Saturday, 23 June 2018

THE REAL MARY SHELLEY...

Ok, so not the REAL Mary Shelley… as in the author of Frankenstein, we’ve done that already... Cathy's daughter tells all about the inspiration for the adorable reptile character in CC's latest series the LOST & FOUND!

Cait says:
Who is she? What is she? Well, Mary Shelley (or Hercules as she sometimes likes to be called!) is a gender-fluid tortoise residing in Manchester. She is also the living, breathing inspiration for CC's recurring character of the same name in her new series! The fictional Mary Shelley first appears in LOVE FROM LEXIE, wandering into the garden of Lexie's new foster home after being lost for months from the student house along the street... and becomes Lexie's first 'rescue' and best friend. Mary Shelley features lots in CC's new book, SAMI'S SILVER LINING, out on 28th June, too - she goes to parties, picnics, travels on a train, goes to the beach... generally speaking, she's just being her very cool self!

The 'real' Mary Shelley used to belong to one of my friends and I was often asked to tortoise-sit while they were away on holiday. I like to think it was like leaving her with her “cool-aunt” and so I would take her on adventures to the beach, the countryside or to my parent's house. This is how my mum has become inspired and who can blame her? Mary Shelley is a heartbreaker! As it happens, recently she became my forever tortoise due to my friend's having a baby. They still visit her all the time, but simply didn't have time to look after two little creatures. And I am completely in love.

Mary LOVES to eat dandelion leaves and cherry tomatoes but her real weakness is for red bell-peppers - they are like an elixir to eternal happiness, in her opinion. My favourite characteristic about Mary Shelley is that she is unquestionably fast; you turn your head for one second and she's off into the undergrowth, leaving you to spend half an hour trying to hunt her down and subsequently burning the dinner on the stove. She is a free spirit and defies all previous impressions.

Mary is a rescue tortoise. A tortoise can live, on average, for around seventy-five years, making it hard for families to hold on to them - thus having a tortoise is a lifetime commitment and a family affair. Sadly there are so many unwanted tortoises around who have lost their homes... just like Mary Shelley did in LOVE FROM LEXIE, in fact. If you've fallen in love with the tortoise in the story - let's face it, who wouldn't - and are thinking about adopting one, there are many online sites to help you find a tortoise in need and help you to get up to speed on looking after one. Although tortoises are not native to this country, they can live pretty happily if they have a heat lamp, room to roam and good, fresh food.

Let's face it, tortoises are cool and Mary Shelley is cooler than most. And her favourite books? FRANKENSTEIN, of course, as well as LOVE FROM LEXIE and SAMI'S SILVER LINING!

Cathy says:
Aww... Mary is the cutest tortoise ever! She's also one of the most popular animal characters I've ever written about, so check her out in the books above! Do YOU have a fave pet? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

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!

Friday, 11 May 2018

ONCE A WRITER, ALWAYS A WRITER...

Grown up reader Katelynn shares how CC inspired her to write her own book when she thirteen...


Katelynn says:
I first met Cathy Cassidy when I came to a book signing in Bluewater Waterstones in 2010. While there, I got a photo of us, and printed it on a canvas, which is still hanging up in my room to this very day. I then also met Cathy again when she came to Worthing for the first time, which I think was in  2011. I think it was 2011. I remember asking her to sign every single one of my books, because I had brought them ALL along with me. From DIZZY, right through to MARSHMALLOW SKYE. I can still remember the embarrassment I had on my face when I was holding up a big line of other teenage girls in Waterstones.

I am twenty one years old now and a university student, and I still love CC books! I have all of them, and  I'm halfway through LOVE FROM LEXIE right now. I’ve always loved CC books, and I would really love to meet her again one day!

I have always loved to write stories, practically since I was about seven years old. I remember that I did write a book once, during year nine… so I would have been about thirteen or fourteen years old back then. I counted how many pages it was on word, and I think it got up to 100 A4 word document pages. Obviously the grammar wouldn’t have been correct, or the layout; and maybe most of it might not have linked perfectly together or made any sense, but I really did enjoy writing it.

I do still occasionally write, on my iPhone application called WattPad, but these are mainly fan fictions about bands. I would love to learn what it takes to be able to write a good book, because back when I was writing on Word, my family and friends used to tell me I had some good strong talent at writing. I am in my second year of my BSc Honours in Animal Science now but I would love to get back into writing!  I have been busy with my coursework lately, but somehow, I found time to finish the rest of SWEET HONEY, and read LOOKING GLASS GIRL, in less than two days!

