'Don't think.  It complicates things.
Just feel, and if it feels like home,
then follow it's path.'
-r.m. drake

Guest Post by Author Ollie Quain


A little while ago I reviewed the book above, you can read my review HERE. I really loved the book, it was fun and funny and all about fashion which is just a dream for me.  The book also had a really great story and heart to it as well and if you've not had a read of it, I would really highly recommend it.

You know me, I love a 'Behind the Scenes' look at things, I'm still the only person keeping the DVD industry afloat with my need to view the behind the scenes features on every romcom known to man, so when the author of 'She Just Can't Help Herself' Ollie Quain offered to let us in on what it's like writing a book about fashion I jumped at the chance.

I honestly think this is my favourite 'guest' piece that I have ever featured on my blog.  After reading this article from Ollie I sort of wish she could be the official columnist for Is This Real Life, I feel she is the 'Fashion Fairy Godmother' we have all been missing in our lives.  I really love what Ollie wrote and laughed out loud at so many parts, the trilby comment got me the most, so true guys, so true! 

I really hope you enjoy the piece and remember to check out Ollie's book if you haven't already....

By Ollie Quain

 A long time ago, I wrote almost an entire novel set on a fashion magazine. It was about an awkward intern who gets bullied by her high maintenance editor. Just as I was thinking how marvellously it was coming along, The Devil Wears Prada was released; the best title ev-aaaaah in women's fiction with a similar basic plot. It was an instant hit. So I dumped my uncompleted book to the file marked KILL ME NOW... I'VE WRITTEN 123,000 WORDS. I stumbled across it last year. There it was; Zip It!. (This was the actual working title. CRINGE!) I thanked God/the ghost of Gianni Versace, I hadn't pitched it to anyone. It was not marvellous. It was the literary equivalent of a trilby hat ie.night or day in any season always looks like you're trying too hard. However, reading it again taught me some basic rules for my current fashion based novel, She Just Can't Help Herself...

Be edgy but don't go over the precipice.
Assuming your novel is aimed at a commercial audience make sure the majority of fashionistas or labels you name-check are not too niche, otherwise you will jar the flow. As a reader, pausing to Google once a chapter is not irritating. Asking Siri something every paragraph, is. And besides...

...it's not about you.
Over littering the text with your knowledge will make your voice louder than the narrative voice. Every word you write has to be on the page for a reason ie. to accentuate character or establish location... which in turn develops plot. In my first attempt, you can hear me trying/failing to convince the reader how jolly cool I am. Ego has no place in novel writing. If you want to write purely to show off, then start a blog...haha. JUST KIDDING, EMMA!

Remove one accessory before leaving the house.
It's never a good idea to throw erry-thang at a “look”. (When I first moved to Ibiza it was often a chunky boho-esque bangle; think Sienna Miller - The Jude Years, that got flung.) Apply this theory to your writing. Know when to stop. Yes, your novel involves fashion but don't batter the reader with constant descriptions of outfits. Oh, and remember that (bar Stella McCartney) a fashionista rarely wears one designer from head to toe, unless they are sitting on the FROW at the label's show.

Aim for a macro audience but do not fudge the micro facts.
SJCHH is written as if it were “of today” which admittedly is easier than writing about a specific period in fashion. Always research as if your reader is better informed on your subject than you are. a.) Because it is a matter of respect. And b.) Because if the details are not in sync, someone who is better informed will pounce upon each style reference and expose you on insert-mega-important-review-portal-here as a fraud or worse, lazy. Ultimately, there is...

...no beauty without pain.
When researching, always check and double check the minor details, then after the copy editor has checked – you should triple check. EACH WORD. AGAIN. If this sounds like a lot of hard, painful graft, it is. But remember you are creating  haute couture, sweedie... not prêt-à-porter.

