Tuesday, 8 May 2012


So, I was thinking how nice it would be to have a book trailer for Dear Dylan...
And I was also thinking how nice it would be to run another competition for readers...

And then I had a light-bulb moment and thought, why don't I have a competition to find the official Dear Dylan book trailer? After all, who better to capture the heart of a book on film than someone who has read it, feels passionately about it, and wants to create their own, visual interpretation of it?

I've run a lot of competitions over the years but none have got me this excited.

So here's the fun LARGE PRINT STUFF before I get on to the official Terms and Conditions.

  • Entrants must be aged 18 or under
  • Trailers must be between 60 and 90 seconds long
  • Entries should be sent to: siobhancurham[AT]yahoo[DOT]co[DOT]uk by Monday 9th July 2012
  • The winning entry will become the OFFICIAL DEAR DYLAN BOOK TRAILER and will be used by myself and my publisher, Electric Monkey to promote the book
  • The winner will also receive a £1oo Amazon voucher and a signed copy of Dear Dylan
  • The two runners up will each receive a £25 Amazon voucher and a signed copy of the book

Fancy making the official Dear Dylan trailer?

Please have a good read of the Terms and Conditions below before entering and, if you have any questions, then please feel free to email me at: siobhancurham[AT]yahoo[DOT]co[DOT]uk

I really cannot wait to hear from you!

Terms and Conditions

By entering this competition you agree to the following:

1. All entries must be received by Monday 9th July 2012
2. Entrants must not be employees (or members of their families) of Egmont UK Ltd, their agents or anyone professionally connected with the draw.
3. Parent or guardian’s permission is required for entry into the competition for those under 16 years old.
4. Only one entry per person allowed. No bulk or third party entries accepted
5. No purchase necessary.
6. Consumer data will be retained for the duration of this promotion and will not be used for any other purpose.
7. Entry to the competition is via: siobhancurham[AT]yahoo[DOT}co[DOT]uk
8. The promoter is not liable for non/late receipt of entries due to website or server failure.
9. The winner will be notified by email by Monday 30th July 2012
10. The prize entitles the winner to an Amazon voucher to the value of £100. The two runners up will be entitled to Amazon vouchers to the value of £25.
11. No cash alternative will be offered.
12. The name and county of the winner will be made available at www.thefadedbookmark.blogspot.com after Monday 6th August 2012
13. The winner may be required to participate in related publicity. The winner also agrees that video selected may be used for promotional purposes.
14. The winning entry will be chosen by a panel, including Siobhan Curham and a professional film-maker, and the winning entry will be the trailer deemed most compelling in the opinion of the judges. The judges' opinion is final. No further correspondence will be entered into.
15. The promoter is Siobhan Curham.
16. Any  unlawful, obscene, pornographic, harmful, threatening, sexually explicit, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, racial and/or ethnic slurs, hateful content, or otherwise objectionable material, including profanity and/or redacted profanity (symbols, such as * and #, used in place of letters), as we determine in our sole discretion, is prohibited.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

My First Ever Story (aged 6)

Okay, so it's grey and rainy outside, and, if you live in the UK, it's grey and rainy FULL STOP, so I figured we all could do with a laugh. And so, for one day only, I am going to share with you the first story that I ever wrote - aged six. I have to warn you though, this story contains events, and illustrations, that may prove distressing to cat lovers. And typos that may prove extremely distressing to editors...

Once upon a time there was a big girl and a little boy and they livd with theri grandma and next door a lady moved in.

Once upon a time...I did my own illustrations!
The lady was a wicked witch and she had a dog and it dide so she got a cat and it did not diye and it was good and it ran away to the big girl's and little boy's house and the wicked witche was very crosse and she looked evry where but she couldn't fined it and she was very crosse. But then the wicked witch did find the cat and she put sum poysun in its tea and teh next day the cat dide and they took the cat to the semtree and put him in a cofine.

The cat who 'dide' in his 'cofine' in the 'semtree'
The cofine had flowers round it. The end.

