Tuesday, 19 June 2018

JUNE BOOK CLUB: MY BOX SHAPED HEART

Reader Lara recommends a cool YA romance - MY BOX SHAPED HEART by Rachel Lucas - a perfect summer read!

Lara says:
I loved this book from the start, a/ because it is set in Scotland which is where I live and b/ because it's a romance that feels quite real, as if it could happen to you, and c/ it has a swimming theme which makes a change!

It's an easy book to get into, and straight away you care about the characters, especially Holly who just wants to fit in but finds it hard when her mum is so odd (and probably a bit depressed) and her dad isn't in the picture at all. Most of the time, Holly is looking after her mum more than her mum looks after her, and school is a lonely kind of place where she doesn't have any close friends to confide in. When Holly's mum breaks an ankle, however, life takes an unexpected turn for the better. When Holly meets Ed, a new boy in town, at the swimming pool where she works, she discovers that she can relax and really be herself with him. Their friendship turns into romance, in spite of their different backgrounds.

When Ed's past threatens to cause trouble between them, will Holly and Ed weather the storm, or are they doomed to swim in different directions forever? You'll have to read it to see. I recommend this book to anyone over the age of 10/11 who likes romance with lots of realism mixed in. It would be a great summer read, and it's not just a romance, it has lots of drama too. I have read this author's other YA books also and liked them too.

Cathy says:
Funnily enough, I went to the book launch of this lovely book not too long ago... and I agree, it's a fab read! Do YOU have a fave book you'd like to recommend on DREAMCATCHER? COMMENT BELOW to let me know, or email via the 'email Cathy' link on www.cathycassidy.com

Sunday, 10 June 2018

KATHERINE: KEEP GOING EVEN IF YOU'RE LOST

Reader Katherine shares how CC books shaped and encouraged her writing career. Take a look...

Katherine says:
Tomorrow I turn twenty-two. I graduated college from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina last December and  I've just got my very own first solo apartment. My life after graduation has turned out totally different to how I'd imagined. I ended up babysitting a former professors five year old daughter - the last thing I thought I'd end up doing. However, that same professor helped me realise that my path wasn't one that was already set for me, with my degree, with what people expected from me. I've been so happy with the idea of writing and being able to be creative as my profession, but keep having doubt that I'm good enough. Since I graduated I have been struggling to once again find my voice as a writer, and also find my place in this world as a kind, passionate, intelligent and thriving adult. 

Have you ever forgotten a certain time in your life and then had something made you remember it? All of those feelings come flooding back. This happened when I went back onto the CC website just the other day. I gave a little girl named Soleil a copy of SHINE ON DAIZY STAR to read. She is turning six but is a fantastic reader so I thought she could handle a chapter book. So as  I was going through the CC website to find similar, sort of younger books for her, I saw the 'COMPS' section.

I used to submit so much writing to Cathy's writing comps, without a care in the world. I didn't care if she judged me, I didn't care if other people thought it was good, I just did it. Cathy sent me letters twice for coming runner-up and once for winning! I was thrilled back then but cannot tell you what that means to me now. I scrolled back pretty far through the competition entries and found things I had submitted all those years ago. I remembered the stories that were mine. 

Cathy helped me so much, even if she didn't know it. She helped support me as the little artist I was ten years ago, and now I hope she can give me the inspiration to continue to be a writer even though right now I may be feeling a little lost. It makes my heart so happy to see her inspiring so many kids, as she once did for me. 

Cathy says:
It's stories like Katherine's that remind me more than ever why I write. What a touching story... thank you Katherine! Have YOU got a similar story where an author or book has inspired you? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 4 June 2018

CURL UP WITH A CLASSIC: CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG

Reader Lauren recommends the classic CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG and we couldn't agree more...

Lauren says:
CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG is a children's classic book published in 1964 by the author Ian Fleming, better known for his James Bond series for adults. It was written for his son Caspar, who was twelve, but sadly Fleming suffered a heart attack and died two months before the book was released. It was his only children's book. It really captures the magic of flying and adventure. An inventor has a  regular car and a regular life... but on several occasions the car appears to have a mind of its own! The inventor and his family have endless adventures, catch criminals and have several run-ins with gangsters. The book is a thrilling fantasy set in the 1900s, and a film was made of the story in 1968 which made it even more popular!

