Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Stories from the Edge Blog Tour: A Parent’s Terror, By Bryony Pearce, Member of the Edge

Really delighted to have Bryony Pearce on the blog today talking about her story from the anthology Stories from the Edge, which features some of my favourite YA authors!

I was sitting in the school hall with my head between my legs, hyperventilating. A small group of teachers surrounded me, a tech savvy parent was hopping from foot to foot in front of me and a police officer was hovering, looking concerned. 

“Are you all right?” he asked, worriedly. 

“Not really.” I was trying to look less like a drama queen / wuss, but honestly, I kept having flashes of the talk that had just been given to a cadre of concerned parents. 

The police officer, realising that my state of distress was in large part his fault, edged awkwardly out of the hall, with a swift backward glance. “If you want to talk about it some more, you can get in touch via the school.” Then he fled. 

I pulled myself together and staggered from the hall, my head filled with horrible visions and determined to remove my children permanently from all access to the Internet. 

As I was busy deleting Google from my daughter’s iPad I stopped and thought. Perhaps I should speak to her first.

But this talk had scared the life out of me. 

When we were kids the worst we had to worry about was the old pervert in the house on the corner who stood watching the school bus go past stark naked and with his curtains open. I once saw a flasher behind a bush and one of my parent’s friends would make unsuitable comments in a creepy manner whenever he’d had a few drinks. ‘Let’s share stories of when we lost our virginity - you first.’ Um no.

These were all things easily dealt with. Easily spotted for what they were. 

But now I find out that my daughter is exposed to world far wider than mine, far more dangerous. She doesn’t just have to worry about closing her eyes every time her bus drives past ‘creepy corner’. Somewhere, perhaps on the other side of the country, or even the world, someone, right now, could be planning to try and groom her on the internet, seduce her into taking pictures, doing things she isn’t ready for, or even meeting up. Someone could be looking at a photo that I’ve put up, or that someone else has put up, and thinking ‘that child looks vulnerable.’  

I thought I was fairly technically minded. I’ve got a blog and a website – I made my website myself, using html and java script, for heaven’s sake - I use Twitter. Occasionally I use Instagram, if I remember to take pictures and put them up. I thought I was on top of things. 

But the policeman told us about chat rooms and picture sharing apps that I’d never even heard of.  Apparently teens don’t like Facebook, their parents keep trying to friend them. It puts them off. They go elsewhere.

The policeman told us about something going on right under our noses, something that happened in the local high schools. 

One night, on one of these new sites I hadn’t heard of, a group of local teens were chatting online when another asked to join them. He said the right things. Each thought he was a friend of one of the others. Once he was in their group, he was able to start branching out and joining others. Soon he was in several of the groups, groups with teens in that went to different schools from one another.

A parent of one of these local teens noticed that her daughter had become quiet and withdrawn, secretive, not letting anyone else see her phone screen when she used it. Eventually, when pressed, the daughter broke down, telling her mother that she was being harassed by this teenager online. That things had got out of hand and she didn’t know what to do. The mother looked at the messages her daughter had been receiving and was horrified at the content. She called the police. 

The ‘teen’ who had been allowed into the chat rooms, who had access to teenagers across a number of local schools, via social networking, was no teen at all. He was a middle aged man from a few miles away who was busy grooming three of the girls. Only one sharp-eyed mother stopped him.

This wasn’t a script for a film. This wasn’t happening in America (where all things are possible). This was local. To me. Happening at the high school my daughter would soon be attending. 

How can I protect her from things like this?

As I so often do with things that terrify me, I started to write a story to exorcise my demons. 

I wanted to write a story about Internet Safety with a heroine who, as all my heroines do, kick ass. But as it was a short story it would have to have a twist and I wanted to make sure that my story also conveyed to readers the information that the policeman had given us: make sure your children know not to give out any personal details, don’t post photos, don’t post images with your school uniform on, or local landmarks, nothing that will give away your position in the world. Don’t ‘friend’ people you don’t know in real life. Don’t believe what you see or hear on the Internet. If you think the big bad wolf had an easy time disguising himself as granny, think how easy it is to put up a picture of some random teenager and claim that you’re 16. I could tell you I’m a blonde, blue eyed figure skater, stick up a picture and you’d be none the wiser. Maybe I am, you don’t know.

I hope my story is entertaining, fun and that the twist gets you. I hope though, that it also makes you think. Do I do this? Am I being careful enough? Am I ‘friends’ with someone who has big sharp teeth?

