Tuesday, 1 December 2015


Another rainy day? Don't be sad, check out our reader suggestions for passing the time in a cool and memorable way!

Nadia says:
Easy - put on your hat, scarf, wellies and waterproof coat and get out there to jump in some puddles! Once you make the decision to go outside, you'll feel loads better. Take a walk and you'll come back all re-energised!

Lauren says:
I like Nadia's idea, because that's what I do, but I like to wait until the rain has stopped and go out then. There is such a sense of peace, and everything smells amazing! (I know, I'm mad, sorry!) I take out my phone and take lots of pictures, because the world just looks more beautiful after a rain storm!

Janine says:
A rainy day is a perfect excuse to snuggle up inside with a blanket and a handful of your favourite DVDs. Popcorn and pizza optional!

Calla says:
I actually love the rain, and sometimes I quite like the sensation of getting wet! I don't like it if the rain slides down your coat collar and down your neck, or if your shoes leak when you step in a puddle, but have you ever tried running out into the rain without a coat and just turning your face up to the sky, and letting the rain fall on you? I did this with friends at school last week and trust me it was amazing! (And no, we didn't all get pneumonia!)

Joanna says:
I love the sound of the rain on the roof. We have a conservatory at home and if it's raining I like nothing better than curling up in there with the rain pounding against the glass roof and me all cosy and warm inside! Hot chocolate helps, too!

Savita says:
I love crafting and if it's wet I know I can set aside a whole afternoon to making things. I am knitting a scarf at the moment so the next time it rains I might even venture out! Or not…

Mariam says:
I am not a fan of being out in the rain, but I like rain in some ways because it brings out my thoughtful side. If I can, I will sit on the window seat in our living room and press my face against the glass and think sad thoughts. Rain is perfect poetry-writing weather!

Cathy says:
Love these ideas! What is YOUR favourite way to spend a rainy afternoon? COMMENT BELOW to share your ideas!

Monday, 30 November 2015


Readers share their horror stories involving broken mobile phones, iPads and laptops… accident prone? You? Well, just a little bit...

Jess says:
One day I was running a bath and also watching YouTube clips on my iPhone. I put the phone down on the edge of the bath and it just sort of slid into the water. I was really scared, but it was still working - I actually used it while I was in the bath, watching more You-Tube clips, but then the battery started getting warm and some of the buttons stopped working and then the screen went blank. We put it in dry rice because that's supposed to dry things out, but it didn't work, so I had to tell Mum and Dad. We took it back to the Apple shop but they couldn't fix it, so I ended up having to make do with an old phone for a few months. I've definitely learned a lesson from that! Well, maybe. I dropped my iPad in the bath a few months later…

Esme says:
I once dropped my Kindle on the utility room floor, and there's been a red line through the middle ever since…

Lelly says:
I dropped my mobile in the loo, and I knew the trick of putting it in a bowl of dry rice in a warm place. So I put it in a plastic dish of rice and wrapped it in a towel and put it on the woodburner. Five minutes later the whole thing went up in flames. I was NOT popular that day.

Scarlett says:
I had a bright bubblegum pink Blackberry that I loved. I was at Eco Club at school and we were clearing out the pond… I put my Blackberry in my top shirt pocket, forgot it was there and leaned over to clear some algae. Splash! It hit the water and sunk right to the bottom - luckily my brave friend rolled up a shirt sleeve and dug in, pulling out a brick first… random, I know… and finally my phone. It did work afterwards, but just for a short while. We had to put it in rice when we got home to try to get the moisture out of it!

Fouzia says:
My uncle gave me an iPod4 when I was ten. I loved it, but one day my brother dropped it from the top bunk and the display broke. He apologised about a million times but I was furious and very unforgiving (I regret that now!). My Dad got the iPod repaired, but soon after my sister dropped it and that was that, it was totally dead. Recently, my uncle gave me an engraved iPod 6 - he is the BEST! Moral learned… always forgive and forget!

Laura says:
I'm very good at damaging technology, especially computers. I wrecked a new laptop by knocking a mug of hot chocolate all over it in March. Luckily, I had insurance, and took it back to the store… but now whenever I go in they call me the Hot Chocolate Girl! A bit awkward! I had to choose a new computer and it didn't take long for me to break that as well… I somehow lost all the files and operating systems. It would still turn on, but there was nothing to load up, no Windows, no nothing. So yes… me and technology… not a good mix!

Violet says:
Mum dropped her phone in the toilet once. I was very upset because it had some irreplaceable videos on it, and I've never let her forget. I go through phones at quite a rate - the first one went through the washing machine. Not good! The second was pretty wrecked and held together by a hair bobble when I lost it completely. My third mysteriously stopped working - I think it got damp and mouldy - and the fourth just stopped charging. I'm on my fifth now! My brother's first Nintendo DS fell apart through overuse - the top screen stopped working and as he had a tender goodbye moment before throwing it away, the screen completely detached. Heartbreaking, truly, but not entirely my fault… a joint effort!

