I heard of podcasts years ago but didn't really get what they were, except for radio hosts saying that you could catch their show again on their podcast. Radio on-demand, or something.But I know some intelligent people with worldy interests who are really into podcasts, and not so much into top 40 music or pop culture (I forgive them), so it got me curious.
Now that I have a job which involves a lot of driving, I wanted to listen to something in the car other than the same ten songs on every radio station and the same news bites. So I downloaded a podcast app (Podcast Mania, if you're interested) and let it recommend a bunch of podcasts to start me off.
I'd heard a lot of buzz about Serial, but nothing much about it, so I decided this would be my introduction to the world of podcasts.
And boy, it's been a good one.
Serial is an investigation into a true crime case from the 90s in which a teenage boy, Adnan Syed, has been sentenced to jail for murdering his ex-girlfriend.
He's now 34, and still in prision right now.
But there are people who don't think he ACTUALLY did it, so the Serial host and her team are investigating.
I gotta tell you, it's fascinating, hearing real police interviews and court testimonies from the case, current conversations with friends and witnesses fifteen years later, re-enactment and discussion of events and how time lines just don't seem to match up, and conversations with Adnan himself from prison.
The narrator is trying to keep things balanced, she does fluctuate between thinking that Adnan DID murder Hae when she comes across evidence that seems rather damning, but ultimately, her gut instinct seems to be that he didn't do it.
It seems that someone else may have murdered Hae, they are still out there, and no one is looking for them. And Adnan has been in prison for 15 years for their crime.
Ultimately, I don't know how satisfying an ending the series can have - it's real life after all - and just because she THINKS he didn't do it doesn't mean he's going to be able to walk free in real life, no matter how much her listeners may want it.
But I'll definitely be tuning into to see what happens.
This is Zoe Sugg. I'd never heard of her until yesterday, but it seems that I'm in the minority here, because millions upon millions of people have.
She is a super-famous 24-year-old British Youtuber (like Poppy!) under the name Zoella, with over 6.5 million subscribers who recently released her debut young adult fiction novel, Girl Online.
It has had a truly epic first week of sales.
According to the Daily Mail, we're talking 78,000 copies have made their way into avid reader hands. In one week.
J.K Rowling and Dan Brown didn't achieve that sort of success that early, and the sales figures have E.L James's debut week beat five times over.
It's a great story. The book sounds cute and I'm stoked for her success, I'm stoked for ANYONE to achieve such success, but I was surprised that the several news articles I read about her didn't appear to be quite so enthusiastic.
No. She is accused of having utilised a ghost writer. It's quite the scandal and mainstream media seems cheesed off about it.
But I don't understand what the big deal is. Sure, it would be wonderful if she had written the book herself and hadn't just been approached because of her ready-made audience, the plot sounds like it's based on her life, after all, but how many other famous people have hired ghost writers to completely write, or at least help with writing, their novels? Do you really think Snooki wrote her best seller herself? How about the Kardashians? The second I saw their novel Dollhouse on the shelves I knew they couldn't have written it, not because I don't believe they could possibly be good at it, but because writing is time consuming and doesn't make great TV. Between parenthood, travel, photo shoots, appearances, running a clothing store chain, clothing lines, fragrances, endorsements, and starring in their countless, never ending reality shows, where would they have found the time?
Nicole Richie, Hilary Duff, Lauren Conrad and even the youngest of the Kardashian klan, Kendall and Kylie, have young adult fiction novels out - the same genre as Sugg's - with the help of a ghost writer, but I don't remember there being quite as much moral outrage toward them as I have seen Zoe Sugg receive through traditional media this week.
Maybe it's because of the book's immediate smash hit success that people are feeling a little indignant that it's due more to her name on the cover than her own words on the page.
But don't forget, it's not like James Patterson writes his own books anymore - it's just his name on the cover. Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High were written by a team of ghost writers, too. Did it make them any less enjoyable?
And film studios are doing the same exact thing, capitalising on prior successes by picking up best-selling fiction franchises and turning them into blockbuster movies because the fans are already there. It's easy money. Who DOESN'T want easy money?
It can be hard for writers without a known name to break into the industry on their own, especially when there are celebrities monopolising the attention, but it's all part of the business. And they weren't always celebrities. Zoella started with a big fat goose egg of subscribers on day one and has built her way to success just like we're all trying to do.
As I said above, I think Girl Online looks cute and I look forward to reading it, regardless of who wrote it.
I'd love to know your own thoughts.
I come from a family of insane dog lovers, so when my sister came across this online she had to share it with all of us.
If you are one of us, start your weekend off right, like I did, and enjoy some spectacular dog fetch fails. Enjoy.
You know Buzzfeed, right? I feel like most people are going to be "yeah, duh," but I am ready to be surprised at the number of people who are like, "Buzz-whaaaat?"
I love Buzzfeed. News mixed with lists full of funny gifs.
