Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post – Writing Inspirations by Christopher Edge


Today I am over the moon to welcome the fab Christopher Edge to Tales to celebrate the release of The Infinite Lives Of Maisie Day.

The Infinite Lives Of Maisie Day was released on the 5th April 2018 published by Nosy Crow and is another brilliant MG scientific jam packed adventure from the author of The Many Worlds Of Albie Bright and The Jaime Drake Equation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So today Christopher tells us a little about his writing inspiration in this fab guest post.

So sit back and enjoy …..


How do you know you really exist? It’s Maisie’s birthday and she can’t wait to open her presents. She’s hoping for the things she needs to build her own nuclear reactor. But she wakes to an empty house and outside the front door is nothing but a terrifying, all-consuming blackness. Trapped in an ever-shifting reality, Maisie knows that she will have to use the laws of the universe and the love of her family to survive. And even that might not be enough… A mind-bending mystery for anyone who’s ever asked questions. From the author of The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and The Jamie Drake Equation. Cover illustration by Matt Saunders.


Writing Inspirations

Actually, I doubt it was to the day, but it was thirty years ago when I made the fateful decision to bunk off school and go along to a book signing by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean instead.

I was fourteen years old, just starting my GCSEs at a rather bleak comprehensive school in Salford. This was the kind of school where the P.E. teacher forced you to do press-ups in an icy puddle at the start of every lesson, Woodwork and Metalwork were mainly concerned with the production of concealed armaments, and Chemistry lessons a constant battle for control of the gas taps between the kids who wanted to blow up the Science block and those of us who wanted to live. It wasn’t the kind of school where authors popped in to chat about their latest books and reveal the secrets of the writing life.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know about authors; my brain was full to bursting with their names. I was the Incredible Book Eating Boy before Oliver Jeffers had even drawn him, devouring the shelves of my local library. J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, John Wyndham, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Cormier, Ursula Le Guin. With every book I took out, a new favourite author could be discovered and I’d then eagerly seek out everything that they had written.

As well as books I loved comics, a passion born from my paper round. As I waited for the newsagent to load up my delivery bag, I flicked through old DC and Marvel comics on a spinner at the back of the shop, the worlds of these four-colour heroes a welcome escape from the slate-grey streets. Then when Saturday came around, I’d spend every penny of my wages on these comic books: Batman, Detective Comics, Daredevil, 2000AD. That newsagent must’ve loved me!

After a while though, I’d finally depleted his stock of comics and had to look further afield for a fresh source. I’d seen an advertisement in the pages of 2000AD for a comic shop called Odyssey 7 in Manchester. So one Saturday morning, leaving the paper shop with my wages in my pocket for a change, I jumped on the bus into town to search out this shop. Trudging down Oxford Road, I turned into the shopping precinct at Manchester University and entered an Aladdin’s Cave.

Odyssey 7 didn’t just have a single spinner filled with comics; it had boxes of them running down the central aisle of the shop. Flicking through them, I could see comics about every superhero I had ever heard of and dozens more that I hadn’t. Along the walls were posters, magazines, and on a section of shelves filled with large, glossy books, something called graphic novels. That’s where I discovered Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.

I can’t remember what initially drew me to this book. Maybe it was the illicit promise of the title that appealed to my teenage mind. But when I picked it up and started to flick through the pages, I was entranced. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was like nothing I had ever read before. In black-and-white and without a superhero in sight, it was a story about childhood told in the most remarkable way. This wasn’t a comic book, this was something else. Leaving behind the handful of Batman comics I’d already picked up, I took the book to the counter and bought my first graphic novel.

Over the next week I must have read Violent Cases more than a dozen times, each time finding some new detail to obsess over. For those who haven’t yet read it, I won’t give away too much, but something in this story sang to me. Its depiction of the narrator’s memories of his childhood: a fuzzy and confusing world, where adults lied and the threat of violence was never far from the surface, fascinated and troubled me at the same time.

The next Saturday I was standing at the counter of Odyssey 7 again, and, using the same logic that had served me so well in the library, asked if they had any more books by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. The man at the counter pointed me in the direction of a couple of new comic books, Black Orchid and the first issue of something called The Sandman, and then he told me something that changed my life.

“They’re coming in to do a signing next week.”

I looked up at the poster in the shop window. Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean would be signing copies of Violent Cases, the book that had blown my mind, next Friday afternoon. It was incredible – here was a chance to meet a real live author and a fantastic artist too. There was only one problem. The only way I’d be able to get to the signing in time would be to bunk off school at lunchtime. I think the time of the signing was 2pm, enough time I reasoned to get the bus into town, get my new favourite author to sign my books (I’d now bought the first issues of both Black Orchid and The Sandman as well) and still get home before my mum got back from work. That way I could pretend that I’d been in school all day, just like normal.

That was the plan. When Friday arrived, I sneaked out of school as the lunchtime bell rang and caught the bus into town. But arriving at Odyssey 7 just before two in the afternoon, I discovered my plan’s first flaw. Outside the store a queue snaked across the shopping precinct and out onto Oxford Road. (Remember, this was a signing for his very first book – Lord knows what kind of monstrous wyrm a Neil Gaiman signing queue looks like nowadays!) Joining the back of the queue I slowly started to worry. With the speed the queue was moving at, there was no way I’d get back home in time to pretend I’d been in school all day. If I stayed put, I was going to be in trouble. Big trouble.

