Monday, 24 February 2020

KRISTINA: THINGS I HAVE LEARNT ABOUT FRIENDSHIP

Reader KRISTINA sheds her wisdom on the difficulties and transitory state of friendships. 

KRISTINA SAYS:
We've all been there... that feeling of being left out when you're not included in a playground game as a little kid, the worry that your BFF may be drifting away, the treading-on-eggshells feeling of navigating high school friendships when you're part of a group but somehow always on the edge. Friendship can be the most important thing in our growing up years. A good friendship is a kind of treasure, and a bad one is nothing short of torment.

We idealise friendships, but the truth is that it's always a give-and-take thing and sometimes a best friend might not be forever. Letting go of a best friend can be painful, but it's rare that the person who was a perfetct match for us at age five will still be a soul mate ten years on. Instead of looking for that mythical perfect person, collect good friends wherever you find them... friends are like books, you can never have too many! It doesn't matter if your friends don't all get on; if some share your love of a particuler hobby and others are mad about nail varnish and boys; if some are at school, some nearer to where you live; if some are extravert and full of fun, others quiet and gentle; if they're boys or girls, older or younger, if you share a culture or a religion or not... you get the picture!

Sadly, friends are not always what they seem. Nobody's perfect, and some people will treat you badly, whether they plan to or not. Be aware. If a friend seems to be using you for what she can get, tread carefully. If she lies or cheats or controls or repeatedly excludes you, be careful. If she puts you down and undermines your confidence, step back... you're looking for a friend, not a 'frenemy'.

If a friendship drifts or dies, let go gracefully, even if you feel hurt. Be glad for the fun times you shared, and remember that not all friendships are meant to last forever. There will be more friendships ahead, wonderful ones. It's sometimes easy to take a friend for granted... take a moment to show your friends how much they mean to you, with a text or an email, a snapchat photo, a phone call, a letter, a hug. One thing I've learnt about friendship is that it grows when you look after it.

Cathy says:
Wise words from Kristina! What are YOUR tips for keeping a friendship strong? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 17 February 2020

FIVE MINUTE FICTION: BAD NEWS...

Read this heartbreaking short story from reader Chloe...

The darkness of the medical room feels right somehow. The rattling of the radiator is the only sound I can hear except for the distant sound of footsteps which I pray  aren't coming my way. I don't need people asking what is wrong - I am already so close to tears. The room is new, different; I feel I can hide there, no questions, no tears, just hiding. You know that moment of pain when you just want to curl up into a ball and hold yourself close? The fear of breaking apart so strong in your mind. It's also for comfort, isn't it? A part of you demands to be alone as people only make you cry... but another part wants a hug, wants someone to tell you it will be OK, just once, even if you do know they're lying. I don't know what I want... silence, comfort? Well, I suppose I do know. I want him to live.

The feeling of helplessness kills you, doesn't it? When you can't do anything but pray and wish and hope and wait. 'It's not fair...' These are the only words I can find to say. The radiator has grown louder now, comforting somehow. Or maybe it is the voice in my head as it narrates the story bringing some kind of comfort. I mean, that's the one person you can't push away, isn't it? Yourself. Even if the whole world turns its back on you, you still have yourself.

A loud, shrill ringing noise sends shivers down my spine. Running footsteps and loud voices of high school kids fills the corridor. I think of my friends... are they wondering where I am, why I'm not in class? They'll think I am away home by now, they don't know I'm here, don't know I'm hiding. The radiator sound has gone. Distant voices and keys rattling are all I can hear, and then I see the janitor, always happy, always smiling, pause in the doorway. 'What's wrong?'

'Bad news,' I say softly, blushing slightly, biting my lip, tears welling all over again. He nods his head and walks away and I sigh with relief. I am not ready to talk about it, not yet. Teachers are walking past the open door now, I flash them all the same weak smile and most smile and walk on, some raising an eyebrow. They know it isn't their place to interfere, that things can't be made better by an awkward conversation through a half-open door.

Someone comes to tell me my Granny is here, and I stand up, leaving the darkness of the little room that has given me a hiding place this last twenty minutes. I know that if he dies I will be seeing that room again, or maybe Mum will let me take that day off school. Grieving takes its toll on people, and nobody knows how long it will last. In a situation like this, I get two days at most and then I will have to pull myself up, put a brave face on and move on, no matter how hard it may be.

He isn't going to die. He can't, I think softly to myself. He has to live, and we have to keep our promises, no matter what...

image: with thanks to Pexels

Cathy says:
I love the heartfelt and powerful prose of this story... and I love that although we don't know quite how it will end, we can all identify with that feeling of helplessness and fear. Have YOU ever had to handle bad news in a school setting? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

READERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

I get some very cool letters and emails from readers all around the world... here are extracts from just a few!


ANGEL CAKE. I read it about ten times and it is amazing. You are my favourite author and I hope one day to meet you! I do not get all your books but I have read sundae girl, Angel Cake,indigo blue,dizzy,lucky star and Scarlett. I want to read ginger snap but I can't find it any libraries were I live. You are my role model. I hope one day I would write books like this too.
Hello, I just love your books... my favourite one is
ZAHERA, S. AFRICA

I just wanted you to know how much you have inspired me... I love all of your novels! I am a huge fan and will definitely be reading the new book!
SAMIKSHA, INDIA

Am I writing to the author of the CHOCOLATE BOX series? I am a big fan, and have so many questions I would like to ask!
CATINCA, ROMANIA

Hello, I am a fan of your books from Hungary! I really love the books and I'm writing to see if there is any way I can get a dedicated bookmark?
EVI, HUNGARY

Cathy Cassidy, I want to say thanks for my childhood. I spent it in reading your books. I am sorry if my English is not perfect. Thank you!
NIKOLINA, SERBIA

I live in South Africa and at the beginning of the year I was lost and had nothing to read until one of my friends introduced me to your books and I was hooked. I absolutely love your books and so do all of my friends. Now every time we are allowed to go to our school library I get one of your books. You are my favourite author.
CAYLIN,  S. AFRICA

Cathy says:
Aww... how cool are my lovely readers? Are YOU reading from outside the UK? COMMENT BELOW to tell me which country you're in, or email me via the website www.cathycassidy.com to be featured on a future blogpost!

