About Me

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I was born in Surrey (England), brought up in Galicia (Spain) and currently reside in a small town in the North West of England... I've always enjoyed writing, scribbling away on scraps of paper and daydreaming whilst the world happens around me.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - film night

This week I had the great privilege of watching an early viewing of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I'd only heard about the film via my mother (who won tickets to watch the film as it's not due to be released yet).I'll admit up front, that had my mother asked me to pay to go and see this film with her, I wouldn't have. And do you know what? I would've missed out!

The Premise: A group of retirees move out to India under the illusion they're going to be staying at a luxury hotel for the elderly and beautiful. The hotel they arrive at is far from finished, but as the saying goes "everything will be alright in the end, so if it is not alright, it is not yet the end" (favourite quote from the movie) I won't tell you much more about the film content itself (spoilers can ruin a film for some people), but what I will tell you is that I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to watch a beautiful film.

It wasn't a film I would normally watch, it's a quirky British comedy, full of big names (and sometimes too many good actors can make a mess of a film). I was pleasantly surprised to see characters that were truly believable (never judge a book by its cover). The film is much more than what it's advertised as (comedy drama). It's touching, funny, and beautiful. Each character shows a different side to humanity, above all this film is about relationships of all kinds amongst people of all ages.

The one message I took away from this film is that the saying "old dogs can't learn new tricks" is completely untrue! By the end of the film I was routing for the relationships on the screen, and (not giving too much away) I was not disappointed with the ending! Each character grew and changed for the better (mostly), above all, it was a two hours well spent and well worth a watch!

Here's a small trailer to give you an idea of what to expect...

My favourite character in the movie was Evelyn (she kept a blog, so that made me warm to her instantly). She's the character that the film focuses on the most, and Dame Judi Dench's performance was brilliant. By the end of the film you will be routing for her, she is brave despite being frightened, she is graceful despite what life has put her through... 

 So I hope you guys go out and watch this film, and if you do, let me know what you made of it!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Canadian Misadventure (Revisited)

I originally wrote about my Canadian adventures for my Non-Fiction classes at University. In 2007 I got to fulfill a lifelong dream, moving to Canada (even if it was only for a summer). It was one of the best experiences of my life (so far), the only over moment that lives up to it is visiting New York with my college choir! I've since had time to go back, re-read and re-edit some of the posts. This here *points down* is the beginning of my "adventure" where I find myself stranded in Hamilton (which is definitely not Toronto airport) ... This was my first day in Canada... I hope you enjoy the read!
This is the beautiful view I enjoyed in Summer 2007 - my cabin could have been plucked out from the set of Dirty Dancing! Dream come true

