Tag Archives: Macmillan

Spotlight – The Never-Ending Birthday by Katie Dale


I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for the super fun new children’s book by Katie Dale, The Never-Ending Birthday!

The Never-Ending Birthday was released on the 29th June 2016 published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

A huge thank you to Katie for getting in touch and for having me on this wonderful tour.

For my stop on the blog tour I wanted to shine the spotlight on this fab book, it’s author and share details of a giveaway!


Twins Max and Anni have had the worst birthday ever. Max has missed a vital goal in the football Cup Final and Anni has fallen out with her best friend. Feeling thoroughly miserable, Max and Anni sneak downstairs at midnight and light the candles on their untouched birthday cake and, as they blow them out, they make a wish . . . to redo the day!

When they wake up, their wish has come true! And this time Max and Anni aren’t going to mess things up. But little do they realize that they are going to have to relive their birthday again . . . and again . . . and again.

You can buy a copy of The Never-Ending Birthday here or from your local bookshop!


About Katie Dale

I love nothing more than creating characters – both on page and on-stage! I studied English Literature at Sheffield University, spent a year at UNC-Chapel Hill, followed by a crazy year at Mountview drama school, a national Shakespeare tour, and back-packing through South-East Asia. I love all genres, and am busily working on a variety of projects from novels to picture-books – whilst playing the odd princess/assassin/zombie in-between!

Katie Dale had her first poem, ‘The Fate of The School Hamster’, published in the Cadbury’s Book of Children’s Poetry aged just eight and hasn’t stopped writing since! Inspired by her mother, Elizabeth Dale, who is also an author, Katie loves creating characters, both on the page and onstage. After training as an actress and touring the country as Shakespeare’s Juliet, she was a winner of the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices competition, which launched her writing career. She has published books for toddlers up to teens, and her novels have won several awards and are published all over the world. The Never-Ending Birthday is her second novel for Macmillan Children’s Books.

Find out more about me at katiedaleuk.blogspot.com

Or why not follow Katie on twitter using @katiedaleuk

You can catch a previous Q&A with Katie on Tales here


Giveaway

For a chance to win your very own sparkly copy of THE NEVER-ENDING BIRTHDAY simply answer the following question:

If you could re-do any day, which day would it be, and why?

Email your answers to katiedaleauthor@hotmail.com

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

Catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge huge thank you to Katie for asking me to be part of the blog tour!

Have you read TheNever-Ending Birthday?  What did you think?  What day would you love to live again and again?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Spotlight – Shattered Minds by Laura Lam


I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this amazing book, Shattered Minds by Laura Lam!

Shattered Minds was released on the 15th June 2017 published by Macmillan and is set to be a brilliant Sci-Fi / Dystopian read.

Shattered Minds stars a female ‘Dexter’ with a drug problem and a conscience, in a terrifying near-future where technology rules our lives and haunts our dreams. It’s set in the same world as False Hearts.  The book tackles hacking, celebrity, unlikable female protagonists and villains and the blurred lines between them…

So today I will be spotlighting the book, sharing and extract and I also have a fab giveaway!


She can uncover the truth, if she defeats her demons

Ex-neuroscientist Carina struggles with a drug problem, her conscience, and urges to kill. She satisfies her cravings in dreams, fuelled by the addictive drug ‘Zeal’. Now she’s heading for self-destruction – until she has a vision of a dead girl.

Sudice Inc. damaged Carina when she worked on their sinister brain-mapping project, causing her violent compulsions. And this girl was a similar experiment. When Carina realizes the vision was planted by her old colleague Mark, desperate for help to expose the company, she knows he’s probably dead. Her only hope is to unmask her nemesis – or she’s next.

To unlock the secrets Mark hid in her mind, she’ll need a group of specialist hackers. Dax is one
of them, a doctor who can help Carina fight her addictions. If she holds on to her humanity, they
might even have a future together. But first she must destroy her adversary – before it changes us and our society, forever.

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


Extract

THREE (cont)

CARINA

The Zealscape, Green Star Lounge, Los Angeles,

California, Pacifica

 Carina stumbles home, clutching her coat around her thin shoulders.

The police who came to the Green Star Lounge wanted to interview her about what had happened, but she put on the ‘I’m-an-unhinged-Zealot’ act, flying spittle and all, and they left her alone pretty quickly.

They decided she was lucky to be the only survivor. They let her go. One drug-addled woman is clearly not the cause of the malfunction of the Zeal lounge. It’d been a slow day, but thirteen Zealots are now dead. Who will mourn them?

The images play in her mind as Carina totters on unsteady feet. The bee. The rose. The thorn. The blood. The eyes. And then the dead girl with the same mismatched eyes. Carina knows her Zealscape intimately. Every corner. Every seam. Every brick. She’s built it so carefully over the last six months.

This is something else.

She reaches her apartment, tucked into the Chesterfield Square neighbourhood of South Los Angeles. Once, these few blocks had one of the highest crime rates in the world. Now, most of the inhabitants are Zealots plugged into their dreams. It is a ghost town.

The entrance to the apartment building senses her VeriChip and she sends the passcode from her eye implants to the door. The metal grate scrapes open. She makes her slow progress up the stairs, pausing to catch her breath every few steps, her knees shaking. This apartment was cheaper than one with an elevator. She underestimated how quickly her health would start to deteriorate. Falling against her front door, she sends the next passcode to the lock.

Once Carina was tidy, but now her clothes are scattered around the apartment, and she hasn’t even bothered sending the bots around to clean. She tends to throw away clothes when they’re too dirty to wear, buying cheap new ones from the replicator. The sweat-stained sheets on her bed need changing. This is the place where she has a few hours of fitful sleep or eats some tasteless, vaguely nutritious food before going back to the Green Star Lounge.

This is the place where she looks at the scan of her brain, trying to find out why it’s broken and she now wants to kill everyone she comes across. Setting the program to load, she goes to the bathroom.

Her tooth is still there, the eroded root crusted with dried blood. She washes her hands, and the tooth disappears down into the pipes. She tongues the empty space in her mouth where it used to be, wincing at her sore gums. It could be fixed, but it’d mean more time out of the Zealscape or away from the project.

Then it hits her: the lounge will almost certainly be closed tomorrow and she doesn’t know how she will get her dose of Zeal.

She should care more about the people who died. She should worry that going back to the same lounge, or another one, means it could happen again, and she might not be so lucky if it does. But she can’t care about anything except finding that next hit.

Carina collapses on the sagging couch. The wallscreens are always turned off. The kitchen cupboards are empty, so if she wants to eat, she’ll have to order NutriPaste from the replicator, as that’s all she can afford. The thought of its chalky texture turns her stomach. So she sits. Bee. Rose. Thorn. Blood. Eyes, one green, one blue.

What do they mean? Is it gibberish, some strange side effect from a virus let loose in the Zeal program subsystem? The bit of her that was once a neuroprogrammer is curious, but that part is mostly swallowed up by Zeal apathy. She can only care about her main project.

Her brain scan has loaded. It floats in the middle of the living room, taking up most of the space. Her implants are old and need refreshing, but they work well enough for the Zeal, and that’s all she cares about.

