Category Archives: the last beginning

Books for fans of The Last Beginning

The Last Beginning comes out in America today! I’d really appreciate you buying it, or asking your local bookshop/library to stock it, if you’re in the USA. Word of mouth can make a massive difference, and it’s really important to get LGBT YA books in the reach of teenagers.

I know a lot of you will have already read the book, so I wanted to share some other books which you might like if you enjoyed The Last Beginning.

Time travel books

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

A team of time travel specialists go to the past to try to stop the Coventry blitz. Of course, things go wrong, and are made both better and worse by the interference with time – just like in The Last Beginning.

 

The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Clove and Ella are lovers separated by time, just like the star-crossed duo in this romance novel. Sad and romantic in equal measure, this is a classic for anyone who wants a good time travel fix.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

I read this when I was six, so it firmly lit the flames of my love for time travel which was later fanned by Doctor Who and Back to the Future (see below!). I love the rules of time travel in the Harry Potter universe, which sees past selves appearing before you ever decide to time travel – quite similar to how it works in my books!

 

Funny science fiction

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Last Beginning is (supposed to be, and hopefully is) funny, and a big inspiration for that is one of my all time favourite science fiction novels, which is hilarious. My book is nowhere near this funny, but I’ve got to have something to work towards, right?

Red Dwarf by Grant Naylor

Based on the TV series, and even funnier in my opinion (there are a lot of sly asides by the narrator you miss in the programme), this is about a bunch of useless misfits on a spaceship, one of which is an evolved cat. There’s also a sassy AI called Holly who Spart would really like.

B^F: The Novelization Of The Feature Film by Ryan North

As I said above, Back to the Future was an early favourite of mine when I was little. For a book connected to it, you need to read this account of reading the novelisation of the film Back to the Future, by comedian Ryan North. It’s on kindle here. I’ve read it at least seven times, which is for sure more times than I have ever seen the film it is tangentially based on. It just makes me cry with laughter every time, and is the funniest thing I’ve ever read, by far. It’s not only hilarious, and a great lesson in gentle parody, but it’s also a really interesting analysis of writing for (and about) teenagers.

If you’re not convinced (I don’t blame you), here’s an extract:

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Books about a precocious teenager genuis

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is an adopted bookworm who can do maths in her head – just like Clove! They would definitely be friends.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis is ridiculously clever and unafraid to take risks to get what he wants. He’s also very scientific, even in a world of fairies and magic.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua

Clove studies computer programming with her mum and dad, who are scientists at the University of St Andrews. This graphic novel is a look at the lives of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, who invented an early computer. It shows an alternative twist to their history in which they use the computer to have adventures! If you loved Spart and Clove’s banter in The Last Beginning, you’ll adore this.

LGBT characters

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

Similar to Firefly, this graphic novel about a team of builders who travel the galaxy restoring ancient planetary ruins from their spaceship. One of them is searching the universe for her lost love. Really beautifully drawn.

Pembroke Park by Michelle Martin

A regency love story between two women, just like Clove and Ella, this is an LGBT Jane Austen.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

This is set in Victorian England, and tells the story of Sue, a thief, and Maud, the noble lady she is trying to rob. Their lives are tied together in unexpected ways, made even more complicated when they fall in love. Full of twists, romance and betrayal, I promise you that once you start this story you won’t be able to put it down.


If you’d like to read The Last Beginning, there’s a beautiful hardback edition published by Sky Pony Press, which you can buy here:

Amazon UK | Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles | Barnes & Noble

Hive | iTunes | Kobo | Wordery | WHSmith | Amazon US

You can add the book on Goodreads or subscribe to my mailing list for updates, or read the prologue on Wattpad.

More extras:

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News update!

A lot has been happening recently, so I thought it was about time I posted a bit of an update!

I was on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio today talking to Brody Swain about World Book Day! It was my first radio interview and it was incredibly fun – you can listen here from 2hr 12mins!

My US publisher Sky Pony Press have put my short story ANOTHER TOGETHER, about Kate and Matt solving a murder at Bletchley Park, up online. If you’ve been waiting to read this you can now download it for free here!

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Some snazzy book flashcards also arrived from Harperteen featuring The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, as well as their other superstars authors. Very appropriately, my book was chosen for the ‘plot twist’ question.

 

All of which is to say that I have two US publications this year and the publicity is amping up for release! The Last Beginning is out in two weeks, and looks like this:

It was highlighted by Barnes and Noble, which was thrilling. The Loneliest Girl comes out in July! I’m very excited for both.

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I’m absolutely thrilled to be longlisted for the Australian Inky awards, alongside some absolute heavyweights!