Monday, 18 July 2016

Links Recap: 18th July Edition

I'll repeat my intro from last month - I'm going to drop most of the commentary from me - most posts have featured about 12 different uses each of 'fabulous', 'brilliant', 'wonderful' and 'I loved/adored this'. All of these things are COMPLETELY true, but they get repetitive - and much worse, I worry they make me sound insincere when I'm definitely not! Basically, ANYTHING included here is something I love and think is amazing.

2 time sensitive ones to start off with! If you're reading this before 7pm on Tuesday 19th July and you're a new/aspiring author drop EVERYTHING and get to The Yorkshire Grey for Non Pratt and Robin Stevens's superb BatNon and Robin event! Tickets available here

Also you MAY be in time to subscribe to Illumicrate and get the August box! As I write, I think there's maybe about 10 left though, so BE QUICK!! 

(If it HAS sold out by the time you read it, all MAY not be lost as I have a competition going at the moment for people in the UK - RT the below tweet to enter!)

I think this post from Faye on accepting compliments is something I really needed to read. Her writing - especially for Safe Space - is always incredibly insightful, as shown by the amazing reaction to her post last month about her ace journey. (Look, I said I was dropping most of the commentary, not all of it - some things really need to be said!)

Other brilliant Safe Space posts.

Jess - Guaranteed Smiles
Lily - Growing Up Tall
CM Golding guest post - Gender - That Thing We Made Up 
Jess/Laura/Faye/Lily/Louise - Letter To Our Sixteen Year Old Selves 

Going back to Faye for a minute, she wrote for Big Book Little Book on Five Fabulous...LGBT Books, adult thrillers, and MG Books Published in 2016, and she has a great competition of her own going where UK people can win one of a fabulous selection of books! 

Nikesh Shukla wrote about 'isolated incidents' of racism

(Just a reminder that you can still back the incredible The Good Immigrant, by Nikesh and 20 other awesome writers, on Unbound.)

Media Diversified celebrated their 3rd birthday by sharing this FANTASTIC library of books, collated from Nikesh's tweets. 

On this blog, Liz Flanagan gave me a great video about the landscape healing itself as part of the Eden Summer blog tour. 

Michelle posted about feminist icon Katherine Hepburn for the And I Darken blog tour.

Stephanie Burgis released superb short story House of Secrets

Chelsey Pippin at Buzzfeed listed 34 YA Books Every Feminist Will Love

Two awesome booksellers teamed up for a post with JassyFizzle interviewing Grace Latter

West End stars - including two of my favourites, Cleve September and Sam Mackay! - performed a Hamilton medley at West End Fest! 

My friend Stacey has announced her next #ChatClassics Twitter chat! It will take place at 8pm BST on Monday 25th July - I love her gorgeous graphic for it!

I wrote a post on 40 things to do before I'm 40, inspired by Caitlin's on 30 things to do before she's 30.

The YALC at a glance schedule and floor plan are up! So excited for the weekend. 

The blog tour starts today for Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe - full schedule here! I am SUPER excited to be taking part in this, partly because I'm lazy and Faye, who's organising, always does all of the hard work so it's an easy post to upload, but mostly because Lucy's book is stunning and I'm thrilled to get the chance to ask her some questions about it! There are three copies available to win for UK/Ireland residents throughout the tour; check out Sophie's blog So Many Books So Little Time for a chance to win one. 

Grace on 6 reasons you must see Matilda.

Grace's friend Letitia is raising money to try and buy the coffee shop she bakes for - if you can help out, please do! 

Ella Risbridger wrote about finding joy in the little things

Sadie Gennis wrote for TV Guide on 17 Reasons Rory's Soul Mate Is Actually Paris - I'm rewatching Gilmore Girls at the moment and COMPLETELY agree.

Rob Walker, in the Guardian, wrote about indie bookshops turning a new page to fight off the threat from Amazon.

Amber vlogged about her favourite books so far in 2016.

Caroline wrote about Five Fabulous... Auto Buy Authors

Finally I've been colouring a lot, and wanted to share a couple of my pieces with you!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

#6Degrees: We Were Liars to...

The Zoella Book Club #6degrees special continues!

We Were Liars is written by E Lockhart, a favourite author of my friend Julianne (who's one of my favourite BookTubers - check out her brilliant YouTube channel) Like me, Julianne is also a massive fan of Candy Harper's stunning Faith series.

The Faith series is an incredibly funny read with one of my favourite lead characters of recent years. Another wonderful main character who actually reminds me of a younger (admittedly less confident) Faith is Emily Sparkes from the superb Ruth Fitzgerald series.

Emily Sparkes is one of my two favourite ever MG contemporary series. The other is Susie Day's wonderful Pea's Book quartet and spin-off Secrets books - I can't wait to pick up my copy of The Secrets of Billie Bright later today!

