Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Ultimate Frisbee: Fly Hard

Just a short post to brag about a piece of writing I've done. I wrote the description for our Ultimate Frisbee team, and it is currently being used on the student union website! Yay!


Check it out!

Winchester's Ultimate Frisbee Team: Fly Hard. (I also came up with the name and logo, I'm creative like that.)

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Top 10 Writing Influences

For part of my Creative Voice III module we had to come up with our top ten writing influences in chronological order. They could be any type of media, book, film, music, etc. as long as they inspired us to write. So, as I am avoiding doing dissertation work, here is my Top Ten.

1. Disney Films/ Fairy Tales: Okay, this is a bit generic, but I had to pick just one and I couldn't list all of them. My favourite Disney film is constantly changing. It used to be Sleeping Beauty, then The Little Mermaid, then Hercules, and Mulan, and Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King, and Tangled. Oh, it's just impossible! I love them all! When I was younger I used to read a big fairytale book every night before bed. It used to be my mum's and she had drawn around all the pictures, it is like our only family heirloom, and I hope my kids can read it one day, too. But this book and Disney films inspired me to write my own fairy tales and were responsible for my A* in English for this piece, A Disney Parody.

2. Santa Paws, Come Home by Nicholas Edwards: This is the first book that I read without pictures. I bought it at a book sale at school when I was in year 3, maybe? It's about this amazing dog who gets dog-napped and has to find his way back home. I loved it as a kid and still have it at home on my bookshelf. It inspired me to read, and therefore write later in life. 

Also, who couldn't love this little face?

3. Jacqueline Wilson books: Whenever I used to go shopping with my dad we'd always go to Waterstones and I would always buy the latest Jacqueline Wilson book. I would reread them all the time and still do - check out my post on Lola Rose. My all time favourite was the Girls series, you know Girls in Love, Girls Under Pressure, Girls Out Late, and Girls in Tears. I think I liked them so much because I was probably a bit young to read them and I thought they were a little risqué. I also really related to Ellie, the main character, probably because all her friends were pretty and skinny, and she was more on the piggy side. Others that I liked were The Dustbin Baby, The Illustrated Mum, Tracy Beaker, and Diamond Girls. As I got older the books started to get a bit samey, once you read one, you'd read them all. It seemed like Wilson was churning them out. I soon lost interest. But her books made me realise that stories can help people in need or with their problems, and this is what I wanted to communicate through my writing. 

4. The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling: This is a bit of a give in, and is probably on everyone's list in this generation. This was the first series I had ever read, I wasn't into reading when I was younger and I actually saw the movie first. It's just inspiring, and that's all I can really say. 

5. Meg Cabot books: When I was in secondary school I remember my friend reading the first The Princess Diaries and was quite surprised because she never read anything. I'd seen the movie and really loved it but I had never bothered to read the book myself. My sister had all of the books in the series at the time and said I should read them. I was sceptical. However, this was my first incident of reading a book and it being so different from the film. At first I was put off. Then I realised that the book was so much better. I couldn't put it down. Soon my sister grew bored of the series and I bought the rest of the books. I remember reading the last one on holiday and it was just a fantastic ending. Some endings to series can be disappointing but this was not the case. I've read nearly all her other books and own most of them, too. I love the Missing series, and especially the Mediator series, which is why I'm so happy to hear that she's writing another one. Cabot's books inspired me to write chick-lit and helped me to progress to more adult fiction like Size 12 isn't Fat. She also writes in lots of different styles like dairies, and one series is done entirely in emails and letters. Since coming to University, however, I realise people don't like chick-lit too much, and have changed my style somewhat. This piece Royalteen was heavily inspired by The Princess Diaries, and to some extent so was The Diary of Lucy Van Helsing.

6. Lord of the Rings film trilogy: This series really got me into fantasy. After watching these films I created my own fantasy world with lots of different kingdoms, knights, princess, witches, and even some magical jewellery.  I wrote so many fantasy quest stories...unfortunately, by computer died and I lost them all. Some I have written on paper still and one day I will type them up again. I have all my drawings of maps, weapons, and clothing still. I used to be obsessed by these fantasy stories and spend all my time writing and drawing. I wish I could be in that mindset again. In a way University destroys the creativity because now I'm so worried about editing and publishing that I'm too scared to write anything in case it's crap. When I was younger I wrote whole stories and thought they were amazing! I have recently finished reading Lord of the Rings and I still think it's brilliant, and I really watch the films again. Extended edition, of course. 

7. Doctor Who TV series: I never used to care about Doctor Who much but the Doctor reminded me of a boy I fancied (who loved Doctor Who) so I used to watch it constantly and pretend I was the companion. I also fancied David Tennant a little bit, too. Apart from that though, Doctor Who is a great example of how to write a brilliant sci-fi story; it has everything you could possibly want - space travel, time travel, and a main character who can regenerate so you can keep the series going even if the main actor quits! Over the years I have come up with a few Doctor Who story lines and would love to be a writer for the show. It was because of this programme that I took the Sci-Fi and Fantasy module this term. I've also met two of the Doctors, Matt Smith and David Tennant. Oh, and that boy I fancied? He's now my boyfriend!

8. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan: I started reading this series in year 10 (I liked converse shoes back then and the book cover was a flying converse). I bought the first two and borrowed the others from the school library. I remember finishing my work early in class so I could read them. I was such a nerd! I reread them over the summer on my kindle and I still love them. I have always been interested in Greek mythology, especially after Disney's Hercules, and these books really satisfied my craving. The books we had at home about the Greeks were really dry and boring, so these were the perfect way to learn and be entertained. This has inspired my dissertation as I want to get kids interested in Gothic Literature. Obviously, with the internet it is a lot easier to learn things, I could just Google Greek myths now. But reading is much more fun. 

9. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe: This story seems to have followed me everywhere. I first heard of it via The Simpsons, a very educational source. Then in Art A-Level I was told my subject matter was 'too nice' and should do something more 'edgy'. My art teacher wanted me to do something about gangs and drug culture. Boring! I chose the dark literature route. I illustrated the whole of The Tell-Tale Heart and loved every minute of it. Then in the first term of university I wrote a piece inspired by this story, called Obsession. In the second term I went on to illustrate it. Considering I hadn't been a very Gothic person before, I was really getting into it. There just seems to be a strange affinity with this story, and it has even worked its way into my dissertation too.

10. The Gone series by Michael Grant: I read this series over the summer and oh my God! It is gripping. The last one comes out in April and I am so excited, it is my post-dissertation treat. It has been a huge inspiration for my dissertation and after reading these books I changed my idea completely. Gone was the romcom and instead was a dangerously dark mystery with murder and ghosts. This series made me realise that kids don't need protecting from wicked things, and in fact love to read about them. You can also write about crazy things like mutant powers and 'the gaiaphage' and kids will go along with it. 

Obviously, there are so many more books and authors that have inspired and influenced me, but alas, it was a Top Ten, not a Top 100. If you are a budding writer, I recommend you do this too, it can be quite surprising as to what inspires you most. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Poets in the Spotlight - Poetry Competition

I just entered a writing competition for poetry; and I don't even like poetry! But I thought I should probably enter something and this didn't have any entry fees which is always nice. The competition is called Poets in the Spotlight by United Press:

Poets In The Spotlight (Closing Date: 26th April 2013)
There's a £100 prize to the winner of our latest free poetry competition - and you have three chances to win.
As well as choosing one winner we are going to publish the best of the rest in a brand new book.
The title of the competition is Poets In The Spotlight, but your entry doesn't have to be a poem on a fixed subject - you can let your imagination run free!
Your entry must be something you haven't sent to us before.
You can submit up to three poems of no more than 25 lines (including blank lines) and 160 words each.
You can enter online via our online submission form, or by post to:
Poets In The Spotlight, United Press Ltd, Admail 3735, London, EC1B 1JB (Just make sure you include your full name and address on your entry).

I just Googled 'poetry competitions' and that's what came up. There is a chance of being published which is what I'm most interested in. There was another competition from Poetic Republic where after you entered a piece you had to judge the others. It sounded good but I wasn't sure if I'd really have the time to do it, what with my dissertation due soon and all. Now I have to play the waiting game, and hope that I win, or at least get acknowledged.  

Before Christmas I entered a BBC Radio 4 competition and I think the results of that are in March, so fingers crossed! 

Friday, 15 February 2013

Kit Berry - Stonewylde

Been thinking of what to write for ages and just this minute I finally thought of something, hurrah!

Lately, University has been a major downer. Every lecturer seems to be telling us that writing is impossible, difficult, and a waste of time, so what other job are you going to do? Just what you want to hear after three years of doing a degree! But yesterday in my Sci-Fi and Fantasy module we had a guest talk from Kit Berry. I admit I had never heard of her before and really wasn't in the mood for a guest talk (it was too early!) but it turned out to be well worth getting out of bed. She has written a fantasy series set in the fictional place of Stonewylde, based on places in and around Dorset. Funnily enough, one of the places she mentions is a place I've wanted to write about too. This stag gate in Dorset.

Anyway, her talk was amazing. Sure, she had difficulties like my lecturers have mentioned - she was rejected by agents and then publishers. In fact, she was rejected by 13 publishers, which I think is freaky because she believed a lot in superstitions and fate, and 13 is like the most superstitious number ever. However, this didn't stop her, it actually spurred her on to self-publishing and making her own publishing label, Moongazy Publishing. I think what really got to me was when she talked about how she had a weekend where all her readers met up in Devon (woo!) and did quizzes and workshops and just generally had a great time. It was then she realised how big a following she had and that it was crazy that she wasn't properly published because she should be. And in the end she tried the publishers again and was finally picked up by Orion Publishing, with an envious contract.

It's my dream to have a book series published and then made into a great movie. My lecturers would probably tell me that's a pipe dream and the best I could hope for is to be a journalist on my local paper, while also working as a waitress or something. How fun. And yes, even though Kit Berry has had lots of different jobs she did live the dream and is now a full-time writer.

She said that being a writer is still hard because of all the marketing, promoting and publicity but I think I would really enjoy that. At one point in my life I really wanted to be a PR. Besides, I'm always on Twitter anyway plugging this blog, it would be better with a book because I'd actually get paid for it!

She also did a little book signing and it's the first signed book I've ever owned! Although on hearing my name she said: 'Oh there's a girl in this called Holly, and I'm afraid to say she's a bitch.' Surprisingly, I hear this a lot. That other Holly's are bitches, not me.

Her story of becoming an author was really moving and I haven't done it justice. But she was a fantastic woman, really inspirational! If I can write anything like her, and be half as successful, I'll be happy. I would love to prove my lecturers wrong!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Scribe: Unkindness Book Cover

Been working hard on my ECP. It's coming up to the final draft and I want it top notch! I have finally decided on a title for my piece. Scribe: Unkindness. An unkindness refers to a group of ravens. Get it? Trust me, it works on many levels. So a new title means a new cover.

Check it out.