Monday, 10 April 2017

Blogging for Me

Me and drag superstar, Charlie Hides.
In the last year, I've had a lot going on in my life. Between mental health, moving my life back to Ireland, finally finishing my manuscript and the everyday admin, I've found it hard to focus on my blog. More than focusing on it, I've found it quite tough to stir up the passion to write. Don't worry, I'm still going to write. I used to tell myself I had to write twice a week and really, the only person telling myself this was me. No one else expects me to churn out two blog posts a week and really, I'd rather produce something really heartfelt and poignant - something that makes you think and/or feel - every fortnight than publish half-baked posts that aren't a reflection of me or this blog. More than any of this, I need to remember why I started this blog. I started it for me, to voice my thoughts and chat books and if someone loves what I do, fantastic.

So what does this mean for the YAfictionados blog?
It means a couple of things:

  1. This book will no longer be limited to book chat. I love books and bookish chat will remain one of the central tropes I'll discuss here but I also want to talk about my writing journey (especially if I manage to get an agent and find a publishing home - fingers crossed!) to help inspire others to write. I want to talk about some of the beautiful places I've visited abroad on my travels but also in my hometown of Dublin. I want to peel back the layers and let you guys (and girls) see a different side to me; to see beyond face value and get to know the different parts that make me, me.
  2. I won't be posting with any fixed regularity. I'll aim to post every second week but I'll only be posting when something strikes or moves me and really, when it feels like something worth sharing with all of you.
  3. I love reviews but my focus will move away from single reviews and look at some of the books I enjoyed reading in that particular month (a monthly round-up starting in May).
I hope you're all excited and be sure to share all your bookish thoughts with me on Twitter. I want to know what you're reading and what you're looking forward to reading this year.

I'm looking forward to sharing some of my mental health experiences and a bit more about my illness so subscribe and keep an eye out for 

Christopher Moore:

Christopher is a co-founder of the YAfictionados blog (@YAfictionados). He's currently working on his debut LGBT YA novel. When he's not reading, writing or blogging, he can found in coffee shops or baking in his kitchen (watch out for his book cookies!). He loves to travel and will read anything YA-related and some general fiction and fantasy.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Change your Perception and you Change the World

Tree shaped like a heart.
I attended a funeral of someone very dear to me on Wednesday This post isn't about sympathy and with all due respect, I don't want your sympathy and I don't want you to take this initial message as the actual message behind this post.

At the ceremony, in the crematorium and at the pub, I saw a community come together. There was no black/white, gay/straight, young/old binary divides. Everyone had tears in their eyes at some stage. I bit down on my lip trying to stop my own tears but it was near impossible. This was a woman that touched our hearts, changed our paths and transformed our lives and brought laughter and joy into our lives.

Everyone in that room had one thing in common: we were all there to show our live for some who had infinite love for all. We were brought together by love and understanding, compassion and celebration of a life that transcended so much. And in this moment, I had a thought. No one was thinking about prejudice (racism, homophobia, transphobia etc.). We weren't caught up with binary oppositions. It was our compassion and capacity to love, develop and understand that shone.

There are people out there that will carry their prejudices like emblems, like badges of honour and while some of these understand the hatred in their words, the vitriol that they poison future generations with, others do not. They are ignorant to the harm they cause. When they are shouted at on Twitter and attacked, their points are proven but if we show compassion to understand their point of view and ask questions to make them think, we can change perceptions. And if we cannot do this, if our fire and arguments fail, we can channel our energies into productive projects to further develop our own goals and the change we want to see. If we allow ourselves to be caught up in a viscous, cyclical process with a beginning and no end, we face frustration and emotional blocks that dam our positive energies, our capacity to love and our ability to bring about change.

At the risk of sounding morbid, our ultimate destination is the ground. Our compassion should be our common ground and if we can't approach things with compassion and try to encourage others with which we debate with to be compassionate, then we debase ourselves to their level.

