Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

CHARM AND STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn
I found out about this one from the YA Highway post about its cover reveal, and although I've got to wait for June 2013 for it to be released - actually, probably longer because it takes AGES for US books to become available in the UK - I'm quite excited about it! By the sound of the Goodreads description (below) it involves werewolves, which is something I need to read more of. I'm not usually a reader of paranormal YA, but I LOVELOVELOVED Maggie Stiefvater's WOLVES OF MERCY FALLS series - plus me and Maggie share the same birthday so *respect* to her ;). And I've also just got the box set of MTV's Teen Wolf, which is a bit cheesy but SO addictive - plus, Tyler Posey....
Anyway *clears throat in embarrassment* here's the Goodreads summary for CHARM AND STRANGE:
Sixteen-year-old Winston Winters is awaiting the inevitable.

Stuck at a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of unimaginable tragedy, Win knows it’s only a matter of time until he transforms into something dark, something wolfish, just like his father. Until he hurts people too. So in order to do the least amount of harm to those around him, he masters the art of shutting others out.

But meeting fellow cross-country runner Jordan Herrera thwarts Win's plans for emotional isolation. A scholarship student with secrets of her own, Jordan’s boldness and wit draw him in. And when she asks Win to accompany her to an all-night party in the deep New England woods, he’s torn. Because he’s not sure they should get any closer. He’s not sure Jordan will be safe with him. But she insists. And he goes.

Win wants to believe he’s not dangerous. That he would never hurt someone he cares for. But as he leads Jordan into the wilderness with his father’s blood running through his veins and wild wolves running through his fragile mind, Win knows this is simply not true….
What do you all think of CHARM AND STRANGE? Anyone else adding this to their TBR pile?
And on a side-note, can anyone recommend me another good werewolf book, with a nice, non-emotionally-abusive-stalker love interest?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Why Every Writer Should Join a Writing Group

(Sorry for the Twilight pic, it just made me laugh, and is vaguely related to groups...)

Three weeks ago, I joined my university's Creative Writing group. Most people went to the Fresher's fair for the free pizza, Lucozade, and of course, the free pens (as in the ones that work for two days and then die just when you need them). I went to the Fresher's fair with my eye on the prize - to find a writers' group.

At home, the only writers' group met at my local library and consisted of two retired ladies, a man who went off on long science-fiction rants, and one of said ladies' bored husbands.
I was the only one under 55, and I only lasted one meeting. Now here, at university, everyone's my age - and it's awesome!

But aside from that, I think every writer should join a writing group because of...well, a lot of reasons. Here are a few brief ones:

1) We are a solitary bunch.

Writing means that when I'm not at lectures, discussing WHO PUT THE SIX-WEEK-OLD-BACON IN OUR FRIDGE (we haven't even been here six weeks!), or occasionally going clubbing, I'm spending the other 90% of my time alone with imaginary people.
Therefore it is always good to get out and talk to real people, or the characters you talk to will become your only friends.

2) Non-writers find your book boring.

It might just be me, but most writers I've spoken to agree that if someone makes the grave mistake of asking "What's it about, then?" , they spend the next ten minutes in glazed-eyes silence, their only words "I'll read it when it's published" before they escape.

In your writers' group, you can talk animatedly about your book where everyone murders everyone, and someone goes insane and someone kills a dog (no, I haven't written that, but whatevs). They won't edge away like you are clearly a psychopath who likes killing vicariously, and best of all, they might actually be interested. Either that or they can feign it until they get to talk about their book.

3) You get really helpful advice!

Nothing beats for advice, but there is something to be said for in-group critique and encouragement. That tricky scene you've all but given up on, that scene you LOVE but is actually a darling-you-must-kill - all will be seen and mentioned/improved by your fellow group members.

4) You get to hear snippets of great books from great writers

In my writing group, everyone's writing something different, has a different style, genre, etc. And there's not a single weak link (unless it's me!) - everyone has an interesting story to tell. We have a comedy writer, a couple of fantasy writers, two literary writers and a poetry writer, and that's just half of them.

5) And at the end of it, you get food...

There is an ice-cream parlour that does amazing cookie sundaes, and is now our official unofficial after-meeting place. I therefore have an excuse to stuff my face - nuff said.

So there you have it - why writers' groups are indeed made of awesome. Are any of you in a writing group? Good or bad experiences you'd like to share? And just for fun, what's your favourite flavour of icecream sundae?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Umbrellas and Fallen Leaves - Fall Cover Love

I am not a summer person. Don't get me wrong, I like holidays and sun and all that, but there's something about autumn/fall (I'm just going to call it autumn, 'kay?) that I love. Watching the sun set through ghostly mist, or kicking up clouds of russet and gold leaves, or walking on the clifftops with the waves crashing below - it makes me feel truly alive.

And when you discount all the girls-in-pretty-dresses/pouty-face-close-ups books, most books left have generic summer covers. So here's my list of gorgeous, October-appropriate, autumn covers...


