Tag Archives: Contemporary

Guest Post – Chris Russell’s Guide To Being “With The Band” by Chris Russell


I am so so excited to have the wonderful and awesome Chris Russell on the blog today to celebrate the release of his second book in his fab Songs About A Girl Trilogy, Songs About Us.

Songs About Us was released on the 13th July 2017 published by Hodder Children’s Books and is set to be a phenomenal read that will set your heart racing!

A modern love story for fans of Zoella – and for anyone who has ever dreamed of being ‘with the band’.

I’ve met Chris a few times now and I know he is in a brilliant band called The Lightyears so when Chris got in touch about a post I jumped straight in and asked him for his top tips on “Being With The Band”…..


A modern love story for fans of Zoella – and for anyone who has ever dreamed of being ‘with the band’.

Two months on from the explosive finale to book one, Charlie’s life is almost back to normal again: rebuilding her relationship with her father, hanging out with best mate Melissa, and worrying about GCSEs. All the while, Gabe’s revelations about her mother are never far from her mind. And neither is Gabe.

It’s not long before Charlie is pulled back into the world of Fire&Lights – but the band seem different this time. But then again, so is she…

Meanwhile, tensions between Gabe and Olly continue to run high, leading to more turmoil between the band members and press than ever before. But when Gabriel and Charlie stumble upon yet another startling truth that links them together – everything they have stands to implode in front of them.


Chris Russell’s Guide To Being “With The Band”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy both Songs About A Girl and Songs About Us here or from your local bookshop!


About Chris Russell

When I was thirteen, my best friend and I went to a Bon Jovi concert at Wembley Stadium. We thought it looked like fun, so we started our own band – a band that, ten years later, would become The Lightyears. Since then, we’ve been lucky enough to tour all over the world, from Cape Town to South Korea, playing at Glastonbury Festival and O2 Arena and supporting members of legendary rock bands such as Queen, Journey and The Who. And though we never made it anywhere near as big as Bon Jovi, we did get to play Wembley Stadium, four times, to crowds of over 45,000 people.

Music aside, writing was my first love. In 2014, I published a novel called MOCKSTARS, which was inspired by my tour diaries for The Lightyears. Shortly afterwards, following a three-month stint ghostwriting for a One Direction fan club, I came up with the idea of a YA novel that combined an intense teenage romance with the electrifying universe of a chart-topping boyband. That idea became the trilogy SONGS ABOUT A GIRL, which was signed up by Hodder Children’s in 2015, and has sold in multiple territories worldwide.

You can find out more about Chris in his website –www.chrisrussellwrites.com

Or why not follow Chris on Twitter – @chrisrusselluk


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Chris for asking me to be part of his fab blog tour and for going along with my insane idea for a video!  Also a huge thank you to Hachette for sending me a copy of the book.

Have you read Songs About A Girl and/or Songs About Us?  What did you think?  Do you love Boy Band Lit??  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment by clicking the reply button at the top of this page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Get Ahead As An Author—Get A Dog! by Nikki Sheehan


Today I am over the moon to be hosting a post from the lovely Nikki Sheehan to celebrate the release of Goodnight, Boy!

Goodnight,Boy is due for release on the 6th July 2017 published by the fab Rock The Boat.

I’ve read this book already and LOVED it so much!  Its gorgeous inside and out!

So today Nikki tells us about how to get ahead as an author……


A tale of two very different worlds, both shattered by the loss of loved ones. Tragic, comic and full of hope, thanks to a dog called Boy.

The kennel has been JC’s home ever since his new adoptive father locked him inside. For hours on end, JC sits and tells his dog Boy how he came to this country: his family, the orphanage and the Haitian earthquake that swept everything away.

When his adoptive mother Melanie rescues him, life starts to feel normal again. Until JC does something bad, something that upset his new father so much that he and Boy are banished to the kennel. But as his new father gets sicker, JC realizes they have to find a way out. And so begins a stunning story of a boy, a dog and their journey to freedom.


Get Ahead As An Author—Get A Dog!

Dogs make the very best muses. I know because I wrote a book about a boy and a dog, with two of my own fur babies constantly by my side. Goodnight, Boy is written to and about a dog, and it explores how, even in the very worst circumstances, a dog will keep you going. Any authors reading this will know that I’m only exaggerating slightly when I say that the badlands of 20,000 words into a first draft is a pretty bad place to find yourself. As is sitting down to the smell of freshly-sent editorial notes.

So here is a rundown of why, if you want to get ahead in publishing, you should most definitely get a dog.

