Tag Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post – Becoming a Writer and How I Write by Frida Nilsson


Today is my stop on The Ice Sea Pirates blog tour and I am totally thrilled!

The Ice Sea Pirates was released on the 1st January published by Gecko Press and is an  “adventure of icy seas and cold-blooded pirates, wolves, mermaids and the bravery of one girl determined to save her sister”.

Today I have the author herself with a fab guest post all about writing….


The cold bites and the sea lashes in this page-turning adventure on the ice seas. No one but ten-year-old Siri dares to face treacherous sailors, hungry wolves and the arctic winter to save her younger sister from the dreaded Captain Whitehead and his ice sea pirates. 


THE ICE SEA PIRATES been nominated for five Swedish awards (including the August Prize) and has won three of them. Now the novel is finally available in English, with beautiful cover and illustrations by Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize shortlisted illustrator and author, David Barrow of Have You Seen Elephant?

With a strong girl hero, dramatic landscape and compelling episodic adventure, it’s the perfect read for fans of Rooftoppers and The Girl of Ink & Stars and is set to become a modern children’s classic in the UK.


Becoming a Writer and How I Write

When I was about twenty, I really wanted to become an actress. I applied at acting schools without success, so just for the chance to be film stars, my friend and I wrote our own script for a short film. My boyfriend back then was a media student and was given the job of cameraman. We ended up winning a local film competition. In the jury were two TV and radio producers, who asked me if I wanted to write and produce children’s radio for them. I said yes! But after this it actually took some years before I really started to enjoy writing and realised that I wanted to be an author. My first book was published in 2004.

THE ICE SEA PIRATES I spent hours and hours at the big library in Stockholm, and online, to get it all right. When THE ICE SEA PIRATES was made into a drama by Swedish radio, they put in a sea lion, but I insisted they had to take it out because there are no sea lions in the northern hemisphere. They thought it wasn’t important because my world was made up, with mermaids and bogle birds. But the mermaids and the bogle birds weren’t random; I took a lot of care creating this world. The mermaids, for instance, are a mix between walrus and human, and the bogle birds I found on a website about prehistoric animals (Walrooster). These bogle birds had toothed beaks and ate stones so they would become heavy enough to reach the bottom of the sea to find food.

I plan my work very well. The most important question you must ask yourself when you start writing is: What do I want to say? After that I come up with the characters, the beginning and the end. Then I can start writing and the time-consuming part is to find the road between beginning and end.

THE ICE SEA PIRATES by Frida Nilsson out now in paperback (£6.99, Gecko Press)

You can buy a copy of The Ice Sea Pirates here


About Frida Nilsson

Frida Nilsson is a leading Swedish author who has been an August Prize nominee three-times and won the Astrid Lindgren Prize in 2014. In 2017, she was selected as one of Europe’s best emerging writers for young people through the Hay Festival’s Aarhus 39. Her books have been translated throughout Europe and nominated for the prestigious Youth Literature Prize in Germany and several literary awards in France.

Nilsson’s writing is characterised by humour and sincerity. She writes about the big questions in life—friendship, death and love—and has been compared to Roald Dahl and
Astrid Lindgren.

About Gecko Press

Gecko Press, an independent publisher based in Wellington, New Zealand selects the best children’s books from around the world, by internationally award-winning authors and illustrators. Gecko Press books are sold in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and North America.


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Frida for such a fab guest post and to Laura at Gecko for organising and asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read The Ice Sea Pirates?  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 – Why Florence? by T A Williams


Today I have the fab T A Williams on Tales as part of the blog tour for his new adult romance, Dreaming Of Florence.

Dreaming Of Florence was released on the 8th January published by Canelo and is the feel good read of the winter.

Today T.A. (Trevor) Williams tells us why he chose to set his latest book, Dreaming of Florence, in that wonderful Italian city in this fab guest post!


Fresh pasta, red wine, fine art… and love? Find enchantment this year in the magical city of Florence

When Debbie Waterson’s bicycle crashes into handsome doctor Pierluigi, she wonders if her luck has changed. Determinedly single after ending a long relationship, at last, a man worth bumping into!

Inspired to visit Florence, she soon runs headlong into that old foe: reality. But is Pierluigi the man of her dreams? Then there’s her booze obsessed boss, his forbidding secretary and her noisy inconsiderate neighbours. But could her luck be about to change? Will she find love after all?

Warm-hearted and unputdownable, Dreaming of Florence is the perfect escape for readers of Holly Martin, Tilly Tennant and Jenny Oliver


Why Florence?

They say you should write about what you know, so that’s what I’ve done. I know Florence really well and I love the place. I worked there for almost four years, living in a very historic, but very Spartan, eleventh century convent in the hills outside the city. The area is enchanting, the city stunning, and I’ve always wanted to write about the place.

Dreaming of Florence comes on the heels of Dreaming of Venice, and is going to be followed in the spring by Dreaming of St-Tropez – nobody can accuse me of writing about drab, boring places! They are also gorgeous places to visit on those all-important research trips. Although the titles are similar, these are all standalone books. The characters are all different, but the reader will find a few recurring themes in all of them. There’s always romance, there’s always a Labrador, and there’s always a happy ending. I like happy endings and feel, with the way the world is at the moment, we could all do with a bit of Happy Ever After.

