Lovely Company

I try not to make a habit of checking my Amazon ranking and ratings because it can be an easy way to spoil a perfectly good day! But I do pop in now and then (and maybe more than I should – I envy those cool authors who say they don’t check, but wonder if I believe them!!), and sometimes I get a nice surprise.

Lucky, the last time I checked, this is what I found! My chocolatey book snuggling up next to Charlie and Mr Wonka and looking like best friends (am I looking too much into this?).

The Great Chocoplot, Chocopocalypse, Schokopokalypse, Chris Callaghan, Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka

I know that it doesn’t take much for Amazon’s sub division lists to fluctuate, but a sight like this seemed like a great ‘screen-shot moment’ before it disappeared. I try not to take rankings and rating too seriously, but they can sometimes put a little spring in an author’s step.

If you have read a book that you’ve enjoyed, it’s a great idea to leave a comment on Amazon (or other platforms like goodreads) to let the author know. It also helps that author get more notice as Amazon will promote the books that get reviews, which is a great help to all of us struggling writers. Consider it a polite ‘thank you’, and it’s something the author will be very, very pleased with (so long as it’s positive, obviously!). You don’t even need to have bought the book on Amazon to leave a review there – you could have borrowed it from a library or a friend.

Thank you to everyone that has already left a review and I’ll keep checking back and crossing my fingers!


Very First Guest Writer

I’m delighted to have my long-standing Twitter friend and fellow writer, Louise Nettleton, as my very first guest on my website. Louise is a book fanatic and dedicated writer, who runs a fabulously booky blog called Book Murmuration, so please check it out. (You can also find Louise on Twitter here!)

Happy Easter

How to survive Easter in the event of a Chocopocalypse

By Louise Nettleton – bookmurmuration.wordpress.com

Easter is approaching, and one thing is high on everybody’s thoughts. Chocolate. The supermarket shelves are stacked with chocolate eggs and chocolate bunnies and fantabulous chocolate sculptures. Wheel your trolley past that aisle and you will find crème eggs at the till. There’s no escape. Open  your Easter egg and it is likely you will find even more chocolatey-goodness inside. There’s no escaping it! For many people Easter is one massive sugar hit.

What if the Chocopocalypse hits this weekend? Is it even possible to have Easter without chocolate?

Don’t hit the panic button. Take inspiration from around the world to find your new favourite Easter traditions. Whether you take the Chocopocalypse seriously or you’re just looking for some variety, there are many wonderful ways to celebrate Easter.


Make a giant omelette:

The world has already run out of chocolate. It might as well run out of eggs! Every year the people of Bessiéres in Southern France prepare an omelette big enough for 10,000 people to eat. According to Lonely Planet, that’s 15,000 eggs and a whole lot of duck fat in the pan.

Legend says Napoleon passed through the town and enjoyed an omelette so much that he ordered a second one big enough for his entire army. The omelette has been made every Easter Monday since 1973 in celebration of this story.

Imagine how big the wooden spoons must be.


Dress as a raggedy-witch:

In Sweden Easter is largely a secular (non-religious) holiday. On Maundy Thursday children dress up as witches. They paint their cheeks red, wear headscarves and, carrying a copper kettle, visit their neighbours hoping for sweet offerings.


Oooooo, a kite!Fly a kite:

Swap bright wrappers for bright ribbons. In Guyana and other parts of the Caribbean kite-flying is an Easter tradition for all the family.

Children today are as likely to fly an expensive kite. Traditionally kites were made by their fliers, and one of the most popular kites was a Caddy Old Punch. This kite was made from paper, sticks and scraps of material. Instructions exist online if you are a budding kite-maker.

Why not make a day of it? Families in Guyana might pack a picnic and make a day of the celebrations. Get outside and let your imaginations soar.