‘They do that quite often you know,’ the girl sitting next to me smiles.
I frown at these words, my concern spreading onto my features. I had stepped out onto the tarmac parking lot and seen the shuttle. Having expected some sort of motorized flying tram I was disappointed by what awaited me. It turns out that shuttle is just a fancy word for minibus. Resentful of my high expectations I climbed on board and settled next to this girl. She immediately introduced herself, though her name now escapes me, and struck up a conversation. After the bewilderment at the airport I was glad of the friendly company.
‘Just this airline,’ Lindsay (for want of a name) continued, not losing her cheerful demeanour. ‘They fly to Hamilton because it’s cheaper. The flights are offered at a cheaper rate, but if you don’t know the company it can be confusing. They’re often vague about which airport they will be using.’
‘But the woman, that French woman,’ I spit out almost without realising it. ‘She wasn’t at all vague! I asked her and she said we were definitely flying to Toronto airport.’
‘Technically we’re on the outskirts. It’s all in the small print,’ she replies lightly, amused with my incapacity to accept this truth as the only one available.
My truth was certainly different, these people had lied to me, scammed me. Technically or not, this was far from where I needed to be landing. When the driver asks us all to look to the right, where he points out a bridge of some sorts, I look over with all the energy and excitement of a new born zombie. I’m still focused on the scandal at hand.
‘But the main airport is five hours away,’ I state, bemused by the nonchalant attitude she takes to company fraud.
‘Only in traffic,’ she states, like there are plenty of other travel options, but where was the flying shuttle when I needed it? ‘This road is usually busy though. It’s the only way from downtown to the centre. I used to live near here, when I was a kid, because my parents didn’t want me growing up in the city. We’ll be passing my school soon.’
She looks out the window; the smile on her face seems to be a permanent feature. I wonder if all Canadians are like this. She’s a really pretty girl, blonde and tanned. I realise she’s the girl I first noticed at the airport in Manchester, and then once we had gotten off the plane and were queuing to get through customs, because she was carrying a pillow. She slides on a big pair of white rimmed sunglasses. The evening sun is still quite bright. Outside the window I see a bunch of ads shaped out of the lawn, they take advertising to a whole new level here. We also appear to be surrounded by factories and empty cement lots, again I feel let down by the unexpected scenery.
When she talks she puts a hand to her glasses and lowers the rim slightly so I can see her blue eyes. The sun is slowly running its course, slipping down lower on the horizon. Her blonde hair shines where it’s touched by the light. She has a just slipped out of bed look to her, I feel like I’m intruding in some morning ritual, which is odd given the time and the place. She tells me she tried to sleep on the plane ride over, and was going to on the bus trip to the city, but she’s glad to have someone to talk to.
‘Look, that’s my old street,’ she cries out.
I look and see a group of houses nestled between the factories that line each side of the road. The scene makes me smile too, as I pick up on her excitement. I’ve done this myself in the past when driving by familiar places with new friends. It’s hardly very different from city life though, all built up and green free. My parents hadn’t wanted me to grow up in Surrey, so they moved to the Spanish countryside. Lindsay’s idea of out of city life was very different than my own.
‘You know they don’t make wine gums over here. So I’ve stocked up,’ she opens her hand luggage and pulls out a plastic carrier bag full of sweets. ‘I love the candy in England. I don’t understand why they can’t make it the same over here. There are some things that are better here though.’
I smile at her, enjoying the company, wanting to thank her for making me feel so welcome. But wording that kind of thing is always awkward, and I’ve just met the girl.
The more I think about it, the more she reminds me of my best friend back home. She had also taken me under her wing, so to speak, when I started at a new school. She approached me mere moments after stepping through the school gates with a terrified look on my face. I had promised to visit her in Spain during the summer, but my plans had changed radically and I hadn’t had the chance to tell her. I feel guilty now. Here I was talking to this nice Canadian girl instead of going to see my friends. I knew she would understand, she always has, but that didn’t make the guilt go away. I soon realise Lindsay is talking again. I’ve been nodding, smiling, and incorporating an odd giggle every now and then, all automatically. I haven’t heard a single word she has been saying.
‘Over on that side is a great water park. I’ve been there loads, with my brothers. If you ever get the chance to go you’ll see what I mean.’
I hope this is all she has been speaking about. Maybe she’s been pointing out places the whole time and hasn’t noticed my mind going AWOL on me again.
‘I’m hoping I’ll have somewhere to sleep tonight,’ she laughs. ‘I’ve been renting my room out at college, while I’ve been away for the summer and I wasn’t supposed to be arriving there for another week, but my folks live too far away for me to get there today. I might have to sleep on the couch, unless my flatmate is out again, then I can steal his bed for the night,’ as she says this her phone rings.
I hate eavesdropping when someone I don’t know is on the phone, it’s disrespectful of their privacy. But stuck on this small minibus none of the passengers had much of a choice on the matter, we were all intruders. She was talking to one of her friends and smiled at me apologetically as she asked them what their plans for the night were.
‘I’m here for the night,’ she says. ‘It would be great to see everyone before they all go their separate ways. How about that Chinese place?’
She hangs up, telling me she has been trying to make plans for tonight. There are some great clubs. She asks where I’m staying. The clubs she likes are just around the corner from the Backpackers Inn that I’m booked in at. The idea of sleep seems to have faded from her mind now as she sits up straight.
‘You should definitely get out tonight. There are some great clubs in that area. All these themed places. They do great food at a Chinese restaurant down the same road. That’s where I’m hoping to go tonight. I think they do take-away,’ her phone rings again. ‘Sorry, that’s him again. I asked him to contact some of my other friends that are leaving soon,’ she says all this whilst answering the phone, leaving him waiting for a moment before she says ‘Hey, couldn’t you reach her? Did you leave a message on the answer phone then? Ok. I’ll try and phone her in a minute. Actually, if I give you her other number could you phone her?’

