Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Importance of Social Media



I didn't grow up in the age of social media. Until I was 11 years old, the only time I roamed the internet was to look on the Blue Peter website to see how I could get my next badge, or on the website of a national museum to play this incredible Ancient Egyptian game. 

Even at age 11, the only site that is now considered social media that I went on was Youtube, to watch the likes of Shane Dawson, Britney Louise Taylor, and IJustine. I didn't get Facebook until I was 13, and for a long time that was the only social media site I had. Granted, it caused issues, but these were not the fault of the site. Just the people I was friends with. (ProTip: If they make fun of you at school, they are going to make fun of you on social media. The 'friend' label on Facebook means NOTHING.)

I slowly got more into social media, simply because everyone else was. It wasn't really a conscious choice of mine, but the need to know everything that my friends knew. After Facebook, it was another year or so before I got Twitter, and my first Tumblr account was actually for my book blog, so I got that when I was 15. I got Instagram last.

After spending time on social media, I realised that I wasn't utilising them in the best way that I could. My Facebook was personal and so not much could be done there, but I felt like every tweet on my personal Twitter was irrelevant. When I started my book blog, I got a separate Twitter for that, and I felt like I was using this one so much better that I deleted my personal account. I experimented with a couple of other accounts, my most popular being my Dan and Phil fan account, on which I became a 'popular' account and made a lot of friends in the youtube community. For some odd reason though, I deleted that account, because despite all of the followers, I wasn't feeling fulfilled. I even deleted my book blog tumblr for the same reason. I was gaining 20,000+ notes for everything I was posting, and gaining followers with every popular post, but again I wasn't feeling fulfilled. It was then that I realised that the numbers really don't matter. 

I had a few more tumblr accounts that didn't work out, but by the time all of this was happening, I had my book blog twitter, my instagram for my book blog, and made a new tumblr account for my book blog. 

See a trend emerging?

(One of my many conversations with author Holly Smale)

My personal accounts never gave me satisfaction, because no matter how many followers I had, I wasn't using the platforms well enough. That's why when a couple of years ago I gave up on all personal accounts and just stuck to my book blog accounts, I became so much happier. And now, social media is a very important platform in my life.

I can't imagine my life without it. I'm in no way addicted, because I have spent months away from Twitter before and come back like nothing had changed, but I probably wouldn't go that long without tweeting again. The friends that I have made and the connections I have with businesses are far too important to me. More important than having almost 10K followers on that Dan and Phil account without following even 300 of them back. 

University has been a very lonely time for me this year, and social media has kept me from going insane. Whenever I feel disassociated with the rest of the world, I grab my phone and type out a 140 character message, and send it out into the twitterverse. Even if I only get one like or one person sends me an emoji in response, it makes me feel less alone. 

I met one of my best friends on Twitter. I get to keep in daily contact with one of my cousins, who I usually only see once a year, but because of social media I get frequent updates on her life and get to organise fun things with her. I get to casually talk to authors and publishing houses every single day, which is something I could have only dreamed about when I was 10 years old. For me, social media is invaluable in an age where everyone has busier lives than ever, and where the competition for jobs is more intense. 

(My cousin and I, at the Troye Sivan concert 18/04/16)

On Facebook, I get to keep in contact with my friends from school over massive group chats. Without this platform, we would have all drifted away by now, because we live at all ends of the UK. I also get to keep updated with family that live on the other end of the country, and family that live in Belgium! Facebook is so important for people like me who have had anxiety for years and need to practice their social skills. By talking to people on Facebook, I can successfully strike up conversation that can be continued in person, and make my personality known to people before my insecurities have the chance to swallow me whole. 

Can social media be damaging? Of course it can, but only in certain situations, and even then it is not the platform's fault but the toxic people that use it to cause hate and pain. I could write a whole other post about my bad experiences with social media, but this is not what this post is about. Social media gets a bad wrap and this post can hopefully go towards clearing its name.

At the lowest points in my life, social media has always been there for me. When I send out a distress call, people will respond and support me until I feel better. The idea that the simple clicking of a button to 'like' someone's post will make their day better is just brilliant to me. It represents humanity at its most universal and loving point: the fact that we can talk about random stuff to each other and create friendships no matter how brief, we can take a picture of ourselves and receive encouraging comments, or that we can send memes and everyone will laugh simultaneously around the world. 

Social media is magical, and it is important. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

'Flawed' Event with Cecelia Ahern 22/03/16


Hey guys!

Last month I went to meet Cecelia Ahern to hear her talk about her newest young adult release, Flawed. She firstly did a short reading from the first chapter of the book, and then her and the host got talking about all things books/writing.