Carina can find nothing physical to explain the gradual unravelling of her mind. Her prefrontal cortex seems normal. Her ventromedial cortex is not shrunken, so decision-making should also still be fine. Her dopamine receptors are shot, but that’s more thanks to the Zeal than any existing precondition. The way she processes emotion and empathy is different, but she’s been like that since she was a teen and it doesn’t really show on her brain. Once, her emotions had been entirely walled away. For years, nothing had touched her.

It was only once she started feeling again that she also started wanting to kill.

She’s been trying to get back to how she was five years ago. She might have created a somewhat workable code, but she doesn’t have the proper equipment, nor a lab. Once, she toyed with going back to Sudice for access to the Los Angeles lab. It would have meant Roz would find out her address, but Carina thought enough time had passed that it might be all right. Her recent Zealscape vision, if it’s true, kills that plan.

She sends her brain scan away, too tired to try and puzzle over the code any more. She hasn’t made any real progress in months, anyway. Her concentration is shot, and she’s lost her touch. Somewhere deep inside her, she wonders if she’s too far gone ever to find some semblance of normalcy. Or if she even cares.

Carina turns on her implants and brings up photos of the old team at Sudice. There’s Dr Mark Teague, smiling and waving at the camera, his tanned skin glowing, silver hair glinting in the overhead lighting of the lab. There’s Dr Aliyah Zahedi, with her enigmatic smile, dark skin, orange hair a little mussed from running frustrated fingers through it all day while running her trials. She’d been the quietest of the bunch, but with a wicked sense of humour. And there’s Dr Kim Mata – part-Japanese, hair just starting to grey and cut into a short bob. Even though Mark is twice her age, Kim looks older, as she’s one of the few people in Pacifica not obsessed with flesh parlours. Carina hasn’t thought of Kim, her constant nicknames, her wheedling jokes, in months.

Dr Roz Elliot is not in the picture.

Carina hasn’t thought about any of them much in the last few months. When she left Sudice eight months ago, they were often in her thoughts. Then the Zeal took over. She’d befriended them, as much as Carina could be friends with anyone. She’d grown used to them, admired their minds enough that they became real to her. Even when she started wanting to kill everyone around her, Mark, Kim and Aliyah were safe. Fundamentally, they were good people, and Carina only kills criminals – at least, so far, though she fears her control weakening.

Carina opens the staff image of Dr Elliot and narrows her eyes as she takes in the perfect dark-blonde bob, the bland smile for the camera. There’s a criminal. There’s someone Carina wouldn’t mind hurting.

Carina has no recording of that vision in the Zealscape. If she had, she could send it to the authorities, let them deal with whatever Roz has done. No proof, no crime.

Opening up the other staff photos, her gaze lingers on Kim. She’s a head and a half shorter than anyone else on the team. Flyaway hair always escaping her bun and framing her face. Kim could probably tell her something about what happened today, but Carina doesn’t want Kim to know just how far she has fallen. She looks at Kim’s wide smile as she displays one of her precious collectable figurines, proudly balancing it on one palm, its tuft of pink hair almost tickling her nose. Kim looks goofy and playful, and not at all like one of the best neuroprogrammers in Pacifica; not like a woman traumatized by the murder of her wife. Carina turns off her implants.

She sits and stares at the blank wall for hours, blinking slowly. At some point past midnight, basic human survival instinct kicks in. Mechanically she goes to the bathroom, then the kitchen to order some NutriPaste from the replicator, grimacing at the taste and drinking water to wash it down.

Zeal withdrawal is already kicking in. Her limbs twitch as though they’ve been electrocuted. Her mouth is dry no matter how much water she drinks. The synapses in her brain aren’t firing quite right – thoughts spiral into nothingness. There are no urges to harm anyone in this plane of reality. They are safe, as long as she has her dose.

The images are still loud and clear. The dead girl’s face, staring ahead, accusatory.

‘I didn’t kill you,’ Carina says out loud to the blank wall. ‘Get out of my head.’

The girl doesn’t answer. She can’t. Carina bashes her fist against the wall. It hurts, but even the pain is distant.

She isn’t sure whether she wishes she’d died tonight or not. Admitting that uncertainty only cements the fear lingering in her fractured thoughts. Sometimes Carina wants to fix whatever’s wrong with her and find a way back to life. Other times she wants nothing more than, if not to die, then to cease to exist. A subtle difference. That feeling is growing stronger as more of her is consumed by Zeal.

 Carina doesn’t sleep. She waits for morning, where she’ll find another Zeal lounge and plug back in.

SHATTERED MINDS by Laura Lam is OUT NOW, published by Pan Macmillan, £12.99 Hardback.


About Laura Lam

 

Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

You can find out more about Laura on her website – www.lauralam.co.uk

Or why not follow Laura on twitter – @LR_Lam


Giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With thanks to the lovely people at Macmillan I have a signed copy of False Hearts and a copy of Shattered Minds by Laura Lam to giveaway to one lucky winner!

You can enter on twitter by clicking here

UK Only

Ends 27th June 2017

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Laura and Alice at Macmillan for having me as part of this fab blog tour and for asking me to host the giveaway. 

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

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Refugee Children Are My Children by Sita Brahmachari


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

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

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

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

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


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


Refugee Children Are My Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.islingtoncentre.co.uk

http://youngroots.org.uk

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

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

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

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


About Sita Brahmachari

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

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

Or why not follow Sita on Twitter – @sitabrahmachari


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

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

Happy Reading!

Tales Post – The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett – Extract


Today I have a fantastic chapter one extract of a new sci-fi novel which is released on the 1st June 2017 published by Macmillian and I am super excited to be part of the fab blog tour to celebrate it’s release.

The Space Between The Stars is a novel of love, loss and second chances from debut novelist Anne Corlett, perfect for fans of Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

So sit back and relax and read this exciting extract!

I also have a fantastic giveaway!


The Space between the Stars by Anne Corlett is an enthralling novel of love, the choices we make, and what it means to be human. It’s also a dramatic road-trip across the stars, as a woman journeys across a plague-ravaged universe to the place she once called home, and the man she once loved.

How far would you travel to find your way home?

Jamie Allenby wakes, alone, and realises her fever has broken. But could everyone she knows be dead? Months earlier, Jamie had left her partner Daniel, mourning the miscarriage of their baby. She’d just had to get away, so took a job on a distant planet. Then the virus hit.

Jamie survived as it swept through our far-flung colonies. Now she feels desperate and isolated, until she receives a garbled message from Earth. If someone from her past is still alive – perhaps Daniel – she knows she must find a way to return.

She meets others seeking Earth, and their ill-matched group will travel across space to achieve their dream. But they’ll clash with survivors intent on repeating humanity’s past mistakes, threatening their precious fresh start. Jamie will also get a second chance at happiness. But can she escape her troubled past, to embrace a hopeful future?


The Space Between The Stars – Extract

Chapter One

She knew it was the third day when she woke. Even in the twists and tangles of the fever, her sense of time had remained unbroken. More than unbroken. Whetted into a measure of such devastating accuracy that she’d wanted nothing more than to die quickly and be done with that merciless deathwatch count of her last hours. And dying was quicker, according to the infomercials that spiralled out from the central planets when the virus first took hold there. Most people were gone by halfway through the second day. If you were still lingering beyond that midpoint, chances were you’d still be there after the fever had burned itself out in a last vicious surge on the third day. Jamie could taste blood in her mouth, bitter as old coins, and her back was aching with a dull, bed-bound creak of pain. But her bones were no longer splintering in some unseen vice, and there was none of the twisting vertigo that had flung her about inside relentless nightmares. In the throes of the fever, skeletal horses had leered at her, and an organ-grinder who was nothing but teeth and hands had turned the handle faster and faster until it all blurred into nothingness. Her senses were slowly coming back online. She could hear her own ragged, uneven breathing, and she could smell the reek of sweat-stained sheets. She was alive. That realisation brought no leap of joy or relief. There was a nag of unease working its way around the edges of her thoughts.