Later… at the inn

‘I haven’t got a hairbrush,’ I said again to the young girl in the bunk bed across from mine.
She was from Cambridge, blonde and petite, traveling in Canada with a friend for the summer. She said she wouldn’t have been able to do it alone, but somehow her fear of loneliness made me feel more secure in mine.
‘Do you have any friends out here then?’ she asked with a hopeful expression on her face.
‘No,’ I say. ‘I came here to be alone.’
I eventually manage to explain the basics of my plan, to live alone and far away from anyone I have ever known. I may not have had any friends here, but my immediate thoughts were on my hairbrush, because I certainly didn’t have one of those with me either.
I woke up early the next morning having slept from the moment my head touched the pillow, waking momentarily in the middle of the night, when Cambridge came back drunk. Upon waking I went out to inspect the shower rooms.
The only problem with the so called shower cubicle privacy set up, was the make shift part of it. This involved large gaps in between each wooden panel, making them less private and more Peep Show. Yet I felt driven by the knowledge that no-one would expect me to be able to cope with this situation.
‘If nothing else I will cope,’ I thought to myself.
I’ve met people in public toilets before. On drunken nights out, random girls have often introduced themselves in inappropriate manners in these grotty little establishments, but those are other stories from far less sober moments. I met Aileen (not her real name) at the Backpackers Inn, just outside the toilet cubicles as I was brushing my teeth. This was definitely a first. And I had never traveled this far to meet a Scottish woman before.
Aileen had been in the lower bunk underneath mine. She arrived before me, but had then gone out to find food, something I could not have faced the night before, apparently too distressed by loss of hairbrush. She was twenty-six going on thirty, with a panic of aging that had brought her to the conclusion that adventures should be had before hitting that dreaded age. I would later find out that a relationship had also been her reason to depart from the British Isles, but hers she was running towards, as her hopeful man to be was Canadian.
I found a connection with Aileen from the moment I met her, her eyes squinting, looking much like a mole that had come up to see the daylight for the first time. She was a confusing woman, although admittedly I found I could hardly understand a word she said for the first week of our Canadian adventure. British accents aren’t a major issue where I was brought up; in Spain we have the Catalans to contend with.
Not knowing what you say to someone in the cubicles whilst sober, I went for my current preoccupation. I told her about my hairbrush. The ever absent brush I would find months later, sitting on my desk at home looking ashamed of itself. (I’ve since bought new brushes, just to show it I can cope without its presence, call me insane but at least I’m never without a brush now)
She looked at me with a confused look, probably mirroring my own. I had asked her to repeat each question four times before coming out with a reply that I hoped fit the question asked. This time I understood her, she said we could try to find a shop and buy a hairbrush later. A smile returned to my face, everything would be fine as long as I could get a hairbrush.
I was in a country half way across the world going into a life I knew nothing about. Hours later I would find myself living in a Jewish summer camp, surrounded by children aged six and upwards wondering why on Earth I had agreed to work for a crazy chef in the first place. This was something no one else could bail me out of.

Friday, 17 February 2012

I've been tagged! So here's my elevenses

Wow... I leave my blog for 1 day, come back and find I've been tagged 4 times! (scratch that, I'm up to 5 now) I feel popular! I hope I can answer these with as interesting and funny comments as everyone else has done so far! It's been great reading everyone's replies, and it's exciting to find things we all have in common! So, without reading the questions first, here goes! I hope this helps everyone to know me a bit better... this'll be one long post!
1. What is the one thing you wish you knew how to do but don't?
At the minute I'm considering learning how to drive, I'd love to be able to. Unfortunately I was too busy having fun when I was 17/18, and the idea of driving (when I could get someone else to do it) seemed pointless (I should have thought more!)
2. If you could instantly know a foreign language (one you don't already know), which would it be?
German, my favourite Formula 1 racer is Sebastian Vettel (who is German) and I'd love to be able to hang out with him and chat away in his mother tongue! (I'm a very big F1 fan! and I get the irony... with me not driving myself...)
3. What is your first birthday memory?
I'm not very good when it comes to long term memory! I do remember my mum made a cake with tiny icing farm animals when I was very young. I told everyone at the party the animals were mine to eat, cos my mummy had made them... I wasn't one for sharing! And if I remember correctly every last one of them was delicious!
4. If you could go back to age 21 (assuming you're legal, lol), knowing what you know now, would you?
I've just turned 25, and all my friends are still 23 or 24, so I would definitely go back to being 21. Though I might wait a few more years before I go back to 21, I've much to learn yet!
5. If you went to your prom, was it everything you hoped? And if you didn't, do you regret it?
Sadly where I grew up there was no such thing as prom! (the Spanish aren't clued up on this type of thing... but we had karaoke at the school once... lame right?) I remember growing up watching American films, sighing at my promless future, but I would've totally rocked the prom, I would have regretted not going. 

