Tag Archives: Contemporary

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!

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


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

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

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


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


Character Profile:  Ingrid

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

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

Except…

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

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


About Danielle Younge-Ullman

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

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

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

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

You can follow Danielle on twitter – @DanielleYUllman


Blog Tour

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


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

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

Guest Post – Keep Calm And Look At The Stars by Jenny McLachlan


I’m super happy to have one of my absolute fave YA authors, Jenny McLachlan, on Tales today to celebrate the release of her brilliant new shiny dazzling book, Stargazing For Beginners!

Stargazing For Beginners was released on the 6th April published by Bloomsbury and is simply a must read!

And that’s not all!

I am over the moon to be chatting to the lady herself along with Katy Birchall and Perdita and Honor Cargill at Waterstones Birmingham on the 3rd May at 6:30pm!

Friendship For Beginners

Join us for an exciting evening with Jenny McLachlan, Katy Birchall and Honor and Perdita Cargill in conversation with award-winning blogger Chelley Toy.

Our authors will not only be discussing their inspiring books but also friendship, life and their own personal laugh-out-loud moments that remind us all that we’re only human after all!

Jenny McLachlan writes the best kind of real life fiction, with big themes and irresistible characters. If you haven’t yet discovered her, you are in for a treat. Get ready to fall in love with Meg, Elsa, Annie and the rest of the biscuit club in Stargazing for Beginners.

IT Girl, Katy Birchall, is the author of the incredible series of the same name focusing on lighthearted teen heroine, Anna and the awkward and funny moments that make up her life. Katy is mildly obsessed with Jane Austen and World War II spy biographies. She currently lives in Brixton with her much cooler and funnier housemate.

Mother and daughter writing team, Honor and Perdita Cargill are the authors of the hilarious Waiting for Callback series. Honor, who is currently studying at Oxford, has dipped her toe into the world of acting as a child, giving them some unforgettable experiences to draw on for their novels together which follow 15-year-old Elektra James as she attempts to make it as an actress.

I am so excited!  Come and join us!

To book your FREE ticket:
Call: 0121 633 4353, click here or
Tweet: @bhamwaterstones
Email: events.birmingham@waterstones.com
Pop in store and speak to a bookseller.

So today in double celebration Jenny is chatting about looking at the stars in this gorgeous guest post….


Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her.

And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions .

Fans fell in love with the warmth, wit, romance and fierce friendships in Flirty Dancing, Love Bomb, Sunkissed and Star Struck, and Stargazing for Beginners has all that and galaxies more. This is the best kind of real-life fiction – with big themes and irresistible characters, it goes straight to your heart.


Keep Calm and Look at the Stars

When I knew that I wanted to write a book about a girl who loved astronomy, I started to look up. Before I wrote ‘Stargazing for Beginners’, I had taken the cosmos pretty much for granted. Like most writers, I gobbled up the detail of what was going on around me like a kleptomaniac, but I drew the line at what was beyond the sky. The stars, the moon and the sun were beautiful, but to me they were complex and unknown. Best to stay focussed on what I understood: teenagers, schools, families and matters of the heart.

But as Meg, the narrator of Stargazing for Beginners, understands the cosmos far better than she understands worldly things, I had no choice but to look up and get stuck in. How do you undo 39 years of astronomical ignorance in a short space of time? I watched documentaries, read books, trawled the internet, visited the physics department at a university and went to stargazing events at Herstmonceux Observatory.

And gradually, I started to recognise stars and constellations, and the vast distances between stars took on some meaning. One night at Herstmonceux, I saw the Orion Nebula, a massive stellar nursery. I saw it through binoculars, but it’s actually possible to observe it with the naked eye which is pretty incredible when you consider that it’s 1,344 ± 20 light years away (that’s 8.8 trillion miles to you and me).

Around this time, I started to notice that stargazing was incredibly relaxing. The more I learnt about the vastness of the universe, both in terms of its size and age, the calmer I felt. I discovered that sitting in a deckchair in my back garden, wrapped in a duvet, staring through binoculars was the perfect antidote to modern life. Yes, I might need to edit a book, start another one, do the washing, make the packed lunches, worry about my children, clean the rats out, etc, etc….But when you’re staring into space, these worries seem rather insignificant.

Stargazing stops me from feeling like I’m the centre of the universe and reminds me that I’m just a tiny part of the universe. A speck. A blip. If you’ve never done it before, I’d urge you to give it a go. Even with small binoculars you can see as much in the night sky as Galileo saw looking through a telescope – craters on the moon, Venus, the moons of Jupiter – and with the naked eye it’s possible to see the Andromeda Galaxy which is around two and a half million light years away. Just go outside, look up, and give it time. It takes around twenty to thirty minutes for our eyes to adjust to the darkness and for the wonders of the universe to be revealed.