Oh dear, something tells me there's not going to be a bidding war breaking out any time soon...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Believe in Your Dreams

My YA novel, Dear Dylan, has just been published in France. When I first saw the cover I cried - in a very good way! The girl on the front is exactly as I pictured the main character, Georgie, and, to me, the cover also really captures the sense of hope Georgie feels by the end of the book. On a more personal level, seeing my first French book cover was another affirmation that dreams really can come true - if you believe they can.

French edition of Dear Dylan

When I was younger I suffered from a serious lack of confidence. Although I dreamt of one day becoming a writer, I could never quite believe I was capable of achieving this dream. To the point where I even dropped out of university. Ever since I've found the courage to believe in myself I've worked hard at trying to help others do the same - running workshops, giving talks and through individual coaching. What follows below is a guest post I wrote for the fabulous A Life Bound By Books as part of a recent blog tour. It is a summary of the key exercises and tips I use in my workshops on achieving dreams and I hope you find them useful...

In Dear Dylan, the main character, Georgie, dreams of one day becoming an actress. But, due to difficulties at home, she is finding it incredibly difficult to pursue her dream.

In real life, I really admire people who never give up on their hopes and dreams, no matter what obstacles they face. I wanted to create a character who was like this, in the hope that she would inspire readers to follow her example and keep chasing their own dreams – whatever they may be.

I often run workshops on achieving dreams and today I’d like to share with you some of the key tips and exercises from these workshops:

  • The first thing you need to do is get your inner gremlin to shut up. Your inner gremlin is that really annoying voice in your head that says things like, ‘Don’t be so stupid – you can’t write’, the minute you decide that you’d like to be a novelist. Or, ‘How could you ever be a [INSERT DREAM JOB OF CHOICE]? You’re not nearly good / pretty / clever enough.’ The important thing to remember is that this ‘gremlin’ is only the voice of your fears. But all too often we give it way too much power. So, from now on, the minute your inner gremlin starts saying mean things to you, I want you to picture it as a tiny, scared, little baby and visualise sticking a dummy in its mouth to make it be quiet!
  • Pursuing a dream always takes confidence, so it’s really important that you feel good about yourself before you set out to write that book, or train to become a rocket scientist, or whatever it is you dream of doing. A fun exercise, that can seem tough at first, is to write a list of all the things that you are proud of about yourself. If it makes it easier, try breaking it into categories based upon the roles you play in your life. What are you proud of achieving at school or work? What are you proud of doing as a sister or daughter? Or friend? What are you proud of doing for yourself? Once it’s done, keep a hold of your list to take out and read whenever you’re having a down moment – or you need to shut up that gremlin.
  • This next one is best done when you’re not going to be interrupted – and an accompanying supply of chocolate works very well too. Under the title ‘My Perfect Day’ write as much as you can about what your perfect day would involve. Ideally it should be set after you have achieved your dream. Go right through from the moment you wake up – Where would it be? What would you do first? What would you have for breakfast? What would you wear? – to the moment you go to sleep that night. And in between make sure you provide loads of nice detail about your dream life.
  • The next stage of this exercise is to set manageable goals towards one day achieving this dream life. In other words, if your dream is to one day be a novelist, but at the moment you haven’t even got an idea for a book, then maybe your first (and manageable) goal could be to spend a few hours brainstorming ideas. Once you’ve achieved that goal, and settled upon an idea, you could set a new goal to flesh out some characters. Then your next goal could be to write the very first chapter, and so on. I did this exercise several years ago, and now I’ve written seven novels – so anything’s possible!
  • Creating a motivational playlist can really help you get fired up for pursuing your dream. It’s also another great way to silence that gremlin. The minute it starts bitching and moaning, press play and crank the volume right up. Dancing around the room can also help – air guitar optional!

Back when I was a teenager I had so little confidence in my writing abilities I actually dropped out of university. It took me ten years to finally find the courage to write my first book. I really wish I’d been more like Georgie in Dear Dylan and had more self belief when I was younger. So to anyone reading this who is allowing their inner gremlin a little too much air-time, please don’t make the same mistake I did. Believe in yourself and chase after that dream…

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Dear Writer Newsletter - Coming Soon...

On Saturday I did my first Dear Dylan book signing in Berkhamsted Waterstones . 