The charm of Florence is its history and its architecture, as well as its geographical location – squeezed between the rugged Appenine mountains and the rolling hills of the Chianti region. But, as well as the place, I just love the people. Florentines are a law unto themselves – and always have been. They don’t suffer fools gladly and they don’t mince their words if they’re unhappy. But, in spite of this, they are wonderfully hospitable and generous, and I count my Tuscan friends among my dearest, closest friends.

The other wonderful thing about Florence is the food. I always try to describe the food and drink of the places I write about, and I found myself salivating as I remembered some of the wonderful meals I had when I lived over there. Florence maybe isn’t the best place in the world to be a vegetarian – the iconic bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine steak) is a huge slab of tasty steak about the size of a telephone directory  – and I mean one of the old telephone directories that strongmen did their best to tear in half with their bare hands. But there’s more to it than meat. There’s the bread for example. It may sound crazy, but Florentine bread is just terrific. It’s white bread, it comes in big round loaves that you slice, and it is completely unsalted. The first time you taste it, you may well think it strange – boring even – but I promise you it grows on you.

Then there’s the wine. Who hasn’t heard of Chianti? Nowadays it’s hard to find the old straw-covered flasks, but the taste is still the same. It’s a light red wine that you can still buy direct from the producers at farms tucked away in the hills. We used to buy our wine in 50 litre demi-johns (a huge glass ball encased inside a wicker basket) and then bottle it up ourselves. Please believe me when I tell you neither I nor my wife are alcoholics, but we used to get through a good deal of the stuff and I still miss it.

I hope I’ve been able to give the reader a true representation of this magical city in my latest book. If I inspired you to visit Venice after reading Dreaming of Venice, I really hope Dreaming of Florence will have you all hurrying off to book flights to Florence. Trust me – it’s worth it.

You can buy a copy of Dreaming Of Florence here


About T A Williams

T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

You can find out more about T A Williams on his website – www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Or why not follow him on twitter – @TAWilliamsbooks

Or on Facebook here


Previously On Tales….

Click on the below links for previous post with T A Williams on Tales Of Yesterday!

The Research Behind Chasing Shadows

Five Interesting Things About Dreaming Of Venice

Spotlight – To Provence, With Love


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to T A Williams for a fab guest post and to Ellie at Canelo for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Dreaming Of Florence?  Are you intrigued?  Do you love a good romance novel?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Writing Advice by Dan Smith


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

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

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


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


Writing Advise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Dan Smith

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

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

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

Dan writes for both children and adults.

You can follow Dan Smith on Twitter – @DanSmithAuthor

Or on his Facebook page here


Blog Tour

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


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

Have you read Below Zero?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Art Of Survival In A Dinosaur YA Book by S M Wilson


Today I am roaring with excitement to have the awesome S M Wilson on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of her debut YA, The Extinction Trials.

The Extinction Trials was released on the 28th December 2017 published by the wonderful Usborne and I’ve heard if you are a fan of dinosaurs then this is the book for you!

So today S M Wilson tells us all about the art of survival in a dinosaur book…..lets jump straight in!

#ExtinctionTrials


Stormchaser wants to escape her starved, grey life. Lincoln wants to save his dying sister. Their only chance is to join an expedition to a deadly country to steal the eggs of vicious dinosaurs. If they succeed, their reward is a new life filled with riches. But in a land full of monsters – both human and reptilian – only the ruthless will survive. Jurassic Park meets The Hunger Games in this epic new series.


The Art of Survival in a Dinosaur YA book……

otherwise known as picking your favourite dinosaur to eat someone and losing characters along the way….

We’ve all settled down to watch the next episode of Star Trek and noticed the previously unseen Ensign sitting at the front of the Enterprise.  Any Star Trek fan at this point sighs and says “Well, they’re going to die!”  And within five minutes, they generally do.

That’s also the trouble with writing a book that spends a long time on a continent filled with deadly dinosaurs.  There have to be some spare characters to lose along the way.  So how do you decide?

Here’s the thing.  I hadn’t really.  I didn’t start this book knowing who was going to come to a grim end beforehand.  Things tended to happen…spontaneously.  As did the dinosaur killings.  They were mainly motivated by the landscape around them and the fact I wanted a few surprises in the stories.

Storm and Lincoln were always my main characters, but that doesn’t guarantee survival.  I also have a group of three friends, a stranger, and a whole host of other finalists who end up on the dinosaur continent.  And every story needs a bad guy.  A Darth Vader.  Mine is called Reban Don.  But why have one bad guy when you can have two?  Enter Galen.  Bad guy number two.  But as you automatically eliminate one of these from your mind, just remember, where’s the fun in killing the bad guy?  Isn’t it more fun keeping him alive and a constant threat?

You have no idea how much pleasure I took in flicking through a dinosaur encyclopaedia thinking, ‘Okay, who can eat…..’

