Browsing Category

Guest Post

Guest Post Uncategorized

Embracing My Inner Geek (15) – Les Miserables by Eileen Li

Embracing my Inner Geek

Embracing My Inner Geek is a feature created by me in the hope to show you all the geeky side of me. 

I’d like you all to welcome Eileen to the blog today! Eileen is one of my best blogging buddies and I love her blog to pieces. She’s one of the funniest people I know and I really hope you enjoy her geek out over Les Miserables today!

HELLO PEOPLE OF LUCY’S BLOG! Okay, so Lucy invited me to her blog to talk about something of utmost importance: Les Misérables. Yes. The longest running Broadway production, coming back onto Broadway March 2014. It’s also my future workplace, of course. You’re looking at the future Eponine of Les Mis. Exactly.

 But that’s not why I’m here, to wax poetic about how I’m going to be apart of the production one day. I am here to regal you all with the amazingness of Les Misérables. (Honestly, I’m kind of offended that my word processor doesn’t recognize “Misérables” as a word, because it is SO obviously a word. Also, Eponine isn’t a word, which annoys me so much. Luckily, I have just added it to my dictionary, so there is nothing to fear!

 Ah, getting off track. I love Les Misérables for two very important reasons.

 One: the music.

 I could go on and on and on about the music, because the songs are so poetic and emotional, and each singer who does a rendition makes it so personal and special. My favorite songs include On My Own (which is one of my favorite songs in general) but I also love I Dreamed a Dream, A Little Fall of Rain, and Do You Hear the People Sing? The tune is so perfect and I love how each song builds upon each other and has an obvious progression, and each song helps capture the emotions so well. Les Mis is an opera, which means that there is no dialogue and only singing, so it makes the production really fantastical, but it also works because for each sad moment, the song that’s currently happening makes the entire thing realistic. It isn’t a cheesy opera; it’s so much more.

 Two: the emotion.

 I can cry and cry every time I watch the movie, and the Broadway production is supposed to be even more beautiful and amazing, and I’m making it my goal to go see Les Misérables when it does come back on Broadway. The actors deliver so well and ugh it’s unbelievable how fantastic they are at making something to beautiful and wonderful. Brb sobbing all over again just thinking about the movie.

 I guess that’s all I can really say about Les Misérables. You MUST watch it, or read the book, and you have to cry. If you don’t cry, I don’t think I can be friends with you anymore.

Thanks for having me, Lucy!

Find Eileen: Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Do you like Les Miserables? Are you going to read/watch it after reading Eileen’s post? Let us know below! 

Blog Tour Guest Post UKYA Uncategorized

UKYA BLOG TOUR: Guest post from Alexia Casale, author of The Bone Dragon


I’m very pleased to welcome the lovely Alexia Casale to the blog today. Alexia wrote The Bone Dragon which I adored and she has written a guest post for me to share today. Enjoy!

Picking which book to write

Most people have hundreds if not thousands of daydreams every day. Some you enjoy once and never return to. Some keep coming back again and again. I suspect that this is how most books start: with a daydream that just won’t let go. One that you return to so often that it gradually expands and develops into a whole world.

I’ve got lots of recurring daydreams. Some are single-scenes, while other have long and complicated storylines. Some are no more than individual incidents or images. Some are to do with more abstract ideas and still others are about relationships.

Often when a daydream recurs to the point that it becomes a potential book idea, I’ll find that the characters have shifted a little, the nature of what they’re after has become more defined and the story has grown far more convincing. These are the daydreams that I spend the most time on, trying to work out what core element or elements make the daydream worth all that time and effort. As I start to understand why I love the daydream, I start discarding minor elements that don’t support the core of the story.

When one of these daydreams finally feels complete, it’s either time to reject it as a potential book… or to start working to get it down on paper. In terms of which to do, the first thing I consider is whether the story and the people in it will appeal to anyone but me. Some daydreams are ways of working out things in our own lives, and not all of those are going to be meaningful or interesting to any other person on the planet.