Standing around me in the queue were trench-coated university students, their comic books and graphic novels tucked under their arms. I was still wearing my school uniform, my copy of Violent CasesBlack Orchid and The Sandman shoved in the depths of my school bag. This was the only chance I’d ever have to meet the extraordinary people who had created these stories. I stayed in the line

Eventually, sometime after four I think, I made it inside the shop, the remnants of the queue now snaking around the central aisle and back up to the counter where two guys were seated, patiently signing each book that was thrust in front of them. They didn’t look much older than students themselves, but the face of one of them was strangely familiar. From my bag, I dug out my copy of Violent Cases and turned to the first page. There, staring out at me in black and white was the same face. This was Neil Gaiman.

It’s funny, I’m trying to remember now what happened next, but my memories are turning out to be as fragmentary as those of the narrator of Violent Cases. I don’t really remember getting to the front of the queue, can’t recall what I said when I handed over my books to Neil and Dave to be signed. But when I finally stepped out of the comic shop and started walking back to the bus station and the inevitable mountain of trouble I was in, I remember thinking one thing: I wanted to be a writer.

You can buy a copy of The Infinite Lives Of Maisie Day here or from your local bookshop


About Christopher Edge

Christopher Edge is an award-winning children’s author whose books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

His novel The Many Worlds of Albie Bright won several children’s book awards including the Brilliant Book Award and was also nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, as was his novel The Jamie Drake Equation, which was also selected by The Times as one of the best children’s books of 2017. His latest novel The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day was chosen by The Times as their Children’s Book of the Week and has been described as ‘out-of-this-world, edge-of-your-seat AMAZING!’ by Lauren St John.

His other books include the critically-acclaimed and award-winning Twelve Minutes to Midnight trilogy of historical mysteries, and he is also the author of How to Write Your Best Story Ever! and How To Be A Young #Writer, inspirational guides to creative writing for children and teenagers.

You can find out more about Christopher – christopheredge.co.uk

Or why not follow Chris on Twitter – @edgechristopher


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Christopher for a brilliant guest post and to Antonia and Nosy Crow for asking me to host, be part of the blog tour and of course for sending me a copy of this fab book!

Have you read The Infinite Lives Of Maisie Day?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Five Best Bits Of Being A Debut Author – And The Five Worst by Rowena House


I am absolutely over the moon to have the brilliant Rowena House on the blog today to celebrate the release of her debut novel The Goose Road and the fact that Rowena is our debut of the month for our April #BritishBooksChallenge18!

The Goose Road was released on the 5th April published by the wonderful Walker Books and is a brilliant historical fiction read that will take you on the most wonderful journey.

So today Rowena talks to us about being a debut author in the fab guest post…the best bits and the worst….


France 1916. Angélique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her beloved older brother comes home from the Front. “I think of it like a magical spell. If I can stop time, if nothing ever changes, then maybe he won t change either.” But a storm ruins the harvest, her mother falls ill and then the requisition appears… In a last-ditch attempt to save the farm from bankruptcy, Angélique embarks on a journey across France with her brother’s flock of magnificent Toulouse geese.


The Five Best Bits Of Being A Debut Author – And The Five Worst

Best bits

 You did it!

 At last all that effort is rewarded. The doubt is gone, that gnawing fear: will I ever make the grade? Hell, yes. I’ve got a book out there! It gets a bit knackering, punching your fist in the air, but basically that’s the feeling.

Clever, creative publishing people believe in your creation

Discussing the inspirations for The Goose Road on social media recently brought home forcefully something I’d rather forgotten amid the nitty-gritty of copy edits, proof reading, building a website etc.

Angelique’s story is my take on a largely ignored side of life at a truly terrible time. I’m talking about how serious life can become for young people, and how sad, funny, strange and cruel.

I’ve had the privilege of spending years thinking about these things, and wondering how a peasant girl might, conceivably, have found the strength to deal with everything the First World War threw at her.

Now clever, creative people in the publishing industry are backing my imagination with their money & expertise – which is fantastic.

You’ve met – and continue to meet – amazing people

If there are lonely, tortured writers in garrets out there, I suspect they’re mostly trying to get some alone-time from all their writing mates, and tortured about how much time they spend on Twitter.

Because one of the very best bits about becoming a debut author is taking part in the wonderful world of writing communities online and in real life.

I’ve met an ocean liner’s worth of fascinating people over the past eleven years (which is how long it’s taken me to get here) many of whom I hope will remain friends for life.

 You’ve served your apprentice. Lack of confidence now is self-inflicted

This one is probably personal as I tend to be over-confident as a person, which might be a mask for deep-seated fears and phobias. But, hey, I’ve got a book out. My neuroses can damn well get back in their cave.

Seriously, though, there is so much first-class, detailed, free advice available to writers that whatever your worry, help is invariably on hand.

Even if you don’t own a library of writing advice guides, there’s always support online. Try Emma Darwin’s impeccable blog, This Itch of Writing. Each time I’ve run into a problem, this site has offered me a considered, practical, do-able solution.

The next book will be better – and cheaper to produce

Confession: I’ve spent in excess of £10,000 on training, research and travel in my quest to get published. I like learning, I loved taking an MA in creative writing (my biggest expense) and I find the buzz of writing festivals energizing.

Also, I wanted to research The Goose Road thoroughly, which meant four research trips to France. Which I could afford. Just.

From now on, it’s me and the laptop and writing in my spare time while earning enough to fill in that £10k hole in my pension savings, and supporting my son through university.

That’s going to be tough. As a freelancer, I could dedicate my time to whatever I wished. But I’ve learnt so much that I know I can do it again – and better.

 Worst bits

 Time

 Getting published takes forever. Your need the patience of heaven’s entire communion of saints to survive this process with any sense of equilibrium – which I don’t have. Frankly, the waiting drives me nuts.