It would probably surprise you how much we don’t actually know about the dinosaurs we’ve discovered.  Scientists have looked at bones and stomach contents and came to some conclusions.  But do we really know how clever they were?  How they hunted?  How they lived?  There are really so many unanswered questions.  Since I started writing Extinction Trials I’ve found so much speculation and differing opinions online.  T-rexess had feathers.  The discovery in South Korea – is it an Ultrasaurus or a Supersaurus? Did newborn pterosaurs actually walk instead of fly?

For me as an author it means I can have a little leeway when I write.  Here’s a spoiler.  My pterosaurs  might attack humans at one point.  Do we have any evidence of this?  Well no.  Pterosaurs and humans didn’t exist at the same time on Earth, but on my Earth?  Well, anything can happen – and usually does.

So hold on to your hat – or your stomach – when you read Extinction Trials and just remember that no character is safe………………

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


About S M Wilson

Susan Wilson lives on the west coast of Scotland with her fiancé and two sons. She’s worked in the NHS for 25 years – her day job is as a nurse in public health – her dream job is writing fiction. Her love of YA fiction started as a teenager and has never stopped. The Extinction Trials was written for her two sons to try and infect them with the same love of reading that she has. Watch out – she’s hoping it’s contagious!

​You can find out more on her website – www.susan-wilson.com

Susan also writes romance as Scarlet Wilson. She’s written over 30 books for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Tule Publishing and Entangled Publishing. She’s also been a double Rita Finalist for RWA and been nominated for the RoNA Rose award five times, winning it in 2017. You can also find her here

You can find out more on her website – www.scarlet-wilson.com

You can also follow S M Wilson on twitter – @susanwilsonbook


Blog Tour

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

#ExtinctionTrials


A huge thank you to S M Wilson for such a fab guest post and to Stevie at Usborne for asking me to host and be part of the blog tour.

As you’ll see from the graphic above, the tour ends on Sunday evening on #SundayYA. Susan will be a guest during the chat, and will *DRUM ROLL*, officially reveal the title and the cover for book 2.

Usborne will then be sending out the January Usborne YA newsletter the following week with an exclusive chapter extract from book 2, and another chance to win a signed copy. Firstly, if you’re not signed up to the newsletter – do it! It’s a fun one, and the host competitions all the time.

bit.ly/2otCikx 

Have you read The Extinction Trials?  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 – 5 Ways To Cope With Being Grounded by Katy Birchall


I am a huge Katy Birchall fan!  She is just brilliant and her books always make me laugh out loud and when I say out loud I mean LOUD!

Following on from the fab success of the brilliant IT Girl series Katy is back with Secrets Of A Teenage Heiress published by Egmont today, 11th January 2018!

Happy Book Birthday Katy!

“An hilariously funny and fabulously glamorous series from the author of It Girl. Perfect for10+ years readers, and fans of Geek Girl and Girl Online”

So to celebrate today I have the lady herself with a fab guest post….although someone seems to have amended the text…..


Flick’s family have owned The Royale – one of London’s most prestigious hotels – for generations. But Flick isn’t that interested. She is interested in the newest guest – superstar celebrity Skylar Chase, and Sky’s mega-famous group of friends, including dreamy YouTube star, Ethan Duke. But just as Flick gets the chance to join their glittering squad, she gets grounded following an unfortunate incident involving a prince, a wardrobe and a selfie stick (it could have happened to anyone!). With only her Instagram star pet dachshund, Fritz, for company, will Flick find a way to escape The Royale and join the fame game?


5 Ways To Cope With Being Grounded

(amended by Flick Royale, star of Secrets of a Teenage Heiress)

 1.  Talk to your parents Don’t talk to your parents

Seriously, talking to your parents is just about the WORST thing you can do. I mean, what are they going to say? You really think they’re going to AGREE with you? HA! The last time Mum agreed with me was that time when I was about four years old and I asked her to close the window because I was cold. She agreed it was cold. THAT’S IT.

The only thing to do when grounded is SULK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. That means no talking, no listening, no nothing. They don’t deserve such reasonable behaviour.

2.  Show that you are responsible by helping with chores Create as much trouble as possible

Being grounded is all about principles and your parents violating yours. Time to rebel!! Look, if they’re going to ground you for something TINY, there is no harm in providing them with a little reminder of how bad you really could be if you wanted.

Like the time Mum grounded me when I stuck a note on boring Mr Grindle’s back saying “I am secretly an ostrich”.

In retaliation for her stomping all over my creativity by grounding me for such HILARIOUS behaviour, I hid all our coasters and put wet glasses down on all the surfaces around the flat for two weeks until my punishment was up.

It drove her NUTS.

I’d say she’ll think twice before grounding me again, that’s for sure.

3.  Accept responsibility for your actions Never say sorry

Trust me, whatever you did to get grounded, it’s probably not your fault. You know why? Because parents are bonkers. And then they expect us to be normal.

If anything, they should be apologising to YOU. Just because.

4.  Make the most of being grounded Do NOT have fun while being grounded

Seriously, no offence, but what kind of nerd wrote this stupid list? Making the most of being grounded is the worst thing you can do. Then parents will think it’s ACCEPTABLE.