Survival was something she’d never dared hope for in those interminable days before the virus took hold on Soltaire, when there’d been nothing to do but wait for the inevitable to hit their planet too. The disease’s long incubation period meant that it had already reached every corner of settled space before the first symptoms appeared on the capital, Alegria. The messages from Alegria and the central worlds stopped a week or so before the sickness hit Soltaire. The infomercials had already given way to blunt emergency transmissions. As the days passed, the silences between them grew longer, the messages shorter, less coherent, as though the airwaves were fraying. But by then they knew what was coming. The virus was terminal in almost all cases.

Ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine per cent, one of the ranch hands had said. Jamie didn’t know where he’d got that figure, but it spread and became fact. The day he said that was the day they all stopped looking at each other. How many of them could hope to make it into a minority so staggeringly small? The odds were akin to launching a paper plane off the planet’s surface and hoping to hit a target back on Earth.

Nought point nought nought nought one per cent.

She felt stiff and brittle, like she’d snap if she moved. Her senses had turned on her. She could hear all the noises that her home wasn’t making. The generator at the main house was temperamental, and it wasn’t unusual for it not to be running. But she should have been able to hear the distant hum of machinery from the logging station over at the lake, or the farmhands calling to one another and swearing at the cattle. Instead, all she could hear was the soft, barely-there swish of the station’s turbine, and the squabbling of the immigrant sparrows in the trees behind the croft.

That was it. No human sound.

The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett is published by Pan Macmillan, 1 June 2017, £12.99 hardback.

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


About Anne Corlett

Anne Corlett has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has won a number of awards for her short stories, including the H. E. Bates Award. She works as a criminal solicitor and freelance writer, and lives with her partner and three young boys in Somerset. The Space Between The Stars is her first novel.

You can find out more about Anne on her website – www.annecorlett.co.uk

Or why not follow Anne on twitter – @ConsummateChaos


Giveaway

With thanks to the lovely people at Macmillan I have one copy of the brilliant book to giveaway to one lucky winner!

I am running this giveaway through my twitter account here!

UK Only

Ends 4th June 2017

Good Luck!


Blog Tour

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


A huge thank you to Anne and to Alice at Macmillan for asking me to be part of this fab blog tour and for an awesome giveaway!

Have you read The Space Between The Stars?  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!

Tales Q&A with Sara Barnard


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Following a brilliant #MKBParty weekend a couple of weeks ago I was thrilled to find that Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard was one of the featured books in the party packs that were sent out all around the country.

You can find out more about #MKBParty here

I absolutely adored Beautiful Broken Things and it’s been brilliant to see how much the book has grown since it’s release in February 2016 and following the book being part of the first ever #ZoellaBookClub this year too!

I have been lucky enough to have put some questions to the lovely Sara Barnard about Beautiful Broken Things, writing and her next book A Quiet Kind Of Thunder…..


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Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realizes, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.


Hi Sara!

Welcome to Tales Of Yesterday.  I’m so happy to have you here! I hosted a brilliant #MKBParty last week and I was so happy that Beautiful Broken Things was one of the books featured. I’m a huge fan.

For those who don’t know can you tell us a little about Beautiful Broken Things?

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 It’s a story about teenage girls, friendship and emotional trauma. It’s a love story without a romance, and it’s about how other people can surprise you, and how you can surprise yourself.

 Can you tell us a little about the main characters in Beautiful Broken Things?

 The story is told from the point of view of Caddy, who is a 16-year-old girl who goes to private school and is kind of just plodding along, waiting for her life to start happening. She’s quite insecure about herself and what she has to offer. Rosie is her long-time best friend who goes to a different school and has a bit more life experience. She can be quite blunt and snarky but she’s very loyal and would do anything for her friends, especially Caddy. Suzanne is the new girl in Brighton and she brings with her lots of secrets and emotional baggage. She’s exciting and fun, but she’s struggling to deal with things that have happened in her past and it makes her a bit wild and self-destructive. 

 Beautiful Broken Things is about friendship was it important to you to represent friendship in all shapes and sizes?

 I wanted to represent the friendship between these three girls specifically rather than try and show what all kinds of different friendships are like. Every friendship is unique because we all bring different things to them, which is why it’s particularly interesting to explore the dynamics of three. I wanted to show how intense friendship is during the teenage years, and how fiercely loyal teenage girls are. The three girls are flawed, and sometimes they aren’t all that nice to each other, but they love each other so much. 

 A few people have said to me that Beautiful Broken Things would be a very different story told from anyone else point of view other than Caddy’s – why did you pick Caddy’s voice to tell the story?

 I wanted to explore the aftermath of trauma from a distance and how it affects young people who are still learning who they are. Caddy is essentially the reader meeting Suzanne and getting to know her, but everything she learns about her is filtered, and that’s how it is in life. We only ever see what people want or allow us to see. Suzanne made a lot of choices about how she wanted to be viewed in her new life, so it was much more interesting for me to explore that from Caddy’s naïve and trusting perspective than to give all the answers by being inside Suzanne’s head. 

 Also, Suzanne’s head is a pretty dark place for a lot of this particular timeline – it would have been a very dark book, and that’s not the tone I wanted for the story I wanted to tell. It needed Caddy’s perspective and optimism. 

 Did you experiment with any of the other characters point of view / voice?

 Sometimes I’d write or imagine a scene from another character’s POV if I was having trouble writing it, as a shift in perspective can often unlock something. But it was always Caddy’s story.

 What made you set the story in Brighton?

 The most honest answer is that I needed to set the story in a place where there was somewhere for Caddy and Suzanne to go on their midnight walkabouts. I moved to Brighton not long before I started writing it and a lot of things fell into place when I realised that it would be the perfect setting. There are so many interesting places for the characters to go, like the beach and the Pavillion.

 Beautiful Broken Things was picked as one of the first #ZoellaBookClubBooks and again for the #MKBParty – was this is exciting? How did you feel when you heard the news?

 Yes, it was very exciting! I was over the moon when I heard the news.

 What was your favourite scene to write in Beautiful Broken Things?

 I wouldn’t say I ever have a favourite scene to write because writing always throws up a challenge, even if it’s a scene I’d been looking forward to getting to. But my favourite scene to read back is when Suzanne turns up at Caddy’s windows with cookies. That whole section is such a turning point in their friendship and it’s all so vivid to me. 

 What was the most difficult scene to write in Beautiful Broken Things?

 The roof scene was tough because it had to be perfect! There was so much going on that was important and it still needed to be tense throughout, and then enough of a shock when The Thing That Happens happens. 

 Can you tell us a little about your new book out in January 2017, A Quiet Kind Of Thunder?

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 It’s about a girl called Steffi who’s been a selective mute for most of her life and what happens when she meets and falls in love with a deaf boy called Rhys.

 If you could sum up A Quiet Kind Of Thunder in 5 words what would you choose?