Basics

The only indispensable rule I know for writing is that you must have your bum on a seat, and your fingers on the keyboard to produce anything. So, if, as a dog owner, you’re forced to spend more time at home, this is a good start. If you also have a dog keeping your toes warm (as Edith Wharton put it, ‘a heartbeat at my feet’), it really does discourage you from wandering off and doing housework.

Distractions

Talking of housework, once you’re a dog owner, I can guarantee you’ll spend less time on housework, redecorating and the general maintenance of what is normally seen as an acceptable standard of hygiene because keeping up with the mess dogs create is pretty much futile. One of my dogs sheds like a dandelion clock mid blow, 24 hours a day. This may sound like a negative, but actually time spent not hoovering can be diverted into words, paragraphs, chapters, and head stroking.

Hobbies

Forget hobbies. Writing takes time; for thinking, drafting, editing, and Twitter stalking writers more successful than yourself. So the last thing you need is an interesting pastime, such as badminton or medieval battle enactment. It won’t matter though, because, as a writer you get to experience any number of strange locations and events in your head. And, if you’re ever asked at a publishing party what else you do, just say you have a dog because a dog is a hobby, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees.

Health and fitness

There’s a syndrome, coined by the incomparable author Pip Jones, known as SAAD: Spreading Author Arse Disorder. Sedentary hours make SAAD pretty much inevitable, so you’re going to have to get some exercise in somehow. Dogs like walks even though they don’t have Fitbit buddies to impress. The longer and more frequent the better, and in absolutely any weather (unless they’re like one of mine, who is half cat, and won’t go out if showers are forecast). On walkies your dog will meet up with their mates and you’ll make friends with their owners too (think, park scene in 101 Dalmations, but, in my experience, less romantic). If you’re lucky, these humans will be the sort who don’t mind you bouncing book ideas off them or moaning about writing. Even if they do, they’re a lot more polite about it than your family are. And when you’re not exploiting the personal generosity of strangers, you get to spend time walking alone listening to music and audio books (consuming other people’s books is part of the job) or just walking in silence, which sometimes allows you hear those really shy, difficult voices that lurk at the back of your brain.

Mental health

Being a writer can be wonderful but, contrary to popular belief, it’s probably not the way to

everlasting happiness. Granted, writing can be cathartic at times, but once you’ve catharted you have to live with the fact that other people, thousands of them, will be reading, judging, maybe even hurling across the room in disgust, the product of said catharsis. Fortunately, dogs probably can’t read – though, as the first draft of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was eaten by his dog, Max, you have to wonder. Generally speaking, however, your dog will not mind how bad your first draft is. They equally won’t care about reviews, prizes, foreign rights sales, or if you’re even any good or hopelessly derivative and commercially out of kilter. Dogs are all about here and now. And, as writers, if we can try to be more dog, and concentrate on the process rather than the product, I have a feeling that we’d not only be a lot happier, but better writers too.

Love

People worry about being lonely if they work from home, but I never feel alone. I work with fantastic colleagues who can’t talk to me. This means they can’t discuss the project they’re working on, ask what’s for dinner, or chat about school. They never disagree with me, or storm off to their bedroom, and they don’t judge me when I get in a strop because Scrivener is stupid. (It is – fact). Dogs take tolerance and unconditional love to saintly levels, and like nothing better than to soothe the furrowed brow of the needy writer with a lick, a well-placed head on the lap, or a paw in the hand. They’re philosophers, therapists, personal trainers, and friends. And that’s why authors need dogs.

One last historical note; George Eliot’s publisher sent her a pug as part payment for one of her novels. A practice that, I hope my publisher will agree, should definitely be revived for 2017.

Mother and daughter Labradoodles, Tinker (left) and Coco

Nikki and Tinker

Coco and Tinker playing with their friend, Snowy, at Brighton Beach

You can buy a copy of Goodnight, Boy here or from your local bookshop!


About Nikki Sheehan

Nikki Sheehan is the youngest daughter of a rocket scientist. She went to a convent school in Cambridge where she was taught by real nuns in long black habits. After university Nikki’s first job was subtitling the Simpsons. She then studied psychology, retrained as a journalist, and wrote features for parenting magazines and the national press. She now writes mainly about education and property and is co-founder of an award-winning property blog. She is married and lives in Brighton with her husband, three children, two dogs, a cat, and an ever-fluctuating numbers of hamsters.