Instead, make your parents feel as guilty as possible.

Tried and tested ways of doing this are:

· Crying

· Shouting

· Screaming

· Slamming doors

· Telling them that your dachshund Fritz is the only one you can talk to in this cruel, cruel world

· Telling them that if you weren’t grounded, you might be out there making human friends and finding a path of good in life

· But instead you’re stuck inside forced to tell your feelings to your DOG

· And now you’ll probably be shunned by society

·Because, thanks to your childhood, you can’t talk to fellow humans

· Only dogs

5.  Learn from your mistakes DON’T LET THE MAN KEEP YOU DOWN!!

Learning from your mistakes = defeat.

Don’t let them win.

I’d love to stay and elaborate on this point but apparently Chef found out I hid his chef hat in a giant bag of flour and now Mum and him want to “have a word.”

Fritz and I had better escape while we have the chance.

See ya! x

You can buy a copy of Secrets Of A Teenage Heiress here or from your local bookshop


About Katy Birchall

Katy Birchall is the author of the side-splittingly funny The It Girl: Superstar Geek, The It Girl: Team Awkward and The It Girl: Don’t Tell the Bridesmaid. She also worked at Country Life magazine as their Deputy Features Editor. Katy won the 24/7 Theatre Festival Award for Most Promising New Comedy Writer with her very serious play about a ninja monkey at a dinner party. Her pet labradors are the loves of her life, she is mildly obsessed with Jane Austen and one day she hopes to wake up as an elf in The Lord of the Rings. Katy lives in Brixton, London.

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

Or why not follow her on twitter – @KatyBirchall


Previously On Tales…

Click on the below links for previous post with Abi Elphinstone her on Tales Of Yesterday!

Spotlight – The It Girl by Katy Birchall

Guest Post – 10 Things I’ve Learnt About Being An Author by Katy Birchall

Tales Review – The It Girl by Katy Birchall

Guest Post – How To Survive Sports Day by Katy Birchall

Guest Post – An EXCLUSIVE Interview With It Girl, Anna Huntley by Katy Birchall


A huge big thank you to Siobhan at Egmont for asking me to host this fab post and for donating our January 2018 British Books Challenge Book Prize which includes Secrets Of A Teenage Heiress.

Have you read Secrets Of A Teenage Heiress?  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 – An Introduction To Make Me Awesome by Ben Davis


Today I am excited to be kicking of the super brilliant Make Me Awesome Blog Tour with a fab guest post from the author himself, Ben Davis.

Make Me Awesome was released on the 4th January 2018, published by OUP, and will have you laughing your socks off!  And with illustrations by Mike Lowery…it’s just the perfect combination!

Myself and my son are huge fans of Ben Davis and we have spent many a night or too giggling whilst reading his books so am hugely honoured to have Ben on the blog today.  Ben was also one of our authors of the month for the 2017 British Books Challenge!

So sit back and let Ben introduce you to Make Me Awesome….


Hey you! Yes, you! Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought Wow! My life is really rubbish? I can tell from looking at you that you probably have. But I’m here to tell you that all that is about to change.

Why not climb aboard the Make Me Awesome programme and buy a one way ticket to Awesometown, calling at Successville, Dollarsdale, and Camp You’re the Greatest!

My name is Chuck Willard and I CAN make you AWESOME, just like me!

(Well, maybe not that awesome, I’m one of a kind)

When Freddie Smallhouse signs up to the Make Me Awesome programme, he’s ready to turn himself from zero to hero, all with the help of his idol, Chuck Willard. Freddie embarks on various schemes to make himself awesome safe in the knowledge that Chuck is always there, at the end of an email, to give him lots of personal advice . . . isn’t he?

A new laugh-out-loud story, from the brilliantly funny author of the Joe Cowley series and My Embarrassing Dad’s Gone Viral.


An Introduction to Make Me Awesome

Hi! I’m Ben Davis. You may know me as the author of the Joe Cowley book series. Or maybe you’re familiar with my MG books My Embarrassing Dad’s Gone Viral or Danny Dread. In all likelihood, you probably think I’m that Welsh guy that plays for Spurs. You’d be wrong to think that though because his last name is Davies and us Davises don’t take kindly to getting confused with that lot. In fact, whenever I meet a Davies I am bound by law to challenge them to a duel.

Anyway, enough about that. The reason I am on this fine blog is to tell you about my new book, Make Me Awesome, which is out now. So glad wacky old Captain Wotsit hasn’t blown us all up before it came out.

It is the story of Freddie, a thirteen year old boy whose family has fallen on tough times. His dad’s antiques business has gone under, they’ve lost their house and are having to live with miserly Uncle Barry. While Mum soldiers on and Dad sinks into a funk, Freddie is determined to pull them out of their slump, and he has enlisted some inspirational help.

Introducing the Complete Road to Awesomeness Programme – the online self-help guide carefully constructed by life coach and giver of dreams, Chuck Willard. It is Chuck’s job to help Freddie back on the path to Awesomeness with his handy hints, tips and pep talks.

