Books, For Readers, More of Me

When a Review Makes you Cry.

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Someone bought More of Me!

I have had some amazing reviews for More of Me. The Book Bag,  Lovereading4kids, Serendipity Reviews, Guardian Children’s books all rated it highly: one of the book sellers in my local Waterstones is pushing for it to be book of the month. Generally it’s been really well received. There’s been some not great reviews too – one on  a  website I love, Luna’s Little Library.   It smarts a bit, but there you go, not all books/characters appeal to all people. I am so grateful to them,  for not only taking the time to read but also to share their thoughts with others.

 

I say that , but the poor reviews, the “meh” reviews, stick in you like a glass splinter – and for a while, I googled reviews obsessively – even, despite stern advice from other authors, checking out Goodreads ( as a reader I’ve always hung out on GR so it’s hard to let that one go!) I worried endlessly about letting down my publisher, my agent – my family – all the people who have invested in me and my book. My mood could swing up or down depending on what someone had said about More of Me. It was ridiculous. I was ridiculous.

And then I had this message – not a public review but sent directly to me, and perspective was restored:

Picture this, I receive a book for Christmas, called Slash, an autobiography of the greatest man on earth). 457 pages on, it’s the 16th May. I finally finish the book – you could say I am a slow reader, aha! I haven’t read a fiction book in years – biographies of people I love have become the norm. Your book, a gift,  is sitting on my shelf  still unread. I have a choice between More of Me and the Beatles. Out of guilt, I pick your book to read (best decision ever made) and within minutes, I’m hooked. 17th May arrives and I am having a super bad day at school but your book was there to get me through it, I was in it with Teva! In the bus, I’m reading it, ignoring my gut feeling that everyone is looking at me, no one reads these days, it’s not “cool”. I get home and only have a few pages left. What is happening? Am I actually choosing to read a book over playing the guitar or watching something on Netflix?

Your book has brought me back to my childhood of actually wanting to read, it was incredible! I can not thank you enough, your book was amazing, HF Age 15

I am still tearful reading it. Because this is what matters.  Making a difference to one girl, on one day and maybe for a bit longer. This is the ONLY reason to cry at a review. Everything else is petals on the wind.

More of Me is available in all UK bookstores – and if it isn’t, you can ask them for it!

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Books, For Readers, More of Me

Identity – Why Growing Up is So Hard.

 

Nicola Morgan Helps Understand.

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Nicola Morgan

Questions of identity are at the heart of my book More of Me.  Teva,  my main character,  really struggles with growing up and, though her circumstances are unique, she’s absolutely not alone in the way she feels. Growing up is hard.  Since the book came out, I’ve been  touched by the number of people who’ve said how much they identified with Teva – in particular with Fifteen and Teva – whose relationship is like two parts of a whole fighting for dominance and understanding.

It was this question of identity that prompted an amazing young woman to get in touch with me.  She has Dissociative Identity Disorder and she suggested  I ask Nicola Morgan, author of Blame my Brain, The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed,   why she thinks some teenagers, even those from relatively stable backgrounds, find the transition from child to adult so difficult?

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Nicola:

The key is your word “transition” – moving from child to adult is a massive change. Obviously life involves change, but there’s a big difference for teenagers: to get from being a protected, dependent child to an unprotected, independent adult, you have to break away and that can be tough. You have to stop automatically believing a) what the adults around you say and b) that they can protect you. This can lead to big anxieties. But growing your own views is part of becoming independent. How can you have your own views if you always believe everything your adults say?

I call adolescence a perfect storm of change.

Everything is changing: inside you (brains, hormones, feelings, understanding of the world, self-knowledge, empathy) and outside you (school, expectations, responsibilities, fears, friends, exams). Change is exciting but it can also be scary. And even if it’s not scary it is very preoccupying! That means you can make mistakes because part of your mind is occupied by all the changes and how  they are making you feel. How we feel affects how we behave so sometimes it’s harder for teenagers to be in control of words and actions because their thoughts can feel so overwhelming. Everyone, of any age, makes more mistakes when under pressure or preoccupied by worries.

 

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Teen me – a tiny bit full of myself on the outside, absolutely unsure of everything on the inside.

Having what you call a “stable” background isn’t always enough to make this easy. In fact, teenagers from “stable” backgrounds can still have a tough time and many from difficult backgrounds can be really resilient. It’s more complicated than simply who and how your parents are. Teenagers are also affected by the people surrounding them at school – in fact, I’m currently writing The Teenage Guide to Friends, because friendship and peer pressure are such a big deal for teenagers.

 

I also think there are things about modern life, with the internet so dominant, that increase the pressure on teenagers compared with when I was a teenager. Pressure to conform to unreachable ideas of perfection, the risks of social media, digital distraction: all these and more can make life tougher. 