You can find out more about Nikki on her website – www.nikkisheehan.co.uk

Or why not follow Nikki on twitter – @NicoletteShhh


Blog Tour

You can catch the rest of this fab blog tour by checking out the hashtag #GoodNightBoyTour


A huge thank you to Nikki for such a fab guest post and to Cailin at Rock The Boat for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read Goodnight, Boy?  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 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 – Refugee Children Are My Children by Sita Brahmachari


Today I have a fab guest post from the lovely Sita Brahmachari to celebrate the release of her new YA book, Tender Earth.

Tender Earth was released on the 1st June 2017 published by Macmillan Children’s and is endorsed by Amnesty International UK.

‘A coming of age story for young protesters everywhere.’

 Tender Earth is endorsed by Amnesty International UK because it illuminates the importance of equality, friendship and solidarity, and upholds our right to protest against injustice.’

Today Sita talks about child refugees in this fab guest post….


Laila Levenson has always been the baby of the family, but now with her older siblings, Mira and Krish, leaving home just as she starts secondary school, everything feels like it’s changing… can the reappearance of Nana Josie’s Protest Book and the spirit it releases in Laila, her friends and her local community, help her find her own voice and discover what she truly believes in?
A powerful chime rings through Laila’s mind, guiding her to walk the footsteps of the past on her way to discover her own future.


Refugee Children Are My Children

Who has not been in the situation of listening to the news or reading the paper, looking at a photo of a child refugee and feeling helpless at being witness to the plight of child refugees travelling unaccompanied throughout the world?

While writing Tender Earth I thought a lot about how people get on with their own lives while knowing that there are children right at this moment whose human rights are being violated because they have been displaced by conflict and war… and so many of these children are alone.

In this scene in Tender Earth my heroine, Laila Levenson, is sitting with her adopted grandmother listening to the news. Laila’s ‘Bubbe’ herself arrived as a refugee in this country from Germany just before World War Two as part of the Kindertransport.

In Tender Earth my young and older characters ask the question, how will history judge us for our treatment of child refugees today?

I work as writer in Residence at The Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. When you know people personally, listen to their stories and witness their bravery, they are no longer statistics and the reality of the situation comes home to you. In Tender Earth, Laila’s friendship with a girl in her tutor group, Pari Pashaei, the child of Iraqi refugees, makes Laila hear and experience the news in a different way. It makes her want to stand up and use her voice to make a difference.

   ‘Listen to the language they use! Quotas, swarms… as if people are insects – or vermin!’ Bubbe holds onto the delicate gold necklace that she always wears as she listens. The presenter is now interviewing a boy called Amit, his voice sounds so sweet and young:

 ‘I am ten years old. I make this journey on my own. My feet always hurting from walking so far. Nothing in my home is left. All is destroyed with shelling. I don’t know, where is my mother, where is my father, my sisters… We have no clean water, not enough food, and here are some not good people, you know? Please, give us some safety. Make your hearts open. How can you close your borders to us? We are only children. If you turn your backs from us, we will die. Once already I have died to lose my family. Now we die a second time.’

Do you ever ask the questions that Laila Levenson and her friends ask in Tender Earth? If you do, take a look at these links that I explored in my research… convert thought into action and, as soon as you are legally able, VOTE for what you believe in.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/nov/07/class-young-people-political-activis

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/may/17/traffickers-smugglers-exploit-record-rise-unaccompanied-child-refugees-migrants-unicef-report?CMP=twt_a

http://www.islingtoncentre.co.uk

http://youngroots.org.uk

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/resources/amnesty-youth-groups-action-february-2017-keep-refugee-families-togethe

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/dec/10/diary-16-year-old-afghan-refugee

https://www.amnestyusa.org/about-us/who-we-are/local-groups/

You can buy a copy of Tender Earth here or from your local bookshop


About Sita Brahmachari

I write in community and education settings, theatre, YA novels and short stories. I have an MA in Arts Education. Novels published by Macmillan Children’s Books are: ‘Artichoke Hearts’ – Waterstones Children’s Book Prize (2011) and nominated for the Carnegie Prize. Subsequent novels: ‘Jasmine Skies’ (2013) and ‘Red Leaves’ (2015) were nominated for the Carnegie Prize. ‘Red Leaves’ is endorsed by Amnesty International UK. ‘Kite Spirit’ (2013) was nominated for UKLA Book Award and is a Reading Agency ‘Book on Prescription.’For Barrington Stoke Publishers: ‘Brace Mouth, False Teeth’ and ‘Car Wash Wish.’ I was Online Writer in Residence for Book Trust (2015) and am Writer In Residence at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. ‘Tender Earth’ for Macmillan Children’s books, endorsed by Amnesty International UK is published in June 2017.

