Q&A With Melanie Blake, Author Of The Thunder Girls

Melanie Blake is a pretty big deal – when you hear the term self-made woman she embodies it. As if being one of the UK’s leading music and entertainment managers wasn’t enough, Melanie has now turned author with the much anticipated novel. The Thunder Girls is here and it’s set to be the perfect summer read.

When I was asked to partner with Midas PR I jumped at the chance and a brilliant launch party I was able to get Melanie to answer a few questions.

Q: What was the main motivation for writing this novel? 

A: The characters had been in my consciousness for as long as I can remember and in a way their voices were so powerful, I had no choice but to tell their story. I do feel like The Thunder Girls are real and I guess I’m sort of like a medium they’ve shared their story through. Often when I would write, their voices were so strong I would find myself typing away almost in a trance and even when I read it back to edit, I was so engrossed- I knew I was onto a winner.

Q: Female friendship is at the centre of the novel, why do you think this isn’t something widely seen in novels? 

A: Publishers – lots of men are in power in publishing which is why you see so many male crime writers and not so many women writing about crime. What they fail to understand is that friendships are what make or break our lives so everyone who’s ever lived can identify with my book because we’ve all had those relationships, good and bad.

Q: Who were your writing inspirations? 

The women that influenced me to write in my early career where Jackie Collins, Lynda La Plante, Martina Cole, Judith Krantz, Jilly Cooper and Helen Fielding.

Q: Your characters are working class – what’s your advice for the modern working-class women? 

A: Never accept “no” for an answer. Never expect anyone to validate you. There’s an inherent stigma against working class, which is why you see so many successful working class and regional people often change their accents once they become successful. I never wanted to be part of ‘that club’. Being different is what makes us unique, despite what anyone tells you, never change. I spent my whole life being told “no” and when I stopped asking for approval, I started getting what I wanted. No-one is in charge of your own destiny but yourself. It doesn’t matter where you’re, from if you have a dream you must follow it.

Q: Do you consider this a feminist book? 

A: 100% – although on initial reading you don’t realise it is until you get halfway through. I’m not going to spoil the story but to say that it’s clear by the way it ends that these women know their own minds and bow to no man.

Q: And finally, what is one thing you want people to take away from reading this book? 

A: I want them to feel like they’ve been on an adventure, a white-knuckle rollercoaster ride that has moved them, made them laugh, made them cry, shocked them and warmed their hearts all at the same time, there’s a lot going on in this book.

A huge thank you to Melanie, Pan Macmillan, EDPR and Midas PR for this opportunity and my copy in exchange for this interview.

The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake is out now, published by Pan Macmillan, priced £7.99 in paperback original. 

Blogging Struggles

Hellooooooo blogging friends!

Let’s be real here, trying to write a blog regularly can be damn hard work. This isn’t a post to complain with a ‘woe is me’ attitude. But, it is one that’s going to be pretty damn honest.

I’ve honestly felt so unmotivated. While there are pages of ideas for posts I’m kind of deflated. While everyone gets like this and, real talk, it can feel incredibly frustrating to be blogging for years and then see newbie bloggers getting great sponsorships and collabs. There’s no shade in that but it can really make you question yourself and your blog.

So, I thought, why not write a blog about not being able to write a blog. There we go. What an idea! I guess, part of this is me forcing myself to write and publish something no matter how I feel about it and, quite frankly, getting over myself and this writing thing. The only way I’m going to get out of this damned slump is by writing myself out of it.

I’m fully aware this has become a storytime/pep talk for myself/ word vomit situation and you know what? I’m okay with that. I’m okay proving that I’m not a perfect blogger, I’m just doing the best I can with what I’ve got.

How I’ve Evolved As A Blogger

Ah blogging, something we all love – well I’d assume so, seeing as you’re reading one! As I write this I’m struggling with blogger block, I’ve got over 100 ideas in drafts but can I finish one I’m happy with? If you’re reading this then clearly I can.

I’ve been blogging on this site for almost 6 years, originally starting it just before I went to uni because I wanted to write about what it was really like to be a student, rather than just a generic guide. Comparing my blog then to what it is now is odd. I’ve grown as a person, but so has my blog.

I don’t post every day

When I went to uni I wanted to write on my blog every single day. It had a kind of diary element too I guess. The longer I’ve been writing the more emphasis I put on quality, not quantity. Each week I try to post 1 book review and 1 other post. I don’t put any more pressure on myself than that.