I guess what I'm trying to say is to show love. Show understanding and compassion even in the face of adversity. Fighting fire with fire makes you that which you oppose and when we sling mud back and forth, we'll all get muddy and it's difficult to separate who is right and who is wrong. Our message is important and feels right to us but our approach is what can change opinion and instigate change. Do not comprise your integrity or compassion when you engage with thoughts you disagree with. It's incredibly difficult. It's not always easy; in fact, it's hardly ever easy but we need to be our best selves to change the world around us for the better.

Lena, you've thought me this if nothing else, in life and in death. Wherever you are, I hope you're at peace. Love always.

Christopher Moore:

Christopher is a co-founder of the YAfictionados blog (@YAfictionados). He's currently working on his debut LGBT YA novel. When he's not reading, writing or blogging, he can found in coffee shops or baking in his kitchen (watch out for his book cookies!). He loves to travel and will read anything YA-related and some general fiction and fantasy.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Blogging resource: key tips to get you started

Here are some of the key things I learned when setting up my YAfictionados blog. If you have any suggestions or comments, let me know in the comments below or tweet me.

Before you set up your blog

Blogs can either be self-hosted or hosted on a third-party site. I would advise using a platform such as Wordpress or Blogger. Every blogger will tell you different things about the pros and cons of each but it is up to you which you choose. Think about the type of content you want to write and go with the platform that gives you more freedom to do what you want to do.

  • Think about your post title. You want to draw in your reader. (How to…/Top 10…/Secrets of…/Why your…)
  • Write your first paragraph. Follow on from your post title and tempt your reader. Ask a question. Comment on some recent controversy and share your thoughts. Note a fact. Tell an anecdote.
  • Make your post scannable. Make it easy to read. Use headings, numbered lists and bullets, where possible.
  • Add a conclusion. Invite interaction. Ask readers to comment and if you want, point to another resource or to another of your blog posts.

Before you publish
  • Before you post anything, read through your article and edit, edit, EDIT.
  • Use an online grammar tool.
  • Ask a friend to look over it.
  • Whatever you do, read through your blog post at least twice before you publish it.

General tips and tricks
  • When you first start, content is more important than analytics.
  • It’s fine to have a look at what other bloggers are doing but make sure you represent your views. This is your unique selling point.
  • Ignore the haters.
  • Get personal.
  • Conquer one or two areas before you try to do it all.

Technical tips and tricks
  • Consider an email subscriber list.
  • If you’re hyperlinking outside your blog, make sure to click the box that opens it in a new window. You don’t want to encourage people to leave your site.
  • Use Alt tags. When you hover over an image and you see some text, this is an Alt tag. You don’t have to include an Alt tag but without an alt tag, the image isn’t searchable by search engines and you’re potentially cutting yourself off from clicks and views by not including this.
  • Make your hyperlinks descriptive.
  • Include keywords in your title and the first sentence of your blog post.
  • Install Google Analytics.
  • Editing an old blog post can move it up in the Google rankings.

How to build your network
  • Talk to authors. When you write a good review of their book, include them in the tweet. Get familiar with their publisher and include them also (can be found in the details on all book websites or by Googling it). Don’t link to a bad review. It can often back-fire on you and bring unwanted stress.
  • Try to channel your energies into talking about what you enjoy. Ask them if they’d like to write for your blog or do an interview. Send them the questions and give plenty of time.
  • Be mindful of who you ask. If you contact J. K. Rowling, it’s unlikely she’ll respond but don’t be discouraged. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Monitor local events at libraries, caf├ęs and bookshops. Converse and engage with other bloggers and influencers. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.

