Tag Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post – Top Ten YA Books by Cara Thurlbourn


I am over the moon to be part of the Fire Lines by Cara Thurlbourn, a fab new YA Fantasy, blog tour today with a fab guest post from the lady herself!

Fire Lines was released on the 26th September published by Bewick Press and looks absolutely fab!

So for my stop on the blog tour Cara is sharing her top 10 YA Books…..



When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?

Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.

But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.

Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?


Top 10 YA Books

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

One of my most recent reads, recommended by my sister and devoured in a day. Totally unputdownable with a huge twist that I didn’t see coming (and I’m usually great at spotting twists!)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

I’m a sucker for an interesting narrator and The Book Thief certainly has that! I also love that against the very serious backdrop of The Second World War, Zusak celebrates books, words and freedom of expression.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

I was given a copy of this book as a gift when I was perhaps thirteen or fourteen and that infamous first line “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”, probably sums up all of my dreamy notions of being a writer.

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard 

Another relatively recent read of mine, I love the way Sara Barnard tackles the themes of friendship and mental health. It was also really refreshing to read something where the main focus was on the intricacies female friendship and not a romance.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Just adorable. Eleanor reminded me so much of me that it was almost painful at times. Probably my favourite read of the year.

Rebel of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

A fierce heroine and a blend of the wild west and fantasy, what’s not to love?! It also gives me severe cover envy with its sparkliness.

My Sister Lives On The Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher 

It’s quite a few years since I read this book but it still sticks with me as one of those ones that grabs you and doesn’t let go. I love the narrative and the way Annabel Pitcher cocoons her story in themes that are, sadly, very relevant today.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

I listened to this on audio on my commute to work and often had to delay getting out of the car because it was just too good! So atmospheric and full of mystery and intrigue.

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

I love everything about this book, from the story itself to the physicality of it. The cover is stunning, the artwork on the pages is to die for and I can’t wait to get started on her latest The Island at the End of Everything.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Still mid-read but I can tell this will be one of my stand out books of the year. Another recommendation/lend from my sister and she’s rarely wrong with her tastes!

You can buy a copy of Fire Lines here 

Or add to your Goodreads list here


About Cara Thurlbourn

Cara Thurlbourn writes children’s and young adult fiction. ‘Fire Lines’ is her first novel and it’s a story she’s been planning since she was fifteen years old.

Cara has a degree in English from the University of Nottingham and an MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes University.

She lives in a tiny village in Suffolk and has worked in academic and educational publishing for nearly ten years. Cara blogs about her author journey and in November 2016 she crowdfunded her first children’s book. 10% of its profits are donated to animal rehoming charities.

Cara plans to write at least two more books in the Fire Lines series, as well as a young adult mystery series, and has lots more children’s stories waiting in the wings.

You can sign up for Cara’s newsletter, for giveaways, updates and latest releases, here: www.firelines.co.uk

You can also follow Cara on twitter – @carathurlbourn


Blog Tour

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

 


A huge big thank you to Faye Rogers for asking me to host this fab piece and to Cara for writing it.

Have you read Fire Lines?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  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 – Teenage Nightmares by Mark Illis


Today I have a guest post from the wonderful Mark Illis with a fab guest post!

The Impossible, illustrated by Bimpe Alliu, was released on the 27th July published by Quercus and is “a comic-book inspired adventure with a graphic novel twist” that is not to be missed!

Today Mark chats about writing for teenagers and writing his first teenage novel, The Impossible in this fab guest post….


When Hector Coleman and his mates genetically mutate overnight, his life changes in impossible ways.

A comic-book inspired adventure with a graphic novel twist for fans of Joe Cowley, Joe Sugg and Charlie Higson.