 Grand Old Duke of York syndrome

Getting a debut novel published is an achievement, a pinnacle moment. For the last eleven years I’ve been marching up to the top of this hill…

So yeah, it’s downhill now for the foreseeable future. And that’s because of…

The money

I’m a breadwinner – and writing, famously, don’t earn you no bread.

As a member of the National Union of Journalists since 1983, I’m shocked at the level of pay for writers in the UK. The Society of Authors calculates that currently the average income from a single work of fiction is £6,000.

Naturally, I don’t yet know how well or badly my debut novel will sell, so the following figures are for illustration only – as I keep trying to reassure myself.

The Goose Road took me the full-time equivalent of approximately 15 months to write: three months research, six months for the first draft, three months for a structural edit, and another three for post-contract copy edits etc. and unpaid promotional work. Given a five-day week, that average income of £6k would work out at £20 a day.

Which is about the same as illegal migrants earn picking tomatoes in southern Italy. Seriously. There was an article in The Guardian a couple of months back about illegal migrant tomato pickers in southern Italy. I did the maths.

The opportunity cost

Every moment I spend writing, I’m not doing something else. Like being with my family, walking the dog, earning a living, or campaigning to save African elephants or British badgers. I’ve made my choice. I won’t ever get that time back again…

So how do I know if it was worth it?

A debut is by definition a new thing. Untried and untested. Potentially weak, short-lived. Forgettable. How will I ever be able to judge if it was worth all the time, effort and resources it took to birth it?

The early reviews have been kind, for which I’m hugely grateful, but we live in a capitalist age; publishing is a business. So success – and with it the chances that Book Two will also make it into the shops – depends on sales as well.

Yet every experienced author I’ve ever come across tells debuts not to worry about sales: that way lies madness, they say. Get on with your next book, they say. It’s the only thing in your power.

So maybe this is the worst bit about being a debut author: that you’re still on the same road you’ve been travelling for years. There are new horizons, yes. But no guarantees whatsoever.

You can buy a copy of The Goose Road here or from your local book shop!


About Rowena House

ROWENA HOUSE spent years as a foreign correspondent in France, Africa and then again in Europe before turning to fiction. She visited the WW1 battlefields of the Western Front repeatedly to research her prize-winning First World War short story, The Marshalling of Angelique’s Geese (WAR GIRLS, 2014) and again for her debut novel, THE GOOSE ROAD (Walker 2018). Her fascination with the Great War, the trenches, and the appalling artillery battles of the Somme and Verdun began at school when studying the war poets, Wilfred Owen in particular. As an adult, she experienced war first-hand as a Reuter’s reporter in Ethiopia, and saw its terrible impact on civilians. Now settled in the English countryside with her husband and son, Rowena holds a Master’s degree in rural economics and another in creative writing, and mentors fiction writers alongside her journalism and storytelling.

You can find out more about Rowena on her website – www.rowenahouse.com

Or why not follow Rowena on Twitter – @HouseRowena


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Walker I have 5 copies of The Goose Road to giveaway to 5 lucky winners!

I am hosting this giveaway through my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 20/04/2018

Good Luck!


A huge thank you to Rowena House for such a fab guest post and to Jo Hardacre for asking me to host and sending me a copy of the book!

Have you read any of the The Goose Road?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?    I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Point Horror vs. Stephen King – How The Two Faces Of Teen Horror Influenced Savage Island by Bryony Pearce


Today I a SUPER excited to be sharing a post from the wonderful Bryony Pearce to celebrate the release of another book in the brilliant Red Eye Series, Savage Island.

Savage Island was released today, the 5th April 2018 published by Stripes and if you love YA Horror then this is the book for you!

Also Happy Book Birthday Bryony!

So anyone who knows me knows I am a huge nostalgic Point Horror fan and I was so happy to find out that Bryony also loved Point Horror!  Find out how it influenced Bryony in this fab guest post….


Prepare to be scared out of your wits with a brand new Red Eye.

In SAVAGE ISLAND, Lord of the Flies meets Saw as Bryony Pearce takes the reader on a perilous game of survival of the creepiest. A gripping YA horror, full of fast-paced action.

When reclusive millionaire Marcus Gold announces that he’s going to be staging an “Iron Teen” competition on his private island in the Outer Hebrides, teenagers Ben, Lizzie, Will, Grady and Carmen sign up – the prize is one million pounds each. But when the competition begins with a gruesome twist, the group begins to regret their decision. Can the friends stick together under such extreme pressure to survive?

When lives are at stake, you find out who you can really trust…

Red Eye is the killer YA range from Stripes publishing, a modern day Point Horror that gives the genre a chilling update for a new generation of fans.


Point Horror vs. Stephen King – How The Two Faces Of Teen Horror Influenced Savage Island

My younger sister, Claire, has always loved all things terrifying. While some people were being stretchered out of Saw, my sister considered it fairly tame (I’ve never seen it and never will).

I, however, am a wimp. As a child I watched Jaws and have never been able to watch anything with sharks in. Ever. Again.

If you try and say “Candyman” to me, I’ll freak out and run for my life. It’s not funny!

I am a voracious reader though, and despite my initial allergy to all things scary, as a teenager I did discover Stephen King. For me it was Eye of the Dragon first, and then I devoured everything else he ever wrote, including the Bachman Tales (I’m reading Sleeping Beauties at the moment). The only time I was ever sent out of class was for reading The Stand while my teacher was taking the register (to be fair she was late and once I’m into a book there is little that can get my attention, so I blame her for this injustice).

Having no problem with Stephen King, I decided, one bookless day, to try one of my sister’s Point Horror books.