You can find out more about Sita on her website – www.sitabrahmachari.blogspot.co.uk

Or why not follow Sita on Twitter – @sitabrahmachari


A huge thank you to Sita for such a fab guest post and to Nina Douglas for asking me to host!

Have you read the Tender Earth?  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 – Meet Tamsin Winter by Tamsin Winter


Today I am super excited to have a fab post from debut author Tamsin Winter!

Being Miss Nobody was released on the 1st June 2017 published by Usborne and is set to be a fab YA Contemporary read!

As well as all of this Tamsin Winter is also #BritishBooksChallenge17 debut of the month for June 2017!

You can find out more about the #BritishBooksChallenge17 here

I was really intrigued to find out more about Tamsin so here’s a little post all about her….


… I am Miss Nobody.

Rosalind hates her new secondary school. She’s the weird girl who doesn’t talk. The Mute-ant. And it’s easy to pick on someone who can’t fight back. So Rosalind starts a blog – Miss Nobody; a place to speak up, a place where she has a voice. But there’s a problem…

Is Miss Nobody becoming a bully herself?

Read the first chapter online now.


Meet Tamsin Winter

Tamsin is an author, a mother, a friend, a teacher, a day-dreamer, a secret sticker collector. Her debut novel, Being Miss Nobody is a story about speaking out, from a girl who can’t.

So we can get to know her a little better, here are 10 things you probably don’t need to know about Tamsin (but are actually very interesting!)

1. Going to Brownies in the 1980s made me a feminist. My little brother who was in the Cubs got badges for stuff like fitness and making fires. Nearly all of the Brownie badges involved doing chores. It probably explains why I only got three. I told my parents I wasn’t doing any more because of my feminist principles. I complained about a ‘ladies spade’ in Homebase. I was actually quite radical at eight years old.

2. Being Miss Nobody is about an eleven-year-old girl who can’t speak outside her home. She has a severe anxiety disorder called selective mutism, and she also happens to be completely mighty and awesome.

3. I came up with the idea for Being Miss Nobody during a day-dream. It was of a girl with all these words she wanted to say inside her head, but unable to speak even one of them. I started writing the book that day, and a year later I had signed a book deal. As day-dreams go, it was a pretty good one.

4. When I was four years old, my parents got me a kitten. I wanted to call him Rumpelstiltskin, but I wasn’t allowed. I still have no idea why.

5. One of my most treasured possessions is my English book from primary school. My teacher’s notes say things like ‘Totally irrelevant!’ and ‘See me, please!’ It makes me laugh every time I read it. To be fair, the stories I wrote are completely bonkers.

6. One of my favourite books is Wuthering Heights. I have about fifteen copies, all with different covers. It’s the only thing I collect. Apart from dresses – I have hundreds – but that is sort of by accident.

7. My favourite book growing up was The Neverending Story. It taught me how utterly magical and heart-breaking books can be. It’s also probably why I have nightmares about swamps.

8. I used to get in trouble for laughing all the time when I was at school. Learning the William Rotsler quote ‘You cannot hold back a good laugh any more than you can the tide. Both are forces of nature’ stopped me from getting a lot of detentions.

9. I have a terrible memory, so I write everything down. My writing desk is covered in sticky notes. I’m addicted to them. When I was editing Being Miss Nobody I got through about a pack a day. A friend recently bought me some cloud-shaped ones to match the cover of my book. It made me think – the world cannot be such a bad place if cloud-shaped stationery exists.

10. I am addicted to motivational quotes. I don’t think there is ever a bad moment in your life that couldn’t be even a tiny bit improved with the right motivational quote. You can just google them any time you want. It’s one of the many ways the internet saved my life. It is also my biggest time-wasting activity ever.

Being Miss Nobody is out on 1st June and published by Usborne.

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


About Tamsin Winter

I’m an author, a mother, a friend, a teacher, a day-dreamer, a secret sticker collector.

And I love cats a lot too. (You will meet some in my books.)

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved writing stories and poems. One of my earliest memories is sitting at my grandfather’s old typewriter (yes, typewriter! Google it) bashing the keys with my clumsy fingers, trying (and failing) to write without making any mistakes. Computers make writing stories a lot easier, believe me.

I love reading books because they are like little bits of paper magic. They can take you places far away, make you laugh, make you cry, make you scared, make you love and hate the world, and ultimately teach you to believe in happy endings, or at least stop you watching too much TV, which is sort of the same thing.

I hope you enjoy reading my books, and that somewhere inside the pages you feel something, if not exactly magic, then something real. Because that’s what my stories are about.

You can find out more about Tamsin on her website www.tamsinwinter.com.