Teva, in More Of Me, I think demonstrates perfectly the changes that happen during adolescence, and how hard it is to leave each change behind. I won’t spoil the ending for others by saying whether or not it’s a book about mental illness, but it’s obvious that it is about a girl who is struggling with the changes in herself. She’s incredibly self-conscious, really watching herself change each year. I think you capture that brilliantly!

I think it’s incredibly important to realise that good mental health doesn’t mean always feeling happy but it does mean not always feeling sad.

Anxiety, fear and sadness are normal, healthy emotions but feeling them so much that your life is being spoiled isn’t OK. If that’s you, talk to a trusted adult: there are so many ways we can help! 

I’m so grateful to Nicola, who believe me is so busy it makes my head explode just thinking about it, in taking the time to write this. If you’re struggling and don’t feel there is a trusted adult you can turn to,  you can contact Childline ( if you’re under 16) or The Site, (if you’re over 16). I promise you, there’s help out there, you are not alone x

PS Nicola Morgan is not only a brain expert, she writes amazing fiction too, Wasted is one of my favourite books of all time.

teenage-guide-to-stress-nicola-morgan-210x335-160x255  nic morg tbrain

 

 

Books, For Readers, More of Me, The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

How Facebook Brings You Readers.

 

Want to know my  action plan on how to be media savvy? How to strategise promotions on social media?

Well, sorry, but you’re in the wrong place. Having people try and sell me stuff makes me want to scream. This is more a  reminder  to be a human. Most humans are great. Let me introduce you to Grace and Erin.

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Two Lovely Readers in One Lovely Bookshop.

 

Grace is the very first reader to email me through my website.    Grace and Erin are best friends and they are both  writers as well as readers.  I think Grace has a lovely, fresh tone to her voice.

This is her email:

 

I am writing to praise you about your book ‘More Of Me’. I found it through Cathy Cassidy’s blog post, as Cathy is one of my favourite authors and has been for years. Just by reading the synopsis I knew it was something I’d fall in love with, and the idea was so inviting I had to buy it! I visited a local store to buy with my best friend, and we even had a picture posted on Twitter of us holding the book!
The people at my local bookshop (Write Blend in Liverpool) had said you were wondering what people would think of the idea, and I felt I had to write to reassure you that your book is a masterpiece! I write myself all of the time, and I want to be an author, and More Of Me wowed me. It’s amazing how you could come up with an idea so out of the ordinary. More Of Me was actually the best written book I think I have ever read, and I mean that. And please bear in mind that I’ve read hundreds of books, ha ha!
I loved the way that throughout the book you tamed the crazy thing that was taking over Teva and managed to make her and her life very relatable, despite her condition. The book was just so beautifully written, the story line was inviting and it had a way of taking me  on the journey Teva was experiencing- I cried and laughed hysterically along with her.
My friend is currently reading the book, as I recommended it to her, and within reading two chapters she’s already vowing that it’s her favourite book!
I just thought I’d write to tell you how amazing I found More Of Me, and that i really hope you continue writing books!

Aside from being touched that Grace had taken the time to write, I was  completely thrilled to hear that she’d enjoyed my book. So much so that she’d passed it on to Erin, who then emailed me too!

I’m Erin – Graces best friend, we bought your book together at write blend. I’m writing to tell you that I’m reading the book at the minute and I’m really really enjoying it ! Me and Grace LOVE Cathy Cassidy and she’d recommended it on her website ! Grace told me about it and I said we’ll have to buy it. So, Me and Grace then planned a trip to write blend to buy your book and ended up on Twitter !!

Grace and I want to be writers when we’re older and you and Cathy Cassidy have certainly inspired us ! Thanks so much Kathryn, I’m excited to see what happens in the end of “more of me” the only bad thing will be finishing it !

Erin’s voice sings with excitement , don’t you think? Definitely two young women with the gift of immediacy in their writing style.  As I was reading their emails, I was  struck by the journey it had taken to get into their hands. From Cathy Cassidy to Write Blend to Grace to Erin…a word of mouth journey that started on…

Facebook.

For that’s where I met Cathy Cassidy who I later met  in real life when she was one of our keynote SCBWI conference speakers.

It’s also where I met Bob Stone, owner of Write Blend, and where Bob and I discovered we went to the same University in North Wales and (obviously ) share a passion for books.

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I didn’t bombard Cathy and Bob with messages requesting they sell my book for me. They’re just nice humans.  We got on. Had nice chats. Shared values. They wanted to help me.

So here’s the best bit of advice I can give you about promoting your book on any social media.

Don’t.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Write the best book you can.

  2. Be visible but not demanding.

  3. Give more than you take.

  4. Be a good human.

That’s it.

That last one  works for other stuff too.

Like  life.

Thank you Grace and Erin and Bob and Cathy and all of you who’ve been so brill along the way.

You’re top humans and I’m proud to be the same species.

 

 

Books, For Readers, More of Me

Wonderful World Book Day!