 It’s a silent love story 🙂

 Beautiful Broken Things was your debut and A Quiet Kind Of Thunder your second book – did the writing process change at all from first to second book?

 It did in the sense that I had less time to write the book, and also that I didn’t have a full-time job. I wrote a lot of BBT during my lunch breaks and on my commute, so it felt very different to be able to write all day in my own office – and not always in a good way! 

 What have you learnt about yourself since becoming a published author?

 That the more time I have to be productive, the less productive I am. 

 What would you like your readers to take away from reading your books?

 If they come away feeling something, that is good enough for me!

 I know you’re in the throws of writing again at the moment could you tell us a little bit about what you’re writing next?

I can’t I’m afraid! It’s all seekrit 😉

Well I’m sure we all can wait a little longer 😉

 Thanks so much for answering all of my questions Sara!  Beautiful Broken Things was a stunning debut and I simply cannot wait to read A Quiet Kind Of Thunder!

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You can buy Sara’s books here or from your local bookshop


About Sara Barnard

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Sara lives in Brighton and does all her best writing on trains. She loves books, book people and book things. She has been writing ever since she was too small to reach the “on” switch on the family Amstrad computer. She gets her love of words from her dad, who made sure she always had books to read and introduced her to the wonders of secondhand book shops at a young age.

Sara is trying to visit every country in Europe, and has managed to reach 13 with her best friend. She has also lived in Canada and worked in India.

Sara is inspired by what-ifs and people. She thinks sad books are good for the soul and happy books lift the heart. She hopes to write lots of books that do both. BEAUTIFUL BROKEN THINGS is her first book and a dream come true.

You can find out more about Sara on her website – www.sarabarnardofficial.com

Or you can follow Sara on twitter – @saramegan


A huge thank you to Sara for answering so many of my questions and to Bea at My Kinda Book for organising for me.

Have you read Beautiful Broken Things?  What did you think?  Are you excited for A Quiet Kind Of Thunder?  What do you like about it? Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !

Happy Reading!

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Tales Post – #MKBParty Unboxing


 

kindaA few weeks ago I received a very exciting email from the lovely people at Come Round on behalf of the brilliant My Kinda Book and Pan Macmillan!

The asked me if I would like to be involved with #MKBParty and receive a party pack filled with bookish goodies and everything I would need to host a bookish night in / party.

Of course I said yes and I was bowled over by the amount of goodies I was sent!

So I filmed an unboxing!

Ta-Dah!

Please note that whilst I was send this box of goodies by the publisher it does not affect my views and will always give an honest opinion.

#ad #sponsored

So there you have it!  What a fab box of bookish delight!

I LOVED every single item in the box!

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About The Books

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It was not enough. All knowledge- any knowledge – called to Faith, and there was a delicious, poisonous pleasure in stealing it unseen.

Faith has a thirst for science and secrets that the rigid confines of her class cannot supress. And so it is that she discovers her disgraced father’s journals, filled with the scribbled notes and theories of a man driven close to madness. Tales of a strange tree which, when told a lie, will uncover a truth: the greater the lie, the greater the truth revealed to the liar. Faith’s search for the tree leads her into great danger – for where lies seduce, truths shatter . . .

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Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.

Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible . . .

A love story about opening your heart by Rainbow Rowell, the New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park.

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I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realizes, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

You can find a Q&A with Sara Barnard for #MKBParty here


About My Kinda Book

MyKindaBook is THE place to discover upcoming YA read, authors and gain access to exclusive content.  MyKindaBook is part of Macmillan Children’s Books, and is our home for all of our fantastic books for teenagers and fans of young adult fiction – from new and upcoming debut authors to bestsellers, including Rainbow Rowell, Frances Hardinge, Meg Cabot and more, MyKindaBook is the only pace to come when you want to find your next brilliant YA read.

Visit our main homepage www.mykindabook.com to find information and fun facts about our booksand authors, learn what’s coming soon, read blog posts by us and authors we love, and gain access to exclusive news.  You can even set up your own MKB profile and create to=read lists, bookmark authors to discover and more treats.

The fin doesn’t stop online, you can join us at events throughout the year at MyKindaBook Club.  MyKindaBook Club gives you, the reader, an opportunity to meet other fans in real life to discuss books in details.  We even sometimes bring the authors along!  Keep an eye on forthcoming events at www.mykindabook.com/bookclub

Find us on twitter – @MyKindaBook


About Come Round

We are a social influencer marketing agency providing brands with a platform to enable offline and online influencers the chance to fall in love with brands and products, become brand advocates, generate word of mouth, recommendations, content and consumer insight.


Giveaways

I’m going to be running various giveaways on twitter over the weekend so do check them out……

I will also detail them here for easy reference!

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You can enter this giveaway here

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You can enter this giveaway here

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You can enter this giveaway here

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You can enter this giveaway here


A huge HUGE thank you to MyKindaBook and Come Round for asking me if I would like to involved with #MKBParty

Join in the conversation on twitter using #MKBParty and share the bookish love!

Happy Reading!

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Spotlight – #ThisIsWhoIAm Tour – Birmingham


IMG_1193On the 8th June 2016 Waterstones Birmingham have a fab event with an awesome author line up!

I had reserved my ticket and was all set and ready to attend and then Waterstones contacted me and asked me a question….

tiwiatThat’s right!  The people at Waterstones Birmingham are letting me loose in these fab authors!

With thanks to Waterstones (and persuasion from my hubby and friends Jim Dean and Faye Rogers – thanks guys) I will be chairing this fab panel at this fab event!

I am a little nervous I have to admit but I am also hugely excited!

Do tweet @WaterstonesBham for a free ticket!

So whilst I am busy reading these fab authors books (or the ones I’ve not yet read yet) and prepping questions I thought it would be fun to shine the spotlight on them a little and find out a little more about them……

You can also check out what I would put in my time capsule here


Eve Ainsworth

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Eve Ainsworth is a writer of Adult and YA fiction. She also loves tea (lots of it), 80’s music and most things relating to The Beatles.

Seven Days, Eve’s Young Adult debut, was published by Scholastic Uk in Feb 2015. The Blog of Maisy Malone is a adult comedy novel that has received pleasing reviews on Amazon.
Crush, also published by Scholastic will be published in March 2016.

Eve has had short stories published in magazines such as Writers’ Forum and Prima.

She is now working on her third YA novel for Scholastic.

Please check out her website www.eveainsworth.com or follow her on Twitter @EveAinsworth        

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School should be a safe place for Jess, but at the moment it’s everything she dreads. Jess’s life is difficult enough without Kez picking on her. Kez’s life isn’t any sweeter. She has plenty of problems too but she finds comfort in knowing she is better off than Jess – or so she thinks… Told from the point of view of the bullied and the bully, this is a taut, powerful story of two girls locked in battle with each other and themselves, spiralling towards a shocking conclusion.    

 

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Love hurts … but should it hurt this much? Reeling from her mum’s sudden departure, Anna finds the comfort she needs in her blossoming relationship with Will. He’s handsome and loving, everything Anna has always dreamt of. He’s also moody and unpredictable, pushing her away from her friends, her music. He wants her to be his and his alone. He wants her to be perfect. Anna’s world is closing in. But threatening everything is a dark secret that not even Will can control… Eve Ainsworth’s gripping second novel is a pitch-perfect exploration of love at its most powerful, addictive and destructive. 