Hector Coleman. Just your average angst-ridden teenager, living a normal rubbish life in a normal rubbish town with, let’s face it, a rubbish name. Until his mates start genetically mutating … and everything changes. Apart from his name. And his girl trouble. And his embarrassingly low number of Twitter followers. All those things, unfortunately, stay the same. For now …


Teenage Nightmares

Why does a 54 year old man want to write for teenagers? Because his inner teenager is alive and well, slouching on a bean-bag behind a closed door, smelling of stale sweat, in a bad mood about something, with his head in a book. He used to read The Famous Five, then The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Lord of the Rings, then he moved on to The Wizard of Earthsea, Lord of the Flies, To Kill A Mocking Bird and The Catcher in the Rye. That’s a pretty good reading list and I’d recommend it to anyone. It nourished my imagination, played a big part in turning me into whoever (whatever) I am today, but everything’s changed since then. The range of YA fiction has exploded over the last ten years or so, at roughly the rate of a zombie apocalypse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my children is on her way out of teenager-dom, the other is on his way in, so I’ve read a lot of it in recent years, and I’ve discovered a fantastic new world, one which gives me a thrill of excitement and also a sharp slap of recognition. Somewhere along the way, my inner teenager stirred, lifted his head out of his book, blinked and said ‘Wait, what?’ (Because that’s what teenagers say these days.)

So of course, YA and teen fiction was a pool I wanted to dive into. I wanted to write for my children, I wanted to write for my slouchy, smelly teenage self, and I wanted to explore the preoccupations that have never left me. As an adult I read graphic novels, watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer  and Marvel movies, and read novels like Station 11 and The Underground Railroad, both of which play interesting games with reality. All those influences feed into my writing for teenagers.

Since I crawled out of that bean-bag about 35 years ago, I’ve written four novels and a book of connected short stories, all broadly in the genre of literary fiction. That means that I had most of the tools I needed to write YA, because writing for teenagers requires exactly the same attention to character and language as writing for adults, but I also felt liberated, felt able to introduce a fantasy, science-fiction element. Mutations, aliens!

Writing my first teenage novel, The Impossible, was similar to writing a novel for adults, because it was a precarious journey into invented lives, an attempt to find the unique texture of those lives, to summon up something authentic, to imagine an experience that was never actually experienced. But writing The Impossible also surprised me in two ways.

First, I discovered that I like my teenage characters more than most of my adult ones. I like the challenge of trying to find teenage voices without seeming cringey or weird. I like their enthusiasm and their ennui, their humour and their seriousness (often at the same time), that unguarded, jagged quality which makes them vulnerable. The life buzzing and flickering like electricity in their dialogue.

And secondly, I discovered that writing for teenagers feels at least as personal as writing an adult, literary novel. The Impossible is about teenagers coping with change colliding with their lives. To return to that first question – why am I, a 54 year old bloke, writing about that? Because change collided with my life when I was a teenager. The sort of change that you have to integrate into your life and find a way to use, because the only alternative is to be crushed by it. That’s what I wanted to explore, extrapolate from and – kind of – celebrate.

The garish, weird monsters are metaphors. It’s what makes them effective and familiar and even, in a sense, plausible.

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


About Mark Illis

Mark was born in London in 1963. He bought comics, watched Star Trek, went to see The Clash and loved reading and writing. He had some short stories published at university, and went on to do an MA in Creative Writing at UEA, where Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter were his tutors. That was a good year.

In his twenties Mark had three novels published by Bloomsbury, A CHINESE SUMMER, THE ALCHEMIST and THE FEATHER REPORT. He was also teaching English GCSE part-time, doing research for a charity called Shape, and then working as a Literature Development Worker, ‘raising the profile of literature in Berkshire.’ Exciting times. In 1992 Mark moved to West Yorkshire to be a Centre Director for the Arvon Foundation, after which he started writing for TV and radio. He has written three radio plays and has written for EastEnders, The Bill and Peak Practice. He wrote for Emmerdale for over a decade. He also wrote the award-winning screenplay for Before Dawn, a relationship drama with zombies.