Point Horror was a series of horror novels, similar to Goosebumps but aimed at a slightly older, teenage, audience. Stephen King was written for adults, so I was expecting to find Point Horror an easy read. Scary only for my little sister and her friends. Sleep over thrills. I had forgotten at this point that my sister considered Freddy Krueger to be light comic relief.

I read one Point Horror book.

I still have nightmares about it to this day!

In this particular novel, the name of which escapes me, the main character ends up buried alive.

What?

I’d been reading Stephen King, where in almost all of his novels, the main character defeats the bad guy. Reading King is about finding out how they solve the problem, how they get out of it, how they defeat the monster.

But in this, the monster won! The character, who I’d become attached to, woke up inside a coffin, scratching at the lid and screaming until she ran out of air. The end.

What?

That is where I learned was proper horror was. Stephen King, in my view writes fantasy – where the status quo is restored. True horror, for me, is the removal of all hope.

I’ve avoided it since.

And so, to Savage Island.

When I decided that I was going to write a horror novel, I drew on Stephen King, because he’s the master and because I’ve read everything he wrote and internalised his lessons. He writes wonderful supernatural creatures, but he also writes terrifying men and women, who are the real monsters – the ones you can’t immediately see.

Monsters are real … They live inside us. And sometimes they win. (Stephen King)

I intended that Savage Island should include all of the things that make Stephen King’s novels great for me:

Subversion of expectation (What’s in the box?)

Gore (that bit with the tooth!)

Using our own fears (being hunted in the dark would be pretty scary for anyone, but I also include being unable to escape and amateur dentistry)

Suspense (foreboding, tense atmosphere and jump scares)

Emotional connection to the characters (I hope my characters come across as real people, who you love to root for)

A twist (the whole thing was a what?)

But because I was writing horror and for me, true horror is the removal of hope, I drew on Point Horror too. And I hope I’ve managed to write a book that leaves you hiding under the covers, just like that Point Horror book for me.

By the way, no-one got buried alive in the making of this story.

You can buy a copy of Savage Island here or from your local book shop!


About Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce was a winner of the 2008 Undiscovered Voices competition and is the author of ANGEL’S FURY and THE WEIGHT OF SOULS, winner of the Wirral Grammar School Award – Best Science Fiction. She has written PHOENIX RISING and PHOENIX BURNING for Stripes. Bryony lives with her husband and two children in a village in Gloucestershire.

You can find out more about Bryony on her website – www.bryonypearce.co.uk

Or why not follow Bryony on Twitter – @BryonyPearce


Previously On Tales…

You can find previous post featuring Bryony and her books by clicking on the below links!

Cover Reveal – Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce

Guest Post – My Favourite Literary Pirates by Bryony Pearce

Tales Q&A with Bryony Pearce

Tales Quiz – Which Character From Phoenix Burning Are You?


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!

#SavageIsland    #RedEye


A huge thank you to Bryony Pearce for such a fab guest post and to Charlie at Stripes for asking me to be part of the blog tour and sending me a copy of the book!

Have you read any of the Savage Island?  What did you think?  Did it scare you?  Have you read any of the other books in the Red Eye series?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Writing For The Page vs Writing For The Stage by Guy Jones


Today I can’t wait to share a brilliant guest post from the wonderful Guy Jones in celebration of his gorgeous debut The Ice Garden.

The Ice Garden was released on the 4th January 2018 published by the lovelies at Chicken House as will sweep you away into a gorgeous middle grade world.

Today Guy chats to us about writing for the page vs writing for the stage….


Jess is allergic to the sun. She lives in a world of shadows and hospitals, peeking at the other children in the playground from behind curtains. Her only friend is a boy in a coma, to whom she tells stories. One night she sneaks out to explore the empty playground she’s longed to visit, where she discovers a beautiful impossibility: a magical garden wrought of ice. But Jess isn’t alone in this fragile, in-between place …


Writing For The Page vs Writing For The Stage

I think it was the writer Simon Stephens who likened playwrights to sculptors and novelists to painters. There’s something in that. Anyone who has ever been to the theatre will instinctively know when a line is overwritten – when it says too much. You can feel it go clunk in the auditorium. You can feel the audience squirm a little. So, like a sculptor, the playwright constantly chisels away at their slab of raw material until what’s left is the most economical way possible of saying what they want to say. The novelist, on the other hand, builds up in layers. An initial sketch is added to, coloured, scratched at, and textured until it resembles the thing that its meant to be.

The analogy isn’t perfect of course (and I spend just as much time cutting in novels as I do in plays), but it does feel just about right to me. Novels are broadly a process of addition while plays are one of subtraction. And this isn’t simply a dry, technical point, or a matter of word-count. The two mediums have inherent differences, one of the most important being that while a novelist writes directly for their audience – the reader – a playwright does not.

A playwright writes firstly for the director, actors and designers who will actually create the work that the audience see. Their work is mediated and built upon in ways that they may never have been able to visualise. For example, no stage set I’ve ever imagined looks even ten percent as good as what a professional designer came up with. And while the characters in my novel, The Ice Garden, still look the same in my head as they ever did, those in any plays I’ve written now look oddly like the actors chosen to play them.

Consider this line:

‘You made it at last,’ said Alice, her eyes flicking down to her wrist and mouth tightening.

 It’s fairly clear that someone is late and Alice is unhappy. So how could we do the same thing in a play?

ALICE              You made it at last. (She checks her watch and frowns)

 An actor or director would hate this (and you, as the writer). It’s their job to fill in the gaps, not yours. Just write ‘You made it at last…’ and let them worry about how to interpret the line and communicate the character’s intentions to the audience. You never know – Alice might actually be delighted, and that could take the scene in a far more interesting direction. Chisel away, in other words. Do less. A play script is a blueprint, not a finished building. It can’t be. Ever.

