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The Paper & Hearts Society Writing

Introducing… The Paper & Hearts Society!

The call came as I was waist-deep in books. Literally.

“Are you okay to talk?” my agent, Lauren, asked.

I surveyed the pile of books, taking note of my lack of exit route. “Yes, of course!” After all, I’d read the blog posts and the stories, watched all of the videos about what it means when your agent rings you when your book is out on submission to publishers. My heart began to race.

Then I heard the words offer and pre-empt and, three book deal and, even now, I haven’t fully recovered.

I remained fully professional on the phone but after that, I burst into tears and spent the next week bawling my eyes out at the most mundane things.

Because it was real. I had a book deal. The one dream I’d had since I was small, the one dream I’d had since I finished my book last summer and then got an agent, had come true.



In June 2019, Hodder Children’s Books will be publishing my debut novel, The Paper & Hearts Society. It’s the book of my heart, about a book club, a literary road trip, the highs and lows of friendship, and there’s even a bit of romance too.
And it’s going to be a series! There will be a second book out in 2020, and a third in 2021, and I’m over the moon that I get to stick with my characters (who are all my best friends) for the next few years. I hope you’ll love them just as much as I do!

Hodder are part of the much larger Hachette Children’s Group, who publish so many of my favourite authors, like Cat Clarke and Chris Russell, Juno Dawson and Leigh Bardugo… Need I go on?!

The past few months have been a blur of signing contracts, coming up with a new title and preparing for the reveal, amongst my exams and trying to act as if everything is normal. It’s been very hard keeping this a secret!

I’m so excited to begin working on edits and then I’ve got the mammoth task of writing two more books. I will, of course, be documenting the entire process on my blog and my YouTube channel, and can’t wait to share more details as we get closer to publication next year.

Thank you so much, dear blog readers, for supporting me over the years. I’m so excited to start this next chapter of Queen of Contemporary with my new author hat on, and I of course can’t wait for you all to read The Paper & Hearts Society next year.




Exactly one year ago to the day, I sat down and began writing the first proper draft of my book. I’d written about 20,000 words of a veerryyyy rough draft the summer before, but… that was pretty much all scrapped. I managed to salvage 5,000 words, but that was it. It was, quite honestly, a load of rubbish.

So, back in January 2017, I grabbed a handful of characters who I didn’t know a lot about, a brief plot that didn’t have much substance, and got to work. This time, I was in luck: I got to 40,000 words before I had to put it to the side to tackle my dreaded AS-level exams. Seeing as though I’d written the rough draft back when I was doing my GCSE’s, I definitely don’t make things easy for myself. Something clicked with this draft, though, something that made me happy every time I added words to my manuscript. The characters sprung to life on the page, even off of the page because I couldn’t stop thinking about them; the settings I included became vivider, even more so than when I was writing them in the actual places I feature. Everything finally came together and worked.

I remember sitting in a café in Haworth after visiting the Brontë Parsonage for the first time, right around the time I’d first started writing it back in June 2016, and telling myself, “This is it.” This is going to be the book you finish, finally, after so many false starts. No more 1,000 word openings with nothing else to follow. No more giving up on writing. You’ve got this.

I’d like to think that the spirit of Emily Brontë was looking over me in that moment, because apparently THIS WAS IT. A book I’d finish seven months after starting a proper draft, query nine months later, and the book that ten months later would get me signed with a literary agent better than my wildest dreams. Thanks, Emily.

It’s been a moment of extreme highs and extreme lows (yes, the saying “blood, sweat and tears” quite LITERALLY applies to this book), but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have no idea what the next year will hold for me and my mad group of book lovers but, whatever happens, I will always be incredibly proud of my first ever book and proud of myself for having the motivation and determination to finish it.

If you’re currently writing a book, other than invoking the spirit of a genius author, my advice is, of course: YOU’VE GOT THIS. And may 2018 be an amazing writing year for us all!