6. Would you rather: perfect health, complete wealth, or never aging?
I want to say never aging (cos of my passion for vampires) but perfect health would be pretty perfect right now... money comes and goes, but your health, that keeps you alive... Never aging might give me perfect health though, and I could sell my story of eternal youth... I'm making this far more complicated than I should!
7. What is your favorite TV show from childhood?
When I was really little I liked The Dreamstone and I have to admit I recently bought a couple of the episodes on DVD (I'm quite nostalgic)
8. Which is the best book you've read in the past year?
Last Breath by Rachel Caine  - she's quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. I read the first book of the Morganville Vampires last summer and soon devoured (they're that good) the rest of the series. My best friend Anna bought me the latest installment for my birthday (it came out just in time) and I read it far too quickly, I wanted there to be more! So now I'm waiting (not patiently as I have no patience) for the next installment...
9. Which is your favorite book of all time?
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. This is kinda cheating, as it's a trilogy in five books (maths isn't my strong suit I know, but it makes sense when you read the books), but it's the book that got me into reading. I loved writing as a kid, but I never really liked reading books that were written in English (I first learned how to read in Spanish). But when I picked up the Hitchhiker's Guide I was sent into a whole new world, full of possibilities, and I never looked back. Just thinking about it makes me wanna run downstairs and start reading it all over again!The world Douglas Adams created is one I can only dream to emulate.
10. Which kitchen appliance could you not live without (not including the basics, fridge, stove, and sink)?
My brand new smoothie maker! My brother bought it me for Christmas, I'm a big fan of liquid food (smoothies, soup and milkshakes are my favourites) It helps me keep up with those pesky 5 a day.

11. If you had to choose, would you rather use an outhouse or have no electricity, forever?
Ouch! No electric means no tv, no internet, no light (I'm in England, it's dark for 10 out of 12 months)... but having to nip outside in the very cold English weather might be worse... I'm gonna go for no electric (I'll find a way for gas or an army of hamsters to power everything else) If I were still living in Spain I'd go for the outhouse...

1. Do you believe in fate? 

I want to, which probably means I do? I believe there is a right person out there for everyone, and one day I will meet mine, and give him a kick for taking so long to turn up! I also believe that if I work hard I can accomplish anything, fate sometimes has other plans, in those cases I ignore fate, I'm stubborn.

2. How the heck do you write and have a life? 

I have to have a life as well as write? Thankfully I have a group of amazing friends that understand sometimes I'm gonna become a hermit, not leave the office and write till I pass out. I met my best friends whilst at University, so they've seen me under the pressure of deadlines, when I live on no sleep and black coffee (my best friend Duggie even brought coffee when I was too focused to move, and I will love him forever for it). My degree was in English Language and Creative Writing, in the final year I had to write a total of 80,000 words (all classes combined), so they know what a life of writing is like. If I've been out of touch for too long they give me a reminder that I need to come up for air and socialise a bit!

3. If you were in a written story, which character trope would you most likely have followed? 

I'd love to hang out with Zaphod Beeblebrox from Hitchhiker's... he must have lived the most exciting and amazing adventures out there! I'd join him around the universe making a mess with a perfect combination of ditzyness and clumsiness.

4. Sweet or Savory? 

Sweet - I'm a fan of cake, chocolate cake...

5. What's your big dream? 

The big dream, hmmm I have never actually admitted this to anyone, and it may sound silly, but that's what big dreams are, right? I would write a brilliant novel and get it published (obviously), then have the rights bought for a movie and get asked to write the script. Move to somewhere sunnier, like L.A., where I can write the script in the sun, meet an amazing man, get married and have half a dozen kids and spend the rest of my life writing and going to school plays and any other activities my kids wanna do (family is important to me).

