young adult

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging

“What do you like to do in your spare time?”
“I run a lifestyle blogger, I write reviews, give fashion tips, and share my life.”
“Oh, so you’re like Tanya…Burr is it? Or Zoella? My Goddaughter loves her. Do you use a camera and video yourself?”
“I’m going to need a bigger glass of wine.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in the situation above a lot recently. Whenever I happen to mention that I have a lifestyle blog people assume that I’m a vlogger like Zoe Sugg or another internet household name, or that I have had successful brand deals with the likes of Asos and Urban Decay. I’m not, and I haven’t. I’m just about on the scale and list of lifestyle bloggers, here’s five things I wish I knew before taking my place at the ‘lesser known end of the scale’.

Things I Wish I knew Before I Started

Goals are good, just be realistic.
We all dream of being big in the blogging world, some of us even dream of branching off into the freelance writing sector. But there is no point in having these dreams if you don’t set realistic goals to get there, I find that making small weekly goals for my blog are the best way of advancing. I ususally start with a research task at the start of the week, it gives me time to get any information I need for a blog post, check it hasn’t been done by other bloggers that often, that sort of thing. Once that’s done the rest of the goals are easier to break down. The point is that I break my blog posts down from the goal of “write a blog post” to four or five little goals, like “research topic”, “get outfit information such as brands and prices”, and “invent a catchy title” This way writing posts is easier and you feel like you’ve accomplished more at the end. Remember, the most you post the closer you could be to becoming the next Tanya Burr! 

Write everything down.
I can’t stress this one enough, the amount of great post ideas I’ve had late at night and have woken up not having a clue what they were is unreal! Write everything down, even if it is the smallest start of an idea, it could turn into a massive success. I prefer writing my ideas with a pen and paper opposed to typing them, it just feels a bit more creative and I can write quicker than I can type so my hands can keep up. But if you are more technological, then apps like Evernote or even the built in note app on your phone are excellent for writing those ideas on the go.

Go to brands, don’t wait for them to come to you.
The amount of bloggers out there at the moment is insane. So how do you get the brands to notice you, go to them! I have it on good authority that if you go to brands directly instead of waiting for them to notice you, you are in a better position for the prospect of working with them. Going to brands shows that you are willing to put yourself out there and are passionate about what you do. I must admit I haven’t tried this technique yet, but it’s on my list!

It’s okay to use stock photos. 
I’ve always been insistent on using my own photos on my blog, I used to hate stock photos, sometimes they can look cheap and lowers the value of your content. But then I was introduced to places like Unsplash and Gratisography.  The photos are  free from copyright restrictions or licensed under creative commons public domain dedication. This means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. Which is a dream come true once you’ve seen the quality of the photos!

Stay on top of current affairs.
When I started blogging, I was determined that my blog would be a little corner of the internet untouched by the harsh realities of life. But I have since discovered that staying out to the ‘real world’ can make you seem ignorant and robotic, a lot of my audience come for a human being talking about their life. Not some automaton ignoring a highly significant event that has affected millions. Commenting on current affairs, both on a world wide scale and in your personal life is a great way to show people that you are aware of the world around you and keeps you relevant.

I hope this helps some of you out there, I know I would have loved this sort of advice when starting out. Update on ‘Hang On In There’: I’m easing myself back into blogging, a schedule is nearly sorted and content is being finalised. I’m hoping to do a bit more current affairs topical writing and I’m in love with the idea of “Get the Look” posts. If you’ve got any suggestions to what you would like to see let my know in the comments below! Thanks for hanging on. 

 

Hang On In There

Hang On In There

I made two realisations last night.

1. I’m frustrated at the lack of content on my blog. 2. I have the power to change the amount of content on my blog.

I’m still finding it hard to get back into writing, most sentences are difficult to form at the moment. My travel posts sound like wikipedia articles, and my reviews seem to skip the bad parts. All whilst I’m seeing people being honest with their audiences, and I can’t help but think that I’m too honest too often, you don’t come here to see me publish content moaning about my lack of content, or to be informed that I’m taking yet another break.

If you happen to be here for that reason I encourage you to quit the window, or close the tab that currently displays these words, because I’m not doing that anymore. No more rebranding, no more “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I don’t need a schedule” Because I do. I want my posts to make impressions, create discussions and get people talking. But I can’t do that without an audience, and people aren’t going to read sporadic content that has been made with the least amount of effort possible, just so the creator gets to press the ‘publish’ button. I hope you’ll stay whilst I get some content sorted and establish a schedule.

Exciting times ahead, just hang on in there.

A special thank you to Matti, who helped me realise that I am actually capable of writing more than messages and emails. She’s pretty great. 