Then sit back and enjoy the wonderful sensation of feeling insignificant.

You can buy a copy of Stargazing For Beginners here or from your local bookshop!


About Jenny McLachlan

I have always loved reading and I studied English at university just so that I could read a bit more.  Next I found my way into secondary teaching and discovered that I loved it too: I got to read more books, show off and hang out with very funny teenagers.  What a great job!

Teaching English also encouraged me to write.  Soon I had planned and started lots of different stories, but they were all abandoned and shoved to the back of a drawer.  Then, one day, the plot for Flirty Dancing came together; Bea’s story was so alive it was like a film running in my head and I knew it was a story I would finish.

Over the next few years, various exciting events distracted me from Flirty Dancing: I got married, travelled the world, was chased by an angry elephant (and a pack of dogs) and I had two babies.  While I was sitting on trains, swimming in the Outback and raising two crazy girls, I kept thinking about Bea, and her friends, Betty, Kat and Pearl, until I realised I had planned three more books.

In 2013, after attending the Winchester Writers’ Festival, I plucked up the courage to send Flirty Dancing to Julia Churchill, a brilliant children’s fiction agent at A.M. Heath.  With dazzling speed I was then signed by Bloomsbury to write the four books in the series.

You can find out more about Jenny on her website – www.jennymclachlan.com

Or why not follow Jenny on twitter – @JennyMcLachlan1


A huge thank you to Jenny for such a wonderful post that’s made us all want to go stargazing and to Emma at Bloomsbury for organising and asking me to host!

Don’t forget to join us at Waterstones Birmingham on the 3rd May 18:30pm for a brilliant panel with these fab authors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find out more info or grab your tickets here

Have you read Stargazing For Beginners?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy?  Have you read any of Jenny’s other books?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Where Do Ideas Come From?

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

Things like:

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

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

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

And, my personal favourite:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Shakespeare

Bake Club Christmas Wish Lists

Review – Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines


About Katy Cannon

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

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

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

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

Katy is represented by Gemma Cooper of The Bent Agency.  

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

Or why not follow her on twitter – @KatyJoCannon


Blog Tour

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


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

Have you read And Then We Ran?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued to go and grab copies?  Have you read any of Katy’s other books?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt


Early in 2016 I was contacted by Harriet from Andersen about a book.  Her email was filled with so much love that I simply said yes to a copy immediately.  That book was this book.  It completely took me by surprise and moved me to tears and it ended up featuring on my fave books of 2016 list.

Orbiting Jupiter was released in hardback on 31st December 2015 and now, on the 2nd March 2017, it’s being released in a gorgeous paperback so I wanted to shine the spotlight on it today!

I also have a little treat in store in celebration!


A heartbreaking story, narrated by twelve-year-old Jack, whose family is caring for fourteen-year-old Joseph. Joseph is misunderstood. He was incarcerated for trying to kill a teacher. Or so the rumours say. But Jack and his family see something others in town don’t want to.
What’s more, Joseph has a daughter he’s never seen. The two boys go on a journey through the bitter Maine winter to help Joseph find his baby – no matter the cost.

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

You can find my full review of Orbiting Jupiter here

Here’s a tiny summary of my thoughts….

Orbiting Jupiter may be a short contemporary YA read, but it certainly hit me with all the feels all at once which have stayed with me for quite some time.  Orbiting Jupiter is a story about love, family and friendship and a message of never giving up on what you believe in no matter what.  I smiled, I shed tears and I felt so much love for these characters.  In fact thinking about it now is making me emotional all over again.  The ending in the book broke me completely.  Orbiting Jupiter is just as simplistic and beautiful as it is sad and heart-breaking.  Friendship, family, unconditional love and hope.  It will make you smile, it will make you angry, it will make you cry, but most of all it will leave you with the feeling that no matter what some things are worth fighting for.


About Gary D. Schmidt

Gary Schmidt is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and a Newbery Honor for The Wednesday Wars. He lives with his family on a 150-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, and feeds the wild cats that drop by.

You can find out more about Gary D. Schmidt on his website here


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Andersen Press and in celebration of the paperback release of this gorgeous book I have a signed copy of Orbiting Jupiter to giveaway to one lucky winner!

You can enter for a chance to win through my twitter account here

Ends 13/03/2017

UK Only


A huge thank you to Harriet at Andersen Press for asking me to feature this amazing giveaway and for being so hugely amazing!

Have you read  Orbiting Jupiter?  What did you think?  Has this spotlight and my review convinced you to pick up a copy and read?  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 – All About Mia by Lisa Williamson


I am over the moon to be part of the fab blog tour for All About Mia by Lisa Williamson!

Lisa’s debut, The Art Of Being Normal,was one of my favourite reads of 2015 and I have been waiting for another book from Lisa ever since!