I love the nice touch of the red hair on the green leaves - and look, she even has green eyeshadow!
I don't know why it's autumnal, what with the girl dressed so innapropriately for the cold, but the beautiful colours make it look haunting and gorgeous.
Ah, that's better. An umbrella, hat, coat, AND a hot boy to keep her warm too. For anyone who wants to know what English weather is nearly always like, the grey sky on this cover captures it perfectly...
Not quite sure how it goes with the book, but I think a lot of people will agree with me when I say that this cover's haunting. And autumnal!
Simple but beautiful. I love the way the dress looks like a wave/the sea under that stormy sky. Plus, it's set in Ireland and Ireland has some stunning countryside. And yay for red hair!

This could be a winter cover, but that red dress and the red hair (the symbol of autumn, apparently) makes this look more of an October book to me. And one of the few 'girls in pretty dresses' book covers I actually like (don't hate me, people).
A UK YA book (yay!), this one has a cover that just screams autumn. The trees, the models' outfits (although I'm not liking the boy in a fleece - fleeces are not sexy), and of course the red leaf outlines. I have this book at home and they're proper shiny red, which looks vair pretty.
So there you have it, folks. My list of gorgeous, autumnal/fall covers - to go with my new-look blog (do you like it?). Which is your favourite cover? Has anyone read one of these books?
And finally, any more gorgeously October-y covers you can recommend me?
p.s. I need one (yes, ONE) more follower to reach the magic fifty - click that button, pleeeeeease!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Let's get using Goodreads, UK!

As a student who wasted valuable assignment time checking out the book review site Goodreads in a sort of link-by-link book trail, I know what I'm talking about when I say that Goodreads is crazy-addictive. So addictive I bought ten books that I wouldn't otherwise have known about had it not been for the 'Readers also enjoyed similar books' sidebar.

                (picture credit)
But the Goodreads phenomenon seems to have passed the UK by. Brilliant, popular British books are getting almost ignored. For example, the excellent What's Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long (highly recommended, for the twist alone) is a popular, new, book, in all the big UK bookshops and on Amazon UK, but it only has ten reviews on Goodreads. When you think about how many reviews/ratings it would've got had it been a US book, ten seems a tad unfair. I get that there are a heck of a lot less people in the UK than in America, but I know more than ten people have read this book.

Someone needs to spread the Goodreads message. In the compulsory 'how to use the library' lessons we get aged eleven at school, it would've been so easy for the librarians to be like, "check out this site, kids,". When someone asks you how to find a good book that ISN'T Fifty Shades of Bookshop-Display-Hogging, point them in the Goodreads direction.

And finally, anyone who's read some good UK YA recently, or MG or adult, get onto Goodreads and review the heck out of it!

Who else loves/worships Goodreads (even though their bank manager would disagree)? And what's the best bit of UK YA you read recently?

Monday, 10 September 2012

When your MC turns up on TV...(Waterloo Road, to be precise)

This post might get a bit Brit-focused for my American readers, but keep reading anyway!

One of my favourite TV serial dramas is WATERLOO ROAD. A fictional, failing school in a rough area of Manchester (I think) and now Scotland, it's this rather soap-opera-ish yet brilliant programme all about the teachers and students, and tackles issues like rape, domestic violence, alcoholism, homophobia, incest, teacher/pupil relationships, young love, and friendship (had to add the last two not to put anyone off!).

I was happily watching all the angst and excitement when suddenly, into shot walked my protagonist. I mentioned in a previous post that the troubled bully-turned-heartbroken and unstable-social-outcast Luke would have to be played by George Mackay, but I've changed my mind. He's not blond, and he's got a Scottish accent instead of an English one, but Shane O'Meara (aka Waterloo Road's Connor) is the perfect Luke.

He's got such melancholy eyes *Amy realises that she's sounding a bit stalker-ish and weird so posts picture to cover embarrassment*

AND THEN IN WALKED HIS DEAD BEST FRIEND. Benjamin Gur was the actor I've always wanted to play Noah, the cruel charmer whose death started the whole plot of THE BRIGHTEST FELL, and his character in Waterloo Road is so similar to Noah in personality (and looks) that it's like watching Noah on screen.

(I'm not mad, these characters are just very real to me in my head)...

(Benjamin Gur/ Noah is the one on the left with the smug expression!).

Has anyone else had a moment like this, seeing the perfect actor for your MC and then greedily watching the programme to get your fill of character awesomeness?

Are there any Waterloo Road fans here?

And finally, do you like my actors? Anyone who's read this post, do you think they would be perfect for the roles or what?

Look out for my Waiting On Wednesday post in a few days!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Brilliantly Bleak Covers

So this is a Cover Love Tuesday with a difference. For one, it's a Thursday. Two, usually I do posts about pretty-pretty covers that make me want to paint (I'm a typical cliche art student, FWIW).

Today, however, I'm going to post some covers that are really effective and brilliant because they're bleak. Plain, melancholy, and beautiful in my opinion.

Click the links to check them out on Goodreads!

Who'd have thought three words and a girl lying in a road could be so effective? I'd love a cover like this, especially seeing as the MMC of The Brightest Fell does start the book lying unconscious in the middle of a road...