Cathy says:
I LOVE hearing from my grown up readers, thanks for sharing Katelynn and good luck with your writing! Do YOU have any stories to share? How was CC inspired YOU? COMMENT BELOW...

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

MAY BOOK CLUB: FROST HOLLOW HALL BY EMMA CARROLL

This month, reader Caitlin recommends the fab novel FROST HOLLOW HALL by Emma Carroll. Read on to find out what she thinks!

Caitlin says:
FROST HOLLOW HALL by Emma Carroll is an amazing and totally compelling read. Whilst reading this fabulous book (which is targeted at children or young adults aged ten and up) I was desperate to discover what happened next. FROST HOLLOW HALL is a book set in the Victorian era - winter 1881 to be exact! Throughout reading FROST HOLLOW HALL I couldn't help but grin at Will Potter, the local butchers boy... he was a great character, although not the main one!

This time-worthy read is actually about a courageous character named Tilly Higgins who was born into poverty and a working class family. On one winter's evening Will Potter dares her to ice skate on the frozen river that looms before Frost Hollow Hall. This may not seem like much of a dare - however, little does Tilly know - it is. The reason? Ever since Kit Barrington drowned whilst skating on that ice ten years ago, not one single soul has set foot on it since. But the dead don't scare Tilly Higgins!

During her time skating, the ice grows thin, so thin it cracks. Too far out to swim to dry land, she begins to drown until suddenly she's rescued by an angel. Although this is no angel, its a ghost. A very troubled ghost...

A gripping and entertaining read... I really recommend!

Cathy says:
Sounds like a book I'd love! Have YOU read FROST HOLLOW HALL? What did YOU think?

Sunday, 6 May 2018

KATIE: WHAT GINGERSNAPS MEANS TO ME...

The story of how CC book GINGERSNAPS helped shape reader Katie's early teens... and still resonates today!


I must have been twelve or thirteen years old when I discovered GINGERSNAPS. I was a year into secondary school and it was not a good time for me. All through primary school and secondary school I endured years of bullying. I didn’t fit in with a crowd. I was the odd one out, the kid who chose books over fashionable clothes and makeup and made friends with the teachers. And when I did find one friend I thought would help me through the bullying, she chose to follow the popular girls instead. But what got me was how alike my story was to the book. 

When I first read GINGERSNAPS I remember I couldn’t put it down. I read it in one day - I stayed up until 3am and at the end I cried so hard my lungs felt like they’d collapse. I would carry the book around with me at school and when I’d get tormented I would hide in the library or the toilets and read your book over and over. I felt everything Ginger was feeling to the point where I felt like she was the friend I never had. I became very depressed as a young teenager, reading GINGERSNAPS helped me get through times when I thought I wouldn’t make it out of that dark hole the bullies had dug for me. Your book helped me learn to stay true to myself even when I feared I wouldn’t be accepted. This book gave me hope. Now, roughly ten years on, I still read GINGERSNAPS and feel so grateful for it. And to my friends, like Emily and Sam who I know will always be there for me and love me for who I am. I do believe this book is one of the reasons I’m still here today.

A few days ago I decided to get a tattoo of the fox from GINGERSNAPS. The idea is based on the last page of the book when Ginger realises there are some things Shannon would never be able to comprehend but that that’s OK. For me, that signifies everything about me that the bullies in this world will never understand and how that it is OK. The fox to me means strength, individuality and courage to be different. On page 60, CC writes about how foxes are hunted by humans, torn apart, and that is exactly how bullying feels; you’re being hunted, torn apart and every bit of happiness in you is destroyed. I’ve always been an animal activist, and vegan for four years, so the fox also has that meaning to me. 

I’d like to add that for anyone going through bullying that it’ll be OK. I know it feels like the world around you is crashing right now and you don’t know if you can survive but you can and you will. It will pass and you’ll be stronger for it. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has struggled with friendships, bullying and with their own identity - for anyone who is struggling to find their place in this world. GINGERSNAPS will stay with me forever; I will pass the book on to my children one day.