I’d love to hear about your 2018 writing projects and goals in the comments below!


16 Facts About My Novel

Back at the end of last year, I made a thread on Twitter about my WIP (“work in progress”) — the novel I’ve been working on for over a year. Since then, I’ve completed two further drafts and am currently working on my last round of edits before I start querying agents, so I wanted to share some updated facts with you today and share the love for my novel!

1. It’s a contemporary YA about a book club, a literary road-trip and friendship.

2. The working title is The Art of Reading Dangerously.

3. The protagonist is called Tabby Brown, which is an unintentional Brontë reference — the Brontës’ servants were called Tabitha Aykroyd and Martha Brown.

4. I got to do lots of research last summer, visiting all of the road trip stops featured. I had an amazing time and all of the photos I took have been brilliant points of reference as I’m writing about the places months later.

5. I was inspired by advice my friend Lauren James gave at an event — I wrote a list of everything I wanted to include in a book beforehand, and the result is this book.

6. When I first started writing the book, the protagonists were older than me. Now, I’m older than them!

7. One of my favourite scenes to write is one where my main character starts her period in a strange place early in the morning. Representation of periods is so important to me because I don’t feel like it’s shown often in YA books (why?!). Plus, two of my characters have a lovely heart-to-heart.

8. I wrote my most recent draft (68,000 words!) in 22 days. Needless to say, I was rather tired afterwards!

9. Sometimes I forget that nobody else knows who my characters are and nobody else knows the story. I just want to talk about them all the time!

10. Nobody can ever gear you up for how hard writing a book is. It’s not just sitting down to write — it requires self-discipline and effort and so much time.

11. Social media and toxic friendships play a big part in it. Could I really write a book without including social media at some point? I doubt it! It’s such a big part of teenagers’ lives now, and my own. It felt natural to include it.

12. At first, one of my characters was a book blogger, but in the end I thought people might think she was too much like me. One day, though, I will actually write a character who stays as a blogger throughout all of the drafts!

13. I’ve discovered so much about myself through writing the book and it’s been on a massive journey with me. When I first started writing it, I had no friends and was starting my life afresh, just as my main character does. As I grew, she grew with me: part of the reason why friendship is so important in the book is because it was what I needed when I was writing it. The characters were my surrogate best friends!

14. I have a tendency to write really horrible parents into my books, and I have no clue why. My parents are the complete opposite: they’re lovely and so supportive. So what’s with the mean fictional parents?!

15. Originally, the book was going to be a standalone, but I’ve already planned out two prequel stories and lots of novellas. I don’t think I’ll ever want to let the characters go!

16. I’m scared about what happens next — sending the book out into the world and hoping it finds a home and that other people will enjoy it. It will cease being solely mine, and the process is very daunting. But I desperately want to see it in bookshops and have other people read it, so I’m also excited.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my book! Lots of you have been asking, especially on Instagram, about when it’s going to be published. The publishing process is long and complicated: first, I have to get an agent; then I’m most likely going to have to do more edits before it can be sold to publishers. But I promise I’m working very hard on it so that one day it can be read!

I’ve also made videos about my writing on my YouTube channel, and am hoping to share lots more about my writing process on there and on my blog too in the next few months.

Have you ever written a novel, or do you write? Share some facts about your current project in the comments below!


Books Are An Immeasurable Pleasure | A Sonnet

As you might have seen, I am currently in my first year of Creative Writing A Level, which I love. It challenges me and pushes me to try out new things, and one of these things back last year was a sonnet. Being the Shakespeare and Sir Philip Sidney nerd I am, I love sonnets. It wasn’t until I attempted to write one myself, however, that I gained an even greater appreciation for those who have written hundreds of them.

Here it is: a sonnet all about books!

Books are an immeasurable pleasure

Books are an immeasurable pleasure

Designed to captivate and cultivate

There’s nothing better to do for leisure

With the intent to ameliorate.