Recently I discovered a sequel to this amazing classic which is just as awesome as the original! CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG FLIES AGAIN by Frank Cottrell-Boyce is set in modern England, with a regular family struggling with money.  The creative and eccentric dad is an inventor and s tries to renovate a vintage VW camper van. The family decide to go on holiday and while traveling, the family discover that their VW seems to have her own mind. The children,  like in the original,  get kidnapped while on holiday and the parents save them. Although it's a bit different to the classic, I recommend it highly as it has aspects of modern 20th century life that are very relatable and easy for younger readers to understand. Both are amazing books and I really recommend them! If you do like the modern sequel, try also CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG OVER THE MOON and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG IN THE RACE AGAINST TIME!

Cathy says:
Definitely have to agree with Lauren on this one - a classic - and Frank Cottrell-Boyce is fab too! Have YOU read these books? How did YOU find them? COMMENT BELOW...

Sunday, 3 June 2018

MY HERO: AMELIA EARHART

Reader Kat shares her wonderful write-up of pioneer female aviator, Amelia Earhart. Read on and be inspired!


Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.


Amelia Earhart gave women their wings. No seriously. She is famous due to her fascinating and mysterious life in which she pioneered her way, head and shoulders above the men in her field, breaking many records and championing the advancement of women in aviation. That is, flying.

She was always a bit of a boundary-pusher… born in 1897 in Atchison, Kansas, she often played basketball and later held a keen interest in mechanics. She even attended college, which at the time was uncommon for many women.

It wasn’t until after the war in December of 1920 that she took her first aeroplane ride with famed war pilot, Frank Hawks. It was love at first flight (forgive me) and she started lessons straight away. Soon she bought her very first plane, which she called The Canary after it’s yellowy colour.

There was no stopping her! Amelia went on to become the the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and she set the world altitude record of 18,415 feet. Earhart also helped found the Ninety-Nines, an organisation of female pilots who banded together to encourage women in aviation, which still exists to this day!

In 1937, Amelia mysteriously disappeared during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. She vanished over the central Pacific Ocean and was never found. Although there have been countless investigations, nothing absolute can be drawn with such little evidence.

She inspires me with her seamless, courageous spirit and even though I hold no interest in aviation as a career, this energy can be applied to my own hopes and dreams. She gives me confidence that I can achieve anything. Amelia once described fears as paper tigers, adding, please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. So let her disappearance be an inspiration for us. You could view it as she intended, not necessarily a failure but more of a challenge.

CATHY SAYS:
An inspiring woman indeed... and a role model for anyone wishing to push the boundaries and reach for the sky! Do YOU have a fab female hero or role model? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 28 May 2018

BEING A WOMAN IN 2018

Readers share their thoughs on what it is like to be a young woman in 2018... 

FAITH SAYS:
For me being a woman in 2018 means strength; it's being fierce and defiant in a society that seeks to put us down. It's providing how we can destroy expectations. It's facing prejudices and challenges that still exist. It's tackling the discrimination women all over the world face, by joining together. In such an inspirational time where women are standing up for what is right, I believe that we should support each and every woman. Whether she is a hairdresser, a doctor or an engineer. We are all valid, we are all beautiful and we are all important.

KATIE SAYS:
Right now.... it means we have to stick up for one another. I am DONE with hate, because at the end of the day we are all the same. Whether we celebrate or grieve, we should do it together, because too many people aren’t together. Being together means love, and love is now, in the twenty-first century, more important than ever. Love is love is love, and should be for everyone. Love is for everyone, so we, the women of the twenty-first century, should love one another, raise each other up, and respect everyone we cross paths with. Being a woman in the twenty-first century means we can do this!

ALI SAYS:
What is it to be a woman in the 21st century? Scary. Exciting. Adventurous. Always anxious. Brave. Bold. Powerful. Petrified. Confident. Confused. Chaotic. In control. Out of control. Loved. Hated. Respected. Ridiculed. Not yet equal, but getting there.

MARLIN SAYS:
I am a work in progress, I always will be. Inside me there's a little voice that tells me I am as good as anyone else in this world, but out in the big wide world there are a lot more voices telling me that's not so. I refuse to let it stop me. 

