Tag Archives: Blog Tour

Guest Post – Three Things That Inspired Chloe Snow’s Diary by Emma Chastain


Today I have a brilliant guest post from the wonderful Emma Chastain author of Chloe Snow’s Diary:  Confessions of a High School Disaster!

Chloe Snow’s Diary:  Confessions of a High School Disaster was released on the 20th April published by the lovely people at Simon & Schuster and is set to be a super fun YA high school contemporary!

I can’t wait to read it!

Today Emma talks about three things that inspired Chloe Snow’s Diary: Confessions of a High School Disaster …….



Basically all I did in junior high was text, straighten my hair, add to my Benedict Cumberbatch shrine, and worry about how to be more popular. Thinking about it makes me cringe.
I want to be different in high school. Like a new person.
And I want to make out with someone. It’s so humiliating that I’m a kissing virgin at this advanced age. The longer I go un-smooched, the more freakish I feel. If I graduate high school without being kissed, I’ll be too embarrassed to kiss anyone during college, and then I’ll most likely die without ever even getting to second base. Something has to change fast. This I vow: I will kiss a guy before New Year’s Eve. (Or maybe it’ll happen ON New Year’s Eve?) OK, this I vow: I will kiss a guy before New Year’s Day. Vow TAKEN.

Fourteen-year-old Chloe Snow is about to start ninth grade when her brilliant, beautiful, artistic mum announces she can’t create great art in suburban Massachusetts, and goes to Mexico to work on her novel. Bewildered at being left behind with only her (socially awkward) dad as company, Chloe throws herself into a series of new pursuits, including auditioning for the school a cappella group, making new friends, and landing the lead in the school musical. In the course of these adventures, she attracts the attention of Mac Brody, the cuter half of THE Senior Couple, and Bernadette Sanz, the school’s Meanest Senior Girl. And then things begin to go pretty seriously wrong.

Can Chloe recover from a gigantic mess of her own creation? And will her mum’s Eat, Pray, Love-fest EVER end?

Told in 365 diary entries, one for each day of the most seminal year of Chloe’s life so far, this laugh-out-loud novel is peppered with texts, lists, emails and tweets, making it a modern take on the classic teen coming-of-age story.


Three Things That Inspired Chloe Snow’s Diary

Meet Chloe Snow! She’s the protagonist of my debut novel, Confessions of a High School Disaster, and she’s shockingly honest, deeply flawed, and often funny (if I do say so myself).  Confessions is told in diary format, with one entry for each day of a year in Chloe’s life. During that year, Chloe must cope with best friend feuds, boy problems, musical theatre meltdowns, and the absence of her mother, who has up and moved to Mexico to “work on her novel.”

When I sat down the write this book, three things inspired me:

1. My own diaries. 

I kept a diary from the time I was old enough to form words. It’s kind of agonizing to look back at these journals—I can hardly bear to see the evidence of my own narcissism and delusion—but instructive, too. Rereading them reminds me that in your own diary, you can safely vent your fury, scheme to bring about your enemies’ downfall, whine about your supposed problems, and rhapsodize about your crush. In short, you can be honest in a way you never could be on social media.

2. Bridget Jones, Georgia Nicolson, and Cassandra Mortmain 

….to name just a few. I like to think of Chloe as a fictional soul sister to the passionate, frank, and hilarious first-person female narrators who have entertained me and comforted me over the years.

3. The Sound of Music. 

And Oklahoma!, and Fiddler on the Roof, and I could go on and on. Chloe falls in love with musical theatre, as I did when I was around her age. It’s the perfect form for teenagers: it deals in oversized emotions, it’s an outlet for melodramatic impulses, and it forces you off your phone and into a room where you’re allowed to sing with other people, which is one of the purest human pleasures there is.

If you ever were, or currently, are a diary-keeper, a musical theatre geek, or a teenager, I think you’ll enjoy Confessions. I hope so!

You can buy a copy of Chloe Snow’s Diary:  Confessions of a High School Disaster!  here or from your local bookshop!


About Emma Chastain

Emma Chastain is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University, and the Creative Writing Program at Boston University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children.

You can follow Emma on twitter – @emmachastain


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Emma for a fab insight into her inspiration and to Jade at Simon & Schuster for organising and asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Chloe Snow’s Diary:  Confessions of a High School Disaster!?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  Have you ever kept a diary? I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Guest Post – Character Profile: Ingrid by Danielle Younge-Ullman


I received this gorgeous books recently and I simply cannot wait to read it!

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined was released on the 6th April 2017 published by Scholastic and is set to be a fab contemporary YA read.

And today I have the author herself on Tales chatting about her main character, Ingrid, in this awesome guest post!


Ingrid has made a deal with her mother: she gets to go to the school of her choice as long as she completes a three-week wilderness programme. But when Ingrid arrives, she quickly realizes there has been a terrible mistake: there will be no marshmallows or cabins here. Instead, her group will embark on a torturous trek, with almost no guidance from the two counsellors and supplied with only the things they can carry. On top of this, the other teen participants are “at risk youth”, a motley crew of screw-ups, lunatics and delinquents. But as the laborious days go by, and as memories of her complicated past come flooding back, Ingrid must confront the question of whether she shares more in common with these troubled teens than she’s willing to admit.


Character Profile:  Ingrid

Meet Ingrid, the protagonist of my new novel, EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED. Ingrid is smart, deep, funny, sarcastic, and a super talented singer. The talent shouldn’t be a surprise, since her mother, Margot-Sophia, used to be an opera star. Ingrid may be emotionally wounded, and have a bit of a complicated relationship with her mother, but she’s not admitting any weaknesses. She can’t afford to. She has big plans for her senior year…she only has to get through a three-week wilderness camp in order to get her mother on-side.

But the camp…oh, the camp turns out to be wretched. Gruelling hikes, bugs for dinner, obnoxious tentmates, and the “teens with leadership potential” Ingrid expected to meet are nowhere in sight. This bunch of kids is seriously messed up, and Ingrid really doesn’t belong.

Except…

Ingrid’s life is not as perfect as it seems, and the longer the trip goes on, the less Ingrid is able to fake it. She is falling apart, breaking down, and only time will tell whether she’ll be able to face her demons, rebuild herself, survive the rest of the trip, and earn the chance to spend her senior year studying music.

