4 Years On Wordpress | Best Bits

Well, well, well, Happy 4th Birthday to my WordPress account! *pops party popper*. When I started these blogs a few years ago, I never imagined they would lead to such amazing opportunities.

Let’s throwback to some of our best bits in the wonderful world of WordPress…

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Milestones:

Four years is a huge commitment to one blog for me, admittedly I do have several WordPress blogs, but all on the same platform. I love that I have been able to link them and easily switch between the four of them, so thanks for that!

Earlier this year we hit another amazing milestone, which was 500 WordPress followers, and you guys are from all over the world! Thank you, everyone, for your support, and putting up with my erratic posting schedule.

Books:

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WordPress was and always will be a huge part of my creative process, particularly when it comes to writing books. I published my first novella, The Snow Killer, originally as a series of blog posts, which transformed into a twisted serial killer fiction novel. I loved every minute of it, as it launched my dreams as an author as set me on a path to novel writing.

I originally started my life as a blogger on BlogSpot, (which I rediscovered and was hit with a wave of nostalgia whilst researching this post) [my BlogSpot page] but after I was introduced to WordPress, I have never turned back.

Since then, I have self-published several e-books, with the help of WordPress as a blogging and promotional tool, and met many of my close author friends through the website – as well as some amazing book reviewers and bloggers.

Articles: 

In 2016 I wrote an article about my transition from loathing to loving John Green, and its current view total is 6,153! (Correct of 29.11.17) Read the article here…  It ended up being read by Hank Green (also famous and very creative brother of the author, and was shared all over WordPress and Tumblr.)

That article made me realize the true power of books, and that the time taken to be passionate and involved in your work, is far more important than dishing out half-finished books in order to hit a deadline.

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I’d just like to say thank you again for all of your wonderful support, and here’s to an amazing 2018 with WordPress!

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Audiobook Review and Reflect: Talking As Fast As I Can – Lauren Graham

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I’ve just had that ‘staring-at-the-wall-with-a-fresh-book-shaped-whole-in-my-heart’ moment. Loralie Gilmore (I mean, Lauren Graham) just spent four hours reading me a book.

I was in the city today, so I’ve been on a lot of trains and tubes. It was a new experience to listen to someone talk to me as I tapped in at London Bridge Station, or raced down the stairs to catch the next Northern Line tube. Her soothing voice filling my head. She had me in fits of laughter, followed by bursts of sadness or melancholy. I suspect I looked slightly deranged on public transport today.

In the background, as I absorb and write this review, There She Goes – The La’s, plays quietly through my headphones. I felt the need to listen to The Gilmore Girls soundtrack; stopping Stars Hollow from leaving me straight away. There’s a warmth in my fingertips that I only get when I need to write.  It’s late, so I’ve got a hot chocolate sat, steaming in my chilly office space, waiting to be sipped.

It is strange, listening to her voice. I can picture her, sat with her legs curled up on a comfy sofa, coffee cupped between her hands. She’s telling me her story, her life. But it’s like hearing a familiar tale with a whole new character. I know it, and yet I don’t.

Loralie Gilmore raised me. I was Rory. Luke was my step-dad. Books made me safe. I’m back in Stars Hollow, however now it has that dewy glaze of a warm memory. That’s what it’s like listening to Lauren Graham read Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore To Gilmore. 

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Talking As Fast As I Can is a charming, delightful book, and makes for an interesting audiobook on Audible. Graham takes us on a journey from Kindergarten to the end of filming Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life.

She shares a lot, the usual witty anecdotes, but also some deep, personal information that anyone may have left out. Lauren Graham’s attention to detail is also someone quite wonderful to observe. She goes on a tangent about a blue coat from The Gilmore Girls set for several paragraphs, which is simply enchanting to read.

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Lauren Graham makes every single word seem and sound magic. Speaking in particular for the audiobook, hearing her read the book herself gives it an added layer of intimacy which is missing from some audiobooks. You can hear the laughter in her voice when she recalls a conversation with a beloved friend. Her tone carries the weight of the time they found of Gilmore Girls was over. She sounds… affected. It is beautiful to listen to.

I realize this is more of a Lauren Graham worship than a review of her book as a format, or as a piece of writing. Perhaps I have been influenced because I listened to it rather than read it. But all I know for sure is, Loralie Gilmore just told me a story, and I loved every minute of it.

If you are a fan of Gilmore Girls, of Parenthood or just of the wonderful Lauren Graham as a human being, I strongly urge you to read or listen to this book. It’s life-affirming, charming and downright enjoyable to consume.

