Blogger Recognition Award

Blogger Recognition Award

Being a writer can often feel like an isolating one. Sitting in a room on your own with only your thoughts to keep you company. The wonderful thing about blogging though, is you get to engage with all sorts of people. Some of them may not even blog on the same subject as you but that does not always matter.

So, thank you for nominating me. You appear to have a wonderfully positive and supportive outlook on things. You can also find him on Twitter @HeyPSBarbosa.

What is the Blogger Recognition Award?

I should start by saying this is not an ‘award’ in the traditional sense. It is more a scheme for bloggers to show support to one another. There are blogs for literally everything. Some people are experts within their field, some are trying to raise a profile for line of work and others do it purely for enjoyment. It is engaging, positive and rewarding. The requirements of the Blogger Recognition Award are:

  • Write a blog thanking the person that nominated you.
  • Explain your story and how/why you started blogging.
  • Share 2 general pieces of advice to other bloggers.
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers to do the same thing!

My Blogging Story

If you follow my blog, you will know I am an amateur fictional writer. I had been writing for just over a year when a published author recommend I start writing a blog. She said it would be a great way to engage with other writers and it will also improve my writing. She was 100% spot on.

Having a blog is a fantastic exercise if you wish to be a writer. It is also quite fun if you are an opinionated so-in-so like me! The world of fiction in all it’s formation has always been a real love of mine. I believe it is the best form of creativity and can go for as long as your imagination will allow. It is why I discuss things like books, films and writing. I am not however, a REVIEW BLOGGER. This requires a particular skill which, I do not have. I leave that to the many other’s out there who do an amazing job!

Blogging Advice

  • Blog About Your Passion. Just like any other form of creativity, it is no good just saying ‘I want to be a blogger”. What you need is something to blog about? THAT is the key to a good blog. If you love cooking, I can guarantee your enthusiasm will oose out of the words you write, if you started a blog about it. When people have a passion and they discover a platform in which, to share that enjoyment, it can only be a positive thing. By writing about the thing you love, you will never run out of things to talk about. Also, by sticking to a particular subject(s) it is easier to market a particular audience.
  • Just Write! There are hundreds  of people who will offer courses, books, web links and such on ‘How to write a successful blog’. But here is the stickler folks – there are a lot of bloggers. An awful lot so, if you want to make a career of out blogging, you need to be a spectacular marketer. But if, like me you are doing it for other purposes then just write for the enjoyment. Write badly written blogs that make no sense, they are great to look back on once you have been doing it for a few years and can see how much you have improved! Write with anger, write with enthusiasm, write with a confused mind. It is one of the many joys of being a blogger.


Recommended Other Bloggers

Here are some bloggers I think you should definitely check out!

  • Film Music Central (via WordPress)
  • Socialworker Angela (via WordPress)
  • EmotionsofLife2016 (via WordPress)
  • Barnaby Taylor (via WordPress)
  • Singledust (via WordPress)
  • THE MAD MOVIE RANTER (via WordPress)
  • Writedmayall (via WordPress)
  • Rebecca Reads (via WordPress)
  • Phannie the Ginger Bookworm (via WordPress)
  • Rimpys Reads (via WordPress)
  • Kymberlee Faye (via WordPress)
  • @Cathpoucher (via Twitter)
  • Just a Normal Mummy (via Facebook)



My Top 20 Favourite Films

My Top 20 Favourite Films

Everyone who has ever watched more than a handful of films will be able to pick their favourites. If you become a successful critic or a popular figure working within the creative industry, then some people may be susceptible to your suggestions when discussing your favourite creative works. Unfortunately, I do not work in the creative industry and hold no grand status of any description. I do however, have a list of films I love dearly and having a blog allows me to divulge such information! Here are my Top 20 favourite films and why:

20. Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Everyone has seen this film. Everyone has spoken about how brilliant a-film it is so, I won’t bother tittering on about it. It’s just a brilliant story.

19. Schindler’s List (1993)

It is rare to have a humbling experience just by watching a film. It is also rare for me to cry at one. I cried watching this one.

18. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Admit it. You wanted to drink from that chocolate river as well and have a Grandpa Joe!

17. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

I know this is not Judy’s ‘best ever’ film but I loved watching this growing up. Tooty was adorably mischievous.

16. Dirty Dancing (1987)

“…Nobody put’s Baby in a corner….”

15. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

The concept and originality of this film is spectacular. I wish more subtitled cinema became mainstream. Their ideas for stories are often very different to our own and are a joy to watch.

14. The Sound of Music (1965)

That nun singing ‘Climb Every Mountain’. Chills!

13. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

In my opinion this is the best teen movie ever made. Most teen films can be moulded into the same thing (wash, rinse, repeat) but thanks to William Shakespeare’s popular play, it allowed this film to have a something a little bit better about it. 

12. Elephant Man (1980)

This was the first film to ever make me cry. This is also the first thing I ever saw Anthony Hopkins or John Hurt act in. It is a beautiful film and everyone should make an effort to watch it.

11. Goodbye Mr Chips (1939)

This is a lovely story but to be honest, Robert Donat’s performance alone is enough to carry this film. Other actors have tried to follow but no one will ever beat his depiction of this adorable character. 

10. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Very few book to film adaptions manage to truly depict the essence of what was written in the novel but this film does it brilliantly, I think. Gregory Peck IS Atticus Finch.

9. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

In short, this is the best animated film I have ever seen. The story is brilliant, the soundtrack is excellent and the slow-stop animation is insane. There is NOTHING bad about this film.

8. Oliver! (1968)

The enjoyment when watching this film never fades. It is full of colour, song and sheer musical wonderfulness!

7. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

If we are going to talk about creating strong female character’s for women in fiction then can we please re-visit this film? Jodie Foster is stunning and Anthony Hopkins re-defined what was meant by ‘good acting’.

6. Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

I do not know why I love this film so much but I do. It is elegant but brutal and discusses a world I know virtually nothing about.

5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Tim Burton is a genius and this film will forever be my favourite animated film!

4. Cabaret (1971)

I cannot name another film which, depicts the rise of the Nazi movement in such a subtle way and does as well as this one. This film is not glitzy and glamorous. It is dark, unkind and unfair.

3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Could you ever imagine having to explain to someone what this film is about?! The best I can come up with is – Think Frankenstein but as a sex slave to an alien who happens to be a rampant transvestite….oh, and Meat Loaf appears in it too!

2. Juno (2007)

This film is quirky, beautiful, honest and simple. Not all stories have to be over-complicated to be brilliant. Plus Ellen Page is just a dream in this film.

1. History Boys (2006)

“…The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long deal. And it is as if a hand has come and taken yours…”


What would make your Top 20 films?


The Beginning is always the hardest

The Beginning is always the hardest

Like many other writers, I have a notepad joined to my hip. In it contains all my scribbles, notes and ideas for any potential story I think I may have. I have spent weeks purely writing in my notepad, creating plot lines and toning my ideas. Character’s appearances and behaviours are all thoroughly thought through before attempting to write anything substantial. Once I finally have a well polished idea, I will allow myself to start writing it.

But there is one tiny problem.

The hardest thing I find with writing (apart from doing it generally) is quite simply starting it! So often when I write I will start writing in the middle of the story or a third of the way though. I can even write the ending with confident conviction but can I ever get the beginning right?


It is well known that to draw in your readers, the first 2-5 pages of your story most have everything – intrigue, mystery, a character with some potential and an idea of what the reader may be taking on. All this can obviously change throughout the story but you still need to draw the reader in. It is such a big responsibility and I really struggle to get it right. Only last night, I tried to do exactly this but failed miserably. Over 700 words transformed into 37 which, will almost certainly appear part way through the novel and not the beginning.

It is so frustrating!

It is not all doom and gloom though. The other day I deleted 20k words to a novel I was writing. Last night, the above mentioned words formed the first few sentences of my new draft. Today, I have managed to write another 1200 words. I am sure many of these will also be amended in some way but it shows I am making everyday.

The continual exercise of deleting, editing, adding and transforming so much of what I have already written is not an easy one. I am always reworking something. That is the joys of being a writer, I suppose. But one day, when I am old and grey I will be able to say I have finished it……because I will have finally written the beginning!!



The Snobbery of Literature

Let’s start with a Trivia question. There is a popular list in existence of the Top-100 Must-Reads. Out of all the named titles, how many have you read?

My answer is 15. Nearly all of these were the children titles included in the list.

