Sunday, 31 August 2014

NESSA: SINGING THE BLUES...

Reader Nessa loves writing songs - and finds it's the only thing that has helped her cope with depression…

Nessa says:
I have always struggled with strong emotions and looked for ways to feel less out of control - I have never been good at expressing my feelings. By the time I hit my teens, I felt like I hated myself, and began falling into the most horrible depression… I would do anything I could think of of hurt and punish myself, and nothing seemed to help me break free of it.

Not long ago, when I was really down and my emotions were so messed up that I couldn't concentrate properly on anything, I hit rock bottom - I felt like I couldn't go on. Out of nowhere, I started to write… not stories, but lyrics. I used my own feelings and experiences to create the songs, and after a while I talked to a friend about it and she came up with the tunes on her guitar. I would love to perform the songs one day.

I like songwriting because it is a way to let out my emotions without having to talk - it can be hard to talk about such personal stuff, especially if you have social anxiety. Writing songs doesn't come naturally to me the way it might to some people, but that just makes it more rewarding when I manage to write a good song. I write in all kinds of different styles - I've even written a rap, about a break-up, which I think is quite cool! Often I write about things I've been through… the subject matter can be dramatic and emotional, but it's a good way to let it all out…

Faking a smile, holding back tears…
Am I really strong enough to fight?
I would turn up the music and block out the world
I'm not dreaming…

Cathy says:
I think it's amazing that Nessa is using her own experiences to write songs… she is channelling those strong and painful emotions into something very powerful and beautiful. Do YOU have a way of coping with strong or difficult feelings? COMMENT BELOW to share your ways of handling the hard times, or to give a shout-out to Nessa for making something creative and beautiful out of her struggles.

Name has been changed and pics are posed by model to protect Nessa's privacy.
Model: Charlotte S
Photographer: Sarah S

Saturday, 30 August 2014

FAY: MY VINTAGE STYLE!

Another in our occasional series of profiles looking at readers who follow their own unique style… 

Fay says:
My favourite thing about vintage style is knowing that an item has been loved by others before you. My definition of vintage is, 'things with memories attached', and my prize possessions are a 1940s red and black coat, silk elbow length gloves, a floppy woven hat, a black taffeta floor length skirt, a black velvet hat and a yellow 1950s style dress. My vintage idol is Audrey Hepburn - I am trying to teach myself Dutch in her honour!

My interest in vintage style began soon after I became obsessed with dressing as a porcelain doll, and that kind of linked me in to the whole vintage way of life. I like to be pale so I wear factor 50 suncream, pale powder and foundation… and if I find myself on a beach or somewhere hot, I use my parasol. For make up, I also use candy-floss colour cheek tint to make me look more doll-like.

Of course, in school we have a uniform so I use my pale powder and add knee length socks (sometimes with frills) and tie my hair with ribbons to fit the look. I like to be different because it is a way to show you are not afraid of what others may think; you have a right to be true to yourself and not to have to follow crowds or stick to the latest trend. My fashion motto is: 'Trends wear out, but style can be yours for a lifetime!'

Fay's Tips:
1/ Try to find bargains!
2/ See what you like best; just because someone famous favours 80s style, you may be more of a 50s kinda person.
3/ Ignore size labels - they had different sizing back in the day!
4/ Try vintage accessories with modern outfits… I often do this with a hat, scarf, necklace or pair of shoes!
5/ Have fun and don't be scared to try on bizarre clothes… they'll look better on you than on the hanger!


Cathy says:
Fay's style is very cool… I love it! Do YOU have a unique take on fashion and style? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more, or to comment on Fay's style!

Friday, 29 August 2014

DEBORAH: AT THE QUEEN OF TEEN CEREMONY!

Reader Deborah, who was my superfan at the fabulous Queen of Teen ceremony recently, spills the beans on what happened there…

Deborah says:
The Queen of Teen Ceremony was amazing. When you put things like books, quirky authors, a pink carpet and a buffet with nothing but cake, you could make any girl smile! Meeting Cathy was a dream I had from the first hour I became a fan. I always imagined her signing my books and asking me what I want to do in life. The reality was ten times better than my dream! Cathy was super friendly and been worried I wouldn't get there in time (I was over an hour late because of bad traffic!). She gave me a notebook for my own stories - this reminded me a lot of when Charlotte gave Cherry a notebook in Cherry Crush! I am totally saving it for when I write a bestseller!

The ceremony was even more amazing. There were boards with all the shortlisted authors printed up on them - I have one with Cathy's signature on it! The cake stands in the food tent were overflowing with treats! There were piles of books on every table for readers to take for free and then get signed by the authors, and the rows of seats came right up to the front of the marquee where the throne was! The thought of my speech totally slipped my mind so when it was my turn to give a superfan speech I just resorted to telling the story of my life and how Cathy's books had helped me, and afterwards everybody  complimented me on how good my speech was. Holly Smale even wrote 'great speech' in my copy of her book when she signed it!