I have fond memories of this one, because it was the first modern (aka not from a jumble sale) YA I ever read. I borrowed it from my school library, and I always remembered the cover had a little rabbit on it, even though I forgot the name. And then I found it again in a second-hand book shop (yays!). Not as bleak as OUT OF REACH, but the blue and the abandoned toy are kind of haunting.

Yes, another lying-in-road one (obviously these teens didn't watch the road-safety hedgehog videos in primary school - anyone remember those?) but aren't the mountains in the mist bleak and totally cool?

Is that ice? Porcelain? Glass? Whatever it is, it's so effective. And I love it when a title ties in with the cover, unlike some books.
Finally, a book that sounds so good I might even read it despite there being zombies in it, and me having a massive issue with anything remotely gory or horror-like.
Check out those blood-stains on the blue background!

Which of these books float your boat? Do you like minimalistic covers, or are you more into pretty fonts and detailed images?
And are there any books anyone can recommend with cool bleak covers?
[Ooh, and as a side note, does anyone know of any good contemporary YA with unreliable/lying protags? Just a bit of next-WIP prep...] 

I'm Baaaaack! (And a bit of Absolute Write love)

If there's anyone actually still reading this blog, good on you for sticking with me! I've been crazy-busy over the summer - a job + WIP + University stresses = me being a lazy blogger.

But, good news, the uni application stuff is totally (hopefully) sorted, and the WIP first and second drafts are finished. Yay!

I'm stressing out about both, because the WIP is 1st person POV and it's got a lot of grief in it, something I struggle to write well. I prefer angst when the character is the one who created it, but this story kinda spoke to me if that doesn't sound cheesy (okay it totally does). So it's out with betas and I'm just stressing out about uni now - all those new people!

I'm going to study Publishing, which makes me happy :)

But I want to say a big thank you to the writing site that kept me sane over the summer, because this WIP was troublesome and I so nearly gave up so many times. I didn't, because of the Absolute Write Water Cooler ( ). If you're a writer who hasn't joined that site, SERIOUSLY DO IT NOW RIGHT NOW. As well as all the help, support, and critiquing pages, discussions about aspects of YA/Horror/Literary/MG/anything else you can think of, it's great being part of such a community.

I'm going to stop this post because I'm gushing, and because it's not exactly the most thrilling of reading material.

But I will be back with more posts while I wait for my *amazing* betas to get back to me (and after), so keep checking back, folks!

Monday, 23 July 2012

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle: Review

 I love retellings. Especially, I love it when an author takes a book/play/poem and spins it so that it is totally different from the original. This was the case with WHEN YOU WERE MINE by Rebecca Serle, a retelling of Romeo & Juliet - from the perspective of Romeo's ex-girlfriend, Rosaline. She was a character in the Shakespeare play, but is only ever mentioned, never shown. However in Serle's contemporary YA version, modern day Californian teenager Rosie is the starring role, along with her best friend-to-boyfriend Rob (Romeo) and her scheming cousin Juliet. Slightly weird for me to read, though, considering my parents are called Rosie and Rob *cringe*!
Here's the Goodreads summary:

In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale.

What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy… and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends…

Things I loved about WYWM:
- Rosie's friends. Charlie and Olivia, her two best friends, were very real, really 3D characters with their own character traits, personalities, hopes, fears, crushes, and everything you don't see often enough in secondary characters in YA.

- Rob/Romeo. He felt real, and his relationship with Rosie was great. Serle was also good about making the reader fall for him in the beginning, which made it sadder when him and Juliet got together.

- The setting. I read most of this watching the rain sluice down the window here in grey, depressing England, so reading about sunny San Belarino (I think, haven't got the book with me atm) made me happy. It also made me want to live in the US. High school sounds so much more awesome than boring secondary school. Pep rallies, American football games, hot jocks, optional classes like creative writing....

- Len. I didn't like him to start with, but he really grew on me. And he wasn't all piercing green eyes and hulking muscles, either, which made a refreshing change.

Things I didn't love about WYWM:

- Constant reminiscing. I liked the way Serle wove in the characters' past, but when every second sentence was a memory, it grated a bit. Okay, Rosie and Rob were friends for ages. We get it.

- Juliet wasn't very well developed. And no, I'm not being pervy, I mean in the character sense. She came in, was b*tchy, got Rob, etc. Although I did like how she wasn't portrayed as that lovely and tragic. She was portrayed just how I'd imagined Shakespeare's Juliet.

- The ending. Without wanting to give anything away, the ending was a bit rubbish. I wanted wham bam thrilling death pact, or something that makes me gasp, like the original Shakespeare ending. All that suspense leading up to the ineviteable ending, and then...meh.  

But overall, unlike plenty of reviewers on Goodreads, I really enjoyed When You Were Mine. Well worth a read, and definitely pick it up.