But the things I like the best lately are their videos. I've been caught a couple of times on Youtube where I finish watching one and then the next one starts and that sounds interesting and it's only 2 minutes so I'll just watch that and then the next one starts and oh no this one looks interesting or funny too, and then the next one starts...
They do videos on anything and everything, from social situations to life hacks to science to comparing a whole plethora of situations, like things that Taylor Swift does that would be weird if you did them.
They're quick little vids generally no more than 5 mins, and the crew in front of the camera are normal and fun. Okay, they're also a little bit kooky. Like we all are!
The thing I think I like the best about the Buzzfeed vids is that they celebrate the weird and awkward in all of us.
They're onto you, you weird and awesome devil, you.
Here's a couple to get you started.
I can't believe it's been nearly six months since I last blogged. I was still overseas in the middle of a whirlwind adventure.
And what an adventure it was.
I'm home now, back in Australia and settled down with some new projects on the go (writing ones but not necessarily book writing ones) and a burning desire to get a cat. If you're my friend on Facebook I'm sure you could have figured that out by yourself.
I'm going to be more active on the blog now. I'm not necessarily going to be talking about me so much, but about things I've come across that I think are cool or funny, or touching or sad, or just important and need more people to know about them.
There's probably going to be a lot of opinions about TV and movies and funny animal videos and a bit of a celebrity gossip, interspersed with news. Are you all down with that?
I think the world and the people in it are fascinating creatures (but I'll be honest, I am a pop culture addict so I can't help it if that's a big focus) and I want to share what I've found all with you.
If you find something that is awesome/funny/touching/important, then please share it with me!
I'm totes interested. For reals.
So, I have to talk about The Walking Dead.
This post is going to be about the Season 5 finale (mid-season finale? finale-finale? IDK) so if you're a Walking Dead fan and you haven't seen it yet, then this is not the post for you.
Do not read this post. Not until you've seen it and then you have my permission. It's not going to be super spoilery, but it is a little.
So my friend Dean and I, when we were house mates before I traveled the world, we used to watch Walking Dead together. Every week. Without fail.
Now that I'm back and living half an hour away, we have grand plans of watching it together, but are both exhausted after work and make excuses not to have to leave our own couches. We didn't have to when we lived together, because it was the same one.
So since we didn't watch the finale together and he saw it before me, without his asking nor wanting me to, I live texted my reactions so it would feel like he was there. He may have been (was) still at work at the time. I'm sorry. (I'm really not.)
First reaction: Wow. Rick sure has changed from the beginning. Shoots a guy to shut him up. No remorse. He's turned into the bad guy, huh.
The priest is a tool. "Don't leave me out here!" You wouldn't have been out there if you hadn't have snuck out in the first place.
Michonne is such a bad ass with her katana.
What happened to zombies stretching to the horizon? What a wasted opportunity for awesome.
Finally Maggie cares that her sister is alive (or just basically thinks about her sister)
Whoa. Kind shocked Beth just pushed that guy into the zombie pit.
Did I miss Carol waking up and being happy to see Beth? Did that happen last week? Not at all?
:( The end.
Omg ffs Morgan's still on his little stroll.
Morgan has just been walking in the woods for the entire season, huh. There you have it. What were YOUR thoughts about the episode? Does this about sum it up?
Oh, and Dean has not texted me back.
If you've never watched The Walking Dead... well watch this. It's nothing like it but it sure is funny.
I can't believe I have been away for over two months now. I've been to and done so many things in that time.
I've been to Tokyo, Japan; London, Oxford & the Cotswolds, Blackpool, Stratford-upon-Avon and the Lenches, the Peak District, Derbyshire Dales, Brighton, York, Nottinghamshire and Sherwood Forest in Great Britain; I've been to Ireland and Wales, been to Venice, Italy; Athens, Santorini and Mykonos, Greece; Istanbul, Turkey; Dubrovnik, Croatia, I was a true grown up and spent my 30th birthday at Disneyland Paris; France and I'm now settled down in Edinburgh, Scotland, in a house with a writer bud from Australia who has moved here permanently (I certainly don't blame her!). Little do our neighbours know, our little second floor flat has become NovelHQ.
Outside, they must think it just a flat with squeaky floorboards and the tiniest kitchen known to man. They don't know of the adventures being had here. Our living room walls speak of fantastic worlds, our books and their plots.
I don't know where I'm going next, when our lease ends mid-July. But I'm excited to find out.
I thought I could write while traveling. That was a stupid idea. It's been exhausting, but exhilarating. But I have been inspired by all the places I've been. It's interesting when you travel, how sometimes places you've been can start to blend into one.
And that's a really good thing for writing, I'm finding. The world is a melting pot of different cultures and expectations, different ways of doing things throughout history and I'm swirling them all around and coming up with something of my own. It's great.
I've been reading a lot while away, churning through books on the cruise ship that took us around the Mediterranean and beyond, and I'm loving exploring these authors worlds, being inspired as I work on my own.