At first, I felt a little embarrassed due to not having heard of many of the titles or all of the writers. As someone who is proclaiming to be a keen writer, I felt as if I should know who all these people are. After all, am I not striving to one day be as celebrated for my writing efforts (however, unrealistic this dream may be)? But where do I start with such a long list of titles and (as I have blogged about previously), limited time to read them.

I decided these famous, glorified pieces of fiction deserved more of my time. I took another look at the list and paid attention to the first 2 books on the list.

  • The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien.

Arguably the most popular written trilogy of all time.  I have tried reading this book about 5 times but I have never made it past the first chapter. I am aware of course, that the children’s novel The Hobbit is the famous prequel to this epic story. I have also tried reading this with little success. I am in no way qualified to start picking issues with Tolkien’s writing but my imagination brainy box simply cannot absorb any of the information without screaming ‘I don’t care!’ The only thing I have any real interest in is Hobbiton and that does seem to be in the story for very long! With this being a non-starter for me, I decided to move onto the next one

  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

This book has always been on my ‘You Should Read This’ list.  It seems to be the story that every other romance is influenced by. So, what is my issue? I enjoy a good romance as much as the next person…….or do I? When I look back at my reading history, many of the reads have a romantic element but it is not the main driving force of the plot. I feel this is one of those novels where, I lose my patience with the lead character. It all seems a bit ‘twee’ and although I love that in a film or TV show, when I am reading I often need something with more ‘grit’ to keep me involved.

Neither of these books gave me the desire to continue looking at the list of unread novels. So, instead I asked myself “Why is it so important to read these classic pieces of fiction?” Even though everyone says they are brilliantly written, I simply cannot enjoy them.

Fiction exists to be enjoyed. Yes it educates and contributes to many aspects of life but it is still a creative outlet. It allows others a form of escapism and enjoyment that should be available to everyone. But I feel these certain works of fiction are used purely as something you can boast about, rather than passionately advertise them as something you should put on your wish list.

In the end I think as long as you continue to read and enjoy doing it, then any ‘must-read’ list will only appeal to a small number of people. Personally, I will continue to read what I already enjoy and allow those novels to influence my writing.

The Joy of the World of Make-Believe

The Joy of the World of Make-Believe

There is no better form of escapism, in my opinion, then getting yourself delved into a good book. To transform your entire surroundings by simply exploring the unknown abilities of your imagination, is something that I think is grossly under-appreciated.

Like everyone, I was encouraged to read as a youngster and have never stopped since. As a child, I would regularly have 2 or 3 books on the go at the same time. Whether it be dragons, fish and chips, nosebleeds or farting aunts, I loved it all! I approached my reading in the same way as I would a box set or TV show. I would dip in and out of whatever I fancied but would always enjoy not having to approach ‘real life’ for a short period.

Growing up with a disabled brother meant, my life was often rift with stress and anxiety. To be involved in a situation which, you had absolutely no control over especially when it was in regards to the person you loved more than anyone in the world, was hard. I truly believe reading helped me cope with some of the very adult challenges, I sometimes had to be aware of. It was, as I have already mentioned the perfect form of escapism.

As many of your know, I am an amateur writer. As much as I love it, it is often quite stressful and requires a lot of commitment which, I cannot always provide. Reading does not require so much commitment. All you have to do is take the time to read a few pages as and when you have the time. It does not matter what you read or how quickly / slowly you do it. The important thing is allowing yourself to visit a different world, if only for a few minutes.

Unfortunately, daily life now does not allow for me to do that. In fact, I struggle to finish one book at the moment – unless it is about the Contexts of Procurement and Supply (the Diploma I am currently studying. Good lord, it is boring!) It does not help that a lot of adult novels are so bloody tedious. If I would ever pick a genre to read, it would be young adult fantasy/sci-fi. Adult fantasy/sci-fi can often be exceptionally heavy going and rarely appears that inviting for me

To combat this hurdle, I found a solution which has helped. The opportunity to share your love of reading with others. I am, of course, talking about a book group. Often consisting of consuming copious amounts of wine, you can discuss with a select group of people your love / hate of your monthly read. It is especially good if you are open to reading things you would not often choose. Some of what I have read with Book Club has been awful but sometimes the reads have been brilliant.

It is a joy of experience the world of make-believe. I just wish I could do it a bit more often!

