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5 Items to Help You Survive Winter

I’m sitting in the library right now and I’m freezing. Unfortunately the air-conditioning isn’t even on. Yes, winter is coming and it can even be felt in Durban (which is normally pretty hot). Here are a few things you’d need to help you get through winter:

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1) Hot-water bottle- Heating a hot water bottle is a quick and easy way to get warm. For kids, you can get one of those stuffed toys with the hot-water bottle or sandbags inside. It’s such a treat to be warm and toasty in your bed while the rain falls outside.

2) Winter clothes- I strongly believe that you should always go out with layers of clothing especially when it’s winter. This allows you to be warm when you’re cold and you can simply shed a few items when you’re feeling hot.

3) Socks- my dad once told me that “you can’t be warm unless your feet are warm”. I don’t know what the science behind that is but it’s true.

4) Pack an umbrella- an umbrella is nice to have unless you live in one of those areas with a really strong wind.

5) Cold and flu medication- Pretty much everyone I know and their grandmother has already gotten sick from the cold. Stock up on cold and flu medication- especially med-lemon to help protect against cold and flu.

What are your tips for surviving winter?

10 Tips for The Instagram Newbie

When I first got an android device, Instagram was the first app I installed. This was about two years ago. I’ve only just started figuring out how to use Instagram and use it well. If you’re a newbie to Instagram, here are my tips:

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1) Always add hashtags: Hashtags increase the visibility of your posts. Don’t know what hashtags to use? I always use “Instaworthy” (if a pic isn’t Instaworthy why would it be on Instagram) and other variations with “Insta” such as “Instatravel” or “Instapets”.

2) Interact with others: Like all social networks, Instagram is a place to be social. I’ve met so many great people through Instagram.

3) Return likes and comments: if someone likes or comments on your pictures, it’s always a good idea to return the favour.

4) Try to take as many shots as possible in the daylight: I don’t know if I’m the only one who didn’t know this but natural light is the best for pictures. Take out as many pics as you can during the day.

5) Photo-editing apps are made for Instagram: okay no they’re not but they make your photos look so much better. My favourite apps are Photo Editor and YouCam.

6) People are less likely to follow you if your profile is on private: With private profiles there’s always the risk you might be rejected and who wants that?

7) If your profile isn’t on private, ensure that there’s nothing that would give a future employer a bad image of you: you don’t want or need your employer seeing your Friday night out on the town.

8) Don’t overload people’s feed: Don’t post so often that your photos are the only ones that appear on your followers’ feed. That’s like Instaspam (which, if it’s not a thing, should totally be one).

9) Post regularly- Don’t post once a month either. Post on a regular basis so your followers know that you’re still around. If your last photo is from ages ago, chances are people are going to unfollow you thinking that you’ve abandoned ship.

10) Find your community- I think this is the most important thing. There is someone out there Instagramming the same shots that you are. This may be someone who Instagrams their German Shepherd (if you’re this person, kindly leave your Instagram link in the comments thanks) or pictures of beautiful sunsets. Find the people who Instagram the same things you do and connect with them. I love seeing pictures of German Shepherd puppies and pretty bookstagrams when I log in to Instagram.

What are your tips for Instagram? What do you post on your account? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Four Lessons I’ve Learnt Since Having My Novel Rejected (Thrice!!!)

I promised myself as a kid that I would publish a book before I turned 21. I’m now just over a month away from 21 but I don’t even have a synopsis or outline written. This reminded me that I’ve been rejected thrice by publishers. The first two times were by a local publisher who didn’t publish teen fantasy. The third time was a digital publisher who didn’t really like the story. However those three rejections taught me ALOT:

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1) Not everyone is going to like you or your work- This was such an important lesson for me. The story I submitted the third time was a story incredibly close to my heart. It was described as not being “compelling enough”. Now while that may be true, I liked that story. That story was my baby and nothing would change that.

2) Always give in your best work- Admittedly, I never did much editing on those stories. I’ve never gotten the importance of editing until three rejections in because now I know that yes I can make my characters and story more compelling. (Just not while college is still on). Whatever it is that you do make sure that you know that you’re giving your 101%.

3) All you need is one yes so keep trying- Whether it’s a job or your driving license, lots of things in life simply require a yes from one person. You may get rejected once or a hundred times but it is the one yes that will change your life.

4) Never let failure get you down- I was fourteen when I got my first rejection letter. Looking back I wonder why I was so stupid to send in my manuscript but I’m also pretty impressed at how brave I was. Yes, I know now it was not my best work but maybe it was my best work at the time? After being rejected for my first novel, I went on to intern at my favourite magazine just over two months later before having an article published in that magazine. Yay me! Never ever let rejection get you down because you have no idea what life may hold in store for you.

What lessons did you learn from being rejected? I’d love to know below.

Random Book-ish Firsts

I’m feeling kinda book-stalgic (see what I did there?) so I thought I’d share some of my first bookish moments.

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1) First trip to the library: My first library trip was when my family and I lived in the city (which- I’m sure I don’t need to say- was pretty dangerous). My mother and I would make regular trips and since I was only three years old, she would read books to me. I don’t think I remember ever borrowing the books to bring them home though I may be wrong.

2) First book without pictures: I don’t remember the title but it was a Mary-Kate and Ashley book. I was obsessed with them.

3) First adult novel: I was about eight years old. In my defense it was a romance book about adults and there was nothing that happened. (It was a really old novel so I’m assuming that’s the reason why. The characters never even kissed- and they were married).

4) First book I bought with my own money: Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer. I saved for this book for ages. I literally handed coins to my father and asked him to buy me the book (it was R135). This purchase led to me buying the entire series- which I snuck home since my parents didn’t want me to buy the books in the first place- and it also led to my habit of buying books and sneaking them into my room without telling my parents. Thankfully my parents accepted my book addiction soon after that.