Monday, 10 February 2020

TEN WINTER CHEER-UP TIPS!

We all know winter can be tough so we've come up with some hot tips to melt away those winter blues! 

1) Take a stroll outside and soak up that crisp winter sun!
Not only does exercise trigger a release of serotonin (the happiness hormone!) in your brain, but getting out and about, even on the greyest of days can expose you to much needed vitamin D.

2) Journal ten things you're grateful for... instant mood booster!
Winter is often a time where we feel low and hide ourselves away from others. This behaviour can often lead to low and often sad moods. A cool way to tackle this is to log a journal about things you are grateful for. It will get you thinking positive thoughts about your friends, family and environment. Even in the darkest times we should find the light in others.

3) Watch a sunset!
It doesn't come too often but when it does there's nothing quite like a winter sunset! Wait for that perfectly clear, crisp winter day, wrap up warm, fix a flask of hot chocolate and stroll up to the nearest hill or city park and just watch the sun set! Finding small beauties in the coldness of winter; it's priceless!

4) Plan a hot choc date with a friend!
Winter is not the time to be alone. Human interaction is a must during these cold, hard winter months... so why not invite your bestie over for a hot chocolate and movie night?

5) Confront something you've been avoiding... giving it all your focus and attention is halfway to sorting the problem out.
Winter is the perfect time to confront that project you've been avoiding! Maybe set up your own space, snuggle into your fave slouchy jumper, put some motivational music on and get cracking!

6) Meditate!
Maybe it's the stress of Christmas or maybe it's all that shivering but winter makes for lots of tension, mental and physical. Meditation is a great way to breathe and release the mind and release the tension stored in your body, relaxing you and ultimately cheering you up! Check out the free 'Calm' app for an easy intro!

7) De-clutter or re-arrange your bedroom... we're thinking cosy winter wonderland!
What is better for the mind than a good clear-out. It's almost as if you are dusting away your own troubles! Even just moving your bed from one side of the room to the other or placing a cosy lamp in the corner, it can do wonders to your mental health. 

8) Tell someone you love them - friend, family or boyf/girlfriend! Awww!
You may be feeling a bit low this winter but you're almost certainly not the only one. Telling someone you love them or appreciate them is a guaranteed mood-booster for your loved ones and not only that, here's betting you will feel all warm and fuzzy inside too!

9) Read a book!
This hibernation period is the perfect opportunity to tuck yourself away, curl up next to a fire and make a start on that pile of 'must-reads' you've been collecting! Not only will this improve your mood, it will get those creative juices flowing... and well we all know reading is good in every other area of your life too!

10) Try a winter sport!
Ice-skating or dry slope skiing are great ways to beat the winter blues. Staying active is key to a happy mind and body... we can become slouchy in the winter which can lead to bad mental health.
Images with thanks to Pexels

CATHY SAYS:
Yep, I'm definitely trying these out for size!! Have YOU got any good tips or tricks you'd like to share? COMMENT BELOW!!

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

WHY CC BOOKS MEAN SO MUCH TO ME...

Three readers explain why growing up with CC books helped to shape their lives...
Abi says:
I have adored your books for about fourteen years now. My mum used to find books she thought I'd like in charity shops and when I was twelve, she bought home INDIGO BLUE - the first book of yours I ever read. It moved me and helped me, our family going though something similar just a couple of years before and it made me feel more normal knowing other people go through that too. At a young age I hadn't really grasped that there are families who run away to get away from parents/spouses to feel safer and while things had got better by the time I read you're book it made me feel not so alone knowing other people went through this, even just in a book.

Since then I've read all your other works. I am twenty four now, but your books are always my go-to when I want to reread something and try to find them in the library! I just wanted to say thank you for writing all your stories. Little parts stick with me always, and they were a huge part of my teen years and still are now.

Paige says:
I’m fifteen years old. I recently found out about your new book, SAMI'S SILVER LINING, and in the name of nostalgia I dug out all my well read copies of your books from the back of my bookcase and stayed up all night devouring them all over again. The first of your books I ever read was LUCKY STAR, when I was nine years old. I remember thinking I’d never be as old as Mouse! I loved Lucky Star so much I would get in trouble for trying to read it during lessons. I read DIZZY afterwards and fell even more in love with Mouse’s story. My other favourites were DRIFTWOOD and INDIGO BLUE, and the Chocolate Box Girls of course!

I truly believe your books had a part in shaping me into the person I am today. Your books taught me so many things about friendship, love, pain & sadness, all lessons I believe I will use for the rest of my life! I guess this is just me saying thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for basically writing my childhood. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for your characters and their stories.

Samira says:
I am a seventeen year old girl - eighteen in May - and I just wanted to email you and let you know I loved your books so much growing up. You were my biggest inspiration. I had quite a difficult childhood and your books helped me put myself in a happy place. I think CHERRY CRUSH was my favourite, along with DRIFTWOOD. I used to email you to show my support and send you some stories I had typed up, you always used to reply. It made me so happy - still does now. Thank you so much for all you do for young girls around the world. You will forever be in my heart!

Cathy says:
I absolutely love hearing from my older readers and seeing how much my books have meant to them... aww! Have YOU got a book that meant the world to you? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

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