If an idea isn’t too much about my own life and my own needs, then I start to ask myself if the story is big enough, exciting enough… not just for readers to like it but for me to spend hundreds if not thousands of hours on it.16116963

And finally I ask myself ‘is it ready’? I often get lost when I start writing too early: when I haven’t given the idea long enough to ‘marinate’ in my head. Can I really explain in a few sentences what the heart of the book is? Can I clearly and succinctly describe how the plot works? Do I understand why all the things in the book happen? Is some of it all a bit foggy and vague or do I know how every part connects to every other part? Am I attached to scenes without knowing why? If I can’t answer any of those questions in a satisfactory way, the idea probably needs longer in my head before I start putting words down on paper because otherwise I may end up with a lot of material I care about but shouldn’t use if I want to write the best book possible.

Anyway, this is the point where an idea becomes a serious prospect as a book. Before I know for sure, I have to polish the idea up, shape the corners, work out what happens in the gaps between bits of the story… As I work on these things, it starts to become clear if the idea will actually work on paper.

At the moment I’m having fun with idea development and considering all sorts of projects – many of which I will probably end up writing eventually as they’ve already stood the test of time floating around my imagination. But the question right now is ‘What is Book 3 going to be?’ And I sort of know, though I haven’t made a final, firm decision.

It’s the idea that’s felt ready for a while: the one I’m confident about because I can spell out why I’m writing it, how it works, what the high points are, where the fun is… There are still gaps and issues but I already *know* that none of them are insurmountable: there is enough already in place to write a book I believe will be worth reading. Above all, it’s the book that’s been waiting to be written: the one that has had its hand in the air for a while.

The feeling that this idea has been ‘waiting’ is something I can actually put my finger on because it’s measurable in the way I daydream: this daydream is the one that’s there before all the others whenever I let my mind roam. The rest are ‘on and off’ dreams: I keep abandoning them when I get to a tricky point I haven’t worked out yet. And that tells me they’re not ready, partly because they’re not developed enough but mostly because I’m not committed enough to figuring out those tricky bits… yet. When that starts to change – when I stick at a new idea long enough to work out the problems – I’ll know that idea is inching to the front of the queue.

So if you’re not sure which idea you should turn into a book, start looking at your daydreams. If there isn’t one dream that features more than all the others, one you get being pulled back to, maybe the ideas you have aren’t ready yet. That said, sometimes you have to *make* ideas ready by sitting down and hammering out the tricky bits of your plot, fixing up the plot-holes and working out how to make it all believable. This means sticking with an idea, pursuing it, hounding it until you corner it and can force it to make itself clear… or you realise that, instead of gaining on it, it’s escaping from you. But you won’t know if it’s one you need to let get away until you’ve chased it with a reasonable degree of commitment.

At the end of the day, you have to passionate about a book to have a good shot at writing it well. You’ll hate it so violently and so often before you’re done that unless there’s a lot of love underneath you won’t end up finishing. So never write a book purely because you think it will hit a trend or because you think ‘it’s the right book for X stage in my career’: write the book you care about.

Think about it like a romantic relationship. You can have great chemistry but if you never bother to get to know each other, the relationship will fizzle out… So it is with a great idea that stays vague and formless: good for the odd date/daydream but not for a marriage/book. Alternatively, you might feel that an idea is a good prospect, if boring: if you press ahead, you may end up with part of a book or even a whole book, but the chances that it’ll be really good aren’t great. OR… chemistry can be accompanied by an interest in getting to know each other, little by little, more and more until you know enough to take a leap… provided the chemistry is still there of course.

There is always a leap and it’s important to feel a real drive to take it, otherwise you’re unlikely to make it to the other side of the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours needed to write a novel. So check your chemistry and your understanding of your book idea before you commit to it, but remember that both need work to develop in the first place.

In other words, go forth and daydream. A lot.

About The Bone Dragon:  Evie’s shattered ribs have been a secret for the last four years. Now she has found the strength to tell her adoptive parents, and the physical traces of her past are fixed – the only remaining signs a scar on her side and a fragment of bone taken home from the hospital, which her uncle Ben helps her to carve into a dragon as a sign of her strength.
Soon this ivory talisman begins to come to life at night, offering wisdom and encouragement in roaming dreams of smoke and moonlight that come to feel ever more real.
As Evie grows stronger there remains one problem her new parents can’t fix for her: a revenge that must be taken. And it seems that the Dragon is the one to take it.
This subtly unsettling novel is told from the viewpoint of a fourteen-year-old girl damaged by a past she can’t talk about, in a hypnotic narrative that, while giving increasing insight, also becomes increasingly unreliable.
A blend of psychological thriller and fairytale, The Bone Dragon explores the fragile boundaries between real life and fantasy, and the darkest corners of the human mind.

