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Savannah Brown’s debut novel The Truth About Keeping Secrets is a gripping but real tale that you will undoubtedly be glued to from the very first page.

The Truth About Keeping Secrets follows grief-stricken Sydney who has to deal with the sudden loss of her dear dad at a young age.

Losing a parent is hard enough, but the mystery surrounding her dad’s death is weighing down on Sydney. As the only therapist for miles around their small Ohio town, her dad knew everyone’s secrets.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Is Sydney being paranoid or is there a reason for her to wonder why the police can’t find an explanation for the car crash that killed her dad?

I was lucky enough to talk to Savannah about her debut novel, her inspirations and the importance of writing about dark topics.

Authors tackle many heavy topics in their novels whether that’s heartbreak, poverty, parenthood or mental health. Tackling such an intense topic like grief can be incredibly difficult, but Savannah knew it would offer a sense of support to so many readers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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She explained: “Writing about dark topics, especially in young adult fiction provides a safe space for readers. It gives them a safe place where they can think about topics like death, but the option to walk away and close the book is always there when they feel overwhelmed.”

The author shared that she has personally suffered from bouts of death anxiety, which inspired the story. Savannah hopes to show readers that they’re not alone in their battles by sharing some of her personal struggles through Sydney’s story

By writing The Truth About Keeping Secrets in the first person, Savannah cements a strong connection between Sydney and the reader. Sydney quickly becomes a character that we can picture walking down the corridors of your school.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The young woman has so many different traits that draw you in, but what really engages you is how normal she is. She isn’t a popular cheerleader or the editor of a fashion magazine or a mum who runs a successful bakery by the seaside. She’s real.

“She’s a girl who has been dealt a shitty hand in life and is doing her very best to deal with it,” Savannah said. She’s relatable to people because she’s struggling, she’s not sleeping, she’s crying, she’s confused and heartbroken. “Her reaction to her dad’s death is rooted in reality.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Savannah explained that ensuring that Sydney was a realistic and relatable character was one of the most important things for her when writing her debut novel.

The writer has sought inspiration from the greats like Maya Angelous and Mary Shelley and it’s evident that Savannah’s words will touch readers hearts like the work of her inspirations touched hers.

The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown is published by Penguin. You can buy your copy here.

Feature Image: Savannah Brown

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Aoife Dooley is a force to be reckoned with. 

Comedian, author, illustrator, creator of YourOneNikita, the list is endless as to what she has achieved.

Not to mention the fact that she has had to manage being diagnosed with autism earlier this year and has to put up with online trolls on a pretty much daily basis. 

But none of it seems to faze her as we found out when we got to have a chat with her. 

The 27-year-old is busy getting ready to launch an animated series of YourOneNikita on RTE as well as helping out Dublin Bus announce the winners of their Children's Art Competition today, but she gave us the goss on what she's been up to and how nervous she is for the RTE series debut next week…

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Last day recording for the Your One Nikita tv series

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Her career

There might be many string to her bow, but it all began with illustrating.

She says, ''I always loved drawing even as far back as primary school. I didn't realise it at the time but I just wanted to do something that I enjoyed. Illustrating was really therapeutic for me.''

Aoife mentioned in an interview a while back that when she was floundering a few years ago, all she was sure of was that she ''wanted to be the best''.

And that struck a chord with me because isn't it so relatable to so many of us? 

She advises, ''The most important thing is finding something that you're interested in and that brings you joy because then you'll always excel in it. Loads of practice too. I'm not by any means an amazing drawer, but it works for me and I love what I do. If you want to do well, you'll put the time in and make contacts.''

Social media

Speaking of pressure, social media is obviously not only a big part of everyone's life nowadays bit also a big part of Aoife's work – although she has had her fair share of the sh*ttier side of it. 

She says, ''I just block people now. If I get mean messages in, I just block them from seeing my story. There was someone there the other day who kept messaging me and commenting on my stuff clearly fake profile so I just blocked them, I could not be arsed. Why would I leave that person on my page?''

She continues, ''The other thing [Bloggers Unveiled] was a bit different because that was going on over long periods of time and you;d get emails so if that happens again I'm aware of it and so are other people so that they can report it.''

Autism

Aoife was diagnosed in April at the age of 26 with autism and finding out has freed her and made life so much easier, although people don't really seem to know much about it.

She says, ''The spectrum is huge, people on it are just as individual as people who aren't autistic. Finding out was mad because I hadn't got a clue about it. I had a very stereotypical view about it and that's down to how it's portrayed in the media. It's always a man or a boy and they always seem to be at the severe end of the spectrum.''

