Thursday 28 July 2016

5-4-3-2-1: Louise Gornall

Special 5-4-3-2-1 today, over at this site rather than the usual home of Teens on Moon Lane (slight scheduling conflict and I REALLY wanted to get this one in this weekend, as it's with Louise Gornall and I'm incredibly excited to meet her on Sunday at YALC, where she'll be at the Chicken House stall from 1:30pm!) Louise's debut, Under Rose-Tainted Skies, is one of the best debuts of 2016 for me so far - although it's a difficult read as she captures main character Norah's mental health issues so, so well. Despite finding it tough going at times, I'm incredibly glad I read it - books about mental health are hugely important and, along with The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, Am I Normal Yet?, and Radio Silence, this is one of the best of recent years.

Over to Louise!   

Books you can read over and over again

There are some books you can't just read once, right? You know the kind. They don't even have to be your ultimate favourites, they just have to be brilliant. If you’re a reader it’s probably the book you turn to when you're suffering from Can’t Find A Good Book Syndrome. If you’re a writer it’s most probably the book you pick up when writer’s block kicks in. Here are five books that I have read, an embarrassingly large amount of times.

1.)    The Twilight Saga.
2.)    The Sky is Everywhere.
3.)    The Scorpio Races.
4.)    We Were Liars.
5.)    This Is Not A Test.

Brilliant books of 2016 (so far).

This list is already a decade long and we’re only in July. In particular, it’s been a great year for fantasy and contemporary novels -- and I have gone broke several times trying to keep up with all the greatness. I’ve been loving the intense topics that are being explored across the board in YA. p.s this list is anything but conclusive.

1.)    Radio Silence.
2.)    This Raging Light.
3.)    Firsts.
4.)    One.

Literary heroes

I was trying to come up with lists in which I could drop some of my favourite books from over time, but then when you start looking at your literary heroes and trying to pick titles, you discover that most of their back catalogue is too epic not include. And then you’ve already exceeded a five count before you’ve even reached your second author. So, instead, I thought I would drop the names of some literary greats, and you could go check out all their titles. It’s like cheating Jim’s system, but don't tell him that ;)

1.)    Malorie Blackman.
2.)    Jane Austen.
3.)    William Shakespeare.

Diverse must reads.

I couldn't not make a list that included diverse titles. I think YA is making great strides in becoming all inclusive. For me, personally, it makes my heart so happy to see mental health being explored in YA. I know I don't need to tell you guys how important it is for everyone to see themselves represented in great literature. So, this was a hard choice to make, but here are two amazing titles that stuck with me long after I turned the last page.

1.)    I’ll Give You The Sun.
2.)    Mockingbird.

A genre you’d like to explore more.

I’m primarily a contemporary writer, though I have dabbled in urban fantasy and horror before. I never seem to fall short of story ideas for a contemporary audience, and they always seem pretty cool... until I talk to my friend Claire. Claire is a fantasy writer, and the story ideas she has are, quite literally, out of this fricking world! I am so jealous of her world-building brain. When she asks me to brainstorm an idea with her, I actually start salivating. So, if there is one genre I’d LOVE to explore more…

1.)    Fantasy.

Sunday 24 July 2016

Girl Hearts Girl Blog Tour: Interview with Lucy Sutcliffe

I really loved Lucy Sutcliffe's memoir Girl Hearts Girl - a brilliant book about growing up,sexuality, and mental health issues which was a really lovely read. I was thrilled when Faye Rogers was able to arrange an interview for me!

1. When did you first start to think that your story would make a good book?

I think as our success on YouTube grew, I started thinking about how many people we’d managed to reach with just one click – and how many more I could reach if I found a different platform to tell my story. I’ve always loved to write, so I guess writing a book was a natural conclusion to that train of thought.

2. While the main focus of the book is on your acceptance of your sexuality, coming out, and your relationship with Kaelyn, I really appreciated how honest you were about your anxiety. How important do you think it is for teens to see that role models can suffer from mental health problems?

So, so important. Mental health has such a stigma surrounding it, and that makes it so much harder to deal with. I hate that mental health is still associated with shame. That’s why I was so honest about my experiences – I want people to know it’s okay to talk about it. I really hope we can one day get to a place where talking about our mental health is seen as normal and easy.

3. If you could give your 12-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Focus on the present. Panicking about the future and worrying about the past is such a waste of time.

4. You talk about how strange it was to see so many people following your videos - has that feeling gone away yet, or are you still surprised by the level of interest?

I don’t think the feeling is ever going to go away! It’s mind-blowing that people still watch them after all this time. All I can hope for is that people are always able to watch our videos and leave feeling better about themselves. 

5. What is your favourite thing about Kaelyn?

Her intelligence.

6. Do you have any plans for another book?

That’s a secret. 

7. If you had to describe your book in a tweet, what would you say?

An uplifting novel about the importance of love, respect and pride. Hashtag GAY.

8. Are you hoping to help inspire a younger generation?

Yes! In any way I can. Inspiration can change the world.

An inspiring, uplifting and sympathetic story about sexuality and self-acceptance, Lucy Sutcliffe's debut memoir is a personal and moving coming out story. In 2010, at seventeen, Lucy Sutcliffe began an online friendship with Kaelyn, from Michigan. They began a long distance relationship, finally meeting in 2011. Lucy's video montage of their first week spent together was the first in a series of vlogs documenting their long-distance relationship. Now, for the first time, Lucy's writing about the incredible personal journey she's been on.

Information about the Book
Title: Girl Hearts Girl
Author: Lucy Sutcliffe
Release Date: 24th June 2016
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Paperback

Author Information

Co-star of the popular YouTube channel Kaelyn and Lucy which documented the long distance relationship she had with Kaelyn Petras. She and Kaelyn finally came together in August of 2014, ending the long distance element of their relationship.

She graduated from Plymouth College of Art and Design in 2014 with a degree in Film Arts

She works as a freelance film editor and author. She and Kaelyn's channel mainly focuses on advice videos for LGBT youth.

She was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire to parents Sharon and Roger Sutcliffe.

There is a tour-wide giveaway! 3 copies of Girl Hearts Girl for 3 lucky winners!
Participants must live in UK or IRL.

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Tour Schedule

     Monday 18th July

Tuesday 19th July

Wednesday 20th July

Thursday 21st July

Friday 22nd July

Saturday 23rd July

Sunday 24th July

Monday 25th July

Tuesday 26th July

Wednesday 27th July

Thursday 28th July

Monday 18 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?

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!

Friday 15 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.)

Tuesday 12 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