From Shakespeare to Plath and Austen between

A wealth of knowledge stored in pages

Magically allows the reader to glean

Information passed down through the ages.

Yet ponder on Hemingway the sexist

And the millions cut from the canon.

As books are more than a complex lexis,

What was Scott thinking with the Buchanans?

There is the allure of Netflix as well

If you don’t read books, you won’t go to hell.

Have you ever had to write a sonnet? If you had to, what would you choose to write about?

Other Writing

A Life Update | Writing, travelling, baby guinea pigs

Hi, everyone! It seems like it’s been a very long time since I last sat down to write an update post or something a bit more informal and chatty. I thought I should probably catch you up on everything that’s been going on, especially as I have lots of blog posts planned for the next few months.

The blog has been a bit quiet for the past few months. In fact, that’s an optimistic look because it’s been very quiet for the past year. Since finishing my GCSE’s in the summer, I’m now doing my A Levels at college – English Literature, Creative Writing and Sociology. I love college more than I ever expected; it’s completely changed my life.

The other draining thing that’s been taking up lots of my time is the novel I’m working on. I started my second draft in January and am currently 15,000 words in. I’ve set a self-imposed deadline of finishing this draft by the end of May, but with my AS exams I don’t know if that will be entirely possible. I’m going to try and get as close as possible though!

Here’s a sneak peek at a scene from the first chapter for you:

I adore my characters – they feel like my best friends and are so much fun to write. For those of you who don’t know, the book is a YA contemporary road-trip novel about friendship, books and figuring out who you are when your entire life has been thrown upside down. It is my favourite thing ever.

Another very good thing to happen is this little ball of joy who was born last week. I LOVE HIM. His name is Engelbert because we have a theme of ‘bert’ names going on – his grandfather is called Bertie and his father is called Gumbert (don’t ask). As you can probably guess, baby guinea pigs are extremely distracting when they look that cute.

I also went up to Waterstones Birmingham recently to see the Love and Fandom panel with Lauren James, Maggie Harcourt and Miranda Dickinson. I had such a lovely time and got to spend time with my amazing friend Lauren before the event. It was so nice to sit down and chat about writing, books and, of course, guinea pigs.

It was my first time travelling alone to a place I hardly know at all, so I was extremely proud afterwards. It shows how far I’ve come with my mental health and I still can’t quite believe I did it. It’s definitely given me the confidence to travel more in the future!

Current favourites:


  • Running #ukyachat every Friday at 8pm! I sit down every Friday evening to meet up with my amazing online friends, who always amaze me with their sensitivity, insight and opinions on a range of different subjects. Getting to host the chat every week is one of the greatest pleasures, and I love it!
  • I’m loving the new series of Call the Midwife at the moment. It’s so obvious that the writers and producers are women – they create beautiful stories that are at the heart of women’s lives, and it never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Seriously, you need to watch this if you haven’t already!
  • Netgalley. For those of you who don’t know, Netgalley is a sight where bloggers and book industry people can request to review books and I am OBSESSED. I check it every day without fail and can’t help but click the ‘request’ button when I see something I like the look of. I really do need to have a big marathon read soon of all the books I’ve been accepted to review! It’s also a habit I need to break… I can’t keep requesting all of these books!!

What have you been up to lately, bookish or otherwise? What are your current favourites?




A Tour of my Writing Desk

When Virginia Woolf said “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write“, I am sure she meant to include a writing desk in that sentence too.

I work best in clutter – I like big piles of books, paper strewn everywhere and disorder. Tidying and cleaning are my worst enemies, so you know something’s up when I decide to do either — or both — of these things. I did, however, recently go through my desk and clear it of all rubbish, so I thought I would show you the place where lots of the magic happens.

My book towers are amongst my favourite things in the world. I pile them as high up as I can without the risk of them toppling, and every time I want a book from the middle or bottom, I get to play a game of Book Jenga. My Penguin English Library collection, centre of stage on my desktop, is a thing of awe – I’ve been building my collection for ages, and am now a bit worried that I won’t be able to fit any more on without it falling down. I’m sure I’ll work out a solution though because I can’t resist them!

