2017 Round-Up

Honestly, I’m struggling to work out where this year went. It seems like two minutes ago we were all drinking to get over the shitstorm that was 2016, and now here we are again, gearing up to start drinking to get over 2017.

It would be extremely easy to piss and moan about this year, because I’ve spent a lot of it being very angry and upset (though despite all this I have to say my mental health has been in a much better place, which I’m chalking up to therapy, and muting 104 words and phrases on Twitter). 2017 has not, for the most part, gone the way I wanted, but I’m not here to wallow. Not rn, anyway.

So, here are my 2017 Highlights:

1. Launching SHIFT Zine!


What started as a ‘maybe’ in the Twitter DMs slowly grew into a real project, and now is an actual online magazine! It’s been so amazing to work on it with Alice, Rachel and Darran, and see how we’ve gone from a meek little site to being invited to ‘Accredited Press Only’ events. We have no chill about this whatsoever, and why should we? Roll on next year, and bigger and better things!

2. Attending Philip Pullman’s Press Conference

Impossible to have pulled off without the SHIFT team, and the incredible guys at Riot Communications, who got us onto the list (thanks, Laura!). This was the most incredible three days, two of which were entirely devoted to the man himself. Pullman is my all-time favourite children’s author, and the sheer mind-altering anxiety I had trying to keep the fact I was attending a secret, and then having to actually go to Oxford and to the events…

Somewhere, the anxiety morphed into excitement, and I wasn’t the only journalist literally bouncing around the Bodleian Library as we waited for it to start. It was honestly one of the best days of my entire life, and I even got to ask the closing question of the press conference *flicks hair*. We then had a tour of the city and the locations in the books old and new, and then my friend Jen collected me and there was pizza and cocktails (and a dramatic reading out-loud of the book in the small hours).


The day after was the signing at Blackwells, and I was already emotionally fragile, but determined to hold it together and not cry all over Philip Pullman like some sort of dweeb. The fragile state was heightened by the fact someone had declared that only books bought that day would be signed, and poor little me was clutching a battered copy of Northern Lights as if it would explode. I started crying pretty much as soon as Philip arrived, and the waiting queue sang him Happy Birthday. I managed not to sob when it was my turn at the table, but I did crack and ask him to sign Northern Lights as well as La Belle Sauvage. He said ‘of course!’, and look bewildered that I’d been scared to ask, and accepted the letter I’d written him thanking him for Lyra. That sent me over the edge, and I just about made it down the steps before bursting into great heaving sobs, that I am pretty sure Blackwells got on camera.

Worth it.

3. YALC and LFCC

My third year attending YALC / LFCC, and one of the best. YALC’s set-up seems to improve every time, and even though it’s competing with the Big Boys of LFCC downstairs, it more than holds its own.


It was a delight to see the gorgeous and talented Lisa Heathfield again, and to get a Card Against Humanity card signed by Samantha Shannon, as well as the new editions of her wonderful Bone Season books.

This was probably the first year I spent more time on the lower floors than YALC, however, because my inner nerd was singing. Particularly on the Saturday, when the beautiful Sana and I duo’ed as Captain and Ms Marvel. We had our pictures taken a lot, which was kind of weird and kind of great (except that time were were eating chocolate on the floor and some dude asked for a picture. Like… time and a place, my guy).



I also lost my head entirely when I got to meet one of my ultimate crushes, Benedict Cumberbatch. I would love to say I was incredibly sophisticated, but the truth is that I forgot how to speak when he said ‘I love your costume, you look so awesome’, and so had to make do with garbling I THINK YOU’RE JUST REALLY LOVELY at the poor guy before I left. Big shoutout to Daphne of Illumicrate, here, for getting me his autograph the next day, when I’d realised I did want it after all, but had left it too late to queue.

Shoutout as well to everyone who text me asking what he smelled like, immediately afterwards. For the record, he smells like an expensive man who knows he’ll be raising his right arm a lot.