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Also, Alice’s new book is going out into the world! If you like Contemporary YA, you need to check out I Was Born For This asap. I blurbed it:  “Alice Oseman was born to write this novel. A dark and funny look what happens when online fandom collides with real life in messy, bittersweet detail. Exposes the reality of being a fan – and being famous – without holding back any punches.”

Since I last blogged, I’ve been hard at work on editing my next book. I’m really excited for this one, which I think is set to be my longest and most ambitious book yet…. I’m cautiously optimistic I’ll pull it off. I’m hoping to do a title reveal soon, but for the eagle-eyed amongst you, you might be able to find a sneak peek of it on a certain book site….. 😉

Most of the time I’m just staring helplessly at notes like this:

 

 

I have a few events coming up –

24 March – The Northern YA Literature Festival: Feminism in YA panel with Katherine Webber, Annabel Pitcher, Matt Killeen – Free tickets available here.

14 April – YA Shot: Privacy, entertainment & technology panel with Kerry Drewery, Laura Steven & Sophie McKenzie  – More information here.

Other things I’ve been doing: making jam, walking and falling in love with Dogs Trust dogs, viewing houses and loving STRIKE. I’ve also started posting every book I read on twitter (January and February)

And that’s all from me! Hope you’re enjoying March, whether you’re somewhere nice and sunny or snowed in like me (please stop before my London trip to see Hamilton this weekend, the Beast from the East).

Lx

Valentine’s Day extract + Clove and Ella get engaged!

Last year on Valentine’s day I posted a romantic extract from The Next Together. Let’s do the same thing this year, from The Last Beginning! Here are Clove and Ella being flirty cuties in love.

(You can also read it on Wattpad)


C a r l i s l e , E n g l a n d , 1 7 4 5

When Clove finally went back downstairs, Mrs Samson scolded her for disappearing halfway through making breakfast and put Clove to work in the wash-house doing laundry.

“Did you find the ingredients which you need for your spell?” Ella asked, as she arrived an hour later with another load of dirty clothes for Clove. She dipped a hand into Clove’s bucket of fresh water and flicked her with it. Clove leapt back, but the freezing cold water still splashed her arm.

Hey!” she said, trying to be serious, but she couldn’t help the way her mouth just wanted to smile. She ducked her head, giving in to the urge to grin.

When she looked back up, Ella’s expression took her by surprise. She looked … awestruck. Like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing, when what she was seeing was Clove. Just Clove. No one had ever looked at her like that before.

“What?” Clove asked, a little defensively.

“Nothing,” Ella said. “It’s just… I’ve never seen you smile before.” She sounded winded.
Clove swallowed hard, her laughter dying in her throat.

It was true that she had been very stressed recently. But surely she had smiled before? She couldn’t remember, right now, when Ella was looking at her like that.

Flustered, Clove flicked her hand into the water. Ella skittered away and let out a giggle.

Clove chased her out of the wash-house and across the lawn. But by the time she had cornered the girl by the kitchen door, all that was left of her attack was two damp palms. She pressed them to either side of Ella’s neck as she tried to squirm away.

Ella winced at the coldness of the water on her skin. The two girls were standing so close that Clove could see droplets of water clinging to Ella’s collarbone and the goosebumps standing up on her neck. Ella’s cap had come off and her hair was falling out of its bun again, messy spirals curling off in all directions.

There was a moment when they just stared at each other, breathing in unison. Clove felt like every molecule of her skin was alert and attuned to Ella’s movements.

Something had snapped their bickering into a meaningful tension. She parted her lips. If she just leant a little closer, if Ella just tilted her head a little to the right, then—

Ella stepped back. Then she lifted her arm, holding up Clove’s bucket of water – which she must have grabbed before running out of the wash-house. Clove didn’t have time to react before the water fell through the air in an iridescent arc, splashing Clove right in the chest. It was so cold that Clove couldn’t catch her breath to speak, and when she did all that escaped was helpless laughter.

“Ella!” she gasped.

Ella was laughing so hard she nearly fell over. “Yes!” she screeched. “Got you!”

“I’m soaking wet!” Clove’s bodice was drenched, and her skirts were rapidly darkening as the water spread.

“I’m going to throw you in the pond,” Clove threatened, tugging the damp fabric away from her skin.

Ella only laughed harder. “You look like a drowned cat! All bedraggled and furious.”

Clove hissed at her, baring her teeth like an angry feline. “If I get a chill and die, it’ll be all your fault.” Clove held a hand to her forehead, letting out an overly long groan of pain, which turned into laughter when Ella jabbed her in the ribs.