Things I should be doing:

Writing the last quarter of my new novel (I’m getting there, OK?)

Food shopping ( we’ve got crisps, it’ll be fine)

Working on the edits for the US version of More of Me ( I will, I will)

Things I am actually doing:

Looking at these fab pictures from last week’s World Book Day visits.  Thanks for having me Bishop Luffa School and La Retraite RC Girls School – you were totally fab in every way!

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Lunch time crew and Bishop Luffa!
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Peepee is peaking out from behind the daffodils!
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Recommending some of my favourite new books.

 

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Wonderful Staff at La Retraite!
Books, For Readers, More of Me

How writing YA helped me make sense of my childhood – Scottish Book Trust

Kathryn Evans explains how she was inspired to write her acclaimed debut

Source: How writing YA helped me make sense of my childhood – Scottish Book Trust

Books, For Readers, More of Me

More of Me is OUT NOW

I am in a whirl. What a crazy, crazy week it’s been. My amazing family and friends cleared out two launch events of books. Incredible reviews have been rolling in every day. I’ve been given flowers and chocolates and beautiful hand made More of Me stars (from my editor – we love a bit of Usborne Make & Do!) There was this in the Guardian and…

And then my wonderful agent said…

How’s the next  book coming along?

Aaaargh!!!! So, to work, but here are a few photographs from an amazing week – thanks to Candy Gourlay, Christine Vinall, Susan Robbins, Nancy Hughes, Sophie Boyle and Sarah McIntye for pictures – sorry if I missed anyone!

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Books, For Readers, More of Me

The Hatching of a Rare New Book – Ellen Renner

I love this post from Ellen Renner, it really made me laugh but more than that, I recognise the truths in it and it means so much. Ellen is such a talented writer, she has that rare gift of producing books with a fresh vision but a classic feel . I’m blessed to share a crit group with her and all my other critters. They make so much difference to me an my writing and they’ve all supported More of Me in so many ways: thanks SoftSS, our Lord and Master Nicky Schmidt, Ellen, Jackie Marchant, Jeannie Waudby, Vanessa Harbour, Pat Walsh and Carmel Waldron – so much love for you guys xxx

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To be read-inside-your-head in a hushed, David Attenborough-ish voice:

We’re here tonight to observe the birth of an extraordinary and rare creature: the truly original book. (Pauses for emphasis.) We have been stalking this creature’s mother for years, knowing she was heavily pregnant with story. But the gestation period experienced by Author Originalis is wildly variable, given the harsh conditions of its habitat. Patience was necessary but our observations had indicated that this particular mother is a pretty tough cookie! And all indications are that this rare and beautiful egg will hatch tomorrow, Monday, first of February 2016! It’s party-time folks!

Okay, okay, that last bit was me. But it really is party-time and I’m off to a book launch tomorrow. No ordinary book launch, but the much-talked-about party to celebrate the birth of Kathy Evans’ first book, More of Me.

I’m one of Kathy’s (aka the lovely Mrs…

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Books, For Readers, More of Me

Boy and a Biscuit

I literally love this post on YAShelfies so I am sharing it with you all!

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Books, For Readers, More of Me

Kathryn Evans and Usborne Books Are in A Relationship.

So he's a tiny bit taller than me.
The lovely @PhilipArdagh shared my announcement on his facebook page – and I hadn’t even kidnapped his cat.

If you’re a friend of mine on Facebook or Twitter you may have noticed the buzz surrounding the announcement that my YA novel, More of Me, is to be published by Usborne in 2016. I’m pretty sure the outpouring of congratulations  is because I’ve been on the shelf longer than most.  If it can happen to me, the girl who’s been at it for YEARS, it can happen to anyone.

Anyone who has something to say.

Anyone who gets on and writes the book.

Anyone who takes every knock back on the chin and tries to be better.

Anyone who  works and works at learning this wonderful craft of writing.

For my writer friends, still on the shelf, that’s you.

And one day, this will be you too. Delighted, barely able to believe it, excited, terrified.

When the email  arrived from my wonderful agent, Sophie Hicks, I screamed. Then I cried. Then I rang my husband and breathlessly told him the news.

I kept it quiet for a long time because contracts take a while and I couldn’t really believe it was happening – I didn’t want to jinx it. Then, one day,  a twitter notification popped up, followed by several more – Usborne had sent out the press release , we really were engaged!

For years I’ve wanted an editor in my Christmas stocking, and now I’ve got one, Sarah Stewart, Senior Fiction Editor at Usborne and I’m meeting her for real on Tuesday. She says lovely things like this:

“More of Me quite simply has the most original, compelling and incredible concept I’ve ever come
across

I am all of a flutter.

Hold tight my friends, keep writing, keep learning, your time will come x

PS Shoudl somebody warn the copy editor? There may be overtiem…( I left those in on purpose, honest…)