4. Meeting Book Friends

Nothing beats a god book launch for meeting randoms you know from Twitter. I’ve been really lucky this year, and been able to hang out with some super cool people (including Jacqueline Wilson, who I all-but Rugby-tackled at Katherine Rundell’s launch for The Explorer, and who was incredible gracious and kind to poor old bumbling me).


What continually strikes me about Book People is how supportive they are – it doesn’t matter where they are in the industry or their career, everyone is keen to see the people around them succeed and do good. It’s honestly what keeps me going, a lot of the time.

5. Good Omens


You can laugh all you want, but it’s going on the list. I’m really annoyed at Past Me for not reading it sooner, because this book sailed swiftly into the favourite books category and is firmly limpet-ed there, now. Yes, it’s funny, and yes, it’s witty, but the real selling point for me is the sheer hope in the pages. The ending is utterly beautiful, and the blurred lines of good and evil are so well written that I know it’ll be a book I am constantly re-reading for the forseeable.

Also, it’s utter ambrosia for my inner nerd. I’ve started a fan page, and I cosplayed as Aziraphale at Comic Con, and I plan to do so again in the summer, where I’ll have a Crowley to join me, too.

6. Ink

I got two tattoos this year, one at the start and one at the end of 2017, and I love them both so much. Both were done at Vagabond in Hackney, though by different artists. The shell is for my love of the sea, and for the book I wrote that got me my agent; and the violin is for my love of Sherlock Holmes, in all their incarnations.

7. Writing

Well, ok. Another year without evolving into a Proper Author.

But I did write.

I wrote a lot.

I wrote somewhere around the half-million mark in terms of words. I cracked two-hundred-thousand views on my main fanfic account. It’s been difficult to keep slogging, sometimes, I’ll be honest, but this year I’ve sort of fallen back in love with storytelling (not just writing!), and I’m hoping to keep up that good work in 2018.

Make fun fanfiction. Enjoy yourself. Make things up. Share them. That’s the point. – Neil Gaiman

8. Family

There’ve been losses, yes.

But there’ve been holidays, and sunny days, and days out and making things and eating things and playing games and phone calls and reconnecting and more.

It would be completely impossible for me to do what I do without the love and support of my family – they provide the childcare, the emotional support, and the roof over my head. So, thank you, family, for making the best out of 2017, with me.


My 2017 Top Reads

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.


But regardless of how much of a shitstorm the world in general has been, I have got a lot of reading done this year. I’m putting this down to the need for escapism. I’ve read a lot of fic, and a lot of ‘real’ books, and I’ve made an effort to branch out from my usual corner of fiction, and it’s been totally worth it.

So, here are my top nine reads of this year:


…and here’s what order I’ve ranked them:

Continue reading “My 2017 Top Reads”

I Am My Own Fandom

Ryan and Joel from work-in-progress KTWL. Art by Alice Oseman

…and I’m totally without shame.

I’ve always been a sucker for validation (or attention, if you prefer), to the point of I’m completely unable to keep a first draft of any writing project to myself. I usually send each chapter, as it’s written, to a friend to read. I write fanfic because I like getting comments at the end of every chapter I post, hoarding the words like some sort of greedy Attention Smaug.

I’ve always liked sharing the worlds and characters I create. I used to have epic conversations on MSN where my friends would ask me every tiny detail of the world I was currently dreaming up. I write because I want to share the stories I make up.

I honestly want to share my characters and their stories because I just adore them. I adore creating them, and I adore spinning their story. I spend more time imagining up their backstory than I do writing their novel. I have active tags running on my Tumblr where you can check out a WIP’s aesthetic.

I’m my characters’ biggest fan. And not just because they don’t have any others. For me, my characters are precious, but the sort of precious you want to shove in people’s faces, like an Instagram Mum’s perfect, smear-free offspring.