Book signing in Berko

I'm not sure what I'm so deep in thought about here - whether to have another coffee perhaps, judging by the cups on the table! Oh yes, and the discreetly placed brown paper bag is actually my secret cake stash - it's hungry business sitting at a table for four hours you know...

Anyway, it all went really well and I met lots of lovely readers and came away feeling mightily glad that I now write for young people. This has been a dream of mine for many years, so to see my first YA novel in an actual book store was a real thrill.

Quite a few of the girls I met on Saturday asked if I could come to their schools to do writing workshops. In my experience most avid readers are avid writers too and I love getting out and about and encouraging people to write.

In fact, over the next few months I'm going to be rolling out a project called Dear Writer. 

Dear Writer is linked to my novel Dear Dylan in that it is all about helping people achieve their dreams, but whereas the main character in Dear Dylan dreams of becoming an actress, Dear Writer is for people who - you've guessed it - want to write.

There will be workshops and competitions and talks, and every three months I shall be mentoring two young writers online - giving them feedback and advice on their written work.

There will also be a monthly e-newsletter full of writing tips, advice and interviews with other writing and publishing people.

So now I need your feedback. If you were to subscribe to a newsletter about books and writing, what would you want it to include.

Please email me at: 


with your suggestions. 

I can't wait to hear from you...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Dear Reader...

Dear Dylan has been out for two weeks now and last week something truly wonderful happened - I received my first emails from readers of the book. Although I reply to every email I receive, I wanted to use my blog today to say a massive thank you to everyone who has taken the time to contact me.

One of the main reasons I wrote Dear Dylan was to try and help and encourage young people who might be going through similar issues to the main character, Georgie. Issues like so-called friends turning on you, problems at home and first love.

The night before publication I said a little prayer hoping that Dear Dylan would somehow find its way to the readers who needed it the most. I had imagined that I’d never know whether this happened or not. But I hadn’t counted on the fact that we now live in the world of the email – which is hugely ironic given that Dear Dylan is all about a girl who emails her favourite actor!

To receive emails from readers telling me how Dear Dylan has helped them in their own lives is mind-blowing.

Sometimes writing can be a bit of a lonely and scary business. You can get hung up on things like reviews and sales figures, but actually, for something you have written to have changed even one person’s life for the better is the best achievement going.

Thank you so, so much to the readers who have got in touch. I feel honoured that you chose my book, and that it made some kind of difference to you…

Siobhan x

Thursday, 5 April 2012


To celebrate the publication of Dear Dylan I thought it would be nice to have a poetry competition for young writers here at The Faded Bookmark. The competition was open to writers aged from 10 – 17 and the theme had to be one from the book – either family, friendships or dreams.

I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the writing and it gives me great pleasure to showcase the winners, Naomi Jones and Ben O’Shea below.

‘Night Dreaming’ by Naomi Jones (age 13)

The whispering trees with waving arms, reach out to me eagerly,
Stumbling in the darkness, losing my way, wandering feebly,
Walking slowly with silent paces, the shadows around me wear scary faces,
At last I see a clearing, away from the dark,
I pick up speed to get there fast,
Apart from the stars like fairy lights, that twinkle down at me,
There is something else that I can see,
The moon my guardian, a cat’s eye,
Protective, beautiful, in the night’s sky,
A shining pearl, suspended in mid air,
Holding court in lieu of the sun’s bright glare,
I had forgotten how cold it is, I shiver when a gust of wind hits my face,
The sharp slap of reality sends me on my way.

I loved this poem and the images it conjures up in the reader’s mind – it is scary and magical at the same time. It is beautifully written too – I love the idea of the shadows wearing scary faces and the moon as a pearl suspended in the sky. This poem also had a key winning quality – it stayed in my mind long after I had finished reading it. Here’s what my editor at Egmont, Ali Dougal, had to say about it: ‘Sophisticated and beautifully evocative. I could practically feel the night air!’

'Secondary Start' by Ben O'Shea (age 11)

We're all leaving, parting ways for the first time,
Tears in our faces, but it's all a wall we must climb.
As we go for our first step, we remember our first day,
knowing each other’s name, hobbies and birthday.
Oh, those were the days.

 Hugs will come first then the tears.
Cascading along with all former years.
Friends going away, for the summer or life,
we’ll all see each other in another life.
Some might be bosses, a husband or a wife.