 

You can buy Eve’s books here or from your local bookshop.

Check out my review of 7 Days here or Crush here

Also check out this fab character Q&A with Lyn from 7 Day’s here


Harriet Reuter Hapgood 

harriet_reuter_hapgoodHarriet Reuter Hapgood is a freelance journalist who has worked with Marie Claire, ELLE and InStyle in the UK. The Square Root of Summer was inspired by her German mathematician grandfather and her lifelong obsession with YA romance, which includes an MA thesis on Dawson’s Creek from London College of Fashion and a dissertation on romantic comedies at Newcastle University. She lives in Brighton.  

You can find out more about Harriet on her website – http://harrietreuterhapgood.com/ or follow her on twitter – @hapgoodness 

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My heart is a kaleidoscope, and when we kiss it makes my world unravel . . .

Last summer, Gottie’s life fell apart. Her beloved grandfather Grey died and Jason, the boy to whom she lost her heart wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. This summer, still reeling from twin heartbreaks, Gottie is lost and alone and burying herself in equations. Until, after five years absence, Thomas comes home: former boy next door. Former best friend. Former everything. And as life turns upside down again she starts to experience strange blips in time – back to last summer, back to what she should have seen then . . .

During one long, hazy summer, Gottie navigates grief, world-stopping kisses and rips in the space-time continuum, as she tries to reconcile her first heartbreak with her last.

The Square Root of Summer is an astounding and moving debut from Harriet Reuter Hapgood.

You can buy The Square Root Of Summer here or from your local bookshop.


Lauren James  

71cXRJuzSVL._UX250_Lauren James is 23, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Her first novel The Next Together, a YA reincarnation romance, is out now with Walker Books in the UK and has been translated into over six languages worldwide. The Last Beginning will be published in October 2016.

She is an Arts Council grant recipient, and is longlisted for the 2016 Branford Boase Award. She lives in the West Midlands. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or her website laurenejames.co.uk  

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A powerful and epic debut novel about fate and the timelessness of first love. Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated. How many times can you lose the person you love? For Matthew and Katherine it is again and again, over and over, century after century. But why do they keep coming back? How many times must they die to save the world? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? Maybe the next together will be different.  

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The epic conclusion to Lauren James’ debut The Next Together about true love and reincarnation. Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation? For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.    

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Winter, 1940: there is a murderer on the loose at Bletchley Park, the headquarters of Britain’s most daring codebreaking operation against the Nazis. Can two young codebreakers Kitty and Matthew catch the killer?

This standalone short story can be enjoyed by new readers and existing fans of Lauren James’s The Next Together series.

You can buy Lauren’s books here or from your local bookshop.

NB – The Last Beginning is due to be released on the 6th October2016 and the e-short Another Together on the 2nd June 2016


Leila Sales   

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I was born in 1984, and I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, with my parents and our cat. When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be a writer, actress, or singer. The writing part turned out to be easiest to accomplish, since it turns out I can’t really carry a tune, though I can do a pretty compelling karaoke rendition of “Hey Mickey.”

I wrote and illustrated approximately one million picture books when I was in elementary school, all of them about unicorns or cats or princesses, or princess unicorns who were best friends with princess cats. When I was seven, I wrote a longer story about quintuplets named Marissa, Larissa, Clarissa, Melissa, and Alyssa. The quintuplets were not princesses, but they did get invited to a royal ball.

During middle school and high school, I wrote five unpublished YA novels. I also acted in plays, competed in gymnastics meets and debate tournaments, babysat, and did an awful lot of schoolwork. My favorite school subject was math, and my worst subject was either science or Spanish.

I went to college at the University of Chicago, where I majored in psychology. I also performed in Off-Off Campus (an improvisational and sketch comedy troupe), competed in debate tournaments all over the world, helped judge the world’s largest scavenger hunt, and wrote a humor column for the school paper. And I wrote another unpublished YA novel, for which I was awarded the Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Prize for Fiction Writing.

After graduating, I got a job at a children’s book publishing company in New York City, where I remain to this day. My first novel was published in 2010, and since then, I’ve just kept working on more. During the daytime I read other people’s books, and during the nighttime I write my own. What more could I need?

Learn more about me by following me on Twitter or befriending me on Facebook.

You can also find out more about Leila on her website – http://leilasales.com/

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All her life, Elise Dembowski has been an outsider. Starting a new school, she dreams of fitting in at last – but when her best attempts at popularity fail, she almost gives up. In a cry for help, she self-harms, and when news of that gets around school, things get even worse for Elise.

But then she stumbles upon a secret warehouse party. There, at night, Elise can be a different person, making real friends, falling in love for the first time, and finding her true passion – DJing.

But when her real and secret lives collide, she has to make a decision once and for all: just who is the real Elise?

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Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose: it makes her feel like she matters. But she’s tired of being loyal to people who don’t appreciate her – including her needy best friend and her absent mum.

Arden stumbles upon a blog called ‘Tonight the Streets Are Ours’, the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter, and it feels like she’s finally found a kindred spirit. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.

During one crazy night in NYC filled with parties, dancing and music – the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does – Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was either.

You can buy Leila’s books here or at your local bookshop


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It would be awesome to see you there!

Do tweet @WaterstonesBham for a free ticket!

You can also check out what I would put in my time capsule here

Have you read any of these books or met any of these fab authors before? What questions would you ask if you were chairing the panel?  I would love to here from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @ChelleyToy !

Wish me luck!

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Guest Post – The Great Ideas Myth by Kim Slater


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Today I am super excited to have the wonderful Kim Slater on Tales with a fab guest post to celebrate the release of A Seven Letter Word.

A Seven Letter Word was released on the 24th March 2016 published by Macmillan Children’s Books and is set to be a fantastic read!  I bought my copy the other day and cannot wait to read it!

Today Kim chats about the great ideas myth with a fascinating and inspiring guest post….

*hands over to Kim*

Also check out the bottom of the post for a fab giveaway!


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‘My name is Finlay McIntosh. I can see OK, can hear perfectly fine and I can write really, really well. But the thing is, I can’t speak. I’m a st-st-st-stutterer. Hilarious, isn’t it? It’s like the word is there in my mouth, fully formed and then, just as it’s ready to leave my lips . . . POP! It jumps and ricochets and bounces around my gob. Except it isn’t funny at all, because there’s not a thing I can do about it.’

Finlay’s mother vanished two years ago. And ever since then his stutter has become almost unbearable. Bullied at school and ignored by his father, the only way to get out the words which are bouncing around in his head is by writing long letters to his ma which he knows she will never read, and by playing Scrabble online. But when Finlay is befriended by an online Scrabble player called Alex, everything changes. Could it be his mother secretly trying to contact him? Or is there something more sinister going on?


The Great Ideas Myth

Some people seem to have the impression that successful books arrive fully formed: BAM! A powerful character voice, a great hook, a fresh, new idea. Hardly any effort at all – thank you very much.

Maybe it happens this way for some authors, someplace, but I don’t know any.

Bolting together unique characters and weaving an interesting idea into a believable plot is more of a process – a process that thrives if it is cultivated and is part of a system that works personally for you as a writer.

Ever read a book and thought, ‘Darn, I wish I’d thought of that idea’?

Well, maybe you did think of one. But you forgot it again.