6. Fondest memory? 

My puppy Pookie! He was the cutest toy Poodle, apricot coloured and super excitable. We used to watch South American tv soaps together on the couch. And he was small enough to put in my bag (he was too lazy to walk! and my heart would melt when he sat and looked up at me, his eyes telling me how tiring his lil legs found walking long distances)

7. What's your biggest wish? (world peace does not count)

Can I wish for world health? If not, I'd wish that everyone I love gets to live the lives that make them most happy.

8. Would you rather have an exciting life and be alone or find the great love of your life and live a relatively normal one? 

I've thought about this a lot, and I've come to the conclusion that if I met the perfect man for me, that one true love, life would be exciting enough. Love is, after all, an adventure... I guess I'm a bit of a romantic? So I would live the adventure of love, after all, what could be more fulfilling?

9. Have you ever done something, only to realize a half a second later that you made a mistake? 

Yes, every day! I often try to put the cereal box in the washing machine, which I promise, is always a mistake... But on a bigger scale I've also made a few...

10. Did you try to go back and fix it, or did you follow through?

I figure I have two options, admit I made a mistake or lie and hope that no one notices... I'm not a very good liar, and I don't do subtle!

11. Do you edit while writing or after the draft is done?

My tutors at University used to constantly tell me off for editing as I go, it makes the writing process slow and painful. It's also hard for a crit group to critique something you've already spent hours making near perfect. So this past November I decided to join the NaNoWriMo, which I'd attempted in the past, but soon gave up on. This time I used it as a tool to get the first draft of my novel down on paper without spending three months on one chapter! And it worked, I wrote a first draft that is still in dire need of an edit, but I wrote 53,000 words in one month, which for me was a successful month. 

 Jenna Cooper

1.Redvines or Twizzlers?  

From a search on Google I gather these are strawberry flavour candy... like liquorice? Not a fan... chewy candy isn't something I've ever developed a taste for, but next time I'm in America I will try both so I can give a proper verdict on them! 
2.With your iPod/MP3 on shuffle, what's the first song that comes up?  

The Ditty Bops "There's a Girl" from the Grey's Anatomy soundtrack
3.What's your least favorite book you ever had to read for school?

I think I've managed to block most school memories out (thankfully) But I believe it was about drug smuggling in the south of Spain... My lit teacher asked us all to re-read it when we were older. I haven't. I found it a tad too unsavoury...
4.You're the producer for turning any one book into a movie, which do you choose to do?

There are just too many options... Can it be my own?

5.What's your favorite youtube video? 

At the minute this one... don't worry, he eventually does make it!

6.Who did you look up to when you were thirteen years old?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer... she was cool, she was independent, no one messed with her or tried to tell her who she was. And the girl knew how to pick her guys... sort of... As role models go, I could've picked worse I guess!

7.Which food do you wish you could rid the planet of?

Brussel Sprouts. They're tiny cabbages you can fit whole in your mouth! Why would anyone ever want to do that to themselves? They're pure evil.

8.Why did you decide to start blogging?

I decided to start blogging after a summer working in Canada, partly to share all about it, partly to get a job for a magazine while I was still studying... I managed both, but recently I've discovered how much I love blogging and I spend hours on here! I've actually taken down most of my original posts, but I'm re-editing them and may start re-uploading them soon! I love sharing my passion for Canada with the world!

9.Do you cry over books/movies/TV shows?

All the time. In a crazy, full body shaking, agonising pain in my heart, kinda way! Some things are just too powerful and overwhelming, I recently watched P.S. I love you for the first time, cried like a baby all the way through... Equally I can cry over a touching scene on Gilmore Girls or Veronica Mars... even if I've seen the episode a thousand times, nothing makes me immune to a powerful scene. The book that most made me cry was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, too sad for words...

10.What's one thing you believe in with all your heart?

Happy endings... I really have a naive way of thinking that eventually there will be a happy ending, be it in life or in fiction, I'm a lover of a walking together into the sunset kinda ending.

11.Flowers or chocolate?

Choco-loco-loco-loco-late (that was my second word, the first was mummy) The phrase was probably (loosely translated) Mummy, I need chocolate, stat! 