This is one reason I commission art of my characters. Publishing is a fickle beast, and I’m well aware than just because I’d give up my kidneys for my fictional dudes doesn’t mean anyone else will. But by seeing someone else’s interpretation of them, it feels like they get to break out of my head, just a little bit. It feel like I’ve made something worth expanding upon.

I love my characters, and I love my worlds. I am my own fandom. And I’m in deep.

Joel and Ryan from work-in-progress KTWL. Art by Xanuage 

Shift Zine Launches!

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know it’s no secret that SHIFT Zine has launched, today! 

SHIFT has been months in the making, and really is testament to the power of social media. Several of us had similar ideas about starting a magazine for YA, and Twitter helped us come together. It’s been a trip.

One of the things I really wanted to do was showcase new YA stories directly with readers. In our first issue, we publish two short stories that have never been seen before – something I’m so proud of I could burst. 

The rest of the team and I would love you to check out our first issue, and thank you to everyone who has supported us so far!

Update! Writing, Recs, and Onwards

Haha, long time no blog, right?

I’ve been writing the first draft of a new book, so that’s my go-to excuse, right now. I’m really in love with the story and the characters. And that means I’m terrified no one else will. And, even worse, I’m well aware now of how much a book can be loved and praised by beta readers and crit partners, and then not be loved enough by anyone else to take it further.

Unlike everything else I’ve ever written, this book is contemporary – something I never thought I’d write (and don’t actively choose to read, though I have read a lot this past couple of years).

Here’s a snippet from my MS:


Though this book isn’t ‘about’ sexuality, my gay MC is doing a bit of musing on the subject. It’s been my goal to include bisexual characters in my work for a good long while, and having Ryan, one of my MCs, be able to say “I’m bisexual” out loud felt seriously good.

I went to the launch of one of my most-anticipated books of the year this week – INK, by Alice Broadway. If you’ve any interest in tattoos, social justice, politics or secrets, get your grubby hands on this beautiful book, because it’s incredibly well-written, and such an immersive world of contemporary politics wrapped in fantasy legend and lies. I loved it.

Another books I’ve been reading recently is Laura Steven’s SPLIT KINGDOM. Only available via the Tapas App at the moment, this is a really fabulous swords-and-sorcery novel, in each to read chunks. Laura is a fantastic writer, and this book deserves to do so well.

Also on the Tapas App are two of my current favourite comics – HEARTSTOPPER by Alice Oseman, and THE GOD IN THE FIELD by VVBG. Heartstopper is Alice’s prequel to her novel SOLITAIRE, focussing on the budding relationship between two of her best-loved characters. The God in the Field is a mlm-retelling of the Hades and Persephone story. It is, be aware, rated M in some panels, though isn’t explicit.

On a non-writing and reading note, I’ve started up an Etsy shop selling scrapbooking supplies and prints, and that’s been a nice sideline of creativity for me, and (I’m not being coy) I really need the money.

You can check out my Etsy here: StarsInHerHairArt.Etsy.com

Or! I have a Ko-Fi account, where you can donate from $3 to support me, help me buy train tickets into London, and generally keep me in the book world loop. Thank you so much to everyone who has already dropped me a few pennies. I have considered starting up a Patreon, but I don’t know what I would offer as rewards, so that’s not something I’m going for, just yet.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. A whole lot of writing, a whole lot of reading, and a whole lot of cutting out! Hopefully, my next blog should be quicker to appear!

Love to you all xx

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

My Top Ten Reads of 2016

Last year, I really got back into the swing of reading. And this year I kept up a steady stream of reads, except this year I have been much more critical about what I read.

I’ve DNF’d a lot of books this year. Double figures.

Maybe it’s been my wobbly reading mojo (caused a lot by my medication-inducted inability to concentrate, but more on that another time), or maybe it’s the amount of great literature out there that makes books that are only OK difficult to stick with?

My list below also doesn’t include all of the fanfiction I’ve read this year, many of which were novel-length and better than a lot of books.

But! In reverse order, here are my Top Ten Books of 2016:

Continue reading “My Top Ten Reads of 2016”