Jackie says:
My sister took my phone to record herself while going on a rollercoaster. When she went upside down I saw her hand let go of the phone and watched in horror as it fell. I tried looking for it but we never managed to find it, and my sister bought me a new one!

Cathy says:
I won't mention the coffee I spilt over my laptop keyboard mid-book… or the herb tea that wrecked the laptop after that… or the time the lid/screen detached and was hanging on by a thread. And NOBODY is allowed to mention the time I dropped my mobile in a puddle… Have YOU ever damaged a phone or laptop? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Sunday, 29 November 2015


Reader Zaila talks honestly about coming to terms with her sexuality and how she chose to tell friends and family…  

Zaila says:
Up until February of this year, I never gave too much thought to my sexuality… it just didn't cross my mind. Then I discovered I was gay. I had a small crush on another girl, and the realisation grew from there. It was a very slow and gradual process, but I knew it was true and felt amazed that I hadn't thought about it before. I kept all of this secret for two months, but in April I decided to open up to my family, to come out so that I could feel more secure in myself and finally be wholly proud of the person I am. Later that same day I came out to my close friends, and finally to my entire school community and classmates.

Both my mum and my close friends have been really supportive and brilliant, and both offered advice, support and help. My friends made it clear they would be there for me no matter what. Not all of my family know, however. My auntie, uncle and both sets of grandparents are clueless about my sexuality and although I plan to tell my auntie soon I will be far more cautious with my grandparents as I think they not be quite as understanding. They don't need to know right now, and my cousins are either quite distant or too young to properly understand.

After coming out at school, rumours flew like leaves in autumn. One of the more ironic stories was that I was dating my best friend - er, no! She's straight! Even now the rumours haven't fully died down and I'm not sure they ever will. Coming out was the best way for me to handle things, but not everyone will react well and I understand that others may make different choices. Wherever you may fall within the LGBT community, not everyone will be perfectly accepting, and that may be hard to cope with. If you are a lesbian or gay teen, remember that you are not alone. Never be afraid to be the person you are!

Cathy says:
Attitudes are changing towards the LGBT community and acceptance is much more the norm now, but I admire Zaila's honesty and courage in choosing to be open about her feelings. Have YOU ever had to tell friends and family something like this? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 28 November 2015


Reader Mitchie tells how she came to write and publish her own book at the age of just fifteen… impressed? Read on, you will be!

Mitchie says:
Writing a book takes time. Every day I would come home from school and write one thousand words. Some days were easier than others. Sometimes I'd sit at my computer for almost five hours, trying to figure out what to write and if any of it even made sense. Sometimes I would be done almost immediately and would jot down notes about the next couple of chapters because I was on such a roll. But now, a year and four months later, my book is finished, edited and available on Kindle for everyone to read.

NIGHTINGALE went through a lot of different versions before this one. Frentiss was once a girl called Hanna, and some characters didn't even exist. Much of the plot went through about four re-writes, but hey, that's sort of how it works. You have to want to write. You have to want to be able to finish and keep going, Like I said, it takes time! I hate planning stories with a passion - I always have a very undeveloped idea, or maybe an ending, but I never know how to put it all together. I came up with the idea for this story two years ago, but didn't start writing this version until last April. I finished at the beginning of August and it's only now being published. It's not easy, I can promise that. But I love it. That's partly why NIGHTINGALE exists now.

People had a huge input into the story. One of my best friends Lily would sit with me in History class and I'd ask for advice on the next chapter, or how to make a scene less clich├ęd. My friend Stevie named Frentiss and read early drafts of the book. My aunt is a published author and gave me tips and motivation throughout. Cathy Cassidy, a friend of my dad's, supported me and encouraged me not to give up. Even agents and publishers told me never to give up - a lot of people supported me and were interested in what I wanted to do. They helped me get there, and I will always be grateful for that.

You can download a copy of NIGHTINGALE here for just 99p… what are you waiting for?

Cathy says:
I've chatted with Mitchie a few times about writing, plotting and following your dreams, so I am thrilled to see that she's worked so hard to turn her dream into a reality! I'm off to download a copy of NIGHTINGALE right now… how about YOU? Have you ever tried to write a book? Or succeeded? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 27 November 2015


It doesn't matter how cool or classy our name might be, the impulse to tweak and change it is always going to be strong! We asked readers to tell us about their awesome nicknames and how they evolved!

Boo says:
My real name is Bethany but I have never been a girly girl… I am and always have been proud to be a geek. My parents called me Betty Boo when I was a toddler but as I got older and saw the real Betty Boo I knew that image wasn't me. Mum has always encouraged me to be myself, and I decided I would keep the nickname Boo… that had always seemed perfect to me. The nickname makes me proud because all my friends and loved ones use it… if someone calls me 'Bethany' I know I must be in trouble! Sometimes people laugh at my nickname but I don't care, because i like to be unique. I'll never give up my nickname - it's my identity, and I'm happy being me!

