rambles

5 Aims For 2017

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It's that time of year again where Christmas is over and the New Year is yet to begin. No one is really sure what day it is and the only thing you really want to do is curl up and watch some feel good films and eat left over turkey sandwiches and Quality Streets. Well, that's what I want to do anyway. 
But before you know it, 2017 will be here and it will be back to the normal cycle, this little bubble of semi-permanent bliss and relaxation over for another year. So looking forward to next year, I have come up with my main 17 aims for the year.

Read More

I've always loved reading and with a bookshelf that is now bulging with books that I am yet to read and I know that it will make me a lot happier and a lot more peaceful with myself, probably. Whilst I write a lot, I don't read much which seems silly as by reading, my writing should become better. It's probably also why I did so bad in both of my English GCSEs.

Be Happier

Now this is a bit ironic for someone with depression to say but it's true. I just want to cheer up a bit and stop being such a miserable sod all the time. I think it's about time that I finally realise that I'm only going to live ones and I may as well make the most of it and not see the shitty side to things all the time. I've always been a firm believer in the 'thinking makes it so' logic that I learnt from Simon Amstell, so by me constantly thinking negatively, it's going to make my life worse. Positive thinking is the key to a positive life.

Go Out More

Yet another problem with having both depression and anxiety is my fear of going outside. Every time I go into town with a friend, or even with my mum, something always seems to go wrong, whether it's me not having enough change when I'm paying for something in a shop, or I manage to trip over something, every time something goes wrong it makes me want to leave the house even less. I might start walking or something; I live in such a beautiful part of the world and it seems a shame to not see it for all it's glory.

Work Out What I Want To Do With My Life

I'll be going to University in 2018. That's a pretty terrifying thought. But the only problem is that I have no clue as to what it is that I want to do. I've always loved writing and journalism has always been my ideal path but after starting my A-Levels and becoming a lot more interested in politics, I would love to work for the government, preferably GCHQ or MI6. I know that it's a big deal but if I suddenly disappear from social media in the next few years, you'll know which path I managed to stumble down.

Work Harder

The only reason why my GCSEs weren't what I wanted them to be was because I didn't work as hard as I could. If I work harder this year, I'll do well in my A-Levels and get a better degree in the long run. The more I learn now, the less I will have to work next year when it comes to my exams and I'm panicking because I can't remember everything. Working for just an extra hour a day is going to give me such a great advantage by the time the summer rolls around and I'm taking my AS exams which are vital for me to get back into sixth form. When I do finish school and go to work or university, I'll be working ten times harder than I am now and instead of having the shock of this sudden change, working harder now will lead to me being a lot calmer and more relaxed then.

Have you got any aims for 2017? Let me know in the comments down below!

lifestyle

What I Read in 2016

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2016 has been a very busy year for me. I've spent most of it panicking about school and when I have had time to finally relax, I've been writing my own book rather than reading. But when I do get around to reading, as rare as that may be (sadly) there is one particular author that I gravitate to, the wonderful Jon Ronson.

I got into Jon's books through Louis Tomlinson. He was seen holding a copy of The Psychopath Test when he left LAX at some point in 2015 and after that, I was desperate to read the book purely because the love of my life had been reading it. I was, from 2011-2015, the crazy One Direction lady so anything that Louis touched had to be mine. As it turns out, I made a good choice in asking for the Psychopath Test for Christmas.

The Psychopath Test is number two in my Jon Ronson top five. The book was an odd mixture of funny and terrifying, although the tale of Tony from Broadmoor was by far my favourite. Tony, who had committed GBH and was told by his fellow prisoners that if he told the prison's workers that he was insane, he would get sent to a 'cushy' prison instead, faked his mental illness by telling the workers that he had committed crimes that he had read about in books, such as in A Clockwork Orange or Ted Bundy's autobiography. Of course, he was believed and was sent to Broadmoor. I won't ruin the rest of the story for you. But all in all, it was a fantastic book that did leave me slightly relieved that there was no possible way I could be a psychopath, even if I did tick off a few things from the Hare checklist.

