March 14th, 2015

Today, I attended the De Montford University in Leicester to hear the live announcement of the East Midlands Book Award (EMBA) 2015 shortlist.

I am delighted and proud that Smart is one of the six shortlisted books in this prestigious local regional award and I was able to do a quick reading from the novel for the audience.

Massive congratulations to the other East Midlands authors who have made it to the shortlist!

It was so great to see my former Nottingham Trent University (NTU) tutor and acclaimed poet, Mahendra Solanki, now Warwick’s Royal Literary Fund Fellow. It doesn’t seem any time at all since I sat in Mahendra’s office, early in 2007, being interviewed as a mature student interested in pursuing an MA in Creative Writing. Mahendra persuaded me to enrol on the English & Creative Writing degree first and I’m very grateful for that, as the three years I studied on the full-time degree proved to be invaluable in my journey as a published writer.

I met lots of lovely new people and I was especially chuffed when my BA and MA dissertation tutor, David Belbin, congratulated me on Twitter. David was always a positive and inspiring influence during my time at NTU and I greatly admire his writing.

After the EMBA annoucement, Mac and I headed home to Nottingham and OF COURSE we had to pop into Waterstones. As any author knows, you never get tired of seeing your book on display. And what a treat was in store for us today! Waterstones NG, who hosted my book launch for Smart in June 14 and who have been incredibly supportive of me as a local author, have created an amazing and striking display of Smart downstairs in the store.

The EMBA shortlist is the SEVENTH award nomination for Smart and I couldn’t be happier.

Call it a cliche, call what you will….but put the work in and believe in yourself, don’t give up and dreams really can come true!

The updated award list for Smart is:


Shortlisted for Waterstones Children’s Book Prize
Longlisted for Carnegie Prize


Shortlisted for:

East Midlands Book Award
The BASH Award (Book Award St Helen’s)
The Leeds Book Award
The very first Shropshire Teen Book Award
The Worcestershire Teen Book Award


February 23rd, 2015

Latest update in the Best Writing Week Ever . . .

I got a call on Thursday 19th February from Kevin Hill, one of the producers of the BBC East Midlands Today programme. I was delighted that he was very interested in my writing journey story and my award nominations.

After a couple of short conversations, it was agreed that Kevin would send a reporter and photographer out to our apartment on Friday morning at 10.00 am. Pre-filming would take place there and then I would go into the BBC studios on London Road, Nottingham, for a live interview on the couch with Anne and Dom, on Friday’s programme.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep too well Thursday evening. I was excited and terrified that this was to be my first time being interviewed about my book on TV!

At 10.00 am sharp, the lovely Carolyn Moses and John the photographer arrived. They immediately put me at ease and for the next two hours, Carolyn and I chatted all about my writing journey and laughed lots, too!

John took lots of shots and filmed me reading an extract from ‘Smart’ out on our balcony, which overlooks the River Trent. The river plays a large part in the setting and also the plot of the book. He also filmed Carolyn and I strolling alongside the river, talking about why my main character, Kieran, spends so much time down at the embankment.

Carolyn and John were with me for just over two hours and I was shocked when Carolyn explained that it usually takes over one hour of filming to produce just over a minute of edited viewing material for the actual programme.

At 5.45pm, Mac and I got a cab into town to arrive at the studios for 6pm. I had emailed Kevin the producer some high-resolution images of the cover of ‘Smart’ and was delighted to see the results on the big screens in the studio when we arrived . . .

Carolyn came down to see us and explained that there would be about a minute and a half of pre-filmed viewing from that morning’s apartment visit and then my live interview would last around two minutes. It was important to stick to answering Anne and Dom’s questions and try not to ramble on too much…no easy task, as I can talk for England and had so much to say!

But the interview went really well. Anne and Dom were so lovely and friendly and before I knew it, my two minutes was up and it was time for the weather!

When I came out of the studios I had so many lovely texts and messages from friends and family, my SMART TV day really was a wonderful experience from start to finish.

The day was rounded off perfectly when we picked up a fish and chip supper and relaxed with a bottle of fizz, watching the recorded programme back at home.

It’s really important for authors – especially new authors – to be willing and able to embrace the different mediums of publicity and media opportunities that can come very suddenly on the back of things like award nominations.

During this last week, I have had to cancel appointments, drop plans at a moment’s notice and overcome nerves and insecurities. I can safely state it has all been worth it and I’m so grateful for the local press and TV support I have been given.

Being an author is certainly about the daily grind of producing new words, the almost constant editing and riding the ‘I am worthy’ new author rollercoaster. But it is also about getting your work out there and putting a face and personality to your novels, talking about your book – and hopefully adding enough interest to attract potential new readers!

Read my interview in the Nottingham Post here:

Read my interview in the Chad here:


February 14th, 2015

I can’t stop smiling . . . what a week!

On Tuesday, 10th February, my debut novel Smart was longlisted for the CARNEGIE MEDAL 2015. Back in October, I was overwhelmed to learn that Smart was one of 91 books nominated for this, the oldest and most prestigious award in the country. To hear it had made the 20 book longlist was just staggering. As you can imagine, I was already on cloud nine at this development, yet there was still more amazing news to come . . .

On Thursday, 12th February, the WATERSTONES CHILDREN’S BOOK PRIZE 2015 shortlist was announced and Smart was one of the six shortlisted titles in the Teen Fiction section. Now I am positively DANCING on cloud nine!

On top of these two major prize listings, Smart has been shortlisted in four prestigious regional awards for 2015:

The BASH Award (Book Award St Helen’s)
The Leeds Book Award
The very first Shropshire Teen Book Award
The Worcestershire Teen Book Award

Book awards are so important to authors, particularly debut authors like myself who are trying hard to build a following of readers. There are tens of thousands of wonderful children’s books published every year and being nominated for a respected award can shine a very valuable spotlight on your novel.

It is a wonderful feeling as an author, to know that expert librarians, booksellers and school children have enjoyed reading your book enough to have voted it on to the awards listings. Above anything else, we authors want people to read and enjoy our work and book awards validate what we do.

Awards such as the Carnegie Medal and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize can also have an astonishing effect on sales. Likewise, each regional award gets up to seventy schools and libraries involved in the awards process, purchasing and voting on titles. It all amounts to excellent publicity that money really can’t buy. And best of all, brings lots more readers who will hopefully enjoy, and be keen to read your next offering.

Let’s not forget that foreign publishing deals are also important in terms of international readership and can also be lucrative streams of income to authors – so far, Smart is to be published in Germany and Turkey as well as the UK and Commonwealth countries such as Canada – and prestigious award nominations can lift your book straight into the attention span of foreign publishers.

It was a great moment today, while my fiancé Mac and I were out shopping in our wonderful home city of Nottingham, to pop into Waterstones and see the book prize display there, with Smart included.

Lovely Helen, who manages the children’s department, grabbed a Sharpie and we had a little impromptu signing session on the shop floor which was just the icing on the cake.

I am excited that I’ll shortly be organising an event at Waterstones Nottingham with Dan, the events manager.

My diary is full of wonderful prize announcements and events to come and I couldn’t be happier!

Read the Nottingham Post’s report on my exciting news:

Please note I had five literary agent representation offers, NOT five pubisher deals, as the article states!