Naked by Stacey Trombley | A Review

Before I begin this review I would like to thank Netgalley for an advance digital copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” – Criss Jami

This debut novel tackles such a touchy subject – underage prostitution – in a an excellent way. I wasn’t entirely sure what i was expecting when I went into this book, due to that this review shall be a short one.

When faced with writing a review for this book I was pretty apprehensive, because it really wasn’t my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong it was a well written book and praise should be given for the way in which the subject matter was approached with caution and great care. However, due to the subject matter and general idea of the book I found it really hard to relate to it. I know that you shouldn’t always read books that you can relate to straight away, but personally I find it more enjoyable if I can imagine myself in a similar to the protagonist. It was very hard to connect with this book, it seemed quite forced at points.

With a plot that had great potential, but it seemed to fall down when it came to fufilling that potential. I hate criticising books, but I thought I would see what you thought because I’d be lying if I said I loved every book I have ever read. Overall a debut novel that had great potential, but could have realised that earlier and actually have taken the story somewhere. Unfortunately, for the first time, I have to give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

2 Stars
See you soon,
Ellie

Amy And Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson | A Review | BEDA 25

I thought it was about time that I chucked a review into the BEDA mix and what better than to review a summer time read!

Meet Amy Curry, she is less than pleased that summer has arrived, her mother has moved across the country and now it’s down to her to get their car from California to Connecticut. But there’s a problem, ever since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. This is where Roger comes in, a old family friend who also has to make the across the country trip who brings plenty of baggage of his own, and not just the cases. A friendship venturing into uncharted territory, and a unfamiliar road home, the two soon realise they can go anywhere with a map and a car.

I’d heard somethings about this book, but nothing special that made it be the top of my to-read list, but when you want something to read that’s not too heavy and doesn’t require too much investment in the characters, I thought this book would be perfect. Clearly I’m not very good at judging a book by it’s cover, because much like many other books I was completely wrong and found myself getting invested in yet another couple.

The best part about this book for me was not only the entire premise of them going on a road trip but the integration of music into the book. At regular intervals there would be playlists composing of songs that have been or are going to be mentioned in the book. Music features heavily in this book with it being a regular conversation piece between the two characters, and with it swiftly integrated into the book it’s hard to ignore.

I really liked this book, it really gives you a great idea of what a road trip would be like, well at least a perfect one anyway, it’s really interesting and has a great mix between the words and images of maps, doodles and playlists. I’m giving it a solid 4 dragons, a great read that really helps you to escape!

4 Stars

I’ll see you tomorrow,
Ellie

Joshua Johnson | An Author Interview

Today I have a special interview for you with Joshua Johnson, a self-published author who has a new book ‘A Malmont Summer’ coming out on August 1st. I had the opportunity to interview him, I have been super excited to share this with you guys, Josh is a truly lovely person and writes a cracking book. Not only this, but he is a self-published author and I feel that they don’t always get as much promotion and publicity as company published authors. Oh and by the way, it’s quite a long one so grab a cuppa and a chocolate biscuit. Without further ado.

1) On a scale of one to ten, how excited are you for the book release?
Incredibly excited! This is a story that I’ve been carrying around with me for such a long time, and I’ve already started work on the sequel, so I can’t wait for readers to finally meet who I’ve been tweeting about for months and months!

2) Can you give me a short summary of the book?
Sure! A MALMONT SUMMER follows four characters— Heidi, Danielle, Lottie, and Hannah— who all attend a private boarding school for girls in Santa Monica, Los Angeles.All four of them are daughters of extremely rich families, but when they break for summer, they discover that they all have very opposing views when they discover what is on one another’s bucket lists— Heidi’s is based on experiences, whereas Danielle’s is based on what money can bring her— and so they decide to flit across to Australia where it all kicks off when they each try to prove that they’re the one in the right!

3) What would you say served as inspiration for the book, if there is any?
I think it was definitely the idea of travel— I really want to see everything there is out there, as I think the world is too big of a place to stay where you are forever, and the nature of these characters (they have all the money in the world at their fingertips) meant that they can go anywhere and at any time, and that’s proving so much fun to write. Just in this book, they go from a boarding school in Santa Monica, to golden beaches in Australia, before ending up climbing a snowy mountain. That type of location flexibility would be difficult within other stories. I also really wanted to write a series that looks closely at a group of characters and their dynamics. There’s different ways at looking at these different characters, and I can’t wait to hear what other people think when they read the book, especially now since I’m further down the line and working on book two. Character predictions are going to be fun, I hope.

4) I think any good book can be summed up in 5 words. Can yours?
A summer to be remembered!

5) What is your writing process? Do you have a certain seat to sit in or a certain song to listen to that really gets you inspired?
It’s funny you should mention music actually, because before this book I always, always, always used to write in silence— but with A MALMONT SUMMER, I couldn’t write it without music! Upbeat summery tunes definitely brought me a lot of inspiration and got me in a summery mood when I was writing this book in the dreary, British months at the start of this year.

