The Beast From the East

This post is for me.  Today has been such a special experience, I want to look back and remember it, forever.

Snow morning

This morning began with my little boy getting to see snow for the first time. He wanted to go out in his PJs and it took some negotiating to get him to sit down and eat breakfast and get dressed first.

I wasn’t sure he’d have time to go out before nursery but I told him if he ate quick & got dressed fast he could play in the snow. I’ve never seen him get ready so fast!

SNew Experience

He was desperate to get outside but could I find his gloves and hat? We had them out in November but this morning they were missing.

I gave him a pair of my mittens to keep his hands warm and we tried to make a snowman (unsuccessfully). Then we threw snow at each other. He’s a better shot than me – I was lucky we had the excuse that we needed to leave or I’m sure he would have annihilated me.

Snowy Nursery

I managed to find his gloves and hat from 2 years ago. A Benjamin bunny hat and bunny gloves made by my mum (his Grandma PoPo).

After checking nursery was on, I drove him very carefully and slowly in. I was gutted they weren’t having a snow day as I wanted to stay & play with him. He was so excited and it was infectious.

At the nursery, he didn’t want to take his snowsuit off.  His key worker had to promise him that after the morning activities and registration there would be time to play outside in the snow.

I couldn’t wait to finish work and pick him up from my mums and hear all about how he played with his friends in the snow. As soon as we got home, he was straight out in the garden to play some more, before it melts.

Lobbing snowballs at me.

Giggling in the snow and eating it!

Here’s hoping that tonight it snows enough that we can stay home and play together tomorrow.

Review – Coco

Coco – By Disney

I took my son and his best friend to the cinema for their first time to watch the new Disney film ‘Coco’.

As this was their first time they did get spoilt. We bought them the kids special which came free with a Paddington Bear lunch box. We also took them to Kaspers after for ice cream because sitting still for a whole film was a big challenge for a 3 and 4 year old.

After the film we let them pose and dance on the red carpet. I’m glad we went during half term because the place was empty.

Review of Coco

This Disney film is about the Mexican Day of the Dead festival. The MC is a boy named Miguel who befriends a stray dog that’s actually his spirit guide. His family are against music and he really wants to play guitar and sing. His rebellion against his family sets on a path that causes him to crossover to the underworld. To return home he needs a blessing from his dead ancestors before he becomes permanently dead. But, they want to add a condition that he can’t ever perform music again. So he looks for the relative his family disowned to get the blessing without the condition.

There are a lot of themes about death explored in the film and there was a few occasions I got choked up.

It was a good film with a decent storyline. It’s worth watching but it’s unlikely to become one of those classic films that you could watch forever.

How to write a synopsis

The challenge

You’ve finished your manuscript and spent even more time editing.  Finally, it is at a standard you are now confident to present.  Now you are preparing to query.

When it comes to querying literary agents they general request the same things:

  • A sample of your manuscript
  • A covering letter
  • A synopsis

Many will ask you to keep the synopsis to one page (or 500-800 words).  That is the challenge:  summarize 80k words into one page.

Create a standard version

Most agents will want similar things in a synopsis.  So it is worth having a standard version that you can use as a template and adapt to meet their requirements.

What to include?

  • Title:  Novel title
  • Plot:  outline the story arc from start to finish.  Only give the meaningful events and you must include the ending.  A synopsis should be written in third person.
  • Main character names:  type these in capitals when they are first introduced.
  • Genre: Target market (in header/footer)
  • Novel length:  word count of full novel (rounded to the nearest whole thousandth number in header/footer)
  • Contact details:  Your contact details (in header/footer)

How to lay it out?

  • Length:  500 to 800 words
  • Font:  Times New Roman or Arial (it must be easy to read)
  • Text size:  ideally 12 pt (no smaller than 10pt)
  • Text colour:  black
  • Background:  plain white
  • Document Format:  Check but generally .doc or docx (you may need to copy and paste it into a body of an email or convert to pdf)
  • Paragraphs:  Indent the first line of your paragraphs and use single line spacing

How to approach this?