My Fantasy Novel – A Real Labour of Love

My Fantasy Novel – A Real Labour of Love

The other night I could not sleep. This is possibly the rarest occurrence in history, for me. Yes, it was hot but I had no real worries or reason to have issues sleeping.. Whilst I allowed myself to aimlessly daydream into a world of nothingness, I suddenly imagined a world of colours, wizards, war and bitterness. It was not just any world. It was the fantasy world I had created. Out of nowhere this random, unimportant part of my life was the thing stopping me from sleeping! It was madness!

Around 2 years ago, I wrote 40k words centred around an original idea based in a fantasy, fictional world. I was very proud of it as was an idea which, had been forming in my head for ages. But there was a problem. After re-reading, examining and even blogging about my little story I came to the eventual conclusion that I did not like the ending. I could not work out why, but it seemed to lead somewhere else, rather than just ending!

With my frustration heightened I decided to shelve the idea and try to work on something else. This has been working ok until the other night because my sleep deprived self managed to come up with an ending, that I actually like! My excitement lead to a good outline being written. It is now a much bigger story than I had originally intended on creating but the story does lead somewhere and most importantly, ends!

It was inevitable that I would re-visit my story but I am so pleased it has come back to me. I forgot I much I missed writing it! The only issue is having to read your first effort at writing. Out of 40k words, I reckon maybe 8k of those may be kept. The rest will almost certainly be re-worked or deleted altogether. It is crazy to think, in the space of only a few months, just how much I have improved.

I love writing. But I also hate it. Working a part time job, studying a diploma and raising a family means I have very little time to commit to it. This means when I do get a sacred couple of hours, I have to make that time count. I am lucky if I write a thousand words in an evening. I have always said my writing is a journey. I am doing this entirely as a lone project. I do not know of anyone else who writes like I do and I am OK with that. I will now continue to write my fantasy novel until I feel the piece I am writing is eventually good enough to send to potential agents (but don’t get me started on the issues I have with potential publishing options!)

My dream is to see my novel finished, well written and in print. With the pace I am able to work at, I think I will get there but I may be dead before I see the final conclusion!

The Never-Ending Sequel

The Never-Ending Sequel

I have a dilemma. Last night we watched the latest instalment of the Underworld series. It was a good film. It had a big budget, good actors and a storyline that followed on from the previous one. So, what is my issue?

Well, for starters this must be the 5th film in this particular series. If you had told me they would stretch the story over 5 films, I would have said you were mad! The original film was released 15 years ago. It was, and still is a fantastic film. But it seems the excitement and originality of the 1st film has been lost due to the exacerbated efforts to make as many bloody sequels as possible! My ultimate issue is that this film was not necessary.

I think as storytellers we seem to be increasingly pressured to come with an idea that allows a story, if successful, to be continued. A long time ago there was a specific purpose for a sequel. You only needed a sequel if the story you were creating could not fit into one sitting. Look at some of the great writers – Shakespeare, Dickins, Du Maurier. None of them did sequels! If Oliver Twist was written nowadays, we almost certainly would have seen a sequel involving dear Oliver being rekindled with his childhood pocket-thieving friend and helping the Artful Dodger out of some unfortunate scenario. It would have been a huge hit, possibly well received but still not NECESSARY!

I feel like the art of creating a new concept is being lost in a money making business, that is only interested in sticking with concepts already in existence, because they know fans of that concept with go see it. Take Star Wars or Harry Potter, for example. They are the ultimate version of ‘The Neverending Story’. Whilst the fans still exist, the movies will still be made.

But this where is where I start to contradict myself, a bit. Despite the unnecessary creation of an extended storyline, these films are always well made. They have huge budgets and some of the best people in the business involved in making them. I was overjoyed when seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them…but it was not particularly NECESSARY to be created. As a fan of the entire world, I welcome any new venture. As a creator or stories I feel a little odd about it all. It was the same when watching Underworld last night.

There could be an argument that, these ideas are original. It’s just they have a brief link to another story so, they can use the same name. Fantastic Beasts, for example is an entirely different time and place. They is magic the same but this life is based 70 years before Harry Potter. It is an entirely different STORY.

I was hoping whilst writing this blog I would be able to come up with a suitable conclusion to my own issue. I think ultimately, stories are about enjoyment aren’t they? So, as long a people enjoy them then that is all that matters.

(But if we could have some original stories thrown in the mix occasionally, it would not be entirely unappreciated!)