You can also follow Tamsin on Twitter at @MsWinterTweets


A huge thank you to Tamsin and also Amy at Usborne for organising this post and embracing the #BritishBooksChallenge17.

Have you read Being Miss Nobody?  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 – Cover Design for One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman


Today I have a fantastic insight into the cover design process to celebrate the release of One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman.

One Silver Summer was released on the 25th May 2017 published by Old Barn Books as it set to be a gorgeous summer read.

‘Loved it. A book bursting with my guilty pleasures.’ Sophia Bennett; ‘I loved reading One Silver Summer. It kept me captivated all of Friday afternoon, and all weekend I felt like a little part of me was still in Cornwall, surrounded by swirling mists, galloping along a beach.’ –Natasha Farrant

‘I loved One Silver Summer. A gorgeously swoony tale of first love and beautiful horses set in a Du Maurier inspired Cornwall of rocky beaches and crumbling castles. Perfect for fans of Lauren St John, this fills a gap in the younger teen market for well written, thrilling, romantic stories.’ –Fiona Noble

Looking at that beautiful cover made me curious about the process behind it and how it suited the book so today Rachel tells us just that……


After losing her mum in an accident, Sass is sent to live with her uncle in England. Far from her native Brooklyn, the rocky shores and crumbling castles of Cornwall seem like the perfect place to hide her grief. And when she stumbles across a silver horse in a sunlit meadow Sass feels a surprising sense of peace…only to have it broken by a boy. Arrogant and distrustful, the horse’s trainer, Alex, doesn’t approve of the trespassing American. Yet after a few chance meetings, he begins to feel a connection to the curious girl with the sad eyes, and offers to teach her to ride. Sass never expected to feel anything again – least of all love – but the lessons reveal a far different Alex, and soon their friendship turns into something more. But Alex has a secret – a bombshell about his family that could shatter Sass’s trust…and force him to abandon the one girl who made him believe in himself.


Cover Design

Helen Crawford White and I have worked together for about 100 years at Chicken House. She’s a very patient person. Helen’s also hugely creative. She designs, draws and paints – and is digitally brilliant. She also does ballet. I suppose we work well together because I like covers to be true to the books they represent, but most of all – stand out. The best example of this is Children’s Book of the Year and Waterstones Children’s Prize winner, The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave which not only had a beautiful cover with French flaps and hand-painted colour maps (echoing the heroine’s map-making skills), but we made the design integral to the story, printing the book – unusually – in navy and orange.

So when I was lucky enough to see my own book, One Silver Summer, published by Scholastic Inc. NY and Old Barn Books, I knew there was one designer, I could suggest, who would capture the spirit of the book. Both sides of the Atlantic agreed which never happens!

The cover brief began with a scrap-book on Pinterest:

https://uk.pinterest.com/rachelhickman44/one-silver-summer-by-rachel-hickman/ 

I love it when authors at Chicken House tell me they have a Pinterest page because you get to see into world-building beyond words.

Helen then created a mood board so we could arrive at the right styling:

file:///C:/Users/Win8/Downloads/OneSilverSummermoodboard.pdf

Following this, with a number of composition suggestions:


 

 

 

 

 

 

file:///C:/Users/Win8/Downloads/OneSilverSummercomposition.pdf

For the US market, Scholastic went for hand-lettering and a painterly dip-dyed blue sea and Cornish castle….

….while Old Barn went for a contemporary take on old-school summertime-adventure and romance, borrowing from Daphne Du Maurier, or Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. Most of all, both publishers wanted to capture the atmosphere of a wild and lush Cornwall.

Helen then set about drawing and painting the images, piecing them together on her Mac like a jigsaw.

With the addition of kind endorsements and a cracking blurb, the cover came together. Discussions ensued with the printer about finishes: to foil or use a special metallic Pantone silver. Both! Rose-gold foil edges finish the flowers. Add a shell-pink contrast inside cover with more quotes and an author biog et voila! Team OB even got to see the book on press thanks to CPI in Kent.

You can buy a copy of One Silver Summer here or from your local bookshop!


About Rachel Hickman

Rachel Hickman is a founding Director of Chicken House Books. She wanted to work in children’s books since joining the Puffin Club as a child and has lived that dream for over 25 years. Having worked with some of the most famous names in children’s publishing, including Roald Dahl, Dick King-Smith, Ursula Moray Williams and Posy Simmonds, Rachel has at last put pen to paper for her own first novel of love, loss – and horses. Rachel lives in the countryside in Hampshire with her husband, two children, the dog and, of course, her horse.