Try to break your novel into sections:


  • introduce the main characters/setting/era, etc
  • inciting event – the catalyst that kicks the story off


  • Middle (the plan) – how your character(s) will solve their predicament
  • Middle (twist) – something that goes wrong with the plan
  • Middle (new plan) – how your character(s) will solve their predicament


  • Conclusion – the epic battle, the tie up of loose ends, the big reveal (murder mystery), they get the guy (or not)

If you can break your novel up into section for the main events, you can try to keep those sections to one paragraph. This will help keep the word count of your synopsis down.


Keep saving your synopsis and then return to see what you can edit out.  Some fixes will be simple – remove filler words like ‘that’.  You will also need to be critical about what details are necessary to keep and may see you can delete out some minor subplots.  Keep doing this until you have reduced the size to at least one page or 500 to 800 words.

What not to do?

  • Teasers:  The document should clearly tell them what happens and not leave any mystery or cliff hangers.
  • Chapters:  Don’t describe what happens in each chapter.
  • Details:  It isn’t necessary to describe settings and characters or explain every actions the MC makes.  Leave out minor characters and minor subplots.
  • Mention other stories:  keep the synopsis focused on the story it is about.
  • Shrink the font:  This may be tempting to make it fit on the page but if it is not easy to read then… it won’t get read.
  • Fancy font:  Again, if it isn’t easy to read, then they’ll move on to another query that is.
  • Wrong format:  If they ask for the synopsis in a certain format then it is for a reason.

Finally – Tweak to meet the requirements

  • Guidelines:  Check agents requirements.

Whoever you are submitting to will likely make certain requests on how they want the Synopsis presented and you will need to tweak your standard version to meet their needs.  For example, they may ask for a certain font size or style or they may request a word count or number of pages.  Some will want you to include a tag line or to submit it in the body of the email (not as an attachment).

Always, check the guidelines before submitting.

Organic facial and polish

With my birthday money, I decided to treat myself to a facial. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found someone in my small local seaside town that uses all organic natural products.  I booked in and went to be pampered on 23 December 2017.

I had a facial (using Neal’s Yard Products) and a manicure (using Zoya polish in shade Blair).


Neal’s Yard Remedies the brand

The brand started a month after I was born in London.  They believe beauty should be natural and are transparent about all the ingredients that go into their products so you know exactly what you are putting onto your skin.  They were one of the first brands to challenge the synthetic market.

What products did the beautician use on me?

She did a skin analysis and identified the best products to use on my skin.  For my facial she cleansed my skin and gave me a massage – everything you’d expect.

Afterwards, she recommend products for my:

Daily skin routine:

  • Cleanser:  Wild Rose Beauty Balm
  • Toner:  Rose Toner
  • Facial Oil: Frankenscense oil
  • Moisturizer:  Yarrow and Comfrey
  • Eye Care:  Toning eye gel

Weekly routine:

  • Face mask:  Rose Formula Antioxidant


The beautician was amazing and even offered me samples of products to try at home.  She gave me:

  • Yarrow and Comfrey moisturizer: so I could continue using it at home.
  • Lavender oil: to treat my breakouts.


The facial was a very relaxing experience and my skin did feel great afterwards.  The products I took away with me feel of good quality too.  The only draw back I have had is they do have a strong smell and I have found it a little over whelming.

I will return for another facial but I don’t think I will use the products everyday in my beauty routine.


Zoya the brand

Zoya is a quality brand that prides themselves on healthy products with natural ingredients.  They are famous for creating the first fast drying topcoat and longest wearing, toxin free natural nail polish.

I am incredibly clumsy and I managed to smudge my nails before I even got to my car.  Sadly, there is no picture of my pretty nails.

Blair the shade

Blair is a beautiful burgundy shade with a subtle shimmer.  Zoya describe the shade as “a blackened red wine with a satiny smooth metallic shimmer. This cool-toned, vampy shade has a undeniably mesmerizing depth!”