Pace eggs:

Egg RollingWho needs a chocolate egg? Pace eggs originate from Lancashire in the UK. Take a chicken’s egg and carefully boil it in onion skin. This will give the egg-shell a marbled pattern. (To make it more colourful, boil it in beetroot. The possibilities are endless!)

Pace eggs might be given as a gift. The museum at Dove Cottage in the Lake District has beautiful examples of pace eggs given to the children of the poet William Wordsworth in the 1800s. If the idea of treasuring a hard-boiled egg doesn’t excite you, why not have an egg-rolling contest? Roll your eggs down from the top of a hill. Whoever’s egg goes furthest is the winner. Egg-rolling still takes place in some parts of the UK.


Throw pottery out of the window:

Corfu. A beautiful Greek Island. On Easter Saturday at 11am, the silence is broken by the sound of shattering pots and cheers. Whether this tradition is a symbolic rejection of Judas or whether it dates from an historical Venetian tradition, it is a great opportunity to break stuff!

Please note:

  • People choose pots especially for the event. They don’t borrow their family’s favourite flowerpot.
  • This tradition is well-known, so it is organised to ensure people’s safety. People walking past your window may not expect a pot to land on their head.
  • If this is still your life’s ambition, wait until you can visit Corfu over Easter.


Read a good book:

Love a good mystery? In Norway reading detective fiction has become an Easter tradition. Head to your log cabin, light a wood fire and settle down with a good crime novel.

Could there possibly be a bigger mystery than the total disappearance of chocolate? The Seven Show says the Chocopocalypse is coming, but the more our hero Jelly investigates, the more certain she becomes that there is a great chocoplot to unwrap. Can she piece it together before chocolate disappears for good? Embrace this tradition by starting with The Great Chocoplot.

Huge thanks, Louise, for this wonderful Easter post. You didn’t have to mention my book, but I’m glad you did! Egg rolling sounds like a lot of fun, but so does throwing stuff out of windows!! Reading a good book sounds even better!

Happy Easter

Easter Treat in Durham

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Chocopocalypse, Waterstones, Durham

It was a great Easter treat to be invited back to Waterstones Durham for a chocolatey signing session. Durham is a beautiful place and the people are always the friendliest around. As it was Easter, I gave away a bar of Dairy Milk with every copy of Chocoplot. I like to think that this was more about my generosity than a blatant attempt to bribe customers! But it worked and we completely sold out!!

Thanks to everyone who came along, it’s always wonderful to meet readers and have a quick chocolate chat. I’m very grateful to the Waterstones staff, especially bookselling superstar Fiona Sharp, for being such massive Chocoplot supporters.

Happy Easter to you all.

Awesomest Day

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Awesomest Book AwardIt was with mixed feeling that I attended this year’s Worcestershire’s Awesomest Book Award ceremony. I was excited to continue to celebrate being the current holder of that wonderful title, but a little sad that I would move from ‘current’ to ‘former’. Or is this me just being greedy?

It was a fantastic event, attended by many schools in the area and the award scheme is driven by the young readers themselves. There was a quiz, which was won for the second year by Westacre Middle School (and which I was rubbish at!) and it was a pleasure to listen to a selection of readers talking about all the shortlisted books and why they had enjoyed reading them. It is a delight to see the enthusiasm that so many young people have for books in the Worcestershire area.

I also got to prance about and talk about my book and have some chocolatey fun – and I made the most of being the ‘current’ award winner as I watched the minutes of my reign (I can call it a ‘reign’ can’t I?) tick away.

Matt Stanton, Funny Kid for PresidentThe winner (by a huge majority) was announced to massive applause. Congratulations to Matt Stanton and his book ‘Funny Kid for President’. I’m delighted that another funny book has been chosen by Worcestershire’s awesomest readers. Matt follows in the footsteps of Rachel Hamilton, David Walliams (whoever he is?) and me, to be the Awesomest Book Award winner.

It was a wonderful day. Thank you to all the amazing library staff who organise the whole award scheme, to the teaching staff who encourage it in schools and especially to all the brilliant readers.