Now that I'm settled down for a while and I've actually UNPACKED my suitcase, progress is a bit slower on my writing than I had hoped it would be, but it's by no means slow. It had been several months since I last wrote anything, and I'm rusty. But I'm giving it time. I'm working the muscle and I'm writing every day.
Most importantly, I'm happy. I'm having a ball. There are ups and downs, but oh my goodness is it worth it.
Explore the world, lovelies. Go out there and live in it.
Sayonara, Australia! Konnichi Wa, Japan!
Tonight I am off on an adventure!
I'm heading to Japan tonight to discover all the weird and wonderful in Tokyo for my next novel, The Kiss Off 3: All Access Pass.
Yes. Poppy is going to Japan.
THEN I am having a much deserved holiday and shall be traipsing around Europe and the UK for a couple of months before settling down in Edinburgh, cracking my knuckles, and writing this book.
I have my notebooks and pens. I have my laptop. I have funny stories. I'm ready for this!
And then who knows. I have a 2-year UK visa, so watch this space!
Or watch Facebook, really. That gets updated WAY more often.
I'll say hi to the harajuku girls for you!
Hello lovely ones!
How is the weather treating you? It seems to be going crazy-cakes the world over. Personally, my house seems like it was built to retain heat. Which is a bit of a problem considering it's summer here, but then on the other side of the world I'm seeing footage and photos of the ice-pocalypse so I'm gonna nip any of my complaining in the bud right now.
Hope you're all safe and looking after each other.
But that's not what I was posting about today!
Soooo did you know that you can buy The Kiss Off AND Over It for the price of one book? Yep. The Kiss Off series bundle is only $2.99* on Amazon and Smashwords.
Just in case you didn't realise that and you haven't read EITHER of the books yet.
I have been dubbed** the Queen of Funny-Awkward so if that's your thing, then by all means, go forth and purchase.
I created a Kiss Off series Playlist on Spotify of songs that, to me, hold the tone of the books, and are potentially the sorts of things that Poppy would write, or Academy of Lies would play. I kind of love upbeat music and that's what I picture my characters playing.
Is it what you think of too, when reading?
The playlist is embedded here for your listening pleasure.
My research trip to Japan for All Access Pass: The Kiss Off 3 is coming closer very quickly (I AM VERY EXCITED.) and I have been ruminating on non-research specific things that may happen in the book. Like maybe someone will drunk dial someone else. And perhaps someone is generally too tall for Japan and hits their head on every doorway and train entrance they come across.
I think it's going to be a fun book.
Anyhoo, enjoy your weekend!
* $2.99 or whatever price Amazon has decided to charge. It's never quite what's been set.
** Dubbed the Queen of Funny-Awkward by author Amie Kaufman. It's not like i have a crown or anything. Though I wouldn't be against that.
Alas, the tour is just about over. It's been wonderful. I didn't expect to only receive positive reviews but that's what I got!
Here is the general verdict across the blogosphere of The Kiss Off series:
"Ha! I laughed my head off for the entire first half of this book. I could not wipe the smile off my face." - Misty, Goodreads Reviewer
"I loved this book. Seriously loved it. Like-read in one day-love." - Kayleigh, Goodreads Reviewer
"The Kiss Off is a DEFINITE MUST READ !!" - Akansha, Amazon Reviewer
"I definitely recommend this contemporary series," - Maji Bookshelf
"The Kiss Off is an enchanting, humorous, fast paced tale of young love," - The Book Beacon
"The Kiss Off by Sarah Billington was such a fun book," - Tales of Books and Bands
"I laughed my head off for the whole first half of The Kiss Off," - Six Mixed Reviews
"I was hooked after the first few chapters," - Reading with ABC
"The Kiss Off by Sarah Billington is such a fun and eye catching read," - The Turning Pages
"5 out of 5 stars!" - Racing to Read
"The Kiss Off made me laugh out loud and giggle like a little kid," - YaReads
"I need the next book now!" - The Turning Pages
"A great weekend-at-the-beach read," A Word's Worth
"Over it is a fun, and fast paced misadventure," - Book Briefs
"Roll on 2015! I need the next installment!!!" - I Want to Read That
You may not be surprised when I say this is what I looked like this week:
I want to thank all the bloggers for taking part, the book reviewers who applied for a copy on NetGalley and read the book and reviewed it so quickly and I want to thank YaReads Tours. I think I might have been the first full-fledged tour that Nichole hosted and you wouldn't believe what a fabulous job she did, keeping me informed, promoting the bloggers and their reviews. It was smooth sailing all the way, and if you're an author I thoroughly recommend YaReads Tours for all your blog tour hosting needs.
Thank you. Warm fuzzies and gooey love to the lot of you.
I, Sarah Billington, am an Australian writer of romantic comedies, thrillers, zombies, a TV extra, travel blogger for Expedia and animal blogger for Zookie. I also edit other peoples work sometimes, be they authors or businesses, and design their page layout and book covers.