This doesn’t mean that writing a novel is a solitary pursuit. The input of trusted readers is invaluable. And an editor like the fantastic Kesia Lupo at Chicken House can fundamentally change the way you look at your story and raise it to levels that would have been impossible alone. But a published novel is the end point – it’s all the audience gets. Beyond the novel is only what the reader adds themselves, through their own imagination. A play script, on the other hand, is only the start…

THE ICE GARDEN by Guy Jones, out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

You can buy a copy of The Ice Garden here or from your local bookshop!


About Guy Jones

Guy was born in Botswana, grew up in Bedfordshire and now lives in St Albans with his wife and step-daughter.

He spent a decade writing for the theatre, including the West End musical Never Forget, before finally knuckling down to write a book.

The Ice Garden is his first novel.

Connect with Guy Jones on twitter @guyjones80 and find out more at www.chickenhousebooks.com


A huge huge thank you to Guy for such a superb guest post and to Laura at Chicken House for asking me to host!

Have you read any of the The Ice Garden? What did you think? What was your favourite part? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Stalwart Companions: The Detective And His Assistant by Robert J Harris


Today I am over the moon to be part of the brilliant blog tour to celebrate a brilliant mystery!

The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries: The Vanishing Dragon by Robert J Harris was released on the 22nd March 2018 published by Kelpies and is the second book in this super sleuth series!

So today I have the man himself Robert J Harris telling us all about the detective and his assistant in this fab guest post….


One day Arthur Conan Doyle will create the greatest detective of all — Sherlock Holmes. But right now Artie Conan Doyle is a twelve-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy with a mystery of his own to solve. Artie and his friend Ham are hired to investigate a series of suspicious accidents that have befallen world-famous magician, the Great Wizard of the North. It seems someone is determined to sabotage his spectacular new illusion. When the huge mechanical dragon created for the show vanishes, the theft appears to be completely impossible. Artie must reveal the trick and unmask the villain or face the deadly consequences. The cards have been dealt, the spell has been cast, and the game is afoot once more!

Robert J. Harris, author of The World’s Gone Loki series and Will Shakespeare and the Pirate’s Fire, brings the young Conan Doyle to life in the second book of this ingenious new detective series.


Stalwart Companions: The Detective And His Assistant

It’s impossible to imagine Sherlock Holmes without the faithful Dr John H Watson at his side. Watson’s main function is to serve as the narrator of Holmes’ adventures. In this way we see Holmes through the eyes of a normal – but by no means dim – person who may lack Holmes’ eccentric brilliance but has other admirable qualities. He’s brave, honourable and – rather importantly  – he’s actually a very good writer.

By employing Watson as narrator, Conan Doyle keeps us outside Holmes’ mind. If Holmes were telling the stories, we would be able to follow his thoughts at every stage, and this would ruin the effect of his astonishing deductions. If the story was told simply in the third person, then the author would be cheating by keeping the main character’s thoughts hidden from us.

The fact that we follow the story from Watson’s point of view means that we share his bafflement at the bizarre cases as well as his amazement when Holmes reveals his deductions and solves the seemingly impossible mysteries.

But Watson serves another function. His stolid personality acts as a compliment to Holmes’ quirky character, and their relationship adds hugely to the richness of the stories.

In order to retain the spirit of the original Holmes stories it was important that the hero of The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries should have a companion; and so his friend Edward “Ham” Hamilton was born. He acts as a counterpart to Artie. While Artie’s keen to plunge into mist-covered graveyards in search of adventure, Ham would much rather be at home eating cakes. When Artie’s imagination causes him to come up with wild theories, Ham injects a sensible note of skepticism.

Throughout The Gravediggers’ Club Ham is dragged unhappily along behind the energetic Artie until he finally digs his heels in and refuses to continue. It’s at this point, in one of my favourite scenes, that Artie explains why he needs his friend and cannot solve the case without him. After this Ham becomes a more active agent in the investigation and by the end of the book he arguably becomes the true hero of the story.

In The Vanishing Dragon Ham is now suggesting that perhaps in the future the pair of them might become professional investigators. Artie doesn’t seem to see this as a practical plan for the future. But when the magician John Henry Anderson hires the boys to investigate a mystery, it looks as if Ham’s idea might not be so fanciful after all. Ham even comes up with his own plan for solving the impossible theft that sits at the heart of the book.

Later in the novel Ham even has a crack at writing up their adventures as Watson will one day record the cases of Sherlock Holmes. It is comically clear, however, that he does not have Watson’s literary gifts.

As with Holmes and Watson, the relationship between Artie and Ham adds hugely to the richness of the stories and I’m looking forward to watching both characters evolve as the series continues.

You can buy a copy of The Vanishing Dragon here or from your local book shop!


About Robert J Harris

Robert J Harris was born in Dundee and now lives in St Andrews with his wife, sons, and his dog. He is the author of many children’s books, including Will Shakespeare and the Pirate’s Fire, and Leonardo and the Death Machine; and he is the creator of popular fantasy board game Talisman.


Blog Tour

You can catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!

#ArtieOnTour


A huge huge thank you to Robert for such a superb guest post and to Sarah at Kelpies for asking me to host!

Have you read any of the Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries? What did you think? What was your favourite part? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Writing Through Grief And Loss By Geoff Mead


Today we are celebrating this gorgeous book by Geoff Mead and Sanne Dufft, Bear Child.