Of course, if there is something in the news or something that’s caught my eye that’s time sensitive I write about it. Personally, I think my blog is better for it.

I learnt about images – and where to get free ones!

When I first started I knew I wanted to write, that was it. I had a shiny camera and I’d try and add pictures when I could or I’d just find some on Google. I didn’t know about sites like Canva where I could create my own. I had no idea about image copyright – now it’s something I do and make sure that I only use images I have permission to use.

Everything about blogging has been a learning curve and I’ve gained so many skills from working on my little corner of the internet.

My writing is better

Every year I write the equivalent of a book on here (let’s hope I can sit down and write an actual book at some point too!) over 6 years that is a lot of writing. I can see such a positive change in my writing and hopefully in another 6 years it will have improved even more.

My opinion is valid (to some people at least!)

It’s crazy that I get asked to read and review books. I’ve been sent some absolutely incredible reads, my NetGalley is fit to burst – I couldn’t have imagined that people would care about my opinion on anything, let alone books.

I definitely feel like I’ve evolved for the better and while I might have a few slumps a year, and I do, it’s a part of me now. So, I’m curious how have your blogs evolved?

Why I Haven't Planned Any Blogmas Posts

Why I Haven’t Planned ANY Blogmas Posts

It’s the 1st December and bloody hell hasn’t that gone quick! Throughout the internet, I’ve seen people starting Blogmas and Vlogmas where the very dedicated post every single day either in the run-up to Christmas or throughout the month of December. So, what about me?

I love seeing everyone’s post and last year had a great time with my own Blogmas posts, however, when I came to this year I had to think about it. Things are different to last year, mainly, because I started working freelance and running my own business all of my spare time and energy are going into that to make it a success. I’ve been doing this since August. And, honestly, I really want some time to relax in December. I need to take a break before the madness of 2019 when I’m hoping to get a few projects going.

Really, this is a form of self-care for me. When I blog I want to put things out that I’m passionate about and care about. Trying to write and schedule 25 posts just felt a little overwhelming this year and so I decided to take care of myself. That said, I’ll still have all of my regular blogs up and ready to go! There’ll even be some bonus blogs with my favourites of the year posts that I LOVE to do (they’re my absolute favourites).

Why am I writing this? Mostly because I wanted to remind other bloggers too that if you simply don’t have the time, the energy or don’t want to do Blogmas don’t feel like you have to! We all know how long blogging takes getting the ideas together, writing, editing, taking any images, making images etc. With Christmas being such a hectic time of year I don’t think we should put more pressure on ourselves.

While I will 100% be supporting and cheering on my favourite bloggers as they take part in the mammoth task and maybe next year I will get involved again, who knows? Right now, my focus is going to be recharging my batteries a little and making big plans for next year!

Are you taking part in Blogmas or Vlogmas? I’d love to know why/why not in the comments. If you are please leave your links too – I’d love to support you!

How Blogging Helped Me Get Jobs

I’ve been blogging for a long time. I started my first blog at 17, it was just for book reviews and an excuse to keep all of the books I had accumulating in my bedroom. I never dreamed at that age that blogging would help me get jobs. I don’t think I’ve ever had an interview where blogging hasn’t been bought up – in a good way!

People will look you up on the internet before a job interview, that’s just the way of the world now. How much they stalk  find out varies from person to person – which is worth keeping in mind if there’s stuff on a blog you’d rather people didn’t know in a professional sense.

 

It shows you can write

A big part of blogging is writing. No matter what you choose to write about from beauty to books and beyond, you’re writing. You’ll also develop your own style and opinions.

Almost all jobs require writing at some point. It might be emails, it could be proposals or reports. Even if you have an outside adventurous job you’ll probably need to be able to write.

It showcases so many other skills too

I’ve learnt so many skills blogging. I create graphics, I’ve learnt about SEO, marketing. I probably wouldn’t have the job I have now if I hadn’t started blogging. You can really show these off in a blog.

It shows you have a good understanding of digital

Digital is the future. People can try and deny it but it’s true. This kind of follows on from what I was saying about showcasing skills. You also understand the pace of online vs other media. Always a good thing.

It shows a little bit of you as a person!

No matter what you blog about, this shows insight into who you are. Are you into books, movies, politics? This gives a flavour and a lot of companies value getting to know the person they are going to hire. After all, you can spend more time with your colleagues than your family!

 

So, that’s my list, I’d love to know what you would add! Let me know in the comments below!

