usually included in number and barcode format on the back cover of print books (and digitally for ebooks). Part of the ISBN identifies who the publisher is.
A cheaper alternative is to buy ISBNs from an ISBN publishing agency – who will then be listed as your publisher – such as Independent Publishing Network for UK authors. You only need to buy the ISBNs (which come with barcodes), not the ISBN registration, as Ingramspark and Createspace/KDP will automatically add your ISBN number and barcode to your book cover templates and list your book titles on relevant databases, etc.
It doesn’t matter if, at the start of your self-publishing career, you use some free ISBNs tied to certain self-publishing platforms.
Then as you progress, you can buy your own ISBNs for future books. But note that usually the ISBN attached to a certain book and format of that book will remain with that version forever. If you do need to generate a barcode for your ISBN, do it here.
5. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on training or self-publishing services
It is completely possible to learn as you go and do lots of research and free training courses before making any decisions when self-publishing, then do pretty much everything yourself.
But it can be a long, lonely journey…
So my advice is that, as soon as you can, find some successful self-published authors who are relevant to your genre and regularly access their blogs/newsletters/videos (many give freebies when you sign up to their website newsletters). Or, if you can afford it, there are some who offer very good self-publishing courses and training (but these are often expensive and can tie you into subscriptions for a few months or a year).
Here are some self-published authors with extensive help-websites, resources and training courses to get you started (some are free):
Finally, self-publishing is a huge growth area. In the 5 years 2011 to 2016, Bowker reported that US self-published print and ebook titles (with ISBNs) grew over 200%. And some self-published authors, including EL James of ‘Fifty Shades’ fame, and Andy Weir who wrote ‘The Martian’ (originally available as a self-published ebook for 99c, now a Hollywood blockbuster movie), have really made it big!
But ultimately it’s not about the money! If money follows, that’s a bonus. Writing and self-publishing is about you and your readers. It’s about your desire to contribute to, and leave a mark in this world, in your own way. And it’s about your readers, who will hopefully be entertained, moved or inspired by what you write!
Questions? Comments? Leave a reply below this post. 🙂
Kathryn Rose Newey is an author of unique novels with environmental themes, for young adults, teens and children.
Plastic that’s been designed to be used once only, then thrown away.
What a waste!
We all know it’s a huge problem.
Billions of tons of waste plastic lies about as litter, clogs up the oceans, and animals get caught and injured or killed by it.
Plus plastic is made from fossil fuels (oil) and takes decades or centuries to decompose…
And even then, it doesn’t fully decompose – it simply breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces until we have plastic micro-particles in the soil, water, air, and inside animals and humans!
Examples of single-use plastic are everywhere, in lots of things we buy everyday.
How many of these do you use?
Plastic water bottles and disposable cups for coffee, soft drinks or water,
Cling film or plastic wrappings around fresh fruit and vegetables or prepared foods like fresh pizza,
Plastic packaging like six-pack rings for packs of canned drinks, or sealed around other packaging like teabag boxes,
Plastic straws and plastic spoons, knives and forks,
Plastic containers like yoghurt pots, laundry liquid bottles, toiletry tubes and bottles, and take-away/fast food containers,
And of course – plastic bags like supermarket bags, carrier bags or shopping bags from stores.
So what can we do about it?
Here’s 5 things you can do right now, to reduce your “plastic footprint” on planet Earth:
We can’t always help buying plastic packaging for some things. So if you do, save the plastic bags or wraps. Then wash them if necessary and make sure to use them again.
Sometimes when you’re out, you can’t find a recycling bin for your waste. Take it back home and recycle it. Don’t put recyclable plastic waste into a normal rubbish/garbage bin, because it’ll unnecessarily end up in landfill, around an animal’s neck, or in the oceans.
Plan ahead – take a reusable cup and your own set of reusable cutlery, including a reusable straw, with you.
Use your own reusable fabric shopping bags (even reusable plastic shopping bags can end up as waste).