When asked about her writing process, here are the things you need to know:

  • She writes from the heart
  • She is passionate about the books that she writes
  • She writes 2 books a year
  • She likes to write with a pad and a pen, and then type each chapter up on her computer, and work through a novel that way, one chapter at a time
  • She gets ideas very easily
  • Ideas are not the problem - finding the time to write is!
  • She wrote P.S I Love You in her pyjamas in bed, but now she has a big fancy office where she works 9-5 four days a week.




Cecelia then went on to talk about her new book, and how it was an anger-induced book. She wrote it in an angry and almost shaky state, because she was so passionate about the issues that she was exploring in the novel. 

In fact, she was so passionate about it that she wrote it in only 6 weeks!

(They even had Flawed cakes at the event!)

She loves her main character in this novel, and since it has been shortlisted for a film already, she has been thinking of a few women who could perhaps play the protagonist. Zendaya and Amandla Stenburg are contenders, whilst she would love to have George Clooney make an appearance. 

And here's a fact you may not know about Cecelia: she used to be in a Eurovision group for Ireland!

It was then time for questions from the audience, and since I haven't read all of her books, I thought I'd let the super fans ask the hard-hitting questions. One of the questions was "which of your books is your favourite?" and she said P.S I Love You, because it was life changing, and the most important to her overall.

Through these questions, we got to know a little bit more about Cecelia's fame. In fact, sometimes she has people coming to her house to ask her to sign books, because the people in her town give away her address! There is a downside to every job...

In terms of YA books in general, she said that she thinks the only difference about writing a YA and an adult novel is the age of the main character. But, she discloses, adults can read YA too. 

Overall, the event was a lovely insight to the brilliant author that is Cecelia Ahern, and when I spoke to her, she was very nice indeed. 

I really enjoyed this event, and got talking to some lovely people in the queue for signing. Cecelia was clearly very happy to be with us and I'm glad she had a great time too, because we certainly did!







Thursday, 21 April 2016

'Women in YA' Event Recap 30/10/15

(One book from each author at the event!)

This event was a while ago now, but I thought I'd write about it anyway, because it was one hell of a good time!

The 'Women in YA' event was a UK tour that consisted of these authors at the particular date that I went to see them on:




The panel was all about strong female leads in young adult literature, and about weaving feminism into books. It was a really interesting discussion between author and audience, and got us talking about the need for the inclusion of topics such as periods and female... well, you know.

I think the very fact that I can't even say the word proves that this is a universal issue in both literature and society. Men are made to feel very comfortable about... knocking one out, let's say, whilst women are made to feel as though it is some unnatural act. For boys it is "just a normal part of growing up", whilst the girl equivalent makes us "dirty". Reclaiming these acts and other processes like periods is important in the progression of feminism, because the more these bodily functions are talked about, the less blasphemous they become within society, and therefore women will be oppressed less overall. 

It is a simple formula, but one that works.

Also, let me just say that I took my mum to this panel. I'm sure she was as comfortable as me when this topic came up.

As well as all that lovely stuff, there was the mention of the manic pixie dream girl trope, and why this is something that needs to end if women want to be taken seriously in literature. A very interesting point that was made by the authors was that sometimes publishers have wanted to take their female protagonists and 'round them out', meaning essentially that they are made less of a person and more of an acceptable, quite character that won't cause much controversy. This was quite the insight into how much authors have to fight for their female characters and made me feel proud that these author were sat in front of me, having beaten the system.


(A message from Holly. Very relevant about female characters in books.)

They briefly mentioned the use of GoodReads and the gif reviewers, and that was quite a laugh! It is always great to see authors let their hair down and make fun of the more critical of the critics out there. Rightly so, too!

After the discussion, it was time for questions from the audience, and I asked how they each created characters. CJ said she sits with a notebook and plans them out, Alexia says she writes them until they write their own story, Holly bases her books on her own personal experience and is almost like therapy, and Melinda recommends sites or books with lists of names, which CJ also recommended. Sometimes if you give them a name and call them, they will come and write the story for you! (The characters, not the authors.)

At the end of the event, we were allowed to talk to the authors and have a chat, as well as getting our books signed. Poignantly, Alexia gave me this advice to end the night on:

"Write what no one else can."

Overall, it was one hell of a strong and sassy event, and if it ever comes your way I would 100% recommend getting a ticket!




Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: In the Dark, In the Woods by Eliza Wass



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly spot hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and is meant to showcase the books that a blogger is anticipating in the next couple of months. Today I'm going to be talking about In the Dark, In the Woods by Eliza Wass.