It is them who are the awesomest!

The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan, Worcestershire's Awesomest Book Awards

Jelly Book Day

My (and many others’) World Book Day did not quite go to plan, due to the floaty white stuff that pelted us from Siberia! But I’m delighted there were some that were able to enjoy the day.

Especially Jemima here, who got dressed up as Jelly from a certain book called ‘The Great Chocoplot’! Just look at that chocotastic homemade Blocka Choca too. It definitely looks good enough to eat.

I’m sure Jemima/Jelly’s mum and dad, were very happy that this year’s costume was a school uniform. Win, win!!

I hope you had a lot of fun, Jemima, and thank you. You have made both me and Jelly very happy indeed.


World Book Week and the Beast!

World Book Day, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan

World Book Week certainly didn’t go as planned!


Last Sunday I proudly boasted with a photo of my packed bags on Twitter that I was booked, prepped and ready for a whole week’s worth of school visits. But after two lovely days at a school in Doncaster my week ground to a halt. The following three schools visits were postponed because of ‘The Beast from the East’! It’s been the worst weather we’ve had for a long time.

Although I didn’t get to complete my week-long adventure, I count myself as incredibly lucky that I wasn’t out and about in the terrible conditions. Schools took the sensible decision to close in plenty of time and informed pupils, parents and, in my case, worried authors. I’ve heard some real horror stories of accidents, delays and cancellations on transport routes, but I am relieved that myself and my family were not caught up in it. My thoughts are with those that were – I’ve been there before and it’s no fun at all.

I have already managed to reschedule most of the visits I’ve missed, which is wonderful, and I look forward to having our own Book Day celebrations very soon.

Maybe there’s a lesson here. World Book Day is a fantastic thing, but it would be even better if schools had their own day every year that celebrated books (although books can be enjoyed EVERY day!) and that way authors are not shooting around the country trying to fit as many schools into a short space of time. I’d even had to turn down schools because my week was fully booked, and they only wanted a visit around the day itself!

I hope the weather starts being kind to us and we all get back to normal. I’m off to my next visit in Worcester next week and am keeping a close eye on the trains!


Hope everyone stayed safe during this crazy time and managed to fit in a snowball fight or two! Or found somewhere warm to snuggle up with a good book!!

Boro Reads

Looking forward to taking part in Middlesbrough Reads from The National Literacy Trust and being hosted in Hillstreet Shopping Centre.

We’ll be there taking part in fun half-term activities, giving away FREE books and I’ll be reading to anyone that will let me!

Hoping to share the joy of stories with the good people of Middlesbrough and maybe spreading a little chocolate panic too!

It’s on 16th February between 11am and 3pm – I’ll be there from 12 to 1:30pm.

The National Literacy Trust, The Great Chocoplot, Chris Callaghan

First School Visit of the Year

Chris Callaghan, The Great Chocoplot, Preston Grange Primary

Very happy to be back visiting schools and spreading chocolate panic after a month away. Being in a classroom or a school hall is one of the best parts of an author’s life. It is a real privilege to be in the middle of such creativity, enthusiasm and imagination. I always come away from a school having learned something new, which I hope will continue for a long time.

Thank you so much, Preston Grange Primary, who are a local school to me. They all came up with some outstanding ideas and stories, and we had a lot of fun too – which is always lovely. It was a pleasure and I hope to see you all again sometime and wish you well with all your reading and writing.


Thanks to Preston Grange for letting me use their photos!


Chocopocalyptic Christmas

Hoping everyone had a fantastic Christmas – with lots and lots of chocolate.

I was lucky enough to get sent the audio version of ‘Schokopokalypse’ – the German version of ‘The Great Chocoplot’.

Unfortunately, I don’t speak German but me and my family had a lot of fun listening and trying keep up with the story. And yes, we had to have a little bit of chocolate too!

It sounds fantastisch!