What do you think of retellings? Any you read that you think were totally untrue to the characters/plot, or any that you actually prefer to the original? And is it me or is the UK cover (above) much less boring and samey than the US one?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Raven Boys and Author Artwork

So this is sort of a Waiting on Wednesday, just on a Tuesday because I have work tomorrow ;)

I really want to read THE RAVEN BOYS. Like, seriously wishing it could come out in the UK, because I love love loved the WOLVES OF MERCY FALLS series (particularly Shiver) and this has four times the boys.
Oh, and the storyline looks really interesting too.... here's the summary from Goodreads:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

Sounds pretty good, huh? I think Ronan and Noah will be my faves (fun fact: my book THE BRIGHTEST FELL has a Noah AND a Ronan - although mine are a bully and a rugby jock).
But to the second part of this post's title - author artwork.

Maggie Stiefvater is a mega-talented artist, and it was her animated, hand-drawn book trailer for TRB that drew me in. Here it is, in all its cool, artsy glory...

And finally, here's a (very inferior) drawing I did of my main characters from THE BRIGHTEST FELL - India, the FMC isn't in here, it's just the gang of three back when life was good, they ruled the school, and none of them had any idea plans were being laid for their kidnap...
Luke (MMC, witty, womanising rugby player) is the boy leaning against the wall, Noah (good looking, sly, with a twisted streak that means he will happily destroy anyone who hurts one of his best friends) is sitting down, and Rachel (Queen bitch, finds it hard to get on with other girls, but is like a sister to Noah and Luke) is on the table.

(if anyone's interested, here's the link to the blog post I did with more info about the book)

Saturday, 7 July 2012

WIP Wishes (and Wimbledon)

First of all, congrats to our very own Andy Murray for getting into the final of this year's Wimbledon! Never has a tennis ball to an opponent's nether regions been so useful :)
Not that that particular incident was the reason Murray won - just like with writers, he worked long hours at his dream, visualised it and talked about it and practiced some more, and now he's only one (admittedly extremely difficult) game from making history. No pressure, Andy...

But this is vaguely related to writing, I promise. Just like tennis players wanting to win certain tournaments, many writers have plans for books they want to write, one day but not now. For example, really wanting to write a dystopian when you know it will be very difficult to sell.

I've got a few themes I'd love to explore, I just don't know how I'm going to do it.

- I'd love to write a road trip novel. I can't yet because I am woefully undertravelled in Britain (we usually go to Austria/France/Switzerland on holiday, or when we stay here we only go one county away in Cornwall). So that'll have to wait till I'm older and wiser.

-I'd also love to write a ghost story, a really chilling one for older teens. Something like ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD or UNREST by Michelle Harrison.

- I really want to write a book set in an old, crumbling country house. I write contemporary YA, though, so it's pretty difficult to fit a story to that.

- Finally, a book in 1st person, present tense. I've read so many amazing 1stP,PT novels, like CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers and BREAK by Hannah Moskowitz. I just need to learn to write one.

But if you've got ideas of books that you're sure are too niche to sell, or books that are so unconventional/unpopular/so popular you can't get agents interested, don't worry. Sometimes, like Andy Murray getting into the Wimbledon finals, unexpected and brilliant things happen...

Did anyone watch the tennis yesterday, and Andy's triumph? And who else has ideas on the backburner that they aren't planning/writing, for whatever reason? And finally, you all should read UNREST. It is tres awesome.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Why Vampires/Werewolves/Faeries (???) should never be British

Honestly, I'm not uber-Patriotic or like, British-obsessed. I just wanted to share my thoughts on a few paranormal romance staples that just WOULDN'T work in Britain. I mean, I'm not a total expert, because I'm a contemporary kinda girl. And I'm not saying UK pnr romance writers are rubbish (I'm sure they're just as awesome as their US counterparts), just that our little isle is ill suited to shmexy vampire shparkleeee timez.

First of all, our town names are boring.

I've seen the summaries: "Someday Dreamer is just an average girl from Enchantment, Ohio". Or Paradise, Texas. Or Sunrise, Indiana.

Basically, US towns have these dreamy-sounding towns way more suited to witty little metaphors/titles/comments than the UK. Tell me this doesn't sound rubbish: "Anne Brown is just an average girl from Grimsby, Yorkshire." The closest we come to cool names is really grim (ha) ones like Black Dog and No Man's Land (both actual places). And Grimsby, and Hull.

Secondly, not many of us UK teens can drive. So no midnight car chases/hot pnr boy skidding into a car park to save us from thugs.

In the UK, driving age is seventeen. No practicing before that, and no going straight out in your car on your seventeenth birthday, because there is a crapload of paperwork to fill in and send off before you can actually drive.

Our streets are tiny and windy, so town/city dwellers don't usually bother to drive if there's nowhere to put their car.

Plus, insurance is shockingly expensive. So unless your boy was as rich as Midas/Edward Cullen, he would have to save you from the car park thugs (get me, Twilight reference) and then your romantic lunch would have to consist of Morrisons Bettabuy sandwiches and reduced Scotch eggs sitting in the car in said car park, because a romantic meal would probably be too expensive.

And most UK teens don't learn to drive till about 18, so that's another setback.

No ultra-expensive, super-fancy glass houses in the woods. Because you have to get planning permission for that sh*t.