But don’t take my word for it – here is Chuck’s infomercial.

The book sees Freddie utilise Chuck’s expertise in order to succeed as a young entrepreneur, sportsman and, when he runs for school President against his arch nemesis, Malvern Pope, young politician.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I read a particularly cringeworthy extract from it in this video….

I think it’s a common thing for kids to look to celebrities for inspiration. To create heroes. As a kid, mine was Eric Cantona. And you can bet if he set up a life advice programme, I would have signed up straight away. Even if I was terrible at football. And never kung fu kicked Crystal Palace fans.

But let me tell you this – all the Awesomeness you need is within you. You don’t need a celebrity or a book to teach you. Wait, what am I saying, yes you do – Make Me Awesome, out now with OUP. God, I’m rubbish at self promotion.

You can buy a copy of Make Me Awesome here or from your local book shop!


About Ben Davis


Ben Davis writes funny books for older children and teenagers. His first book, The Private Blog of Joe Cowley series has been hailed as a Wimpy Kid for a new generation.

He has also written standalone books for younger readers, like the supervillain tale, Danny Dread, and the critically acclaimed My Embarrassing Dad’s Gone Viral.

Before he became a published author, Ben wrote jokes and sketches for radio shows and various other bits and bobs.

When he’s not writing, he regularly visits schools and leads creative writing workshops.

These days, Ben lives with his wife and son in Staffordshire and in his spare time, likes to put his dog in daft costumes.

You can follow Ben on the Twitters and the Instagrams @bendavis_86 and his website is www.bendavisauthor.com

About Mark Lowery

Mike Lowery is an illustrator currently living in Atlanta. Mike’s work has been seen on everything from greetings cards to gallery walls all over the world. He is a Professor of Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta.


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Ben for a fab guest post and to Hannah and Kirsty at OUP for asking me to me part of this awesome blog tour!

#MakeMeAwesome

Have you read Make Me Awesome?  What did you think?  Have you read any of Ben’s other books?  What are your favourites?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – My Favourite Reality TV Shows by Stephanie Kate Strohm


It’s Christmas Eve and what better way to celebrate than to have a wonderful author here on the blog!

Today I have the super wonderful Stephanie Kate Strohm on Tales to celebrate the release of her new YA romantic comedy, Prince In Disguise published by Disney-Hyperion.

I was lucky enough to meet Stephanie this year when I chaired an event at Waterstones Birmingham and lots of laughs were had so I literally cannot wait to jump into this book!

Prince In Disguise finds our main character Dylan as part of a reality TV programme so I thought it would be great to hear all about Stephanie’s favourite reality TV guilty pleasures…..


Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear ‘You’re Dusty’s sister?’ ever again. Life is real enough for Dylan -especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress… if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.


My Favourite Reality TV Shows

I watch…a lot of reality TV. But I also read a lot of books, so I think it totally evens out! Prince in Disguise, my newest book, combines these two great loves, as it is a book about a reality TV show! When Dylan’s older sister Dusty falls in love with a Scottish lord on a reality dating show, the entire family is whisked off to Scotland to televise the wedding, much to Dylan’s chagrin. Like Dylan, I wouldn’t want to be on a reality show, but I do love watching them! Here are a few of my favourites:

Say Yes to the Dress 

Simple but brilliant. Brides head to Kleinfeld’s in NYC to shop for their dream dresses with the help of Kleinfeld’s stellar team of bridal consultants. Sometimes there’s drama caused by unsupportive family members, but there’s almost always a happy ending as the bride says yes to the dress. I could watch an infinite amount of these back-to-back-to-back, even though every bride with a budget over a certain amount ends up choosing the exact same Pnina Tornai gown.

My Fair Wedding with David Tutera

This show has since rebranded itself as first David Tutera: Unveiled and then David Tutera’s CELEBrations, but it is not as good as it was in the halcyon days of My Fair Wedding, specifically the masterpiece that is Season 3. Celebrity wedding planner David Tutera helps brides short on time, money, or organizational abilities miraculous pull together their dream weddings. The themes – and the weddings – became increasingly elaborate as time went on, often with such high production values that they looked more like film sets than weddings. My beloved Season 3 brought up such treasures as a Phantom of the Opera wedding, a Wizard of Oz wedding, an Alice in Wonderland wedding, and a mini-truck wedding. (That’s right. The theme of the wedding was small trucks.)

 Four Weddings

The weddings on Four Weddings are never the over-the-top confections David Tutera might dream up, and in some ways, that’s part of their appeal. Four strangers from the same area meet and then attend each others’ weddings, ranking them in such categories as dress, venue, food, and overall experience. There’s something kind of evil but also deliciously fun about watching people say out loud all the judgmental things you think when you’re at your cousin’s/sorority sister’s/whoever’s wedding.

 Top Chef

The only thing I love more than weddings is eating. (So if your wedding has really great food, yes, it would be my ideal event!) There are a lot of reality TV cooking competitions (see: basically all of Food Network and Cooking Channel), but for me, nothing beats Top Chef. I love getting to know the chefs and their stories, I love the challenges and the different restaurants and farms they visit, but most of all, I love seeing plate after plate of delicious food. The only thing it’s missing is some romance. If a few more of these chefs would start kissing each other, then it would literally be a perfect show.