Guest Post UKYA

Emma Pass on the Settings in ACID


I’m very happy to welcome Emma Pass to the blog today! Emma is the author of ACID which is out in the UK  and Spain now and will be out in the US in 2014. ACID is one of my all time favourite books and I can’t stop recommending it. Today Emma is here to talk about the settings in ACID.

2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.

The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.


It’s the UK, Jim, but not as we know it!

 Deciding to set ACID in the UK was a no-brainer for me. I was born here, and have lived here all my life. Although the majority of dystopian novels around at the moment are set in the US, I wanted to explore what life might be like under a totalitarian regime right here in The UK (known in ACID as the Independent Republic of Britain or IRB). Here are just a few of the places in the novel…


The London of 2113 is a very different place to the London of 2013. Although it is still the IRB’s capital city, it has been divided into three zones – Upper, Middle and Outer.

If you’ve been chosen to live in Upper, you’re one of the lucky ones. ACID (AKA the Agency for Crime Investigation and Defence, the sinister police force who rule the IRB) decide everything about everyone’s lives: where you live, where you work, even who you marry. But even though they have to live by ACID’s rules just like everyone else, the occupants of Upper are the IRB’s elite, living in luxurious apartments with an unlimited supply of food and entertainment. They have the best jobs, the best clothes, the latest technology and the highest standard of education. They can drive cars and travel freely.

The inhabitants of Middle London, which is separated from Upper by an invisible electric fence to stop anyone trying to get through without permission, have a lower standard of living. Although comfortable, they aren’t afforded the luxuries people in Upper take for granted. Their houses are smaller and facilities more basic. They aren’t allowed cars, so they use the Magtrams – Maglev trams which are now the only form of public transport in London.

In Outer, which is separated from Middle by the Fence, a giant steel wall, life is tough. Here, food is rationed and often, all that’s available is Sub – Substitute food, made from synthetic protein in a lab. Outer’s citizens are more tightly controlled than in Middle or Upper, too – they have to keep to a curfew and are required to watch their news screens, a screen in every dwelling constantly broadcasting ACID reports, for several hours a day, or risk arrest. Crime is rife, despite ACID’s constant observation, and poverty is widespread. The buildings are run down and overcrowded.


Mileway Prison

A giant ‘super-prison’, built to house thousands of prisoners. If you Google ‘American Supermax prison’ you’ll get an idea of what this place is like… only, it’s worse. Mileway is where ACID’s heroine, Jenna Strong, is sent after being accused by ACID of her parents’ murder, and as the only female inmate, she has to toughen up fast.


Clearford and Clearford Library

Outside London, life is even harder. The capital has been made into a ‘model’ city while the rest of the country has been allowed to fall into poverty and disrepair. Clearford is an fictional town, but is typical of the sort of places that exist outside London in 2113. On every corner is a news screen, spewing ACID propaganda, while spotters – remote, mobile cameras – keep watch over everything and everybody.

Clearford has the last library left in the whole of the IRB, although libraries have all been shut down so ACID can control what people read (via eFics, a type of ebook). It shouldn’t be there at all, but money ran out before the town council could demolish it. Jenna stumbles across it when she’s on the run from ACID, and soon discovers it isn’t as empty as it first appears…



About Emma Pass

Emma & The Hound 2Emma Pass has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. Her debut novel, ACID, is out now from Corgi/Random House, and THE FEARLESS will follow on 3rd April 2014. By day, she works as a library assistant and lives with her husband and dog in the North East Midlands.


Website | Blog | Goodreads | FacebookTwitter

Guest Post

Embracing My Inner Geek (14)- Something to Fight For

Embracing my Inner Geek
I’m so pleased to welcome Arianne to the blog today. Arianne is such a lovely person and I love the post she’s written today. It’s one of the best guest posts I think I’ve ever posted on the blog. Thank you, Arianne! 

This is a difficult post for me to write.