Cathy says:
Bullying is something I feel very strongly about - it is sadly still all too common in schools across the UK. Reading is a great way to not feel so alone in times like these. Thanks, Katie and keep being fab!! Do YOU have a fave book that helped you through tough times? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Saturday, 5 May 2018

YOUR STARS FOR MAY!

Here once more with your star readings for May, Skye Tanberry reveals all! 

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
Let yourself be energised by the full moon. Cast aside any doubts and just let yourself be free this month. You may find a love interest that you weren’t necessarily looking for… but don’t worry, no need to change anything. Just keep being you!

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
You have a lot of creative energy this month, but you are not sure how to spend it! It could be that the best way to use this powerful urge is through exercise; clear away the cobwebs! Aligning your thoughts is a great way to gain lucidity.

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
It seems you are in for a productive yet solitary month; it's not that you'll be lonely, but you will be in a fierce and independent streak, helping you achieve your goals without relying on anyone else. This is a good chance to push yourself to new heights.

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
Time for a spring clean? It's been a long time coming, but the sunshine has arrived! A good clear-out of your room may in turn lead to a clearer head and brighter outlook. A fresh leap into spring! You social life will begin to sparkle this month, so make sure you look after your friends.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Let the breeze tickle through your hair and the grass through your toes and stretch out into the sun.  You’ve had a lot on your plate recently but don’t be afraid to just take it easy this month. Give something back and reward yourself.

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
You’ve felt quite alone recently but that may change for good this month, with the arrival of someone new! To begin with there may be some friction but try to welcome them with an open mind. You are more similar than you may think!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
You're slightly more emotional this month so try to be aware of what is affecting you. Make more of a conscious effort to react fairly and soundly. If things become heated with a family member, take the higher ground. Make an effort to peacefully repair the damage.

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
Listen to your dreams, they are our minds way of making sense of the world around us. Keeping a dream journal can often help to guide us through our daily lives. You hold the answer within yourself - you just need to decode it!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
You are bursting with ideas but unsure how to accomplish them! Don't be afraid of asking for input from friends or family members. We are strongest when we work together, so using everyone’s individual strengths may be a sure way to achieve what you want!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
School/work is tough right now, and you have a lot of pressure from all angles. Try to remain calm and collected. A good way to ensure a sound mind is to meditate. Give yourself a 15 minute break from the world around you just to breathe. This may have astounding results!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
A change in a relationship may come to light this month. An acquaintance turning into a friend? A friend into a love interest? Whatever the situation, embrace it and take it slowly. Stay true to who you are but be open-minded and thoughtful.

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
You are strong this month, you have an effect on people which goes way beyond what you may imagine! Do not abuse this power. True strength is kindness. Let others in, share your ideas and activities and you will end up with a bright, sparkling social life.

Cathy says:
Mine is spot on!! Spooky! Do YOUR predictions ring true for you? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

THE LITTLE THINGS I LOVE...

It's the little things in life... we asked readers what their fave simple pleasures were. Here's what they said!

Joss says:
I keep a journal. Even if I just write one sentence in it every night, I feel all the worries and hassles of the day drop away. Usually, I write a LOT more than just that, though. It's a way of getting my feelings out while still feeling safe and it helps me to keep things in perspective. I like to think I will enjoy reading through my journals in ten or twenty years time!

Evie says:
A family sized bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk! I’m not saying I eat it all at once, but just the sight of it makes me happy and that taste is sheer bliss.

Kate says:
A bubble bath and a book to read while I soak... as long as I don’t drop it in the water!

Heather says:
Clean sheets, new pyjamas and a mug of hot chocolate... sipped while curled up in bed with the fairy lights on!

Jen says:
Swimming... it’s my favourite way to let go of the stresses and set the world to rights.

Carole says:
Curling up with a Cathy Cassidy book when it’s cold outside and the wind is howling...

Millie says:
Texting my best friend ALWAYS makes me feel better... she understands me better than anyone else I know.

Mel says:
Sounds mad, but practicing my piano exam pieces - it’s a part of my day now. I get a kick from knowing I’m working hard at my dream!

Carmen says:
One of my favourite things is when my sister Rosa and me do each other’s hair and make-up. It’s fun and soothing, and sometimes funny... and while we do it, we have some of our best and most honest talks.

Linzi says:
Watching the sun rise!

Zoe says:
Snuggling up with our pet dog Rollo... he’s the only one in the world who knows all my secrets!

Photo by the talented Nes Rine... thank you!