On the whole, the ceremony was a dream come true. I met the best author in the world and many of her colleagues, ate the best cakes ever and took in so much happiness I stayed in dreamland for weeks afterwards! I got a gift bag and books from the other authors and brought along EVERY Cathy Cassidy  book printed that I own to be signed! People wait a lifetime for a moment like that day and I honestly can't believe it all happened to me!

Cathy says:
It was a privilege for ME to meet such a talented and enthusiastic reader as Deborah - I couldn't have asked for a better 'superfan'! I may not have won the award this year - the new Queen of Teen is the one and only James Dawson, flying the flag for equality. Have YOU ever had a dream-come-true-day? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more, or to have your say on Deborah's experience!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

LES FILLES AU CHOCOLAT!

Did you know that the Chocolate Box Girls is a bestselling series in France? Mais, oui! We asked some French readers to review their fave CC books...

Zoe says:
I am thirteen years old and I love the books 'The Chocolate Girls'. I started reading the books a year ago. My mother gave me COEUR CERISE (CHERRY CRUSH) when I came back from a holiday with my grandmother. I love the books because there is so much suspense and I love the chocolate theme. As soon as I finish one of the books I want to learn more, I feel as though I am inside the story! I absolutely love the story of many sisters and I like that each sister has a book to tell her own story, which keeps it all exciting and unexpected. I wrote to Cathy Cassidy and asked for a signed photograph, which Cathy sent to me! Thanks to Cathy, I love to read!

Line and Jeanne say:
Line: I'm twelve and I live in the north of France. My favourite Chocolate Box book is COEUR SALE (BITTER SWEET). Shay Fletcher, fifteen years old, discovers that his brother is a much better person than he thought. He will even help him make his dream come true: become a famous singer. I liked this book because we get to know Shay much better and appreciate him even more!
Jeanne: I am fourteen, and Line's sister. I have read all of the Chocolate Box books… I loved all of the series but my favourite so far is the last one, COEUR VANILLE (SWEET HONEY). I like it because at last everything becomes clear about the family's split up. Honey starts to understand that Cherry and Paddy are good people and she slowly sees that her dad is not as perfect as she thought. Besides, there is a big mystery and lots of suspense… and also a love story!

Enora says:
I discovered the books of Cathy Cassidy by chance (a good chance!). I was passing a holiday with my grandmother and left all my books at home, so we went to the library in the next village. Many books did not look interesting, and then I read the summary of COEUR CERISE (CHERRY CRUSH) the first book of the Chocolate Box series. I finished the book the same evening and re-read it over and over. Since this day, I have bought all of the books a few days after they are released! I love the books because they have my favourite flavours in their names… and because I can 'find' me a little in each book and each character! A love story? A chocolate story? Totally my style! I cannot pick out any character as my favourite because I adore them all! Great books that I share with my friends.

Cathy says:
I think my French readers are AWESOME! I can't wait to visit Paris again this November for the Montreuil Book Fair and meet more French fans… tres cool! COMMENT BELOW if you are a French reader - or if you've ever been to France!

SUMMER STYLE REPORT: CUTE HAIR ACCESSORIES...

Looking for SOMETHING to finish off a special look, or to get the holiday vibe when you're heading for sunnier climes? Summer style reporter Manda has some suggestions!
Pic one…
Manda says:
I thought this one was lovely, it felt all royal and exotic - just different from everything else, which I loved! Don't know how well it would stay on in the long run, but with a few hair grips I could probably make it work! I'd probably leave it for special occasions as I don't see it going with everyday clothes too well (at least my idea of everyday, which is extremely casual!), but overall I like it… it makes me feel a little like an Asian princess!

Cathy says:
Very Eastern… I can imagine wearing this for a night out in Tunisia or Morocco! It's beautiful and very eye-catching, but it could be a little too ornate for a weekend in Blackpool…

Pic two…
Manda says:
Although it's pretty, this wasn't really one of my favourites. I kind of liked the little chiffony flowers, but at the same time I think I prefer the more realistic ones. It's a bit plain for my tastes, but it probably depends what you wear it with; I can see it looking good with more of a fancy evening dress, where normal flower crowns wouldn't be as fitting… as long as the colours didn't clash! It reminds me vaguely of a costume I had in a dance show once, so I can see it being part of some kind of ballet costume too!

Cathy says:
A simple flower crown/ headband in soft, flattering colours… this is the summer of the flower-crown, and this one isn't too over the top. It wouldn't be out of place anywhere. Ideal for a boho beach look, but just as much fun for summer in the city!

Pic three…
Manda says:
Again, all the shiny gold bits and the little gems make it more suitable for evening/party wear I think… probably worn with something fairly plain! I do really like this. I like that you can be all classy and elegant while still remaining in the spirit of summer - although I think you could still get away with this at other times of the year!