You can follow Rachel on twitter – @Hickman_Rachel


A huge thank you to Rachel for a fab post and insight into the cover design for One Silver Summer and to Liz at Old Barn Books for asking me to host.

Have you read One Silver Summer?  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 – Let’s Hear It For The Girls by Cat Clarke


I am so excited to have the brilliant Cat Clarke on Tales again today, but this time to celebrate the release of her new YA book, Girlhood!

Girlhood was released on the 4th May 2017 published by Quercus Children’s Books and is set to be an absolute page turner!

Real, compulsive and intense: Cat Clarke is the queen of emotional suspense. For fans of Paula Hawkins, Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbott and Jandy Nelson.

‘Emotive, creepy AND funny. A quality page-turner’ SARAH CROSSAN

‘A new Cat Clarke novel is always something to celebrate and Girlhood could be her best yet’ JUNO DAWSON

Cat Clarke is one of my absolute favourite and hugely talented UKYA authors with a backlist of brilliant books under her belt!

Today Cat talks about some truly inspirational women in this fab guest post……


Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can’t escape the guilt of her twin sister’s Jenna’s death, and her own part in it – and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels…loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty’s behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper’s? And why is she so obsessed with Harper’s lost sister? Soon, Harper’s closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief.


Let’s Hear It For The Girls

“They’re our future – our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going.’ –Harry Styles

Harry Styles may know the score, but the patriarchy is still alive and well in the twenty-first century. Girls today grow up in a world that consistently patronizes, diminishes and underestimates them. No wonder YA novels are chock-full of girls who smash expectations left, right and centre. The characters I tend to write are ‘ordinary’ girls caught up in extraordinary circumstances. They’re not popular or sporty or super-clever – just normal girls, trying to figure out their place in the world. But what is ordinary anyway? Who gets to decide?

Maybe there’s no such thing as ordinary. Maybe all it takes to change the world is for girls to realize their power, and to make a choice: to take up space in the world; to speak up and speak out; to help others; to protest; to make art. Here are some inspirational young women who are doing just that.

Capres Willow

Capres Willow organized a Black Lives Matter protest in London when she was just eighteen years old. She was spurred to take action in the wake of the brutal murder of Philando Castile, shot by a police officer in front of his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai doesn’t need any introduction. She’s a tireless campaigner for  the education for girls worldwide. Oh, yes, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tavi Gevinson

Tavi Gevinson started a fashion blog aged twelve, and went on to create Rookie Magazine. She’s a savvy businesswoman as well as being a writer, editor and actor.  Tavi is a staunch feminist who keeps flying the flag for teenage girls everywhere.

Jazz Jennings

Jazz Jennings is a young transgender activist. She’s been recognized as a Human Rights Campaign youth ambassador, and was named in Time Magazine’s 25 Most Infuential Teeens.

June Eric-Udorie

June Eric-Udorie recently raised £6000 to take 400 girls of colour from low-income backgrounds to the cinema to see the film Hidden Figures. She’s been named Elle’s Female Activist of the Year.

I make no apology for the fact that most of these links lead to Teen Vogue. They are killing it right now. Looking for the most incisive political commentary of the Trump administration? Then you should probably head to Teen Vogue instead of the New York Times. Anyway, back to the point…

Teenage girls WILL save the planet. Just you wait.

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


About Cat Clarke

Cat Clarke is the bestselling, award-winning author of six YA novels. She was born in Zambia and brought up in Edinburgh and Yorkshire, which has given her an accent that tends to confuse people. Cat lives in Edinburgh with her partner, two ninja cats and two decidedly non-ninja cocker spaniels. She likes cheese A LOT, especially baked camembert.

You can find out more about Cat Clarke on her website – www.catclarke.com

Or why not follow Cat on twitter – @cat_clarke


Celebrate!

Celebrate the launch of Cat Clarke’s GIRLHOOD with a pic of your best mates using the hashtag  #readGirlhood… and win a signed set of books to share!

Old friends, new friends, online friends… show us the people who always have your back, no matter what

#readGirlhood


A huge thank you to Cat for a brilliant guest post and to Nina Douglas for organising and sending me a copy of the book!

You can find previous post by Cat on Tales by clicking on the below links …..

Spotlight – Cat Clarke – The Backlist:  Torn

Have you read Girlhood?  What did you think?  Who would be on your list of inspiration women?  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!

Tales Q&A With Sarah Carroll


A few months ago I received an email from the lovely Hannah at Simon & Schuster about a really intriguing debut YA, The Girl In Between by Sarah Carroll.