Cathy says:
Ahh... wonderful stuff! One of my fave simple pleasures is walking my dogs on a sunset beach! What is YOUR simple pleasure? COMMENT BELOW...

Monday, 30 April 2018

EMINÉ & ALARA: WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE TWINS!

Just like a real-life version of Skye and Summer Tanberry, readers Eminé and Alara are twins! We asked them to tell us what it's really like in their world! Read on...


Eminé & Alara says:
Hi everyone, hope you are all having a great day!! Our names are Eminé and Alara and our names are Turkish because our dad is Turkish, which means we are half Turkish. Eminé is our Grandma's name and Alara  means many things including the top of a mountain and the girl who opens the heaven door! However, we are not writing about the cool names, we are writing about being twins!! We love Cathy Cassidy and had the chance to meet her about a month ago, and when she mentioned the DREAMCATCHER reader blog we had to get involved. Here are some of the frequent questions we get asked about being twins...

WHO IS OLDER ?
Emine is the older, but by just one minute

DO YOU ARGUE?
Yes, of course we argue sometimes, however not toooo much...

ARE YOU IDENTICAL?
Yes we are, which some people actually find surprising. Do you think we look similar?

ARE YOU INTO THE SAME THINGS?
Well, we both love sports but not the same ones. Eminé likes netball and ballet where as Alara likes rugby and football. (We support Brighton and Hove Albion by the way,)

WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST THINGS ABOUT BEING A TWIN?
Best: There is always someone there for you!
Worst: People think you both like the exact same things when really you are two separate people...

DO YOU HAVE THE SAME FRIENDS?
Yes and no. We both get on with each others friends but we are in different classes at school so have different groups of friends - it works out quite well!

CATHY SAYS:
Wow! I was an only child for the first five years of my life and always used to daydream about having a twin... someone to share everything with! Are YOU a twin? Do YOU have any cool stories? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 29 April 2018

FIVE MINUTE FICTION: HALL OF MIRRORS

Reader Julia shares a fantastic piece of writing which left us wanting more! Read on and see what you think! 

I was tired - beyond tired, if I was honest. Laremy, Arthur and I had been up all night, going through documents; surviving on nothing but a bottomless pot of black coffee and a bowl of liquorice all-sorts between us. Laremy was hopeful, always saying that we were only a few steps from uncovering the man in the photograph, but I didn’t feel the same. It was nothing but endless files, and all of these men had been to training programs, all of them had blond hair and blue eyes and medal after medal of honorary services. All of them were also dead.

It was like running through a hall of mirrors. Face after handsome face, staring back at me with their plastic smiles. Would we ever find him, or was this as much of a lost cause as I was beginning to think? We'd come to Hamburg, intent on finding a nameless man from an old photograph, but not once did any of us step out of the stuffy, filed-crammed offices and take a walk through the gardens, the forests, the meadows. I needed the fresh air, somewhere I could go and be myself again. I sat down on a thick, dried-up tree stump, partially shaded by a nearby birch, slipped off my shoes and allowed my bare feet to slip between the damp blades of grass. I wish we had come here for a vacation instead; I liked my job, but coming to this place for an investigation just seemed like an ugly reason for being here. Why had the picture led us to Germany? Who was the person in it, giving the government so much grief? It was a mystery.

‘I thought I'd find you here.’ It was Arthur, his tie loosened, jacket abandoned, his hair a ruffled mess. Even the most dedicated researchers had to relax every once and a while. ‘Nice place, isn't it? Much more relaxed than West Berlin. Laremy thinks we're close to a break-through, and once he gets like that, there's no standing in his way.’

‘I want to solve this riddle too, but at what cost?’ I said. ‘The man in the photograph might not even be Haphner at all; if he isn't, and we've wasted our time, we'll be back to square one...’

‘You remember why we're doing this in the first place, don't you?’ Arthur said. ‘It matters. Our government want to find Haphner, and that’s what we’ll do. Detectives never give up! We have one clue, at least, and even if it doesn't lead to anything, we still have a job to do. Who knows, maybe some day in the future, we could come back here again for a short holiday? Picnic's by the seaside, hikes through the forest...’

‘Five more minutes, then we'll get back to work...’