Bear Child was released on the 22nd February 2018 published by Floris Books and is simply gorgeous through and through.

Today Geoff chats about writing to cope with loss in this wonderful, beautiful guest post…


‘Now that people live in towns and bears live in the woods, have you ever wondered what happened to the bear folk?’ At bedtime Ursula asks Daddy to tell her the tale of the bear folk: special beings who can choose to be either a bear or a person, depending if they want to catch a fish or read a book. Bear folk live extraordinary lives, he tells her. They are strong and clever, kind and loving, adventurous and creative — just like her. Will I ever meet one?, Ursula asks. Perhaps she already has… Bear Child is an inspirational story of parental love, belief and embracing individuality. This beautiful picture book weaves together Geoff Mead’s charming words with Sanne Dufft’s ethereal illustrations to create a truly timeless folktale.


Writing Through Grief And Loss

All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.

 So said Out of Africa author Isak Dinesen, in a 1957 New York Times interview. She knew a thing or two about sorrow, having lost her father to suicide, her husband to divorce, her health to syphilis, her lover to a flying accident, and her beloved Kenyan farm to bankruptcy.

When my wife Chris became ill in 2013 and died a year later from the effects of a brain tumour, I wrote – as Dinesen herself had written – because the story was all I had. Telling it was the only way I knew to bear the sorrow. From that impulse to write, came two books: a children’s story, Bear Child (Floris Books) and a memoir, Gone in the Morning: A Writer’s Journey of Bereavement (Jessica Kingsley Publishing).

In a sense, Bear Child is a love letter to my wife. The character of Ursula is exactly how I imagined Chris had been as a child. I wrote the story as a gift for her when she was already very ill, to celebrate her fiercely independent spirit and her lifelong love of bears, and to give her an image of homecoming that she could turn to as she came to the end of her life. After a spell in hospital, she died peacefully at home and Bear Child was one of the last things we spoke about.

Chris loved the story and it has been thrilling to see how Sanne Dufft’s illustrations have perfectly caught its joyful, life-affirming energy.

About a month after Chris died, I found myself writing poems and short pieces about my experience of grief for no other reason than a deep-seated need to express my feelings. Profound loss shakes us to our very core: we lose not just the person we have loved but also our own sense of identity. In the vortex of grief, everything is out of kilter: time itself becomes disjointed. I found that by writing, I could hold memories more lightly, pay more attention to what was happening in the present moment and capture fleeting glimpses of hopes and dreams for the future.

Bereavement and loss are inherent in the human condition. Much is known about our generalised pattern of response: shock – denial – anger – bargaining – depression – acceptance. Yet each person’s experience is unique. Each of us has to navigate our own way through the terra incognita of grief. Writing from our own experience enables us to honour this journey and to chart the course we have taken, even if we don’t know where we are going. I published Gone in the Morning, not to provide expert guidance but simply in the hope that readers struggling with their own bereavement might feel less alone.

In the three years since Chris died, I have written stories, poems and regular blog posts and all this writing has served me well. None of it has diminished the pain of losing her. Rather it has heightened my experience of grief and deepened my understanding of how conscious mourning keeps things moving. I have gone through the whole gamut of emotions, but I’ve never felt stuck. Piece by piece, I have negotiated the narrative wreckage of Chris’s death and begun to re-story my life.

Who are the bear folk and what makes them special?

Bear Child is an inspirational story of parental love, belief and embracing individuality. This beautiful picture book weaves together Geoff Mead’s charming words with Sanne Dufft’s ethereal illustrations to create a truly timeless folktale.

Follow the rest of the #BearChild blog tour with Floris Books on Twitter and Instagram.

You can buy a copy of Bear Child here or from your local bookshop!


About Geoff Mead

Born into the post-war baby-boomer generation, Geoff was the first member of his family to go to university (and the first to drop out). He quickly returned to complete his studies in mediaeval history after a salutary period washing cars for a living. With not much idea of what he really wanted to do, he cut off his shoulder-length hair and joined the police service which he left three decades later as a chief superintendent.

During those years he did pretty much everything from walking the beat to directing national police leadership programmes and from commanding a police district to training with the F.B.I. in Virginia, U.S.A. En route he also found time to train as an organisational consultant, complete an MBA,a postgraduate diploma in Gestalt psychology, and a PhD in action research.

He has worked as an educator, executive coach and organisational consultant for nearly two decades in the boardrooms of blue chip companies, universities, public sector organisations and government departments. In recent years he has specialised in board development, group facilitation and the use of story and narrative in organisations. Geoff is Director of Narrative Leadership associates – a consultancy using storytellng to help develop sustainable lreadership.(www.narrativeleadership.com)

He was on the faculty of the Prime Minister’s Top Management Programme and has co-designed and led national leadership programmes for the Cabinet Office. He has published a wide range of book chapters and articles on aspects of organisational and leadership development, action research (and latterly on storytelling) in professional and academic journals.

Geoff has four grown up children, five grandchildren and an entirely unreasonable love of Morgan sports cars. He divides his time between his late wife’s house in the Cotswolds and Lyme Regis where he dreams and writes in sight of the sea.

About Sanne Dufft

Sanne has illustrated many children’s picture books, including The Shepherd Boy and the Christmas Gifts. She won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators European Conference Portfolio Content 2015. Her first authored book Magnus and the Night Lion will be available from Floris Books later in 2018.

You can find out more about Sanne on her website – sanne-dufft.de

Or why not follow her on twitter – @DufftSanne


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!

#BearChild


A huge huge thank you to Geoff for such a superb guest post and to CJ at Floris Books for asking me to host!