The Girl In Between is due to be released on the 4th May 2017 and is a story about a little girl who is homeless in Dublin and sheltering in an abandoned mill with her mother – and it has an unexpected twist at the end.

Naturally I needed to know more so I put some questions to the lovely author, Sarah Carroll…..


I know the mill has a story cos there’s something strange going on. I heard something. I’ve decided that I’m going to find out what it is later today when Ma leaves. Cos even if it is scary, we live here and we’re never leaving. So if there’s something going on, I need to know.

In an old, abandoned mill, a girl and her ma take shelter from their memories of life on the streets. To the girl it’s home, her safe place, the Castle. But as her ma spins out of control and the Authorities move ever closer, the girl finds herself trapped – stuck in the crumbling mill with only the ghosts of the past for company.

Can she move on before it’s too late?


Hi Sarah!  Thanks so much for appearing on Tales Of Yesterday today – I’m so over the moon to have you here!

Can you tell us a little about your debut The Girl In Between?

The Girl In Between is told by a young homeless girl who lives with her Ma in an abandoned mill in the heart of a city’s business district (it’s Dublin, though never explicitly stated). The girl calls it her Castle, a refuge from their life on the streets. She never wants to leave. But the mill is earmarked for development and the girl has noticed that there is something strange going on inside. With her safe place threatened and her own past haunting her, the girl must find a way to move on from the mill before it’s too late.

What inspired you to write this story?

The mill is based on Boland’s Mill, a stained granite building in Grand Canal Dock, Dublin, which is currently being developed into business and living units. The old mill provided shelter to a homeless man who set up camp in it is shadow for a brief period. But both the mill and the man were largely invisible to those that passed by on their way to work everyday.

To me, the mill represented a crumbling past being replaced by an uncaring digital future. It was an embodiment of the unseen past. This inspired the themes of homelessness, grief, and moving on.

Can you tell us a little about the main character?

The main character is a young girl who has known, and lost, the security of a home. She survives the brutality of living on the streets by retreating inside her imagination, and when she finally finds in the mill a places that she can call home, it is this imagination that allows her to find beauty in the banal. But she recognises in her Ma the signs of descent into addiction. She loves her Ma fiercely and fears returning to the streets. She does everything she can to stop this from happening. She is naïve and optimistic, but ultimately brave and forgiving.

Can you tell us a little about your writing process for The Girl In Between?  Was there much research involved?

Not a lot of research, no. I spent a day or two looking up how old flour mills work, but after that, I relied on memory of my interactions with various homeless people (Caretaker is an amalgamation of three homeless men I have come across) and the girl’s imagination (to build on exaggerated almost magical world).

The story came to me fully formed. I knew the first and last lines of the book from the first day. That day, I wrote the first chapter and then set it aside as I was actually working on another novel at the time.) For three months, The Girl In Between stewed away in my subconscious and then two days after finishing the other novel, I returned to The Girl In Between. From that point, it took five weeks to complete the first draft of the novel. I would wake and take exercise, during which time I would write the day’s chapter in my head. After breakfast I would get it down on paper and, later that day, edit the previous days’ chapter. Usually, I wouldn’t break for six hours or so. That was pretty much my routine for five weeks. After that, I edited it for a few weeks. I had literally finished the first full edit two days before being contacted by my (now) agent, Claire Wilson, for the first time. That was the beginning of six months of professional edits with my publishers (the back and forth takes weeks, if not months!)

How important was it to get the themes of family and homelessness right?

Crucial. I wanted to study the meaning of home when you don’t have one, of family when it’s just two of you.

Setting out, I wondered what it would be like to be a young girl growing up without a physical place to provide the safety, comfort and belonging we all need. And when she found something that she could call home, as the girl does with the Castle, I wondered what lengths she would go to to stop it from being torn away.

I also knew from the get-go that the opening line would be I’m invisible because the most vulnerable so often are. I wanted to step over the stereotypes and see what was going on behind the begging cup, and tell I story that we as a society, and I myself, tend to ignore.

In five words – what should people expect if they picked up The Girl In Between?

Homelessness, love, grief, optimism, imagination.

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 love skiing and white water kayaking.

I only began writing novels aged twenty nine.

I speak Swahili.

English was my worst subject in school.

I’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Can you tell us a little more about your volunteering works?

In 2006 I naively went on one of those pay-to-volunteer holidays and soon realised that they are, for the most part, little more than money making schemes that exploit the idea of the poor as incapable and childlike, and, in turn, encourage the formation of projects in the host town that exploit the volunteer.