And chances are, the woods are owned by some local farmer who doesn't want a wolf pack running through them, or some rich vampires setting up home there. You go climbing trees with Vampire boy, and he'll be down the bottom with his gun. Still, at least vampire boy'll be safe, because farmers don't tend to shoot silver bullets.

So that's it, people. Can anyone else think of reasons why the UK is totally unsuited to sparkley, bitey goings on?

And does anyone agree that Queen Elizabeth and Edward would make a TOTALLY awesome fan fiction? So long as Eddy doesn't eat the corgies...

Cover Lust Tues - okay, Sunday. The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight

So much to love.

The Vans trainers. The grass background (did I tell you I love grass backgrounds? I think it's the farmer in me). The pretty writing. That little aeroplane.

Granted, the guy's hairless legs are a bit weird, but still. I lust this cover.

Why did I buy the hardback?

Sorry I can't get a better, less pixelated picture, but I guess you'll have to buy it to find out.

The UK cover is rubbish, in my opinion. I probably wouldn't pick it up, if it was on a shelf in my local WHSmith. Here it is below to compare \/ \/ \/

What do you think? Do you guys love the first cover too? Or are you more of a fan of the UK one?

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Writing Brits (Limeys?) in YA

Finally, an advice post where I am a sort of expert in the matter! British and a teenager! This isn't random, by the way - it started with reading two books that made me think. I liked both books, and I'm lauding them as good examples, but let's just call them the 'Angsty Girl' book and the 'Aeroplane trip' book.

What have they got in common? A Brit boy love interest. Yeah, I'm going to focus on boys. It's more fun.

(come on, it's what we're all thinking. Yeah, I'm not the biggest Harry Styles fan)

Apparently, British boys are hot (the accent, etc). I'm kind of used to it, so it's not particularly exciting to me, but even I am not immune to the Mr Darcys - scratch that, Mr Tilneys - of this world. And, excluding Harry Styles/SuBo, I love One Direction.

And as a British reader of a lot of US YA, I find it frequently hilarious when the Brit boy becomes a combination of Prince William and Dick Van Dyke, constantly mentioning 'blokes' and such. So here is a list of five dos and don'ts for writing hot Brit boys...

5) Don't engineer situations for your Brit boy to 'show off' his dialect/language. Unlike the LI in 'aeroplane book', I have never once heard a boy call a fly a 'bloke'. It just doesn't work.

4) We're not all from London. Most of us Brits are actually from *gasp* other places. Also, in London there's accents other than cockney or hooray henry posh. I live four hours away from London, and I've only visited the place 4 times in my entire life.

3) One slang word I'd love to hear more of is 'fit'. Translation: Hot, stunning, great body. Works for girls too. i.e. "One Direction are so fit - shame about that minger Harry". So common is the UK that we don't use it to describe a well-exercised person anymore, in case they got the wrong idea. But good news, 'angsty girl' book mentioned it!

2) Brit boys do not wear suits as leisure wear. 'Angsty girl' book was guilty of this - the LI was always dressed in a skinny shirt/trousers/tie, always a bit rumpled etc. Yes, the majority of our schools wear uniform, granted. Consequently, then, boys don't fancy wearing ties in their time off. One Direction are the exception to this, because Simon Cowell wants them to be a brand. In reality, the boys I know wear Abercrombie/Hollister t-shirts (American), cream chinos or jeans, and Vans/Converse trainers (American).

1) There may only be about 60 million people in Britain, but only a tiny percentage of us have met the royals. Most teenage boys don't give a flying monkeys about Will or Kate. The only conversation I've ever overheard about the royal family between teenage boys went like this:

"You watch the royal wedding?"

"Yeah. Boring. Bride's sister was fit, though."

"Yeah! Her bum!" *lots of phwoars etc*

"Who would you snog, Kate or Pippa?"

*lots of umming and ahhing*

"Well, who?"

"Your mum."

Obviously this is a nice blog, so I've sanitised it a lot, but you get my drift.

If I sound patronising I don't mean to be - about 90% of my books are US YA - I just want to save American teen girls from coming over to England in their gap year after high school, and being thoroughly disappointed that none of the boys are wearing suits or chatting on their mobile phones to Princess Beatrice. And if a Brit boy calls you fit, you're in there...

What do you think? Ever read any brit boy love interests who've made you cringe? Which authors do it right? And which brit authors write Americans badly?

And finally, can anyone guess which books 'Aeroplane book' and 'Angsty girl book' are?

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Yay Awards! In the plural! And a video you HAVE to see

Well, I'm back! Internet is finally fixed, and current WIP is nearly 30,000 words...JuNoWriMo here I go!

Anyway, two lovely bloggers have nominated me for two lovely awards:

Sarah from Word (en)Count(ers) nominated me for the Reader Appreciation Award


Katharina from My Writing Journey nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award - so perhaps random rambling about the nineties and weird Harry Potter photos aren't totally pointless!

The photo above is my happy face (although technically it's not me, because then I would be a frightening freak baby who could type).