A few months back, I discovered that history was to be scrapped from my school’s curriculum for the remainder of my secondary school life. We were to be stripped of the subject without so much as an apology, and as a student who had been set on taking history for a number of years yet, it came as a bit of a blow to my confidence.

I felt betrayed by the teachers and school board members who, just a couple of weeks earlier, had celebrated our win at one of the region’s biggest academic competitions with a history project that had taken us almost a term to prepare. The project was extensive, exhaustive even, but I actually really enjoyed working on it. For the most part my school is great, it really is, full of supportive people and staff, so for that reason I won’t reveal details of the competition’s prize fund. What I will say is that we were shocked when we heard the history department would be seeing none of the prize money. Not a penny. Of course, we quickly learned why.

I’ve always been good at history, but had never before considered the fact that I might love it so much as to be deserving of the label history geek. I’d always felt relief entering a history classroom after a bad day in maths or a particularly mind-bending set of equations in compulsory physics, but when I realized I really loved it as a subject, I couldn’t stand the idea of seeing it taken away. I chose to do what we as people – and as geeks – do best: I fought to save the thing I loved. I fought to keep history on my school’s curriculum, and I won.

I wish I could say it was a team effort, that other students rallied to voice their dissatisfaction with the way the matter was being handled. They didn’t. I do not live in an American high school movie where everyone comes together to save the day.

What I did have was the support of some close friends, family and a few teachers who were willing to back one girl’s academic dream. I had found something I could really fight for, no matter how inconsequential that fight might seem to others, and that changed me.

And maybe, even having won, it still won’t make a difference. Not to other people, not to the decision the school will have to make next year when the time to make budget cuts and schedule classes rolls around again. But if it does, if it makes me a more dedicated, enthusiastic, hard-working person, if it means I will have the courage to continue standing up for my beliefs, then I’ll be glad I did it. If it makes me even more of a geek than I already knew I was, then I’ll be even happier. Geek is a label I’m proud to wear.

We are not just geeks. We are not people who subscribe to one way of living or one way of being. We are diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-cultured. We are smart, focused, funny, intense, infuriating, individual, stunning. We are daring, we are brave, we are defiant. We are many.

We are human beings, and we have a right to not be judged, to suffer in any way just because we fit into some kind of bizarre social category someone came up with when there was no other place to put us.

We are so many different things they had to invent a label for us, people.

How could you not be proud of something like that?

I recently found out that some other students have come forward to sign up for the 90 minutes of history class we managed to secure. Maybe they just didn’t have the courage to do anything before; maybe they’re geeks in disguise. Maybe they’ll hate me for adding to the heavy workload which will invariably follow as September rolls around. I don’t know.

I do know that I used to be afraid of admitting that I love to learn, that I love history and books (and horses) beyond all imagining, but I’m not afraid anymore. I chose to fight for something despite the fact that it would prove beyond all reasonable doubt that I am a geek and always have been, because to me, being called a geek feels like a privilege. A wonderful, ironic, beautiful privilege, because it makes me part of one of the most strongly bonded communities on the planet, and that goes against everything the geek stereotype tells us to be.

If I hadn’t been a geek, I wouldn’t have had my first experience of being the change you want to see in the world. The change I fought for is a small one – but it makes me think that maybe I could fight for bigger things, too.

If, in my future, I can be a force for good, or just part of a force for good, if I can help a person who was sad yesterday be happy tomorrow, then I will have lived my life in a way that makes me marginally worthy of the geek label.

Some of the most brilliant people on earth are geeks. Michelle and Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates – you’ve heard it all before. There are people in history who would definitely be geeks if they were alive today. Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and pioneer of early computer technology? A total geek. Mary Shelley, creator of one of the most legendary monsters known to fiction? She wrote Frankenstein while on a holiday that would so entirely count as a writer’s retreat today that aspiring authors would be lining up to just absorb some of its inspirational geekiness.

All of these geeks have something in common: they found something they believed in – jobs, ambitions, books, ideas – and they fought for it, worked for it.

We are geeks. We are strong. We are passionate. We are beautiful people, and we are worth so much more than the definition a single label can give us.

