More Votes Needed!

My Brother’s Secret has made it to the final three of the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards! There are no more evictions now, but voting has re-opened and will continue until 4th March, and whichever book has the most votes will win!

Thanks to everyone who has voted so far, but those votes have all now been reset to zero, so I need some more! If you think My Brother’s Secret deserves to win, all you have to do is click the image below, and it will take you to straight to the voting screen.




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Book Award! Votes Needed!

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.54.09Wow! My second novel for younger readers – My Brother’s Secret – has been nominated for the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards in the ‘Hooked on Books’ category! It’s always exciting to be nominated for an award – and this is an award with a difference . . . eight books have been nominated and, every week, the book with the least votes is eliminated. That means I need everyone’s votes so . . . if you think my book deserves to win, you can visit the website and click ‘vote for this book’ right under the picture of My Brother’s Secret.


Thanks everyone!

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No pressure, then

It’s that time again. The moment when I’m faced with the blank screen and have to fill it with words. I’ve written twelve novels in my lifetime. Six of them have been published. A seventh will be published in July (The Darkest Heart), with number eight at the beginning of 2015 (Big Game) and number nine later that year (I’m not telling you the title of that one yet!).

Despite all that practise, it never gets any easier. Writing something new is still a daunting prospect and I still wake up every morning wondering if it’s all going to come together. It’s that blank screen. The cursor just sits there and blinks as if it’s daring me. ‘C’mon,’ it says. ‘Impress me.’

So I’m trying to impress it, and I’m trying to impress myself. I’m also trying to impress my first reader, my agent, my editor and, ultimately, my readers. No pressure, then.

The great news is, I have an idea and I think it’s a good one. I even have a few thousand words down on paper. The story has life and it wants to go somewhere. I think I know where it’s going, but have no idea if I’m right. Maybe my characters will decide they don’t like what I have in store for them, and will take a new path.

I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.

What else? Well, I’ve been reading, reading reading! A huge box of books arrived a few weeks ago and I’ve been working through them in my role as shortlisting judge for The Scottish Children’s Book Awards. I feel very honoured to have been invited to sit on the panel, and have enjoyed reading so many fantastic novels. It’s going to be a tough decision!

Oh, and here’s a big shout out to all the brilliant boys and girls I met at Duke’s School in Alnwick a few weeks ago! I had a great morning talking about books with year 5, and hopefully inspired a few young readers/writers. Here are a few photos of the hard work they’ve been doing since my visit!


Duke's Visit


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‘How’s the book doing?’

‘So how’s the book doing?’ people ask.

Well, My Brother’s Secret has been out there for a couple of weeks already. The world hasn’t changed – though I like to think it’s a slightly more colourful place for having my story in it.

But how is it doing?

I’m not even sure what the question means. Does it mean ‘How many have you sold?’ Does it mean ‘Do people like it?’ Does it mean ‘has anybody actually read it?’

I don’t really know the answer to any of those questions, I’m afr- or do I?

As it happens, there is a website. A rather lovely website called lovereading4kids which is dedicated to being the best recommendation website for children’s books. They do all kinds of great things like provide downloadable book extracts, books of the month, book trailers, author comparisons and, of course, expert reviews. But . . . and here’s the best bit . . . as well as having a panel of adult experts, they also have a children’s reader review panel.

That means young readers review the books. And who better to say what they think of books written for young readers?

I’m pleased to say that My Brother’s Secret has been selected as a Book of the Month, and a number of the young reviewers have already read it and, so far, it seems to be getting the thumbs up.

Have a look . . .

‘A brilliant book full of breath taking moments. I couldn’t put it down!’ Benjy Randall, age 10
‘My Brothers Secret is a gripping novel that will make you want to stay up late and finish it. Ten out of ten…it was as though the book had sprouted arms and was never letting me put it down. ‘ Stuart Philpot, age 10
‘My Brother’s Secret was riveting, and I did not want to put it down, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.’ Ellen Faulkner, age 12
Rory Faulkner, age 9 – ‘a mixture of exciting and at times scary and it really gripped me…I definitely recommend you read this book.’ Rory Faulkner, age 9
‘World War Two from another perspective. Karl is in the Junior Hitler Youth, but his older brother Stefan is a pacifist. Their father is killed at war, and things start to change. I loved this book.’ Ellie Frost, adult
‘I loved this book and I learned a lot about how Germans thought during World War Two…They cared about their country and their friends and family.’ Eloise Mae Clarkson, age 11
‘GREAT READ – you won’t be disappointed. I have read a Dan Smith book before and his detailed writing style continues into this book, this detail enables you to imagine that you are right at the side of Karl.’ Rose Heathcote, age 15
‘A gripping book full of adventure and sadness.’ Traviss Chaytors, age 11
‘The book is interesting as it tells you lots about the war from the view of Germans rather than the British…I really enjoyed reading this book although it was sad in places.’ Alice East, age 9
‘I really enjoyed this book and became fascinated by WWII. You learn that not all Germans behaved the same and I was surprised how I ended up feeling about the German boys. I highly recommend it!’ Annie Coffman, age 10


You can read the full content of these brilliant, well-written reviews here. What better recommendation could there be?


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