Because I'm not very good with this linking thing, I'm going to nominate seven bloggers overall (3 for one award, four for another), but first for the Reader Appreciation award I'm to tell you what I'm doing, writing wise.

Well, as I mentioned above, I'm about 3/5ths through my new WIP! happy times. If I could describe it, I'd say it's BEFORE I DIE meets THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE meets FIVE DAUGHTERS. If people don't know about five daughters, it's a UK drama aired a few years ago, about the five victims of a serial killer, all prostitutes - and how because of their profession, they got hardly any compassion from the press and public.
In my WIP, it's the older brother of the main character who has died, and she and her male best friend discover an unusual way to feel closer to him (no ghosts or vamps here).

And apparently for my Versatile Blogger award, I am going to share seven random facts about myself. I've done this recently, but I'll dredge up some more embarrassment ;) :
1) I can date costume dramas to the decade (or five years) by the costumes, and my current Shiny New Idea revolves around one...
2) My cats are called Fizz and Gripper, and Gripper is a total softie who got given the name because Dad wanted irony and a guard dog!
3) I'm obsessed with this folk singer called Seth Lakeman, who sings about Dartmoor. His playing gives me the chills, in a good way.
4) I've now officially left school *sadface*, which means I'm an adult and I have to leave home for university *even sadder face but with excited eyes*
5) I'm a MASSIVE Austen fan but I hate Pride & Prejudice. Elizabeth is too smirky, and Mr Darcy reminds me too much of Edward Cullen.
6) I lambed my first sheep at nine years old.
7) I spent most of my IT (computer) lessons writing books, but I still got an A grade #fluke

And my nominated bloggers are:

For the Versatile Blogger Award:

- Jaybird at Bird's Nest

- Carissa Taylor

- Daisy Carter at Fresh as A Daisy

And for the Reader Appreciation Award:

- Sarah at The Strangest Situation

Kyra Lennon at Write Here, Write Now

- a random one, and a fave, The Duchess of Devonshire's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century

- all the bloggers at YATopia

So, check all these blogs, people, because they are awesome.

And to leave you with a laugh, here is the best video you will ever see (although I'm biased, because I'm in it and helped make it). It's a parody of WHAT I GO TO SCHOOL FOR by Busted, which is all about the boys being in love with the hot teacher. We made it to celebrate the end of our Senior year, because we don't get graduation here in the UK. Of course, being us, our tutor group/form decided to make our video with our fifty something teacher, who is a total sport.

Look out for me, I dance on a table! Enjoy:

What do you think of our acting skillz?

Thursday, 31 May 2012

I hate technology. And the nineties.

I'm really stressing out, because my computer has died. I can still write (thank goodness), and it's increased my words-per-day amount by so much (my last book's first draft was 62,000 words, took me about 5-6 months to write, and this one I started about ten days ago and I'm on 20,000 words!), but I can't check my emails. I've got two fulls out with awesome agents, and for all I know they could have given me an offer or a rejection by now :(
Basically, we got hit by lightning. Just our house, and my grandparents next door. Tomorrow is the last day I have internet for about ten days, but I can't access my emails because they are on the home computer! It doesn't help that I am a nineties kid, brought up with casette tapes, VCRs, those massive camcorders that you needed swimmer's shoulders to carry, and computers and TVs that were as deep as they were wide or high. Plus we didn't get a computer till 2004, and internet 2006.

So to cheer myself up, here are some photos to prove that the nineties were not cool in any way:

<<<<< The boyband 'curtains' haircut, which all the older boys had.

 <<<<< Closely followed by the 'Gareth Gates', where the boys would use great globules of sticky gel to gel their hair into stiff little spikes. This really was my era, and I am so glad that boys now have the freshly-washed side fringe thing going on. Here's GG himself.

And don't forget, for the girls, the 'Rachel':

And  'scrunchie chic':

So that's the hairstyles, and I admit I worked that scrunchie chic the best I could ;). Who else not-so-fondly remembers the nineties, with its baggy-shellsuited boy bands, oversized shoulders and jewellery, neon clothing and dodgy haircuts? And did you have a bad haircut back then?

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

UK YA - not hiding in the shadows any more!

I was visiting the Absolute Vanilla blog, and I read this post about a brand new website for and about UK YA writers and readers. It's called and it is made of awesome. And I also think it's important, because when I looked at my bookshelves, about 90% of the YA was American.

I think this is because US YA is so well-developed as a genre, and the characters are usually older, and hey, they can go on road trips! In the UK, you can travel from Land's End in Cornwall to John O'Groats in Scotland in about seven hours. Great road trip, right? Hardly enough time to fall in love and discover meaningful self-truths or whatever it is road-trippers do.

Oh, and there's a #UKYA hash tag thingie on twitter, which means nothing to me but might to others of you. Get tweeting, peeps!

Next post is going to be about a UK YA book that I've just read, which freaked me out and made me think and I'm going to review it for you all to check out.