Special UK Bonus 

When I was on vacation in England, I caught an episode of The Geordie Shore. It was like Jersey Shore, but way better! I quickly became obsessed and spent way too much time watching it. I have since read all of Charlotte Crosby’s books and done her 3 Minute Belly Blitz workout. Since no one in the states knows who Charlotte Crosby is, I have no sense of how embarrassed I should be about this. (Like, for example, I would never admit to anyone that I’d done Snooki from Jersey Shore’s workout, if such a thing existed.)

Prince In Disguise is out now and you can by a copy here


About Stephanie Kate Strohm


STEPHANIE KATE STROHM is also the author of Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, Confederates Don’t Wear Couture, The Taming of the Drew, and It’s Not Me, It’s You. She works as an actress and teacher in Chicago. Visit her website at www.stephaniekatestrohm.com and on Twitter @stephkatestrohm.


A huge thank you to Stephanie for such a fab guest post and to Amy at Disney-Hyperion for getting in touch about hosting.

Have you read Prince In Disguise?  What did you think?  Do you enjoy reality TV?  What are your favourites?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guet Post – The Perfect Christmas Book by Katey Lovell


Today I finally have one of my most favourite humans ever on the blog –  the amazing and super wonderful Katey Lovell to celebrate the release of her new Christmassy romantic comedy, Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown!

Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown was released in paperback on the 30th November published by Harper Impluse and is set to get you in the Christmas mood!

“Warm and romantic, every page is sprinkled with Christmas magic”  Cressida McLaughlin, author of The Canal Boat Café

So as it’s nearly Christmas and we are looking for the perfect Christmas read to snuggle up by the fire with I asked Katey exactly how to write the perfect Christmas book…..


This Christmas she’ll give her heart to someone special…

As Christmas approaches Joe Smith knows he should be celebrating with friends and family, making the most of the season. But for Joe, Christmas only holds painful memories. Ones he can feel crushing his heart, a reminder of a time he can never forget.

Clara O’Connell loves Christmas. For her it is the most magical time of the year. And she’s determined to make Joe love it too! She knows he’s hurting, but maybe she can help to ease his pain. Her plan: One special gift every day to remind Joe just how loved he is.

But the clock is ticking. Will the Christmas magic wear off at midnight or will Clara’s Christmas countdown be the perfect gift to heal Joe’s broken heart? And in doing so, maybe she will get a gift in return…Joe’s love for Christmas and forever…?


The Perfect Christmas Book

When the wonderful Chelley invited me to guest on her blog I was thrilled – she’s such a force to be reckoned with in the publishing industry, known and loved by everyone.  However, when I asked what she wanted me to talk about and her reply was ‘how to write the perfect Christmas novel’ I could feel the imposter syndrome creeping in.  I’m very proud of my festive release Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown, but perfect?  There’s a lot of weight in that word, but I am going to share how I wrote this book, step by step.

Have a ton of ideas, reject most of them, hone the good one

As I was reaching the end of drafting my second novel, The Café in Fir Tree Park, my editor Charlotte Ledger and I were in discussions about what to do next.  I was really keen to write a festive novel and tentatively suggested my ideas.  Our favourite was based around an office secret santa, but Charlotte felt the office setting had the potential to be too dry.  I wanted charity to be a big theme in this book and after dismissing the idea of setting the book in a foodbank (although there is a scene at a foodbank in the novel) ran with it centring around a fictional Manchester youth club.

Make notes on anything and everything Christmassy

Throughout October 2016 I carried my notebook everywhere and made a ridiculous amount of notes.  I asked friends what their favourite aspects of Christmas were, queried Twitter and Facebook on what they thought were ‘musts’ for a festive read (tinsel, mulled wine and Santa, apparently) and thought about how my characters were going to develop over the course of the novel.  I also came up with a title at this point, which was eventually tweaked only slightly (when the male protagonist’s name changed).

NaNoWriMo 2016

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes place every November and encourages writers to draft 50,000 words in 30 days.  I still had 20,000 words left to write to complete The Café in Fir Tree Park but, knowing that it would be easier to write a Christmas novel in winter, I surrounded myself with mince pies and decided to also write the first half of the Christmas book.  By the end of the month I had ‘won NaNo’ and had the first 30,000 words of what would become Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown.

Finish the book!

This stage took a while.  I had a much-needed month away from writing over Christmas and struggled to get back into the routine of writing afterwards, especially after the tree came down and Christmas was over for the majority of people.  Thankfully I’m friends with other writers who were in the same predicament and so our fictional Christmases continued in parallel.  I finally finished the first draft in May 2017.

Edit, edit, and edit some more

Personally, I always find structural edits (big changes to plot, the order events take place in, adding in subplots or additional characters) difficult.  One change often starts off a chain and it felt at times as though the novel I’d worked so hard to build was falling like one of those tracks of dominos where you touch one and the whole lot fall down.  However, I had the experience of knowing I could edit a book because I’d done it before (twice!) and knuckled down to get stuck into polishing my Christmas book.