As for my writing process, for every book it’s different, but with this one I didn’t actually have too much of it plotted when I set out to write it, but I think that was because of my change in approach. This book had no deadline on it— I just told myself it would be done when it would be done, as I writing around college studies— which is something I haven’t done before, and the story just grew in the telling. I definitely have book 2, 3, and 4 plotted out now though—it would be a bit scary if I didn’t! As for where I write, anywhere really!

6) Okay, a fun one— if you could have dinner with any other five writers, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
J.K. Rowling— because if it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I would have read so much, and I wouldn’t be writing!

Victoria Schwab— her writing is one of a kind, and her imagination is amazing.
Roald Dahl— growing up, I loved his books, and it would be great to talk to him. The way he can bring emotions out in readers by making writing look easy is very commendable.
Lemony Snicket— how does he manage to make every story fit in thirteen chapters, not matter the length of the novel?
Myself, at the beginning of writing— to tell myself to wait and not be so eager to publish. You’ve still got a lot to learn about how to write,

7) This is a slightly controversial question, so don’t feel like you have to answer it. But it’s often seen as stereotypical for women to write about women and men to write about men. I know your book revolves around four girls, so what was it like writing from a female perspective? And do you think these stereotypes should be maintained or should there be an encouragement to break them?
I think this is a great question, and so I am more than happy to answer it! I said last year, “in 2015 I want to write books that lead onto discussions”, and so I’m so pleased that this is a topic that has arisen!

In my personal life, my four of my best friends are all females. In fact, I’m the only male in my friend group, and it was like that all the way through college! And so writing about four girls came very naturally to me, as it’s nothing out of the extraordinary for myself.

I do massively agree with you— there is a stereotype where this happens, and I know some male writers seem afraid to write as a female, but females are people too who have emotions and feelings and personalties— not robots or some unknown species— and I think this “fear” should be broken down.

Harry Potter was written by a female, and yet Harry is a boy.

The Fault In Our Stars was written by a male, and yet Hazel is a girl.

Both went on to be huge and spawn films and millions of fans— and I think that supports my point quite nicely, if I’m truthful.

‘A Malmont Summer’ is available from August 1st, for £7.99 in the UK, however prices vary depending on the country, it’s being released in 15! Also its available for pre-order £2.99 on Kindle. It was a pleasure interviewing Josh, you can find him on twitter here, so be sure to give him a follow for updates about Malmont and his other projects.

Happy Reading,
Ellie

Emma Haughton | Author Interview

You can’t say I didn’t come back with a bang, can you? Two weeks ago you got an announcement and a guest post, and last week you got a more original post. I think we can all truly say Miss Backwards is back on track. Yesterday you got a review of ‘Now You See Me’ by Emma Haughton, and today I thought I would treat you all to an exclusive interview with Emma herself! I know, how lucky are you all?

This opportunity was amazing for me, so I would like to thank Emma for it. Yesterday you saw how much I loved ‘Now You See Me’ so being able to ask questions to the author was truly awesome. I hope this is something you guys will be seeing more of, and I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did conducting it.

As a reader, I really enjoyed how the book was broken up into two different times in the first half, was it difficult writing like that? Did you have a certain process like writing the present first then the past?
Yes. When you have a dual time narrative like that, it’s much easier initially to write it all through in chronological order, and then interweave the chapters so that they reflect and enhance one another. In Now You See Me there was quite a lot of shifting around, I seem to remember, even well into the publisher edits.

In hindsight, working with two time periods was a tricky thing to do in a first book. I’m doing it again with my third, and I have a bit more confidence now that it will work. *crosses fingers*

Missing people is slowly becoming a more talked about and common thing, was it difficult to write about such an emotional subject?
I sort of came at the subject backwards, inasmuch as the real life situation which captivated me focussed more on what happened further down the narrative line. But I quickly realised that for that ‘real time’ part of the story to have enough emotional power, I’d have to dig back further into how and why Danny went missing in the first place.

And yes, it is a very emotional subject, but if anything that’s a gift to writers; the more emotion inherent in a situation, the more there is to work with. That makes me sound very clinical, but I think writers have to develop some emotional distance from the subject they’re writing about, in order to focus more on the mechanics of storytelling.

Can you give us a short, spoilerfree, summary of your book?
Oh, blimey. Well, it’s the story of Hannah, age 13, and her best friend Danny, who goes missing one Sunday afternoon. It follows the impact on Hannah, and on Danny’s family – and then what happens when his disappearance takes on avery unexpected twist.

And as I mentioned, it is based on a true story, but I can’t possibly say what that is or it will be a spoiler. Anyone who’s interested is welcome to email me for details once they’ve read the book!