I’ve always been a geek. I’ve suffered for it and lost hope because of it. A couple of years ago, I came to terms with the fact that I am a geek and probably couldn’t change that even if I wanted to, but this year was the first time I used my geekhood to make a change in my world. It was the most nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing thing I’ve ever done, and now I know who I really am. I’m proud of who I am.

So if you’re a geek, if you feel like you don’t fit in, if you’re feeling lost even when you’re in the middle of a crowd, don’t worry. You just haven’t found your something to fight for yet.
Guest Post

Embracing My Inner Geek (13)- I was a Gameboy Addict…

Embracing my Inner Geek

 Today I am very pleased to welcome Eleanor Wood to the blog. Eleanor is the author of Gemini Rising which I have yet to have read but I hear it is absolutely brilliant. I’d love for you to give her a warm welcome to Queen of Contemporary! 

They say you never forget how to ride a bike.  It’s probably true, as long as you can ride one to begin with.

 Some girls probably have muscle memory for playing hockey or riding a horse, or maybe even a dance routine from a long-forgotten music video.

Turns out, I have muscle memory for Super Mario Land.  My boyfriend trawled eBay and bought me an original Nintendo Gameboy for my last birthday – you know the one: grey plastic, big and boxy, that little ‘da-ding’ when you switch it on that transports you straight back to 1991.  Little did he know that this might not be The Best Idea Ever…

In 1991, I turned 10.  For my birthday, I received a Gameboy.  I had been pining after one for ages; I’d go round to my schoolfriend’s house and endure watching her play on hers for hours, awaiting my short-lived turn before ‘game over’ flashed up on the screen like a doomy metaphor in green pixels and she snatched it back.  I never had the chance to practise enough to get good.  Now I had one of my very own – plus Tetris and Super Mario Land.

So, I practised.  It was all I did.  I played and played and played, until I was dreaming in Tetris blocks and Mario mushrooms.  When I went round to my friend’s house, now we would sit in silence for hours as we both played on our own Gameboys – I was so happy, both to have a console of my own and not to have to speak to her.  I didn’t actually like her much.

That summer, we went to our house in France for the holidays.  One night when I was in bed, my dad picked up the Gameboy.  He started playing Tetris, and there he still was – bleary-eyed, hunched over and sore-thumbed – when I woke up in the morning.  I spent the rest of the summer fighting with him for my beloved Gameboy, giving him tips and having competitions (I always beat him).

 Luckily, he worked in Hong Kong at that time and bought another Gameboy for himself – he would come back home with new games (’32 in 1’, with Tennis and Dr Mario and only about half of the games on it in Chinese!), or a two-player connection cable.  I know they tell the children not to blame themselves in a divorce, but I’m pretty sure that my Gameboy was to blame when my parents split up a year later.  (Kidding.)  (Kind of.)  (Not really.)

 Fast-forward 21 years and I open a Gameboy for my birthday once again.  Bafflingly, I can’t for the life of me remember what happened to the original one.

The ‘da-ding’ sounds reassuringly as ‘Nintendo’ scrolls, slowly down the screen and my childhood flashes before my eyes.  Super Mario Land begins – I jump on that mushroom, avoid the turtle-bomb, immediately remember the pipe that leads to a whole secret world and an extra life.  My thumbs have a mind – or a memory – of their own.  They don’t even need me.  They remember every single move.

 I complete the whole game in one go without losing a life, while my boyfriend watches and is slightly scared.  Then I switch to Tetris and score 180 lines – not terrible, but I’m clearly rusty; at my peak, I only ever once broke 200, but would always score in the high 190s.

 I’ve always had a problem with knowing when to stop.  All over again, I find myself seeing Tetris blocks behind my eyelids when I try to go to sleep; sometimes – on the bus, or mid-conversation – my thumbs will move of their own accord to catch them.

 A few weeks into My Obsession 0.2, I happen to watch the documentary film The King of Kong.  If you have seen it, then you will know it is brilliant.  If you haven’t, all you need to know is that it’s an action-packed and emotional human drama about, um, grown adults trying to break world records at 1980s computer games.  Either way, you know what’s coming…

 Maybe, I thought – just maybe, I could beat the world record at Tetris.  Finally, all those wasted hours might mean something.  So, I started investigating.  Do you know what the world record for Tetris is?  Do you?  It’s 327 lines.