First, though, because I can and because it's British, here are some funny Harry Potter pictures for you all!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Cover Lust Tuesday: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Isn't it gorgeous? The way the sun shines over the high hedge, and her smile, and the way the dress is yellow like the title...gah. This is one of my favourite cover lust tuesday covers, for so many reasons.

If I got a book published and it had a cover like this, I would be so happy. Well, until I remembered that my book is a YA contemp about murder, revenge, and madness, and then I would probably have a bit of a meltdown at the thought of readers picking up the lovely sunny-covered book and getting a boy being chased barefoot through a stormy British woodland on the first page. Then they'd be like - WTH? And I would get some seriously weird reviews on Goodreads.

Who's with me that this cover is great? And does the book live up to it - anyone read it?

*Smiles Sunnily* I've won an award!

Yay! First of all, thanks to Carissa Taylor for nominating me for the Sunshine Award :) I highly recommend checking out her blog, because it's awesome.

Sorry I haven't been blogging much recently - I'm in the middle of my A2 exams (senior finals, UK style), so I'm stressing out and sticking up sociology revision cards in my bathroom (although my dad always ends up learning more than me ;)).

Anyway, here is my top ten random facts:

1) I am slightly obsessed with 1960s pony books, and I have about 100 at home.
2) I'm left-handed, and wrote my name backwards for about 3 years. As in, mirror-backwards. Because my dad's dyslexic, they were worried I was too, but then I turned out to be a grammar and spelling obsessive and the teachers stopped worrying.

3) I have 2 miniature shetlands called Nymph and Luna.

4) When I was 9, I went through a phase where I was terrified of vampires. Not the sparkly glitterpeen kind, but the bad-ass murderous kind. I slept with my Child's Bible and a silver cross beside my bed for a whole year.

5) My closest celebrity connections are that my cousin's best friend went out with the singer Joss Stone at school (and then dumped her for being a hippy), and last year I was in the same art group at school with a boy who is now a top catwalk model.

6) I live 3 miles away from the sea, with many hills and valleys in between, but when it's windy I can hear the sea crashing.

7) When I first started school, I was the only girl in my year group. There were 4 of us in total, and I'm still a real tomboy.

8) I pride myself on buying cheap clothes, and will tell everyone who complements me on my outfit that "the shirt only cost £2!"

9) When I was seven, I took my SATs test (a UK thing I think) and the teaher called my parents in because apparently my English/language/writing skills were that of a clever eleven year old. And it helped that I was writing my name the proper way by then, too.

10) I am obsessed with old country houses, like the ones in Jane Austen. I spent an entire childhood visiting National Trust houses every Sunday with my family, and now, at 18, I'm addicted. Yes, I'm aware it's not cool.

And my ten questions:

1) Pantser or Plotter?
Pantser all the way, guys. For my current WIP, I've got a sort of structure, because it's all about a list, but I'm 100% pantser.

2) Do you listen to music while writing?
Yes and no. No, if I'm writing a difficult scene, one where I can't quite figure out the words for my characters. Yes, if I'm writing a scene I've already totally worked out in my head, because a bit of crashy angsty Evanescence always helps ;)

3) What genre do you write in?
YA Contemporary all the way. I haven't got the skillage to write paranormal bad boys, because I just end up laughing - so you pnr writers, I admire you.

4)Books on writing you recommend?
Writers' and Artists' Yearbook?

5) Which are your favourite authors?
Gail Giles, K.M. Peyton, Gillian Phillip, Hannah Moskowitz, John Green, the Pullein-Thompson sisters (for epically good pony books)...I could go on forever.

6) How long have you been writing?
Since I was 14, properly (aka books). So 4 years.

7) What is your fave part of the writing process?
Ooh. Probably a tie between finishing the first draft (oh, the relief!) and getting a Shiny New Idea. The can't-eat-because-I'm-so-excited feeling of a new idea is great.

8) How do you capture ideas when you are on the go?
I get most of my ideas on the go. When I'm on the bus I always listen to my iPod and that's when I get my best ideas.

9) How do you handle bad reviews?
One day, I will hopefully get a book published and then no doubt the bad reviews will roll in, but for the moment I'm going to have to say N/A. Hopefully this'll change!

10) Worst writing mistake you make?
Comma splices, too many commas, commas in the wrong places, overlong get the idea. Commas hate me because I love them too much. As you'll probably notice in every single on e of my blog posts.

So that's all, folks. I realise I sound pretty boring, but I'd like to think I'm more interesting in real life! I can't narrow it down to ten people, so I'm going to nominate the first ten people who comment on this post - fire away, people!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Dust It Off Bloghop: Day 2 & Day 3 (because exam revision is a killer!)

I know, I'm awful, but I've been revising sociology, feminist/marxist/funtionalist/new right perspectives on The Family/Education/Religion (yes, 2 years in one, people - I must be mad!). So, first of all, here's my excerpt of FREEING FERGUS REILLY: (to put it in context, Fergus has been found in a compromising position with his lady-love's evil best friend Mia, but it was all a set-up)

'Oi - POTATO!’
Fergus grimaced – he doubted anyone would be shouting at an actual potato, so he assumed that this was some idiot’s idea of an anti-Irish joke.