There is quite an unexpected twist/reveal in the book, what served as inspiration for this, and how did you manage to keep the audience in the dark throughout? Because I certainly didn’t guess it would be that!
Well, that is what happened in real life, incredible though it may seem. And in many ways, it was what inspired me to write Now You See Me. I wasn’t so interested in why someone would goes missing, but what would motivate someone to exploit the situation in that way.

What writers inspire you?
Yikes, how long have we got? I read loads when I was young, and did English at university, so I’ve got through quite a lot of books. In adult fiction my favourite writers are Sarah Waters, Anne Tyler, Edward St Aubyn, Jane Austen, Will Self, Doestoevsky, Bulgakov, Salinger, Brett Easton Ellis… I’m sure I’m forgetting some. In terms of children’s/YA writers, Eve Ainsworth, Sarah Sky, Lee Weatherly, Helen Grant, Patrick Ness… oh god, my brain is going blank. My standout YA book of the last few years is definitely We Were Liars by E Lockahrt, which just blew me away.

Do you have a particular writing process? Like a certain spot or time of day perhaps? Or are you a ‘write as inspiration strikes’ kind of writer?
I’d like to say I have a process, but it’s pretty much sit down most days, mess about a lot on social media, then eventually force myself to do some writing. Inspiration tends to follow on the back of getting stuck in. How difficult that is depends on what stage I’m at with a book. I hate first drafts and having to find all this stuff in my head from scratch – I find that really hard work, and am easily unnerved by the fact that it all tends to be a bit rubbish in these early stages. I much prefer further down the line – say, the third draft onwards – where I’ve worked out all the nuts and bolts of the story and just have to tweak and polish. I love tinkering with words.

Publisher edits are a bit of a slog too. There’s nothing more daunting than having to pick apart a book you’ve spent so long perfecting, then shuffle it all about and try and sew it all up again. But it’s always worth it in the end.

In terms of a writing spot, I tend to write propped up on my bed with my computer on my lap. I just find it the most comfortable way to type.

My personal favourite, if you could have a tea party with any other 5 writers (alive or dead) who would it be and why?
Aaarrrghhh, what a brilliant question! *holds head in hands and thinks hard* Jane Austen, because I think she’d be so witty and sharp. MixhaelBulgakov, because I’d love the opportunity to tell him that he wrote my favourite book ever, The Master and Margarita.Shakespeare because… well, Shakespeare! Enid Blyton because I have so many fond memories of her books, and she helped develop my passion for reading. And… hmm, let me see… Will Self, who’s very much alive. Partly because I loved How the Dead Live and partly because he’s so clever and humorous and I think would be very good company for tea.

That’s it folks. I’d like to thank Emma for her amazing answers! She was lovely to interview, well as lovely as a person can be via email, I think we might have picked up a VIP follower! So all of you on your best behaviour.

Now You See Me by Emma Haugton | A Review

“They say when you are missing someone that they are probably feeling the same, but I don’t think it’s possible for you to miss me as much as I’m missing you right now.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay

I read this book 3 months ago, but my journey doesn’t begin here. Around a year ago I had just finished a book on my kindle and a rather interesting recommendation came up, needless to say I was apprehensive to buy book, so I downloaded the sample. After reading it I still couldn’t decide, so I left it on my kindle for a while. Somehow I still managed to keep going back to the book,  everyone and then the images I imagined when reading the opening few pages would occur in my mind, so after much deliberation and being unable to get them images from reoccurring I decided to buy the book. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Now You See Me is based on a true story, which makes it that bit more breathtaking. The book steps where no book I have ever read before and explores the emotions and aftermath of a disappearance. Danny, a 13 year old disappears without a trace, leaving his family and friends behind without so much as a shred of information to go on. Leaving a family and his best friend reeling from his sudden exit, the book focuses on his best friend Hannah and how see picks up the pieces with Danny’s family in the months after his disappearance.

The structure of this book is clever to say the least, split into two parts the first flits between the past and present so you see an insight into life now for Hannah, and how it was immediately after his disappearance. The  first person narrative enables Emma to confront the reader with raw and fresh emotions not often seen in contemporary novels, most notably the confusion of Hannah regarding past events and how they might (or might not) connect with Danny’s vanishing act.

I loved this book, it’s great for people who love physiological thrillers particularly fans of Sophie McKenzie or people like that. The writing of this book was flawless and engaging once I had started I couldn’t put it down, as the realistic characters with a splash of uncertainty made for a fabulous read. That’s why I’m happy to award this book the first 5 dragon rating for Miss Backwards, therefore setting the benchmark for all other books.

5 Stars

If you liked this review, come back for tomorrow for a surprise, you won’t be disappointed! As usual let me know what you think if you have read this book and what you thought, and if you want to see more reviews like this make sure to give this post a like so I know.

Happy Reading,
Ellie