JAN SAYS:
I am soft, gentle, kind... and hard, hardworking, furious, feisty. A woman is whatever she wants to be, and I see glimpses of a society where we can all find our place. Not before time.

Cathy says:
Wow! So many moving, inspiring, well-written manifestos for being female in 2018. Wow! Tell us what YOU think in the COMMENTS SECTION below... 

Sunday, 27 May 2018

FIVE MINUTE FICTION: WAITRESS

Regular DREAMCATCHER blogger Emma shares a powerful piece of writing inspired by her own struggles...

I can’t believe it’s been four years since I first started writing for “Dreamcatcher".  I will forever be grateful to Cathy and the platform she and this blog has given me. Over the years, people have told me how my advice and features has helped them get through rough patches in their lives. This is something that really gives me a sense of purpose. However, to commemorate my fourth year with Dreamcatcher, I wanted to write something raw and honest. As a writer, I sometimes struggle to write about my own feelings, especially directly in the form of a feature which is what I typically write. That is to me the beauty of English, through some means there is always a way to convey how you’re feeling. This is a poem called “Waitress” which is about my ongoing struggle with depression and anxiety. Something which I kept a secret for many years... 


Ding.
In walks another customer.

I keep my back turned.
Praying I won't be noticed.
I thought it would be a quiet day.
It has been a quiet day.

“Miss," says the customer.
"Please turn around; I only want your attention for a minute."

I breathe deeply and try and relax.
Hoping I'll turn around and they will be gone.

“Miss," the customer says again.
“I’ll only take a minute of your time."

I turn around and reluctantly walk towards the customer.
Surprise, surprise, they’ve already made themselves at home.
They've been here before.

“What will it be?" I ask,
But I already know the answer.

“The usual," the customer says,
“I think I'll go for ...
Your confidence, your sense of purpose with a side of your self-belief.
Oh, before I forget, I'll substitute your positive thoughts for negative, uncomfortable ones, I'm sure you won't mind, you let me the last time."

I nod and walk away.
What's the point in arguing?
They'll just keep asking until they get what they want.

After I bring the customer what they've asked for,
They mercilessly ravish it in whole.
Swallowing every bite, they grow stronger as I grow weaker.

As I'm about to close up.
I feel them behind me, their breath on my neck.
A warm tingling sensation that makes me nauseous.
“Any chance of one for the road?" the customer enquiries.

“I don't think I've anything else to give you," I assure them.
“Very well then, until next time," the customer mumbles.
As they finally leave they turn around and say, “Oh of course, your tip, the usual rate I assume? Don’t forget Miss...”

“That I am nothing and of course, that I look fat today .... I know," I say before they get a chance to.

I take a minute after they leave.
When the place is empty, I can think clearly and finally close up.
When the place is empty, I think maybe I don't have to quit just yet.
I’m haunted by how angry the management would be with me. If I moved on from here.
Just as I begin to get a sense of reality, I hear a sound that makes my body ache and head throb.

Ding.
In walks another customer.

CATHY SAYS:
Thank you for sharing this powerful, personal poem, Emma - I love it, and I think others will connect also! Have YOU struggled with anxiety and depression? COMMENT BELOW if you'd like to share...

Saturday, 26 May 2018

QUIZ: WHAT'S YOUR SUMMER STYLE?

Our fun quiz might just help you work out your summer style... give it a go!

1/ What is your fave ice cream flavour?

A) Pistachio 

B) Vanilla with a raspberry swirl

C) Mint Choc Chip 

D) Strawberry



2/ If you could be in any city right now, which would it be?

A) London
, baby! But circa 1950...
B) New York, New York!
C) Wham, bam, Amsterdam!
D) Paris
, ooh la la!

3/ Your friend is coming over to sunbathe in the garden. What will you wear?
A) That amazing vintage swimsuit you found in your gran's wardrobe - Sixties Cool!
B) Your new bikini, of course... and those glittery flip flops you've been saving for the holidays!
C) Shorts and a t-shirt... this isn't the Costa Del Sol, after all!
D) A summery dress and pretty sandals.

4/ The sun is shining, where would you rather be? 