Or maybe you nearly did but didn’t have a process that captured it and gave it time to grow.

I find that good writing ideas are just like dreams. You know, when you wake up in the early hours in the middle of a great dream that feels so real and you think, ‘I must remember this in the morning’. That.

Because of course, you hardly ever do remember. Well I don’t, anyway.

Which is why I always record any idea that sparks my interest.

I know some writers who prefer to keep a notebook or even use a portable voice recorder. For me, ideas go straight on to a document on my laptop that I have imaginatively labelled Ideas. And if I’m out somewhere, they go into my iPhone notes to be transferred later.

It doesn’t matter how you capture them, just make sure that you do.

So, what exactly do you class as an idea?

For me it is a seed, something that really sparks my interest. It might be the vaguest plot outline or a specific, detailed incident that I read about or see on the news.

My ideas remain unanchored and without relevance until I have my main character’s voice. The voice always comes first for me but when I’m working with a brand new main character, it’s useful to have a bank of ideas to sieve through, just in case something is in there that could hook up nicely and build the story.

So you have lots of ideas . . . but which ones qualify for that next stage?

I believe time is the test. Once that idea or initial seed is in my notes, I leave it a while to germinate.

When I am ready to bolt an idea to a character or to begin building a plot, I read through my bank of ideas. Is there one that jumps out and gives me that spark of excitement again? If it does, it may well be a keeper.

When I was in the middle of writing the first draft of my second YA novel, ‘A Seven-Letter Word’ (ASLW), a got a really strong character voice and then an idea that just wouldn’t go away. I tried to ignore it and focus on my WIP but it got to the stage where it was interfering in the voice of Finlay, my protagonist.

So one morning, I downed tools on the book and captured the new voice in two or three pages and also wrote a very short outline. Once I’d filed it in my Ideas folder, it left me free to carry on.

About six weeks later when I’d finished writing the first draft of ASLW, I read the sample pages again and the idea felt just as fresh and strong as it had the day I wrote it and I knew for sure it was a keeper.

So sadly or maybe a relief – whichever way you look at it – there is not much of a mystery or myth here. More like a systematic recording and cultivation of random thoughts over time and finally, an experimental pairing of characters and ideas to see which fit together.

And it is trial and error. What works for one writer might not for another.

You have to find out for yourself.

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You can but a copy of A Seven Letter Word here or why not visit your local independent bookshop.


About Kim Slater

Kim Slater

For many years, I sent my work out to agents and never made it off the slush pile.

But I never stopped writing and at the age of 40, armed with the ‘A’ levels I passed at age 18, I went back to Nottingham Trent University to hone and develop my writing skills.  I now have a first-class honours degree in English & Creative Writing and an MA in Creative Writing.

Smart began life as a 3000-word short story for an assignment on my MA module: Writing for Children and Young Adults. When I’d finished writing the story, I felt as if I had something special and it was so well received by my MA critique workshop, that I decided to develop it into a full-length YA novel.

Within months, I had five offers of representation from London literary agents and before graduating from my MA in November 2012, I had a literary agent and a book deal. It was a fairytale…at the end of a very long road!

You can find out more about Kim and her books on her website – www.kimslater.com

Or why not follow Kim on twitter – @kimslater01

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Giveaway!

I have a spare copy of the fab A Seven Letter Word to giveaway to one lucky winner!

UK/IRE Only

Ends 11/04/2016

The winner will need to provide me their address to enable me to send out the book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A huge thank you to Kim for such a fab guest post and to the wonderful Nina Douglas for organising!

Have you read A Seven Letter Word or Smart?  Has this post tempted you to go and grab a copy?  Where do you store your writing ideas?  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….and playing scrabble!

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Tales Q&A with Matt de la Pena


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Following recently reading the anthology My True Love Gave To Me which was released in the UK by Macmillan Children’s books in October 2014 I have had the absolute honour of putting some questions to one of the fabulous authors who features in the book with his short story, Angels In The Snow, Matt de la Pena!

Check Out my review of My True Love Gave To Me here!

Angels In The Snow was one of my favourite stories in the book of twelve winter romances and I cannot contain my excitement at having Matt feature on Tales Of Yesterday (I think I ran around my house like McCauley Culkin in Home Alone for at least an hour if not more!).  Angels In The Snow introduced me to Matt’s writing and has intrigued me as well as other readers and bloggers to look up his other books which I intend to read in 2015!

Here we talk about Angels In The Snow, Matt’s other books, Downton Abbey and how important Diversity is in books.

 About Matt de la Pena 040Matt1Matt de la Peña is the author of five critically-acclaimed young adult novels: Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, I Will Save You and The Living. He’s also the author of the award-winning picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis (illustrated by Kadir Nelson). Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn NY. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.

Hi Matt.  Welcome to Tales Of Yesterday.  Thank you so much for featuring on my blog…I am very excited and thrilled to have you here!

 Firstly, thank you for writing such a wonderful short story in the My True Love Gave To Me anthology, Angels In The Snow.

untitledAngels In The Snow is about a young boy called Shy, a cat sitting, guitar playing student who finds himself snowed in in a foodless apartment, owned by his boss, over Christmas.  A knock on the door one day from neighbour, Haley, needing help means that there are two people alone in the building during a blizzard, but they need to get to know each other first and they find they may just be able to help each other.

 Angels In The Snow is a truly touching short story.  The characters felt real to me as a reader and Matt’s realistic, beautifully written love story really touched me and all with a good old touch of humour and diversity thrown in the mix too.  A beautiful short story and a great addition to the anthology.

 How did writing for the anthology, My True Love Gave To Me happen?

First of all, thanks so much for having me on you blog!

Stephanie Perkins approached me about being a part of the anthology in early 2014. I jumped at the chance for one reason: Stephanie Perkins is one of my favourite writer people in the world. Her novels are fantastic, but she’s also a genuinely nice person. And then I heard who else was going to be in the collection. Pretty crazy line up. Then I got to work.

 What inspired you to write the story of Shy and Haley?

 This is the first YA story or novel I’ve ever set in Brooklyn, where I’ve lived for the past ten years. All my other work is set in California, where I’m from. So I set out to write a snow-driven story about a couple in Brooklyn. And I wanted to explore a kid who’d come to NY to go to college, but didn’t have enough money to go home for the holidays. Then I realized there was a girl named Haley on the floor above him, who didn’t go home for very different reasons.

 How important are names to you in your books?  Did you choose the names Shy and Haley on liking the way they sounded or do they have some special meaning?

 I’ve been working with the name Shy for a good decade. He first appeared in a failed adult novel I was writing back when I lived in LA. Then he was the protagonist of a short story called “Passing Each other in Halls” which people can check out here. And then he became the protagonist for two disaster-driven novels (The Living and The Hunted). So I knew Shy SUPER well when I sat down to write “Angels in the Snow.” In The Living we learn why his name is Shy – comes from a play on the old saying, “You don’t know shit from Shinola.” I tried about 624 female names before I landed on “Haley.”

 There is a great reference to our very English and popular Downton Abbey in the story!  Are you a fan?

 Total fan. And if you knew me, that might surprise you. I’m sort of a guy’s guy, if that makes sense. But I LOVE Downton Abbey. There’s something about that show.

 The big question is have you ever been snowed in with no food and only a cat for company?