You can buy a copy of Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined here or from your local bookshop


About Danielle Younge-Ullman

As a teenager I was sent, against my will, on a wilderness adventure very similar to the one that is portrayed in EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED. The reasons were different, as were the characters on the trip, but I was as unprepared as Ingrid is, and had a wretched time. Of course, the physical and psychological hardships caused me to toughen up and learn survival skills, but not before having a complete breakdown…while out in the middle of nowhere…and surrounded by people I’d just met.

That trip was the inspiration for this book, but I also drew from other personal experiences. Like Ingrid, I was cast as Dorothy in my high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz, and fell in love with the theatre. (Unlike Ingrid, I am only a passable singer.) I spent my twenties and early thirties working as an actor, but eventually turned my focus to writing. I never missed the business side of being an actor, but leaving the theatre was a heartbreak. I had found my identity, my people, and my purpose in life there, and to lose all of that was painful. I poured this—the love, the frustration, the heartbreak, the shadow that loss can cast—into Ingrid’s story, and into the character of her mother, Margot-Sophia.

Finally, like Ingrid, and like many young people on the cusp of adulthood, I have struggled with fears that being my truest self and pursuing the career(s) I felt most driven to pursue would hurt, disappoint, or alienate those I love most. I have also found reliable ways through to the other side of that struggle…and ways to laugh, and love, even when things are at their most dire.

I hope Ingrid’s story will do the same for you.

You can follow Danielle on twitter – @DanielleYUllman


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Danielle for such a fab post and to Olivia at Scholastic for organising and asking me to part of the blog tour!

Have you read Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Guest Post – Where Do Ideas Come From? By Katy Cannon


I am over the moon to have one of my favourite authors on Tales today with a fab guest post for a brilliant blog tour!

And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon is released on the 6th April 2017 published by Stripes Publishing and is set to be an unforgettable road trip!

I’ve been a huge fan of Katy’s for a few years and I love her writing so much!

So today Katy is sharing a little about ideas and where they sometimes come from in this fab guest post…..


A road-trip story about following your dreams and embracing the unexpected.
Megan knows what she wants out of life and she intends to get it, whatever her parents say.
Elliott has given up on all his plans for the future – but then Megan bursts into his life with a proposal that could change it forever.

Together they embark on a road trip to escape their hometown and chase their dreams. But life is a journey and not even Megan can control where theirs will lead…

Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Rainbow Rowell and Non Pratt.


Where Do Ideas Come From?

There’s a pretty standard list of questions you tend to get asked, once people find out that you’re a writer. After a while, a party full of new acquaintances becomes a bit like a game of Writer’s Life Bingo, as you cross off all the questions and comments you’ve heard a million times before.

Things like:

“Oh, so you’re going to be the next JK Rowling then, huh?”

“Boy, you must be loaded,” or it’s more realistic counterpart, “So what do you do for money?”

“I’ve always wanted to write a book, when I have the time.”

And, my personal favourite:

“I’ve got a great idea for a book. How about we collaborate? I’ll give you the idea, you write the book.”

The fallacy at the heart of this question is the belief that getting the idea is the hard part of writing a book.

In fact, ideas are the easy part. I can have a dozen ideas for books in a single day, if the world around me is particularly inspiring.

That’s also the problem with the other top five question: “Where do you get your ideas from?”

Because the truth is, ideas aren’t something I go shopping for. I don’t have a secret online store I can order them from, £5.99 for two and free shipping. I don’t steal them from other people’s brains with a machine my husband made in the garage (not least because I don’t have a garage). I don’t even breed them in captivity, in an inhumane idea farm.

If I’m lucky, ideas come to me. The basic premise for my latest novel, And Then We Ran, emerged complete in my head when I woke up one morning: two teens elope to Gretna Green, even though they’re not in love.

Other ideas are given as gifts – a comment from a friend, an article in the newspaper that starts me thinking ‘what if?’, a tv show that does something I disagree with, and start thinking of alternative stories I’d have preferred. Or even my agent saying, “You like baking. How about a baking book?” (That one became Love, Lies and Lemon Pies.)

Sometimes, ideas float up from my past – a memory, twisted. For instance, I performed in a lot of plays in high school, and later on, working as a production assistant in London, I helped out backstage in a costume department. Those two memories merged into one to become Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines.

Some of the best ideas don’t even have a real starting point. They’re the ones where the things you see every day, or hear, or observe, slowly come together in your mind and make something entirely new. And suddenly, from nowhere, you have a new idea.

What you’ll notice in all these cases is that the initial idea is only the very beginning of the book’s journey. It’s where the real work starts. 

That real work – building up the idea, improving it, adding contrast and conflict and characters, finding a way to make it feel new, different to what else is out there; developing the backstories and the plot and the story logic; outlining the scenes, writing them, revising them, revising them again; submitting the book, selling it, editing it, copy editing it, proof reading it, promoting it… and a million other things I’ve probably forgotten – that’s the truth of being a writer. Because while it might start with an idea, unless it’s actually written, then that’s all it will ever be.

Where do I get my ideas? When I hear that question, here’s what I really want to answer:

“Anywhere and everywhere. Same place you can get yours. 

 But you’re starting with the wrong question. Getting ideas isn’t the important part. 

 It’s what you do with them that counts.” 

You can buy a copy of And Then We Ran here or from you local bookshop!

You can find a previous post from Katy on Tales by clicking on the below link….

Much Ado About Shakespeare

Bake Club Christmas Wish Lists

Review – Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines


About Katy Cannon

Katy was born in Abu Dhabi, grew up in Wales, went to university in Lancaster, spent a few years splitting her time between London, Hertfordshire, and an assortment of hotels across the world. She now lives in a little market town not far from Cambridge. She has a husband, two children, a goldfish, and far too many notebooks.

Katy likes to write stories about the importance of friends and family, and especially those friends who become family. She considers herself most fortunate to have been blessed with an abundance of all three.

As a teenager, Katy was constantly in trouble for reading when she should have been doing something else. These days, she mostly gets in trouble for dreaming up new stories when she should be writing the ones she’s already working on.

Katy’s debut YA novel, LOVE, LIES & LEMON PIES, has been translated into eight languages. Her next book, AND THEN WE RAN, will be released in April 2017.

Katy is represented by Gemma Cooper of The Bent Agency.  

You can find out more about Katy on her website – www.katycannon.com  

Or why not follow her on twitter – @KatyJoCannon


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Katy for such a wonderful post and to Beth at Stripes Publishing for organising and having me as part of the tour!

Have you read And Then We Ran?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab copies?  Have you read any of Katy’s other books?   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 – How Naondel Was Born by Maria Turtschaninoff


I am super excited to have the wonderful Maria Turtschaninoff on Tales!

Maria is the author of last years phenomenal Maresi and her upcoming release Naondel which are part of the Red Abbey Chronicles and have received lots of praise!

‘An unforgettable feminist epic, shot through with hypnotic dark charm’ The Bookseller

‘Walks the knife edge so thrillingly I read it in one sitting. Embed with myth, wonder, and told with a dazzling, compelling ferocity’ Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Girl of Ink and Stars

‘Incredible… if you like Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours, you’ll love this’ Amber Kirk-Ford, The Mile Long Bookshelf

‘A tale of sisterhood, survival and fighting against the odds that will capture the hearts of both teen and adult feminists alike’ Lucy Powrie, Queen of Contemporary

Today Maria is telling us all about how Naondel came to be in this fab guest post…..


In the opulent palace of Ohaddin, women have one purpose – to obey.

Some were brought here as girls, captured and enslaved; some as servant; some as wives. All of them must do what the Master tells them, for he wields a deadly and secret power.

But the women have powers too. One is a healer. One can control dreams. One is a warrior. One can see everything that is coming.

In their golden prison, the women wait. They plan. They write down their stories. They dream of a refuge, a safe place where girls can be free.

And, finally, when the moon glows red, they will have their revenge.


How Naondel Was Born

Naondel is the book I wasn’t going to write.

After Maresi I had plans on writing a gaslight fantasy, set in 19th century alternative history Finland. I even pitched the idea to one of my publishers and got a great response. I started collecting a research library and read up on the time period. But the story itself refused to take flight.

Instead two short mentions of the First Sisters in Maresi kept pulling at me. Who were these seven women who came to Menos in the distant past and made a new life on the island? Where were they from? Why were they together? And what made them flee their old life and everything they knew and loved, never to return?

I started cheating on the gaslight fantasy with the First Sisters, and after a few weeks I had to admit to myself that this was now the story I was writing. I ended up working on Naondel longer than on any other novel, two and a half years. It is my sixth novel and it was published nine years after my debut. It’s my darkest novel to date, and my most grown-up (I myself would no longer call this YA). It spans something like 40 years, has seven or eight first-person narrators and is in every way my most ambitious work. It was probably the hardest to edit, too, and I cursed my stupid ambition many times during the editing process. Seven first person narrators, what sane writer does this to herself?!

That gaslight fantasy is still waiting to be written. Because after Naondel, Maresi once more demanded that I listen to the next story she had to tell: The story of what happens to her after the novel Maresi ends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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


About Maria Turtschaninoff

Maria Turtschaninoff is a Swedish-speaking Finn who has been writing fairy tales from the age of five. However, there was often a twist: the poor farmer boy and the princess he had just saved from the evil witch did not end up marrying, because they “didn’t feel like it”. Her biggest grief as a child was that no wardrobe led to Narnia.

 After a detour as a journalist for a few years Turtschaninoff debuted in 2007 with a middle-grade portal fantasy and has since published four more novels, all YA fantasy. Pushkin Press has acquired world English rights to Maresi and the subsequent two novels in the Red Abbey Chronicles.

You can find out more about Maria on her website – www.mariaturtschaninoff.com

Or why not follow Maria on twitter – @turtschaninoff


Blog Tour

Catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Maria for such a fab post!  And to Vicki for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read any of the any of the Red Abbey Chronicles?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab copies?   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!

Tales Q&A with Stefan Mohamed


Today I am over the moon to be part of the fab blog tour for Stanly’s Ghost by Stefan Mohamed.

Stanly’s Ghost is the third book in the fantastic Bitter Sixteen Trilogy and was published on the 15th March 2017 by Salt Publishing.

If you like Sci-Fi, Superheros and evil villans you need these books in your life!

For my stop on this fab tour I have had the honour to put some questions to the author himself Stefan Mohamed about the trilogy, superheros and writing!


Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize for new writers A Times Children’s Book of the Week A Guardian Top Teen Read of 2015 “Happy birthday, Stanly. We hope you like your present…” Cynical, solitary Stanly Bird is a fairly typical teenager – unless you count the fact that his best friend is a talking beagle named Daryl, and that he gained the powers of flight and telekinesis when he turned sixteen. Unfortunately, his rural Welsh home town is not exactly crying out for its very own superhero. London is calling – but what Stanly finds there is a good deal weirder and more terrifying than anything he could have imagined. Perhaps he should have stayed in Wales …

Stanly is frustrated. Having set himself up as London’s protector, he’s finding that the everyday practicalities of superheroism are challenging at best, and downright tedious at worst. So it’s almost a relief when an attempt is made on his life and Stanly finds himself rushing headlong into a twisted adventure, with enemies new and old coming out of the woodwork. However, even with his friends and his ever-increasing power behind him, he may have bitten off more than he can chew this time. The monsters are coming …and nothing will ever be the same!

Cynical, solitary Stanly Bird used to be a fairly typical teenager – unless you count the fact that his best friend was a talking beagle named Daryl. Then came the superpowers. And the superpowered allies. And the mysterious enemies. And the terrifying monsters. And the stunning revelations. And the apocalypse. Now he’s not sure what he is. Or where he is. Or how exactly one is supposed to proceed after saving the world.

All he knows is that his story isn’t finished.

Not quite yet …


Hi Stefan!  Thanks for joining me today on Tales!  I am super excited to have you here and to read the third book in the Bitter Sixteen Trilogy Stanly’s Ghost!

Can you tell us a little bit about your main character Stanly Bird?

 Stanly is a slightly socially dysfunctional, hot-headed, sarcastic pop culture junkie from a small rural Welsh town. He also happens to have the powers of flight and telekinesis. He is trying his very best to be a superhero but things keep getting in the way – things like his own foibles, and basic practicality. He was sixteen in the first book of the trilogy, and as of the beginning of the final instalment, Stanly’s Ghost, he is eighteen (or thereabouts).

 What inspired you to write The Bitter Sixteen Trilogy?

I wrote the very first draft of the first book when I was sixteen, and at that point I was just writing away, trying to finish something – I was pretty guileless, never having written anything longer than about a thousand words, so I didn’t really know what I was doing! I was just attempting to tell a story. In terms of other media, inspirations would include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Donnie Darko and the work of Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman.

Can you tell us a little bit about Stanly’s Ghost, the third book in the trilogy?

Hard to say anything specific while still avoiding spoilers – let’s just say that the shit continues to hit the fan for Stanly. But while flying towards the fan, the shit is also becoming exponentially weirder and more stressful. And he’s not necessarily getting better at dealing with it.

 Can you tell us about Stanly’s best friend Daryl?

 Daryl is a talking beagle with a sharp tongue and a love for films (his favourite is Casablanca – he always cries at the end, like any self-respecting living creature with a heart). He is incredibly loyal and very quick-witted, and you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him because he punches (and bites) well above his weight.

 Have you used any of your own experiences to tell Stanly’s story?

 A lot of it is based on my struggles with my own superpowers, mastering their infinite complexity, fitting in with non-superpowered types, trying to set up a superhero business in a flat-lining economy. And Stanly’s early days in Wales are very much based on my childhood and teenage years – his town is basically the town where I grew up, just with the names changed! I also spent a lot of my teenage years up in my room watching films, or sitting at the back of the school bus hating everyone around me. You know, fun teen stuff.

 In five words – what should people expect if they picked up this trilogy?

 Humour… action… darkness… talking beagle.

 Who is the best superhero ever?

 I think it has to be Superman. Apart from having the best skillset, his attitude to superheroism is the best. No angst, no moral greyness. Just a decent guy trying to do good.

You have won the Dylan Thomas Prize for new writers, and been made a Times Children’s Book of the Week and a Guardian Top Teen Read of 2015 since releasing this trilogy – was this something you ever expected to happen?

 Absolutely not! It’s still kind of mind-blowing that people enjoy reading the books, let alone feel compelled to give them awards and titles and stuff like that. It’s an amazing feeling. Totally bizarre.

 We would love to know a little bit more about you!  Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Stefan Mohamed?

 Hmm.

I really like carrots, like a lot.

I once played Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, except it came after writing about Stanly playing Romeo in Bitter Sixteen.

I can’t iron, I just can’t get my head around it, it’s very frustrating.

Colin Murray off the radio once told me to f**k off.

And when I was at sixth form – which was part of my secondary school – I ran for Head Boy using ‘Vote For Stefan If You Like Cats’ as my campaign slogan. That was basically the whole campaign, that slogan, and I didn’t win, but I was made Deputy Head Boy, which was actually better because it came with a small amount of power and zero responsibility.

 Any sci-fi / superhero book (or TV/film) recs that you would highly recommend?

 My favourite recent SF books were All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders – wonderful, inventive, lyrical story about a friendship between a witch and a scientist, and the wackiness that ensues – and The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – brilliant low-key sort of blue-collar space opera with definite Firefly vibes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film-wise, this year has been pretty good so far – Logan was fantastic and I really liked Kong Skull Island, good smashy monster fun.

TV-wise, Legion for superheroes and Westworld for SF.

Is this last we have seen from Stanly Bird?

 For the moment, yes. I could happily write more about him but I think I need to leave him alone for a bit, try my hand at some characters who aren’t adolescent superheroes. However, I’m hoping that a few shorter spin-off stories set in his world will appear at some point in the not too distant future.

 What are you working on next?  Any exciting new projects you can tell us about?

 I have a couple of other novel projects on the go, a standalone piece that’s more adult orientated, and the beginning of another YA series. No solid news on either, but I’m cautiously optimistic (I think – depends on what day it is!).

Thanks so much for joining us today and answering all my questions Stefan!

You can buy a copy of this fab trilogy here or from your local book shop!


About Stefan Mohamed

Stefan Mohamed is an author, performing poet and sometime journalist. He graduated from Kingston University in 2010 with a first class degree in creative writing and film studies, and later that year won the inaugural Sony Reader Award, a category of the Dylan Thomas Prize, for his novel Bitter Sixteen. Bitter Sixteen is out now from Salt Publishing. Stefan is also the author of a novella, STUFF, part of Salt’s Modern Dreams series. He lives in Bristol.

You can find out more about Stefan on his website – www.stefmo.co.uk

Or why not follow him on twitter – @stefmowords


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Stefan for answering all of my questions!  And to Salt Publishing for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read any of the Bitter Sixteen Trilogy?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab copies?  Who are your favourite superheros?   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 – Research For The Bamboo Trilogy by Ann Bennett


I’m super excited to be part of the fab blog tour celebrating the release of Bamboo Road, the last book in a fab adult fiction trilogy!

Bamboo Road was released on the 1st March 2017 published by Monsoon Books.  The first book, Bamboo Heart was released in 2014 followed by Bamboo Island in 2015 and can be read in any order.  The books are a Southeast Asian WWII Trilogy.

For my stop of this fab tour, the author, Ann Bennett tells us a little more about the research that went into the books.


Thailand, 1943: Thomas Ellis, captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore, is a prisoner-of-war on the Death Railway. In stifling heat he endures endless days of clearing jungle, breaking stone and lugging wood. He must stay alive, although he is struck down by disease and tortured by Japanese guards, and he must stay strong, although he is starving and exhausted. For Tom has made himself a promise: to return home. Not to the grey streets of London, where he once lived, but to Penang, where he found paradise and love. London, 1986: Laura Ellis, a successful City lawyer, turns her back on her yuppie existence and travels to Southeast Asia. In Thailand and Malaysia she retraces her father’s past and discovers the truths he has refused to tell her. And in the place where her father once suffered and survived, she will finally find out how he got his Bamboo Heart. In a blend of stirring fiction and heart-wrenching history, Ann Bennett narrates the story of a soldier’s strength and survival in the bleakest of times and a daughter’s journey of discovery about her father and herself.

Bamboo Heart is volume one in a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy that includes Bamboo Island and Bamboo Road.

Juliet Crosby has lived a reclusive life on her Malayan rubber plantation since the Second World War robbed her of everyone she loved. However, the sudden appearance of a young woman from Indonesia disrupts her lonely existence and stirs up unsettling memories. Juliet is forced to recollect her prewar marriage, her wartime ordeals in Japanese-occupied Singapore and the loss of those she once held dear.

 Bamboo Island is part of a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy of historical fiction that can be read in any order and includes Bamboo Heart and Bamboo Road.

Thailand 1942: Sirinya and her family are members of the Thai underground, who risk their lives to resist the World War Two Japanese occupation and to and help British prisoners of war building the Thai-Burma railway. The events of those years have repercussions for decades to come. The book tells Sirinya s wartime story and how in the 1970s she returns to Kanchanaburi after a long absence abroad, to settle old scores from the war years.

Bamboo Road is volume three in a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy that includes Bamboo Heart and Bamboo Island (the books may be read in any order).


Research For The Bamboo Trilogy

I began researching the Second World War in South East Asia and the Thai-Burma railway well before the idea of writing books about it took root. The stories grew organically out of the research I did to find out about my father’s wartime experience. He died when I was seven, weakened by his three and a half years as a POW and I began to get interested in his experience when I was in my early twenties. My mother had two pre-printed postcards that Dad had sent home during his years as a POW which showed that he was interned in Thailand No.1 camp. I went to the Imperial War Museum and discovered that the camp was in Kanchanaburi but there were no consistent records there about prisoners of the Japanese.

My desire to find out more, first took me to Kanchanaburi in 1988 with my mother. There was only one museum there at the time; called the JEATH museum run by a Thai monk. It is a fascinating and unique place, but again holds no information about individual prisoners.

A few years later, I returned to the Imperial War Museum and found they held many first-hand accounts written by soldiers enslaved on the death railway. These are the most harrowing of reads and showed me more about what my father must have suffered, but nothing about where he had been or what had happened to him personally. By the time I returned to Kanchanaburi in 2005 with my husband and sons, I thought I knew as much as I was ever going to know.

In 2010 I came across the Far East Prisoners of War Community (FEPOW) on the internet. Through that community I discovered that in 1944 Dad had been transported from Singapore aboard the hell-ship Hofuku Maru which was torpedoed off Luzon in the Philippines by US aircraft. Out of around 1300 men aboard he was one of 221 survivors. He was put on another ship, the Hokusen Maru which ended up in Taiwan. Dad stayed on in Taiwan and was liberated from Shirikawa camp. The FEPOW community encouraged me to visit the National Archives in Kew to look for Dad’s liberation questionnaire and Japanese record card. To my amazement, both were there. It was an amazing moment when I first saw those records; written in his flowing handwriting in pencil, they answered so many questions I would have liked to ask. He had listed all the camps he had been in on the railway, and had written in detail about some of the horrors he had witnessed.

The information in Dad’s Liberation Questionnaire sowed the seeds for the plot of Bamboo Heart. To write the book though I did a great deal more research into the Malaya campaign and the plight of prisoners. I read several factual history books, including Surviving the Sword, The Fall of Singapore, etc. I also read as widely as I could about the war in South East Asia, although I found there wasn’t much fiction out there. I think […] must have been writing the Narrow Road to the Deep North at around the same time! I also did a great deal of internet research too including watching numerous documentaries on Youtube. Looking back at old diaries and photographs from my own trips were the inspiration for Laura’s journey in Bamboo Heart.

My research for Bamboo Heart taught me so much more about the war in the Far East than I had expected. I had not previously known how civilians suffered; about starvation and massacres, about bravery and sacrifice. It inspired me to explore those events from other angles and through other peoples’ stories. Bamboo Island is written from the point of view of an ordinary British woman who’d settled in Malaya but was caught up in the fall of Singapore. I was particularly moved by the sinking of the Vyner Brooke and the subsequent massacre of Australian nurses, which was the starting point for Juliet’s story. I read as much as I could about the civilian experience of living through the Japanese occupation. In particular Sheila Allen’s moving diary ‘Girl in Changi,’ made a great impression on me as did novels such as the Singapore Grip, and Amber Road (another Monsoon title).

Bamboo Road was inspired by the story of Boon Pong, a Thai merchant who took great risks to help prisoners of war building the death railway. I wanted to explore how the war and the Japanese occupation affected ordinary Thai people living in the area where the Death Railway was built. The great influx of Japanese soldiers and prisoners and the brutality and suffering must have had a devastating effect on their previously peaceful lives. I found out as much as I could about what it was like to live in the prosperous, peaceful community of Kanchanaburi before the railway came. I also researched Boon Pong’s own story, and visited his shophouse in Kanchanaburi whilst I was finalizing the draft. There isn’t a great deal written about him, but all the accounts, in ‘The Real Colonel of Tamarkan’ by Julie Summers, ‘Surviving the Sword’ and Beyond the Bamboo Screen, describe him as a very brave man with great humanity. I also read as much as I could about Thai culture and Buddhism, to understand my characters and what had influenced their outlook on life. I must have been to Thailand fifteen times since my first visit in 1985, so I have absorbed a great deal about the country and its culture during those visits which has found its way into the book. I should add that I have been trying to learn Thai for about five years now. It’s a difficult language to crack because of the different tones, the alphabet and the complex grammatical rules, but I’m sure that through that exercise I’ve absorbed a great deal about the country and its people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of these books here

Or why not add to your Goodreads here


About Ann Bennett

Ann Bennett was born and raised in a small village in Northamptonshire, UK. She read Law at Cambridge and qualified and practised as a solicitor. During a career break, to have children, she started to write. Her father had been a prisoner of war on the Thailand– Burma Railway and the idea for a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy came from researching his wartime experiences. The research took her back to Asia, a place she loves and has returned to many times. She lives in Surrey with her husband and three sons and works in London as a lawyer.

You can find out more about Ann on her website – www.bambooheart.co.uk

Or Ann’s blog here

Or why not follow Ann on twitter – @annbennett71

Or Facebook here


Blog Tour

Catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Ann for such a brilliant guest post!  And to Faye Rogers for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read any of the Bamboo Trilogy?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?   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 – Five Women That Inspire Me by Caroline Baxter


I’m super excited to have a fab guest post from Caroline Baxter to celebrate the release of Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane.

Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane was released on the 8th March 2017 published by Big Sunshine Books and is a brilliant picture book beautifully illustrated by Izabela Ciesinska.

Today for my stop on this fab blog tour I have a fab guest post from Caroline who is telling us about five women who have inspired her.


Join Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain, as she travels the world with her best friend Rose, a high-speed passenger jet. Together Jane and Rose have exciting adventures and form a perfect team, delivering their passengers safely to destinations as far afield as Alaska and Australia. But when disaster strikes and Rose falls ill, Jane is paired with ‘lean, mean flying machine’ Mighty Mitch. Can she still get the Queen to her party on time? Featuring a clever and courageous heroine, this action-packed rhyming story celebrates ‘Girl Power’ and shows what you can achieve if you work together. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for take-off!


Five Women that Inspire Me

My new children’s picture book, Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane week on International Women’s Day (8 March 2017). The story follows the adventures of Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain, as she travels the world with her best friend Rose, a high-speed passenger jet. But when disaster strikes and Rose falls ill, Jane is paired with “lean, mean flying machine” Mighty Mitch. Can they navigate the oncoming storm and get the Queen to her party on time?

In creating the character of Pilot Jane, I set out to build a picture of a highly skilled pilot who was both clever and courageous. So many children’s picture books feature a boy as the hero, I wanted to show a girl who was at the top of her game – who had ambitions and a sense of adventure! Not only is Jane an airline captain, she also surfs, practises tai chi and speaks Chinese. In fact, if picture books weren’t so short, her capabilities would have been boundless! Together Jane and Rose form a perfect ‘girl power’ team and this led me to thinking about some of the inspirational women we admire, read about and come across every day.

Picking just five is, of course, almost impossible, but the women below have all moved me personally for different reasons. Some are world-renowned for their impact and talents, others are lesser-known, but I hope you’ll agree that they are all inspirational in some way:  

Aung San Suu Kyi

For many people, politician, activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the most inspirational figures of the 21st century. She has dedicated much of her life to bringing democracy to Myanmar and endured years of hardship, hunger and imprisonment for her country. Finally, in November 2015, she led the National League for Democracy (NLD) to a majority win in Myanmar’s first openly contested election. When I was a member of staff at Oxford University in 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi – a former student – received an honorary doctorate and her speech that day was one of the most moving I have ever heard. Despite having spent more than two decades of her life under house arrest, she showed grace and dignity, rather than bitterness and resentment, commenting that the past “never goes away . . . But you can select what is best from the past to help you go forward to the future”. Aung San Suu Kyi shows us that, with enough courage, we can all be agents for change in the world and improve others’ lives for the better.

Malala Yousafzai

Internationally-renowned education activist Malala Yousafzai would undoubtedly make it on to many people’s list of ‘inspiring women’. While only a teenager, Malala drew the world’s attention to the issue of girls’ education, in particular the millions of girls being denied a formal education in Pakistan and other parts of the world for social, political and economic reasons. Despite being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 for speaking out about the importance of education, her human rights advocacy for women and for education has continued and grown into an international movement. At the age of 17, she became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala is inspiring for so many reasons: her incredible courage in standing up to the Taliban; the wisdom and compassion she shows despite her youth, and her ongoing determination to fight for the right for all children to go to school. Like Aung San Suu Kyi, she is an example of how one person can have an extraordinary impact on the world by standing up for what they believe in.

J K Rowling

Well, I’d like to include a writer on my ‘inspiring women’ list and JK Rowling is certainly inspirational. As we all know, she wrote the first Harry Potter book as a struggling single mother, but has gone on to become the UK’s bestselling living author. However, in addition to her many professional achievements, Rowling is also inspiring for two reasons. Firstly, her impact extends not only across the world of books, but also across the charitable sector. Rowling supports numerous charities and organisations, but is particularly involved in anti-poverty campaigning and children’s welfare. She is a notable philanthropist who has used her professional success to benefit many others. Secondly, like many other inspiring women (and men), she is an advocate of living courageously and following your own path. Rowling has often talked about the importance of trying – and not being scared to fail. As she said in her speech to graduating students at Harvard: “You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default”. This seems an important and motivating message from a woman who has achieved so much.

The Iron Nun

Last year, my husband took part in an Ironman Race. This endurance contest comprised a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run, all over the course of (in his case) a tortuous 15 hours. As someone who hasn’t done too much formal exercise since school, I was full of admiration. But when I read about another Ironman participant, the so-called ‘Iron Nun’, my admiration turned to awe. At 86 years old, Sister Madonna Buder has completed more than 40 Ironman races over a 30-year period. Having completed her first Ironman race at the tender age of 55, she became the oldest woman to ever complete an Ironman triathlon at 75. At 82 years old, she set a world record as the oldest Ironman triathlon competitor. For me, Sister Madonna is truly inspiring because of her positive attitude, fighting spirit and her determination to defy conventional notions of ageing. It might be time to get out my running shoes yet . . .

Roz Savage MBE, Ocean Rower

A few years ago Roz Savage, record-breaking ocean rower, author and motivational speaker, spoke at an event that I organised. Her words had a lasting impact on me – and, I’m sure, on everyone else in the room. Roz’s story is one of incredible personal transformation. After leaving university and working as a management consultant for 11 years, Roz decided to leave her job and home and change her life – totally! She reinvented herself as an adventurer and became the first woman to row solo across three oceans: the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Passionate about the environment and protecting our planet, she also used social media to share her story and eco message with tens of thousands of people. Now, having spent a total of 520 days alone at sea, rowing for 12 gruelling hours a day, she has become an authority on how to tackle challenges in difficult circumstances and what motivates us through the darkest of times. Roz’s journey from office worker to ocean rower is a perfect example of how anyone can change their life (and the lives of others) if they have enough courage, determination and resilience.

I hope you enjoyed this small selection of inspiring women – they are certainly all girls and women Pilot Jane would admire too! And thank you so much for having me on Tales of Yesterday.

You can buy this book here

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Caroline Baxter

Caroline Baxter lives in Oxford with her husband and two young children. From an early age she always had her nose in a book – and now does so for a living! Caroline grew up in South Wales and, after graduating with a BA in English Literature from Cardiff University, held a variety of management roles at UK universities including, most recently, at the University of Oxford. The Bear Cub Bakers, her first book, was written while on maternity leave with her daughter. Her second book, Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane, was published recently on International Women’s Day (8 March 2017). Caroline loves travelling, yoga, baking (and eating) cake, dogs, days out and snuggling up with a good story.


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Caroline for such a brilliant guest post and insight into the inspiration behind the book!  And to Faye Rogers for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  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 – Sweet Elixir by Laura Lam


I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this amazing book, Masquerade by Laura Lam!

Masquerade is the third and final novel in Laura Lam’s Micah Grey trilogy, following Pantomime and Shadowplay, and was published on the 9th March 2017.


 

 

 

 

 

 

I am super excited to have Laura on the blog today.  Each chapter of Masquerade contains an italicised header which relates to the book in some way. Laura dedicated a lot of time to researching and selecting each excerpt and I’m so honoured to be sharing one of them today, with a bit of explanation from Laura on what each means, where it’s from, etc.

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more . . .

Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities – last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom not mysteries. So, reinvented as ‘Micah Grey’, Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight – but the circus has a dark side. She’s also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

Old magics are waking. But will the world survive their return?

Micah Grey almost died when he fled the circus with Drystan – now he and the ex-clown seek to outrun disaster. Drystan persuades his old friend Jasper Maske, a once-renowned magician, to take them in. But when he agrees to teach them his trade, Maske is challenged to the ultimate high-stakes duel by his embittered arch-nemesis.

Micah must perfect his skills of illusion, while navigating a tender new love. An investigator is also hunting the person he once seemed to be – a noble family’s runaway daughter. As the duel draws near, Micah increasingly suffers from visions showing him real magic and future terrors. Events that broke the ancient world are being replayed. But can Micah’s latent powers influence this deadly pattern?

The gifted hide their talents, but dare they step into the light?

Micah’s Chimaera powers are growing, until his dark visions overwhelm him. Drystan is forced to take him to Dr Pozzi, to save his life. But can they really trust the doctor, especially when a close friend is revealed to be his spy?

Meanwhile, violent unrest is sweeping the country, as anti-royalist factions fight to be heard. Then three chimaera are attacked, after revealing their existence with the monarchy’s blessing – and the struggle becomes personal. A small sect decimated the chimaera in ancient times and nearly destroyed the world. Now they’ve re-emerged to spread terror once more. Micah will discover a royal secret, which draws him into the heart of the conflict. And he and his friends must risk everything to finally bring peace to their land.

You can buy these books here

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


Sweet Elixir

The thing about addiction is that I know it’s what will kill me. It won’t be a carriage in the road, or a common flu, or even the slow creep of cancer. It’s almost certain that Lerium will be what ends me. And there’s a strange, awful sort of comfort in that.

From the anonymous memoir of a Lerium addict, discovered and published post-mortem

Every chapter in the Micah Grey series has a short found document at the start, ranging from a variety of sources: history books, diaries, songs, poetry, and more. It’s basically a sneaky way to add in more worldbuilding and detail about Ellada & the Archipelago.

Addiction is a reoccurring theme in Masquerade.If anyone has read my tie-in Vestigial Tale “The Card Sharp,” it picks up on a lot of threads that are introduced in that novella. Lerium is the fictional drug within Ellada, which has clear parallels to opium in the 19th century. It was only used in very special religious ceremonies in one of the former colonies, Byssia, but Elladans took it and used it commercially because of colonialism. The colonies have long seceded from Ellada, reclaiming their independence, but the damage has been done. There’s another drug that’s sort of a continuation of Lerium as well, and it complicates a lot of character interactions within the final book. A little vague, but difficult to talk about the third book in a trilogy!

You can buy Masquerade or any of the Micah Grey Series here

If you buy Pantomime or Masquerade & send your receipt to Laura, you can claim a free 10k short story, “The Mechanical Minotaur,” set in the same world. If you buy all three, you can claim 60k of free fiction as well. More details here.


About Laura Lam

Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

You can find out more about Laura on her website – www.lauralam.co.uk

Or why not follow Laura on twitter – @LR_Lam


Blog Tour

Catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Laura for such a brilliant guest post and a fascinating insight into the trilogy!  And to Alice at Pan Macmillan for organising and sending me a copy of this fab book!

Have you read any of the Micah Grey Series?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  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 – 5 Reasons To Read Waking In Time by Angie Stanton


I’m super excited to be sharing a brilliant guest post today about a brand new YA Romance, Waking In Time by Angie Stanton pitched as a Time Travellers Wife for the YA market.

Waking In Time is due to be released on the 9th March 2017 published by Curious Fox and is set to be a page-turning story full of romance, twists and delightful details about uni life then and now and will stay with readers long after the book’s satisfying end.

#WakingInTime

Today I’m sharing the top 5 reasons to read Waking In Time….


Still mourning the loss of her beloved grandmother and shaken by her mysterious, dying request to “find the baby”, Abbi has arrived at uni to start her first year. But on her second day, she wakes up to a different world: 1983. That is just the first stop on Abbi’s journey backwards through time. Will is a charming student from 1927 who travels forwards through time. When Abbi and Will meet in the middle, love adds another complication to their lives. Communicating across time through a buried time capsule, they try to decode the mystery of their travel, find the lost baby and plead with their champion, a kindly physics tutor, to help them find each other again …even though the tutor gets younger each time Abbi meets him.


Top 5 Reasons To Read Waking In Time

  1. Time Travel – I mean, who doesn’t wonder what it’s like to live in another time. It’s a subject that’s long fascinated me. I’m quick to watch every movie on the topic, and I have a shelf full of time travel books. People are saying Waking in Time is a Time Traveler’s Wife for YA – which is so flattering as that’s my favourite book!
    1. Love Story – I wanted to create a love story that I would believe in, that readers would fall in love with, and, as a writer, you’re always looking for tension or obstacles which stop your couple getting together, so that, ultimately they can overcome those obstacles and it’s happy ever after.

     

    1. Secrets – There’s so many secrets! When you have one character from present day travelling back in time, and another from the past who only travels forward, there’s so much information they need to keep to themselves in order not to mess with time and put their own futures at risk.

     

    1. Buried treasure –Imagine discovering that a local legend of buried treasure turns out to be true! It was great fun deciding where to hide it and what items to include in the treasure box that would add more twists and turns to the story. Can you picture communicating over time via a buried time capsule!

     

    1. True story – the best stories for me, are always based in fact, and when I did research into my own family history I discovered a relative with gaps in her fascinating history, leaving me wondering what really happened to her. When I exhausted all my research without any answers, I realized the only way to find out the truth would be to travel back in time. And that’s how the idea of Waking in Time was born.

You can buy a copy of Waking In Time here or from your local bookshop!


About Angie Stanton

American author Angie Stanton is a life-long daydreamer who grew up with her hands on a book and her head in the clouds. As an adult she’s learned to put her talent to good use and writes contemporary fiction about life, love, and the adventures that follow. She is the best selling author of eight novels including Rock and a Hard Place, and Love ’em or Leave ’em. Angie has a Journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin. In her spare time, she sneaks off to New York City to enjoy the best entertainment experience on earth, Broadway. She is currently working on a series of Broadwaythemed books, and is also a contributing editor to BroadwayWorld.com. 

You can find out more about Angie on her website – www.angiestanton.com

Or why not follow Angie on twitter – @angie_stanton


Blog Tour

Catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops or by using the hashtag #WakingInTime


A huge thank you to Angie for a fab guest post and to Georgia at Curious Fox for organising and asking me to be part of the tour!

Have you read Waking In Time?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   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 – My Writing Process – First Draft to Final Copy by Ally Kennen


I’m over the moon to have been asked to take part in this fab blog tour for a brilliant new middle grade book, The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen.

The Everything Machine was released on the 2nd February 2017 published by Scholastic and tells the story of three kids let loose with a top-secret magical machine with a mind of it’s own!  It sounds like so much fun!

So for my stop on the tour we are delving into the writing process of the books author Ally Kennan…..


Three kids let loose with a top-secret magical machine with a mind of it’s own . . . What could possibly go wrong?

Olly, Stevie and Bird have just had a very special delivery. It’s a machine that has a name, can speak and is able to print ANYTHING they want it to. How about a never-ending supply of sweets and a cool swimming pool in the shed, for starters?

But is getting everything you’ve ever wished for all it’s cracked up to be?


My Writing Process – First Draft To Final Copy

A book begins with a vague idea, usually something that has been badgering me for years, weeks, days or hours. This idea grows and grows and becomes the thing that keeps me awake.

I always write the first draft in a state of fear and denial. Fear that I don’t know what I’m doing and denial that anything I write now will end up being in the book anyway. This is quite freeing.

It’s not very fashionable for women to talk about how their children affect their work, and one can feel a bit sneered at, but by God! My children affect mine!  I haven’t got much time to write because I have 4 children, aged from twelve years down to one year and they are always more noisy and interesting than any book I am writing.

Therefore, when I get a writing window, I go hell for leather. My earlier YA books, BEAST, BERSERK and BEDLAM, QUARRY were all written when I was pregnant  and/or had 2 or 3 young children at home. These books have all been described as fast-paced, which I always find funny. I have to crack on with the action before I have to make dinner or wipe up the sick! Maybe when my children are all grown-ups I will write glorious, ponderous prose. With faultless grammar and leavened with multi-metaphors and clever word play.

Not now though!

So I crack on with a first draft, letting the whole thing gallop along. The superb author Mimi Thebo told me to ‘let the wild horses run.’ And so I do. I let them run and run and run until they lie exhausted in a ditch, unable to even snort. This first draft is usually quite quick. Though It wasn’t like this for my latest book, THE EVERYTHING MACHINE, because I had a baby in the middle of it and everything, all the horses, stopped for about six months.

After the first draft the real work begins. The first draft kills off the red herrings, the dead ends, the cliches… It is where embryonic characters form. Where deeper, richer ideas grow…

And the second draft cuts cuts cuts cuts loads from the first draft. It is a bloody massacre. Only the good bits remain. Lots and lots more writing is done, and now, I think a little bit more about the rhythm of the sentences. The landscapes and journeys, the time lapses, the development of the characters. The sewing together. This is when  (hopefully) the magic part of writing happens. I have my rough work, now I can deep-think it, and try and make it much, much better.

The third draft is less butchery, more a gentle slapping, and do I Like these people I have created and are they interesting at all? and does the thing really work? And what am I trying to say here? After this draft I usually make someone read it (husband) or I make someone listen (my children)

I get that awful thing, Feedback.

This is always useful. No matter how horrific.

Then I go back and make more alterations and sprinkle some fairy dust and send it to my editor and hope I don’t get sacked.

I am not brave enough to send rough work to an editor.  I don’t want them to see the vulgar depths of my abilities… I like it to be as good as possible. I’d rather send the polished diamond than the rough one.

Then there is the to ing and fro ing with the editor, the sharpening and the cuttings and the pulling the whole thing together. It sounds worthy but I do believe in the team work aspect of book writing.  I need an editor! I need help! always!

After the edits come the copy edits, then reading the proofs, then BAM, there’s the book.

It’s a pretty good feeling.

You can buy a copy of The Everything Machine here or from your local bookshop!

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Ally Kennen

Ally Kennen has been an archaeologist, museum guard and singer-songwriter. Her dark and thrilling teen novels have been nominated for over eleven literary awards. She lives in Somerset with her husband and four children.

You can find out more about Ally on her website – www.allykennen.blogspot.com

Or why not follow her on twitter – @allykennen


Blog Tour

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

Monday 13th February

Fiction Fascination

Bookish Outsider

Tuesday 14th February

Girl Vs Books

Book Lover Jo

Wednesday 15th February

Live Otherwise

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Thursday 16th February

MG Strikes Back

Alejandra’s Life

Friday 17th February

Library Girl and Book Boy

Luna’s Little Library

Saturday 18th February

Big Book Little Book

Mum Friendly

Sunday 19th February

Tales of Yesterday

Powered by Reading


A huge thank you to the wonderful Ally Kennen for such a fab post and insight into her writing process!
Also a huge thank you to Faye Rogers for organising and having me as part of this fab blog tour as well as the wonderful people at Scholastic.

Have you read The Everything Machine?  What did you think?  What does your writing process look like?   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!

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