A) Off investigating the nearest ruined castle

B) On a beach, topping up your tan

C) Skateboarding with your pals

D) Picking wildflowers

5/ You are at the park with your friends and your crush approaches. Do you…

A) Flutter your eyelashes and watch them fall at your feet!

B) Flirt back with confidence

C) Ignore them... this is friend-time, not flirting time.
D) Blush and hide your face


6/ What sport do you play?

A) Hockey

B) I don’t do sports, I prefer to watch

C) Football

D) Tennis

7/ What's your dream summer date?
A) A picnic in the park
B) Dinner at a fancy restaurant with a cool sea view!
C) A bike ride to the countryside
D) A walk along a moonlit beach

MOSTLY A’s: VINTAGE
A few well-chosen vintage pieces from charity shops or vintage markets make sure your summer look is one that truly stands out from the crowd. Like your chosen style, you are individual, arty and unique!

MOSTLY B’S: CHIC
Your summer style owes more than a little to glitz and glam - and why not? Summer is the perfect time to shine - make the most of your chic fashion choices before real life forces you back into school uniform again!

MOSTLY C’S: COOL
You're still something of a tomboy at heart... comfort and practicality matter more to you than high fashion. You sometimes have your head in the clouds but your feet are firmly on the ground, and for you summer is all about friendship and fun!

MOSTLY D’S: GIRLY
You may be a feminist at heart, but you love good old fashioned girly style... little dresses, pretty prints, cute accessories and hair-dos. You're smart and ambitious, but deep down a part of you is still a little girl with big dreams!

Cathy says:
What was YOUR result? Accurate or just a bit of fun? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 18 May 2018

DEIRBHILE: TALKING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH

Reader Deirbhile shares a compassionate and personal piece about mental health and the need for proper support and understanding...

Deirbhile says:
This past week has been Mental Health Awareness Week. I am so glad we are talking about mental health openly and honestly. But this is only the beginning - our mental health services are simply not good enough. Lives are being put at risk. We need properly funded services; we need adequately trained, compassionate, caring mental health professionals. When we are ready to talk, we need someone to listen. We need someone who knows how to help.

Over the course of six months, I attended my GP seventeen times expressing suicidal idealisation.
I did not see a psychiatrist until I attempted to take my own life.

This. Isn’t. Good. Enough.

I am someone who is educated on mental health. I have an outstandingly supportive family and amazing friends. I am doing a job that I love. I knew what help I needed and still I could not get it.

Most people aren’t as lucky and as privileged as I am.
Most people use all the bravery they have going to the GP for the first time.
Most people won’t make it to that 17th appointment.
I heard a statistic recently - one in ten deaths in the area where I live are deaths from suicide.
This is an epidemic.

CATHY SAYS:
I agree with Deirbhile - mental health services are seriously over-stretched and vulnerable young people are suffering because of this. Have YOU struggled with mental health issues or found it hard to access the help you need? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

CORRINA: MY BEST FRIEND HAS STARTED SMOKING!

Reader CORRINA is worried about her best friend but how can she tell her? Maybe SUMMER TANBERRY can help...

Corrina says:

This may sound strange but I think my best friend has taken up smoking. I know her mum smokes so she doesn’t have a good role model but I am worried about her! I can’t tell her because she’ll get angry. How can I let her know?

Summer says:
This is a tricky one. We all know that smoking is bad for our health... the information and health education leaves us in no doubt. However, smoking is very addictive and many people, like your friend's mum, struggle to give up the habit. This sets a bad role model in one way, but in another it just shows that adults are not perfect and can be as flawed as we are... I'm pretty sure your friend's mum would probably be upset to think her daughter is smoking. You're right to tread carefully here... making too much of a drama of this could push your friend in the opposite direction and make her more determined than ever to smoke. Try telling her you are worried about her instead... gentle concern often works better than harsh judgement. Your friend is still at the experimental stage, so step back a little and let her come to her own conclusions. Smoking isn't just a serious health risk, it's hugely expensive and very uncool in a whole lot of ways. In time, your friend will see this. Good luck.

Cathy says:
Summer's gentle approach to this dilemma seems like the right way to go... do YOU have any extra advice for Corrina? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 14 May 2018

LIFESKILLS: MINDFULNESS MADE EASY!

