Author Archive

Waterstones NaNoWriMo – Recap

I moustache you a question. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with Movember but it is connected to November; the national month dedicated to writing a novel. So did you manage to write anything over November?

I got involved along with seven other bloggers to create a piece of fiction (it wasn’t quite the 50,000 word masterpiece that some writers produce) though still worth a read. We were all sent Rory’s story cubes in order to come up with ideas for the story and we each wrote a chapter in turn.

What did I learn from NaNoWriMo challenge?

The overall experience was really enjoyable, especially as I saw the characters and story develop (after my contribution of the second chapter).  It always amazes me how everyone’s imagination is so different and this was definitely the case with this.

I think the story cubes are definitely a nice present for a writer as they prompt random creativity. I know I will be using these for little writing exercises and even perhaps for songwriting or poetry.

Writing exercises

One of my favourite books for prompting your creativity is The Lie That Tells The Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction by John Dufresne. It has simple tips and tricks to aid your writing and is a book worthy of a place on your bookshelf. He suggests simple ideas, such as how you should take a notebook and record conversations that you hear when out (obviously discretely) and one tip I always suggest is keeping a dream book. Just keep a notepad and pen by your bedside and as soon as you awake, jot down your dream. It can help your memory and give you plenty of writing material.

How do you improve your writing? Any exercises, tried and tested, to recommend?

Top technology presents for Christmas 2013

November 17, 2013 1 comment

Christmas is just round the corner, I’m sure everyone is busy writing their Christmas list. With that in mind here are some of the presents that will be topping the Christmas list of every geek and gadget fan:

  • iPad Air: The brand new iPad is going to be at the top of every Apple fan’s Christmas list. It is of no surprise, the latest version is sleek to say the least weighing less than one pound. It does pack a punch though including a 9.7” retina display screen as well as the brand new A7 chip which is two times faster than its predecessor.
  • Microsoft Surface 2: The new tablet from Microsoft has a whole host of new features that are sure to win over consumers looking for a high-end tablet. The biggest change is the upgrade to Windows 8.1, a much improved version of the mobile OS. Also the screen is a mammoth 10.6” (huge for a tablet) and is full HD, making it perfect for watching videos or for work.
  • Nokia Lumia 1020: For you budding smartphone photographers out there, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is arguably the best camera phone on the market. No other phone can match the 41 megapixel camera sensor or the super high-resolution zoom. The Lumia 1020 also comes with Nokia Pro Cam which allows you to alter shutter speed, focus and white balance to take breath-taking photos.
  • PS4: One of the most talked about battles this year has been between Sony and Microsoft over their next generation consoles. The PS4 is due out on Friday 29th November 2013 and promises to deliver a more immersive gaming experience. Sony has developed enhanced graphics, more responsive controllers as well as a new social gaming experience.
  • XBox One: The other console fighting for your attention this Christmas is Microsoft’s XBox One. The new console utilises the cloud to provide a more personal gaming experience. Users will be able to use Apps and play games at the same time as well as having a personalised homepage when logging on regardless of which console you’re using and just for good measure a Kinect has been built into the console.
  • Fitbit Force: The Fitbit Force is the latest activity tracker and sleep monitor from Fitbit following up on the One and the Flex. The Force now includes a small but powerful OLED screen which displays steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes, floors climbed and the time to help monitor your daily activity. This is the perfect present for any gym freak or for anyone planning a new year diet.
  • Nexus 7: The new 7” Nexus tablet from Google is a first choice for anyone looking for a smaller tablet. Weighing in at only 290g it is light but powerful with 2GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro Processor. Available from £199 it is one of the best value tablets on the market.
  • Kindle Fire HDX: The second generation of the Amazon tablet has been big hit, the low price coupled with a fantastic new screen makes this a contender to any tablet. The HDX screen makes images come alive with 100% sRGB. The Fire HDX is available in both 7” and 8.9” versions, prices start at £199 making it very appealing to new tablet users.
  • Roku 3: The Roku 3 goes beyond Apple TV to off you the ultimate entertainment experience. It delivers the best selection of streaming services straight to your TV including movies from HBO, Amazon and Netflix as well as music services like Spotify. The coolest thing about the Roku 3 has to be the remote, it includes a headphone jack when you want some quiet time and a motion sensor for playing games like Angry Birds.
  • Seagate Back Up Plus: The Seagate Back Up Plus is the simple one-click way to protect and share your digital life. This portable hard drive syncs with your social media accounts allowing you to easily back up content as well share pictures and video’s straight from your computer. This is perfect for any budding photographer or filmmaker.