Next came the line edits, where as well as working on editors suggestions I was keen to inject even more festive sparkle into the book.  I wanted it to be 100% Christmassy!  This is where I developed a lot of the outdoor scenes such as the one at the skating rink and at the Christmas market, to ensure I was encapsulating the magic of the traditions of Christmas in my words.

Finally, in August 2017, it was time for the proofread – the end was in sight!  I must admit that by now I was all Christmassed out – I challenge even the most avid Christmas fanatic to feel in the mood for listening to Shakin’ Stevens in temperatures nearing 30 degrees.

Let it go

As Elsa so wisely said in the Disney hit ‘Frozen’, there comes a time where you just have to let it go.  For authors, that time is publication day, when ownership is no longer yours and your publishers, but your readers.

When Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown was released in October I was nervous – would people like the idea enough to buy it?  Thankfully, people have and I’ve been fortunate that bloggers, authors and readers have shared their kind words about the book online.

So that’s my experience of writing a Christmas book – it was jolly hard work, but worth every tinsel-filled moment.  If what you’re dreaming of this Christmas is writing a festive novel I’d encourage you to go for it, and sprinkle glitter on every single page.

You can buy a copy of Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown here or from your local bookshop


About Katey Lovell

Katey Lovell is the author of three commercial women’s fiction novels published by Harper Collins’ imprint HarperImpulse. Her novels are about people overcoming everyday challenges with the support of their friends, family and local community. She has also penned a series of coffee-break romances (also published by HarperImpulse) and a hot romance for Tirgearr’s City Nights series.

Originally from South Wales, Katey now lives in Sheffield with her husband and son. When she’s not writing she’ll most likely be found watching musicals, enjoying live music or reading anything and everything she can lay her hands on.

You can follow Katey on twitter – @Katey5678


A huge thank you to Katey for such a fab guest post and for sharing so much about her writing process.

Have you read Joe & Clara’s Christmas Countdown?  What did you think?  Do you read Christmas reads in the lead up to Christmas?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

 

Guest Post – Ho Ho Ho Reads by Andrew @PewterWolf


I am super honoured to have the brilliant Andrew, one of my fave bloggers and human beings, on the blog today with a Christmassy post to get us all in the Christmas mood.

Andrew was one of the first bloggers I got to know when I started out blogging and he never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Andrew blogs over at thepewterwolf.blogspot.com where he reviews books within (although not exclusively) the YA and New Adult age ranges. Andrew also writes fun, random blog posts (also known as SMILE) and music-themed blog posts. And I love the fact that he states on his blog that the “blog is not only a book reviewing site but a “Smile Blog””.  Andrew is basically all the awesomes so please do go check his blog and his twitter @PewterWolf out!

So today Andrew is sharing some of the books that are on his festive reading list….

*hands over to Andrew*


Ho Ho Ho Reads

This blog post came out of something completely un-Christmas related. I was emailing Michelle over Point Horror. I never read Point Horror growing up, hence my questions. But as we chatted, we got onto Christmas and I started wondering what books I was going to read over the festival season. I don’t normally make plans over what I want to read – am more a mood reader – but I realised that I do have a small list in my head of books I do want to read over Christmas, New Year and throughout December. So, I thought I would show you some of my list…

To Michelle, thank you for inspiring this post. Now, let’s get the Christmas music on and chat books!

OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon

I haven’t watched the TV show. I tried to watch the first episode but always get 15/20 minutes in and get bored so don’t continue. I know I should, but I think the book might be more my thing. It has elements that I know will hold my attention and keep me reading, even though it’s over 850 pages long.

But, due to recent book events and real life events, this might have to be put on the back burner for a few weeks. Due to… wait for it…

THE BOOK OF DUST: LA BELLE SAVUAGE by Philip Pullman

I have been waiting for this book even since I finish The Amber Spyglass over 17 years ago. 17 YEARS! And I was/am so excited to read to read! I preordered this and the special Waterstones edition, I was that excited to read this!

But, real life got in the way. I read only 3 chapters over a space of a week due to work issues, so I decided to put this on hold and save it for when I had time to sit down and immerse myself in this world. And Christmas seems like the perfect time!

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

Confession time: I’ve had an Advance Reader Copy since just before last Christmas. When I found out I had it, I squealed so loudly, my cat wake up and give me one of the dirtiest looks in memory. So, why haven’t I read it? The main reason is because I’ve been so excited for this book since I heard it was going to get published in the UK. So, when I finally got a copy, I have mentally hyped this book up so much that I was terrified it wasn’t going to live up to it. So I have been waiting… and waiting… and waiting… it’s only now that I feel ready to go near this. I just hope it’s as awesome as I want it to be…

THE LAST MRS PARRISH by Liv Constantine

I don’t read as many thrillers as I would like, but this sounds like something I would be gripped by. A twisty thriller would be perfect reading on these dark, long nights.

