Boy X wins Essex Book Award 2017!

So. It looks like I’m going to have to stop saying I never win anything. Y’know . . . until recently it was true. But first there was the Coventry Inspiration Book Award and now BOY X has won the Essex Book Awards 2017!


Yesterday was a long and brilliant day in Chelmsford, at King Edward VI Grammar School, where students from 18 schools came along to listen to the shortlisted authors say something (brief) about their books. There must have been over 250 students, all of them awesome readers (of course!), and over the past few months they, along with other students from schools across Essex, they have been reading the shortlisted books, reviewing them, and voting for their favourite.

It was great to meet the other authors – Helen Dennis, Monica Vaughan, Robin Jarvis, and Hayley Long – but most of all it was fantastic to meet all the students who have been reading the books, and I even had the chance to give Olivia her award for the best review of BOY X.

The organisation was excellent, the staff were amazing, and the students were awesome!

Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed BOY X and voted for Ash’s jungle adventure. And to the student who apologised for not giving it a good review . . . well, that’s okay. If we all liked the same things, the world would be a very dull place.

That’s all.

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Book Awards!!

Once again, it’s been a long time since I have blogged. I do have an excuse, though. Honest. I’ve been working hard on a new book. Things don’t always go according to plan and I’ve been doing more deleting recently than I’d like to, but I’ll tell you about that later. I actually came here to tell you about something else.

My most recent book for younger readers, BOY X, has been nominated for a couple of awards!

The Coventry Inspiration Book Award 2017 and The Essex Book Award 2017.

It’s always a huge honour to be nominated for these kinds of awards because the winner is
chosen by the readers!! The Coventry Inspiration Book Award runs an on-line voting system; the book with the least votes is knocked out and then voting starts all over again. If you’d like to vote for BOY X, you can find the information right here.screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-08-58-49

The Essex Book Awards works in a different way. There’s a website where readers from the various schools involved can leave reviews, and the winner is announced on a special day in Chelmsford for all the participating schools. If you’d like to see some of the great reviews the children have written, you’ll find them right here.


Keep reading . . . it makes you smart.

That’s all!



Skin Like a Rhino

Y’know that thing people say to unpublished writers who want to be published?  That old chestnut about needing to have a thick skin? Well, there’s a lot of truth in it. When you’re sending stuff away to agents and publishers and the ‘we like it but don’t LOVE it’ letters are coming back, having a thick skin really does help.

What they don’t tell you, though, is that your skin has to get a whole lot thicker. Even after publication. In fact, you need rhino skin.


I sent some new writing to my agent the other day and when she called me and finished telling me how much work I need to do on it, I put the phone down with a sigh. It can always be better, see? It doesn’t matter who you are or what you write, it can always be better. It occurred to me that everyone involved in the publication process is there to tell the writer what’s wrong with their book and what they can do to improve it.

Part of an agent’s job is to find fault with the work. Then, of course, the editor is there to help reshape what the author has done – tell them what’s wrong with it, in other words. The copyeditor’s turn comes next; they get to pick out all the grammatical and continuity errors. They might even suggest a change or two. After that, the proof reader gets to pick out more mistakes. Then, of course, after the book is finally published, the writer has to face the wrath of the reviewer – which, these days, means anyone who reads the book. And sometimes people who don’t.

So, yeah. Thick. Skin. Required.

But then there are those moments . . . the moment your agent tells you it’s good. Or when your editor steps away from doing their job of scrutinising your writing and tells you it works. Best of all though, is when a letter drops through the post box, or an email pings into your inbox and it’s from a happy reader who enjoyed your book so much they took the time to write to you. And that . . . well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Well, next year’s going to be a busy one, and I’m very much looking forward to it. I have my rhino skin all prepped and I have a good line up of publications. There will be two new books in the UK next year, a couple in the US, and there might even be a little surprise, but I can’t tell you about that or I’d almost certainly have to kill you; my lips are sealed. You’ll just have to wait and see.

I hope you all have a great Christmas and a fantastic New Year.

That’s all.