Getting the books you want to review
  • Bookshops
  • Libraries
  • Net Galley
  • Publisher ARCs
  • Blogger meet-ups


Penguin Random House (@penguinplatform/@PuffinBooks)
Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK)
Simon & Schuster (@simonkids_UK/@hashtagreads)
Bloomsbury (@KidsBloomsbury)
Hot Key Books (@HotKeyBooks)
Old Barn Books (@oldbarnbooks)
Electric Monkey/Egmont (@EMTeenFiction/@EgmontUK)
Macmillan (@MacmillanKidsUK)
Nosy Crow (@NosyCrow)
Usborne  (@Usborne)
Atom (@AtomBooks)

Bookstores to follow

Foyles (@Foyles)
Waterstones (@Waterstones and search for your local store’s Twitter handle)
Queen’s Park Books (@QPBooks)
7 Stories (@7Stories)

Christopher Moore:
Christopher is a co-founder of the YAfictionados blog (@YAfictionados) and is best known as the YAblooker. He is a twenty-five year old book blogger who has previously worked in marketing and consumer insight for various publishing houses and writes in his spare time. He loves to travel and will read anything YA-related and some general fiction and fantasy.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Carnegie Controversy: Thoughts from the 5%

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals celebrate its 80th anniversay celebrating the best Children's books and with these longlist announcements, comes a wave of controversy. There's been much talk around the lack of BAME (Black Asian and Minority Ethnic) authors, particularly on the Carnegie list. I'm here to explore and combat the snub claims and controversy.

1. This is a prize based on literary merit, NOT the author.

Firstly, I invite you to take a look at the CILIP judging criteria for the Carnegie Medal. Nominations for the 2017 awards opened on 1 September 2016 and ran until 14 October 2016. The award is judged on style, plot and characterisation, not based on theme or the author. There have been some questions around the bias of these criteria but these are the criteria that CILIP have put forward; criteria that CILIP hold as being objective. No set of judging criteria will ever be 100% free of bias. When you look at literature, how do you put in place a set of criteria that ensures the best books (in terms of literary merit) appear on the longlist? It is impossible but CILIP have set out the criteria that allows the judges to award the best books and limit bias.

"The book that wins the Carnegie Medal should be a book of outstanding literary quality. The whole work should provide pleasure, not merely from the surface enjoyment of a good read, but also the deeper subconscious satisfaction of having gone through a vicarious, but at the time of reading, a real experience that is retained afterwards." – CILIP website

If we were to take into consideration, the cultural background of any author, it would shift the focus of the award, moving it from the story to the storyteller. Including an author on a longlist based on the colour of their skin or their ethnicity is incredibly patronising and moves the goalposts of the award.

114 titles were nominated by librarians and only 20 of these made it onto the longlist. That's 17.5% of the nominated titles or to put it another way, for every 5 titles that did not make it onto the list, 1 title did. The 20 titles that were selected by the judging panel were deemed to better meet the criteria than the other nominated titles. One Twitter user commented as follows (image, right).

Twitter can be a social vacuum and while it works for some things, I'm not sure it serves as the right platform to debate this issue  as this string of tweets shows. The first tweet talks about diversity generally  not diversity of the authors or the books. There is a wealth of diversity when it comes to the longlisted titles. I'm currently working on a spreadsheet and will post this when my research has been concluded.

No books by BAME authors were ignored and to suggest this damages an award that for 80 years, has promoted incredible Children's and Young Adult (YA) literature and encouraged a broad breadth of themes to be explored. It is worth remembering that all of the nominated titles were recognised and championed by librarians.

To suggest that judges haven't noticed the BAME authors on this list or that they "haven't seen the missing pieces of the puzzle... [and] have never experienced not being included" is ludicrous and damaging. How much research has this person done into the Carnegie Medal - the nominations and judging processes, the criteria and the judging panel itself? She is right in one respect though. The judges have ignored the fact that some of the writers are BAME as they judged on the books alone. To suggest they had time to read all of these books and research which ones where BAME and deliberately ignore them  or anything of the sort  is a bitter pill to swallow while they looked after their families, worked and carried out the everyday responsibilities that their lives dictate alongside the careful reading and judging (not to mention the meetings) in narrowing down 114 books to the 20 featured on the 2017 longlist.