W. Chaser

1.  If you could be any fictional baddie who would you be and why?

Drusilla (from Buffy the vampire slayer) I love how crazy/bad she is! I'm sure there are others, but none spring to mind right now!

2. If you could go back in time and stop someone being born who would it be?

I wouldn't want to change anything in the past or history, because it'd be messing with things far too powerful for me. But I would sure get rid of that school bully I suffered as a kid! 

3. When do you get your most inspirational ideas?

At night, usually while I'm trying to sleep! I've been an insomniac for many, many years. 

4.  If you had to live without either books or music, which would it be?

 It's a tough choice, but I could try to live without music, but books are my life.

5.  Who provides the most encouragement for your writing?

My friends, they endure the re-writes, the lack of contact, the hissy fits and at the end of it all, they all offer to read it for me! 

6.  If you could have one wish, what would it be?

I'd wish for a publishing contract... but then people always tell me to be careful what I wish for!

7.  Do you remember your dreams and do they influence your writing?

I've always been able to remember my dreams, and sometimes they are very peculiar. Most of my stories have come from dreams, which is a bit like cheating. But when you dream of a cat with three tails jumping out of a Zeppelin full of vampires, as it grows bigger by the second, while some supernatural Dr tries to talk a vamp from following suit, coffin first... yeah... I know, I'm scared of my dreams!

8.  What word do you frequently misspell?

Words with a double c or s on the whole, success is probably the only one I can spell first try!

9.  How much influence in your writing do you take from other people’s opinions?

I respect the opinions of people who take the time to read my work and give an honest critique... the changes I make are influenced by many things though. 

10. If there is one book you wish you’d written, what is it?

Hitchhiker's... I'll never get over how good it is!

11. Starter or Desert?

Can I not just skip the main and have both? If forced to choose I'd go for Desert...

1.  Pantser or Planner?

I like plans, but end up being a pantser every time! It gets me by...
2.  Favorite book, movie, and TV show?

Hitchiker's book (the movie was awful, awful, awful, so awful)

Grosse Point Blank - best movie ever!
TV Show... that's a tough one, but I'm gonna go with How I Met Your Mother, it's too funny.

3.  Would you rather have free Starbucks for five years or free itunes for life?

Must. Have. Coffee... The only problem is that Starbucks in the UK kinda sucks, so I'd opt for itunes and save myself a bomb on downloading tracks each time an old song pops into my head.

4.  What inspires you more, music or visual (ie: photography, scenery, etc)?

A little bit of both, though lately more the visual, I have a fascination for sunset/sunrises.

5.  Are you also addicted to Pinterest?

I had to Google this! It looks cool, but thankfully it's one of the few things online I'm not addicted to (yet)

6.  The question for the ages, Edward or Jacob?

Jacob, without question. He's always warm, and when you get bored he can turn into a wolf and you can play fetch! (is that cruel?)

7.  Would you rather be able to talk to animals or to be able to speak and understand any language?

Any language... I think. Because animals are probably thinking about food most of the time, and I do enough of that myself.

8.  Would you rather be kidnapped by terrorists or abducted by aliens?

Aliens. They might be nice...

9.  What is the genre(s) that you write for?

I'm mainly a Fantasy writer, but I'm also a fan of writing comedy and romance (though not too gushy, I don't gush)

10.  *Warning stolen question* If money were no object, where would your dream vacation take place?

Hawaii, or a round trip of Italy... Can I do a trip around the world? Money is no object after all...

11.  Did you cry in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part two?  Was one of the times when Dumbledore asked Severus, "After all this time?" and Severus responded, "Always. "  And if not, are you sure you have a soul?

Yes, yes, who would not cry there???? (maybe only he who shall not be named)

Thanks everyone for all the questions!

Right! Now that I've managed to get those done (hopefully without sounding like a completely crazy person, though the amount of questions I had to answer might have driven me mad(der)), here's my chance to ask you guys some questions!

1. Favourite all time top five movies?
2. Best music to write to?
3. Mornings or nights?
4. What made you want to write in the first place?
5. Do you have regrets or do you not believe in them?
6. Where's your favourite place in the whole world (real or fictional)?
7. What song(s) make you sing along or get up and dance, no matter where you are?
8. Cats or dogs?
9. One thing you can't write without (favourite pen, picture of your family, lucky smurf figurine? the weirder the better)?
10. What's your proudest moment?
11. One day of true love or all the riches in the world?

