Tuesday, 16 January 2018

ANA: TIPS FOR CREATIVE BLOGGERS!

Ana is a successful creative blogger - with some great tips and advice for new and would-be bloggers! Read on...

Ana says:
I write about many topics such as crafting, tutorials, fashion, creative hobbies, photography and much more! In this post, I'm going to write about how to be a successful creative blogger and I will give you three of my top tips too! Blogging is a fun, creative hobby which improves your writing skills, helps you to come up with ideas fast and also helps your computer skills! Blogging has mad me more creative and inventive. My photography skills have improved and I've picked up many valuable computing skills along the way. My blogging career began on New Year's Eve 2016 and along the way I have made many online friends and fans, to whom I am eternally grateful! I've also discovered many lovely blogs which give me so much inspiration!

TIP #1: Organise Your Blogging!
In the photo above, you can see a piece of paper which I use to brainstorm creative post ideas. I like to concentrate all of my future post ideas on one pretty piece of patterned paper - you could try to do the same. Get a pen and paper and ask yourself   questions: what should I write that will make me and my readers happy? Which posts do I enjoy writing the most? Which posts are the most popular with my audience? Base your post ideas on these questions - or try making a survey for your readers to complete! Buying some post-it notes, stationery and notebooks all for blogging can help organise things further - you can draft out whole posts or parts of them in your notebook and then type it up onto your blog. It also helps to have a calendar which highlights the days you post - scheduling your posts can help you to get used to writing posts in similar time spaces!

TIP #2: Take Beautiful Photographs!
When I first started blogging, I mostly used images from the internet, but now I only use my own photographs whenever possible. When taking photographs for your blog posts,you need to first get a nice background which matches to the topic/ season. You don't need professional backgrounds - it's more unique to use what you have. In the photograph above, you can see lots of pens in a pack, a pile of books, my glasses, my bracelet and my pocket mirror all laid out in a pretty pattern - the background is a patterned picnic blanket! In the photograph to the right, you can see some stationery on a bright background - but although it looks professional, all I used for the background was a patterned raincoat!

TIP #3: Refresh Your Blog Look!
Every season, I refresh my blog's look by changing the background - you can give your blog a whole new look by giving it a makeover. There are plenty of online apps which create beautiful backgrounds - I use Canva to create my seasonal backgrounds but another alternative is PicMonkey. The picture is just one example of a seasonal background. As a creative blogger I think it adds a special touch to your page to add in unusual backdrops. Fill your blog with things you like, such as a sidebar that leads to different links, and choose the right font for your blog too, choosing one that is easy to read! Your colour scheme can reflect your content, so mix up pastels and brights if your blog has many topics!

Cathy says:
I love Ana's tips and hints - I think I've learned a lot, too! Have YOU ever thought of starting a blog? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 15 January 2018

CURL UP WITH A CLASSIC... THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE!

Reader Louise has a favourite classic book to share with you... and it's one with a real wintry flavour!

Louise says:
THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE by C.S. Lewis is my favourite children's classic ever. I read it from the local library when I was in primary school and I was totally enthralled by it, the imagery of hiding in a wardrobe filled with fur coats and moving through the coats to find the crunch of snow underfoot was so, so powerful for me, I will never forget it or love an image as much! Things just keep getting better, too - a magical land where it is always winter and never Christmas, an evil witch on a sleigh who gives you Turkish Delight, a faun who invites you to tea, a heroic lion who makes you into a pre-teen freedom fighter... it's a perfect book.

Once I was hooked on the book, I read it several times and found out that the book was part of the CHRONICLES OF NARNIA and there were others in the series... they fitted both before and after THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE. There was one with guinea pigs that I was obsessed with for a while, and one with a flying horse... they are all amazing in their own way, and completely magical. There was a film as well, and I got a DVD of that and watched it over and over. I got a boxed set of the books for Christmas and that was possibly the pivotal moment I went from enthusiastic reader and library user to geeky bookworm girl and would-be writer.

I am at uni now studying English and I am writing an essay on British children's literature. It makes me smile that I can write about the book I loved so much as child, and study he way it was put together. Mostly, though, I am just thrilled that I picked that book off the shelves when I was ten or so, the perfect age to begin to understand it, and that I had the series to dip in and out of all through my teens. Children's books are not just for children, you see, they are for everyone who needs a little bit of magic in their lives... and no book is better to open the door to that than THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE! How many marks would I give it out of ten? Eleven, at the very, very least!

Cathy says:
I absolutely love this book too... I know exactly what Louise means about the magic! Have YOU read it? Or do YOU have a favourite children's classic book you'd like to tell us more about? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

JENNA: THE PAIN NEVER GOES AWAY

Reader Jenna writes about the pain of losing a parent in this bittersweet and heartbreakingly honest post.

Jenna says:
Losing anyone that has a huge impact on your life is tough. Friends, family - they are the people who are there for you, during the good times and the bad. They pick you up when you fall down, brush you off and help you to try again. If you have someone like that in your life, you're a very lucky person. But when they're gone? Well, that's a completely different pain.