Avoid the obvious.
In Zip It! (DOUBLE CRINGE!) my heroine was obsessed with Manolo Blahnik heels. I mean, per-lease. Call the originality police! Today's equivalent would probably be Louboutin pumps. You know the ones with a hint of platform (in any colour, but especially beige.) There are a plethora of other designer shoes out there all of which could indicate your lead character has an interest in fashion. And if I was being snarky-to-the-max, I would question whether any edgy fashionista wears that style of Loub, anyway? Actually, I've just thought...

Ban Bradshaw!
...avoid giving your heroine an obsession with shoe wear period or other characteristics which Carrie had in Sex And The City (the series OR the movies). Any reference to her should be laced with irony. Sorry, but she is SO done.

Denim is a divider.
Every season, designers attempt to re-invent the denim jean; kick flare, skinny, straight, ankle grazer, high waist, bumster, hipster, boyfriend, distressed, stonewash or - *shudder* - bootcut. (Thank Chriiiiiiiiiist, there was no Insta in 2007 to immortalise the image of me wearing that pair with those neon yellow Cuban heels.) But I've never met a girl who has all of the above in her closet. The majority of women have a clear (and sometimes very damning) opinion of what constitutes a good or bad jean and as such could “turn” on a character simply because of the denim they are clad in.

Keep it real.
The style industry has a reputation for being full of clichéd “characters” but if anyone (including your supporting cast) comes across as one dimensional in your novel, it will kill it. Enter stage left The Anorexic Model, The Camp Catwalk Coach, The Gushy PR Exec, The Sleazy Photographer, The Sullen Stylist... from my first attempt. Of course, these people do exist. (I once met a stylist who never smiled in the workplace because, I quote, “everyone needs to have a thing in fashion, this is mine”). But they all have other layers. Think of each one like a shallot. (Onions are so new millennium.)  

Fashion isn't everything.
GASP! Well, it is in life, clearly... but when it comes to your novel, the story should
be more important than the setting. Imagine lifting the lives of the people you have created and the drama surrounding them, then placing it in different world; from competitive fly fishing to an emergency ward; it should still work. Or rather, “werrrrrrrrrrq”.  

She Just Can't Help Herself is OUT NOW and you can buy it here from Amazon 

Follow Ollie on Twitter and Instagram

How To Get Started With Essential Oils


So when I decided to go plant based (You can read my post HERE) I done a ton of research about that lifestyle and how it could help my health and wellbeing, through all that research I was introduced to so many other natural ways of living too.  I found out so much about so many other things that might be affecting my health negatively like toxic makeup and beauty products, to medicines that might actually be doing more harm than good to my body.

I really did start out just wanting to find out as much as I could about how to heal myself and my body with food but so many other things kept popping up again and again and as much as I really just wanted to concentrate my journey on learning how to change to a plant based diet I felt that I had heard too many things along the way that I couldn't ignore what might be affecting other aspects of my life too, so I thought heck if your going as natural as possible with your food why not go the whole way and try and make the rest of your life as natural too.

So that's the plan, the very, very slow moving but still a plan, plan  My aim is to try and make all the things that I put on my body, makeup, skincare etc as natural as possible but that is a long way away.  I am bit by bit replacing certain products I own with more natural versions when they run out but I have a ton of products that I love and I'm not willing to give them up until I find an equally as good alternative so that's where I'm at just now.  My current aim is to make the switch to natural things that I use constantly, deodorant, skincare etc and the makeup can come after that as I don't wear it everyday. I will definitely keep you guys updated on this aspect of my more natural lifestyle and whenever I find new more natural products that I love I will share them with you but you will still definitely be seeing more non-natural makeup around here until my supplies run dry anyway haha!

Something that I have been concentrating on the most though lately is bringing in a way to use more natural remedies in my life rather than having to take as much 'normal' medicines.  Obviously if your really sick and you need antibiotics or painkillers or anything you've got to take them but I'm talking more on a basic level like having a bit of a headache, sore throat, those types of things.  Normally I would just let mines go and end up with a full blown flu and have to get some medicine from the doctor which again these things happen and can't be helped but I feel like bringing in more natural remedies in my life has really cut down the amount of 'traditional' medicines that I've had to take.