INFORMATION

Title: In the Dark, In the Woods
Author: Eliza Wass 
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books
Release Date: 21st April 2016
Format Available: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
Original Language: English
Genre: Thriller


DESCRIPTION

Father wants sixteen-year-old Castley and her five siblings to hide from the world. Living in a falling-down house deep in the woods, he wants to bury their secrets where noone will ever find them. 
Father says they are destined to be together forever. In heaven. Father says the sooner they get there, the better. 
But Castley wants to be normal. She wants to kiss boys and wear jean shorts. 
CASTLEY WANTS TO LIVE.

WHY I CAN'T WAIT

This is Eliza's debut novel, and it looks set to be an incredible thriller that will leave readers feeling haunted. We always love new meat in the book community, and I'm sure Eliza will be welcomed with open arms!

Books are at their best when they make you feel things, and the easiest way to do that as a writer is to elicit fear. Thrillers get your heart racing and thoughts running through your head, and so if Eliza is going to break out with any book, this is the way to go.

This is quite an original concept for a novel, and so I'm excited to see where the plot goes. The father in the novel sounds like a complicated and scary character, so I'm interested in how his character will develop and how Castley will defy his ideas.

All in all, I'm excited for this book and to see where Eliza's career takes her!

Anyone else love thrillers and can't wait for this release?

Tell me in the comments below!

Friday, 1 April 2016

STRANGE THE DREAMER COVER REVEAL AND SNEAK PREVIEW! #StrangeTheDreamer


Hey everyone!

On behalf of Hodder and Stoughton, I am so happy to be one of the first to reveal the UK and US cover for Laini Taylor's new novel, Strange the Dreamer! 

You may have heard of Laini's other work, such as her series Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Here's what her new book is all about:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperilled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.


How gorgeous are those covers??? Especially our UK cover. It looks absolutely gorgeous!



Though I wouldn't mind a US copy too ;)

And, if you thought the cover reveal wasn't exciting enough, there is a special sneak preview I'm allowed to show you too! Here you go:

Prologue

    On the second sabbat of Twelfthmoon, in the city of Weep, a girl fell from the sky.
    Her skin was blue, her blood was red.
   She broke over an iron gate, crimping it on impact, and there she hung, impossibly arched, graceful as a temple dancer swooning on a lover’s arm. One slick finial anchored her in place. Its point, protruding from her sternum, glittered like a brooch. She fluttered briefly as her ghost shook loose, and then her hands relaxed, shedding fistfuls of freshly picked torch ginger buds.
    Later, they would say these had been hummingbird hearts and not blossoms at all.
   They would say she hadn’t shed blood but wept it. That she was lewd, tonguing her teeth at them, upside down and dying, that she vomited a serpent that turned to smoke when it hit the ground. They would say a flock of moths had come, frantic, and tried to lift her away.
   That was true. Only that.
  They hadn’t a prayer, though. The moths were no bigger than the startled mouths of children, and even dozens together could only pluck at the strands of her darkening hair until their wings sagged, sodden with her blood. They were purled away with the blossoms as a grit-choked gust came blasting down the street. The earth heaved underfoot. The sky spun on its axis. A queer brilliance lanced through billowing smoke, and the people of Weep had to squint against it. Blowing grit and hot light and the stink of saltpeter. There had been an explosion. They might have died, all and easily, but only this girl had, shaken from some pocket of the sky.
  Her feet were bare, her mouth stained damson. Her pockets were all full of plums. She was young and lovely and surprised and dead.
  She was also blue.
  Blue as opals, pale blue. Blue as cornflowers, or dragonfly wings, or a spring—not summer—sky.
  Someone screamed. The scream drew others. The others screamed, too, not because a girl was dead, but because the girl was blue, and this meant something in the city of Weep. Even after the sky stopped reeling, and the earth settled, and the last fume spluttered from the blast site and dispersed, the screams went on, feeding themselves from voice to voice, a virus of the air.
  The blue girl’s ghost gathered itself and perched, bereft, upon the spearpoint-tip of the projecting finial, just an inch above her own still chest. Gasping in shock, she tilted back her invisible head and gazed, mournfully, up.
  The screams went on and on.
  And across the city, atop a monolithic wedge of seamless, mirror-smooth metal, a statue stirred, as though awakened by the tumult, and slowly lifted its great horned head.

If you are as excited about this book as I am, then there is not tooooo long to wait, as it is due to be released in September. Until then, you can catch up with Laini on Twitter or on her website

She will even be going on tour later this year, so stay tuned for more information about that!

Hope you all enjoyed this exclusive - now we just have to wait patiently for September... 

See you next week for more blogging goodness :)