I loved it out here. And if I could forget the sort of people who once trod upon this soil, counting their harsh goose-steps as they trampled the grass, I could very much imagine myself living here. In some cottage, painting by day and sleeping by night. But I was still young, still curious of mind, and at times, beyond my twenty-one years. While that was so, I would always want to solve mysteries and bring about justice. And whether he liked it or not, we would find Erick Haphner. It was just a matter of when, where and how...

Cathy says:
I love this... I really want to know what happens next! Thanks for sharing, Julia! Did YOU enjoy? COMMENT BELOW and have your say!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

MY HERO: JOAN BAEZ

We asked Cathy's daughter Caitlin to write up a short piece about her hero. Also a folksinger, Caitlin responded with some wonderful words about Queen of Folk Joan Baez.

Queen of folk music. Civil rights and peace activist. Elegant guitar player. Stealer of hearts.

Joan Baez paved the way during the 1960s folk revival. She used her piercing soprano voice and fast-growing influence to promote peaceful, political change and to speak out against the injustices she saw around her. She is also credited for introducing her audience to a then-little known Bob Dylan, a man with whom she later went on to have a famous love affair.

In 1956, two very important things happened to the impressionable 15 year old, Joanie. 1) She first heard Martin Luther King speak about the civil rights movement. 2) She bought her first guitar. That was it. There was no stopping her. She delved straight into the folk music scene, with a force that could blow up a hurricane. She never looked back.

She began singing live at university in Boston when she was still a student and used to frequent the coffee houses of Greenwich Village in New York City to sing. It was here in April 1967 that she met Bob Dylan.

Almost instantly smitten by this young vagabond, Joan Baez took Dylan under her wing and they started singing duets together. To begin with her audiences were outraged at this ruffian with the scraggly voice and the scruffy clothes, but soon he carved out his own path to stardom. Although Joan showed him the ropes when it came to political folk music, he soon overtook her in leaps and bounds with songs such as A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall and very quickly shot to his own fame; claiming the royal throne of the musical monarchy. Although their love affair fizzled out after time, Joan could never shake the influence young Bob Dylan had on her. To this day she sings his songs all around the world, has recorded albums of his songs. It was a historic relationship in many ways and she unashamedly let it become one of her most defining features.


One of Joanie's most influential traits is how she has never wavered. All her life she has fought on behalf of those who can’t speak up, used her voice to help others. Today she still sings, attends Women’s Rights marches and stood on the front line at Standing Rock, a Native American Reservation site which was threatened with interference from the Dakota Access Pipeline recently. She also actively and passionately speaks out against US president Donald Trump.

Ultimately, Joan Baez is my constant source of inspiration, telling me never to give up on what I believe in, and always to speak out against anything that is unjust and unfair... and, of course, to use my voice!

Cathy says:
I'm a Joanie fan too... thanks to Caitlin! Who is YOUR hero? Tell us in a COMMENT BELOW or suggest your own 'MY HERO' blog!

Friday, 27 April 2018

KATIE: WE'RE ALL STORIES IN THE END

We asked readers to tell us about their favourite quotes... this is what reader Katie had to say!

We're all stories in the end...

Katie says:
This quote has resonated with me for a long time. Doctor Who is one of my main fandoms, and Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor in particular is my Doctor. This quote is said by his Doctor when he is saying goodbye to Amelia Pond. But this quote is born from very wibbly wobbly circumstances, so, to use a Harry Potter quote in lieu of an explanation: “It’s not really goodbye after all.”

I started watching Doctor Who when Matt Smith was still “regeneration sick”. So he was my first Doctor, my favourite Doctor, and naturally Amy and Rory became my favourite companions. I could not bear to see the Doctor saying goodbye to Amy and Rory, but in typical Steven Moffatt fashion this ended up happening a lot. But the Doctor wasn’t saying goodbye to adult Amy when he said this quote, he was ensuring that young Amelia would always remember her imaginary friend, “the Raggedy man.”

So at the end of “The Big Bang”, season five, episode 13, the Doctor bends down to Amelia, sleeping in her bed, and says “I’ll be a story in your head. We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”. While most of us may solely interpret this as a heartfelt goodbye, I feel drawn to this quote for what I interpret as its literary undertones. BOOKS! I like books. This quote reminds me of the importance of stories: telling them, reading them and writing them. It also makes me think of finding ourselves in stories. The Doctor is a very relatable character, so not only do I find myself in stories generally, I can relate to a 900-year-old alien. So “We’re all stories in the end” connects me to stories generally, but also my favourite television series, Doctor Who.