Cathy says:
Stay golden! This glittering headband has its own glitz and glamour appeal, but neatly avoids being flash or fussy. It suits Manda's colouring and would be cool for a swish city break holiday… or a party night back at home.

Pic four…
Manda says:
This one is just really girly, cute, simple and somewhat old-fashioned, so basically I love it a lot! I'm getting a bit of a vintage schoolgirl vibe from it, which is definitely cool! Again, I don't know how well it would go with the contents of my wardrobe, but if I could find something to match I feel like I might wear this one a lot. It seems like it could easily fit with both everyday and also more special occasions!

Cathy says:
This is my favourite. It's cute, fresh and fun with a great vintage twist, and though it's simple it really pulls Manda's look together. Anywhere, any place, any time… super-cute.

OK… your turn, now! COMMENT BELOW to cast your vote for YOUR fave accessory… which one would YOU choose, and where would you wear it?

Monday, 25 August 2014

THE BIG CLEAR OUT!

Reader Helena decided to have a big clear out of old and unwanted toys and junk… find out how her tidy-up turned into a charity fundraiser!

Helena says:
Back at the beginning of the summer holidays I decided to have a big clear out of stuff I no longer needed and had grown out of, but instead of taking everything along to our local community shop, I decided to raise money for Cancer Research UK. A friend of ours does LOTS and LOTS of fundraising for Cancer Research and organises the local Relay for Life event. That's a huge family event - people can camp overnight - which lasts 24 hours. There are lots of games and fun activities for children and we are all coming together as one group to raise money to beat cancer. I would like to be a medical scientist and a magician when I grow up, and help to cure diseases like cancer. This seemed like something I could do in the meantime.

I designed a poster and it went onto the local Relay for Life page, and friends helped to distribute it around town. Then basically, I took over the pavement in front of Mum and Dads bookshop. One day it rained really hard so I sat inside the door and still got some money! I sold a lot of games, toys, books and bits and pieces and people were really nice about it. I think they liked the idea that I was raising money for a good cause! I also had a 'guess the birthday' game, for a Minnie Mouse toy, which I am still going to do. I have raised over £100. It was a lot of fun, a bit of a challenge at times, but it was worth it!

Cathy says:
I love Helena's idea - sometimes the simplest ideas are the best! It looks like she had a lot of fun, too, and raised a lot of money… how cool? COMMENT BELOW to share YOUR charity find-raising attempts or to give a shout-out to Helena for her achievement!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

IMOGEN: MUM WORKS WITH HELICOPTERS!

Another in our occasional series about inspiring mums and daughters… we meet Imogen and Denise!

Denise (mum) says:
I work as a receptionist in a helicopter flying school. I oversee the business each weekend and sometimes deal with confidential paperwork as well as managing the electronic diary, bookings, cancellations and allocating aircraft; I take care of the visitors to the school, in short! I have a lot of responsibility and I thoroughly enjoy it!

Imogen is a great daughter; she's funny and she makes me laugh when I really don't want to! She's very kind, caring and compassionate, with both people and animals. She adores animals and wants to be a vet when she grows up - at her age, I was exactly the same! Imogen attends our local Stagecoach Theatre Arts School where she has classes in dancing, singing and drama. Every year around Easter, the students put on a show for friends and family. I love watching her and seeing how her confidence has grown over the years! She's a great swimmer, too, and swims for the local team, and I am so proud of her.

The two of us get on really well most of the time; things only go downhill if either of us are quite tired, and then we can become a bit snappy! It never lasts long, though… one of us will accept the blame, we have a big hug and the grumpiness is forgotten. I encourage Imogen to talk to me about anything she would like to; we both enjoy chatting to each other and I think this communication is the basis of a great relationship. My wish for Imogen is that she stays healthy and happy and achieves all her dreams… I believe she will!

Imogen (daughter) says:
My mum is totally the best in the world. She has inspired me in so many ways! She encourages me to be kind to animals - sometimes we rescue poorly animals and Mum teaches me how to nurse them in a caring and gentle way. We then let them go into the wild when they are strong enough. Mum also
encourages me to try my hardest at all times, no matter how I feel, and to stay calm as much as possible in tests.

I absolutely LOVE my mum's job as she works around helicopters, which is amazing - not many people get to do that! She brings me a cupcake that she saves for me every weekend when she returns home. There is a downside to Mum's work for me, because she works at weekends and this limits the amount of time I can spend with her. I think we are quite similar in some ways, as we like most of the same things and have lots of fun together. I try to support my mum in turn with her swimming, by showing her how at ease I am in the water to let her see there is nothing to worry about. I think my mum and I get on very well… we hardly ever fall out!

Cathy says:
It's clear the bond between Denise and Imogen is very strong - and I love that they share many of the same interests and values! Do YOU have an awesome mum? COMMENT BELOW to give her a shout-out or make a comment on this feature!