Mark has taught writing in schools, libraries, universities, Reading Prison and Broadmoor Secure Hospital, and has run workshops in Hong Kong and Norway. He has taught more than 30 Arvon courses, has given readings at festivals from Brighton to Edinburgh, Cheltenham to King’s Lynn, and has reviewed for The Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator and Radio 4’s Kaleidoscope. He has recently been working for the charity First Story and for the Royal Literary Fund. He’s married with two children and a kitten and is still living in West Yorkshire.

His fourth book, TENDER, was published in 2009, and his fifth, THE LAST WORD, (shortlisted for The Portico Prize) in 2011, both by Salt.

In July 2017, his first Young Adult novel, THE IMPOSSIBLE, winner of a Northern Writers’ Award in 2015, will be published by Quercus. When teenagers in Gilpin start suffering from strange mutations, someone needs to find out what’s going on. Enter Hector, who’s suffering maybe the strangest mutation of all.

You can find out more about Mark on his website – www.markillis.co.uk

Or why not follow Mark on twitter – @markillis1


A huge big thank you to Emily at Quercus for asking me to host this fab piece and to Mark for writing it.

Have you read The Impossible?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  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 – A Day In The Life Of Ruth Lauren by Ruth Lauren


Today I am thrilled to be part of the brilliant Prisoner Of Ice And Snow Blog Tour!

Prisoner Of Ice And Snow by Ruth Lauren was released on the 7th September 2017 published by Bloomsbury and is a brilliant MG Fantasy that will keep you gripped page after page!

Today the lovely Ruth Lauren gives us a little insight into her day in this fab guest post….



Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.


A Day In The Life Of Ruth Lauren

Being an author isn’t the first job I’ve had, but it is by far my favourite. In what other job do you get requests to choose the font for a letter that one of your characters wrote to another character? Or to send along a little voice recording of word and name pronunciations for the audio book narrator? This never happened when I worked in an office, I can tell you. I might write a pitch for an idea, or talk with my agent about next steps, or get something exciting like a book cover or news on a foreign sale in my inbox.

But of course, most days I don’t get an email asking for these things. Most days my inbox is just asking me to rate that blind I ordered or make a dental appointment. And most of the time, after I’ve dropped my kids off at school (that I get to do this every day is another perk of the job), I go home to sit in front of my laptop. Sometimes it really is just sitting, because a lot of my time is spent either daydreaming—when an idea for a new book isn’t nailed down yet—or solving problems, plotting out the trajectory of stories, thinking up twists and how/when to reveal them.

Other times, when I’m drafting a book, I spend most of the day actually writing (and not on the internet at all. Not that.) That could be an outline or some more detailed notes on a specific chapter, but mostly I try to add 1k words a day to whatever story I’m working on. Sometimes I’ll have to set that aside if my editor send a book back to me and I need to do another round of edits, or line edits, or copy edits, or . . . you get the picture, editing is a big part of my life!

And if I’m lucky, some days after I’ve finished my writing work, I get a lovely review from a young person who read PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW and liked it, and then I don’t mind that my inbox told me to make a dental appointment.

You can buy a copy of Prisoner Of Ice And Snow here or from your local bookshop

Or why not add it to your Goodreads shelf here


About Ruth Lauren


Ruth Lauren lives in the West Midlands in England with her family and a lot of cats. She likes chocolate, walking in the woods, cheese, orchids, going to the movies, and reading as many books as she can. She’s been a teacher and worked in lots of different offices, but she likes writing best. Prisoner of Ice and Snow is her debut novel.

You can find out more about Lauren on her website – www.ruthlauren.com

Or why not follow Lauren on Twitter – @ruth__lauren

And Instagram here


Blog Tour

Why not catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge big thank you to Bloomsbury and Faye Rogers for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Prisoner Of Ice And Snow?  Did you enjoy?  What did you love about it?  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 Art Of Naming Characters by Mark Powers


Today I am super excited to be part of the fab blog tour for a brilliant new super fun middle grade book, Spy Toys:  Out Of Control by Mark Powers and illustrated by the super talented Tim Wesson!