You’re near the top but still can't see,
tears still blinding and no hope of glee.
Forget your arguments and become one,
because all our years together are done

I could really relate to this poem. Reading it took me back to the day I left school and brought back so many memories. I felt that Ben really captured the bitter sweet elements of school life – the friendships, the arguments and the sorrow that comes when you finally part ways after so many years together. Although it’s a sad poem in many ways, I love the positive note that it ends on – that it’s time to forget arguments and become one because all their years together are done. The winning quality for me was in the detail and how Ben has managed to write a poem that every reader can relate to. Here’s what Ali at Egmont had to say: ‘Warm, moving and nostalgic. We can all recognise ourselves in this poem.’

Massive congratulations to both winners – your prizes are on their way!

Coming soon to The Faded Bookmark – details of an exciting competition for aspiring young novelists…

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Blog Tour

It's now less than a week till the publication of Dear Dylan and I'm really excited to announce that, as part of the publication publicity, I'll be going on my very first blog tour.

One of the great things about the internet is that it's given readers from all over the world a forum in which to share their love of books. And in the YA book world there is an abundance of fantastic blogs run by book-lovers for book-lovers.

When I initially self-published Dear Dylan I didn't think there was a hope of getting the book reviewed. I had previously written an article about publicising self-published books and every literary editor I interviewed said that they would never review a book that didn't come from a traditional publishing house.

But then I discovered the world of the YA book blogger and was delighted to see that such snobbery didn't exist here. Every blogger I approached agreed to review Dear Dylan - and, as their sites were aimed solely at my target reader - their reviews were worth their word count in gold!

What's lovely is that every site I'll be 'visiting' on my blog tour was massively supportive the first time round. It feels really nice to be coming full circle like this - a sort of home-coming tour...

Friday, 16 March 2012

Electric Monkey Launch Party

Last night I went to the Electric Monkey launch party. Electric Monkey is Egmont’s new YA imprint, and, I’m delighted to say, my new publishing home. It was thrilling to see Dear Dylan be a part of such a fantastic list.

With my editor Ali Dougal

After Dear Dylan won the Young Minds Award I was lucky enough for it to go to auction, which left me in the bizarre position of actually being able to choose a publisher (rather than my previous default setting of begging!) Last night underlined for me yet again that I had made the absolutely right decision. It was so nice to meet the members of the Egmont team, who have been so supportive and enthusiastic in getting the book ready for publication. (I just about managed to stop myself declaring my undying love to the person responsible for the Waterstones order!) After self-publishing Dear Dylan the first time round, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that there are now other people working really hard to make sure the book gets into the shops, and that readers get to hear about it. Going it alone was exciting, and a massive learning curve, but it was also bloody hard work. Several people asked me last night whether I would recommend self-publishing over traditional publishing and I guess my answer is that I would recommend self-publishing as a way of getting a traditional publisher’s attention. And as a way of learning the nuts and bolts of the business of publishing. But ultimately as an author, you can’t beat the feeling of being part of a team, and having the support and expertise of a publishing house behind you.

Electric Monkey Goodie Bag

After drinks and canapes (I’ve now discovered that I’m able to eat an entire mini-burger in one bite) there was a panel discussion featuring three of my fellow ‘Electric Monkeys’ – authors Michael Grant (BZRK), Elizabeth Wein (Codename Verity) and Laura Jarratt (Skin Deep). Writing is obviously a very solitary process so it was great to hear the experiences and opinions of other YA authors. The points raised that really resonated with me were:

  • Michael Grant saying that his main responsibility as a YA author is to entertain; that he wants his readers to stay up all night because they cannot put his book down. This is such a good tip for any novelist and it reminded me of a book I once read by an American editor called Sol Stein. He said that every chapter should start with a hook and end with a ‘thruster’, so that it becomes impossible to put down. To me, this is one of the most crucial (and fun) parts of being a novelist. Never forget who you are writing for, and challenge yourself to keep them thoroughly entertained – and sleep-deprived!