It's still fairly rare to see covers with BAME main characters, sadly, so Lisa Horton's gorgeous illustration for the Billie Bright cover is especially awesome! Another stunning cover featuring a BAME MC is Laura Bird and Bella Otak's outstanding one for Catherine Johnson's The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo.

Laura Bird is one of my favourite cover designers and another incredible one of hers is The Last Leaves Falling by Fox Benwell (writing as Sarah Benwell.)

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Eden Summer Blog Tour - Landscape Healing Itself

Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan is one of my favourite UKYA books of the year - a tense thriller with a fantastic central relationship between the lead character and her missing friend Eden, which is revealed to us through flashbacks. It's great to have Liz on the site today to talk about it - in what I think is the first video I've ever hosted here!


Liz Flanagan author pic Credit Sarah Mason Photography www.sarahmasonphotography.co.uk

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

40 Things To Do Before I Turn 40

Inspired by Caitlin's 30 Before 30 post, I thought I'd do my own. Sadly I am slightly older than Caitlin, so it turned into 40 things before 40...

I've tried to set realistic goals where I can actually check off whether I've done them or not. (So for example one of my general goals in life is to be a better friend, but it's not REALLY measurable, so I left that out.) Also a lot of them are things that I'm aiming to do for a certain amount of time, because keeping anything going for 5 years plus just isn't going to happen, whereas 6 months to a year is more realistic for me.

I'm not sharing all of them, but here are a few...


Number 3 is to write reviews of 25 books in a calendar year at least once. I used to review LOTS, back when I first started writing for the Bookbag. I no longer consider this to be a strength of mine - I've made it clear to publishers that I'm much happier shouting about books on Twitter - but it would be nice to get back into the habit at some point.

Number 20 is to read a Jane Austen novel. For some reason Austen is one of the only classics authors I've barely even tried - Pride & Prejudice IS in my future, honestly. Tying into this, number 21 is to complete my friend Stacey's #2016classicschallenge properly at least once (so probably #2017classicschallenge or #2018classicschallenge, I guess) reading a book a month. I keep flaking out after February...

Number 29 is to read Love Is A Number, which I borrowed from Debbie quite a long time ago, and give it back to her. (Sorry Debbie...)

Number 34 is to read at least the first book of a particular trilogy which I've tried before and gave up on really quickly but which EVERYONE tells me I should read because it's amazing!

Number 22 is to beta-read 10 books - I used to beta a while ago and always enjoyed it. Have fallen out of doing it recently but did it for an AMAZING book a while ago which is being published in 2 years and I'm super-excited about, and am currently beta'ing something I'm really enjoying. I figure one every 6 months is doable.

Other bookish stuff

Number 39 is to go to the Edinburgh and Hay festivals. I've been to various literary festivals and have always really enjoyed them, but only ever ones fairly close to London. I would love to spend a week or so at each of these two as they both sound COMPLETELY amazing!

Number 38 is to buy books from 50 different indies - I try to support indie bookshops whenever I can, although this generally means Tales on Moon Lane these days. I think that will be my go-to place for the foreseeable future but it would be great to support as many other indies as possible as well - 50 should be doable in 5 years (especially if I get to Hay!)

Number 28 is to do a BookTube video, which is something I never thought I'd say! However I've done Down The Rabbit Hole twice - once in an insert interviewing Siobhan Curham, and once as a guest - despite absolutely hating my voice for many years. (Big thanks to Debbie, Faye, Charlie, Stacey, Grace and others who persuaded me to go for it both those times!) and am starting to think that at some point in the future I could actually try a video.

Number 7 is to chair a panel at some point. Probably not for another year or so, and this is obviously dependent on some publisher/bookshop/festival taking pity on me here, but it's something that would be pushing me out of my comfort zone and would leave me fairly terrified but could be fun.


Number 14 is to see Hamilton live, which is basically my number 1 theatre ambition ever. Super-excited for tickets going on sale later this year (and should probably start saving now!)

Number 25 is to see 100 films in the cinema in a year, which I think I MAY make this year actually. Am currently on 47 - mainly because me and Faye have been going quite a lot recently - and with most of the next month or so off work I should be able to get to 60 by the end of August, which would put me nearly on target for this.

Number 35 is to rejoin Curzon cinemas with Complete membership. I made the change from Curzon to Cineworld after talking to Debbie about it late last year, and I am VERY glad I did because going to the cinema lots with her, Faye, and our other friends has been fabulous! However the Curzon Complete membership (while being eye-wateringly expensive) lets you and a guest see not just films but also ballet/opera/theatre productions they screen there and I would love to splash out and do this for a year before I'm 40.