“I think you will recover, Miss Tabbycat,” Ella said.

“Especially as the last time you were dying you managed to wander off and escape me.”

“The salad days,” Clove muttered, sighing to herself and leaning into Ella’s side.

Ella tightened her arm around Clove’s shoulder.

FIN.


If you liked this extract, The Last Beginning is published by Walker Books in the UK and Australia. It will be released in the US in Fall 2017 by Sky Pony Press.

Amazon UK| Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles  | Hive | iTunes | Kobo | Wordery | WHSmith

You can add the book on Goodreads or subscribe to my mailing list for updates, or read the prologue on Wattpad.


P.s. I also recently wrote a thing on tumblr about how Clove and Ella got engaged. You’re welcome.

After school, Clove does a degree at St Andrews while Ella finishes her degree at her home uni. Then Clove moves to Ella’s uni for a masters in theoretical morality, while Ella starts a PhD in classical history control potentiality. They live together in a tiny terraced house with a back garden, which Ella turns into a vegetable patch. It produces approximately 3 Brussel sprouts and a cucumber every summer. That’s all.

When they both finally graduate with a million degrees between them, Clove goes back to St Andrews to start running tests on the time machine with Jen, who now runs the St Andrews Physics department. Ella moves back with her. She commutes using her skin to a theatre company, where she works to gather accurate details about ancient greece for their productions, using her Skim.

They adopt a rescue dog, who Matt babysits during the day, because he works from home with Tom (they started a business together. they argue constantly.) Alfie, kate and matt’s three year old son, cries every day when Clove picks up the dog after work. Alfie hates goodbyes.

When Ella turns 25 she gets really nostalgic for how she and clove met (she reads a lot of fic written about then. Clove kinkshames her. It’s a Thing.). They drop the dog off with kate and matt and alfie and go on holiday to 1745. They hang out with 1745 Katherine and Matthew, and then Ella takes Clove on a picnic by the river, at the exact place where they met. The picnic is the same as the one Ella brought then, except there’s smoky bacon crisps too, this time.

After they eat, Clove naps with her head on Ella’s stomach. When she wakes up, there’s a bouquet of violets resting next to her. She laughs when she sees it, hysterically, and Ella gets offended that she finds her romantic gesture funny. Then Clove reaches into her bag and pulls out a box. She hands it to Ella.

Inside, there’s this:ring-in-silver-colour-flower-made-of-zircon-hearts-in-dark-violet

“I guess we both had the same idea,” Clove says, blushing bright red. “You gave me a violet once, a long time ago. I thought it was about time I repaid the favour.“

Ella’s eyes flick down between the ring and Clove. “Are you…?” she says.

Clove nods. “Elenore Walker. Will you marry me?”

Ella bursts into tears. “You weren’t supposed to propose for another two years!” she yells. “It’s in your autobiography!!”

Clove grins. She’s been planning for a while that when she gets around to writing her ‘autobiography’, she’ll include some lies. Gotta keep Ella on her toes somehow. “Surprise?”

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Source

Ella says yes, they get married the next summer, it’s very stressful for everyone involved. The wedding photos go viral on Ella’s social media. Obviously this is their wedding song.

#obviously as soon as they get home ella pulls out a ring she bought before she even officially met clove #she saved up her pocket money for it

Taking Stock of 2016

Happy 2017, everyone!

Sometimes as a writer, it can feel like you haven’t achieved much, because you can spend so long editing and reediting the same projects. I think a lot about how I only wrote one book all year, and worry whether that makes me lazy.

However, last year I wrote a summary of my achievements in 2015, and looking back at it helps me see that I actually did quite a lot that year. So I’m doing the same again this year: good and bad. 

The good

Writing

In 2016 I wrote the first draft of a new novel in a new genre. I also fulfilled my 2016 New Years Resolution and wrote a screenplay. It actually got through to the final stages of the BBC Writer’s Room (but no further! Next time…). 

I also started a  quarterly newsletter (subscribe!) and wrote some blog posts, including:

I blurbed some amazing books, including Mafiosa by Catherine Doyle, A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard, The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson and Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt.

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I spoke on over 10 panels with some amazing authors – Jennifer Niven being a particular highlight! I also finally appeared on a panel with Alice Oseman. 

I chaired a panel at YA Shot and co-ran a workshop at YALC (again, with Alice! The dream team).

Publication

I published a novel, a novella and a short story!

TNT was also published in translation in Czech Republic, Brazil and Turkey.

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My books so far!

