Forget About Fame – Ask for Wonder

“Never once in my life did I ask for success or wisdom or power. I asked for wonder.”

Abraham Heschel

A few months before my new novel, The Moonlight Dreamers, came out, a friend of mine who works in the book trade said to me, ‘You do realise that the only way you’re going to get UK bookstores to order your book in bulk is if you have an endorsement on the cover from A Celebrity.’
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This annoyed me … but I was not surprised.
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It annoyed me because I get so frustrated by our celebrity-obsessed culture. In fact, one of the major storylines in The Moonlight Dreamers is an attack on celebrity culture and the shallowness and spitefulness it inspires online and in certain sections of the media.
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If I asked a celebrity to endorse this book I’d be being a total hypocrite.
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But if book stores don’t order your book in bulk – or at all – what hope have you got for it to succeed?
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There’s so much pressure on us in today’s society to ‘succeed’. And here, I’m referring to society’s definition of success, which seems to be measured purely in numbers.
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Number of followers. Number of ‘friends’. Number of ‘likes’. Number of hits. 
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Financial numbers. Sales numbers. Profit numbers. 
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And the temptation to sacrifice your integrity in the pursuit of these numbers can be HUGE.
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But I was brought up to practise what I preach – even if that means taking the harder path.
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Even if that means missing out on so-called success.
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So I didn’t approach any celebrities to endorse The Moonlight Dreamers.
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Like the quote from Abraham Heschel at the top of this post, I asked for WONDER instead of fame or success.
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I asked and I hoped and I prayed that the book would reach the people who would benefit from the messages contained within it. Free spirits who need a little encouragement in daring to dream.
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I asked for the wonder of the written word and the way it is able to connect us, heart to heart and soul to soul.
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And an incredible sense of wonder is what I am getting – by the bucket-load.
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Wonder that what started out as this random scribbling in a notebook…
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Ended up becoming this beautiful book…
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Wonder at the messages I’m receiving from readers as far away as Australia, telling me that The Moonlight Dreamers has inspired them to re-ignite their own dreams.
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Wonder that, within a few days of its release – and without a celebrity endorsement – it was topping two charts on Amazon and they had selected it as their YA Book of the Month…
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Wonder that Dubray, a chain of book stores in Ireland, had made it their recommended YA book of the month…
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Wonder that it was being recommended as far afield as New Zealand too…
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Wonder at the pictures of the book popping up on Instagram, from on board boats in New South Wales to beside swimming pools in spas…
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Right now, I am awash with wonder.
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So, whatever your dreams and goals may be, forget about fame and focus on finding the wonder.
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Fame and money and ‘success’ are fragile goals. Numbers can rise. But they can fall away too.
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But wonder…
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Wonder stays with you forever.
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The Moonlight Dreamers is available on Amazon here.


How to Create a Colourful Cast of Characters

What makes a great book for you?

For me, it’s a cast of colourful, believable characters that I come to think of as friends.

The first time I started writing a novel I did very little preparation work on my characters – I was itching to get on with the story and I had a basic idea of what my main characters were like, so what could go wrong?

What went wrong was that, because my characters were only sketchy outlines in my mind, that’s how they appeared on the page.

And because I hadn’t taken the time to really get to know who they were, I didn’t know how they’d truly react in the situations I put them in.

So the writing of the book became very stop start and the actions of the characters inconsistent and unbelievable.

Thankfully, I realised what was wrong and instead of ploughing on regardless, I went back to the drawing board – or rather, the character board.

I decided to spend some time really visualising my characters and I trawled through magazines and websites, looking for images that related to them. Photos of people who looked how I imagined the character to look. And pictures of objects, outfits, phrases and places that I related to them.

And, as I pinned these images to a noticeboard on my wall, my characters finally started coming to life. Actually being able to see them and their world helped them become solid and three-dimensional, rather than sketchy outlines.

Once my character board was complete I sat in front of it with a notebook and jotted down any thoughts or ideas the images gave me for the characters and the plot.

And it was amazing just how many ideas I got.

From that moment on, I’ve always created character boards before I start writing a book.

My new novel, The Moonlight Dreamers, has just come out and it features four very different main characters.