Number 18 is to go to a folk festival - I used to go to Shrewsbury every year and have done Warwick a few times and Sidmouth twice. I haven't been to anything for a couple of years because there's been so much other stuff on, but I'm definitely hoping to do so sooner rather than later!

Number 33 is to find 100 songs released in 2015 or later - not counting songs from musicals - that I really like. I tend to spend most of my time listening to either the Hamilton soundtrack or songs from the 90s I grew up loving. While I don't think I'll ever stop enjoying them, I really want to find more modern music I love too.


I want to include things like 'go to BEA' here, or 'visit Vienna for a week', but both seem expensive and I get distracted from saving by the sheer amount of awesome things on in London. Keeping it realistic, number 5 is to renew my passport which I REALLY should get around to doing - meaning I at least then have a chance of Vienna, Paris, and other places! And number 6 is to go to Ireland, which feels like a realistic enough goal to commit to achieving in the next 5 years or so. Preferably for DeptCon, which looks amazing! Number 19 is an even closer to home one, to go back to Torquay - I used to go on holiday there every year with my family as a kid, then went to uni in Exeter and would often head down there. I've been back a few times since uni but not for a while and I really miss it. This summer is looking super-busy, but next summer I want to get back there for a week or so, and also catch up with a few friends still living in Exeter.


I am not massively career-focused these days, to be honest. (Weirdly, 8 years or so ago I WAS massively career-focused, spending about 90% of my time on teaching/thinking about teaching/planning/marking, and I was doing nowhere near as good a job as I am today.) However number 15 on my list is to get some sort of promotion (crossing my fingers that one may be the first to be checked off as I'm waiting to hear results of an interview I had last week) and number 16 is to get a grade 1 in an observation. (Teaching observations are graded from 1 to 4, where 1 is the best. I've got at least a 2 at every observation in my current job, and got a 1 in the last OFSTED which was a MASSIVE confidence boost for me - would love to get that at least once more in the next 5 years. Preferably EVERY time I'm observed over the next 5 years, obviously, but sticking to being realistic.)

Social media

Number 36 is to post on Instagram at least 150 times in a year. I started this year doing quite well on Instagram but faded away a few months ago.

Number 37 is to post on Tumblr at least twice a week for 6 months. This feels super-ambitious because I am HOPELESS at Tumblr - despite Stacey's best attempts to coach me in it! - but it has to be doable, right?


Number 10 is to go to a baseball game, number 11 to go to a women's football match, and number 13 is to go to Wimbledon. I'm nowhere near as big a sports fan as I was in my teen years but all three are things I'd love to do.


Number 32 is to get a bookcase - which I've been saying for years, since I moved into my current flat, but which I really MUST do at some point.

Number 4 is to give up alcohol for 3 months. I love Prosecco and I love cocktails but I want to show myself that I have the willpower to give them up for a bit. (I've actually already started this - one week down and counting!)

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Recent Links: 11th July Edition

I'll repeat my intro from last month - I'm going to drop most of the commentary from me - most posts have featured about 12 different uses each of 'fabulous', 'brilliant', 'wonderful' and 'I loved/adored this'. All of these things are COMPLETELY true, but they get repetitive - and much worse, I worry they make me sound insincere when I'm definitely not! Basically, ANYTHING included here is something I love and think is amazing.

(I feel bad leading with my own thing after that intro, but wanted to make sure this list of asexual representation was on the blog!)

Starting with Safe Space UK, several posts!

Life Turns on a Dime - Laura  

That Miserable Little Voice - Ray 
The Power of Compassion and Empathy - Jo 
The Man In The Alleyway - Jess
5 Things No One Told Me About Growing Up As A Woman - Laura
What Makes Me, Me - Lily (I know I said I was avoiding commentary but I HAVE to say that I'm super-excited to see Lily, who's amazing, writing for one of my very favourite sites!)

And on Safe Space founder Jess's own blog, Louise Gornall shared her top 5 books on mental health.

Other Safe Space team members with posts on their own blogs included my awesome friends Faye and Debbie.

Faye on being Nearly A Year Older, music and desserts. Faye was also on Maximum Pop talking about launching her amazing PR company! In that Maximum Pop series, Hayley Steed shared tips on getting a job in publicity.

Foodie Guide To Copenhagen from Debbie

Chelley shared a friend's anonymous post on YA and anxiety and how seeing themselves in YA helped them.