What’s Happening To My Blog?!

Hello, hello, hello

Well, I’m writing this when I should be cleaning my flat – procrastination at its finest, am I right. That’s all you need to know about me even when I’m procrastinating I’m still doing something. Anyway, I digress.

I’ve noticed both this month and last month that my stats have dropped. Part of me didn’t want me to admit this – I see so many bloggers getting amazing opportunities, growing their followers and talking about the 1000+ views they get a day. It’s easy to hide away and feel down.  And I did – I try with my blog and not seeing it go up does frustrate me. BUT there is a reason.

Earlier in the year, my blog was what I did every night, any spare moment I had was spent on the blog and it grew. Every year I eagerly watched as my stats nudged up and it made me feel like I achieved something. I paid so that I could edit my SEO better this was a huge thing for me.

I still love my blog BUT as most of you know, back in the summer I became a freelancer. That is amazing in itself (update to come soon) but it takes up a lot of my time. I am working a lot because as you know there are no guarantees as a freelancer. Work, work, work – am I right? Because of this, I’ve had to cut back a bit on the blog.

This is not, in any way, me stepping away from the blog. I might not have thousands of views a day, deals with big businesses or get trips around the world because of my blog (although, I 100% would do that) BUT it’s something I love to do. So, while I might be stepping back slightly to get this off the ground – I’m not going anywhere.

Sorry guys, I think you’re stuck with me!

Disneyland Part 1

Disneyland Paris – Part 1

It happened! I went back to Disneyland Paris for the first time since 1999. Yep. The last time I went to Disneyland I was 5 years old and things have changed a little bit! This time I went with my Mum and sister and OH MY GOD DISNEY. So, because there is so much to cover so as requested on Twitter I’ve split it into 2 posts. So get ready, here we gooooooo!

 

Day 1 

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I had a 4.00am alarm. 4am. To get a lift to the station (thanks Dad!) in London. From there, things got a little manic we got there when we were told but hardly had time to get a cup of tea before rushing off.

We then took a train to Lille, where we changed. Then, after an hours wait, we got onto another train (this time a double decker…apparently that’s a thing?) to get to Disney. The station is right next to the Park, thankfully and we’d already booked for our bags to be taken to the hotel.

By the time we’d arrived we’d been awake for a damn long time, I’d had limited caffeine and was starting to flag. So, we took a look around the shops before taking a peek at Hollywood Studios, which I’d never been to in Paris! We even went in the Slinky Dog ride but, we were absolutely exhausted so went to our hotel to finally check in.

We stayed at the Newport Bay Club which was BEAUTIFUL! I mean c’mon look at that bed. The whole hotel was sea themed, we ever had little porthole designs with the characters in them in our room. The end of day 1 was an early one, with dinner in the hotel. The food was good with options but the best part were the desserts. Tiny, perfect desserts. I went to bed with a happy tummy indeed.

 

Day 2

Our second day had a really early start but it was okay because we were off to character breakfast in the park! My Mum booked this as a treat for my sister and I. It was so worth it. We met 6 characters and while I still wish I’d seen Minnie Mouse, Donald and Goofy too we had fun! Here are some pictures of me and my sister that Mum took during the breakfast. And yes, yes I am wearing rainbow ears.

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The rest of the day was full Disneyland! We all wore matching shirts and matching ears because, you know, my Mum is adorable like that. So after you’ve just eaten breakfast what’s the first thing you do? Go on Buzz Lightyear shootout of course. I LOVE this ride. Next up I decided I’d give Hyperspace Mountain a go. Stupid me. I didn’t realise it was in the dark, nor that it went upside down. I did it but I was slightly traumatised after.

Through the day we took pictures in front of the castle (obvs), sheltered from the pouring rain before having to shade ourselves later in the day because it was boiling. We went on rides like Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan and Pinnochio – thank god for access fast passes!  Mum also treated us to so many snacks and treats…I kinda forgot how much she likes to feed us.

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I met my fave, Woody. I LOVE Toy Story and he was just wondering around and so we had to get pictures (which Mum didn’t want to be in because apparently, his head is too big?!) We also waited and watched the parade which was super fun. I haven’t watched a parade in SO LONG. And it really, really is magic and was worth the hour and a half we spent reserving our spaces.

And that’s just the first part of the trip!! Make sure to pop back tomorrow for the second half and even more Disney magic! But, before you go – who’s your favourite Disney character? Let me know in the comments below!