Encouraged by a friend to go and get tested, her confidence has grown as a result.

''I'm a lot more at ease with myself because I know my limits now. I've been watching I'm A Celebrity with Anne Hegerty and she's brilliant, she's articulating it really well. I get really overwhelmed. If I'm really happy I start crying – it's like I don't have great control over my emotions but at least now I know what it is.''

She articulates it perfectly when she says, ''It's liberating know who you are when you haven't for the best part of your life when you thought you did.''

YourOneNikita

Aoife's web series, based on life living on the north side of Dublin and a Dublin girlo we're all familiar with, has achieved huge success.

It has spawned two hilarious books, How To Be Massive and How To Deal With Poxes and now, an animated RTE series is on the way.

The animations were finished in October and it's set to hit our screen on the week of November 26, but she's definitely a bit nervous. ''I hope people watch it and like it. Fingers crossed.''

Dublin Bus Children's Art Competition

Aoife is also involved with Dublin Bus Children's Art Competition, which takes place across 4th and 5th and 6th classes every year and encourages children to respect their bus driver, ''a great initiative'' as she says. 

She has worked with Dublin Bus before, doing some animation for their school videos. So why did she decided to get involved with this competition? 

''It's a really great idea – going through the entries I realised that a lot of kids had so much respect for their drivers, some even knew their names and I thought that it was lovely that they had that interaction with their bus drivers. ''

Forty-one entries will appear in the children's Dublin Bus art calender for 2019 and 11 images will appear on a Dublin Bus itself. 

She continues, ''I wanted to get involved because I used to love entering those competitions when I was younger. So I said I was definitely going to be part of that.''

She's set to announce the winners for their annual competition today and we can reveal that it is Susan O'Reilly, a 4th class student from Canice's Girls School in Finglas. Well done!

Best of luck with everything Aoife – we seriously cannot WAIT to see YourOneNikita on RTE net week – we know it's gonna be massive. 

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All of Ireland mourned the loss of beloved Irish author Emma Hannigan in March of this year. 

Following a cancer battle of over a decade, Emma sadly passed away, but not before she released her twelfth novel Letters to my Daughters which was one of the bestselling books of the year.   

The writer and mum-of-two was met with an outpouring of love and support as she revealed her cancer diagnosis devastatingly left her little time to live. But she was determined to channel every good moment she had into helping others – with her efforts and everyone coming together, over €100,000 was donated to breast cancer research. She was an inspiration to all around her. 

And as it turns out, Emma left us one final gift: her final novel 'The Gift of Friends,' to be published in Spring 2019. 

Emma always said that writing was her way of escaping from the reality of living with her cancer diagnosis, especially during the many hours she spent undergoing treatment. True to form, in the final months of her life, and despite the limitations of her illness, Emma continued to write. The first draft of a new novel was delivered to her editors, Ciara Doorley and Sherise Hobbs and in January; Emma emailed the acknowledgements for the book just days before she passed away.

Today, September 25th, on Emma's birthday, her family and publishers are delighted to announce that her last novel will be released on 28th February 2019.  

Emma's family said they were thrilled to share her final gift with the world on, fittingly, the special day of her birthday. 

"Today is Emma’s birthday. It’s hard to believe that six months have already passed since she left us. We miss her love, her ever-generous spirit and, of course, her wicked sense of humour. We’ve always felt that Emma wrote so that a part of her would always be with us. So we are very happy to tell you that Emma left us one last gift, her final book."

"The Gift of Friends is a story of joy and friendship, love and light. As Emma said, “When it comes down to the wire, all that matters is love … I will be there in your hearts and you will be in mine.” We hope you open your hearts and enjoy this very special book. Love and Light."

Emma’s editors, Ciara Doorley of Hachette Books Ireland and Sherise Hobbs of Headline Publishing Group say the book is filled with the writer's trademark warm characters and skilful storytelling; a story, as with all the others, that she poured her heart and soul into. They described it as a "life-affirming story that celebrates the power of female friendship."

We can't wait to read it. 

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Summer is just over and the autumn is calling our names. 

That means shorter days, darker evenings, unshaven legs and it being acceptable to have a Baileys hot chocolate four nights a week.

Just me? Oh, well, you're all missing out.

So what's the perfect autumn cosy-couch-viewing? Sally Rooney, author of the fantastic Conversations with Friends, is coming to our rescue on that front. 

According to Stylist, Sally’s upcoming book, Normal People, is set to be adapted for TV by BBC Three.

It's based around the book, which follows the lives of Marianne and Connell, who both hail from a small town in the west of Ireland and end up as students in Dublin's Trinity College.