5) First eBook: The Vampire Diaries by L.J.Smith. Okay so when eBooks first came out, a very nice reader of my fanfiction emailed me pdf copies of The Vampire Diaries books. Of course NOW I know you’re not supposed to email ebooks but I had no idea at that time. I really enjoyed the series though and ended up buying all the books (up till Midnight which I paid well over R100 but still haven’t read because it physically pains me now to read that series).

6) First book ordered online: A few years after I first discovered Readers Warehouse, I found out that they delivered! This made me so happy because their only stores were in Joburg and Cape Town. I immediately ordered Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas and the first three Demon Trappers books by Jana Oliver.

7) First book I cried over: The Divine One by Danielle R.Mani had me sobbing like a baby. What are your bookish firsts? Feel free to share them below.

(This blog post contains an affiliate link which means I earn a small commission each time you purchase something from the link).

Waiting on Wednesday: With Malice by Eileen Cook

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Many, many moons ago I read and reviewed With Malice by Eileen Cook. I loved every single second of it. Sadly the book isn’t out yet. Even though I’ve read I really can’t wait for it to release and I’m so excited to see what other people will think of it.

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RELEASE DATE: JUNE 7th 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads.com: Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

Why You Should Start a Blog in College

Okay, I know I might be a bit biased but I really believe that starting a blog is ALWAYS a good idea. Starting a blog in college is like the best idea. Here’s why:

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1) You have a record of your college experience- College is not something that is forever (honestly I wouldn’t want it to be either). A blog is a great way to keep track of your college experience. It’s been two years but I still like to read and reread the horror of my first year. I like looking back and marvelling at how things have changed.

2) You gain writing experience- You’re probably wondering why do you need writing experience. Well if you’re a student of humanities chances are that you’re going to be writing essays. Knowing how to write well is a great advantage to have in college. There have been so many occasions when I had no idea what I was saying in an essay but I managed to scrape together a pass.

3) You gain friends- blogging is a great way to make friends. You find people who are going through the same things as you. Being a college blogger allows you to meet other stressed college students who you can share your woes with.

4) You get a portfolio of writing pieces- if you’re interested in a job that involves writing, starting a blog is a good place to begin. You can gain writing clips simply by writing on your blogs. Some paying jobs actually look for blogging experience.

Do you have a college blog? What’s your favourite blog to read? I’d love to know!

Lessons Learnt from Disney Movies

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1) Just keep swimming

2) You don’t need a man to save you

3) Look beyond outward appearance

4) Don’t eat anything from strangers (how did Snow White not know this???)

5) Never sign contracts without reading (and very carefully thinking) it over. Especially if it’s a contract from an octopus-like person

6) Never trust a guy who proposes too soon. Especially if too soon happens to be one day.

7) If you don’t invite people to your party they may get upset and curse your child. Always invite people even if you don’t like them (maybe just give them the wrong date/address?)

8) Speaking of curses, never make deals with someone who can spin straw into gold (who does that??? That’s dodgy on it’s own)

9) Keep Moving Forward

What lessons have you learnt from Disney movies?

Things No One Tells You About Owning a Car

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I can think of no period of time in my life when I didn’t want a car. Now that I have one however, there’s a million responsibilities that comes with it.

1) Petrol- this doesn’t bother me that much since my mother pays for the petrol and we don’t use it that often but petrol costs an arm and a leg. I shudder to think of my petrol expenses once I start working and driving myself to work.

2) They get dirty really quickly- at most I use my car maybe twice a week. Whether I use it less or more, it still requires washing EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKEND. This sucks since a) I have no time and b) We’re currently experiencing a drought.

3) They’re costly- I always thought that one day I would save to buy a car and that would be it. After buying a car, you need new numberplates, you need a license disc (that needs to be renewed) and cars need to go for servicing. According to my uncle George (the man who was kind enough to finance the car), servicing should be done every year no matter how often or how little you use the car.

4) You have to be really careful with a car- Okay, so you’re probably thinking that this one is obvious but I miss not having to be overly cautious as a driver because the car isn’t mine.

5) Driving is tiring- Driving is fun when you don’t HAVE to do it. It’s very adult and who doesn’t love playing adult? (Um, adults?) Driving is less fun and more effort when you’re driving for errands instead of to gain driving experience.

What did you expect about having a car? How have those expectations changed?

Writing Wednesday: Running Away

Ella

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I come from a long line of women who abandoned their families and responsibilities and ran away. So it should surprise no one that I did the same. I was simply doing what my blood made me do. It was genes that propelled me out of town.
Unlike the rest of the females though, I was running away to escape family. Sort-of. The person I was escaping was my mother’s abusive husband.
“We’re here, miss,” the taxi-driver announced to me.
And sure enough there it was, the exit of Delfino.
“Thank you.”
I got out of the taxi and waited for the man to unload my bag.
“Is someone coming to pick you up?”
“He’ll be here in a second.”
“Do you need me to wait with you?”
“No, thank you. Forget we ever met. You drove around all evening but never got any passengers. Understood?”
The man’s eyes glazed off as a result of my mind control.
“Yes, miss.”
“You may leave.”
As soon as he disappeared from sight, I crossed over the line dividing Delfino from the ordinary world.
I was free at last.
My fiancé, Sinjin waited for me on the other side.
“Are you sure about this?” he asked.
“Never been surer about anything in my life.”
It was a lie. I was terrified. And angry. I wanted a home. I wanted love. I wanted family. I certainly didn’t want to run away to get it. Which eighteen-year-old runs away from home? Surely by that age people outgrow running away?
“Well then, here we go.”
We got into the car and drove away from everyone and everything I had.

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