Another website well worth a visit and who helped put this together is Insight UK, a leading provider of IT hardware!

What is on your Christmas list?

Waterstones NanoWriMo Story Cubes Project

November 11, 2013 4 comments

For literary lovers November is one of the most memorable months of the year: NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I was asked if I wanted to be a part of this fantastic project, and of course I said yes!

The idea is that a group of eight bloggers will contribute one chapter each using Rory’s Story Cubes to guide the narrative. You can read the first chapter from blogger, Sonny and Luca. Here is my contribution of the second chapter:

Waterstones NanoWriMo

Chapter two

The house, ‘our house’. We’d only been dating for the past seven months or so, but it had gotten serious very quickly. We met in Area 47 and she was a lot like me; a deterrent of the pollutionators, sharing very much the same vision. Since the great lightning war men and women didn’t quite interact the way they once did so this chance meeting was what we both coined ‘fate’. Everything had completely shifted since that war, including the laws of the land.

I felt my wrist but it was bare. This is odd, very odd, I never take it off. My identity signet ring was also missing. Strange. A clap of thunder rumbled in the sky; I had to get back soon, before the curfew. But how on earth had I ended up in the waste land? Or what seemed like the waste land. The bin man had been of no help. We had to call them men but we all knew them as something different. They were never made to be helpful or polite, but now, how I wished you could hit playback on one of them and retrace my steps. How did I get here? So many questions and no answers; just a thumping headache and a smelly leather jacket for warmth.

I opened up the notebook once again and…

This is daft! How can I make sense of the old human way of writing, it is all gibberish to me. Though I can understand some of their drawings. The creased pages all have some kind of symbol, or marking. It was two small theatre faces. I’d studied these in the early years and apparently a man called Shakespeare had influenced the arts and drama culture of forgotten London. Royal characters living in castles and lots of other (what I considered) nonsense. This world was certainly no fairy-tale now. Who on earth owns this? Everything had been removed since those days and been kept under strict lock and key. One thing was certain, they’d be wanting it back.

Zzz…Zzz…The worn leather jacket was glowing a dim green colour and vibrating furiously. Anonymous. A faint whispering voice, female, “meet me at the sunny face archway. Use the light on this phone to signal your arrival. Head towards magnet town if you don’t know the way, don’t speak to anyone.”

That certainly made no sense. For one, these old mobile phones weren’t meant to exist anymore let alone work! I put one foot in front of the other and followed the sign.


National Novel Writing Month - Waterstones project

Make sure you visit the Waterstones website and check out the 2013 book shortlist from the finest authors.

Find the next chapters here..

Chapter three

Chapter four

Chapter five

Chapter six

Chapter seven

Chapter eight

Derek Gores | Artist

With the months turning colder and the evenings drawing shorter, my attention soon turns to indoor hobbies such as arts and crafts. Whilst looking for inspiration I came across the American artist, Derek Gores. His collages use magazines, newspapers, labels and found materials (handwritten notes, cd jackets, digital textures) to create large-scale pieces of art on canvases. His work features a wide range including: women, shoes, locations and motorbikes .

From studying his work I think it would definitely be fun to create a collage canvas this autumn. This can be achieved by plenty of magazine/newspaper collecting, Photoshop and not to mention, imagination! After you have decided on a design, which can be anything from human forms to still objects, you can use Photoshop to plan out your idea. The Photoshop cut out effect can help you know where to stick your cuttings. Simply, choose your photograph and apply this effect on Photoshop. You can then print out a copy, to the size you require and use this as a guide for your piece of art.

I like the fact Gores is quite messy with his collage and uses the ripping technique over cutting. This makes each piece unique and not too constructed. His work is certainly impressive and it is worth mentioning his one rule is that you can’t use pictures of the actual object when making that object.

My favourite Gores pieces include:






To see his full artwork gallery click here. What do you think of his work? I will do a follow-up blog post as and when I complete my own collage this autumn/winter.

Many young people want their art to look like photographs. I say, the world already has photographers, and while there is lots of worthwhile stuff to learn in mastering the touch and control necessary to render a picture like a photograph, not all hands or interests lean that way.

Bec Winnel | Artist

Australia based artist, Bec Winnel, has created these beautiful female portraits. She is a self taught artist based in Kiewa Valley, and uses a mixed medium of coloured pencils, pastels and paint washes. I don’t think these pieces need any explanation and I came across them per chance whilst at work. What do you think? Visit her website here!