Think of our wildlife – cut plastic six-pack rings, tear open plastic bags, cut straws up and open or tear up any packaging that might get caught around a bird’s foot, a fox’s head, a sea turtle’s flipper or a seal’s nose.
When you’re paying for your food and groceries, make a comment to the staff, talk to fellow shoppers, or complain to managers about all the unnecessary plastic packaging.
Some people even unwrap their food and groceries while still in the store, and leave their plastic waste there – what better way to get the large supermarkets talking to manufacturers about reducing excess plastic?
Say no in restaurants and coffee shops – is it really necessary to have a plastic lid and plastic straw with your drink?
When you’re out and about, be seen using your own reusable coffee cup, recycled water bottle, paper straw and washable cutlery – and talk to others about it. Many coffee shops offer a discount if you use your own mug or cup rather than one of theirs, so it’ll save you money too.
It’s a challenge, but worth it.
Challenge yourself and your family and friends to use less single-use plastic.
Photo of Mallard duck with plastic by Ian Kirk from Broadstone, Dorset, UK (Please take your litter home!Uploaded by Foerster) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo of litter in pond by Hagerty Ryan, USFWS of Pixnio.com.
Photo of drinks glasses with reusable straws by StockSnap of Pixabay.com.
Photo of planet Earth by NASA/Apollo 17 crew; taken by either Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Infographic “Plastic Does Not Go Away” from https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/boomerangalliance/pages/231/attachments/original/1464851954/MicroPlastic-Infographic-Final-2016.jpg?1464851954.
The Nature Conservation novel aimed at middle grade children, teens and young adults, ‘Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came‘, was recently reviewed by Education Otherwise, a major home education organisation in the UK. Kerri, the EO book reviewer, wrote:
“‘Animals in the Forest’ is an absolute pleasure to read due to the superb descriptive detail and wide ranging vocabulary…It’s a really lovely and thought provoking addition for your child’s reading and English curriculum which I’m sure all children will enjoy and be inspired by.“
She went on to say: “This is a beautifully illustrated,…delightfully written,…environmentally themed animal story with free supplementary worksheets,…[which] are the most interesting and varied I have come across.” [see the full review text below]
EducationOtherwise.org is a major home education / home schooling organisation in the UK, dedicated to providing “information and resources for home educating families and those considering home education for the first time, including guidance on home education and the law, SEN and disabilities; downloadable fact sheets covering many aspects of HE; and links to local HE groups across the UK.” They publish a newsletter for members a few times a year.
Here is EO’s full review of ‘Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came’ and the matching WonderWorksheets [spoiler alert!]:
“This is a beautifully illustrated, environmentally themed animal story with free supplementary worksheets… The story is set in a local forest where Dakota the Deer and her animal friends live until they are disturbed by machinery that starts destroying the forest to build new houses. The 9 chapters describe events from the animals’ point of view, describing their initial curiosity to the fear and then really that they would be forced to leave their homes.
This text is an absolute pleasure to read due to the superb descriptive detail and wide ranging vocabulary, but also as it is delightfully written in ‘proper English’. The characters’ personalities come to life in each chapter as they try to make sense of what is going on, to the point that you desperately hope for a happy ending, which sadly, and realistically, there is not.
At the end of the book there is an Epilogue that provides information on the environmental reasons for each character’s name, some other related environmental issues for further thought, and a section entitled ‘What you can do to help?’ to protect the environment.
The book is a wonderful read on its own, but there is also a pack of WonderWorksheets for English Literacy with lots of questions, discussion ideas, writing tasks and discussion topics. Aimed for upper primary, these worksheets provide a very interesting and comprehensive set of exercises covering a wide range of activities including researching and designing your own non-fiction booklet about crows, drawing an impression of a worm’s-eye view of the animals’ discussion, writing stories from a given first line, and many more.
The worksheets are the most interesting and varied I have come across to date and show that the author has put a lot of thought and detail into each one.