 

Gilmore Girls Spotify Playlist:

 

Goals Changed For The Better | A New Chapter

We all have a plan for our lives, whether it’s short term; ‘lose five pounds’, or long term; ‘I want to have a career in XYZ by the time I’m 30’. We all also know, that life likes to get in the way of our plans.

 

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#goals graphic, created with Fotor by @melissaholden94

 

My original life plan (at 16) was as follows:

  • Do A-Levels
  • Get a job and earn money
  • Go on lots of holidays
  • Get married
  • Get a Husky called Jeff
  • Learn to drive
  • Get a big house

…And that was effectively all I wanted from life.

Then, at 18, this was my plan:

  • Go to university
  • Get a degree
  • Get a part-time job
  • Save loads of money
  • Write my first book
  • Go travelling
  • Rent a house with friends
  • Get a tattoo

I did well on some points, and not so well on others.

At 20, my plan looked a little like this:

  • Get a temp job in home town
  • Go do my Master’s in October 2015
  • Graduate
  • Rent a house with Ashleigh
  • Go travelling
  • Pay off my overdraft
  • Save money
  • Learn to drive
  • Write more books

20-year-old Me was ambitious and didn’t plan for other people to affect her life plan. I had to move back home to be close to an ill family member. I had to leave all my uni friends behind and get a job in Bluewater.

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What I also didn’t expect, was to have graduated my Bachelor’s degree, moved back to the home town I hate, and fall in love with my new ‘supposed-to-be-for-six-months’ job. I ended up with a good, stable job in optics, and didn’t follow the plan. I didn’t start my Master’s degree in October. Instead, I was doing training at work to improve my skill set.

I ended up with a good, stable job in optics, and didn’t follow the plan. I didn’t start my Master’s degree in October. Instead, I was doing training at work to improve my skill set. I also, 2 years in, ended up being promoted to a Team Leader position, and am loving it.

I also didn’t move in with my best friend, because she moved back home to be close to her family, and to look after herself  – cannot argue with that, really.

Now, at 22 (nearly 23), my plan looks more like this:

  • Save my Student Loans and pay off my overdraft
  • Start my Master’s in October 2017
  • Graduate in June 2018
  • Finish writing Finding Jennifer
  • Move out to my own place
  • Start looking for ‘love’
  • Spend more time with my friends and family
  • Be present in the moment
  • Be positive
  • Blog more
  • Read as many books as possible

Perhaps some of those are loftier than others, but I love all my goals and aspirations the same. I am glad that my priorities have changed because it means I have grown and developed as a person, and I’m pretty proud of that.

What are your goals in life, and have they changed over the years? 

 

500 Followers, A Milestone Post

Since it’s conception in 2013, this blog has had many purposes, many milestones, many birthdays. It is the one safe place; the one continuous space, where I can write freely and know my words will not only be seen but appreciated.

I just wanted to say thanks, to old and new followers – you make it worth posting. I know I am a bit of a sporadic blogger, but my work/life balance leaves something to be desired. I really appreciate the loyalty.

Thank you all so much for the love and support, and I hope we will be seeing more of each other soon.

Love, Mel ❤

Brainy Belle, Sarcastic Beast and the Periodically Accurate Teapot (Beauty and the Beast Movie Review)

One of my first memories was of watching a charming, witty, brown-haired bookworm teach the men in her life a thing or two – and I was enthralled. I am delighted to say, that Disney has done it once again and given us a brainiac for a princess.

STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

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Belle herself is physically matched with Emma Watson, however, the 2017 live-action gives us a few more (very much appreciated) quirks. For one, her everyday ‘peasant’ dress is slightly askew to show that she wears trousers/bloomers underneath – which is always seen as a deliberate wardrobe choice for empowered female characters.

The Beauty is also the Inventor in the new story – not her father, which was a wonderful way to show her independence when she invents the washing machine so she can read for longer.

Along with the addition of her dearly departed mother’s back story, there are some charming tweaks to the story which I am sure many fans will be happy with.

Belle’s script doesn’t change an awful lot when it comes to her conversations with the Beast, although there is certainly a lot more humor and sarcasm between the two of them, which adds a whole new layer to the famous library scene.

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Speaking of the Beast – he was a surprise and a half on-screen. A live-action movie meant that the actor playing Beast (Dan Stevens), could have his facial expressions portrayed more accurately, making the character far more realistic.