He turned around. ‘Very good – because I’ve never heard that one before.’

Liam Parker ignored him, and started to approach. There was murder in his eyes. Mia must have told him what had happened – but not before putting her own spin on things, the bitch.

‘Come over here and face me like a man, leprechaun,’ Liam carried on angrily, although he was obviously struggling to think of more insults.

Fergus walked calmly up to him, and was pleased to find that, far from being a ‘leprechaun’ he was slightly taller than Liam. Liam looked a little unnerved, and for a moment seemed like he was going to lose his cool. He stayed silent, but something was brewing, his face slowly going red. Whether it was with anger or embarrassment, it was hard to tell.

Daisy, Faith and Mia were shooting him evil looks, and turned to glance at Liam’s friends, who were looking slightly awkward but at the same time, aggressive. Alex, ever the conscientious objector, was biting his lip and seemed rather worried.

Fergus turned back to Liam again.
‘Sorry, where were we?’ He raised an eyebrow, and tried to ignore the feeling of unease that was making his stomach churn.

Smack! Liam’s fist connected with his jaw. White-hot pain shot up his face, nearly as bad as when his dad hit him. He stumbled backwards, and Liam looked smug.
‘Leave Mia alone, freak, and go back to Daisy – I know you Irish like gingers.’

In a second Fergus had jumped on an unsuspecting Liam. The pair fell to the floor, raining down punches, kicks, and (in Liam’s case) pulling hair. A small crowd of younger boys had gathered and were chanting ‘fight, fight, fight!’ with obvious enjoyment, and Alex, Daisy and Faith were looking on anxiously, anger forgotten. Daisy in particular was in turmoil – she knew what Fergus had done to Mia, but she wasn’t sure she wanted him to get hurt too badly.

Liam was going in for the kill.

And what have I learnt from writing FREEING FERGUS REILLY?

Well, I was just about finished with FFR when I found the amazing writers' forum , and I learn so much from there that I realised what a trainwreck FFR actually was (hey, I was 16...). But emerald eyes, Mary-Sues, stereotypes and teachers who were more promiscuous than the Desperate Housewives aside, the most important thing I learnt was that edgy/gritty/dark contemporary YA was what I wanted to write the most. FFR wasn't exactly gritty, I'd call it a slightly edgy romance, but I realised I loved writing angst, so write angst I did. Oh, and I learn a heck of a lot about dialogue, grammar, and formatting, too.

Finally, thanks to Theresa and Cortney for this fab blogfest!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Dust It Off Bloghop - My Pitch!

First of all, thanks to Theresa Paolo and Cortney Pearson for hosting this bloghop (that I only discovered today, but better late than never!).
So I'm gonna cheat and use Theresa's words to sum up what the blogfest is about:

The Dust It Off Bloghop will be three days, May 3rd, 5th and 7th. We've all had those manuscripts that we poured our heart into, fell in love with the characters and still think of them at random, but unfortunately had to shelf. Now it's time for a little spring cleaning. Take out those manuscripts and Dust It Off!

The first day, May 3rd: We want you to post a 1-2 sentence pitch (Great way to practice pitches) about the shelved WIP.

The second day, May 5th: Post your favorite excerpt (300-350 words)

The third day, May 7th: Post what you learned from this WIP. You become a stronger, more rounded writer which each manuscript and we want to know what this particular work taught you.

You can participate in all three and we hope you do, but you don't have to. We know you have lives away from the computer. If you can great. If not we'd be happy with anything you can give us :)

Day 1 prize: A book. Who doesn't like a free book? Cortney's Book: Ditched by Robin Mellom (So jealous!!) My book: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Andersen

Day 2 prize:A query critique

Day 3 prize:A FULL MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE!!! (And of course it is the manuscript of your choice. It doesn't have to be for the shelved WIP. This goes for the query as well.)

And here's my query letter for FREEING FERGUS REILLY, the YA contemp that I had to shelf because I wrote it a couple of years ago when I was 16 and I still had a LOT to learn (I still do, probably!):

Sixteen year old Daisy refuses to be a Plain Jane for one more second. She spends her school days trailing around after the beautiful and fickle Mia like a lost puppy, longing to move away from the dull safety of her village, and become someone altogether more exciting than 'Mia’s Friend’. Riding horses is just the escape Daisy needs. In the fields and woods surrounding Westworth, she is finally the best, the fastest, the most talented. When a wild, thrill-seeking rides goes horribly wrong she meets Fergus, and realises that perhaps her problems aren’t all that bad.

Because Fergus is the opposite of Daisy. Far from enjoying the attention and popularity that Daisy yearns for, he shrinks from the spotlight, and hopes no one will notice the constant bruises inflicted by the one man who should protect him, and the fear and hurt that he tries to hide behind his cheerful swagger. But Daisy sees through the bravado, and together they escape their respective troubles by show jumping, a shared passion. They start to fall in love while practicing to enter the prestigious Wycombe horse show. Both know that there will be consequences for competing, some worse than others. But unless they take risks, how can they can ever truly be free?