‘Animals in the Forest’ is a really lovely, thought provoking addition to your child’s reading and English curriculum which I am sure all children will enjoy and be inspired by.” ~ from EO Newsletter, Spring 2018
Download a printable version of EO’s full review with weblinks here.
‘Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came’ is a unique nature conservation tale, told from the point of view of forest animals. They know that humans do things they don’t always understand and like, but one day, the humans start something more destructive…
The book honours environmental activists, defenders and indigenous tribes and includes info and websites to research these issues further.
“Children’s literature that makes learning fun is always a joy to read. Ilnoblet Elmer and the Alien Water Thieves by Kathryn Rose Newey is one such joy… This adventure story is fit for both kids and kids at heart. As an avid Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fan, this book’s myriad of alien cultures drew me right in. Science fiction readers who want a little fun with their science would enjoy this book… I invite you to suit up and embark on this alien journey into your own backyard.” [see the full review below]
Get your paperback or e-book copy of Ilnoblet Elmer and the Alien Water Thieves from:
“Children’s literature that makes learning fun is always a joy to read. Ilnoblet Elmer and the Alien Water Thieves by Kathryn Rose Newey is one such joy. Ilnoblet (Il for short) is a Gapitonian alien living on Earth as a young human boy. The book follows Il through an adventurous mystery to stop the Mootilokygogrify aliens from absorbing all Earth’s water for the Spaciton Astro-Morphing process. Using a clever combination of numbers and words, can Il stop the Mootilokygogrifies before they dry out the Earth?
“Are all the unfamiliar words in the previous paragraph making you hesitate? Don’t let them. This book is absolutely awesome. The first couple of chapters serve as a plot-driving explanation for the Gapitonians, science, and how it all fits together. There is also a glossary at the end so alien words can be looked up as soon as they’re encountered. If you’re still feeling apprehensive or you’re just not a fan of science fiction, you could skip this one, but I highly recommend giving this book a chance.
“Ilnoblet Elmer and the Alien Water Thieves would be wonderful for ambitious readers between ages ten and fourteen. Younger readers might enjoy this with a parent. There’s plenty of action to keep kids interested, and alongside, there’s a fantastic message about fitting in. Newey captures the child’s mind so well. Il sometimes feels like he doesn’t belong on Earth with his Earth family. He struggles to fit in as both a kid and an alien. In the end, he finally feels comfortable with who and where he is. This is so important, especially for kids. As an adult, watching Il find his place on a foreign planet really changed my outlook. If an alien can fit in on Earth, I can fit in wherever I go.
“I love Newey’s use of letters and words in Il’s confrontation with the Mootilokygogrifies. It’s such a unique take on the humans vs. extraterrestrials trope. You will find no lasers or photon torpedoes in this book. Instead, it’s the powers of order and creative knowledge that allow Il to do battle. Beneath that battle, lessons about triangular numbers, palindromes, and other concepts hide, teaching through a fun science fiction tale. The epilogue of this book includes a poem Il uses to fight the Mootilokygogrifies, complete with a breakdown of the various number and word devices the poem contains. Whether you’re learning about these things for the first time or getting a reminder of long-forgotten middle school classes, this book presents an engaging and entertaining learning experience.
“With great pleasure, I rate Ilnoblet Elmer and the Alien Water Thieves 4 out of 4 stars. This adventure story is fit for both kids and kids at heart. As an avid Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fan, this book’s myriad of alien cultures drew me right in. Science fiction readers who want a little fun with their science would enjoy this book. The only minor criticism I have is that the first two chapters felt a little heavy on Il’s backstory, but it wasn’t enough to lower my rating. I invite you to suit up and embark on this alien journey into your own backyard.”
UPDATE April 2018! The 2pm-3pm workshop on Monday 9 April 2018 is now fully booked, so we’ve added a second workshop at 11am-12noon. Hurry and book your place (ages 9+ years) by emailing email@example.com
Why not let the kids come along to one of my interactive Kids’ Writing Workshops?
Answer: Both have been drawn and designed by Jamie Ridge, who is currently an Art & Design student and aspiring illustrator!
