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Guest Blog from Jen Carney

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Jen Carney is the debut author/ illustrator of The Accidental Diary of B.U.G. - the first in a brand new series that introduces us to the hilarious world of Billie Upton Green. 

Jen wanted to write a laugh out loud, illustrated book that celebrated diverse, contemporary and slightly bonkers families.

Our early readers loved the book saying:

"I thought this book was hilarious, so many times I had to stop reading and go to see my mum to share with her what was making me laugh so much." Zukuto, aged 9

"I LOVED this book. It was so funny!" Booooook aged 10

"It made me laugh out loud… The book is all about making friends, misunderstandings and how any kind of family is normal." Sabrina, aged 7

If you love Tom Gates, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jacqueline Wilson books or Dork Diaries, you'll love The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.

We invited author and illustrator Jen to tell us more about how (and why) she wrote the book - read on for her brilliant guest blog.

Toppsta
2021-04-08
Guest Blog from Jen Carney
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Hey Toppsta fans!

Jen Carney here – author and illustrator of The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.

It’s a real honour to be asked to be a guest blogger on this site, especially as I’ve been asked to answer one of those HUGE questions everyone always wonders about

WHAT CAME FIRST, THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG?


Oh, sorry, wrong question (it’s the egg by the way, I Googled it).

Ahem, re-start...In this blog, I’m going to answer this question, as posed by Interested McTellmemore of Curiousville: WHEN YOU WERE WRITING THE ACCIDENTAL DIARY OF B.U.G., WHAT CAME FIRST, THE WORDS OR THE ILLUSTRATIONS?

Toppsta
2021-04-08
Guest Blog from Jen Carney
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Well, as a matter of fact, this book started with a COMPLAINT my son made a few years ago. 

The only books he’d read at the time were:

*Funny

*About children around his own age doing regular and realistic stuff 

*Contained TONS of distracting doodles (so he could pretend he was reading when often he was just gazing at pictures)

*Often diary-style and in first person

*Fairly easy to read

One day he said to me: Why does no one ever write books likes these about families like ours?

Now our family is actually VERY ordinary.

The only thing that’s ‘different’ about it is that my three children have two mums. 

So writer-me thoughtif my son wants a funny, illustrated book that contains a two mum family, the least I can do is blimin’ well write him one.

So, drawing on:

*funny experiences from my own childhood

*my past job as a teacher

*things my children had said to me

*and my life as a mum

I began to draft the WORDS to a story that has since become The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.

I know that pretty much answers the question – the words came first, but allow me to expand…

Although I knew I had to include a family a bit like ours, writing something FUNNY that ALL children could relate to was of equal importance. 

Toppsta
2021-04-08
Guest Blog from Jen Carney
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I mean, can you imagine if I'd written a book that was only about having two mums?

“Jonny has two mums. Other than that, his life is pretty much the same as yours. The end.” 

YAWN. 


Putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard, I set to work drafting a funny, diary-style book with short chapters – all the things on my son’s wish list. I also included a bit of a mystery to solve, some interactive pages and a few game ideas as those are some of the things my daughter loves to find in books.

Once I’d compiled all my ideas into a story I was 100% happy with, I went back through the text and considered where might be good places to include a doodle, or a picture, or even to use a drawing to replace some of the words. 

So, yes, for me, the PICTURES came second.

Toppsta
2021-04-08
Guest Blog from Jen Carney
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I drew everything on paper, scanned my work into my Word document and then read it to my children to see if they laughed, and to see which bits they liked/ disliked.

Thankfully, they thought it was completely awesome. 


Extra (and a bit exclusive) info for anyone still reading this blog post (well done btw):

I’ve now written three books in this series:

1. The Accidental Diary of B.U.G. (obvs)

2. BASICALLY FAMOUS which is coming out in August 2021.

3. And a third book due to be published in January 2022.

For each book, I have worked in exactly the same way: IDEA then WORDS then PICTURES.

Interesting fact about my illustrations: 

When I got a publisher (Puffin), I transitioned from pen and paper to digital art, so now I create my pictures (which are mostly just fun doodles tbh) electronically using a tablet. It’s a LOT easier when it comes to editing and re-drawing and sending my art to my page designer. 

Toppsta
2021-04-08
Guest Blog from Jen Carney
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What's a page designer? Well, once my editor is 100% happy with my words, the whole text and all my ideas for doodles are passed to a very clever person whose job is to consider how every page should look. My page designer is called Janene and she’s the one who decides how much space I can have to draw my pictures so that the book doesn’t get too thick. 

She’ll give me something like this.

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Then I'll play around with drawings that fit those yellow placeholders and send them to her.

Next, she’ll pop my images into the page and I end up with something like this.


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Which then ends up as a page in a finished book, like this.

Pretty cool, hey?



Anyway, I really hope you enjoy reading The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.

If you’ve not made up your mind about whether it sounds like your cup of tea yet, here’s another page from the book to help you decide:

Toppsta
2021-04-08
Guest Blog from Jen Carney

And, if you DO decide to give it a go, I have a challenge for you: see if you can figure out who the purse thief is before it’s revealed in Billie’s diary!

Thanks for having me!

Jen 😊

PS Further sneak peek pages coming up:


Toppsta
2021-04-08
Guest Blog from Jen Carney
Book pages Placeholder Book

The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.

Enter the hilarious world of Billie Upton Green . . . The start of an exciting new series full of Billie's laugh-out-loud observations and doodles!

There is a new girl at Billie's school, and Billie takes it upon herself to show her around, teach her the Biscuit Laws, and remind her that yes, two women can get married (after all, Billie's mums' wedding is the event of the year).

But then suspicion sets in.

The new girl seems very close to Billie's best friend Layla. And doesn't she know a little too much about the latest big school heist - the theft of Mrs Robinson's purse...?

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Book pages Placeholder Book

The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.: Basically Famous

It started with The Accidental Diary Of B.U.G. - now get ready for the second hilarious diary of unforgettable Billie Upton Green!

School just got INTERESTING. Not only is Billie's class learning how to P.E.E. in the classroom (don't ask), they now have some very important contacts in the TV world.

So as long as Janey McVey doesn't keep doing the splits for attention, and Billie's mums don't keep distracting her with a huge secret thing they seem to be planning... well watch out, because it's time for B.U.G. to make it BIG!

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30th March 2021

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Featured Book
The Boys
The Boys

BOOK OF THE MONTH: A beautiful picture book, following the adventures of four boys as they grow up, from the creators of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize winner, The Girls.

View book
Featured Books