My dad passed away six years ago. He was my best friend and meant the world to me. He was the best man I ever met, always there for me when I needed him, when I struggled, when I was happy, no matter what - he was always there. Teaching me things about life, lessons I still keep with me today. Losing him was hard, but at first I coped by pretending he'd gone away for a while and would be back, he just couldn't contact me right now. It worked, for a few years.

As time went on, little things happened that I needed my dad for, or wished he was there for: birthdays, Christmas, school work, just reassurance that things would be OK.The fantasy world I had built began to fade and I began to truly realise he was gone, and then the grieving came on. I would go to school crying, feeling numb, wishing my dad was back beside me, that it was all a trick. But it wasn't, and I knew it wasn't, and that was the most difficult thing of all... knowing that he wasn't coming back.

The friends I had at the time didn't understand what I was going through. There's a quote that says 'hard times reveal true friends', and I definitely learnt who my true friends were. Rather than supporting me, they said I was attention seeking. 'I don't understand why she's still crying over her dad, it's been three years - she should be over it by now!' They never knew I overheard this, didn't understand what it felt like. Letting these people go was the best thing I ever did. Here is something I want you to know in case any of you are going through the same situation... there is no end time to bereavement; the pain will never fully go away. It may die down a little but it will always be there. You've lost someone who had a huge impact on your life, and that's not something you can get over straight away. It's about you and time. If you have people in your life that say hurtful things, they are not your friends... but remember they haven't been through what you have In time, some may come round and begin to understand.

Life now, six years on, is still difficult. I miss my dad - I always do. Like I said, the pain never fully goes away, but it does become easier to deal with. I think about my dad every day, remembering the memories we shared. Some days are more difficult than others, some days I wish he was here to give me a hug, some days I cry and get upset, but it's OK. No one is alone in this.

Artwork by talented reader NIAMH, age 12.

Cathy says:
This is such a brave and powerful post. Losing someone close to you is huge at any age, but as a young teen it can turn your world upside down. Have YOU ever lost a loved one? Or do YOU have any words for JENNA? COMMENT BELOW to have your say.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

LAURA: THESE BOOKS WERE MY ESCAPE!

When I met reader Laura at Cheltenham Book Festival in the autumn, she told me how my books had shaped her teenage years... and I asked her to share the story!

Laura says:
From a very young age I have always had my head in a book, from Enid Blyton to Jacqueline Wilson and more. Reading was my favourite hobby and I loved that I could do it almost anywhere! But then, aged ten, I discovered a new book which to this day - thirteen years later - is still my absolute favourite book. It was called DIZZY. I fell in love with the book straight away, loved the uncertain adventures Dizzy has with her mum Storm, the excitement of the festivals and the turbulent relationships she has with Finn and Mouse.

The next few years were a whirlwind of dreamcatchers, pin boards, tie dye t-shirts, camper vans, reindeer antlers, blue eyes kittens, rocky relationships, daydreaming and dreadlocks. I was mesmerised by each and every new Cathy Cassidy story and felt consumed both by the characters and the plots. I would write to Cathy, aged eleven, and she would write back to me, as well as sending me stickers with inspirational quotes to put at the front of my books. For me, growing up, that meant the world. Cathy's books came at a time when, as a child, I had a lot of family struggles. Her books to me were a means of escape - I would delve into the story and forget about the world around me. All that mattered was what was going to happen with Hannah and Joey, or where Indie and Misti would move to.

I am now twenty-three years old and working as a primary school teacher in Cheltenham. I often think of Cathy's work as I teach my class story writing. I try to inspire them with the same creative ideas that inspired me as a child. Recently, I attended the Cheltenham Literature Festival to hear Cathy talk about her books - this was a dream I had waited for for thirteen years to come true. Afterwards, I had the amazing opportunity to meet Cathy and share with her my signed stickers from all those years ago. She was exactly as I imagined her - kind, creative and full of joy. It was an absolute pleasure and I hope she continues to inspire young people for many years to come!

Cathy says:
Gulp! This post means SOOOO much to me... it makes all the hard work worthwhile to know that my books have made a difference to someone like Laura. Do YOU have a book that means the world to you? COMMENT BELOW to tell me more!

Friday, 12 January 2018

YOUR STARS FOR JANUARY

It's horoscope time, and Skye Tanberry has been hard at work... does her star-gazing ring true for YOU this month?


CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
You're a natural-born planner and when it comes to sticking to those new year resolutions, you're top of the class! Beware not to over-do it and let your light burn out. Leaving room for error can be an important lesson to learn!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
Like a mountain-stream, you carve your own way through life. Powerful, creative and thoughtful, you don't let others tell you what to do. While these traits are admirable, don't allow yourself to become too self-centred. Help a sister out, if she needs it. Kindness is cute!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
The visionary, the romantic, the dreamer! Yup, that's you! 2018 is yours for the taking but make sure you don't shy away from amazing opportunities. Take risks and face your fears, you may find rewards in the most surprising places.