Have you read any of Bear Child? What did you think? What was your favourite part? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Worst of Germs by Gwen Lowe


Today I am over the moon to have a fab post from Gwen Lowe author of Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs!

Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs was released on the 1st March 2018 published by the lovelies at Chicken House and is set to be a fab laugh out loud middle grade!

Today Gwen chats to us about the worst germs…..


When Alice Dent gets a cold, she has no idea how much trouble it’s about to cause. Because this is no ordinary cold: it comes with some seriously weird side effects. For a start, Alice can’t stop giggling and every animal she meets sticks to her like glue! But when the mysterious Best Minister for Everything Nicely Perfect and his scary masked henchmen come to take her away, Alice realizes her troubles are only just beginning …


The Worst of Germs

In my other job, (the one where I’m a doctor fighting the spread of nasty diseases), I sometimes get asked which germs are the worst.

It’s a good question, but almost impossible to answer. You see, what we worry about professionally might surprise you. It’s not usually the exotic diseases that cause the most problems, but the everyday bugs surrounding us.

In some ways we think a bit like Mrs Dent, Alice’s mother in Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs. Mrs Dent always thinks in terms of what nasty infection she might catch from anything. Unlike us though, she takes this to extremes and puts in place ridiculous and drastic control measures. Nevertheless, the science underlying her fear is real.

For example, if Mrs Dent could bring herself to shake hands, she would check that the offered hand had been properly washed after using the toilet. Hands can carry a zoo of faecal germs, including E. coli O157, a nasty little microbe causing diarrhoea with blood in up to half the people made ill and serious kidney failure in around 1 in 10 infected children. As a double whammy, it spreads very easily – even from people who feel perfectly fine.

Then there’s campylobacter; a common cause of tummy upset. People shrug it off as “just food poisoning”, but it often puts sufferers in hospital, may cause painful arthritis, and occasionally causes serious paralysis that can last for months. It is easily avoided by not washing uncooked poultry and correct cooking, but I imagine that Mrs Dent would take the precaution of treating raw chicken like deadly poison every time she handled it.

So you might guess how she would feel about salads – excellent for passing on all sorts of germs. I imagine that rather than just washing salad leaves well, Mrs Dent would banish all lettuce from the house.

Mrs Dent certainly knows that the most infectious diseases (measles, flu and chickenpox) are spread by coughs and sneezes. It only takes a short conversation with someone in the early stages of the illness and wham, you’re exposed. I tend to glare at anyone coughing near me who doesn’t cover their mouth (and swiftly move seats), but the only real defence is vaccination. If these viruses are circulating there’s nothing else you can really do to dodge them (except perhaps to stay at home like Mrs Dent and banish all visitors).

Whilst we’re at it, there are lots of other precautions you might take to avoid catching horrible diseases. I could suggest only swimming in boringly rectangular pools well away from any toddlers (helps to avoid cryptosporidium), never touching furry animals (list of diseases too long to mention) and banning reptiles (may carry salmonella).

Still, that would take all the pleasure out of life, and I’d hate to do that. To be honest, unlike Mrs Dent, I’m happy to swim, shake hands, pat dogs and cook poultry: I just wash my hands well afterwards!

ALICE DENT AND THE INCREDIBLE GERMS by Gwen Lowe out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

You can buy a copy here or from your local bookshop!


About Gwen Lowe

Gwen Lowe is a consultant Public Health doctor in Wales who describes her job as being like a medical detective. Working with a special team, she has to urgently discover what is making people ill and then stop it before anyone else gets ill too. Previously, she has been a hospital doctor and a GP as well as a hotel washer-upper, a restaurant table clearer and a postwoman. Married with a daughter, over the years she has found herself spending time with ever-changing pairs of rescue guinea-pigs, the school rats, elderly hamsters and other little creatures.

You can follow Gwen on twitter – @gwenllowe


A huge huge thank you to Gwen for such a superb guest post and to Laura at Chicken House for asking me to host!

Have you read any of Alice Dent and the Incredible Germs? What did you think? What was your favourite part? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – What’s At The Heart Of Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy


Today I am super excited to have the brilliant Vashti Hardy on Tales to celebrate the release of her debut novel, Brightstorm!

Brightstorm was released on the 1st March 2018 published by Scholastic and is set to be a thrilling adventure!

Today Vashti talks about what’s at the heart of Brightstorm in this fab guest post…


Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word in Lontown that their famous explorer father died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. Not only that, but he has been accused of trying to steal fuel from his competitors before he died! The twins don’t believe the news, and they answer an ad to help crew a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth and salvaging their family’s reputation. As the winged ship Aurora sets sail, the twins must keep their wits about them and prove themselves worthy of the rest of the crew. But will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek?


What’s At The Heart Of Brightstorm (the character wants vs needs)

At the heart of every story are the things a character thinks they need and want, and the thing they actually need which they are unaware of, otherwise known as the lie and the truth. The story will have a tension between these things and the character arc and theme both centre on the inner conflict between this lie and truth.

When Arthur Brightstorm learns of the death of his father, he feels he’s lost the future, because of the way he’d seen things working out in life for the three of them – Ernest, Arthur and twin Maudie destined to sail sky-ships together as a family with Arthur navigating as second in command. This is exacerbated by the fact that Maudie’s future still seems so certain to him – he can see the gap that she fills in the world as her talents mean she is destined to be a great engineer, but for himself, Arthur can only see the gap left by his father’s death. What Arthur has to learn however, or his ‘truth’, is that his future is not lost it is just different, and he now needs to learn to ‘sail his own ship’. As Harriet tells him:

‘Control is an illusion. We never know what life will throw at us. You are the master of your destiny, Arthur, and you can still do those things. Your father is still with you inside.’