It explores how people grow and change as they navigate their way through young adulthood and the interesting people that they meet along the way. 

“I feel very privileged to be working with such an extraordinary team on the adaptation of Normal People. I’m looking forward to the challenge of working in a new form, and of thinking about these characters and their lives in new ways,” Sally said. 

The cherry on the cake?

It will be directed by Lenny Abrahamson, who's work includes RoomThe Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Lobster.

Lenny said that, “Sally is a writer of the highest calibre and in Normal People she captures the ebb and flow of intimacy and desire with extraordinary skill.'' ​​​​​​

“I’m proud to be part of bringing her work to the screen audience it deserves.”

So, if awkwardness, humour and romance are up your street, then look no further. 

Normal People is due to hit our screens in January and we assure you, you will not want to miss it. 

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Melanie Brown, also known as Mel B, went through a difficult divorce last year from her husband of 10 years, Steven Belafonte, which was finalised in December 2017.

The mum-of-three has accused her ex-husband in the past of alleged physical and emotional abuse.

Steven, who is father to her youngest daughter Madison, still denies all claims of violence, Metro reports.

The Spice Girl now wants to 'set the record straight' in a new book, she says, after their 'very public court case'.

 

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Her new autobiography, which Bookseller says will be called Brutally Honest, is not her first.

Mel B previously published a memoir called Catch a Fire back in 2002. However, she still has some insight to share, and the English singer said that her new book will discuss her relationships with 'domineering, controlling men'.

"I have kept silent for a decade, but after a very public court case, I want to set the record straight," Mel B explained.

As a mum to daughters Phoenix Chi Gulzar (19), Angel Iris Murphy Brown (11), and Madison Brown Belafonte (6), Melanie wants to educate and empower her girls.

 

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"This book will show that abuse can happen to anyone," she said, "It is important that my three girls, who I raise as a single mother, know how to break the chain of abuse—along with any other woman who reads this book."

According to Bookseller, Brutally Honest will be published in November of this year.

Do you think you'll pick up a copy of her book when it comes out?

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One thing Irish people are known for is the ability to tell a yarn. Think James Joyce, Anne Enright, and of course the LOL-a-minute Marian Keyes, to name just a few.

The publishing landscape is changing by the day – not too long ago the only way to go was a book deal from a traditional publisher, but now thanks to technology, self-publishing your own novel is becoming a viable alternative.

Need some tips to get that bestseller in the bag? We went along to the recent How to Publish Independently with Amazon conference and picked up some awesome tips:

 

1. Pick a subject you’re genuinely interested in

First things first: choose a subject you actually feel passionate about. Picking something because you think there’s a gap in the market for it, or because it’s ‘hot topic’ means it might not read as authentic as it should, and the odds are it’ll feel more like homework than a labour of love.

2. Plot your story arc

One of the most important considerations in writing a novel is your story arc. Simply put, it’s the story you tell from the beginning (the trigger or event) to the rising action, to the climax, to the resolution. And you don’t necessarily have to plot it scene-by-scene – according to author Hazel Gaynor, some writers have a skeleton of a story before they begin, and others want to see where it takes them naturally.

3. Download Scrivener

Scrivener is a pretty genius tool that lets you outline and structure your story with ease. Part word processor, part project management tool, it lets you drag and drop scenes and ideas, take notes, and view your research as you write. 

4. Start with a bang

People often decide to read a book based on the first few pages, so make your opening scene interesting enough to pull people in. Ask yourself the question: is this something that would grab ME?

5. Make mistakes in your first draft

You should be under zero pressure or restrictions when your write your first draft. This is the most free and creative part of the process, so just write away with wild abandon and focus on getting your story down. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar and tying up loose ends – that’s what your second, third and maybe even fourth drafts are for.

6. Consider hiring a professional editor

In the second and third drafts you’ll work on structure, inconsistencies and spelling and grammar. However, getting a professional editor on board to go over story, plot, characterisation, dialogue and point of view is definitely something to consider. “Don’t worry about ‘meddling’,” says author and editor Alison Walsh. “It’s about making it the best it can be. We don’t want to rewrite it. It’s about your work, your voice, we just help get the story across.”

7. Build an author platform

If you decide to go down the self-publishing route, you will be author, marketer, publicist and businessperson, so it’s important to get yourself out there. Remember, Fifty Shades started out as a blog! So start an author blog (there are heaps of fab free themes on WordPress and Wix), get yourself on social media, and engage with fellow writers. “Do up a press release, contact people in newspapers and don’t go for the hard sell – engage people with your genuine passion,” advises author LG Ross.