Jamie and other Art & Design students from Oaklands College in Hertfordshire, UK, partook in a competition in November 2017 to design the book cover for ‘Ilnoblet Elmer and the Alien Water Thieves‘.
The author, Kathryn Rose Newey, briefed the students with a synopsis of this children’s and young teens’ science-fiction story, a brief extract of a scene with Ilnoblet and an alien, and some measurements and file specifications for the book cover.
The students then went off to weave their own interpretations of this story into an original book cover design for it.
Jamie put his initial ideas onto paper, then translated his developed drawings into a digital drawing via a tablet drawing app. The book cover design was then tweaked and completed in online image-finishing software.
“I felt that Jamie, who hadn’t designed a book cover before, had a really good feel for what a book cover needs. His overall concept and execution were good. He had interpreted the character of Ilnoblet well for younger readers and cleverly used a reference to another science-fiction story – I think it all works wonderfully!”
Firstly we can often see the suffering of animals. It’s right under our noses: stray animals, animals being treated cruelly or neglected, and social media posts and videos of animals suffering in zoos, tanks, labs and cages.
We have to stop and ask – what kind of human beings are we, if we can see suffering, but do nothing to stop it?
Then there’s the animal suffering we knowingly or unknowingly cause through our actions. We’re all aware to some extent that animals are killed or treated ‘inhumanely’ so we can eat their meat, wear their wool, fur and skin (leather), and eat or consume materials or ingredients they produce.
If we know we are actively causing suffering of animals (or any beings, for that matter) – why aren’t we doing something to reduce or stop our actions?
Now I can hear the usual, sometimes loud or sometimes just confused arguments we humans like to make – “but I like eating meat/eggs/honey”, or even “but animals are just dumb and put here for humans to use”!
Or perhaps “but we can’t simply stop eating cows/sheep/pigs/chickens because if we did, what would happen to the millions of these animals we have for this purpose?”
The answer to that is there’s no quick and easy solutions!
But surely if we work together, we can work it out! If each person just took one action, say to cut down or cut out meat-eating, that would make a huge difference.
There’s another reason why animal rights are important too.
Many of the things we do to keep, feed and kill the animals we feel we need, are causing very significant damage to the environment and to planet Earth. Our home, this planet, which is the only home we have, is being damaged by many of our everyday actions.
For example, factory farmsare very common, even in countries you may not expect, for example, the UK (‘factory farms’ are where animals such as cows, pigs, rabbits and chickens are kept by the millions in very confined cages or enclosures for their whole lives, limiting their natural behaviour).
Not only does this intense farming mean animal diseases are more easily spread through the unhygienic conditions and proximity, which in turn leads farmers to overuse antibiotics, leading to the spread of super-bugs and the decline in effectiveness of antibiotics for humans, but the vast quantities of pollution from the animal waste of these facilities leads to serious environmental hazards and destruction.
Ultimately it just makes sense to care about animals and be compassionate towards them, because by doing so, that will also save our home, planet Earth.
Okay, so ‘Animal Rights’ is more than just being kind to bunny rabbits! Why not change something in your life today, to make life better for animals, yourself and the Earth?
Questions? Comments? Leave a reply below this post. 🙂
I think it’s also really important that our kids – who are the adults and guardians of this planet in the future – get to engage in animal rights and environmental issues when they’re young.
That’s why I’ve written Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came, so our children can start thinking and acting for animals and nature, through reading a story (and the extra information included) about animals living through their own environmental crisis.
Once created, it will be available from Amazon, Audible and iTunes.
I’ve chosen an English native speaker to read the manuscript, in keeping with the story which is set in an English/European forest. The narrator and all the animal characters are holed up in her recording studio, reading the story aloud and creating those audio files!
I’m very proud and excited that this book will also be offered as an audiobook, so that those who are unable to access the written versions will still be able to hear the story as well as the environmental themes and educational content embedded in the story.
In the meantime, get your paperback or e-book from: