Tag Archives: Chicken House

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 – 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!

Spotlight – The Fandom by Anna Day


Today is my stop on the brilliant #JoinTheFandom blog tour and as it’s the last tour stop I have a fab giveaway!

As well as a giveaway I thought I would spotlight this awesome book that is all the talk on twitter at the moment and is also our debut of the month for the #BritishBooksChallenge18!

So sit back relax and enter the world of The Fandom….


‘THE FANDOM is an absolute thrill to read … Highly recommended!’ JAMES DASHNER, AUTHOR OF THE MAZE RUNNER

Violet and her friends love being part of the fandom for The Gallows Dance. But at Comic-Con, they’re somehow catapulted into the story itself – for real. Trapped in a twisted world where they’ve accidentally killed the original hero, Rose, there’s only one way to survive: Violet must fill Rose’s shoes and put the plot back on track. No story is worth dying for … is it?

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


About Anna Day

I’m an Author/single mum/Clinical psychologist/Geordie/ lover of stories, music and floaty things.

You can find out more about Anna on her website – www.annadaybooks.com

Or follow Anna on Twitter – @annadayauthor


Giveaway

The lovely people at Chicken House have given me a copy of The Fandom to giveaway to one lucky winner!

You can enter this giveaway by my twitter here

UK Only

Ends 29th January 2018

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Jazz at Chicken House for asking me to be part of the #JoinTheFandom blog tour and for the fab giveaway.  And also a huge thank you to Anna for being our #BritishBooksChallenge18 debut of the month!

Have you read The Fandom?  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 post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Writing Advice by Dan Smith


Today I am thrilled to be hosting this brilliant Dan Smith here on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of Below Zero!

Below Zero was released on the 4th January 2018 published by the lovelies at Chicken House and is a chilling thriller that will chill you to the core.

Today Dan gives us all some amazing writing advise in this fab guest post!


When Zak’s plane crash-lands on Outpost Zero, a small Antarctic research base in one of the most isolated places on Earth, he discovers a cold, dark nightmare. The power’s out and the people who live there have disappeared. Worse, as he searches for answers, bizarre visions suggest a link to something else – deep beneath the ice – which only he can understand …


Writing Advise

I just typed ‘advice for writers’ into Google. 4,940,000 results. ‘Tips for writers’ gets 16,800,000 results. ‘How to write a novel’ gets 142,000,000 results.

What you’ve got right there is a LOT of advice for writers. But is any of it any good? I don’t know, maybe. Probably. Some of it might be.

When I go into schools I’m sometimes asked if I have any tips for writers. Often it’s a teacher who asks, but sometimes it’s one of the students. Or maybe I’m asked to write an article along the lines of ‘5 tips for budding writers’. You know the kind of thing. Unfortunately, though, I can’t impart any sure-fire-publication-guaranteed nugget of advice, because such a thing doesn’t exist.

I reckon there are two things you can do if you want to be a writer or improve your writing. The first is to read books. I don’t think I’m giving away any of the Majestic Brotherhood of Author’s secrets when I say that reading books will help with writing books. The other thing you can do is write. And write. And write. Because writing is like many other things – it takes a lot of practice, a huge amount of perseverance, a mound of dedication, a dollop of talent, and – if you want to be published – a monumental amount of luck. Multiply the luck by a gajillion if you want to get rich by writing books.

If I could put all those things in a bottle and sell them, I would now be sitting by the pool in my villa in Bali, watching the sea through the palms and wondering what to do tomorrow – stroll along the beach, or go and find a jungle waterfall to swim in.

So my advice would be to not listen to all that advice. Someone once told me that when writing a book for younger readers, the most important thing to do is to find a way to get rid of the parents. In fact, the most important thing to do is to write a story that will engage young readers – though don’t ask me how to do that!

When I started to write Below Zero, I didn’t want to get rid of the parents. I wanted Zak’s parents to be front-and-centre in his story. For many children, their parents are the most significant people in their lives, so it doesn’t seem strange to me that they should feature in a story about something that happens to children. But Zak’s parents are not perfect – just like my parents and your parents. They have flaws. They have quirks. They are human. They can be embarrassing, reassuring, strong, weak, fallible, and, most important of all, they can be wrong. And sometimes, when parents are wrong, they need their children to remind them of it – just like Zak and May do in Below Zero.

Stories reflect life. They are often hyper-realistic versions of life, or even weird, overblown, and crazy versions of real life, but they still reflect life and relationships, and worries and fears and so much more.

There is no right way to tell a story. All we can do is try our best.

BELOW ZERO by Dan Smith out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House). Find out more at chickenhousebooks.com and connect with Dan Smith @DanSmithAuthor

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


About Dan Smith

Growing up, Dan Smith led three lives. In one he survived the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, while in another he travelled the world, finding adventure in the padi fields of Asia and the jungles of Brazil. But the third life he lived in a world of his own, making up stories . . . Which is where some people say he still lives most of the time.

Dan has lived in many places that inspire his writing – including Sierra Leone, Sumatra, northern and central Brazil. He’s even lived in Spain and in the Soviet Union, but he’s now settled in Newcastle with his wife and two young children to keep him on his toes. And, boy, do they keep him on his toes!

Past jobs have varied from dishwasher extraordinaire (or, perhaps, just ordinaire), social security fraud (detecting it, not committing it), to working on giant-sized Christmas decorations, and a fistful of mundane office jobs, but throughout all of those things, he’s always kept writing.

Dan writes for both children and adults.

You can follow Dan Smith on Twitter – @DanSmithAuthor

Or on his Facebook page here


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Dan for a brilliant guest post and to Laura from Chicken House for asking me to host and be part of this fab blog tour.

Have you read Below Zero?  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 post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Where It All Started…. by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison


I am super excited to have the super funny Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison on the blog today to celebrate the release of their new book Freshers.

Freshers was published 3rd August by the lovelies at Chicken House and it set to make you laugh your little socks off!

So today Tom and Lucy are taking another trip down memory lane and telling us where their writing partnership began…..


Uni beckons. Phoebe can’t wait to be a fresher – especially since her crush from school will be there too. She’ll be totally different at Uni: cooler, prettier, smarter … the perfect potential girlfriend. She’ll reinvent herself completely. But Luke’s oblivious, still reeling from the fallout of the break-up with his ex. Thrown head first into a world of new friends, parties and social media disasters – can Phoebe and Luke survive the year, let alone find each other?


Where It All Started…..

It’s not a strictly a university memory, this one, but we thought we’d share a little memory of the origins of our writing partnership. Because this not-very-impressive-looking piece of pink paper marks the first time that we ever did anything creative together.
 
 It was in the sixth form at school – a play called ‘In The Name Of Love’ which was co-written by Tom, and starred Lucy. It was an absolutely shameless rip-off of a very good comedy play called ‘Noises Off’, and it was about the final episode of a trashy American soap opera. Tom played a slightly insane elderly British actor, and Lucy played a high-pitched, screaming Valley Girl. 
We had only met a few months back and were just starting to become mates – but we got together, and started going out, at the after-cast party for this play. 
During this, and the other plays we were in together at school, we realised how much fun it was working together, coming up with silly, funny stuff. We both went off to York Uni afterwards and we didn’t really do anything particularly creative during our time there, but we always planned to. And then, after graduating, we started trying to come up with ideas for stuff we could write. We first experimented with writing (half a) sitcom script about a boy and a girl in their early twenties, but it was fairly awful. And then Lucy had the idea to try and write a dual narrative YA book, and now, five years and three books later, here we are! But it was this little scrap of pink paper that started it all… There’s actually a DVD of the play somewhere, although I think it would be too excruciatingly embarrassing (for us) to ever watch…
You can buy a copy of Freshers here or from your local bookshop!
You can see a previous post about Tom & Lucy’s favourite funny books here

About Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

Lucy Ivison, lives in London and is a school librarian who runs an online teen magazine, Whatever After, as well as teaching in girls’ schools across London specialising in building confidence and creativity.

Tom, currently living in Paris, is a journalist and has written for ShortList, Time Out, Vice, talkSPORT, ESPN and Viz.

You can follow Lucy on twitter – @lucyivison


Blog Tour

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


Another huge thank you to Tom & Lucy for a brilliant guest post!

Also a huge thank you to Nina Douglas and Chicken House for asking me to feature this and for sending me the book for review!

Have you read Freshers?  What were your thoughts?  Are you intrigued to read this book after reading this post?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy

Happy Reading!

Tales Q&A with Lisa Drakeford


Today I am super excited to be kicking of a fab blog tour for a brilliant YA contemporary!

The Crash by Lisa Drakeford is due for release on the 6th July 2017 published by the lovlies at Chicken House.

I’ve read this book already and LOVED it and like Lisa’s first book, The Baby, multiple points of view in the narrative and a twisting storyline will keep you gripped until the very last page!

So today I am lucky enough to have been able to put some questions to Lisa all about The Crash, it’s characters and writing that second novel…..


Best friends Sophie and Tye are watching TV when a car crashes through the living room wall. The driver and passenger are twins, Harry and Gemma. Next door neighbour, eleven-year-old Issy, witnesses the accident. In the aftermath, Tye is thrown into a coma, Gemma’s dark past begins to haunt the present, and Sophie starts to fall for Harry – but how can she, when he was the driver who nearly killed her best friend? And Issy, meanwhile, hides a terrible secret …


Hi Lisa!  Thanks so much for being here today!  I LOVED The Crash so much so it’s an honour to have you on Tales!

Can you tell us a little about your new YA book The Crash?

It begins with a car, crashing into a house where two best friends are watching TV. The rest of the book is about the relationships which develop between the people in the car and the people in the house. They all have secrets, some of them darker than others, and there’s a young next door neighbour who maybe has the darkest.

Can you tell us a little about the main characters, Sophie, Tye, Harry and Gemma?

Sophie’s a brilliant best friend but riddled with guilt. She’s had a few knocks in life, but just gets on with it.

Tye’s delightful. He’s funny and good looking but dealing with a secret.

Harry is artistic and the best brother you could ever want. He’s madly in love but has to face a few things before he can enjoy it.

Gemma’s damaged and prickly and hard to love, but actually, strangely loving.

Like your first novel, The Baby, The Crash is told from different points of view with flashbacks. How do you find writing each narrative voice ? Whow was your favourite to write?

I’m a bit obsessed with seeing things from different points of view, so I love writing in this way. All five characters have their own stories to tell, so it sometimes feels difficult pulling all their stories together, I guess it’s a bit like a jigsaw.

It’s eleven year old Issy who I enjoyed writing about the most. Hers was the darkest story, but strangely the most straightforward.

If you could describe The Crash in 5 words what would it be?

Secrets have to be revealed!

How did you find writing your second book compared to the first ? Did your writing process change at all?

I wrote The Crash before The Baby was published, so there was no real pressure there. The difficult bit came with the re-writes and edits. By then, The Baby had been accepted and that’s when I felt the pressure. I had nothing to lose with The Baby; I have everything to lose with The Crash. I learnt so much with The Baby and I hope I’ve now put that experience to good use. I think by book three I’ll have finally got it sussed.

My writing process has definitely changed now. I still write what I want, but I have my mentors’ and editors’ words of caution and advice ringing in my ears as I do.

We would love to know a little bit more about you! Can you give us 5 random facts we might not know about yourself?

I’m probably one of the most boring people on earth, but I’ll have a go…..

1. My real name isn’t Lisa or Drakeford.

2. I once toasted a mouse by accident. (It didn’t smell very good)

3. I’ve saved my younger brother’s life twice. He’s 48 now and he’s still not thanked me!

4.I’ve never played Monoploy or watched an episode of The Simpsons.

5 My mantra goes something like this: There is always room for pudding.

What’s next?

More writing. I can’t get enough. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. Book three is written and the send button has been pressed. I’m actually incredibly proud of it. As I said earlier, I’ve learnt such a lot since submitting The Baby to Chicken House. All that’s left now is to sit, twiddling my thumbs, waiting to see if anyone likes it. In the meantime I’ll just carry on writing…

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


About Lisa Drakeford

Now a children’s tutor, Lisa Drakeford used to be a library assistant and became inspired to write by the brilliant young adult novels filling the shelves.

She started writing seriously four years ago, attending a number of writing courses and winning a place on the Writing East Midlands Mentoring Scheme. Her debut novel, The Baby, was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2014. Her newest novel, The Crash, will publish in July 2017. 

You can follow Lisa of twitter – @LisaDrakeford


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Lisa for answering all of my questions and to Jazz at Chicken House for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read The Crash?  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 – Inspiration for Bigfoot, Tobin & Me by Melissa Savage


Today I have a fantastic guest post about inspiration from lovely author Melissa Savage to celebrate the release of Bigfoot, Tobin and Me a wonderful new Middle Grade book dealing with grief and moving forward.

Bigfoot, Tobin and Me was released on the 4th May 2017 published by Chicken House.

When I asked Melissa about the inspiration behind the story and following reading her guest post it made me quite emotional…..


Lemonade’s mother named her for her favourite saying: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But now her mum’s dead. After relocating to her grandpa’s place in Bigfoot-obsessed Willow Creek, Lem meets Tobin. Quirky and determined, he’s the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. and sole investigator for the town. Lem is reluctantly enlisted as his assistant. Together, they try to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film, but what they find is even more amazing.


Inspiration for Bigfoot, Tobin & Me

As a licensed therapist working with children, I have used many different research based techniques to make connections with my clients, and story is one of those tools. I have found narrative work with children to be especially effective to assist them in learning healing strategies and adaptive coping mechanisms. Just as story was important in my life growing up, I know it is important to other children as well, and therefore I choose to write about social issues.

Years ago, there was one little boy I will never forget because of the impact one particular story had on him during a session. This sweet, wiggly, little guy had been permanently removed from his home due to abuse and neglect and was currently living in a foster home. At the very end of our session, I read him a therapeutic picture book about a mistreated kitten who needed a new home because the family who cared for the kitten did not treat the kitten as he deserved to be cared for. This little boy listened to that story so intently, eyes wide and without a single wiggle. When I read the very last line and closed the book, he looked up at me from over his glasses that sat low on his nose and said, that kitten is just like me!  It’s those small miracles in therapy that we hope for, that we have made an impact towards healing. On that day, I knew he felt understood. On that day, he felt that he was not alone. And the tool that assisted me in making that special connection with him was story. And I knew he was finally on his way to learning how to heal.

Story is so many things to us. It is integral to our history and continues to be important to connect humankind today. Story can entertain and enlighten us. It can help to shape who we become and how we fit in the world. Story can give us a sense of belonging and help us feel not so alone in our differences or in the hardships we face.

And it can help us heal.

I’ve been asked if the subject matter of grief and loss in Bigfoot, Tobin & Me is too much for the middle grade reader. In fact, in my work with children and families, I know that many children have either gone through an equally devastating loss themselves or may know someone else who has. At the very least, these children are all too familiar with what goes on in our world today. We cannot shield everything from them and they need our guidance to understand it at a developmentally appropriate level and be guided in their healing process as they learn to sustain their own coping ability. And with that healing, a sustained sense of hope and joy, in spite of the fear and sadness brought on by tragedy.

Most recently after suffering my own difficult loss, I’ve had the privilege to walk beside other children and families who have suffered difficult losses. It was devastating to have to share such sadness with others, yet healing too, because we were not alone. What is it that shapes who we are? Experiences both good and bad. Although no one ever wishes for bad experiences, it is the hardships and the adversity that molds us to be more than we are each time we must endure it. It is in adversity that we grow and learn and change. We become stronger for it, we become more loving and we certainly become more capable. And story is one of those wonderful ways in which we can learn empathy and coping as we bear witness to experiences in books that we have not experienced in our own lives. To shield our children from the realities they will be faced would be a disservice. Loss is one of the most difficult things we will go through in our lives. However, it truly is what is hard that builds our character, forms our strength, and shapes who we will become. And what we become is up to us. What an amazing lesson to teach our children.

Bigfoot, Tobin & Me by Melissa Savage out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

Find out more at www.chickenhousebooks.com

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


About Melissa Savage

Melissa D. Savage’s first book, The Lost Pony, premiered in her second grade classroom, winning high praise from critics such as her mom. Although the book was hand written and self-illustrated in Crayola Crayons, it was this experience that began her love of writing and to this day she still believes was one of her best works. Melissa continued to create stories growing up, writing different adventures for friends to read and later completed a Master’s Degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Hamline University in Minnesota. She was privileged to be able to receive guidance from amazing authors, educators, and fellow writers who shared their wisdom, experience, and support. Since then, she has been recognized for her work at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference in both the Middle Grade and Young Adult Genres. Most recently, Melissa’s debut book, Lemons has been recognized by the American Booksellers Association on their Independent Booksellers’ debut picks of the season list, Indies Introduce Winter/Spring 2017.

Melissa is a writer and a child and family therapist. She has worked with families struggling with issues of abuse, trauma and loss/bereavement. She believes that expressing oneself through writing can be a very healing process when struggling with difficulties in life.  In addition it can be a vehicle in which to honor, celebrate and continue to share the spirits of the special people who have left us too soon. Melissa lives in Minneapolis with her family.

You can find out more about Melissa on her website – www.melissadsavage.com

Or why not follow Melissa on twitter – @melissadsavage


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Melissa for such a gorgeous and thoughtful blog post and to Laura at Chicken House for organising and asking me to be part of this fab tour!

Have you read Bigfoot, Tobin & Me?  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 post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Five Books To Inspire Children’s Imaginations By Cathryn Constable


I’m super happy to have a brilliant guest post from the wonderful Cathryn Constable today!

Cathryn is the author of the brilliant The Wolf Princess, one of the bestselling debuts of 2012. It swept the board with gorgeous reviews and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Specsavers National Book Awards.

Cathryn’s second book The White Tower was released on the 5th January 2017 published by Chicken House and is a wonderful middle grade read.

Alchemy meets dreamy reality in this new atmospheric adventure!

Today Cathryn talks about books to inspire children’s imaginations…..


When Livy’s accepted at Temple College, a school for the very brightest, no one is more surprised than her, though she has always felt different. Recently, Livy’s been drawn to the roof, where, among its towering stone angels, she has the strangest desire to fly. But her behaviour is noticed by others, for whom the ability to defy gravity is a possible reality … one that they’ll stop at nothing to use for their own ends.


Five Books To Inspire Children’s Imaginations

Everyone likes to bang on about how reading books (as opposed to text books or just texts) is soooo important for children but they can’t always say why. … My sense is that children who have consumed certain sorts of imaginative books have an adult life that is less grey and featureless and much more subversive as a child who has been allowed to create an intensely personal internal landscape hits adulthood with a sense of possibility and ‘what if?’ They’ve learned how to imagine things differently from how they are currently arranged or presented. There’s a very good reason why totalitarian regimes burn books.

Five books or even writers can’t be enough, though, to build a vivid internal landscape. E. Nesbit should be on any list along with Alan Garner. I would also add Catherine Fisher and Susan Cooper. My son adored Walter Moers… Really, the list is endless… But for those short on time, here are five of the best.

The If Game by Catherine Storr

Of course, I read Marianne Dreams as a child but did not discover this, or the equally unsettling The Mirror Image Ghost until I read them to my children. Storr is such an excellent writer, taking something so small and insignificant as a boy finding some keys which open secret doors into a world he doesn’t recognize but which forces him to confront the truth about his family.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

I can still remember opening this book and reading that first sentence aloud to my son. ‘It was a dark, blustery afternoon in Spring and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.’ I had a sensation akin to vertigo because it was so surprising and so good. And the book just got better.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The only American writer to make the list. This is the sort of book that stays with you; a lucid exploration of time and death and the consequences of immortality.

The Wind on the Moon by Eric Linklater

Batty but anarchic. Dora and Dorinda behave very badly indeed but it’s all very funny.

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Totally thrilling, unputdownable and frankly very frightening. Part one of His Dark Materials trilogy, these books chart a child’s necessary and compelling journey from innocence to experience.

You can buy a copy of The White Tower here or from your local bookshop!


After reading Theology at Cambridge University, Cathryn Constable went on to work in magazine journalism, writing for Vogue, W, Elle, The Independent, Tatler and The Sunday Times, before realising her dream of writing stories for children. Cathryn is married with three children and lives in London.

You can find out more about Cathryn on her website – www.cathrynconstable.net

Or why not follow Cathryn on twitter – @kateconstable7 


A huge thank you to Cathryn for such a fab post and to Chicken House and Maura for organising!

Have you read The White Tower?  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 – Three Terrible Writing Myths and Three Amazing Writing Tips by Mary G. Thompson


I have recently received this awesome YA Thriller by US author Mary G. Thompson, Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee which was released on the 2nd March 2017 published by Chicken House.

Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee is perfect for fans of Louise O’Neill, Lisa Heathfield and Cat Clarke’s The Lost and the Found.

I’ve heard such good things about this book already and I simply cannot wait to read it!

“Cleverly interspersing the present-day story with flashbacks, Mary G. Thompson masterfully drip-feeds twists and turns into AMY CHELSEA STACIE DEE until it builds to its heart-in-mouth conclusion.”

I am so excited to have a fab guest post from the author herself about writing myths and tips…..


Cousins Amy and Dee were kidnapped by a stranger as children. Now, sixteen-year-old Amy is back with her parents. Dressed in purple and clutching a plastic doll, she refuses to answer questions. As Amy struggles towards a normal teenage life, her family – and the police – press her for information. Unable to escape her past, Amy realizes she has to confront the truth. How did she survive? How did she escape? And what happened to Dee?

You can read the first chapter here


Three Terrible Writing Myths and Three Amazing Writing Tips!

Myth #1:

You need creativity to strike.

I’m not going to claim that ideas don’t sometimes come in the middle of the night or at other inconvenient times. They definitely do! I get them while I’m at the day job or on the subway or half asleep or in the shower. I almost never get an aha idea while I’m sitting in front of the computer ready to write. But that’s okay, because most of writing is not about ideas, it’s about execution. That means sitting your butt in the chair (or, if you’re trying to be healthy, standing your feet at your standing desk), and writing all the words that bring the idea to life. But what if that idea just isn’t coming? Well, that leads me to …

Myth #2:

Writer’s Block.

That’s right, writer’s block is a myth! I always say that there are two states for a writer, working and not working. What people think of as writer’s block is really just not working. If you sit in front of your computer and think, you will eventually think of something to write, and if you begin to write, you will eventually have a base from which to build. Whenever I say this to people, they object. They always have a reason why writer’s block is a legitimately totally real thing for them. It isn’t! If you think you have writer’s block, you are actually procrastinating. We all do it, but it’s something we all need to overcome. Sometimes writing is just as hard as any other job, and we can’t wait to magically find …

Myth #3:

The zone.

Ok, this may not be a myth for everyone. I have author friends who tell me that they sometimes get lost in a book and don’t realize that four hours have passed. This never happens to me! I have a terrible time concentrating. I stare off into space and fidget and surf the internet and text my friends and everything else. I know that I’m terrible at concentrating, so I don’t expect myself to magically fall into a fugue state. And this leads me to my first tip!

Tip #1:

Work longer, not smarter.

This tip is for people like me who have trouble concentrating. If you are like me but you expect yourself to write your daily word count goal in one hour, you are going to stress yourself out and be frustrated. Since I know myself, I’ve totally given up on efficiency. Instead, I set aside the time to sit in the chair until I know I can accomplish my goal. For me, this means I set aside at least five good hours on every day I have off of my day job. That’s five hours of time that’s totally uninterrupted except for all the ways my own brain finds to interrupt me. A lot of people dislike this tip because they are still trying to break into the business and have day jobs and/or kids that make it tough to find uninterrupted time. Which leads me to …

Tip #2:

Keep a regular schedule.

You can make up for a lack of long blocks of time by writing at the same time every day or for the same blocks of time every week. When I was a lawyer working longer hours, I would write for about an hour every day after work. This wasn’t ideal, but combined with several hours on the weekend, it added up to what became my first book. The important thing for me is to work regularly enough to keep the book in my head so I don’t forget what is going on. It is key to work steadily and never go long periods of time without writing, which leads me to …

Tip #3:

Do not stop!

Some people will tell you that when you finish a manuscript, you should set it aside and let it breathe or something for a few months. I advise against this. I usually end up taking a few days between finishing a draft and starting a revision, but too much time pulls you out of the story and sets you back. You wouldn’t stop going to your day job for months, so you shouldn’t stop writing either. The good news is, you don’t have to be a magical creative genius! All you have to do is keep writing and writing until you have a book!

Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G. Thompson is out now priced £6.99

You can buy a copy of Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee here or from your local bookshop!


About Mary G. Thompson

Mary G. Thompson was raised in Oregon, USA. She was a practicing attorney for more than seven years, including almost five years in the US Navy, and is now a law librarian in Washington, DC. She received her BA from Boston University, her JD from the University of Oregon, and her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. This is her fifth book.

You can find out more about Mary G. Thompson on her website – www.marygthompson.com

Or why not follow Mary of twitter – @marygthompson


A huge thank you to Mary for such a brilliant guest post and some brilliant writing tips!  And to Jazz at Chicken House for organising and sending me a copy of this fab book!

Have you read Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee?  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!

Tales Quiz – Which Character From Who Let The Gods Out by Maz Evans Are You?


Who Let The Gods Out is currently sitting very high on my February TBR and from what I have heard already I’m in for a huge treat!  Maz Evans is super funny and I’m sure that her debut is going to make me smile from ear to ear.

Who Let The Gods Out? was released on the 2nd February 2017 published by the awesome Chicken House and is set to be a runaway success!

And it’s our #BritishBooksChallenge17 Debut Of The Month!

You can find out why people are loving Who Let The Gods Out here

So I teamed up with the wonderful Maz Evans and today we are asking….

Which Character From Who Let The Gods Out Are You?

And remember if you read, review and link up Who Let The Gods Out? for our #BritishBooksChallenge17  February link up here you will gain an extra entry into the February Prize Pack Draw!

Also do check out an awesome giveaway on twitter!


Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?

You can buy a copy of Who Let The Gods Out here or from you local bookshop


Which character from Who Let The Gods Out are you most like? 

Take the quiz to find out and share your results with us on twitter or leave a comment.

If you cannot see the quiz below click here and scroll down


About Maz Evans

Maz’s writing career began in journalism as a TV critic and feature writer. She has written for many national titles and is a regular pundit on The Jeremy Vine Show. After working as a creative writing lecturer, she founded Story Stew, an anarchic creative writing programme that has visited primary schools and literary festivals around the UK, including Hay and Imagine. Maz lives in London with her husband and four children.

You can find out more about Maz on her website – www.maz.world

Or why not follow her on twitter – @MaryAliceEvans


Giveaway

With thanks to Chicken House I am also hosting a special giveaway on twitter to win 1 of 5 copies of Who Let The Gods Out here!


A huge thank you to Maz for playing along and helping to create this quiz!  And to Nina Douglas and Jazz at Chicken House for organising and the fab giveaway!

Have you read Who Let The Gods Out?  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!

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