Spotlight On Sunny is out today!

twobooks

It’s the second book in the Reel Friends series, the follow-up to Starring Kitty. Don’t they look gorgeous together?!

Are you brave enough to rewrite the script?

After winning a local film competition, Sunny and her best friends Kitty and Hannah are off to do a film-making course – in London! Sunny can’t believe her dad has let her come on her own (even if he has asked her to phone every day…) Sunny is loving the film-making classes and hanging out with their new friend – lovely, funny Will. Sunny knows that these things don’t fit with the future her parents want for her and she starts to wonder what she really wants. And that’s not even the biggest thing on her mind – there’s also the big secret she’s hiding from her best friends…

You can read the first chapter here and a wonderful first review (that made me cry) on The Overflowing Library, and my editor has written this gorgeous post – 10 Things I Love About Spotlight On Sunny (also made me cry).

Blogaversary (and why I don’t really blog much anymore…)

sesame12I’ve been blogging for twelve years today. Twelve years. I had to double-check when I thought about it this morning because how can it be twelve years? But I know it must be, because I started blogging before I had a book out (and that’s five years this May) and I started blogging before I had any kids (and my oldest is eleven in June) and I started blogging before I started writing professionally (and I’ve been self-employed for ten years in October), but still… twelve years. Blimey.

It seems a bit odd to celebrate it though, because I hardly blog anymore. The type of stuff I used to write on my blog I now mostly put on Facebook. And the rest of the time (pretty much all of the time) I’m just chatting away on Twitter. I’m also on Tumblr a bit (mostly for the Harry Styles gifs, ngl) and I’m loving Instagram.

sunnyI’m also writing, writing, writing. Just not here. The second book in the Reel Friends series, Spotlight on Sunny, is out next month. Counting Stars comes out with Hot Key Books in September. And then there’s another as-yet-unannounced book at the end of the year. And plotting and planning for more more more.

Things have changed a lot in twelve years…

What I read in November

I finally read my friend Sarah Painter’s book The Secrets of Ghosts and I loved it. Romantic, funny and genuinely spooky.

Another book that’s been on my tbr for ages is Dead Romantic by CJ Skuse. I absolutely love CJ’s books, they’re so funny and weird. Much like CJ herself…

I had pre-ordered Amy Poehler’s Yes Please on Kindle, but when friends started receiving their hard copies a few days before publication date, I couldn’t contain myself – I scooted off to an actual shop and bought a hardback copy. And I adored it, as I knew I would. Funny, wise, and kind. I didn’t want it to end. (I cancelled the Kindle order.)

I’ve loved all of Mhairi McFarlane’s books so far and It’s Not Me, It’s You was no exception. It took me longer to get into this one than her other two, but I still really enjoyed it and it has one of the hottest heroes I’ve read for a while.

I’ve wanted to re-read The Swish of the Curtain – one of my childhood favourites – for a while now, but I was worried it wouldn’t be as good as I remembered. It wasn’t actually anything like I remembered, but I really enjoyed it anyway. I’ll definitely be reading more in the series (I don’t remember if I did as a kid).

I wasn’t at all sure about reading Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl. I was annoyed at her comments about there not being any books featuring girls having adventures (check out the YA section, Caitlin, it’ll blow your mind) and the description sounded very much like the same story she’s already told in The Chronicles of Narmo, Raised by Wolves and How to be a Woman. Much of it was pretty familiar, but I didn’t care. I loved it. Sweet and smart and very, very funny.

I probably wouldn’t have read Seven Days by Eve Ainsworth if I hadn’t got to know Eve online – I don’t really like reading about bullying (I know you’re not supposed to like it, but what can I say, I’m a wuss), but I’m so glad I did. It’s a quick read, but an original and powerful one that I think will really resonate with teens.

NaNoWriMoVersary

I wasn’t planning to do NaNoWriMo this year – I’ve got one book to rewrite and another to finish by the end of December – but then I realised that this year marks the tenth anniversary of the first time I took part, which was also the first time I finished a novel. Which led to me writing another novel. Which led to me getting an agent. And a book deal. And being what I am now, a professional writer. (Apparently I’m not professional enough to write that without wanting to add some sort of disclaimer, but I’ve managed to stop myself.) (Sort of.) So, in the spirit of nostalgia, I thought I’d hunt out the first thing I ever wrote about NaNoWriMo, on my (old) blog on 1 November 2004:

squirrel-winner-100.jpg.htmlPosting may be a bit erratic over the next month, now that NaNoWriMo has started. I’m only allowing myself to post on here once I’ve written the day’s NaNo. I’m aiming for 2,000 words per day – it has to be more than 1,666 which is 50,000 (words) divided by 30 (days in November).