Following “We’re all stories in the end” is one of my favourite scenes in the whole of Doctor Who. It’s grown-up Amy’s wedding, and she’s calling her imaginary friend. The Doctor is summoned, saying “I’m Amy’s imaginary friend, but I came anyway!”. The Doctor then dances at a wedding and whisks Amy and Rory away. What’s not to love? So my favourite Doctor Who quote is really the perfect quote: It’s up to interpretation, sad, but also happy and delivered beautifully by Matt Smith. It really is an important reminder. “I’ll be a story in your head. We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

Cathy says:
Love this... and yes, it's a brilliant quote! Do YOU have a famous quote that means a lot to you? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

LISA: MUSIC IS MAGIC!

A while ago, I asked what music meant to YOU... and one of my lovely grown up readers sent this lovely reply! If you're looking for inspiration and a little musical magic, read on!

Lisa says:
I started playing the cornet at the age of six and by nine I was playing recorder too. I started to march with a local brass band until I was about twenty-one, when I met my husband - at the time he played baritone! We got married and started out own competitive marching band, which was very successful! When my daughter came along, she too started to play trumpet and to march, and we continued on for a long time - it was a way of life really!

Today, my husband plays the tuba and my thirteen years old son plays baritone and euphonium. My daughter is now twenty and has almost finished her degree - she has trained to be a professional singer and she also plays trumpet, cornet, flugel horn, piano and ukulele! She is extremely talented and very beautiful too!

These days, I work in a primary school and teach a choir, a brass group and a recorder group. I also play trumpet, cornet, flugel horn, recorder and ukulele! I love teaching music as I have seen for myself how children who may not be particularly academic can really thrive and often excel at music. Also, the enjoyment they get from it is hugely rewarding, for them and for me! I would encourage anyone, young or old, to learn how to play a musical instrument as it can be a great stress reliever. It brings people together and for some people, playing in front of an appreciative audience can really boost confidence and self-esteem. Music really is magic!

Cathy says:
Wow... that's just amazing! I love the sound of brass instruments, so joyful! Do YOU play a musical instrument? Tell us more in a COMMENT BELOW!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

IZZY: MY BEST FRIEND IS JEALOUS

Reader Izzy shares her problem with Skye Tanberry on today's problem page post. Read on to hear Skye's advice!

Izzy says:
I have just started secondary school and it’s going really well! I'm not in the same class as my best friend from primary, K, but I’m fitting in great and making new friends. There is one new friend, L, that I am especially close to… the thing is, K is getting jealous and acting weird around me. She keeps making sarky comments to us when we’re together and acting quite mean. It's really upsetting me. What should I do?

Skye says:
K is clearly feeling threatened by your new friendship, and perhaps worried about losing you. Could it be that she hasn't found settling into secondary school quite as easy? If she's struggling, she may be relying more than you think on old friendships, and feel your newfound confidence and popularity to be some kind of dig at her own uncertainty. If she feels she is losing you, her actions may become irrational and unfair, hence the sarcasm and nastiness... she's trying to get your attention, even though the mean streak is actually more likely to drive you away. Think for a moment how you might feel if things were reversed, and you were watching K make new friends while you were alone. If you value your friendship with K, talk to her about this and explain that you value her and would hate to lose her, but need to spread your friendship net a little now that you're in secondary school. You may decide to try getting her together with L, although any potential friendship certainly hasn't got off to a good start, so you'll have to judge whether this will work or not. Perhaps choose instead to make time to see K on her own, both in and out of school, to reassure her that the bond between you is still strong. Making new friends is brilliant, but hanging onto the old ones is even better... and with a little thought and care, you can do both!

Cathy says:
Some great advice from Skye... let's hope Izzy can get this dilemma sorted! Have YOU any suggestions to help her? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 23 April 2018

APRIL BOOK CLUB: NEVERMOOR

This month, reader Caitlin recommends the book Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend...


The reason I loved Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is because it is an entertaining, magical, intriguing and mysterious read! I picked this book up the other week from Asda after hearing brilliant reviews about it. I admit, the reviews just don't do it justice! I also heard it recommended for fans of Harry Potter so I had to get it because I mean, who doesn't love Harry Potter? I loved everything about this book, from Morrigan Crow being a cursed child, to the Hotel Deucalion.