The second book I read this year was So You've Been Publicly Shamed which is at number one on my Jon Ronson top 5 list. The book was a real eye opener, especially as I live most of my life on social media. Justine Sacco's story was by far my favourite and since looking into her, I have made sure to never tweet anything that could be taken the wrong way. In my opinion, everyone who has some sort of online presence must read this book as it truly has made me cautious of everything I tweet or retweet.

The Men Who Stare At Goats was my third book of the year and I'm not going to lie, I never finished it. I didn't enjoy it as much as the other two, even after reading at least 100 pages. The themes within the book are ones that don't really interest me and, whilst the writing is excellent, I was so rarely picking it up that I just ended up putting it on my bookshelf and forgetting about it. You never know, I might pick it up again at some point.

Frank scrapes its way into my top five at number five. I read it in just over an hour on the night that I bought it after having watched the film a few months before. I had never really heard of Frank Sidebottom before watching the film which I admittedly only bought because Michael Fassbender is in it. But the book was great and did make me cry at one point, but then I am a massive softie. If you've seen the film then defiantly pick up a copy of the book too as it really gives a different perspective to what happened.

I recently finished Them and found myself never wanting it to end. The people and topics within the book are possibly more relevant now than when the book was published back in 2001. Jon's portrayal of Islamist extremist Omar Bakri was questionable at times, but I did find myself actually quite liking him by the end of the book. But my favourite segment of the book is all about Jon's involvement with Alex Jones (no, not the The One Show presenter) and the Bilderberg Group. It's a very long story that left me crying with laughter and on the edge of my seat at the same time.

But finally, on to the book that I am currently reading. I decided to not mix up my author choice and am now in the middle of Out Of The Ordinary after I came across it in a bookshop in Whitstable during the summer (that's also where I picked up Frank.) My friend described it as 'fucked up' after he spend our silent reading session at school reading the blurb. But the book is very different to any of Jon's other books, mainly because it focuses more on his life and his experiences than other peoples stories. It's far more autobiographical which I almost prefer as it gives some context to Jon's other books from around the same time frame.

The only other book that I read this year was by my friend Josh Fox. 140 Characters of Truth is an honest and heartbreaking Tweet-based book all about Josh's secret battle with depression. After having done the same thing for a few years, it really made me realise how different things can be when you take away the constant pressure to constantly be happy and positive on social media. Remember to always tell your friends you love them and appreciate them, yeah?

I've now only got two of Jon's books left to read on my bookshelf, Lost at Sea and What I Do. I am contemplating reading What I Do first and then leaving Lost At Sea for when I go to New York next October, but it does mean that I'm going to find another handful of books to read once I finish What I Do. I'm contemplating picking up The Looting Machine again after I bought it when I was doing NCS, either that or The Evolution of Everything which I also picked up when I was doing NCS.

If you have any books like Jon's that you would recommend then please let me know as I'm going to have to start reading books by a different author next year!

rambles

Double Standards

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Every Wednesday lunchtime, I attend Girls IT Club. We never do any IT, instead we just sit and gossip with two of our teachers. However, yesterday we began an argument (although the others call it a 'hearty debate') over whether it was right for a YouTuber to put up a photo of her weight loss three months after giving birth. We were all discussing how amazing it was that she had lost that weight so quickly, whereas our teachers were very quick to jump to the conclusion that it was terrible and scary that we were 'idolising' this woman for how skinny she was, completely missing the point in why we were saying she was amazing. Now the irony within this is that my teachers, two married thirty something year olds, were not ten minutes before talking about what men they found attractive and discussing shirtless photos of them.