There have been several online comments about how the Beast isn’t attractive enough once he transforms – which is absolutely ridiculous for two reasons. Firstly – Dan Stevens is a very attractive man. Secondly – those people are missing the point of the movie. It’s a beautiful tale about a girl falling in love with the man underneath the darkness, seeing past the physical to get to his soul. Belle certainly isn’t going to go through all that, see that he’s not that hot and change her mind.

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I went to the cinema quite hung up on the change to the appearance of the enchanted antiques, ie Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, Cogsworth. However, I will concede to the fact that they are almost certainly more periodically accurate.

Emma as Mrs. Potts was a wonderful choice, although I’m not sure about her accent choice; her singing is simply perfect for the role. (Oh – and she has feet now!)

I was quite fond of the animated versions, but I am aware they faced many challenges when it came to actually animating and interacting with the character; one being Lumiere doing a can-can kick during Be Our Guest. But with the addition of some suitable limbs, he can kick away with the side plates.

lefou-comparison.jpgGaston and Lefou are interesting characters, and I’m sure there are many articles discussing at length the obvious sexual orientation of Lefou. But I am more interested in some of the more subtle aspects to their personality.

Lefou is not a simple character by any means, which is shown in the end battle when he helps Mrs. Potts and turns his back on Gaston.

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Gaston is given a new layer in regards to his attitude and violence, by making him a soldier who has recently returned from war. Whilst somewhat implied in the original movie, it is plainly said in the new version. What’s more, he is made to look a fool in terms of literacy, when Lefou says ‘Ah, je ne sais quoi’ and Gaston replies, ‘I don’t know what that means.’

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The only addition to the story that I wasn’t moved by was the Enchantress. She is added to the plot as a homeless spinster who has been watching over the corner by Belle and Maurice’s house for many years. This is probably supposed to be an act of foreshadowing, but it is certainly a change that will go straight over a child’s head.

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The Romeo and Juliet string to the plot appears once more. Not only is it supposedly the loose basis for the story, it is also mentioned by the characters in both movie versions.

Literacy plays a huge part in both, however, in the latest edition, it is far more significant. For one thing, not only can the Beast read, but he knows his Shakespeare and even goes as far as to mock Belle’s enjoyment of the famous star-crossed lover’s tale.

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The soundtrack is incredible – there is no doubt about it. It is the perfect mixture between the classic, well-loved songs, and some beautiful new tracks. The Beast gets his own song when he pines for Belle, and it really adds to his character.

The singing wardrobe has her own mini love story with her husband the grand piano, which is quite sweet to watch. She is also featured in a lot of the soundtrack as she as shown as one of the performers from the first ball at the beginning of the movie.

Whilst I will always have a place in my heart for the 1991 version, this new portrayal certainly deserves a place too. The cast, the music, and the quirks are stunning, and I can’t wait to buy the DVD, all the merchandise and probably the soundtrack.

Oh, and Disney – you need to make Enchanted Christmas as a sequel!

 

 

Saying Farewell to my Pseudonym

The blog-fans among you will know that I have removed my pseudonym, Melody Carter, from the Internet. She’s gone now. *RIP fictional version of myself*

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I’ve waved goodbye to her website, her Facebook page, and her Twitter. I’ve exported all her churlish attempts at Children’s Fiction or bizarre tries at Adult Writing. She isn’t working well for my writing career, so, like the proverbial rose – she had to be dead-headed.

(Although the design for that website was pretty awesome, so I may have to move the typography over to another site… we will see!)

I found Melody Carter no longer had a place or standing in my writing portfolio; she had become just an extra tab on my social media to ignore and avoid during the low moments.

Any writer can tell you that this is not a fun career choice by any means – particularly as there is no money in it. So it becomes hard to justify your meager efforts when you are spread so thin across your many pen names.

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Instead, (if rather late in the day) I have decided to solely write under my own name; no pseudonyms or pretenses. Just little me and my little words on my little books.

I hope you can all get behind me on this, and as you have all been such lovely readers; I am sure you will be.

I’ll be back soon with some news about my upcoming novel, Finding Jennifer, but for now; I’m off to drink tea and ponder over Chapter 12.

Alan The Christmas Donkey | Recent Reads

​Recent Reads: Whilst on the train back from Wales recently,  me and my mom ended up reading Alan The Christmas Donkey by Tracy Garton. 

It’s a sweet, funny book all about the donkey sanctuary the author set up twenty years ago, and the donkeys she adopts along the way; the most mischievous of all being Alan. 

It’s a quick read and a good laugh, and quite an eye opener to the amount of work that goes into these sanctuaries. Worth a read! 

They have a website where you can learn a little bit more about their donkeys: http://www.radcliffedonkeys.com