 I remembered then why I forgot about my Gameboy the first time around.  It became Just Too Easy.  So, when I was 12, I got a Sega Megadrive and switched to Sonic and Tails.  This time, I’ve put it down because it seems too hard – 327 lines of impossibility.

 At both ends of the spectrum, I limit myself now.  I let myself play occasionally; I try not to get carried away because otherwise I would never eat or sleep or get any books written – but sometimes, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, it’s fun to complete Super Mario Land just once more.  When I go and visit my dad, he still has his Gameboy – Tetris loaded up, sitting by the loo.  Neither of us has broken 200 lines again, but we’re both still trying.  Secretly.


Eleanor’s Twitter | Website | Facebook

Guest Post Uncategorized

Embracing My Inner Geek (12)- Guest post from Sarah Benwell on World Building

Embracing my Inner Geek


Today I’m very pleased to share with you an Embracing My Inner Geek guest post written by the amazing Sarah Benwell. I first met Sarah through Twitter but it just so happens that she lives very close to me and we met through a library event. She’s seriously one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met so I’d love you all to give her a warm welcome. Sarah is a writer and I just know that we’ll be seeing her books in bookshops soon. 


This post isn’t so much about my inner geek as my very loud, outspoken outer geek. I’m a writer. I love words and stories and books. I write YA, and have a particular fondness for foreign places. No, foreign lives. I like to travel, both in real life and in fiction. I like to wander through spice markets and temples and deserts, to get up at dawn and work alongside strangers until long after the stars appear, to taste new languages upon my tongue, scale trees and mountains, and feel the sun and rain and sand and mud against my skin. To share a meal or a roof with school kids or soldiers or cannibals. I love people. I love the way we’re all so different and yet inherently the same. I love our stories, and relationships, and the way we make our way across the world.

And because that’s what I love, I want to share the whole entire world with everyone. All of it. Every place, every story, every detail. I want readers to be able to walk hand in hand with characters who are no longer strangers, and to feel it, just like I do. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

This is where my biggest geek-facet sits proudly on display. World building. And this applies to any setting – your hometown, the Malaysian jungle or a futuristic distant planet. World building matters. So much of who we are and what we do is shaped by our surroundings, and if I can’t feel out the edges of the world you create, if I don’t know the rules, I’m lost. And if I’m lost, I end up trying to work all that stuff out instead of living inside your story. This bugs me. More than bugs me. It ruins otherwise-awesome books completely, because I’m thinking way too hard to emmerse myself. I’m doubting you.

So. How to make me the happiest reader? Get your world right. Easy, yes?

No? Ok. So how about we take this one step at a time…

If you’re going to write about a place/ culture, you need to know it. If you can’t get to a place, you at least need to research. Properly. In fact, even if you have been somewhere, there’s no way you can know every cultural reference or nuance, or see every landmark, taste every dish, or encounter every point of view. So you still need to do your research.

Learn everything you can. Scour travel guides and search through Trek-Earth photos. Find out about the major religions, exports, common pastimes, education systems. Listen to the music from your setting, and the language – let the speech patterns sink into your brain, learn some of the language if you can. Seek out slang and idioms. Read literature, watch movies. Visit someplace similar; if you can’t get to the desert, at least go to the beach on a windy day and feel the sand whip against your skin.

And if your setting isn’t real, think about this stuff, in your head. Make it up, yes, but do so thoroughly, please. Imagine that I’m sitting there behind you with a host of questions: what’s the national dish, or deities? Are the seasons like ours? Who sits at the head of your world, making the decisions? And you still need research, even then. If your MC is a swordsman, you need to know the basic rules of combat. If she hunts or scavenges, you should probably learn about traps and safe berries and how to skin a rabbit. You might need to learn about engines and the science of space travel, or political systems and diplomatic tactics, or what diseases can wipe out an entire nation within weeks. Whatever.

You absolutely cannot do too much of this, I promise. Know. Your. World.

Fast forward, let’s say you’ve got this covered. You know all there is to know about rice farming or Hinduism or how to take care of a sword. How do you get all that into your stories without sounding like a dusty old professor?

Firstly, you don’t need to put everything you know into your text. Please. Please don’t  put everything in. The characters and story still come first, you just want your awesome new-found knowledge to inform these things.