Spy Toy: Out Of Control was released on the 10th August 2017 published by the lovely people at Bloomsbury and is the second book in the Spy Toys series!

Today Mark Powers chats about The Art Of Naming Characters in this fab guest post….



Toy Story meets James Bond in the second book in this incredible action-packed series!

Fresh from the success of their first mission, our heroes the Spy Toys – Dan the Snugaliffic Cuddlestar bear, Arabella the Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll and Flax the custom-made police robot rabbit – are ready for their next task. This time, the secret code that controls every Snaztacular Ultrafun toy has been stolen and all over the world toys are revolting and turning against the children who own them.

Can Arabella disguise herself as a super-sweet little doll in order to find out more from the daughter of Snaztacular’s top scientist? Can Dan and Flax chase down Jade the Jigsaw, the puzzling prime suspect for the robbery? And can they save the day before the mind-controlled toys forget what it means to play nice?


The Art Of Naming Characters

Few things are more delicious in literature than a good character name. Inigo Montoya. Herbert Pocket. Titus Groan. Bellatrix Lestrange. Veruca Salt. Dorian Gray. The mind savours them like a mouthful of chocolate cake.

In creating the evil elephant/human hybrid character Rusty Flumptrunk for my first SPY TOYS adventure, I took a leaf out of the book of my favourite writer Douglas Adams, one of the champion character-namers of all time. He came up with the name Slartibartfast by taking a string of extremely rude words and changing each very slightly until he had something that sounded rude, but wasn’t. If you ever find yourself on a long and boring train journey or you’re waiting to get served in your nearest branch of Curry’s and have a couple of hours to kill, you may like to ponder exactly which naughty words went into the construction of Rusty Flumptrunk.

Sometimes the unexpected use of a simple name can be humorously effective. In my new book SPY TOYS: OUT OF CONTROL, I needed a name for a unicorn. One immediately thinks of the poetic, mystical names that the great fantasy writers have dreamt up for their magical beasts: Lewis’s lordly lion Aslan, Tolkien’s slumbering dragon Smaug and Pratchett’s vast, world-bearing turtle Great A’Tuin. Which is why I decided to call my unicorn John. John the unicorn.

My current favourite coiner of fabulous names is British fantasy author Michael Moorcock, in particular the baroque handles he gives to the decadent eccentrics who populate the future Earth in his series The Dancers at the End of Time. Jherek Carnelian. The Iron Orchid. Sweet Orb Mace. Lord Jagged of Canaria. Mistress Christia. The Duke of Queens. Argonheart Po. Gaf the Horse in Tears…the list goes on. Pure pleasure.

So what’s the secret of a good character name? Lordy. Who knows? You definitely know one when you see one, or if you’re lucky, when one bubbles up from your unconscious. But there’s no guaranteed formula for creating them. All you can do is painstakingly slam different phonemes together at random in the hope of precipitating a kind of literary alchemy.

One thing I am certain of, however, is that no matter how stretched their imagination or short their deadline, no author would ever consider giving a character a name as silly as ‘Donald Trump’.

Meet John the unicorn, Dr Potty, Gemma Snowdrop, Professor Doomprickle and other oddly named characters in the second book in Mark Powers’s SPY TOYS series, SPY TOYS: OUT OF CONTROL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of Spy Toys:  Out Of Control here or from your local bookshop

Or why not add it to your Goodreads here


About Mark Powers

Author Mark Powers has been making up ridiculous stories since primary school and is slightly shocked to find that people now pay him to do it. As a child he always daydreamed that his teddy bear went off on top secret missions when he was at school, so a team of toys recruited as spies seemed a great idea for a story. He grew up in north Wales and now lives in Manchester. His favourite animals are the binturong, the aye-aye and the dodo. www.spytoysbooks.com

You can find out more about Mark on his websitewww.spytoybooks.com

Or why not follow Mark on Twitter – @mpowerswriter


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Mark for such a fab guest post and to Faye Rogers and Bloomsbury for having me as part of this fab blog tour!