I’ve had my eye on this shade for a long while and I wasn’t disappointed. I shall invest in this polish in the near future.


I would recommend this polish and when I buy it I won’t have to worry about my clumsiness as i’ll be able to repaint my nails as needed.  I have bought Zoya polishes before and think they are great quality.

Valentine Poetry Collection

Last year, on Wattpad I set myself a challenge. For the first 14 days in February, I posted one ‘romantic’ themed poem everyday.

I already hIce Cream Partyad a number of draft poems on Opuss but that didn’t make the challenge any easier.  First, I had to identify which poem to post.  Next, I had to edit them (they weren’t great).  Then, I had to remember to post one every day.


Poetry is not one of my strong points.  It’s always hard putting my writing out there for others to read and judge but with poetry it’s harder.  It’s raw, personal and makes me feel vulnerable.

Somehow we are already into the second week of February without me noticing, so, I won’t be doing my challenge this year. I’m a bit disappointed as I find it healthy to challenge myself and go outside my comfort zone.  It helps me develop as a writer to do something new, something difficult.

I will still add one more to the collection for Valentines day 2018.  Now I’ve promised, I’ll have to do it!  Please click here to view the collection from last year (and check up on me and see if I kept my word).




REVIEW: The end of the F***ing World

How it is described?

I watched on Netflik and it was rated mature and described:  “A budding teen psychopath and a rebel hungry for adventure embark on a star-crossed road trip in this darkly comic series based on a graphic novel.”

Here’s the trailer:

What did I think?

To be honest, I almost switched it off in the first few seconds. It opens with the male lead killing animals (he’s a budding psychopath – see description).  You know when something is really awful and you want to look but you can’t… that happened.  I ended up watching the whole series and loved it.

The two characters are brilliantly created.  They are so complex and messed up, it makes them likeable – I never thought I’d say that about a ‘buddying psychopath’.  Their background stories reveal what drives them and how they became who they are. The writer of the series did a brilliant job.

As the pair rebel against their parents and go on the run, they find themselves in some crazy situations and breaking some serious laws. The Police are after them and…  I won’t  spoil the ending.

I ended up binge watching the series because every episode ended on a cliff hanger and by the end I really cared for the pair and wanted them to be alright.

Do I recommend?

Yes, but be warned there are some shocking, disturbing and dark elements to the series – it got its mature rating for a reason.

Who wrote it?

Charles S. Forsman  (as Chuck Forsman) wrote the Graphic Novel that the series is based on. Then, Jonathan Entwistle  wrote the screenplay and directed the series.

Uk Literary Festival tour dates

I wanted to do this post at the start of the year but January flew by.  So here is a list of the the literary (and book) festivals that have caught my eye and are coming up this year:

Winter Festivals.png


Romantic Author and Reader Events (#RARE18) 

  • Date: 24 February 2018
  • Location:  London
  • Tickets:  Fee (£40 to £70)

If you are a fan of Romance fiction this could be the event for you.  You can check the hundreds of authors attending to see if one of your favourites are going.  Then you can meet them and take your books with you for them to sign.  There will be book sellers to.

They have events all over the world so if you miss this one, check out some of the other dates/locations.

London School of Economics Literary Festival

  • Date: 20 February 2018 to 25 February 2018
  • Location:  London
  • Tickets:  No – Free

Run with the Time Literary supplement, this event has a number of activities such as talks, discussions, workshops for writers through to activities for kids.

If you miss the event or can’t attend, they also offer free videos and podcasts from the event.

Spring Festivals


The Aldeburgh Literary Festival

  • Date: 1 March 2018 to 4 March 2018
  • Location:  Aldeburgh
  • Tickets:  Fee:  Various

This festival is made up of events and you buy tickets to participate in events.  Events vary between workshops, speakers and screenings.

If you miss the event, this seaside town is still worth a visit. They have one of the most beautiful traditional bookshops, a lovely beach and chip shops.