Blue says:
My nickname came about because I had blue hair and a new friend who had such an awful memory he couldn't remember my proper name. Well, to be fair, he remembered it pretty fast but he went on calling me Blue because it suited me… and not just because of my hair colour. He reckoned blue was a very decisive colour - something's either blue or it's not - and he thought that matched my nature. I kept the nickname because I liked how it sounded and it's just my name now… everyone calls me that apart from my family! I might even legally change it one day… I just have to decide on a new surname to go with it!

Phoebe Owl Eyes says:
My nickname is Phoebe Owl Eyes. It started off because I had to wear very strong prescription glasses from quite a young age, and as a result of this, a boy once told me I had eyes like an owl. I was eight at the time and it really upset me, but actually owls are beautiful and amazing and so as time went on I decided to claim the nickname. Over time, it has become a big part of who I am. I collect owls now and use the nickname lots… it's me! I'll always be Owl Eyes and I'm happy about that now… it's funny how a childish comment has ended up being an important part of my life!

Kiwi says:
My name is Kiramae but everyone calls me Kiwi. I love the nickname because it is unusual and quirky and that's the kind of person I am, so it fits! I don't know exactly how it came about. I know I came into school one day and my friend had seen a random picture of a kiwi and was talking about how perfect it was, and suddenly it was being used as a nickname for me! I guess that Kiramae is quite unusual to start with, but it's cool to have a name people have invented for you. Most nicknames are just the actual name shortened, but mine is different and I like that it's unique and original!

Cathy says:
Loving all these cool nickname stories! Do YOU have an unusual nickname? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Thursday, 26 November 2015


Reader Deborah has been supporting Epilepsy Awareness month this November… find out how, and what you can do to help!

Deborah says:
I've been a supporter of Epilepsy Awareness for a few years now. I first became aware of epilepsy when my form tutor told us she had the condition - I was eager to find out more and was so sad to see how much it can affect people, children in particular. I found out about people like Haley who has Dravet Syndrome with severe tonic-clonic seizures whenever she falls asleep; this affects her family badly and also her learning. I was upset to see someone of my own age not having the opportunities and privileges I have because of epilepsy. I wanted to do what I could to help.

I discovered events like Purple Day - March 26th - and now Epilepsy Awareness which runs throughout November. This year on March 26th I wore purple and handed out awareness ribbons made of loom bands to people in my school choir. We travelled to three different schools to singer Easter songs and I was able to flash my bracelets and highlighted purple hair extensions as I sang. I've also uploaded two videos on Epilepsy Awareness and how people can help.

This year for awareness month I decided to do something different - for each day of the month I am taking a picture of something purple I have worn or seen and posting it onto Facebook. I'm calling the project Purple Pics for Epilepsy Awareness and linking it to the charity End Epilepsy on Facebook. I chose to help people with epilepsy because I want them to have normal lives and that a miracle treatment may yet be found. With the right effort and contribution to charities like End Epilepsy, we can work together to stop epilepsy from controlling people's lives. Raising awareness is a start, I am ready to do whatever it takes - are you?

Find out more about Purple Day…  http://www.purpleday.org/
End Epilepsy -  https://www.facebook.com/EndEpilepsy
YouTube (my stuff) -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dztzfDJit-c
 YouTube (their stuff) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkdNCKcg1fw

Cathy says:
Like Deborah, I have strong feelings about this illness because it has affected people close to me. I love Deborah's idea of posting purple pictures for every day of November! Have YOU ever done something cool to support a charity? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER and reader Katy has a question for Cherry Costello to unravel… will she have wise words to share?

Katy says:
There are thirteen girls in my tutor group, including me, so whenever we need to work with partners someone is left out… and it's always me. I'm either left alone or have to pair up with a boy, and when we have free time in tutor group I am alone too and have nobody to talk to. I have tried starting a conversation but my classmates ignore me, as if they can't even hear me. All of my friends are in a different tutor group, which doesn't help. In Year Seven and Eight I was fine and could talk to anyone, but this year I feel like an outsider. Please help!

Cherry says:
I have been an outsider too, so I understand how hurtful this kind of situation can be. Ideally, being with your friends would help… but that may not be possible, so it would be useful to know why the girls in your group are being so unfriendly. Can you talk to your form tutor and explain how you're feeling? He/she may be able to find out why there seems to be such hostility and where it stems from, and perhaps help to smooth down any misunderstandings. You're not asking for miracles, after all, just a friendly word now and then or permission to join in sometimes. Confidence is key, so work on building up your self esteem if you can - the Cathy Cassidy book LETTERS TO CATHY has some helpful sections on this. Join groups outside of class and widen your friendship group, too… this will help you to feel less alone. Remember that school is not forever, and that a class can change at any time… one new pupil could change everything for you, so never give up hope.

Cathy says:
A very difficult situation… do you agree with Cherry's advice? What would YOU add to help Katy handle things better? COMMENT BELOW to have your say! If YOU have a problem for one of the Chocolate Box sisters, email it to me via the email link on www.cathycassidy.com and mark it DREAMCATCHER PROBLEM...