Set out the rules; show us the edges of the map, but subtly. I want this stuff, but I don’t want twenty pages at the start of your story (even one, if I’m honest) explaining everything. Feed us little bits, as and when they’re relevant, or even better, as your characters encounter them. And then, show us how things affect your characters, how they go about their lives; if your MC worships the Great And Mighty Caffeinator, show us what this looks like, be it meditating over a cup of coffee every morning, or leaving coffee grinds and biscuits at her local temple. If he works in a gold-mine, and the selling price has plummeted, show us what this means. I promise once you start, you’ll wonder why you ever needed that prologue.

Finally, once your rules are set out, what I really, really want, is details. Good, specific details. If I’m going to walk down that street beside your characters I need to know where I am. I need to see the way the sunlight bounces off of the fish in that pond, feel the rain on my skin, smell the ginger in those noodles before you let me take a bite, and hear the footsteps softly creeping up behind us. The senses are your friend. Use them.

Let me into your world. Because I really, truly want to love it.

You can find Sarah on Twitter by clicking the link here

Guest Post UKYA

UKYA FORTNIGHT: Guest post by Amber Kirk-Ford from The Mile Long Bookshelf

I am super excited to be sharing this guest post with you today. Amber runs The Mile Long Bookshelf which is one of my favourite blogs. I’ve assured her that this guest post is brilliant and I’m sure you’ll all think the same; it’s her first guest post!

I know a lot of people are firmly against books with difficult subjects, for example books that may revolve around cancer, bereavement, mental illness or abuse. But I would really like to see more of these subjects in UKYA books!

Reading them can help you to relate to people you know who might be going through similar things, and understand what might be happening to them/how they may be feeling. These are subjects that are difficult to talk about, so having them covered in books that are easy to access for young people is really important.

I have read a few articles that refer to these books as ‘sick-lit’, which is quite a horrible derogatory term in my opinion. People think that reading about these subjects encourages us to do things like self harm, when that really isn’t the case at all. If these subjects aren’t written about, how will young adults ever learn to be comfortable with them?

Some amazing UKYA books I’ve read that touch on these subjects are Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce, Pretty Little Thirteen by Liz Coley and….I can’t think of any others. Just goes to show that there really aren’t that many books out there that deal with these things.

What are everyone else’s thoughts on this?


Amber is the 14 year old book blogger behind The Mile Long Bookshelf. She enjoys reading, writing, drawing and basically anything creative! When she is older she wants to be a freelance journalist. She loves YA books and her favourite authors include Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling, Luisa Plaja and Cat Patrick.

Guest Post

UKYA FORTNIGHT: UKYA TBR Pile Tour from Clover from Fluttering Butterflies

I’m really happy to welcome Clover to the blog today. Clover runs Fluttering Butterflies, one of my favourite book blogs. Although American in origin, Clover puts a big focus on UKYA on her blog and I love reading all of her features.


This is my UKYA TBR bookshelf. Isn’t it pretty? I recently had two bookshelves put up just over my bedside table and they are almost always overflowing with books. The top bookshelf are for other review books and books I’d like to read soon, but this bottom shelf contains only books by British authors that have been sent for review or that I have bought myself. I like to separate the UKYA from the rest of my books to read so that they are given more priority. These are the books that I look at to read first and hopefully soon these books will be read and others will take their place.

Looking at this bookshelf, I’ve noticed that I’ve kept the books together by publisher! How funny is that? That isn’t intentional, but if you squint hard enough, you can probably see the six books by Random House clumped together, the four Walker books and two Electric Monkey books all sharing the same space together. How cosy!
I’m also incredibly lucky that five of these books are signed by the authors (The Screaming Staircase, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, The Last Minute, The Savages and Diary of a Mall Girl). I’m really quite happy with my budding collection of signed books and I really urge you all to keep an eye out for events locally with British authors.

(And for those of you who are curious, the two manuscripts are Blood Family by Anne Fine and Witchfall by Victoria Lamb.)

Thank you Lucy, for having me here!


My name is Clover and I’m the blogger behind the YA book blog, Fluttering Butterflies. I spend my days looking after two beautiful boys and studying part time for a degree in Psychology. I’m an American expat, a collector of donkeys, a lover of jelly beans.