These double standards are what is totally wrong with today's society. We live in a world where it is acceptable, in the eyes of a woman, to drool over a man who has been heavily sexualised, such as a Calvin Klein model or a fit actor, but the minute a man says that a woman had nice breasts or a nice arse, they are attacked by angry feminists telling them how wrong and evil they are. The idea of the 'lad mag' is one that is appalling and sickening, but when you think about it, it's just a paper version of the over sexualisation of men that we see online every day. It's the same for pornography; we beg for the porn industry to be destroyed but the second a male celebrities nude is leaked online, women are all over it. But what about when a females nude is leaked? Do we sit there sharing it about and obsess over the size of her boobs? No. We advocate for it to be taken down out of fear of the woman being embarrassed.

The same double standards come to skinny shaming and fat shaming. If a woman is shamed for being confident in her body which may be classed as 'plus size', we rally to make them feel beautiful and tell them to ignore the haters, but when a woman is shamed for being too skinny, whether it's down to herself or not, we just ignore it and shrug because, well, who doesn't want to be skinny? They've got the ideal world. But we argue that we don't hate on them because of their size and that we're only looking out for them, but what if society hates them because we all want to be them?

A few years ago, my crush got a girlfriend and I hated her for no reason apart from the fact I wanted to be in her position. So perhaps this is the reason why we hate people for no reason; because we want to be them. Of course I am sure that every person in the world would want to be skinny and look like Mila Kunis or Kim Kardashian but we know that it will simply never happen and so we accept it and move on. But what about the people who constantly attack Kylie Jenner and tell her that she's famous for no reason? Is it because all they really want is her life? Because I know I would love to have her life. But sadly, we live in a world where the economy is ruined and success only comes to those who are beautiful or rich. It is slowly getting harder and harder for the working and middle classes to succeed and become politicians or bankers.

I live in a era that's slowly being taken over by the Tumblr generation that believes that all women bigger than a size 10 are beautiful and that those who are skinnier are mutants. That men have no feelings and can be manipulated and controlled in whatever way we want and that feminism is the belief in woman being more powerful than men which it quite simply isn't. I am a proud feminist and believe that the treatment of men and women should be the same. That women shouldn't get to drool over men and then moan when a man drools over a female celebrity. We live in a world where it is acceptable for a woman to tell a man that she wants to be fucked by him, and yet the second a man says that a woman is beautiful, we are up in arms and advocating for the man to be publicly shamed. Perhaps this is why the idea of male rape is ridiculed and laughed at, or why suicide takes the lives of 1/4 men in the UK.

Perhaps all of these standards that we push on men to look like Justin Bieber and have a big penis is affecting them more than we are led to believe. Because whilst most media companies are run by men for men, thus being why page three exists, but the internet is constantly overrun by photos of men in their underwear who have been airbrushed to perfection. Men are always seen as being tough and impossible to form but really, these images have exactly the same affect on them as the photos that VS models put up on Instagram have on women. It is demoralising and makes us feel a bit rubbish.

rambles

Fan Fiction: How To Do It Right

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I've been writing fan fiction for little over five years now. It's always been a hobby of mine and I have written about a broad range of people, from One Direction to Magneto and Professor X from X Men. I've improved a lot over time and gained a small following who regularly leave comments and likes on my work. It's an amazing feeling when your work gets recognised, but with fan fiction on the rise, it's getting a lot harder to get your work noticed. So I've come up with a few ways to make your fan fiction get as much attraction as possible.

1. Make it as realistic as possible

No one really wants to read a fan fiction where the main character gets adopted by One Direction because it would never happen. When using real people, unless in a completely alternate universe, it's important to make sure that the story you are telling could happen, even if the chances are tiny. AU fan fiction is a different kettle of fish all together; anything can happen. Only in this situation would a fan fiction where you get adopted by One Direction be possible, but when you try and put that situation into reality, it just doesn't seem plausible.