So whilst Arthur chases what he wants (the truth of what happened to his father), he also finds his inner truth even though he wasn’t looking for it; what he really needed was to learn that he still had a future, albeit a different one, but he had to go on the journey to see that he could continue to achieve this dreams in a world without his father. And by going on that journey he also finds something unexpected – a new unlikely family in the crew of the Aurora.

If you’re writing a story and are a bit stuck, try thinking about what your characters wants and needs are. Think about the tension between them and hopefully you’ll be well on your way to unlocking that all important story heart!

You can buy a copy of Brightstorm here or from your local bookshop!


About Vashti Hardy

Vashti Hardy is a copywriter who lives near Brighton with her family. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Chichester University and previously studied on the Creative Writing Certificate at Sussex University. Very active on Twitter, she is an alumna of and mentor at the Golden Egg Academy.

You can find out more about Vashti on her website – www.vashtihardy.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @vashti_hardy 


Blog Tour

You can catch up with the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge huge thank you to Vashti for such a superb guest post and to Olivia for asking me to host and be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read any of Brightstorm?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Kontör Yükleme Tl Servisi

Kredi kartı ile online olarak kontör yükleme işlemi yapmak hele de bu işlemi online olarak yapmak cesaret isterki çoğumuz yapmadan araştırır çıkarız. O yüzden bddk onaylı ilk ve tek sitesi tlyuklemeguvenli.biz üzerinden kredi kartı ile anında tl yükle.

 

Avea Tl Yükle

Kredi kartı ile online olarak avea tl yükleme işlemi yapabileceğinizi bilmiyordunuz.

Vodafone tl yükleme

kredi kartı ile anında vodafone tl yükleyin.

Turkcell kontör Yükleme

Kredi kartı kullanarak yerinizden dahi kalkmadan anında turkcell kontör yükleyebilirsiniz.

 

Her gün binlerce kişinin tl yükleme işlemi yaptığı sitemizi kullanarak sizde kredi kartınızla kontör yükleme işlemi yapabilirsiniz. Avea, turkcell, vodafone veya bimcell hatlarınıza paket yükleme veya tl yükleme işlemleri yapabilirsiniz.

Guest Post – How I Found Baver and Angel by Amy Wilson


Following on from the fly away success of her debut novel, A Girl Called Owl last year I am honoured to have the magical Amy Wilson on Tales today to celebrate the release of her second YA books A Far Away Magic.

A Far Away Magic was released on the 25th January 2018 published by the lovely Macmillan Children’s Books and is set to whisk you off your feet.

Today Amy is chatting about her characters Angel and Bavar and how they came to be in this fab guest post….


When Angel moves to a new school after the death of her parents, she isn’t interested in making friends. Until she meets Bavar – a strange boy, tall, awkward and desperate to remain unseen, but who seems to have a kind of magic about him. Everyone and everything within Bavar’s enchanted house is urging him to step up and protect the world from a magical rift through which monsters are travelling, the same monsters that killed Angel’s parents.

But Bavar doesn’t want to follow the path that’s been chosen for him – he wants to be normal; to disappear. Fighting one another as well as their fears, Angel and Bavar must find a way to repair the rift between the worlds, and themselves, before it’s too late . . .


How I Found Baver and Angel

The first thing I knew about A Far Away Magic was that it had Bavar in it. He’d been in my mind for years, ever since I’d seen the tall, stooped figure of a boy leaving my local secondary school, alone and hiding behind his hair.

The second thing I knew was that Bavar lived in a huge old creepy house, where ancestors called his name from the walls. There was an aunt, Aoife, and an Uncle Sal, and there was magic.

Bavar and I had quite a few starts together before we found the right story. In my very first attempt, his words came to life around him, letters floating like little clouds everywhere he went. I kind of liked that idea, but it didn’t lead me anywhere. So we were stuck. He just mooched around in my head, for a long time, while I became increasingly interested in how we see others, how we perhaps think we know a person, solely based on how they look, the way they walk and talk, and how many of us carry our scars and differences on the inside.

That, I think, is how Angel came about. She looked like a perfectly normal girl, but she’d been through something that made her as different as Bavar, only instead of that being an external thing, it was internal. From the outside, they might look like Beauty and the Beast, but in fact they are both beautiful, and both beast. It’s when they come together that they begin to sort that out for themselves; to challenge the monsters, and the world’s perception of them.

As soon as Angel came in with her own dark backstory, Bavar and I were moving. She brought the fight, and the desire for change, and she gave Bavar a reason to do the same, and she brought the fight to me too; I had to find a way to make it all okay for them – at the very least, for them to be okay with them.

You can buy a copy of A Far Away Magic here or from your local bookshop


About Amy Wilson

This is me, with my cat Ivy on my shoulder (!) and with my headphones on, mid-writing. I quite often write with music playing, and I wear my headphones even if the sound is off, because it blocks out some of the background noise and helps me to feel like I’m in my own world.

I spend a lot of my time at home writing and looking after various animals and children. I’ve always loved to write, and I feel very lucky that now, after quite a few years of bashing away, it is my job.

I have a background in journalism and live in Bristol. I’m a graduate of the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing. A Girl Called Owl was my first novel, my second, A Far Away Magic, is out now, and I’m now working on my third!

You can find out more about Amy on her website – www.amywilsonbooks.com

Or why not follow Amy on twitter – @AJ_Wils


A huge thank you to Amy for such a fab post and insight into her characters.  Also a huge thank you to Jo at Macmillan Children’s Books for asking me to host.

Have you read A Far Away Magic?  Are you intrigued?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading

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