The reference to "the Britain that the Carnegie wants to narrate" (image, left) is ridiculous. 50% of the authors on the longlist are British and many of the stories on the list are not set in Britain and it's this inclusiveness that makes the Carnegie Medal such a special award.

2. The BAME argument is flawed since there ARE BAME authors featured on the longlist.

Let me back-track slightly. I previously mentioned that BAME stands for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnics but the inflammatory tweets of the majority seems to suggest that there is no authors of ethnic minorities featured on the list when, frankly, this is a lie. Oxford English Dictionary defines an "ethnic minority" as:

"A group within a community which has different national or cultural traditions from the main population."

Ruta Sepetys (author of Salt to the Sea) is Lithuanian. Glenda Millard (The Stars of Oktober Bend) and Zana Frauillon (The Bone Sparrow) are both Australian. The Carnegie medal is awarded in the United Kingdom  the same country where CILIP is based  and so, in this context, these authors would be considered BAME authors. However, the argument seems to be less of one around BAME authors than it does Black and Asian authors and as my previous point outlined, the author him/herself is irrelevant in the judging of the nominated titles.

3. Every author should have the opportunity to write about whatever they choose to.

I don't think it's entirely fair to suggest that themes encompassing immigration, refugees, detention centres (etc.) are only rewarded if you're white in relation to the Carnegie Medal. It casts a negative light on the prize when it's one of the more inclusive awards out there. It looks at all books that have been published in the United Kingdom. It does not discriminate against authors outside of the U.K..

The kind of thinking implied by this tweet suggests that only Black and Asian authors should be able to discuss themes of immigration, refugees (etc.). This mentality that you should only write what you experience is dangerous thought because it limits the different lenses with which we can view important issues in our world and also limits discourse and discussion. This kind of thinking also has the potential to sway the kinds of stories that an author might tell rather than allowing them freedom to write from the heart.

If we had a write-what-you-are/write-what-you've-experienced mentality, then I should only write stories that feature a protagonist that is a gay man with a chronic illness. It's the equivalent of saying that I cannot write about witches because I am not a witch or because I am not female, I shouldn't write about female characters. This limits the infinite possibilities and perspectives that fiction offers us for both authors and readers.

4. Attacking the Carnegie questions 80 years of celebrating the best Children's and YA literature.

The criteria for this award are completely different to that of any other award as are the judges. Looking at the Costa Children's Book Award 2016, there were four books on the shortlist and no longlist published. Patrice Lawrence's Orangeboy was shortlisted for the award though only one of the titles on this shortlist, Ross Welford's Time Travelling with a Hamster, made the Carnegie longlist. The winner, Brian Conaghan's The Bombs that Brought us Together, did not make it onto the Carnegie longlist.

The judging panel also differed greatly from that of the Carnegie - an author-illustrator, a journalist/writer and the owner of a Children's specialist bookshop. The judging criteria too are also different:

"The judges’ brief is to select well-written, enjoyable books that they would strongly recommend anyone to read."

This is just one example but if you compare both prizes, the Costa Book Award is awarded to a well-written, enjoyable book (and there is nothing wrong with this) whereas the Carnegie is judged beyond surface enjoyment.

I'm quite saddened that The Guardian and particularly The Bookseller – the leading book industry media channel and magazine, have taken inflammatory opinions from Twitter and pasted them into an article alongside the generic opinion from CILIP's Nick Poole without looking at some of the other opinions on Twitter that counter and contrast the snub claims. All they have done is accelerate and misdirect attention towards damaging one of the world's oldest and most prestigious book prizes rather than allowing a platform for those that disagree. I'm annoyed too that CILIP released a generic reply to the controversy instead of producing an engaging article that tackles the claims of racism and inequality head-on. I understand that the judges are not allowed to comment which is unfortunate since some of the comments are targeted towards the judges who are unable to defend themselves.