Have you read Spy Toys: Out Of Control?  What did you think?  Who was your favourite character?  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 – Where It All Started…. by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison


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

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

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


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


Where It All Started…..

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

About Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

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

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

You can follow Lucy on twitter – @lucyivison


Blog Tour

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


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

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

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Top Five Things About Detective Caelan Small by Lisa Hartley


Today I have a fab guest post to celebrate the release of Ask No Questions by Lisa Hartley.

Ask No Questions was release on the 10th July 2017 published in ebook format and is set to be a page turning adult fiction thriller that will set your pulse racing!

So today I thought we should find out a little about the main Detective in the novel, Detective Caelan Small…..


Some secrets were meant to stay hidden… Trust no-one

After an operation goes badly wrong, undercover specialist Detective Caelan Small leaves the Metropolitan Police for good. Or so she thinks. Then the criminal responsible is seen back in the UK.

Soon Caelan is drawn back into a dangerous investigation. But when the main lead is suddenly murdered, all bets are off. Nothing is as it seems. Everyone is a suspect – even close colleagues.

Someone in the Met is involved and Caelan is being told to Ask No Questions.

This isn’t an option: Caelan needs answers… whatever the cost.

The nerve-shredding new crime thriller from bestseller Lisa Hartley starts a must-read new series. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Robert Bryndza, it will keep you guessing until the very end.


Top Five Things About Detective Caelan Small

Thank you for the opportunity to write a guest post about Detective Caelan Small, the main character in my latest book, ‘Ask No Questions’. I’m so excited about bloggers and readers meeting Caelan, and stepping into her world. She’s a character I’ve really enjoyed getting to know, and as this is the first book in a new series, I feel there’s much more to come from her.

Here are five things to know about Caelan:

1) Caelan was a police officer with the Metropolitan Police, specialising in undercover work. At the beginning of the book, she has resigned from her job. Her decision was made when operation she was involved went disastrously wrong. During the fallout which followed, Caelan decided she could no longer work for the Met. She went on holiday to Egypt to recover, and to consider her options. Before long, she is offered an opportunity, and has decisions to make.

2) She is loyal to her colleagues, and willing to stick her neck out for the people she trusts. In her job, she and the people she worked with had to rely on each other, especially during undercover operations, when a mistake could have cost them their lives. She knows who she can trust, or believes she does. As the book progresses, and Caelan is drawn deeper into an investigation, she begins to question everything she thought she knew.

3) Caelan has lived in London for nine years, though she doesn’t feel as though she has explored the city as much as she would have liked to. She’s spent a lot of time getting to know the people and places of the darker side of the city, and not so much seeing the sights. She recently moved into an apartment in Rotherhithe, on the banks of the Thames, and previously lived in Camden.

4) She is confident in her own abilities, and knows her own worth. The head of her undercover unit describes her as “the best we have”, and most of her fellow officers agree. Some, however, believe Caelan is a liability, and aren’t afraid to voice that opinion.

5) Her name is pronounced “Kaylen”. Not Carlin, Callen or Colin. Some sources say “Caelan” is an Irish or Gaelic name meaning ‘powerful warrior’ or ‘child’. I’ve read it was originally thought of as a boy’s name, but more recently has been used for girls as well.

You can buy a copy of Ask No Questions here

Or why not add this to your Goodreads list here


About Lisa Hartley


Lisa Hartley lives with her partner, son, two dogs and several cats. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies, then had a variety of jobs but kept writing in her spare time. In addition to this new series with Canelo she is also working on the next DS Catherine Bishop novel.

You can find out more about Lisa on her website – www.lisahartley.co.uk

Or why not follow Lisa on twitter – @rainedonparade


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Lisa for a fab guest post and to Faye Rogers for asking me to be part of his fab blog tour.