2. Respect the characters

Especially with real life celebrities, it is important that you remember they are real people and not just characters in a book. Therefore, if you are writing a non-AU piece, you have to make sure that the people in it are similar to what they are like in real life, rather than turning them into arseholes. Of course, if you have to for your story, then go ahead but it is important to remember that some of your readers may not understand the concept of fan fiction. I've had friends being questioned on when certain events happened as the reader didn't know that it was fictitious. You're also far more likely to attract more readers if you're portraying the person in a good way rather than a bad, unless your fan fiction is some sort of seriously kinky book.

3. Choose the right site

There's a lot of fan fiction sites out there nowadays, with the big two being Wattpad and Archive Of Our Own. I have found that there is a lot of differences between the two sites. Wattpad tends to be for all fandoms but mainly just straight relationships in the main, big fandoms (especially One Direction.) Wattpad is also the most used, so you're going to get a lot of variety when it comes to quality of the stuff you read; some will be written by 10 year old who are just starting out, whereas some could be written by established authors who have been writing for 20/10 years. I started writing on Wattpad in April 2012, when I was 11. My works got around 30/40 thousand reads even though they were dreadful, but at the time they were the bees knees to a lot of people. That's another thing to bear in mind; most writers have been in the game for. like me, four of five years after climbing on board the fan fiction ship which set sail in 2011. That means there will be a lot of good content getting read and the bad stuff probably won't get as noticed. But don't let that knock you; most fan fiction pieces will get at least 1k readers on Wattpad. 

But moving onto Archive Of Our Own (AO3) which is used by, mainly, established writers who have been in the game for a long time. It is also the home for quirky ships and, from what I've found, a lot more AU stuff. You're not going to get as many readers as AO3 has a lot less users than Wattpad, but you'll still get around 2/3 thousand, unless your fan fiction gets 'famous' when it's more likely to get 200-300k reads. However, if you were to get 'famous' on Wattpad, you'd get over a million. The way of writing on AO3 is a lot trickier and there's a lot more steps to it, so I would defiantly recommend writing on Wattpad fist and then, after you've had a lot of practice, transferring over to AO3.

4. Update regularly

I tend to bulk write in my free periods and then post them over the course of a few days, I upload every other day most of the time, but on occasion I'll post every day and others twice a week; it just depends on how busy I am with school stuff. I write a lot in my free periods to pass the time and on the bus home after school. I love writing so updating regularly is never really a big problem to me. (We're going to ignore the fact I didn't write anything for like three months earlier this year, okay? And all of those abandoned fan fictions taking up room on my AO3 account.) Regularly updating means that you'll get more followers who will interact with you as they will get to know your upload pattern and therefore be ready to read, comment and like the new chapters you put up. Also, don't forget to share what you write on your other social media pages with hashtags such as #wattpad and #fanfiction to try and attract more readers from there.

5. Write what you want to write

This is probably the most important point of this post. Whatever you do, don't follow the crowds. Just write whatever it is you want to write rather than writing what's cool or stories that have been rehashed time and time again. If you write something that's original, both in your fandom and on the site, then you're more likely to get more readers as they're reading something new and different, rather than the same cliche stories they've read over and over again. This is something I found with Homebird; it was something new that I, nor my friends, had ever read before so they were more excited to see what happened as they had no other story lines to assume from. The unoriginality of Resistance was quite a problem when writing it because there was already so many stories like it that I didn't know how to mix it up a bit. It was still well received within the realms of the teeny tiny Kaiser Chiefs fandom, so I guess that's all that matters. But if you do want to write something that has been done hundreds of times before; go for it! At the end of the day, if it's a story you love and want to put your spin on then knock yourself out; you're the one writing it!

So there we have it, my five main tips to writing great fan fiction. Do you write fan fiction too? What are your main tips for new writers? Let me know in the comments below.


music

Robbie Williams The Heavy Entertainment Show Review

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I have adored and loved Robbie Williams ever since I was a kid. His voice takes me back to a lot of happy times, especially when I saw him live in 2012. But his newest album, The Heavy Entertainment Show, is a far cry from his 2012 number one album Take The Crown which is up there as one of my favourite albums of all time. I'd say it fits hand in hand with Escapology when it comes to combination of tracks.