I initially set up a volunteer hostel in Tanzania so that others could avoid paying exorbitant volunteering charges and donate that money directly to a project. Over time, I began to work with local projects to assist with their long term development and to help them to find volunteers with the appropriate skill set to be of benefit to the day to day running the project (eg placing an accountant with a women’s group in need of advice on financial management, or teachers in teaching positions.)

If The Girl In Between had a sound track what would it be?

It would be a mixture of traditional and modern Irish music, with lyrics in both Irish and English, written and preformed by Enda Reilly.

What would you like people to take away from reading The Girl In Between?

That letting go and moving on can be the ultimate freedom.

And finally what are you working on next?  Any new exciting projects you can tell us about?

Some that I can, some that I can’t!

Last Friday, I finished the first draft of the book that will be released this time next year. It is also based in Dublin and deals with bullying and the power of words. So I’ll be editing that just as soon as my editors get back with their massive dossier on suggested changes.

Thank you so much for answering all my questions Sarah!  The Girl In Between sounds wonderful!

You can buy a copy of The Girl In Between here or from your local bookshop!


About Sarah Carroll

Sarah currently splits her time between a houseboat in Dublin and travel abroad. She recently returned from five years in Tanzania where she founded and ran a hostel while working to support local community projects. She continues to promote ethical overseas volunteering through her blogs and films on www.theethicalvolunteer.com, while planning her next book.


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Simon & Schuster I have one copy of this fab book to giveaway to one lucky winner!

You can enter via twitter by Following and RT – here

UK Only

Ends 9th May 2017

Good Luck!


A huge thank you to Sarah for answering all of my questions!  And to Hannah at Simon and Schuster for organising and asking me to host this Q&A and giveaway!

Have you read The Girl In Between?  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 – 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 – #GoodbyeDaysPlaylist – Grief by Jeff Zentner


Today I have the brilliant Jeff Zentner on Tales to celebrate the release of his new YA novel, Goodbye Days.

Goodbye Days was released on the 6th April 2017 published by Andersen Press and is a story of grief and friendship.

This is a slightly different blog tour and I have a blog tour post with a musical twist!

I also got asked a question when emailed the content for this post……

“How you would spend your Goodbye Day with a loved one?”

This one single question hit all of my emotions and had quite an effect on my.  I read Jeff’s paragraph and listened to the song he had chosen from his playlist to accompany the piece and basically whilst I am writing this I am a complete emotional wreck with tears falling onto the keyboard.  Without realising it I had been provided with a piece and a question that I really needed to read.

Early this year I found out a work colleague of mine, in his 40’s, had died suddenly, without warning, and it really hit me!  I mean sure we were only work colleagues, but he was the kindest most calm and wonderful man I have ever had the pleasure to work with.  Whilst I’m not sure that grief was the right word for how I have felt since this happened in January it has really made me open my eyes.  Almost like I am seeing the world again with a fresh pair of eyes and appreciate things a lot more than I have been.  I then received and read this most and it’s almost helped fit that missing piece into the jigsaw that maybe I have been grieving in some kind of way.

So, to answer the question, I think for me my Goodbye Day would be spent with my loved ones, laughing and smiling all together, because I’ve learnt every single moment in life should be cherished.

Now over to Jeff…….


Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

‘Gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately life-affirming’ Nicola Yoon

‘Hold on to your heart: this book will wreck you, fix you, and most definitely change you’ Becky Albertalli


#GoodbyeDaysPlaylist – Grief

One thing about grief is that it changes your perspective permanently. It can leave you with a determination to press on in the face of loss and live each day to the fullest. That’s sort of the best you can hope for from grief. That’s what this song sounds like to me: that warm spring day when you go outside and feel the sun and flower-scented wind on your face and you realize that you’re going to die someday too, like the person you lost, and so you might as well enjoy this beautiful world while you’re here.

This is the note I tried to end Goodbye Days on. 

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


About Jeff Zentner

Jeff Zentner is the author of the William C. Morris Award winning and Carnegie Medal longlisted book The Serpent King (2016) as well as Goodbye Days (2017). He lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.

You can find out more about Jeff on his website – www.jeffzentnerbooks.com

Or why not follow him on twitter – @jeffzentner


Blog Tour

You can catch up with this fab blog tour and see the whole playlist at the following stops!


A huge thank you to Jeff for a fab post which held so much emotion in one paragraph it made me cry and to Harriet at Andersen for asking me to host, having me part of this wonderful tour and without realising gave me the post that I really needed to read!

Have you read Goodbye Days?  What did you think?  How you would spend your Goodbye Day with a loved one?   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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