DIVA Literary Festival and Awards

  • Date:  15 March 2018 to 17 March 2018
  • Location: Birmingham
  • Tickets:  Register interest

This event promises to deliver a platform for underrepresented women writers such a lesbians.  This is sure to be a positive event that is making a difference to supporting diversity and inclusion.  Supported by DIVA magazine and The Guardian.

Write by the beach 2018

  • Date: 17 March 2018
  • Location:  Brighton
  • Tickets:  Fee (£139)

This event covers talks and workshops and you can book a one-to-one with an agent to pitch your novel.

If you miss the event, you can always attend Brighton’s Beach Hut Academy’s creative writing courses or mentoring provided by experts in the industry.

Eroticon 2018

  • Date: 17 March 2018 to 18 March 2018
  • Location:  London
  • Tickets:  Fee (£60 to £200)

If Erotica is your thing, then there is a convention just for you.  This event is in its 7th year and often sells out.  It has schedule of speakers and events and is a structured event.

This year has a talk on how to blog about sex for the shy writer – aghhh the world of an erotic writer.  One day I may be brave enough to write and share erotic fiction but for now the thought still makes my cheeks turn read (no, not like that!).  I would probably benefit from the ‘confidence’ talk.

Oxford Literary Festival (FT Weekend)

  • Date: 17 March 2018 to 25 March 2018
  • Location:  Oxford
  • Tickets:  Various

You buy tickets for the events you want to attend.  There are a lot of authors attending and giving talks and there are events for children too.  The event is not at one location but across the city so make sure you are able to get from one location to another if you booking multiple events.  Filter the events by the category you are interested in, i.e. Workshops, etc.


The London Book Fair 

  • Date: 10 April 2018 to 12 April 2018
  • Location: London
  • Tickets:  Fee (£45 to £100 + VAT)

This event is geared towards those involved in publishing but and has various talks on keeping those in the industry up-to-date with financial, legal and trending themes in the publishing world.  There are plenty of exhibits covering pretty much every type of genre you can think of.


The Bath Festival

  • Date: 11 May 2018 to 27 May 2018
  • Location: Bath
  • Tickets:  Fee (Various)

It is their 70th year running!  This 17 day event will bring the streets of Bath alive with music and literature.  Check the ‘What’s On’ page on the website to find events that take your interest.  Each event requires a ticket and the price differs.

Everyone I know who has been to Bath has always returned gushing about how amazing it is.  They are also home to one of the most well known and prestigious writing competitions (Bath Novel Award).

Summer festivals


Felixstowe Book Festival

  • Date: 27 June 2018 to 1 July 2018
  • Location: Felixstowe
  • Tickets:  TBC

At the time of writing, the tickets are not yet online.  But, from previous years there have been free events as well as events you can pay for a ticket.  The paid for events have not been expensive (under £10).  Events range from exhibitions, speakers, workshops and children’s activities.  Events are split between the library and the Orwell Hotel.

I’ve been a few times to this festival.  There have been some amazing speakers and engaging workshops.


UEA Festival of Literature (FLY)

  • Date: 9 July 2018 to 13 July 2018
  • Location: Norwich
  • Tickets:  Free*/Fee £3.50

This is event is for young people only (18 and under – hence the student price).   I had to include it because if I was young, I would go.  This event has a number of speakers, workshops and activities and as you would expect a focus on YA and children’s fiction.

My dream is to one day be invited to be a speaker but if I ever want that to happen I need to stop dreaming and get writing.

Young Adult Literary Convention (YALC)

  • Date: 27 July 2018 to 29 July 2018
  • Location: London
  • Tickets:  Fee (£19 to £55)

This  event is in addition to the London Film and Comic Convention.  The YALC have exhibit stands where you can speak to authors, agents and publisher and buy books.  They have agent one-to-ones, workshops and speakers at the convention and lots of space to sit down and read.  The focus her is on YA Literature.

The tickets include access downstairs to the London Film and Comic Convention.  If you are a fan of Marvel, DC, Anime or anything like that you can pop downstairs to see their exhibits and stalls too.