Robbie's twelfth studio album is one that I am not so sure about. Whilst there are some tracks on there that I love, such as Motherfucker and Mixed Signals, the rest of the album is a bit, well, crap. It's a confusing mix of tracks like Sensitive, which seems to be heavily influenced by Olly Murs' Kiss Me, and Pretty Woman, a track which I immediately skip when it comes up on shuffle. There's also a lot more backing vocals on this album and some features, such as Rufus Wainwright who features on Hotel Crazy. It just seems like Robbie is trying to go in a direction he's really not meant to. 

But it's not all bad. As I said, I love quite a few of the tracks on the album. Motherfucker, the song Robbie wrote for his son Charlton. Whilst it's not as sweet as the song he wrote for Theodora, Go Gentle, I still think that it's a sweet song with a sweet message, even if the title deems it a bit inappropriate. The gentle melody is soothing and calming, whilst the lyrics come straight from Robbie's heart. My personal favourite line is 'We all believe, that you're gonna break the chain', a line that, to me, shows Robbie's belief in his son that he's not going to grow up to be the idiot that he was as a teenager. 

But all in all, I was pretty disappointed by The Heavy Entertainment Show, an album that I was really looking forward to. I wouldn't recommend going out and buying it, but feel free to check it out on Spotify, especially Motherfucker, Mixed Signals and I Don't Want To Hurt You. The three singles from the album aren't that bad, but I would give the rest of the album a miss if I were you. Sorry Robbie.



music

Kaiser Chiefs Stay Together Review

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The Kaiser Chiefs were once Britain’s most renowned indie-rock band and were climbing the charts with moody, political hits such as I Predict A Riot and Ruby. But now, with the help of Xenomania‘s Brian Higgins and singer songwriter MNEK, Stay Together is the beginning of a new popcentric Kaiser Chiefs chapter.

Stay Together, the Leeds band’s sixth album, is crammed with feel-good ballads like Good Clean Fun and Happen in a Heartbeat, which talk of sex and heartbreak, but also features society-motivated tracks like Sunday Morning and High Society which mock the world we live in and could have easily been featured on their previous album, Education, Education, Education and War.

My pick from the album is the final track, Still Waiting. It’s an eerie and tear jerking combination of gritty lyrics, slow vocals and acoustic guitar that made me sob the first time I heard it. It’s unlike any of the other tracks in the band's back catalogue as you can tell it really does come from the heart. It's a heartbreaking confession of dedication even after a relationship, noted in the line I'm still waiting, even though we're not electric anymore. Its enough to make anyone want to give their loved one a big hug. However, the tears are quickly cleared once the frankly confusing and jumbled secret track, Lazor Jam, kicks in.

All in all, Stay Together is a mile away from the laddy guitar days of Employment but with festival anthems such as We Stay Together and Hole In My Soul, it won’t be putting the band out of business any time soon. The album is a huge leap away from their 2014 No.1 but, I like it.

music

Kaiser Chiefs Parachute Review

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After a year off, cult indie rock band the Kaiser Chiefs are back with a new single, new sound and new album.
The track, Parachute, is a dance ballad with a pop edge which is unlike anything the Kaiser Chiefs have ever released before and is certainly a U-turn from their politically charged 2014 number one album, Education, Education, Education & War. In some respects, it reminds me of the most recent Take That single, Hey Boy, in the way they have tried to change their sound to cater for the masses and try to evolve their sound from indie rock to somewhere between rock and pop.