And here's who I'm tagging:

C.M. Brown 
Amber Clites 
Jolene Stockman
Stephanie Allen
Rhiannon Morgan
Callie Kingston 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Wednesday Film Review

I've decided to try out something new for a while (let's see if it catches on). Usually Wednesday is my cinema night, I go with a group of friends and as I LOVE the cinema, I will watch almost anything (except horror, I just don't have the stomach for it).  I recently found on a few fellow blogger's pages a list of 30 days of movies, and it seemed like a really fun idea. I've loved film and cinema all my life, and it seems only fit to publish the entry on a movie night... so here goes!

Day 1 - Your favourite movie

This one is easy - Grosse Point Blank. In my eyes it's the BEST. MOVIE.  EVER. No contest. Sure, it's not particularly well known, most of my friends give me blank (no pun intended) looks when I so much as mention the title... But this film has been my favourite for as long as I can remember. I’m a huge John Cusack fan, and anything he writes has got to be good. I first watched it when I was quite young (released in 1997), the odd characters and plot struck me and stuck with me to this day.

Premise: Martin Blank (John Cusack) is a killer for hire, but he's losing the taste for it. He takes a job in his hometown, the same week as his ten year High School reunion, on the advice of his reluctant psychoanalyst . But Martin's not the only killer in town, as he's being trailed by an old colleague, two cops, and a hired assassin. However, the only person in town that Martin has eyes for is Debbie (Minnie Driver), his High School sweetheart who he left on prom night... The movie also boasts a brilliant soundtrack with songs from the Violent Femmes, The Clash and The Pixies.

Black comedies are something I grew up with, which I suppose says a lot about me... (Clerks and Mallrats are close seconds on my favourites list). My favourite moment in this film would be hard to choose, below are some of the scenes that really make me love this movie!

Martin Blank's (John Cusack) scene with his psychologist. Although the doctor is refusing to treat Martin, he still keeps showing up for sessions each week... My favourite line "I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork". I love everything about this scene, from the "I know where you live" awkwardness and the dream about being the duracel bunny...


Next it has to be the returning home scene. Martin hasn't been back to his home town in ten years. He returns to find his home is now an Ultimart... Best line "I can never go home again Oatman, but I guess you can shop there"

Thanks for the pen/It wasn't me scene. This scene is a brilliant mixture of John Cusack's kickboxing skills and humour... This assassin is sent after Martin because he accidentally blew up a dog on one of his jobs. Having left his gun at the hotel, all Martin has in his possession to use as a weapon is a free pen, given to him by one of his old High School colleagues... When Debbie runs in he says the classic line "it wasn't me".

There are many other perfectly written moments in this film, which is part of what influenced me to become a writer in the first place. This year I'm trying out script writing, something I haven't had much experience with in the past (it wasn't a big focus during my Creative Writing degree either). But this year is all about artistic challenges, so I have a stack of scripts to read and a plot to outline before the Script Frenzy in April. I'm what my friend Anna describes as Nervous/Excited/Nervous/Excited...

Next week I'll write all about "The last movie I watched..." which with me, at this point, could be just about anything! Hopefully this can become a weekly thing, as I've really enjoyed writing this...  I'd love to hear from you guys all about your favourite film and the reasons it's so special to you! Or if this is also your favourite movie, what's the best scene in your eyes?

And now I'm off to dive into a stack of scripts... wish me luck!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

All the vampires in my life...

Vampires... I just can't get enough of them! In every and any genre, and no matter how cheesy the story may be. Vampires have an allure to them that makes them completely irresistible for me...

In the month of January I managed to read 11 books... all about vampires (yes every last one of them was part of the True Blood series) And now I've found my way back to the House of Night vampire books... (this can be qualified as an obsession, I'm well aware of that)

I can remember the exact moment my fascination with vampires started. It was 1997 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer came into my life. I was 100% hooked. No lie, when I grew up (keep in mind I was 11 at this point) I wanted to be Buffy. I genuinely believed there could be a future career in vampire ass kicking, with me as the slayer. Yep, that bubble burst, eventually. But my thirst for vampires had only just begun.