One thing that I have been really into lately is essential oils.  Essential Oils kept cropping up in my research on living a more natural life, they can be used for your health, your home, your beauty routines.  The list really is endless.

One thing I would say though if your thinking of starting to use essential oils is really, really do your research.  Oils are super powerful and if used in the wrong way can be really harmful and dangerous to you and your health so you really have to read up on what will work for you and what won't.  I am no way an expert at using them at all but I am really loving learning about them and how they work for me and I wanted to share with you how I am using them.

For me I felt the easiest way for me to be introducing essential oils into my life was diffusing them.  Its super easy and affordable and also works in exactly the way I'm comfortable using oils at the moment in my life.  My skin as you guys know is super sensitive and I just felt like I'm not at the stage where I want to use the oils directly on my skin yet (also not all oils can be used on your skin without being diluted).  Diffusing works by putting a mix of water and essential oils into your diffuser, it then blows small, light puffs of the oil into the air, as the air diffuses into the room, you gradually inhale it and it goes directly into your body and you then feel the effects.  It's super relaxing.

I really wanted to use oils for when I am low on energy, super tired, to keep me feeling calm and peaceful and especially when I'm feeling run down or a bit fluey so as I knew exactly what I wanted from my oils I went about googling which ones would help me and these are what I bought.

Cedarwood - This has always traditionally been known as a man's scent.  Its super masculine smelling which I love so much, it smells like a beautiful cologne.  This oil is known as a very calming oil to help with anxieties and stresses of everyday life.  It also has antiseptic and astringent properties.  This one is perfect for diffusing even on its own, perfect if your having a lovely relaxing bath and its so calming.

Ylang Ylang - This to me is the smell that every single beauty salon/spa smells like.  That really iconic luxury spa smell will always be Ylang Ylang to me.  This is also a very calming oil, it de-stresses you and can also help lower your blood pressure and calm you down.  It is very sweet and I personally find it best when its diffused with at least another one or two oils.  This and cedarwood together before bed will give you the best nights sleep.

Orange Oil Sweet- This is a mood-boosting oil.  This is the one I got to give me energy and a pick me up when I need it.  It can lift your mood and give you a 'wide awake' feeling.  It is also meant to be an immune system booster so it can help when your feeling like you are coming down with a cold or sore throat so to me this one is essential for coming into winter time.

Lavender - Ah this was the first oil I knew I had to get.  It's one of the most commonly used essential oils for beauty and health and I knew I just needed it in my life.  It's funny as I really have never 'loved' the smell of lavender but I actually really, really love it when its diffused with other oils I think for me it really is the Queen of oils and gives me the most amazing calming, sleepy feeling after I have diffused it.  This oil has had clinical trials done on it that proved it helps with reducing anxiety and sleep struggles.

Oils are can be expensive and some way more expensive than others and I knew I wouldn't be able to afford a ton so like I said I found out which ones would help with what I wanted them for and which ones I could use together to make special blends in the diffuser which is what I do with the ones above.  I can not wait to buy more I already know what I want the next ones to be and I'm excited to try out other blends.  I can't tell you how much these oils have helped me and I have just loved using them and learning all about them.

You can buy oils from loads of places but you need to make sure they are 100% pure.  Like I said I wanted to find the cheapest ones I could afford whilst still getting amazing quality and after a lot of googling I found Buff & Butter, I had never heard of them before but the oils are beautiful and they sell such an array of them at amazing prices that I will definitely be using them again.

I wanted to share all the mixtures and blends I use of my oils with you but I think this post is already pretty long so i'll keep that for another post.

I hope you've enjoyed reading all about my new found love for essential oils and I would love to hear from you if you know of any oils you think I'd like too?