The name of the author is Jessica Townsend and I'd have to say the genre is probably adventure or fantasy. The story is basically about a girl called Morrigan Crow who is cursed and destined to die on her 11th birthday. On that particular night, a remarkable man named Jupiter North whisks her away to a land called Nevermoor in the free state. Security could be hers although first she has to partake in four trials to receive a place in this wondrous society. Will she succeed? What twists and turns will lie ahead? You'll have to read it and see! I'd say that the age is probably nine-ten and upwards.

I couldn't put this book down, and parts of it had me biting my nails - which I don't normally do! I had the desperate urge to meet the characters in the book and experience just one more day of Morrigan's life. This amazing book definitely deserves five stars and I seriously recommend it... if you are looking for a new, exciting adventure, this is the book for you!

Cathy says:
It sounds captivating... thanks for the recommendation, Caitlin! Have YOU read this book? What are YOUR thoughts? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 21 April 2018

MANDA: WAITING

Reader Manda shares her touching poem which left us with a tear in our eye! Read on...


Dressed up, like I used to
Like you’ll appear any moment
Waiting

Twinkling, they ask
Who I’m all done up for
I say -
Does there have to be a ‘who’?
Waiting

Vain, insane
And maybe all in vain
I am waiting

Gold watch ticking away
The minutes since you left
Waiting

Counting the hours til you come home
Home from far away
Waiting

Heart full of promises
Weighs heavier than your patched-up knapsack
And far less useful
Still waiting

Months and years
Smudge and blur
With the weight
Of waiting

Last rays of sun
Drain away from the horizon
Until I stop waiting.

They tell me: never.
You’re never coming home
What is there left to wait for now?

Cathy says:
Beautiful, Manda... just lovely. What did YOU think of this evocative poem? COMMENT BELOW to have your say.

Monday, 16 April 2018

KATIE: INSPIRING TEACHERS

Reader Katie shares wonderful stories of her fave teachers and how they have inspired her! 

All of my favourite teachers, the most inspirational teachers I’ve had, are Ravenclaws. Mr Hill is Head of Ravenclaw House. He is.... eccentric. He wears all black every day, and had a philosophical conversation with me about fandoms on a bus in Italy. He was my Drama and Classics teacher, and with his guidance I skipped a year of Drama and still came top! He helped me through Classics and it came to be a subject I really loved. I don’t think my school has a Classics teacher any more, which is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, because both of them are gone. Mr Hill went to follow his dream of being an actor, because teaching drove him crazy, and Mrs Fitzpatrick retired.

So yes, Mrs Fitzpatrick was also a Classics teacher, but I only had her for Spanish. Mrs Fitzpatrick joined forces with the French teacher and attempted to drag me back into languages (heaven knows where I was going!) and after choosing Mrs Fitzpatrick’s Spanish class, I have never looked back. Mrs Fitzpatrick is also eccentric. She knows just the right way to get burned at the stake and not feel as much pain. She would always shriek when I shrieked and told me “You must write a blog, Katie!” She was a teacher in all forms of the word.

Mrs Knapton is a Maths teacher. Maths, I know! Shudder. Every lesson I would walk in worried that I wouldn’t understand anything and walk out late because I had been too busy discussing Harry Potter with her. Sometimes all it takes is a shared passion. I passed my exams without anybody’s help but Mrs Knapton’s and may never have to do algebra again!

I have just inadequately described three people I will never forget. They are the reason I see secondary school teaching as a viable option and I want to educate more than anything. I would say I hope they never forget me but I think my voice is still ringing in their ears from the last time I was overly exuberant in one of their classes! (Mrs Knapton is still a teacher here and just last night was discussing Cornelius Fudge’s middle name with me over text!)

Cathy says:
Teachers have such a big impact on the way students develop, it's great to hear such lovely stories!! Do YOU have any cool stories of your fave teachers? COMMENT BELOW!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

PINK: WHAT LOVE FROM LEXIE MEANS TO ME...

Reader Pink offers a very personal response to LOVE FROM LEXIE... and explains just why it means so much to her!