Angel, with the dark, brooding David Boreanaz as its main star, joined Buffy on my tv screen in 1999 (no, this isn't quite a history of vampires on tv, it does have a point... honest). At 13, one of my first crushes was the vampire with a soul, Angel. Not only could vampires live forever, this hunk of a man could be forever gorgeous and heartbreakingly soulful for the duration... or at least until he got some nookie, and then he turned bad boy... but even that was appealing.

Years passed, but the vampire fascination never faded, the vampires kept coming into my life, Interview with a Vampire and Dracula (one of my mum's favourites), Blade... even BBC's outstanding Being Human tv series. The worlds in which vampires exist are fanstic because of the human element they hold within them, either in their interactions or their actions. And with book series like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, and my more recent discoveries The Morganville Vampires and The House of Night series, I have a seemingly never-ending supply of stories... I've found that reading about vampires is possibly even better than watching them on the screen... unlike on tv, my imagination has no limits, vampires that fly do so effortlessly, not with a wire and some CGI.

Then came Twilight... Now here I may be a bit controversial, but I honestly did not (categorically did NOT) want to like the Twilight series. Everyone and their mother/aunt/neighbour/best friend/cousin/cat/dog/pony/pet chimp/imaginary colleagues/you name it, they all read the books and watched the first film then spoke about how much better than sliced bread it was. Now, I don't tend to listen to hype, I watch things and make my own mind up. But in this case, I refused to watch Twilight, because, well, I thought it would be rubbish. I was almost willing it to be rubbish. That many people obsessing over vampires just made me uncomfortable.

Partly I was used to being treated as an odd ball for loving vampires, but I couldn't bring myself to believe that something so commercialised could be good. Eventually I gave in (as I'm a vampire loving human and I wanted to watch and then yell "HA! I knew it would be rubbish!). So I borrowed my friend's DVD of the first twilight movie. I sat down to watch on a week night (that's how little hope I gave the film, figuring I would turn it off half way through and enjoy a good night of smugness induced sleep).

Much to my shame and embarrassment, I loved it. Yep. I sold out. I couldn't help but love it, because after all, vampires are my thing. They're dangerous and eternal, age and illness doesn't affect them, they're pretty much indestructible and follow no person's rules... They are the incarnation of everything I felt (growing up) that life should be.

And now through my own writing I am bringing my own vampires to life. The intelligent Julien Mae, detective to the vampires. The beautiful Erika, with her newly turned innocence. The deceitful and charming Derek. The brute force of Markus. The elegance of Aalirah. The logical minded Bialy. All of them are wrapped up in a little world I have created, and which sadly, I have decided needs re-writing from scratch, even though I was about two thirds into the novel already.

But things in life are sent to test us... or at least to work our fingers to the bone trying to figure them out! One day I will be the proud owner of a completed vampire novel, and not just the world that lives inside my head. That day will probably be the most rewarding of my life thus far, until then I will keep on enjoying my favourite beings brought to life in so many different genres by a world full of people who share one thing in common: their attraction to the Vampire story. Wish me luck!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Fourth Writers' Platform Building Campaign

This year (for me) is all about Writing. And a vital part of being an online writer is making new contacts, connecting with the writerly world that lays in wait. This is something I approach in a tentative way, like I'm approaching a sleeping lioness... Because, well, I don't want to seem rude or pushy... that's just not me. I also don't want my hand bitten on (figuratively speaking I hope). So I find blogs I like, either the voice strikes me, or the topic, or a cool background image, something catches my eye and I click the little follow button. I read as many of their new posts each month, and even post the odd shy comment if I'm feeling brave. But that's where my capacity to meet potential like-minded people ends. I just don't have what it takes to make that necessary next step. That's why the following called out to me like a beacon:

Fourth Writers' Platform-Building Campaign


The premise is to meet other writers, who like me (maybe like you, if you're reading this "Hi!" *waves* (too much?)) want to make it in the big bad world of publishing. Networking, getting new followers, finding interesting new blogs with tips and the odd funny joke about monkeys, that's all us bloggers want to do... isn't it? Though as I writer I seem more adept at staying in typing than going out and socialising... thankfully this is all online! So the Fourth Writers' Platform-Building Campaign not only warrants a blog post, it warrants going to Rach Writes... and signing up for whatever challenges and people meeting opportunities it may bring! So I've joined... will you? ... wish me luck!