On either side of my Penguin English Library stack sit two parts that make up a very huge and ever-growing to-be-read pile. There’s no real order to it, except I try to group authors together, and they probably aren’t books I’ll read immediately either, but I like displaying them anyway, because I like to keep my read and unread books separate.

I love to display cards and postcards I’ve been sent. The card on the left is a lovely one sent to me by Anna McKerrow, one of my favourite authors, and it’s a lovely reminder of how much I love her books, plus I love receiving letters and cards in the post.

The postcard on the right is one that I bought when I visited the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth back in the summer. The Brontë’s are my favourite authors, my inspirations, so this picture of their writing table motivates me to keep going. There’s also a scene in the book I’m working on that is set there, so it keeps me on track too!

Another card here from my lovely friend Lauren James (please go and read her books if you haven’t already!). Lauren always sends the best cards so I end up rotating them all on and off my desk. Handwritten correspondence really is the best!

To the left, I have a few bookish mugs where I keep lots of random bits and pieces. The front one contains all of my SD cards that I use for filming videos and taking pictures, but ultimately I forget to use it and they end up littered all over the house, usually tucked down the sofa or gathering dust in a forgotten corner.
Behind, I have the mug where I keep all of my bookmarks. Most are from Wordery, who send them with every book you buy (so, yes, there are LOTS of them. More than I like to think about!), but I have a few that I’ve picked up from other places too. I need lots of bookmarks or I start using other objects, like receipts and sometimes even my phone…

The main drawer can basically be summed up as: NOTEBOOKS. NOTEPADS. MORE CARDS. MORE NOTEBOOKS. I like my stationery, okay? I own way too many notebooks – many half-filled, many others with only one hastily scribbled page filled up. I have a diary (it’s very secret, shhhh) that I use to write all my thoughts down before I write – I find it really useful to get rid of all of my emotional rubbish before I start writing about totally different characters.

My favourite thing by far is writing late at night with only a tiny light, my laptop backlight and my fairy lights to see by. It’s cosy, I can tuck myself away, and it feels like I have my own writing cave. I get most of my writing done at night – it’s the time I work the best, for some reason. I can spend all day writing and get minimal work done, but then it passes 10pm and suddenly I get a rush of creative energy. I love it!

Do you have a place where you like to write or get work done? Tweet me pictures @LucyTheReader or tell me in the comments!


Writing Validation & “Not Being Good Enough”


I’ve reached to a stand-still whilst working on my manuscript at the moment. I didn’t realise fully, until now, how solitary writing can be, how it’s just me typing away at my laptop – I’m the only one writing the words, developing them in my brain to put onto paper. These collected thoughts add up to create a greater picture – a story – that I hope one day people will read, but for now it’s just me. For the first draft, it is my thoughts alone that craft the world.

In the digital age we are in, it’s easier to rope other people in that can make us feel like this solitary environment isn’t so lonely after all. We can tweet about our word counts (usually when they’re high, but sometimes when they’re low), we can call on people for motivation. I don’t like to think I need the validation, to rely on other people to make me feel good about my writing even if they’re not actually reading the words I’ve written, but lately I’ve been forgetting the enjoyment of writing and doing it to one-up myself and then tweeting about it to prove my point.

I love social media but I’ve realised that the numbers game (the striving for more followers, a bigger reach, etc.) has walked over to my writing and taken over big time. Instead of writing a scene because I want to, because I’ll enjoy getting it written, I’ve been thinking about it in terms of numbers – how many words will this add today, how fast can I write it? It’s blurring the lines between writing because I’m passionate about it and writing because I feel like I have to do it. 