You can buy the oils from HERE (I've linked the individual ones I have above) and I got my Diffuser from Andrew James for £19.99

Book Review - For The Record


For The Record* - Charlotte Huang
"Chelsea thought she knew what being a rock star was like . . . until she became one. After losing a TV talent show, she slid back into small-town anonymity. But one phone call changed everything
Now she s the lead singer of the band Melbourne, performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a bus with three gorgeous and talented guys. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And when teen heartthrob Lucas Rivers take an interest in her, Chelsea is suddenly famous, bringing Melbourne to the next level not that they re happy about that. Her feelings for Beckett, Melbourne s bassist, are making life even more complicated.
Chelsea only has the summer tour to make the band and their fans love her. If she doesn't, she ll be back in Michigan for senior year, dying a slow death. The paparazzi, the haters, the gruelling schedule . . . Chelsea believed she could handle it. But what if she can't?"

I don't know what age I was when the movie Almost Famous came out but I must have been pretty young, I remember going to my local video store (yep, it was that long ago people) and renting the movie and I remember as the credits were rolling just thinking 'wow, this is it, that's what I want life to be when I grow up'  It just felt perfect to me, the clothes, Kate Hudson's hair, the touring, the music, the carefree attitude to life.  The film is still to this day one of my forever favourites but I sort of maybe understand a little more about what the film is 'actually' about and sort of don't really think its as suited to me now as I did when I was 10 haha! 

But the film and the era that it's set in inspires so many aspects of my life still to this day especially in  style and music, so whenever I see a movie or book that has any kinda of similarity to that vibe I need them in my life which is why I couldn't wait to read For The Record after reading the blurb.

I really, really loved this book.  There were no downsides to it for me.  It is about life on the road, music, behind the scenes of a band, basically everything I love and enjoy in a story.

The story revolves around the main character Chelsea and her life as a singer.  We meet her just as her life is about to change, after losing a reality TV singing competition she gets the chance of a lifetime to join a famous band.  She jumps at the chance but having a tight-knit rock band and their fans accept a girl from a reality TV show is much harder a task than she thought.  The book Chronicles her journey of life on the road and trying to find herself in a world of fame, celebrities and super hot bassists....

I have read a lot of books based around the whole 'life on the road, fame over night' type thing but I have to say this beats them all hands down.  The author Charlotte's ability to make you feel like this book is more non-fiction that fiction is just amazing.  At times I had to remind myself that this was a made up story and not someone's memoir I was reading.  She somehow managed to make me believe 100% that life on the road would feel like that, I felt like we as readers, were let into real backstage secrets, it all felt so authentic and just really beautifully written.

I think what made this story stand out for me as well is that even though it was about the music and that 'on the road life' it also had a much deeper side to the story as well.  It brings up that ago old question of, is getting what you want ever as good as you think it will be and I think there really is something in that and Chelsea really does experience that and questions it in the book. I always love they kind of aspects to a story as I think it gives the readers a lot to think about too.

This is definitely another read for my 'Favourites of the Year' list of books, it's such a fun read that is just beyond perfect for these autumn nights.  Get yourself a big mug of Hot Chocolate, and snuggle in with this really, really heart-warming book.

You can order this from Wordery or Amazon

New YouTube Video - Autumn Inspired Lookbook

So it might have taken a little longer than I thought it would but I've finally got my 2nd YouTube video up on my channel and here it is....yah!

I really wanted to make a lookbook for Autumn/Winter.  I wanted to feature and style up some of my clothes that I thought were perfect for when you just want to feel kinda casual, still cosy but also pulled together and hopefully you will like all my picks.

I wanted a sort of retro, vintage 60's type feel in the video as I think that lends its self to the clothes too and I just wanted to video to be fun and have a super light-hearted vibe to it! I really, really hope you enjoy it!

You can have a look at my channel and subscribe HERE.  I'm hoping to have 1 new video a week up.

P.s All the Harvard clothes I wear in the video are from the H&M X Collage collection and its honestly a thing of dreams for me, those Harvard sweats are literally my favourite thing I own, I would hurry if you want some though as I think some of the sizes are already selling out! My tip - I would size up for the baseball tee as it runs small and just get your normal size of the sweats as they are roomy already!