  • Laura Jarratt talking about the importance of writing romantic novels that are empowering for female readers. Novels where the heroine learns that getting a boyfriend isn’t the be all and end all, and that if her relationship doesn’t work out she is more than capable of carrying on. She also spoke about the importance of challenging peoples’ prejudices when it comes to physical appearance and background – another issue that I think is of key importance to teens.

  • Elizabeth Wein’s novel Codename Verity is set during World War Two, and she spoke about feeling a terrific sense of responsibility when it came to recreating that world, so that today’s teens could get a real sense of what it was like.

All in all, I came away feeling proud and privileged to write for young adults. It is a job that comes with a lot of responsibility but hopefully the stories you write and the characters you write about can really make a difference – whether that be to entertain, inspire or inform.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Dear Dylan Poetry Competition

Last week I received my first copies of Dear Dylan. It was such a thrilling moment it took every ounce of willpower for me to not grab my postman in a wild embrace - this is a very good thing, as my postman is so scary even his tattoos have tattoos!

Anyway, as a way of spreading the joy I’ve decided to run a celebratory poetry competition, inspired by the themes raised in the book.

Entrants must be age 10 – 17 and the poems should be based on one of the following themes:

Friendship: Dear Dylan is the story of a friendship that begins online – in fact the whole novel is made up of emails between the two characters as their friendship grows. Perhaps you would like to write a poem about your own experience of friendship and how important your friends are to you.

Family: The main character in Dear Dylan, Georgie, hasn’t had the easiest family life. Her father died when she was little and she doesn’t get on with her step-dad at all. There is no denying that families can be very complicated. But they can also be full of love and good times. Maybe you would like to write a poem about your own experience of family life – good or bad, happy or sad…

Dreams: Georgie dreams of being an actress and the book follows her determination to pursue her dream, no matter what obstacles life – or her step-dad – throw at her. Do you have a burning dream or ambition? Would you like to write a poem about your pursuit of this dream, and the importance of never giving up?

Please send your submissions to: contact[AT]siobhancurham[DOT]co[DOT]uk by Monday 2nd April. And please give your name and age in your covering email.

The two winning entrants will each receive a signed copy of Dear Dylan and their poems will be published on this blog in April as part of the official book launch celebrations.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Countdown to Publication

Hello lovely blogosphere!

Long time no speak to… but I do have a good excuse, honestly.

For the past few months I’ve been in the ‘hibernation’ part of the writer’s cycle, working furiously on the second draft of my YA novel Finding Cherokee Brown and the first draft of a tres exciting and, for now, top secret new YA series. It hasn’t been all work and no play though – I’ve also managed to squeeze in a visit to my family in South Carolina for Thanksgiving, which was truly turkey-tastic. Other fun events included learning to dance like a Brazilian fisherman (it involves a lot of stomping in case you’re interested) and spending Christmas with my family, including BOTH of my divorced parents. Other kids of divorcees will know what a big deal this is – and no, no-one got killed!

View from the porch, South Carolina

But now it’s time to enter another key part of the writer’s cycle – THE COUNTDOWN TO PUBLICATION!

This time in a writer’s life is both exciting and terrifying in equal measure. Exciting because you finally get to see the book ‘baby’ that you spent so many days, weeks, months, even years, lovingly nurturing into life take it’s first tentative steps alone in the outside world. Terrifying because so much of what happens next is out of your hands. Questions like, Will the shops stock it? Will the reviewers like it? Will the readers buy it? echo through your mind like a really annoying jingle. The interesting thing about the book I have coming out in April is that this will actually be its second publication. The first time round, I chose to self-publish Dear Dylan. This meant that I didn’t manage to get it into any shops (shops hate self-published books), BUT it did somehow manage to win a national book award and the reviewers and readers who managed to get their hands on a copy were lovely about it. Dear Dylan then ended up going to a book auction and the very lovely Electric Monkey at Egmont UK became its new home. So, whenever the fearful questions in my head start to get a little too noisy, I quieten them with the thought that Dear Dylan was voted a winner by young people up and down the country – the very people I had written it for. In that sense, it can never fail.

Dear Dylan, out April 2012

Next week I’ll be blogging about devising a pre-publication publicity plan (try saying that with a mouthful of peanuts!) and all the fun ways you can let the world know about your book. Till then, happy reading!