One of the nominated authors raised an important point about the gatekeepers or diversity who, ultimately, are the publishers and everything is a ripple effect to this. A writer pens and submits their story, An agent only makes money when the author makes money and so, if the publishing industry dictates certain kinds of stories, the agent will likely supply these kinds of stories to publishers.

The lack of diverse stories on Children's and YA bookshelves would reinforce the claims this author makes but regardless of whether you agree or not, there is a clear lack of BAME stories on bookshelves. Instead of focusing on this issue, we're attacking the Carnegie; damaging 80 years of literary merit and recognition in the field. Inflammatory tweets are problematic and sometimes misleading, and do not provide a solution or a way forward so that we can focus our energies onto the positive ways we can push for change.


You're welcome to challenge my points and I suspect I may get some rather fruity comments tweeted my way. However, my opinion is my opinion and it is backed up by research. I won't be bludgeoned into submission by people that can shout the loudest and are suggesting a boycott of an incredible award that has done so much for Children's literature over the years and spit in the face of Andrew Carnegie, for whom the award is established (in his memory). What will a boycott achieve? What satisfaction will that bring other than to take away an accolade that rewards Children's author and further shrink the media coverage and awards that Children's books receive?

Matt Imrie, former CILIP Carnegie Medal judge, wrote an article on the controversy which I would strongly advise you to read. Matt raises some really important points and shines a light on the judging process for the Carnegie Medal.

To those that are "appalled" and "disappointed" by the longlist, I ask you:
  • How many of the longlisted titles have you read before you tweeted your views?
  • How many of the nominated titles did you read?
I'm willing to bet that the only people that read all 114 books are the judges themselves.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Christopher Moore: who am I and what do I want?

Harrow on the hill.
If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’m a force to be reckoned when there’s something I want. 

I want you to know this. Not that I’m: 
  • A Blogger 
  • An aspiring author 
  • Irish 
  • Gay 
  • Tall 

In between work, book-tubing, blogging, reading, writing, sipping copious (and dangerous) amounts of coffee and packing my life into two suitcases, I have had time to reflect on what I want this year and here it is: 

  • To set up a Youtube channel that talks about my everyday experience including dating and the (often) ridiculous situations I end up in;
  • To continue to book-tube and collaborate with the magnificent Xina Hailey, fellow book-tuber, mentor and lifelong friend, and post a video every second Thursday from February 2017; 
  • To continue to interact with authors, support rising UK and Irish YA talent and chair panels and events wherever and whenever possible; 
  • To get an agent in 2017 for my debut LGBT YA title (keeping this one under wraps for now) and (fingers crossed) see it on my favourite bookshelves near and far (especially the lovely Queen’s Park Books); 
  • To be 100% unapologetic for who I am whether that be camp, feminine or otherwise; to listen to my head and follow my heart and own all of who I am so this year can be one of happiness and adventure; 
  • To try at least one new thing each month, whether that be a Rocky Road Hot Chocolate or climbing mountains; 
  • To diversify my blog and incorporate more personal experiences and cooking disasters (and triumphs) as well as the most beautiful books and round-ups each month;
  • Include alt tags, where possible, to improve accessibility to my blog.

Here’s to 2017. Here's to us. Here's to:

New Orleans.
Adventures in N'awlins
(and what looks like the Goblet of Fire).
Sunset at San Diego sunset.
Californian sunsets in vertigo-inducing cable cars.
Seymour Park, Vancouver.
My new home this summer
(not the rock - I'm not Ariel). Vancouver!
New Year's Eve celebrations in Club Revenge, Brighton.
NYE celebrations with this beauty
(not the strange, photo-bombing guy).
My twin cousins.
My beautiful cousins who brighten up my darkest of days.
Me and my friend, Kim.
Being silly.
Drinking coffee in Singapore.
Novel coffee ideas.
Me and Louise Gornall (Under Rose Tainted Skies).
Fantastic debut authors like the fab
Louise Gornall (Under Rose Tainted Skies).
Macaque monkeys at the Batu caves.
Sad little monkeys.
At work.
Being a werk-ing professional.
Non Pratt, me, Siobhan Curham and Juno Dawson.
People that inspire.
Left to right, Non Pratt, me,Siobhan Curham and Juno Dawson.
The River Liffey, Dublin, at night.
Rainbow pedestrian crossing.
Yes, more equality.
Me before undergoing my operation.
New beginnings as I underwent my operation
to amend the scars left by my major surgeries and
owning my chronic illness. 
Business class dining on our flight to Austin, Texas.
Flying across the Atlantic with my hero
(and her stashed bag of popcorn).
3-D coffee in Penang, Malaysia.
The cutest coffee you will ever see.
Bellinis and afternoon tea.
Bellinis and afternoon tea.