I’ve also currently been finding company in other books. I can simultaneously avoid working on my novel and try to glean writing advice from within the pages of timeless classics, but I have discovered that this has the potential to be harmful to my productivity and self-esteem. You see, I’ve come to realise that I can read as much Virginia Woolf as I want but I’ll never write like Virginia Woolf because I am not Virginia Woolf. I find her stream of consciousness so beautiful and lyrical but comparing my writing to her writing in the process will not help anyone – if I tried to replicate it, it would be just that: a replica of Virginia Woolf’s writing.

I sometimes wonder if I didn’t occupy this corner of the Internet, if I didn’t keep up with this blog and involve myself in the writing community, if I would still write. It’s the demon lurking in the depths of my head – “You wouldn’t be doing this if you didn’t know other writers.”

So I try to remind myself now – I have always loved writing. I take comfort in leaking words out through my typing fingers and making sense of them once they’re in front of me. Writing to me is like breathing; I can’t live without writing, just like I can’t live without breathing.

Here is my advice to myself: Write because you love it, because if you don’t you’ll go insane with the words building up in your head. Write for YOU – anyone else is a bonus.


My Writing Recipe


Something absolutely incredible happened last night: I reached 10,000 words on the novel that I’m currently working on. It might not seem like a huge deal and I still have a long way to go – and it’s just my first draft! – but I couldn’t be more proud.

If you read my previous writing post, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling to pass 2,000 words on any of the projects I’ve been working on, so after a big writing kick on Sunday with the help of some of my lovely friends on Twitter (extra big thanks to Sally!), I pushed past the 2K barrier and wrote 3,500 words in a single day. I don’t think that’s ever happened before!

There were a few things that contributed to this, which I’ve decided to call my Writing Recipe!


I’ve always had a rough idea of plot, but never taken the time to sit down and actually write a step-by-step plot outline, with character details and a basic idea of what the final scene will look like. Now that I’ve got one it’s so easy to see the direction I’m heading in and my character arcs. I wish I’d started outlining sooner!

Two: Determination and Motivation

I had to give myself a serious pep talk by telling myself that I CAN DO THIS. It’s okay wanting to write, but wanting and actually doing are two entirely different things when you’re facing a blank word document.

I’m constantly setting myself new targets and working with my project, rather than fighting against it. I know I can’t write 3,000 words every day, but I can still try to write as much as I possibly can. Being prepared to rework targets is always a good skill to have when it comes to writing!

Three: Write in short bursts

I’ve been setting myself challenges of writing for 15 or 20 minutes at a time, which seems to have worked. This has worked best when I’m beginning a new chapter or scene so that I can initially splurge all the words down, but as I progress through a scene I try to spend more time on crafting the scene in my head to try to follow a general direction. I’ve tried to work in bursts of half an hours but I spend too much time procrastinating when I do this. All the baby steps add up!

Four: Writing partners!

On Sunday morning, my friend Sally and I started a hashtag on Twitter called #SundayWritealong where we held writing sprints and it was so much fun to work with other people – having other people as motivators can really help because you can feel as if you’re working towards something more… and my competitive streak comes out too!

Five: I really, really, really love this project.

I initially wrote a list of everything I wanted to include in a novel and tried to incorporate all of them into this project… which has meant that I basically get to write all day about books!

I’m also super in love with my characters, especially two of my secondary characters who are lots of fun to write. I’m especially looking forward to the parts later on when I can mess them up and set them against each other. Mwahahaha! 😉


I’m researching as I go along, but research for this project is especially fun because it has meant actually going to the settings and getting to walk around, seeing the places as my characters would. I’ll have a few more blog posts on this coming up in the next few weeks!

I’m planning on doing Camp NaNoWriMo in July, which I am incredibly excited for. I’m aiming to write 35,000 words during the month as I’d like to finish my first draft by the end of the summer, but it would be nice to reach the full target of 50,000 – just to see if I can do it! I’ve never won NaNoWriMo before so it will be a challenge but I am ready to BRING IT.

How do you write best? Share your advice with me in the comments!