Caitlin's posts, as ever, were amazing - Etsy Addiction #5, The True Cost of Chronic Illness, The Frustration of Not Living Your Best Life

Great BookTube videos recently:
Julianne - Walker Books InkSlingers Summer Picnic Haul, June 2016 Recap and Mar - May 2016 Recap.

Lucy Richardson talked to Sanne from Booksandquills about Social Media, YouTube & Getting Into Publishing, Emma Gannon about Growing Up Online and Rosalind Jana about Feminism, Style and Finding Yourself.

Katherine Woodfine book haul.
Back to blogs! Great book haul from Stacey and fab bookshelf tour.

I shared ten of my top books of the year so far on Teens on Moon Lane!

Charlie guest posted here, 6 Degrees of Women Who Love Women.

On LGBTQ Reads, Calista Lynne posted about Authors and Asexuality and Dahlia posted her TBRainbow.

On I Talk Telly, Elliot Gonzalez interviewed Rebecca Root about Boy Meets Girl.

Grace shared barista tips and posted about her reading heroes.

Emma Gannon interviewed Louise O'Neill for her podcast.

On Maximum Pop, the cover was revealed for the Stripes anthology I'll Be Home For Christmas.

Little Tiger recapped their TigerSplash event.
Fiona Noble previewed July's best YA books.

I mentioned some of these previously, but Books are my Bag made a playlist of ALL of the #IBW2016 tag videos!

Imogen posted about bullet journals.

Skylark Literary agency gave tips on agent 1-to-1s.

Vee from The Gay YA interviewed David Levithan and Nina LaCour.

Next Illumicrate box is coming soon, and Maximum Pop have a discount code!

Gavin posted about his weekend in London, including Pride.

Fox Benwell is raising money for his medical transition - please consider donating if you're able to and/or spreading the word!

Crowdfunding continues for The Good Immigrant.

Speaking of The Good Immigrant, Nikesh Shukla was on the Book Shambles podcast.

Nikesh and other contributors to The Good Immigrant will be discussing the book at The Roundhouse on 1st August, which sounds like a great event - and profits will support Hope Not Hate!

Also on Unbound, Tim and Simon from The Big Green Bookshop are writing a book about the shop. Rewards here include getting to run the shop for the day. This costs £500 and there are a bunch of us thinking about pooling our money to do it - tweet me at @yayeahyeah if you're interested! (We're looking for 20 people at £25 each.)

Folk group Lady Maisery are crowdfunding their new album (2 and a half days left.)

Denise recommended her favourite LGBT+ reads.

Louise Jones blogged about The Parkrun Effect.

10 days left for writers of colour to submit to the Bare Lit anthology.

Jack Noel posted about the cover design for Lauren James's Another Together.

Barrington Stoke blogged about exploring WWI in fiction.

Wei Ming Kam's Queer Writers Of Colour series has finished - if you haven't been following, check them all out!

The Bookseller announced their Rising Stars.

Disability in Kidlit announced their Honor Roll.

There are two days or so left to apply to be a hedgehog officer in Ipswich which looks like an AMAZING job!! (Thanks for the spot Debbie!)

Lili shared her top 10 underrated books.

A Book Tokens quiz told us what sort of book lover we were!

Juno Dawson wrote for Glamour about overcoming her red carpet fears.

A petition here is asking people to sign if they'd like to see the voting age lowered to 16.

On this site, Perdita Cargill reviewed The Square Root Of Summer.

Cait posted 10 Things Book Bloggers Should Not Be Worrying About.

Panels shared some of their favourite posts of the year so far, including What Happens After You Call Our Poor Representation On Twitter and one on Jughead's Asexuality.

Finally Amandla Stenberg wrote a Teen Vogue op-ed on Youth Activism

Any there you especially liked? Or anything great I've missed? Leave me a comment! 

Saturday, 9 July 2016

#6Degrees: The Sky Is Everywhere To...

The Zoella Book Club #6degrees special continues!

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson is one of my all-time favourites, and it was one of the first books I reviewed when I started this blog. The very first was Sarra Manning's Nobody's Girl, a really fun contemporary.

In Nobody's Girl, Sarra Manning brings Paris to life really vividly, as she does with another capital city in her most recent release London Belongs To Us.

London Belongs To Us is a fabulous story set over the course of one night, as is Cath Crowley's Graffiti Moon.

Graffiti Moon is one of the most lyrical books I've read in years. Another book full of gorgeously lyrical writing is Yasmina Khadra's What The Day Owes The Night.

What The Day Owes The Night is an adult novel but it's one I'd definitely recommend to teens as well as adults, as is Kate Elliott's Spiritwalker trilogy, which starts with Cold Magic.