 I didn’t see snow in person until I was thirty. Crazy, right? So, no. Never been snowed in like Shy and Haley. But I do have a cat (her name is Annie and she kind of bitchy), and I’ve definitely been hungry like that. I also love a novel called Hunger by Knut Hamsun.

 Have you read the other stories in My True Love Gave To Me?  Which one was your favourite?

 I HAVE read the other stories. By the way, I’m so impressed with this collection. Everyone really brought it. I can’t pick a favourite publically because I know all these people. Don’t want to play favorites. If we were in a bar drinking whiskey . . . I might have a bit more to say.

 Following reading Angels In The Snow I, as well as other people I know, are excited to read your other books.  Could you tell us a little about a few of them?

 Sure. I have five novels out (it will be six when The Hunted comes out in May). The Living and The Hunted are driven by action, like I said earlier, though there’s a pretty important love story in the two books as well. Can I pick a favorite? Is that legal for authors? We Were Here is a special novel for me. It’s about a kid who’s committed an awful, unthinkable crime – by accident. He’s sentenced to a year in a group home, but he busts out of there with a couple other kids and tries to get to Mexico to start a new life. He’s all heart. Probably my favorite character I’ve written. Mexican WhiteBoy is my best selling novel. And if you like novels driven by a love story, I’d suggest my fourth novel, I Will Save You – but I have to warn you, it’s sad!

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Are they available in the UK?

 Shoot, I think so. I HOPE so. But I’m not sure. Who do I have to give a foot rub to in order to make sure they’re available in the UK?

**They are and you can find them to order here**

 I notice from your website that you support the We Need Diverse Books campaign  – how important is this to you and how is this portrayed in your writing?

 I’m half Mexican myself, so all my main characters tend to be mixed race, too. I just think it’s important to tell the truth in stories and books, and the truth is my world is populated by lots of different kinds of people. My goal is to reflect the lives of the people I see, in the work I do.  

 Growing up who inspired you into writing?  Are there any Authors or books that inspired you?

 The Color Purple made me a reader. I was also inspired by Sandra Cisneros and Junot Diaz. But I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until I was in college. My favourite writer these days is Cormac McCarthy.

 What do you think makes a good story?

 Honesty and humor with a little dash of melancholy. And the ability to be efficient.

 Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written?

 I love Markus Zuzak’s books. And I think A.S. King and Matthew Quick are amazing, too. There’s a little jealousy there when I read one of their books and go, Damn!

 Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with?  Who?

 Stephanie Perkins. One day I’m going to talk her into this.

 Are there any exciting plans for 2015?  Any new books or stories we should look out for from yourself?

 The paperback version of The Living comes out on January 6th. And the sequel to The Living, The Hunted, comes out May 12th. I also have a picture book coming out on January 8th called Last Stop on Market Street.

 Over on Tales Of Yesterday I have recently been asking YA authors if music has any influence to their writing and/or characters.  Is there a particular song that influenced Angels In The Snow and/or it’s characters and if so how or why?

 Music is really powerful in my writing. I love sad, lonely songs. Elliott Smith is my favorite singer-songwriter ever. In fact, he has a song called “Angels in the Snow.” You should check it out! There isn’t a particular song that inspired “Angels in the Snow,” but I will say this, I listened to “Heaven” by Brandi Carlile over and over and over while I was revising the story. It has the perfect feel.

By the way, I’m honored that you want to check out some of my novels. Thank you! I hope you like them!

 Thank you so much Matt for taking the time to answer these questions and feature on Tales Of Yesterday.  It really is an honour and I look forward to reading more of your books in 2015.

You can find out more about Matt de la Pena and his other books at www.mattdelapena.com or follow him on twitter – @mattdelapena

You can buy Matt’s books here

You can buy My True Love Gave To Me here

Happy Reading

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Review – My True Love Gave To Me by Various Authors Edited by Stephanie Perkins


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A collection of joyful festive stories that will keep you warm during the cold winter months

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .

This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

This hardback edition features a ribbon marker and pink sprayed edges, and is the perfect gift.


Publisher – Macmillan Children’s Books

Date Published – 9th October 2014

Pages – 368 pages

Format – Hardback

Category – YA / Romance

Source – Bought


 ** Please note Tales Of Yesterday Reviews are written as spoiler free as possible**


I read this book, a collection of twelve winter romances by YA authors, in the run up to Christmas, over Christmas and after Christmas.  It was perfect in everyway and I loved it so so much!

I cannot begin to talk about this book without first acknowledging the absolutely beautiful and stunning cover published by Macmillan Children’s Books.  Its breath-taking.  The pictures really do not do this book justice at all.  A beautiful light blue hardback cover with pink decoration and beautiful pink sprayed edges to pages.  Its so pretty!  I was also transported back to my childhood with a beautiful gold ribbon marker attached to the book.  It’s just amazing and made me fall in love with the book before even starting to read it.  Well done to Macmillan Children’s Books – just stunning!

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My True Love Gave To Me is a wonderful collection of winter romances from the likes of Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman, David Levithan, Laini Taylor and Holly Black.  All of these authors I had previously heard of, but this book also features some authors that were not as well known to me including Matt de la Pena, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Jenny Han, Kiersten White and Ally Carter.  I fully put my hands up here and admit that with the exception of David Levithan I have not yet read ANY books by the other authors!  Yes that includes Rainbow Rowell!  I only have myself to blame *hangs head in shame*!  But after reading this collection this is soon to be rectified in 2015 and I like to think that this book has pushed some fab new authors to the forefront for me to discover and explore in 2015!

I always find winter a magical time of year. I love a magical wintery walk in the park and the feeling of getting home in the warm and snuggling up with a hot chocolate and a favourite book.

With this book I have been taken on a wintery treat through the North Pole and towns called Bethlehem. I have chosen Christmas Trees, read about Santa Claus and watched people fall in love. I have been left drooling by diners and a wonderful foods cooked by a delightful chef.  I have been transported to magical lands where a Christmas present is left each day or a mystery man catches my eye in the snow.  I have fell in love on New Years Eve, been part of a nativity and I have read about the impossible becoming possible.  I have been on a journey with this book with such a wide range of diverse characters it really is a must read.  I think this will be the book I read every Christmas from now on.

Midnights – Rainbow Rowell

This is the story of Mags and Noel who meet one New Years Eve over an hilarious conversation about allergies.  The story skips backwards and forwards over a 3 year time period giving a glimpse into Mags and Noels life every New Years Eve.  We get a glimpse of when they meet, when they become good friends and then when they become best friends who do everything together.  Its a story of friendship and love.

In the space of a few pages Rainbow Rowell makes Mags, Noel and all the other characters instantly likeable and you feel like you have known them longer than a few pages.  The characters and the story are well developed and doesn’t feel like a short story at all.  The best part for me in this book was Noel announcing every New Years Eve that this is “our song” and some of the most cheesiest songs are named.  Loved it!

The Lady and the Fox – Kelly Link

This is the story of Miranda, her best friend Daniel, her godmother Elspeth and a beautiful stranger called Fenny.  The story is based in a place called Honeywell Hall and we first meet Miranda when she is very young and staying for Christmas at her Godmother Elspeth’s.  This is when she first meets Fenny with his beautiful coat which includes a stitched on fox with his leg stuck in a trap which intrigues Miranda.  Year after year as Miranda grows she has to attend Honeywell Hall every Christmas and we see Miranda grow from a child to a young woman who is intrigued by the stranger Fenny who only seems to appear when it snows.