Oscar Wilde fan Amber is an avid blogger and loves vintage clothes and records. Kind-hearted, hopeless romantic Maali is devoted to her Hindu faith and dreams of being able to talk to boys. New Yorker Rose is the daughter of famous and divorced parents and she dreams of owning a Harley Davidson and becoming a patissier. And free-spirit Sky lives on a houseboat with her yoga-teaching dad and dreams of finding the confidence to compete in poetry slams.

You can find character boards for all of them here. Simply click on the character’s name and scroll down the page.

You will see images of clothes and objects and quotes and places that are all in some way linked to the character.

Hopefully by looking at each board, you’ll begin to get a feel for the character and see how creating character boards of your own will help bring your own writing to life.

You can create physical boards in your office / home or you can create them online on Pinterest.

They’re a lot of fun to make and they’ll make the writing of your story so much easier … and the reading of your story so much more rewarding.

 

The Moonlight Dreamers is out now

… and Amazon have made it their YA Book of the Month.

A beautiful book about friendship, standing up for what you believe in and finding the courage to be yourself and find your own unique place in the world.’ Lamont Books
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Sensational and unforgettable, falling in love with this book came as naturally as breathing. The best book I’ve read all year.’ Blog of a Bookaholic
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This absorbing tale will inspire you to celebrate your individuality. A great contemporary summer read with a bit of Oscar Wilde thrown in.’ South Wales Evening Post Book of the Week
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Find out more and order a copy here.

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When You’re Drowning … Start Dreaming

If there’s one thing certain about life it’s that, at some point, things are going to get tough.

At some point, you’re going to feel as if you’re drowning.

The failure of an exam, the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, the death of a loved one … or the steady drip-drip of day-to-day stress – any of these can pull you under, leaving all thoughts of achieving your dreams furthermost from your mind.

But it’s at these times that we need our dreams the most.

It’s at these times that our life goals can become life rafts.

One of the nicest things about writing for young adults are the emails I receive from readers.

Six years ago, when my first YA novel was published, a girl emailed me to let me know what she thought of it and to tell me all about her own writing dreams.

Her passion for writing shone through her email and her zest for life was infectious.

We kept up an intermittent email correspondence for the next three years and she kept me up to date on her latest hopes and dreams.

Then it all went quiet.

I found out a couple of years ago that she’d succumbed to an eating disorder and given up on her writing dreams. ‘I’m under too much pressure,’ she told me. ‘I can’t be bothered with writing any more.’

Her words broke my heart.

Because I know better than anyone how important it is to cling to your dreams when the going gets tough.

My own writing dream carried me through and ultimately out of, an abusive relationship. It repaired my shattered self-esteem and brought me happiness beyond my wildest dreams.

And this was the motivation behind my new novel The Moonlight Dreamers – to encourage others to dare to dream, even when the going gets tough. Especially when the going gets tough.

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To my absolute delight, it appears to be working: In the weeks running up to publication I started receiving messages from book-sellers and reviewers, telling me how the book had inspired them. Here are a small selection:

‘It has been what I can only describe as a transformative experience. Maybe once every year a book like this comes along to tell me to keep going. I’m definitely a Moonlight Dreamer.’

‘Within the pages of this book I lost myself, but it was within these pages that I found myself too. Sensational and unforgettable, falling in love with this book came as naturally as breathing. The best book I’ve read all year.’

‘The Moonlight Dreamers is the book I had waited to be written for years. Female empowerment, realistic, creative characters with extraordinary ways of looking at the world. We need more of this in the world.

‘This inspirational story about following dreams and the power of female friendship is as rich,warm and cheering as being curled up with a mug of hot chocolate on a bitterly cold day.’

 

The Moonlight Dreamers officially launched today and you can order a copy from Amazon – who have made it their YA Book of the Month(!)here.

My publisher, Walker Books, have also set up a Moonlight Dreamers websitemoonlightdreamers.com – which is crammed to the rafters with videos, posts and other fun resources designed to help you dare to dream. There’s also an Oscar Wilde plot generator – what better reason do you need for stopping by?

I’ll regularly be blogging at the new site and featuring inspirational guest posts from some seriously interesting people, so come on over and check it out. And if you’d like to write for the site, I’d love to hear from you.

Let me leave you with the Oscar Wilde quote that forms the beating heart of The Moonlight Dreamers:

‘Yes, I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees dawn before the rest of the world.’

Here’s to Moonlight Dreamers, the world over!

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