Have you read Ask No Questions?  What did you think?  Do you love a good thriller?  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 – Chris Russell’s Guide To Being “With The Band” by Chris Russell


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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


About Chris Russell

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

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

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

Or why not follow Chris on Twitter – @chrisrusselluk


Blog Tour

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


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

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – End Times by Joss Stirling


I was super excited to have received a set of the brilliant Young Detective Agency series by Joss Stirling to celebrate the recent release of the final book in the series Scorched.

Scorched was published on the 6th April 2017 by the lovely people at OUP and I literally cannot wait to jump into this series.

So I asked Joss Stirling if she would like to feature on Tales to discuss endings and how it felt to write and ending.  Do things ever really end…..


Love is a fire. But who will get burned?

Ember Lord is facing charges for the murder of her father. She was found at the scene of the crime, holding the murder weapon, and refuses to explain herself.

Joe Masters is tasked with getting under Ember’s skin, and breaking through her stony facade; to gain her trust and find out what her plans are now her father’s legally-questionable business is under her control.

But as the two get closer, Joe begins to break down the wall that Ember has built around herself, and gets a glimpse of the truth behind. Is he really falling for a cold-hearted killer? Or is there more to the murder than meets the eye?

The incredible final instalment of Joss Stirling’s Young Detective Agency series, a companion novel to Stung, Shaken, and the award-winning Struck. Romantic thrillers that will make your heart skip a beat.

Check out the other books in this fab series….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


End Times

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

Frank Herbert

That’s how most writers feel when they get to the end of a series. I’ve just waved off Scorched to your bookshelves, the last in the Struck series. This was always planned as four books (Struck, Stung, Shaken and Scorched) so I knew I was on the last lap. My young detectives had gone undercover in a boarding school, been on a chase from Jakarta to London, rocked New York and now…well they had to break out of prison, naturally!

Yet there was also the matter of the bigger patterns in the story stretching across all the books. I had settled some things, found partners for my young detectives, but I also needed to discover what would be a suitable stopping point. I knew some things in advance:

–    I wasn’t going to do a Hamlet (i.e. all the main characters die)

–    It was going to be upbeat, a little euphoric. On this I usually side with Bilbo, here talking to Frodo as his nephew sets out on his quest:

“Have you thought of an ending?”

“Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant.”

“Oh, that won’t do! Books ought to have good endings. How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?”

There is enough darkness in the world without adding to it in a series that, though it covers serious themes, is mainly there for your reading pleasure.

–    There ought to be a sense of what life might be like in the future for the characters, allowing of course for the ups and downs we all experience. Perhaps a little bitterness mixed in with the sweet so that it feels more like the mixed-bag-that-is-life?

–    Everyone should be there. In a series, a reader invests time in all the characters so it’s only fair the reader gets to see them all again, something like the curtain call at the end of a show.

So, without giving any more away, that was what I was trying to do for the boys from the YDA, Joe, Damien, Nathan and Kieran.

Yet, as Herbert says, there is no real ending. I know I will get messages from readers wanting more – that is like asking for the film to start up again after the credits role. I’m sure that is why J K Rowling added that scene at the railway station at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She was trying to get ahead of the fans. But, of course, that turns out not to be the end either. She went back to it in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It is so difficult to leave your story alone.

Do you have a favourite ending? Thinking about this blog post, I was wondering if there had ever been a poll on this. I found a list on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/574.Best_Ending) which includes a some of my favourites. The Great Gatsby gets my vote for sheer poetry. 1984 for bleakness. A Tale of Two Cities must be one of the most heroic and poignant. The Lord of the Rings also wins for its message that sometimes the heroes don’t get the reward, but it is left to those that they save. Pride and Prejudice is perhaps the happiest.