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
Start your year as you mean to go on...with your heart on your sleeve and your hands reaching for the stars. Often without realising it, you inspire those around you. While your goals are important, make sure you leave time to indulge yourself now and again. 2018 has lots of treats in store for you!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
Being in the limelight isn't usually your thing, you are quiet, clever and practical. Maybe this year is time to try a new hobby, try to capture your creative side by taking a crafting class. Who knows, a new love interest may come your way.

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
Your rainbow personality makes you a vibrant and loveable person to be around. Your warmth touches people, even if you do not realise it. Keep it up, this year has a whirlwind journey in store for you, just don't get lost along the way!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
Like an ancient tree, you are earthy and wise. You bring people together in the most unlikely times. Things may be tough for you in the coming year, but you are strong, like wood. Be there for someone you love, for they may need your strength.

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
Regal and elegant, you stride your way into 2018 like a queen! You have no problem letting your colours shine. You may chop and change your way through this year and at times it may appear muddled... but don't worry, things will work themselves out. For now, just live, love and laugh!

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Health and wellbeing is at the centre of your life. Why not try a new skincare routine, natural oils and fresh, healthy eating will give you an envious new years glow! While this is all well and true, NEVER forget the importance and natural healing powers of chocolate!!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Peace, harmony and FASHION are your strong suits! See the new year in with style. Why not arrange a little shopping trip with your girl gang to grab the latests trends? This is a year of sisterhood, so keep your ladies close by your side.

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Often quite skeptical of your chosen path, maybe now is a time to start believing in yourself more. When you shine, others respond. Start a dream journal, often our brains digest what is indecipherable and create sense out of it in the form of dreams. This may guide you as you start the new year.

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
Love is in the stars for you this year. You may not be used to this kind of attention as you are often too busy daydreaming to notice boys! Just keep an eye out for a mystery-boy, someone new. Just don't let it derail you from your path.

Cathy says:
How exciting!! I hope mine comes true! Do Skye's predictions ring true for YOU this month? COMMENT BELOW to let us know!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

DANNI: HE'S IGNORING ME!

It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER and reader Danni has a problem for CHERRY COSTELLO to solve! Take a peek...

Danni says:
Just before we broke up for Christmas, this boy in my year, K, gave me a Christmas card. Inside he'd written that he liked me a lot and hoped to get to know me more in 2018. I hadn't really noticed him much before, but he is in my French class, and I felt quite flattered that he liked me. I daydreamed about him all through Christmas. Then when we went back to school... nothing! He acts like I don't exist at all. I am so confused and hurt. I think he's quite shy but I don't understand why he would blank me.

Cherry says:
Arghhh - boys! I think he is probably quite shy and made a daring move before Christmas by giving you the card - then bottled out once the new term started. I'm pretty sure he still likes you, just isn't sure what to do now! Can you try smiling, saying hello and letting him know you liked his card? It might push him into saying something! I'm guessing you are both quite young, and this could be a factor too - you like each other, but are you ready for a relationship? Why not aim at building a friendship first, and take it from there? Much less pressure - and it worked for me and Shay!

Cathy says:
Good advice from Cherry! Have YOU ever had a crush at school? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 8 January 2018

JANUARY BOOK CLUB: OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS

Reader Emma has a book to recommend to us this month... YA title OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS by Krystal Sutherland! Take a look and decide if it's one you might like too!

Emma says:
OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS by Krystal Sutherland is undoubtedly the most moving, heart wrenching YA novel of the year. It tells the beautiful, fragmented story of Henry page and Grace Town, who are brought together when they are both made editors of their school paper. Henry is ordinary, nice and slightly nerdy, but normal enough to get by; Grave walks with a cane, wears oversized guy clothes and frequently looks as if she hasn't brushed her hair. This novel, bought on my Kindle for only 98p, was one I thought I would dislike. Weirdo meets weirdo, they fall for each other's quirkiness and then they're in love. But OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS wasn't like that at all.

To start with, Henry and Grace's love story was mysterious, sure, but also very cute. There were lots of things that Henry didn't know about Grace, but that was just the beauty of their relationship. Then he starts discovering things about her - dark, awful things that should put him off her for good, but don't.

As well as having in depth, amazing main protagonists, Henry's friends were also very detailed and interesting. They added a whole new level of diversity o the book, as one was Australian and the other was descended from a few different cultures and was lesbian. The way the author handled these characters, by giving them quirks, problems and issues of their own created a new world inside of the book.

So if you are looking for an emotional read that will stay with you for a long time afterwards, OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS will definitely give you just that. With some more mature themes, it's probably more suitable for older readers, but all in all it is an important story that will stay with you forever.

Cathy says:
I'm curious now... I will have to check this out! Have YOU read a book that you really LOVED recently? Would you like to review it for the DREAMCATCHER BOOK CLUB? Email me via the EMAIL CATHY LINK on my website or COMMENT BELOW!