All About Mia was released on the 2nd February 2017 published by DFB and I’ve heard nothing but praise for it already!  I simply can’t wait to read it!

So when I was asked what I would like to feature as part of the blog tour I thought it would be good to find out EXACTLY all about Mia….literally…..

So come and find out All About Mia….


One family, three sisters. GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student.AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion. And MIA, the mess in the middle. Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers. When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves. But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.


All About Mia

No prizes for guessing what my new novel, All About Mia might be about! But who is Mia? And why is it all about her? Here’s everything you need to know!

Name: Mia Campbell-Richardson

Age: Sixteen

Family: Mum (Nikki), Dad (Jason), older sister (Grace, 19), younger sister (Audrey, 13)

Relationship with family: Erratic

Best friends: Stella Fielding, Mikey Twist, Kimmie Chu

Relationship status: Single

Relationship history: Ten months with Jordan Cooke

Favourite films: Clueless, Mary Poppins, Pitch Perfect, The Princess Bride, Mermaids, Step Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favourite TV: Pretty Little Liars, Friday Night Lights, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The 100, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Favourite food: Pizza, Dad’s jerk chicken, cheesy wotsits, chocolate hobnobs, McDonalds (no gherkins!), Haribo

Music: Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Lorde, Rihanna, Drake, Little Mix

Signature style: short shorts, tight dresses, big hair, bright lips, ‘It’s All About Mia’ t-shirt

Best subject at school: Religious Studies

Worst subject at school: English

Personality: extroverted, impulsive, confident, daring, sexy, funny, energetic, chaotic

Talents/skills: Great negotiator, confident leader, creative thinker, justice seeker

Greatest flaw: Impulsiveness

Best quality: Bravery

Habits: Binge drinker, occasional smoker, sugar addict

Celebrity crushes: Zayn Malik, Michael B Jordan, Ryan Guzman

Role models: Lorde, Amandla Stenberg

Anthem: Shake It Off, Taylor Swift

Hogwarts House: Slytherin

You can buy a copy of All About Mia here


About Lisa Williamson

I was born in Nottingham in 1980. This year I turn 36, which will mean I’ve been an adult for over half my life. I’m suitably terrified. I think I like to write for young adults because I still feel like I am one. 

I was a weird kid. Chronically shy, I spent a lot of time drawing and hiding under tables. Then for some strange and unexpected reason, I decided I wanted to be an actor. I eventually got over my shyness and aged nineteen, moved to London to study Performing Arts at Middlesex University. Here I met some of my very best mates and spent three bizarre but happy years singing show tunes and rolling around in fake blood, blagging a degree in the process. After graduation, I adopted the stage name of Lisa Cassidy (Lisa Williamson was already taken by Dawn from Hollyoaks…) and did all sorts of daft acting jobs, from appearing in panto with Basil Brush, to playing a Witch in Macbeth: The Musical. These days I act in lots of TV commericals, usually playing the role of ‘dishevelled mum’. 

I’ve always loved books and stories and as a child I enjoyed making up stories in my head (usually rip-offs of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton). In my late twenties, I found myself craving an additional creative outlet (I was temping in an office at the time) and started to write a novel about an out of work actor. Although no one wanted to publish it, I was excited to discover I could actually write something with a beginning, middle and end. Completing it freed me up to write something new and not necessarily based on my own personal experience.

Between 2010 and 2012, I worked as an administrator at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), based at the world-famous Tavistock Centre in North London. GIDS is the NHS service for under-eighteens struggling with their gender identity. The young people who used the service inspired me to write a story from the point of view of a transgender teenager. This eventually became The Art of Being Normal. 

You can find out more about Lisa on her website – www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com

Or why not follow Lisa on Twitter – @lisa_letters


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to the lovely Lisa Williamson for such a fab post and going along with my idea in the first place .

Also a huge thank you to Nina Douglas and DFB for organising and having me as part of this fab blog tour.

You can find a review of The Art Of Being Normal here

Or a Q&A with a character from The Art Of Being Normal here

Have you read All About Mia?  What did you think?  Are you intrigued by Mia?   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 – DIRECTION – Working Together, Collaborating London-Oxford by Perdita & Honor Cargill


I am so beyond honoured to be celebrating the release of Waiting For Callback:  Take Two by the super lovely, hilarious and best mother/daughter writers around, Perdita & Honor Cargill.

Waiting For Callback:  Take Two is the hilarious follow up to last years debut Waiting For Callback which was one of my favourite reads of 2016

Take Two is released today, 26th January 2017 published by Simon & Schuster Children’s UK and I simply cannot wait to find out what Elektra gets up to next!

I know one thing for sure…..I will be smiling and laughing lots!