Pink says:
I'm seventeen and have been a huge fan of CC books since I was in primary school, and an avid reader of DREAMCATCHER for these last few years. I am also bisexual, and wanted to let you know how happy I am that you've made a character in one of your books gay. Growing up, I often tried to imagine that various CC characters might be LGBT+ and even wrote fanfic about them... it helped me, I guess. This time, I had suspicions that one character could be gay, but didn't dare think I might be right. I was - I won't tell you the character, because no spoilers, right? Let's just say that when I came to a certain point in the book I began to cry, because I knew that this time it wasn't just wishful thinking, that it wasn't just me hoping for a character like that. I cried so hard I had to put the book down for a few minutes. It seemed momentous. It sounds silly, an almost-adult crying over a young teen book, but I do not care as Cathy Cassidy books mean so much to me and finally, to see someone like me represented in a book by my favourite author... it made me happier than you can imagine!

So thank you, Cathy Cassidy, thank you so much - not just from me. Thank you for all the young LGBT+ kids who can read the book and see the love and support the characters give to the gay character. It means that those kids are not alone, they are normal, that there are other people like them, and that they too will always be loved.

I hope it's not too much to ask, but can this character not be the only LGBT+ one? Could there one day be more? THAT would be amazing! For all the gay kids out there who need reassurance that they are perfectly ordinary, that they can pick up a book with a life changing story, a story that reflects THEIR life somehow. It would mean so much to me, and to others. Thank you Cathy Cassidy for writing LOVE FROM LEXIE, an absolutely wondrous book from start to finish. I fell in love with each and every one of the characters... and I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Cathy says:
Wow... that's an incredibly moving review! THANK YOU so much Pink! I can't say too much without giving away the storyline, but the character Pink mentions has had SUCH a warm reception from my readers, and that's just plain AWESOME. Do YOU feel there should be more diversity in teen and pre-teen fiction? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

MY HERO: COCO CHANEL

Reader Stefi writes about the inspirational fashion icon Coco Chanel and how she changed the course of fashion history forever.


A girl should be two things, classy and fabulous


Fashion designer, revolutionary fashion icon and all round (YAS) queen Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel changed the course of women’s fashion forever by designing non-contriscting clothes. In a retaliation against the corset she introduced loosely fitting clothing with a low waist-line so women could move around freely. This liberated the female silhouette,helped to create the iconic 1920s flapper look and launched Chanel on a career as fashion guru and legend.

Coco Chanel was born in to abject poverty in 1883 as an illegitimate child. When Coco was just twelve, her mother died of tuberculosis, leaving her and her sisters with their father who shortly after chucked them into an orphanage and legged it to live the life of a pedlar. Growing up in a very strict Catholic children's home run by nuns seemed to harden Coco and spurred her on to take control of her life... and to rebel against all the strictness.

She developed into an eager, intellectual and dramatically beautiful young woman and found herself having love affairs with men who lived a far more privileged life than she had done. She first started her career 1906 when she met a French textile heir and racehorse owner who used his money to set herself up as a milliner. Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel showed her the life of a the upper-class, how they talked, lived and most importantly dressed! By 1916, Chanel had made such a success of her business she was able to repay the loan, and had branched out from hats into fashion design, helping to create the ground-breaking flapper look of the 1920s.

Her career spanned her whole lifetime, with Chanel acknowledged as a visionary fashion leader. Her most iconic looks are the Little Black Dress which has proved to be classy and timeless and one which generations of women have tried, tested and loved! It is said that the inspiration for this outfit came after the end of World War I when, for a vast majority of women, there was a need for mourning. Mothers, wives, sisters…most women were were directly affected by the death of a loved one. The black dress was also a celebration of simplicity in a time with so much chaos, and of course it proved to be an enduring and timeless design.

Her other well-known look is the Chanel suit - which consists of a collarless suit jacket and a slim-fitting pencil skirt, pearls and nautical shirt. This originated in the 1920s but remained an iconic design right up until the 1960s and beyond. She was also the creator of a number of perfumes, including the famous Chanel No.5. Chanel designed the clothes that took the women of the 20th century through their journey of increasing freedom, and they did it with style and class.

There are a few things about her personal life I don't admire, but in spite of this, from rags to riches, Coco Chanel was truly a force to be reckoned with. She inspires me to believe in myself and keep going when things get tough and one day hopefully design the kind of clothes that will become legendary too. Be your own woman, but do it with style!

Cathy says:
Chanel was indeed a fashion legend... and her influence remains strong even today. Do YOU have a female hero you'd like to tell us more about? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more and you might even be invited to write about it for DREAMCATCHER!

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