You can read it here [not anymore you can’t] or if you click the ‘Chick Lit’ pic [Chick Lit!] or the link over there (assuming I’ve got it to work). The working title is Be My Baby. [This was an adult novel I never managed to get past 50,000 words. Last year I finally reworked it and it was published as an ebook novella by Hot Key Books – All I Want for Christmas under the name Esme Taylor.] Let me know what you think. [You could still do that if you read the novella. I’m really proud of it.]

David’s doing it too and he’s being interviewed by Mark Lawson for Front Row on Radio 4 this afternoon. I think the interview will be going out tonight between 7.15 and 7.45. [David still brags about this.]

So that we can both do it, I have to write in the day (how that’s going to work when I go back to work next week, I don’t know) and he’ll have to write at night. Which means I have to cook tea. Luckily David got the new Jamie Oliver for his birthday and it’s wonderful, so I’ve already planned out this week’s meals (and we’ll get a takeaway on Fridays as a reward!).

Anyway, I managed 1,854 words this morning while Harry was napping (although I forgot he was supposed to be having his jabs today and I missed the appointment – bad mother) [baby Harry!]. Will have to think tonight about what I’m writing tomorrow.

The rest is history. Well, not history. But four published novels (and two novellas) and two more novels coming out next year. (And I don’t cook anymore. That very Jamie book is in the charity shop pile in the corner of my office right now. Sorry, Jamie.)

What I read in October…

I was lucky enough to get to go and see Frank Cottrell Boyce giving the David Fickling Lecture at Oxford’s Story Museum (thanks, Susie!) so I read Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time in preparation. And just like the first book, I loved it. (I’ve got the final book in the series lined up for November). I was also lucky enough to read an advance copy of Frank’s new book, The Astounding Broccoli Boy, and I loved that too.

I’ve been wanting to read Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill for so long. I loved the idea of it and Louise is great on Twitter and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s gripping and chilling and all too real.

I loved Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. A tricky subject gently handled and the character of Grayson is just lovely.

I didn’t know what to expect from Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman, but I absolutely loved it. It’s got one of the best first chapters I’ve ever read and I pretty much inhaled the rest. There were a few bits I would have liked to have been fleshed out a bit more, but I still thought it was utterly brilliant.

I took a while to really get into Wildlife by Fiona Wood, but once I did I was addicted. I didn’t want it to end.

The only adult fiction I read was All Fall Down by one of my favourite authors, Jennifer Weiner. Another difficult subject, beautifully handled and another book that I pretty much inhaled.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham is far from an easy read – I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I finished it – but I really enjoyed it.

I also really enjoyed Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York, particularly the first essay by Rosanne Cash, which just blew me away and made me yearn for a whole other life.

Some exciting news

I’m happy and proud to announce that I’ve been awarded a Grant for the Arts by Arts Council England. The purpose of the grant is to support me in writing my next novel, All Together Now (due out next year), which is, of course, completely brilliant (the support, not the novel) (that’s only ok so far) (although I am really enjoying writing it), but I’m also thrilled to feel like my writing is worth supporting.

I first heard about Arts Council grants about ten years ago when I was first starting to really take my writing seriously. I looked at the form with its questions about ‘artistic development’ and who will ‘benefit’ from your ‘art’ and went “Pfft, god, I don’t know” and decided it was not for me, it was for Proper Artists. So applying was a pretty big step and I really didn’t think I’d be accepted. I sobbed my head off when I got the letter.

So thank you Arts Council England and thank you to lovely Zoe Marriott for all her help and encouragement.

Print

Go for it, dude

Because we’re hoping to move house (*crosses fingers*) I’ve started having a clear-out. And this includes books. Yes, I know. There are so many that we don’t read much anymore, but that I’ve been keeping for sentimental reasons (and not just me – David’s rescued quite a few from the charity bag!) and I needed to find a way to remember them without actually keeping them.

This one is Time To Pee by Mo Willems. Harry loved it, Joe wasn’t so fussed, but this page below absolutely killed Harry. The first time I read ‘Go for it, dude’ on the mouse’s sign, Harry laughed and laughed and laughed. He went bright red in the face, gasped for breath, tears streaming. He said, “Read it again!” And I did, over and over until we were both helpless.

(It barely raised a smile in Joe. Weird.)

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