8. Upload your finished novel

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing – or KDP – is a portal to set your novel live to a paying audience. The big differences between KDP and traditional publishing are that you get to keep all the rights to your novel, and you can also update the document if there are any typos. Uploading your work using the tool is actually pretty easy; there’s a handy step-by-step guide you can follow on getting started here.

Go forth and conquer!

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It has been a sad day for losing legends; first it was reported that Tony Fenton had passed away, now it is breaking that Terry Pratchett has died.

The author, whose popular Discworld series sold millions worldwide has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for the last eight years.

Terry’s passing was confirmed by Transworld Publishers MD, Larry Finlay who said: “My sympathies go out to Terry’s wife Lyn, their daughter Rihanna, to his close friend Rob Wilkins and to all those close to him. Terry passed away in his home, with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family on 12th March 2015."

"Diagnosed with PCA[1] in 2007, he battled the progressive disease with his trademark determination and creativity, and continued to write. He completed his last book, a new Discworld novel, in the summer of 2014, before succumbing to the final stages of the disease.”

Terry's death was also reported on his Twitter page: "Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night."

Our thoughts go out to his friends and family at this tragic time. 

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There is very exciting news for Harry Potter fans today as J.K. Rowling has released a short story on her website!

The talented author, who created the much loved books, uploaded the story to the Pottermore website, and fans have gone wild for it already.

The story itself is written as an article by journalist Rita Skeeter and features an older, greying Harry Potter, and lots more of “Dumbledore’s Army” attending a Quidditch World Cup final.

How timely!

The story marks the very first appearance of Harry or any other character for that matter, as adults since the last book.

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The gorgeous Lisa Fitzpatrick wasn’t always the confident lady we see today. For many years Lisa struggled with being overweight. Now four stone lighter and healthier, Lisa has managed to keep the weight off her for over ten years. But how did she do it?

Lisa has just released her brand new book Diet SOS, which shares her journey from her heaviest at size 20 and 15 stone, to now.

Emma from SHEmazing! TV went along to the launch of Diet SOS at The Morgan Hotel in Dublin to get all the inside tips from Lisa.

Watch the video to see how you can get in shape!

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Fans of the Divergent series will be getting very excited as the release date approaches. The movie will hit Irish cinemas on April 4th and stars Shailene Woodley as protagonist Tris and Theo James as the dreamy Four.

But how does author Veronica Roth feel her pride and joy has translated onto the big screen? Well, she took to her Tumblr account and shared her opinions on the movie adaptation of Divergent.

Speaking first about the surreality of seeing her book as a movie, Veronica said: “I packed up a suitcase and flew to LA and bought some Milk Duds and watched the Divergent movie. You know. As one does. (?!!!)”

Veronica went on to think back to her days of writing the book: “I would flash back to this image of myself in pajama pants with gross hair typing away on my computer, and then juxtapose it over the gorgeous shots of the Sears Tower or Navy Pier … it was so ridiculously awesome and surreal I just wanted to laugh and cry all at once.”

In relation to how her characters were presented by Shailene and Theo, Veronica gushed: “Shailene Woodley as Tris and Theo James as Four are everything I hoped for (or maybe more than I dared to hope for).”

So, in a nutshell, Veronica was really pleased with the movie and said: “I loved it. I was completely absorbed by it.”

Yay, this makes us extra excited to see it in April!

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If your dream is to travel but you just haven’t gotten around to it yet, transport yourself around the world with these great books.

From Thailand to Paris, these books will bring you places you only see in your dreams, all from the comfort of bed.

1. Wild, Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl is 24, divorced and racked with grief from her mother’s recent death. To heal and find herself she decides to undertake the Pacific Crest Trail and hikes 1, 100 miles – alone. A true and fascinating story that is due to be made into a film later this year.

2. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
Following a difficult divorce, Elizabeth travels the world going from Italy to Indonesia and then to India. This is a true story, which was made into a film starring Julia Roberts in 2010.

3. Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
This book is based on Krakaeur’s 9,000 word essay on the travels and demise of Christopher McCandless. McCandless donated his college fund of $24,000 to Oxfam in 1990 and set out to travel Western United States.

4. The Beach, Alex Garland
This movie was a massive success, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. But the original novel is just as captivating. The story of a backpacker who comes across a small community of tourists living in isolation on an unspoilt island.

5. The Hundred-Foot Journey, Richard Marais
When Hassan and his family must flee their Indian home and restaurant business they go to London first and eventually settle in France. When they open a restaurant, they quickly become competition for the fearsome and strong chef across the road, Madame Mallory. The book will be made into a film starring Helen Mirren this year.

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