This story takes the reader through a magical ride of snow, magic and love and is like a fairy-tale to read.  What I loved about this story was the way it made me feel Christmassy as it had that feel to it and the way the characters grow so much even in a short story.  Just magical.

Angels in the Snow – Matt de la Pena

Angels In The Snow is about a young boy called Shy, a cat sitting, guitar playing student who finds himself snowed in in a foodless apartment, owned by his boss, over Christmas.  A knock on the door one day from neighbour, Haley, needing help means that there are two people alone in the building during a blizzard, but they need to get to know each other first and they find they may just be able to help each other.

Angels In The Snow is a truly touching short story.  The characters felt real to me as a reader and Matt’s realistic, beautifully written love story really touched me and all with a good old touch of humour and diversity thrown in the mix too.  A beautiful short story and a great addition to the anthology.

Check out my Q&A with the wonderful Matt de la Pena here!

Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me – Jenny Han

Natty is a human who was adopted by Santa and lives in the North Pole!  She is totally in love with an Elf called Flynn, but Flynn takes another elf to the annual Snow Ball!  Also what happened when Santa took Nat out one Christmas and she meet another human boy – yellow haired Lars?

This story was the shortest one in the book (I think), but it packed some punches with some good laughs for me including Santa loving Wham and a great reference to Quidditch Brooms.  The ending is a bit sudden and kind of felt unfinished, but upon reflection it was a perfect ending.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown – Stephanie Perkins

Marigold Moon needs a boys voice for her animated movies and she hears the perfect voice down on the Christmas Tree Farm across from her and her Mom’s top floor apartment.  The boys name is North and Marigold accidently ends up buying a Christmas Tree from the family business whilst trying to pluck up the courage to borrow his voice.  North decides to help carry and set up the Christmas tree with Marigold.

This is a touching story of selflessness, falling in love, finding a common ground and realising that maybe your life has been put on hold to help others.  I loved this…pure and simply loved it.  North was just adorable and the writing, emotions and feel of the story were fantastic.

Your Temporary Santa – David Levithan

I love David Levithan.  He writes and deals with issues in such ease its hard for me to not like anything he writes.  This is the story of a tradition that a family has where by someone dresses up as Santa and drops the presents under the tree to keep the Christmas magic alive for his little sister.  This year Connor asks his boyfriend to do him the favour and what pursues is a funny story about acceptance and love.

What I liked about this story was the fact that as a reader the Santa suit obviously has some special meaning although it is not discussed but hinted at.  I also loved that delivering the presents doesn’t go quite to plan with encounters with Connor’s family members.  A great read.

Krampuslauf – Holly Black

This is another New Years Eve story with a slice of revenge.  November the 5th is Krampusnacht where people dress up like a Krampus and celebrate Satan (I never knew this!?  Is this real?)  A group of friends decide to try and catch one of their boyfriends cheating with the main character ending up agreeing to host a New Years Eve party in a caravan inviting the cheating boyfriend and his friends and a hot guy dressed as a Krampus.

This story does not sound that festive but what follows is a magical story of revenge and the possibility that maybe your imagination can make things reality?!  A different type of winter romance, but thoroughly enjoyable.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? – Gayle Forman

As the title suggests this is the story of Sophie Roth.  Sophie has started university and feels every bit the outsider with no one understanding her and calling her “Big City” because of where she comes from.  On a crazy whim she decides to go to a carol service meeting where she meets a tall boy called Russell over a mutual love of Ned Flanders which is quite funny.  She finds that Russell also feels very much the outsider to.

This story to me seemed to be about acceptance and that maybe sometimes we cause ourselves to feel like the outsider when other people are maybe not actually thinking that way.  It’s a great love story with a great reference to The Rolling Stones!  Rock On!

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus – Myra McEntire

This story was immediately funny from the offset with the main character reflecting on pasting and glitter gluing a rabbit when he was younger with the line –

“It turns out teachers think of glitter as the herpes of the craft world, impossible to contain or exterminate”

The main character Vaughan has a reputation and is a serial prankster who accidently burns down the village church with all of the nativity props going up in smoke.  Rather than go to prison the pastor agrees for Vaughan to carry out community service and help get the annual nativity to be a success.  What he doesn’t count on is that the girl he has admired from afar may just be the one to help him change.

A very funny story and a great sense of community and team work all mixed with a Christmas nativity and love.

Welcome to Christmas, CA – Kiersten White

I loved this story so so much!  It was perfect in every way for me.

Maria lives in a town called Christmas and she cannot wait to leave.  She works in a diner for no pay, hates her family and hates her life.  Ben is the new chef that starts work at the diner and he has a special talent…he can guess what food you want before you even order it and that food will make you so happy.  Maria soon realises that maybe she is loved more than she originally thought and maybe Christmas is not as bad as she thought.

I loved Ben’s character so much and thanks to Jim over at YAYeahYeah for sending me this article that states that Ben is based on the pie maker from Pushing Daises – oh how I love him even more now I know this – thanks Jim!

Big shout out to the elf in the diner that Maria has stuck a knife in his hand and has his head cocked at a horror movie angle – this made me laugh…a lot!

Star of Bethlehem – Ally Carter

Lydia, on impulse, gives her New York flight ticket to a complete stranger, Hulda, who is desperate to get to New York.  They swap tickets.  Lydia just needs to get away and doesn’t care where she ends up.  What she doesn’t bargain for is that Hulda’s boyfriend and family are waiting for her at the other end of Hulda’s ticket and Lydia has to take on a whole new life pretending to be Hulda.  But what is Lydia running from?

I loved this.  Some lovely touching moments especially with Aunt Alice who lost her husband a child two years prior all sewn up with a nice little twist in the end.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

In the Isle of Feathers it is custom for young men to leave small gifts for their sweethearts on each of the twenty-four days of advent leading to marriage on Christmas Day.  Neve has attracted the attention of the truly terrifying sounding reverend who’s wives always end up dead.  In desperation Neve wakes the Dreamer.  Can he save her from her fate?

This short story creates a whole world of wonderful creation and the reverend gave me the shivers (I kept imagining Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs Of New York?!).  A different, but fab story to the collection.

Its so hard to pick a favourite story out of this collection.  I really did love them all and they are all so individual.  I think I managed to whittle down to my favourite 3…no 4…no 5… you see my point.  Welcome to Christmas, CA (I loved this so much!), It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown, Star of Bethlehem and Angels in the Snow were all my absolute favourites.  There is not one story that I disliked.

I asked a few twitter friends and authors what their favourite stories were from the collection and here are their thoughts……  Thanks to everyone who shared.

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CaptureCaptureCaptureCaptureCaptureCaptureSo there we have it!  As you can see everyone has their favourites and its so hard to choose just one as this book was THAT GOOD!  I really recommend this read not just at Christmas, but any time of the year and it looks so pretty on the bookcase!

 I award this book 5 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books

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You can buy this book here

If you would like to know any more about any of the authors above, this book or any of the authors other books please click on the links on the authors name next to the story titles.

Have you read this book?  What was your favourite story or is it too hard to pick?  Were there any you didn’t like?  If you have not read the book would you consider buying after reading this review?  I would love to hear from you!  Please feel free to leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the post or why not tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy ?

Happy Reading….and falling in love with this book!

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