THE WITCH’S TEARS by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr

I read the first book in the trilogy, Witch’s Kiss, earlier this year. And while there were some problems with it, I had a whale of a time reading it. And with how the first book ended and with the third and final book coming out early next year (March, I think? February?), I want to return to see what’s going to happen to these characters? Plus, with this cover, I feel that winter is the perfect time to read this…


A huge thank you to Andrew for such a fab guest post and here to reading some fab reads over Christmas!

Don’t forget to check Andrew out over on his blog www.thepewterwolf.blogspot.co.uk or on twitter @PewterWolf

What’s on your Christmas TBR?  Do you rad Christmas reads in the lead up to Christmas or books you have been excited about all year and not got around to?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – The Point Horror Time Capsule by Michael – The Big Comfy Bookshop


Do you remember the Point Horror Book Series from the 90’s?  The Point Horror Series was a series of young adult point horror books and was launched in 1991 by Scholastic always with the Point Horror banner on the spine and on the top of every point horror book.  There were a number of authors that wrote these books for Scholastic: R L Stine, Diane Hoh, Caroline B Cooney, Sinclair Smith to name but a few.

They were basically what I was reading and enjoying as a young adult and thanks to the author Juno Dawson, who started #PointHorrorBookClub on her website in 2013, I have started to re-read these books that I used to rush to the shops every weekend and buy and sit for the whole weekend reading.

Juno announced in January 2015 that she was no longer able to carry on #pointhorrorbookclub and with her blessing I am going to try and carry it on with version 2!  Juno has done a fantastic job – I hope I can keep up her good work *gulps*

For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new please click here


It’s Point Horror Book Club day!  And what better way to celebrate than delving deep into my love of Point Horror!

I know lots of people who hold Point Horror close to their hearts and one of those people is wonderful Michael the owner of one of my local bookshops the amazing The Big Comfy Bookshop ! I got talking to Michael on twitter when he was talking about Point Horror so I asked him to stop by for a little Point Horror Guest Post to share some Point Horror memories and he kindly agreed.

It’s very exciting to have Michael here on Tales…I feel very honoured…so thank you so much Michelle!

*Hands microphone to Michael*


The Point Horror Time Capsule

I own a bookshop. It’s comfy and sells just 2nd hand books. You’d expect that I’ve been reading books since before I could walk. Here’s the secret. I didn’t really start reading a lot until I started University. Sure there were books I read when I was younger, The Hobbit stands out as one. There was however one book series, and one book in particular that I loved.

Point Horror.

Here’s another secret. Between my elder sister and I we had about a dozen of them, plus we took a few home each week from the mobile library, but, and here’s the rub, I never really read them. What I liked about them was the covers, and the spines; A beheaded snowman, an open door, a lost teddy. I wanted to be part of the movement, and it was a movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At my high school it seemed every girl had at least one on the go. And it did always seem to be girls. Finally, after listening to my sister talk about them endlessly, I picked up The Babysitter and read it over a few nights, maybe a few weeks, I can’t remember. What I do recall is the sensation of ‘getting it’. Not just Point Horror, but the sense of belonging to something. Knowing that there was a sequel, I delved straight into The Babysitter II. I reckon I liked that more, I can’t recall, but I soon shifted up a gear and consumed them like Pringles (once you pop).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was given the chance of buying my own Point Horror book so I opted for The Mall, purely based on the cover. I like green, it looked cool, and, most importantly, I hadn’t seen anyone else read it. Suddenly I noticed girls at school coming up to me to talk about the book. I stayed in at lunchtime instead of going out to kick a ball about. I’d gotten the bug.

Like a time capsule, each book cover of the series recalls the moment in life I was at, rather than what happened inside the pages. Like Pogs and Push-Pops, Point Horror has a firm stamp on my youth and am always delighted when a copy travels through my bookshop.


About The Big Comfy Bookshop

Name: Michael

Role At The Shop: Owner, general operation mastermind

Favourite Book: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Likes: Books and music

Dislikes: Amazon, Kindles, Spiders and The Future

The bookshop is my home away from home, and as its owner, my fingers are in all the pies. If there’s an event going on at the shop, I’m usually the man both behind the scenes and up front compering. If I’m not in the shop you can usually find me with my head buried in a book or sleeping while standing up. Or both.

You can find out more about the Big Comfy Bookshop on their website – www.thebigcomfybookshop.co.uk

Or why not follow them on twitter- @bigcomfybooks


Why not join in Point Horror Book Club and the discussion on the 13th of every month?

Don’t forget to use the #pointhorrorbookclub on twitter so I can see your thoughts or tweet me using @chelleytoy

Are the Point Horror books we loved as a teenager still our favourites on the re-read?  Are you new to Point Horror?  Has our opinion changed?  Are they still as good?  Do they stand up to modern day YA Horror?  Or are the a whole load of cray cray?

For all #PointHorrorBookClub posts old and new click here

A huge huge thank you to Michael for featuring on Tales and a huge round of applause for such a fab guest post!

*claps hands excitedly*

Do you remember Point Horror?  Which was your favourite?  Would you like to join in on #pointhorrorbookclub ?

Happy Point Horror-ing!

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