I can’t possibly try to match the brilliance of these examples but I hope you enjoy what I did in Scorched with my own sense of things coming to an end. However, I should warn you, I’m going to give my last word to the novelist, Graham Greene, who wrote in a book aptly named The End of the Affair:

‘Chemists tell you matter is never completely destroyed, and mathematicians tell you that if you halve each pace in crossing a room, you will never reach the opposite wall, so what an optimist I would be if I thought that this story ended here.’

You can buy a copy of Scorched or any of the fab Young Detective Agency series here or from your local bookshop!


About Joss Stirling

Joss Stirling is the winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2015 for STRUCK (first published as Storm and Stone) – the first time the award has been given to a teen book. You can find a book trailer on this page, where young detectives take a turn to star. The sequels are called STUNG and SHAKEN.

She is also the author of the internationally successful FINDING SKY, STEALING PHOENIX and SEEKING CRYSTAL, the first three books about the Benedict brothers, a family with extraordinary gifts. The stories combine her love for romance, mystery and travel – oh, yes and some seriously attractive heroes.

Readers demanded to know what happens to the remaining brothers so the next in the savant series, MISTY FALLS. Find out which Benedict brother meets his match! The story continues in ANGEL DARES – meet Joss’ most outrageous heroine yet! The series concludes with SUMMER SHADOWS.

Joss lives in Oxford, UK, is married with three children.

You can find out more and speak to Joss at www.jossstirling.co.uk.

Or why not follow Joss on twitter using – @jossstirling

I previously spotlight Joss Stirling’s Benedict Brothers series here


A huge huge thank you to Joss for such a fab post and to OUP for sending me the books and asking me to host!

Have you read Scorched or any of the Young Detective Agency series ?  What did you think?  What are you favourite types of endings?  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 – Research This Time Was Such A Blast by Tamsin Cooke


Today I am super excited to be part of an awesome blog tour and have the wonderful Tamsin Cooke on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of her new book Stunt Double!

Stunt Double was released on the 6th July 2017 published by OUP and is an action packed MG read that will leave you wanting more!

Today Tamsin tells us about the research behind the book and some of the exciting things she got up to …..


An action-packed adventure story with an exciting film location setting.


Finn is a free-running black belt, with a talent for acting-but when his big break arrives, it’s not the role he was expecting at all.

Recruited as a stunt double, he’s pushed to his limits-scaling walls at high speed, jumping from dizzying heights, and diving into rocky waters-all without any safety gear. He’s determined to push himself, but as the stunts get more dangerous, the lines between movie and reality are really starting to blur, and it becomes clear that he’ll be luckily to escape this shoot with his life.

A brand new adventure for readers aged 9+, from the author of The Scarlet Files.


Research This Time Was Such A Blast – Delving Into The World Of Stunts

I was incredibly excited the moment I got the initial flash of inspiration for Stunt Double. However it occurred to me that I knew very little about the world of stunts. My knowledge consisted of what I’d read in the papers (where stunts have ended badly) or from a TV programme. For those of you not old enough to remember, ‘The Fall Guy’ was a 1980’s TV show based in America about a stuntman moonlighting as a bounty hunter. Using his knowledge of stunts and film effects, he would track down and catch criminals.

Luckily for me, I adore research. And whenever I get a new idea for a story, I can’t wait to delve into the subject matter, learning everything I can. And this time, it was going to be even more fun because I was entering the world of stunts.

At first, I visited libraries and scoured the Internet. I discovered the different disciplines of stunt performers:

Fighting – Categories: Martial Arts, Boxing

Falling – Categories: Trampolining, High Diving

Riding and Driving – Categories: Horses, Cars, Motorcycles

Agility and Strength – Categories: Gymnastics, Rock Climbing

Water – Categories: Swimming, Sub Aqua

You are required to be qualified to competitive level in six or more of the above categories, one of which must be in Fighting. Plus you must have qualifications in at least four of the groups. That is an awful lot of work and a huge required skill set!

