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?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Teen Cliches - Top Five That Are Actually True

Seeing as it's May and a very important (and terrible) month in most 17/18-yr-olds' lives - final exams month - I figured what better way to commemorate it than a blog post about being a teen. And by that, I mean the cliches that are not just tired cliches, but very much real life. As an 18-yr-old still in school, I can vouch for this.

So if you're writing a YA novel, and you have a whacking great big cliche, don't worry that much - so long as your mean girl has motives, desires, personality, weaknesses etc - aka she's a 3-D character - you'll be okay.

Oh, and another thing - anyone who hasn't clicked the magical 'follow' button up the top of the page, please click it - you get three wishes! (okay, I'm lying, but I really want to hit the 50 followers mark, so clicky the linky, folks).


Some argue it's not a cliche, but rest assured, every teen TV show has done it, and quite a few books as well. Thing is, it happens. And not just to people who have a new boyfriend every night - to the braniacs who revise more than they eat.


On TV, they wear oversized glasses (geek without the chic), mismatched patterns, they have serious orthodontia issues, and are socially awkward to the extreme. In real life, it's not quite as extreme, but they definitely exist. Heck, I was one for years (without the braces). Which brings me to their archetype...

CLICHE NO. 3 - THE LOVE TRIANGLE (I forgot this, but thanks to Kyra for reminding me!)

One of the most disliked and often tedious aspects of YA fiction (particularly paranormal), the love tringle is a big fat cliche. BUT it does happen. What about the girl who's liked the same boy for ages, but he's going out with someone else, so she agrees to go to prom with the other boy she likes. But then the original boy dumps his girl and asks girl 1 out. Cliched, but I know people who this has happened to. And polyandry isn't legal in the UK just yet, so it's a teensy problem...


You knew the mean girls picture had a reason. These girls do exist, 100 per cent. They've got a rich boyfriend at uni, flawless skin, and a following of girls who hate them but worship them. In my book THE BRIGHTEST FELL, I very much enjoyed writing my own mean girl (and boys), from their points of view. And it's a hard life, so don't wish you were them.


I've cheated and put 3 in, but there is a big cliche that any teachers worth mentioning are hot/evil/awesome. That isn't totally true, but they're the ones all teens will remember/have strong feelings about, and every school has them. First, the evil cow who radiates hate for her students. The woman who took up teaching because she didn't have good enough people skills for anything else. Or the mysogynistic male teacher who's a total sleaze. Next, the teacher who lets the class chat, makes lessons fun, and always hands out chocolates at christmas. Rarer, admittedly, but these mythical creatures still exist. And then there's the teachers who are so hot that the school jocks and male model-alikes/hot mean girls hate them with a passion. The teacher that looks like Alex Pettyfer/Zac Efron/Megan Fox/Rihanna. Yes, you know the one.

So there're my cliches. Do you agree? and do you have any true cliches to add?

Oh, and please click follow *smiles hopefully*