Gold temple statues in Penang.
The three wise monks.
My friend Zach, asleep on the train to Brighton.
Long days and longer nights. Bless.

Champagne in business class to Vancouver.
Business class (because you're worth it).

Our flight from Dublin to London in business class.
When a hero comes along...
treat her to British Airways business class
all the way.

Flight to Boston with my sister.
Family and my best friend
(by default).

MacRitchie Reservoir in Singapore.
More monkeys in Singapore.

March, 2016 - flight to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day.
Unexpected surprises with unexpected friends
en route to Dublin for St Patrick's Day.

Authors Krystal Sutherland, Katie Webber and Michael Grant wtih PR manager, Alice.
Bookish dream teams <3 .="" td="">

Book borrowing in Vancouver.
Canadian book communities.

The ruins in Rome.
Being on top of the world.
Baby koala in Singapore Zoo.
Baby koalas (do Amazon deliver?).

Komodo dragon in Singapore Zoo
Waving your claws in the air like you just don't care.

Rollercoasting by the coast.

Crowds during Austin Pride on the streets.
Austin pride and my small-town Utopia.
My Mam with Irish drag queen, Veda Lady.
Mam, stepping outside her comfort zone
and loving it.
Painting on the walls around the city of Penang.
The moments when you're too pregnant with food
 to give it your all.

Outside the Batu Caves.
Putting things into perspective.
The Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) magazine.
Book prizes and book addiction
(Hey - there are far worse addictions).
Bookish lights in my local cafe.
Bookish lights.
Painting at the Frist in Nashville, Tennessee.
Beautiful art that inspired my book.
Athena statue at the Parthenon replica.
The goddess of wisdom.
My friend, Xina at Tesco.
This weird and wonderful human being: K-POP FTW.
Me and Zach in Downtown Austin, Texas.
Moments that steal our hearts
and captivate the senses.
Pathway at Harrow on the hill.
The wonders closer to home.
Christmas jumper for my friend which I borrowed.
That Christmas jumper I bought for Zach and stole.
Navy Pier, Chicago.
 Navy Pier.
Water faucet.
Drunken moments where it seemed like a good idea
 to take the water faucet that fell off.
Alberquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico.
The places we have yet to see.

Sunset in Langkawi, Malaysia.
Sunsets in para-para-paradise.
Playing in the pool with my twin cousins.
Fun in the Sun with Twin 1 and Twin 2.
Zombie football player on the tube.
Missing the mark on the "sexy American football player" look
and becoming a zombie instead for Halloqween.
My best friend's wedding.
My BFF's wedding (and I blend
into the background. Literally).
Portland, Oregon.
Finding beauty in the everyday ordinary.
Sink the Pink event with drag queens, cabaret and girl band, Bewitched.
Sink the Pink madness.
Drinking Singapore Slings at the place of creation: Raffles Hotel, Singapore.
Drinking the original Singapore Sling.
Hotel room view in Malaysia.
Take-my-breath-away hotel room views.
Starfruit juice in Malaysia.
Starfruit juice for the star-in-training.
Meerkat at San Diego Zoo.
This cute little critter.
'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' prop.
Pride make-up for Boston Pride.
Being exactly who you want to be
and not who people expect you to be.