We sold 16,000 copies of TNT- and it’s on its fifth or sixth print run, so there are now 23,000 copies in print. This number is so big I can’t understand it.

It was also longlisted for Branford Boase Award and chosen as iTunes book of the week in October!the_loneliest_girl

The Last Beginning was chosen by Scholastic Book Clubs to become a special edition including the novella Another Together. It
was reviewed in The Independent as one of the best LGBT inclusive children’s books of the year – my first press review! It was also reviewed in Diva Magazine.

I got a new 2 book deal with Walker, and the cover for my next book was revealed.

Personal

I went on holiday to Cambodia, Thailand, Edinburgh and Wales.

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I lived in London for a month (and decided I never want to do that again!). I saw my brother sworn in as a Special Constable, which made me very proud.

I adopted 3 adorable guinea pigs from Lucy Powrie.

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I went to the theatre a LOT. I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (twice!), Les Liaisons Dangereuses, As you like it, In the Heights, The Maids, Groundhog Day, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Cymbeline, Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Aladdin, Guys and Dolls, The Phantom of the Opera, The Woman in Black and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. I also saw in concert Hozier, The Lumineers, Monsters & Men and Jurassic Park at the Royal Albert Hall.

I read nearly 200 books. Last year I was in a reading slump because I kept reading contemporary YA in an attempt to be part of the cultural conversation. I DNFed lots of books because they weren’t interesting me. This year, I took a step back and started really thinking about what I enjoy to read about. I’ve started to love reading again, and I happily ignore the conversations about books I’m not interested in without panicking. I don’t write contemporary YA, so there’s no reason for me to treat those books as competition just because they fall under the umbrella of Young Adult.

I started doing yoga and donating blood.

I was very, very happy.

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The Bad

carI passed my driving test and bought my first car! …..but it took me three attempts to pass my driving test – and I still struggle a lot still with my confidence about driving. It’s my biggest weakness. My New years resolution is to try and drive somewhere every day. I haven’t done well on this so far..

I missed a few events I was really looking forward to due to illness, particularly a panel at Waterstones Piccadilly which I was so excited and honoured to be asked to participate in.

I intended to write some more non-fiction articles, like my ones for The Toast and The Guardian Children Books in 2015, but didn’t find the time. Also, sadly, both of the publications I wrote for have since closed down (not my fault, I promise!).

I spoke about this last year, but I still struggle a lot with jealousy/envy/comparing myself to other authors. The solution, as far I’ve been able to determine, is to avoid going on Twitter as much as possible. But I feel like I’m drifting away from a brilliant community at the same time as improving my mental health. It’s a dilemma.

As I found last year, I did a lot of work for free this year – both my novella and short story were unpaid works. I think it’s all good practice and publicity, but it can be difficult at times to know that I’ve spent whole months doing full time work for free. I have started blogging a little less – I decided against doing a blog tour for TLB because I wasn’t sure of the payoff compared to the amount of work it takes.

In more positive news, last year I was very worried about my long term career plan. I had absolutely no idea whether being an author was possible permanently. This year I’m feeling a lot more settled and confident about my career and chances. Money is still tight, and the payments are very irregular, but I’m hoping to move into my own home in 2017. So I’m getting there! Slowly…

My 2017 resolutions:

  1. Drive every day
  2. Write a new novel
  3. Write a second screenplay

In other news: I’m doing an event at Waterstones Birmingham:

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The Loneliest girl on the universe was featured on Book Riot.

Simonlevvis on tumblr posted these amazing photo sets about TNT and TLB!

 

Easter eggs you might have missed in The Last Beginning

There are lots of references in my books – adding them in is one of my favourite parts of writing! Some of which are obvious, like Kate and Matt’s flashbacks to past lives. Others, you might have missed, especially if you were reading fast! So here are five tiny references in The Last Beginning.

1) The Loneliest Girl in the Universe 

In the epilogue, there are not one but three references. The first is to my next book, featuring Romy Silvers, my new character!

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2) Celebrities

You might have spotted the second reference in the extract above! Vlogger Casey Neistat and his famous skateboards gets a mention, as does Beyonce & Kim Kardashian’s famous offspring.

3) One Direction Fangirlsbeings-2

On the side of a webpage, there’s a little clickbait advert which is a (loving!) jab at Larry fans.

 

beings-34) Death and Dream from The Sandman

On the same page, I reference one of my favourite books – The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman

5) Ella’s sneaky cameo in the prologueThis one is a favourite of mine. It’s one of the very last things I added to the book, and I’m so glad i thought of it in time! If you’re writing about time travel, you just have to embrace the tropes.