I’m over the moon to have been asked to be part of the fab blog tour and today Perdita and Honour chat about direction in this fab and super funny guest post….


Elektra has finally landed a part in a film. It’s the dream. Well … until she works out that Straker is a movie so dystopian that within weeks most of the cast and all of the crew wish that the world had actually ended (preferably in scene one). And while it’s obviously great news that she’s moved from the friend-zone with Archie to become his almost-girlfriend, it would be better if he hadn’t immediately relocated to Transylvania to play a vampire hunter surrounded by ‘maidens of peerless beauty’… Full of humour and warmth, this new series is perfect for fans of Geek Girl and The It Girl.


DIRECTION – Working Together, Collaborating London-Oxford

Day Four of our Take Two blog tour and today we’re chatting about Direction (although we should have called it Co-Directing). Just to set the scene this time I (P) am talking and typing this while Hon is talking very fast and eating (classic multi-tasking).

H: Have I said enough in the last year to explode the No. 1 Misconception that because we’re family we work side-by -side sitting at the kitchen table, steaming mugs of tea and freshly baked cake in front of our matching notepads, birdsong in the background?

P: I don’t think that anyone who knows us will still be under any illusions. And we’re getting further and further apart. This time last year we were working in different rooms then you (Hon) discovered the joy of working in cafes and I stayed in the attic.  Then you went to Uni and now in term time at least you’re in Oxford and I’m in London. God, I hope it’s not some dark metaphor…

H: Not that ‘dark’… Oh God, except for That Train Journey – the one where we sat side by side working on edits all the way from London to Newcastle and had nearly dissolved the partnership by York. That was dark.

P: *shudders* But we do loads of the actual writing during your holidays.

H: I work very hard in London cafes! But (at arm’s length) we’re surprisingly harmonious collaborators. Ok, there’s some pretty brutal editing along the way but I can’t think of any bits that in the end we disagreed on.

P: No, it works well. Although there were a couple of…misunderstandings that underlined that I must never be allowed to write contemporary teen on my own.

H: Ha! Like your tendency to put add full stops to the end of texts and the great bucket hat fiasco?  We probably plotted better together because we were on a tighter schedule for Take Two so we had to be more focused.

P: I’m quite proud that we got Take Two done to deadline. It was hard work. You did so much of the writing this time that I wanted to change the name order on the cover because I felt guilty! (We couldn’t).

H: I still didn’t do any of the copy editing stuff. I’d be useless at that. And I think Take Two was easier to write than Waiting for Callback because we know all the characters so well. I am genuinely fond of them – even Flissy.

P: Have you got a new fave character or does your heart still belong to Archie?

H: My heart will always belong to Archie… whether he’s in character as a vampire-slaying-hero or not …

(Random cute baby vampire bat)

But I’d quite like to go clubbing with Hot Carlo…

P: I’m quite glad that we’re talking about fictional characters.  I’ve got a soft spot for Amber. She is truly dreadful (“very shiny, possibly made in a lab in Beverley Hills. Scary handbag dog named after a vegetable.” Ch. 7) and yet mastering yogic breathing is definitely one of my 2017 resolutions.

H: Good luck with that.

Thank you Chelley for hosting us! Come and join us tomorrow on Vivienne’s blog, Serendipity Reviews where we will be chatting about Special Effects (our glossy cover and lovely inside Extras!)

You can buy a copy of Waiting For Callback: Take Two here or from you local bookshop


About Perdita & Honor Cargill

Perdita Cargill

I co-write the WAITING FOR CALLBACK series with Honor Cargill. She’s my daughter and it’s something of a miracle that no only do we write together but we have a lot of fun doing it. She’s in her first year at Oxford University reading Classical Archaeology and Ancient History (niche…). I used to be the least numerate tax barrister ever to practise in the English courts. It was a relief to everyone when I hung up my wig and gown and took to writing funny teen novels…

Honor Cargill

I’m 18 and I’m in my first year at Oxford Uni reading Classical Archaeology and Ancient History (bit rogue) and I co-write the WAITING FOR CALLBACK series of funny teen novels with Perdita Cargill (who is, conveniently, my mum…). I’ve done some acting and although I’m nothing like Elektra (our main character) I feel her pain because her most humiliating moments are strangely similar to mine…

You can find out more by visiting the website – www.waitingforcallback.com

Or why not follow Perdita on Twitter – @perditact

Or Honor on Instagram – honorcargill


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of the awesome blog tour at the following stops.


A huge thank you to Perdita and Honor for a fab guest post and making me laugh always.  Also a huge thank you to Jade for asking me to be part of the blog tour and for organising.

Have you read Waiting For Callback:  Take Two?  Are you intrigued? Did you read the first book in the series too?  What parts made you laugh out loud?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading

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