Cheltenham Literature Festival

  • Date:  TBC: 5 August 2018 to 14 August 2018 (Last year was 6 October 2017 to 15 October 2017)
  • Location: Cheltenham
  • Tickets:  TBC (Advanced booking for members)

The information for the site is currently about last years event which was aimed at families and young adult.  I recognised a lot of the names and books in attendance and the event is supported by The Times and The Sunday Times.  I expect it will be very promising again this year.

Edinborough International Book Festival 

  • Date:  11 August 2018 to 27 August 2018
  • Location: Edinborough
  • Tickets:  TBC

At the time of writing, ticket prices weren’t available.  This is a really big event with a lot of things going on simultaneously and something for every taste.  I have never been but would love to go one day.

Autumn Festivals


Children’s Bath Literature Festival

  • Date:  TBC (last year it was 29 Sept to 8 Oct)
  • Location: Bath
  • Tickets:  TBC

At the time of writing this years date and prices were yet to be confirmed. I included it because last years line up was full of house hold names (like Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson, Miranda Hart, etc).  I’m sure this year will be just as promising – this is one to watch!

Many more

There are loads more great festivals around the country and I have only highlighted a small sample.

Please let me know if you are or have been to any of these or have any to recommend.

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Review: What’s in my Pip Box – January

It’s been a busy couple of days but I’ll leave that for another post.  Due to my schedule, I did struggle to have time this week to film my Pip Box unboxing and take photos of the content.

What was in the box?

Draft design idea.png

As usual, Pip did not disappoint.  They had a good range of different products and most by brands I have not tried before.  Here is what I got:

This is  powder face mask that you mix with water to use.  The size in the box is a small sample size.  I’ve tried it before in Balm Balm’s Starter Kit (£15.50).  This was the first organic skincare brand I ever tried because I loved how affordable and effective it is and it initiated my love for organic products.

I’ve always wanted to try their Frankincense and Tea Tree range.  They also have a mother & baby range.

This is  a new brand for me.  I love the sliding tin with the lip balm and it smells delicious – vanilla is one of my favourite smells.  Their site offers free deliver on all UK Orders and they have a lot of other very desirable products that now have me tempted.

This body wash smells lush but on top of that it scores all the goodness points for being organic, vegan, cruelty free and doesn’t contain any of the bad stuff.  It’s sustainable and 100% biodegradable.  Their products uses Ayurvedic ingredients suitable for treating a range of sensitive skin conditions like Eczema and Psoriasis.

  • Medusa Make-up, Witch Lash Mascara:  RRP £25.49 (converted from US Dollars $36)

The mascara has a simple brush that is easy to use.  I’ve had no issues with this smuging or flaking  – it stays on all day.  This is a vegan cruelty free brand that have a vast range of beauty products.  I addition, the brand do their own subscription box where for about $15 you can recieve three to five full size products.  This is a great way to expand your make-up collection if you are venturing into Vegan or Cruelty Free products.  They have some beautiful metallic shades.

  • Optiat, The Hungover Coffee Scrub (Potent Peppermint):  RRP £9.99

The scrub is dark brown (almost black) in colour which surprised me – I guess its the coffee.  The minty scent was refreshing.  Sadly, this one is not for me…  I have a friend that loves body scrubs that I am going to give this him.  Scrubs just aren’t my thing.

The brand name stands for “One Persons Trash Is Another’s Treasure” and was inspired by the coffee waste filling landfills and wanting to find a solution – a natural beauty product.  If you want an environmentally friendly brand then this is a good one for you to consider.

Pip Box Jan contents.png

What is The Pip Box?

Pip is a cruelty free beauty subscription box.  The boxes contain a range of products from makeup, skincare and body care that are all not tested on animals.  In addition, they donate 50p from every box sold to an Animal Friendly Charity.

It’s a great way to discover new brands and new products in an affordable way.  The contents is always worth more than the subscription an contains a varied assortment.

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