The lyrics to Parachute are heart wrenching and brutally honest, making me wonder if the song is about lead singer Ricky Wilson’s break up with long term girlfriend Lesley Williams last year. For a band who said they didn’t write love songs, lyrics like ‘You’re the core of what I need’ and ‘Nowhere is home unless we live in the same place’ it’s almost clear that they may be bending the truth slightly.
It’s clear to see that the band are catering for the masses, especially with their appearance at pop-mega fest V Festival in August. The sound of their last few singles, such as Coming Home and My Life are completely different to cult classics Ruby and I Predict A Riot, mainly due to the departure of drummer, backing vocalist and lead songwriter writer Nick Hodgson in 2012. It’s clear that since Hodgson’s departure, the band have been trying to branch out and find a new sound, partially influenced by Ricky's job on The Voice UK from 2014-16.


However, the one off single Falling Awake is the clear stepping stone between Education, Education, Education & War and Stay Together, making a steady flow between the two different albums. But sadly, Parachute hasn’t gone down well with all long term Kaiser Chiefs fans, with most of the comments on the songs YouTube video being extremely negative. But times are changing and so is music, so the chances are that the band are going to try and filter some of the ‘new’ genres into Stay Together in order to continue their string of number one albums, something that not everyone will be completely happy with, however I’m sure that the other singles from the album, We Stay Together and Hole In My Soul, will be big hits with fans. But I really love Parachute and know that hundreds of other long term fans feel just the same.

The music video for Parachute and the single will be released on the 14th June, just in time for their UK tour dates.

The second single, Hole In My Soul, will be released in August and the new album, Stay Together, is available for pre-order from the 14th June and will be released on October 7th.

fashion

My Favourite Fashion Bloggers

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Nowadays, there are so many different fashion bloggers and YouTubers to follow. From quirky to classy, all sorts of style is catered for. As for me? Well, I would say my style is somewhere between tomboy and as girly as you can get. I’ve always found it difficult to try and find bloggers who’s style I love. But at last, I have found four blogs that I LOVE!

1.) WeWoreWhat by Danielle Bernstein

I’ve been following WWW for about three years now after coming across her Instagram. Danielle’s style is all kinds of cool, with statement chokers and lots of sandals I would die to get my abnormally wide feet into.

My favourite outfit on her blog right now is Topshop Party, an outfit featuring the £100 Topshop leopard print skirt that I never managed to get my hands on. (I’m still slightly bitter)

2) The Trend Pear by Max Hurd and Eleanor Calder

Eleanor has been my style inspo since 2012 so when she and BFF Max started a blog, I was all up on that shit. Whilst posts are pretty irregular, the outfits on there are cutting edge and cute.

My favourite post so far is Prints and Patches in which Eleanor wears an adorable Zoe Jordan suit and Max styles some killer patched jeans.

3) Tanya Burr by Tanya Burr

Tanya is probably best known as being a YouTuber rather than a blogger with her weekly make-up tutorials earning her more than three million subscribers. However, she also runs a very successful blog which contains everything from recipes to outfits. Tanya also has a book, Love Tanya, and her own beauty range in Superdrug. For a YouTuber, you can’t argue that she hasn’t been very successful.

My favourite look from Tanya’s blog is her New Favourite Look in which she pairs a gorgeous pink Chloe bag and yet another pair of paper-bag trousers I want to get my mitts on.

4) I Covet Thee by Alix Coburn

I’ve been following Alix’s blog since last summer and have found myself addicted. Her blog, much like Tanya’s, it a mix of everything and her beauty posts are to die for. I would have had so much more money in my bank account if it wasn’t for her – grr!

My favourite fashion post on her blog at the moment is the one in the header, The Wimbledon Dress. She dresses a super chic 70’s white dress with a gorgeous pink Zara bag and pink lace up sandals. Definitely summer inspo!

Honourable mentions also go to Florencia Rodi of FloLovesClothes, Anna Gardener of The Anna Edit and Lily Pebbles of Lily Pebbles who are also massive styles inspos atm; you girls rock!

Have I missed out one of your favourites? Let me know over on my Twitter!