Regular blogger Laura has some tips to help us stay mindful in the most stressful of times... take a look at her suggestions!

Laura says:
Everyone is talking about mindfulness these days. What is it? I suppose it is a kind of meditation without sitting cross-legged and listening to wind chime music! It is about staying ‘in the moment’ and living your life to the full, feeling connected and sometimes letting your mind go blank. It can help us stay serene and calm when the world around us is going crazy, so why not give it a try?

- Smile!
Smiling is the number one way to make yourself feel better. Let your muscles relax and chase the frown away, take some deep breaths and smile. You’ll feel the stress levels dropping and notice that others are smiling back!

- Sole survivors!
Take your shoes and socks off and reconnect to the earth beneath your feet. (Best on a warm day and on tidy grass!) Be aware of the texture of the grass - or the carpet, or the floorboards! Stand still and imagine your feet sending roots down into the earth!

- Learn something new!
Try learning a new language, bake some biscuits, learn to salsa or knit... it’s a great experience to go back to being a beginner again. You open yourself up to the lessons, and get fully absorbed in what you’re doing too. And at the end of it you’ll have a new hobby!

- Touching time!
Let your fingers notice the textures of your clothes, of the carpet, the work surfaces, the floor. Is it warm? Cold? Soft? Rough? Stop every now and then to really notice these things!

- Hot chocolate mindfulness!
My favourite one! Make yourself a hot chocolate and make a ceremony out of it, like the Japanese do with tea. Choose the right cup, boil the kettle, add the hot chocolate, stir in sugar or honey or spices if required or maybe add squirty cream. Don’t let anything distract you. Then sit down quietly and enjoy drinking it... notice the taste and the sensations. Mmm!

Mindfulness is switching on to noticing the world around you, and finding little moments of calm in it. We could all do with some of that!

Cathy says:
Brilliant piece, Laura! I practice mindfulness and it really helps with day-to-day stresses. Have YOU tried mindfulness before? Let us know what you think in the COMMENTS SECTION.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

MY HERO: ROSA PARKS

Reader Charli shares why Rosa Parks is such an inspiration to her, and should be to everyone!

Sometimes the simplest of actions can speak louder than a thousand words.

1st of December, 1955. Montgomery, Alabama. After a long day at work, a young woman by the name of Rosa Parks simply refused to give up her seat to a white man. This was one of the most courageous acts of the civil rights movement. It sparked the Montgomery boycott and countless other efforts to end segregation.

Rosa Parks was a seamstress who had recently joined the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or the NAACP. It was here she was inspired and given strength to stand up for her rights. She wasn’t just physically tired after a hard days work. She was tired of giving in to white people.

Three of the other black passengers on Rosa’s bus complied with the driver because it was the law, but Rosa refused and remained seated. The driver demanded, "Why don't you stand up?" to which Rosa replied, "I don't think I should have to stand up.” She was immediately arrested.

In the following weeks, a mass Montgomery bus boycott was organised in response to this injustice. On the morning of December 5, a group of Civil Rights activists gathered by the Mt. Zion Church in Montgomery to discuss strategies and determined that their proposed boycott required a new organisation and strong leadership. Thus they started the Montgomery Improvement Association, electing newcomer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. They believed that Rosa Parks' case provided a perfect opportunity create real change.

Despite Parks’ becoming a symbol for the civil rights movement - referred to as the ‘mother of the Civil Rights movement’ - the following months after her arrest were awful. She and her husband lost their jobs and were forced to move in search of work. They eventually settled and found work in in Detroit, where she remained an active member of the NAACP.

She is my biggest inspiration because her defiance was so simple, so elegant. She had just had enough.

Cathy says:
Rosa is one of my heroes also... when I first heard her story I just couldn't believe that the front seats of American buses had once been reserved for white people only. Rosa's bravery changed things for the better, but we must always take a stand against racism and inequality, wherever and whoever we are. Who are YOUR heroes? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

JUNE BOOK CLUB: MY BOX SHAPED HEART

Reader Lara recommends a cool YA romance - MY BOX SHAPED HEART by Rachel Lucas - a perfect summer read! Lara says: I loved this book f...