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Ella also appears in The Next Together, by the way – let me know if you spot her!

Special edition of The Last Beginning!

Exciting news! Scholastic Book Clubs have commissioned a special edition of The Last Beginning, which includes the short story set at Bletchley Park ‘Another Together‘ at the end.

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Hello, feels! The gorgeous finale to The Next Together, with an exclusive new short story! Romance plus reincarnation: who said undying love is a myth…? Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Kate and Matt vanished without a trace. Now their secret daughter, Clove, has found out who she really is. She knows she’s got to find her long-lost parents. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? It’s not over for Matt and Kate – and Clove’s own (love) story is just beginning. But does love start at first sight? Or does this story begin at its end?

  • An epic and passionate time-travel love story like no other
  • Includes a totally exclusive short story set at Bletchley Park
  • Sequel to the breakthrough bestseller The Next Together
  • Technology, danger, political intrigue – plus undying love!

I’m so excited that this e-book exclusive short story is finally in print! It’s extra thick and chunky and means that you can have the whole series on your shelves together. THE DREAM.  graphic.PNG

Unfortunately it’s only available through schools, or online if you are connected to a school. You can also discuss setting up a teen book club with your school.

It’s out today, and it’s a limited edition so if you want a copy, don’t wait around! Here are some pictures of the edition, to keep you going (or make you extra jealous if you can’t get  a copy – I’m so sorry!!).

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Just a little bit thicker than the normal edition!

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In other news: There was a Bookseller article about my new book deal! Career goal achieved. My old school also said some nice things about me.

I have a Facebook page now. Like, if you wish.

The Brazilian version of The Next Together is out now! Someone posted this video review about it, which I obviously don’t understand – please don’t tell me if she’s saying lots of horrible things.

I reached 50,000 words on my fourth novel. I think I’m going to do a writing progress update soon, if anyone is interested?

FREE EBOOK + other bits & bobs

This week The Next Together is free on iTunes as their Book of the Week. It’s also free on Kobo and Amazon Kindle. (UK only, I believe, but maybe Australia too? I’m not sure.)

Amazon UK | Kobo | iBooks 

It’s currently #400 in the Kindle charts – let’s see how high we can get it!!

Some more things that have happened this week: I did an interview with Jasmine at Wenlock books.

The storylines of The Next Together and The Last Beginning are completely intertwined. Did you write both books together or did you write one first and then cross reference?
I actually didn’t know there was going to be a sequel until I finished writing The Next Together. When I got to the end I realised that there was this whole other story to be told, from the other side of things. I then wrote the first draft of The Last Beginning, and luckily it coincided quite well because I was working on the edits for TNT.

I was able to go back in and seed in lots of scenes and conversations and plot developments that I’d come up with while writing TLB. It was lots of fun, writing offhand mentions of certain characters in TNT, knowing that readers would glide over them without paying attention – and then the minute they read TLB, they’d be like “OH MY GOD. I’ve known them since the last book!””

Alice did several more excellent drawings of Clove and Ella that have literally destroyed me.

Eek! I think some more AU short stories are in order…

If you missed any of my countdown extras last week, here’s a list:

Some of my favourite reader reactions so far:

“First of all, let my start by saying that this book is so CLEVER. Honestly, the way it ties in with the first book is brilliant and well thought out. I had to grab my copy of The Next Together from my shelf and go back to certain parts now that I understood it more. There were so many ‘OOOOHHHHH’ moments and I need to praise Lauren James for her wonderful brain.” – Queen of Teen Fiction

“Unique, funny, chaotic and full of adventure, The Last Beginning picks up with a new heroine. A passionate knitter and whiz-kid programmer, Clove is smart, impetuous, hot-headed and prone to making slightly disastrous and immature decisions, but her heart’s (usually) in the right place.” – The Paper Alchemist

“The Next Together was left on a cliffhanger that had me screaming for more, and The Last Beginning answered all of the questions I had and more. It was a perfect sequel! The Last Beginning picks up in a slightly different place to The Next Together but works better for it. Although the main characters of The Next Together are in The Last Beginning, this book is really Clove’s story. I don’t usually gel with new characters in sequels, but I fell in love with Clove from the get-go. I really would like to be best friends with her. Can it be arranged please?” – Queen of Contemporary

I did a panel this weekend with Alice Oseman and Caighlan Smith about being young authors at the YLG conference. It was lots of fun – and our outfits were coordinated excellently.

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I’m currently preparing questions for an event I’m chairing at YA shot – details here:

Finally, keep an eye out on Maximum Pop on Thursday lunchtime for some exciting news….!