Bec Winnel - Honor

Cloud Seven - Bec Winnel

Spirit - Bec Winnel

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013: Magician show

Edinburgh Fringe 2013Over the years the Edinburgh fringe festival has been the stepping stone for many an actor, singer and comedian.  It’s not just  a Mecca for theatre lovers, but people who want to have a laugh, dance  and take in the sites of one of the most upcoming and inspirational cities within these British isles.

This fringe was my first, and wow what an experience; my only regret is that I didn’t stay longer.
But if you think that the fringe is a money-making scheme to capture the wallets of unsuspecting tourists, you would be wrong.

The past few years the Edinburgh fringe has introduced the “free fringe”, as an acting student this was just calling to me! The Free fringe covered everything; theatres, live music, stand up and magic. Magic was the start of our fringe expedition through the streets of Edinburgh. Now our magician didn’t go by the usual top hat and white rabbit gag. We were pleasantly surprised by a northern, ginger lad that went by the name ‘Dave the ninja ginger magician’. Now magic is by no means an easy job and as a society that constantly speculates and evaluates, a magician is always going to have a tough crowd. But this guy had the energy, the comic and the skills. He opened his show with ease and laughter, by declaring his similarities in appearance to fictional character, Ron Weasley as well as Chuckie from the children’s show, Rugrats. He may not have been a dynamo throughout the show, (bearing in mind this was his first day of the festival), but some tricks, were just unanswerable.

davidalnwickbOne trick that really wowed my friends and I was the ‘song trick’. Whilst waiting to enter the venue there was a dubious sign outside which requested every member of the audience to write the name of a popular song. For some reason I wrote Kiss by Prince: I’m not even a fan. Each piece of paper with a song written on it was to be folded into ‘quarters’, he was very adamant about this. Then the papers were put into a container. Nearing the end of his show of impressive card tricks and clever use of ‘ESP’ he returned to the folded up songs. Four members of the audience were requested to pick a piece of paper, myself included. Now the trick was that he would guess the song by playing his guitar; his only request was that we sing along in our head. Singing in your head no problem, that’s of course if you know the words and I’m very much ashamed for what I’m about to say, but I had ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ by Guns and Roses and the only part I knew was the chorus.

At this point I felt like the worst person in the world, in the space of a minute I could destroy a young man’s career because I didn’t know the words. But through the power of magic (I suppose), he did it. But of course that would be too simple for a magician to finish it like that. Whilst this was going on he had requested that random members of the audience write down 11 random numbers. The chosen numbers were then added up to equal an eleven digit number. This eleven digit number was then dialled from a member of the audience’s phone. A box which had remained on the stage throughout the show started to make noise. Inside the locked money box was a ringing mobile phone. (Ta-dah I hear you say). It went straight through to voicemail where a certain Ginger Ninja Magician was there at the other end, stating that he hopes he guesses the song ‘Sweet Child of Mine’.  Honestly I tried to figure it out but I’ve had no theories so far on how that ninja did it. Well that’s magic for you!

I truly think the fringe is something that everyone should experience, and now with the opportunities it offers with the free fringe, it is time to take advantage. However I think it’s important to remember that these performers are talented, yes they do this all for free, but as an audience we must acknowledge good work when we see it. Even if it’s a case of a couple of quid from your back pocket or even a note that remains scrunched up in your wallet, throw it in the bucket. Show these performers that the arts are not forgotten and that entertainment is still very much appreciated.

Visit the official Edinburgh fringe festival website here for more information on shows. Download the free Edinburgh fringe app to purchase tickets on the go and to find out which free shows you can attend.

Written by Charlotte Gibson, who is currently studying BA World Performance at East 15 Acting School.

Fringe festival 2013

Other Edinburgh fringe shows we highly recommend seeing:

Bad Bread: Glove Contractually – comedy trio tackling romantic comedies through a number of sketches, from ‘spermio and juliegg’ to a recreation of the famous tragic love film, Titanic, (bubble wrap and ice cubes are involved as well as mild spitting).

10 Films with my Dad – a father and son relationship based heavily on films, heartwarming and funny, this show is not to be missed! Free fringe show.

Phil Jupitus ‘Porky the Poet’ – Phil Jupitus aka Porky the Poet, eloquently recites a number of poems based on modern-day culture and important figures in society. His piece on Jeremy Clarkson is none other than spectacular. Go see him! Free fringe show.

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