I was desperate to meet a real life stunt performer and was thrilled when Annabel Canaven, a professional stuntwoman generously gave up her time to meet me over coffee and cake. And wow – I think she might be one of the coolest people I have ever met.

Annabel explained how stunts are set up – how it’s all about the planning and the safety. A stunt coordinator has a team of trained professionals and together they create the stunt, which the Stunt Coordinator oversees. It’s a fun, supportive environment, where you have to trust each other.

The film crew record the stunt a minimum of three times using many cameras from different angles. Then the director selects the best shot for editing. On occasion, when it’s a really expensive stunt, you might only get one take. Then the pressure is really on!

Annabel showed me pictures of her rolling down the stairs, dressed up as a stunt double alongside the actor, as well as being set on fire. She also showed me video footage of her free falling sixty feet without any wires or cranes. She lands on a bunch of cardboard boxes. Yes – I did say cardboard boxes. They decelerate your fall.

In fact I have learnt that cardboard boxes are a staple of the stunt world. I was incredibly lucky to visit The British Action Academy, the UK’s only stunt school. It’s run by Andreas Petrides who has been a stunt man for twenty seven years and worked on over 500 productions worldwide. If you think of a film or TV programme- he’s probably been in it or orchestrated the stunt. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Merlin… even Poldark!

He is up there with the coolest people too! Andreas allowed me to wander around while the training took place. I saw what stunt performers sometimes have to wear – the body armour of padding or the jerk vests (vests that connect you to wires allowing you to be jerked through the air). I saw cranes, ropes, wires, mats and of course lots of cardboard!!!

 

During my visit, the trainees were learning how to crash a bike into a car. And the car was made of? You guessed it – cardboard boxes! The trainee had to cycle down a slope, then jump onto the saddle of their bike. (I have to admit – I thought that was a daring enough stunt in itself). Then they hurtled towards the cardboard car (with a mat on top) and just before they made impact, they somersaulted over the top onto a crash mat behind. It looked fantastic. I decided not to have a go, and just took pictures instead!!!

I watched the trainees slide down rope from the vaulted ceiling and be jerked in the air by a wire. They re-enacted a brawl and took turns being flung down a slope rolling over and over.

It made me realise what kind of character you have to be in order to become a stunt performer. You have to be brave, physically capable and also patient. Andreas was telling me how there is a lot of waiting around on set as you have to make sure the stunt is safe. But one of the most important characteristics that hadn’t occurred to me until I met these fabulous people, is that you cannot be reckless. One of the instructors said, ‘They’re stuntmen, not daredevils.’  There’s an old adage then anyone can be a stunt performer once… they just might not live to tell the tale…

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


About Tamsin Cooke

Born in Lancashire to a Polish mum and English dad, Tamsin spent lots of the first twelve years of her life in different countries. She learnt to walk in South Africa, roller-skate in Florida and synchronise swim in Hawaii. This has given her a great love of travel which she does whenever possible. She also adores having adventures and seeing wild animals. Since writing Cat Burglar, Tamsin has become fascinated with spirit animals. She’d like to think her spirit animal is a jaguar or a wolf. But her friends tell her it’s a Labradoodle.

If you would like to learn more about Tamsin, please go to her website: tamsincooke.co.uk

Or why not follow Tamsin on Twitter – @TamsinCooke1


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Tamsin for such a fab guest post and to OUP for organising and asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read Stunt Double?  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 – Get Ahead As An Author—Get A Dog! by Nikki Sheehan


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Get Ahead As An Author—Get A Dog!

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

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

Basics

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

Distractions

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

Hobbies

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

Health and fitness

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

Mental health

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

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

Love

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

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

Mother and daughter Labradoodles, Tinker (left) and Coco

Nikki and Tinker

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

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


About Nikki Sheehan

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

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

Or why not follow Nikki on twitter – @NicoletteShhh


Blog Tour

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


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

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

Happy Reading!

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