Photo Diary: Birthday in Barcelona

 

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First off, I hope everybody had a really lovely start to the new year, if you’ve already seen my Instagram and Snapchat spams then you’ll all know that I blooming had the best start to the year!! My family only went and took me to Spain for my birthday! Like what?!?! Absolute crazinesssssss! It was the best birthday of my life, besides the fact of how old I was turning – but let’s not dwell on that…
I can’t thank my sisters and brother-in-law enough for taking me – also for being my personal photographers and videographers – had to keep up-to-date with OOTD’s guys! This post is kind of a lengthy one but only because it’s jam-packed with pictures and very little writing so for now I’ll shut up and let you enjoy my little(ish) gallery of all the places I visited and things I did in beautiful Barcelona.

Saturday 7th January (My Birthday!)

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We stayed at the beautiful Vincci Mae Barcelona Hotel  which is situated towards the centre of the city and walking distance from a lot of attractions. The staff were so lovely, always greeted with an “HOLA” from the desk every time we were leaving or arriving and the rooms weren’t too shabby either!

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Sunday 8th January

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Barcelona Zoo

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Camp Nou (New Camp) Stadium

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So, I’ve never been much of a football fan apart from when something big his happening in the footy world like the World Cup or something, but oh my, I fell so in love with the Barcelona football team – and the stadium too! Now, I’ve always been a fan of Lionel Messi, he’s one of the few footballers I know (and that’s only because he’s the greatest footballer in the world, debatable I know but he’s the best in my eyes). Anyway, we were able to see all the many, many, many, MANY trophies and cups that the Barcelona team have won over the years, many photos of the footballers too 😉 Then there was the chance to walk out onto the sidelines of the pitch, visit the press pit and even take a gander into players’ locker room!

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ALSO, it’s not every day you get to have an Outfit of the Day photoshoot in an empty football stadium – apparently I had amused one of the tour guides by taking pictures whilst sitting on the stairs rather than using the pitch as my backdrop… he clearly did not understand the ways of an OOTD shoot.

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Monday 9th January

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Sagrada Familia

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All I can say about this building is that it is so so sooooo beautiful, I cannot even express in words or do it any justice in pictures of how beautiful. My sister (Adeeba) and I had already visited it the night before – only being able to see it from outside – but even then when we could just see it in the light of the street lamps, it  quite literally took our breaths away. You just don’t expect something so grand and gorgeous to be in the centre of all the hustle and bustle of the city. Just from looking at the pictures I remember how bad my neck hurt from having to crane it all the way up to take in all the beauty… so worth it though. Gaudi, you bloody genius.

Gothic Quarter

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Park Guell

To carry on with the Gaudi guide, we visited Park Guell. Just see for yourself how amazing it is…

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I still remember making my own little fantastic and strange building out of clay from studying Gaudi in Year 7 Art and from then on, I’ve always wanted to travel to Barcelona to see his work in real life. Also, when I was younger I was a huge fan of the Cheetah Girls – please, please tell me that people remember the Cheetah girls –  and to this day I still remember the scene they filmed in this very park in their second movie – anyone else remember? It was basically my 10/11 year old self’s dream come true, so of course I geeked out – but I was totally here for the art and culture too, not just because Raven Symone had been dancing on these stairs, okay?

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Tuesday 10th January

And this was the sad, sad day where we had to say our goodbyes to Barcelona and head home 😦

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But oh my word, it was such an amazing trip, the perfect birthday and the best start to the year. I cannot thank my family enough for spoiling me and all I keep thinking about now is…

“Where are you guys taking me next year?” 😉 😉 😉

 I .. x

*All photos taken with an Olympus PEN

VLOG | Volunteering at Calais | With Help Refugees

So, I’ve received a lot of messages via Snapchat and Instagram from a lot of lovely people that they think I should start my own YouTube channel. And I’ve always sort of ignored it because I’ve always felt like I’ve never had the confidence, and I am a crazed fan of Youtube lookbooks, hauls, and tutorials from all my favourite bloggers. So, I’ve always thought I’d never be able to rise up to that level. I always told myself that if I was to make videos I’d want to inspire people, so as soon as I found out that I was going to volunteer at a Calais refugee camp I thought, “this is my chance, I’m just gonna vlog the whole thing!” Even if the footage wasn’t going up anywhere I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t have anything to remember the trip by. So, this is my little tester video to see if it inspires me to make more!

I tried my best to get as much footage as possible, but obviously I was there to work and help and getting my camera out and talking to it in front of a bunch of strangers allowed me to gain a few funny looks, haha! Also, due to security reasons, we weren’t allowed to take pictures or film in front of the warehouse. We also had the chance to spend 2 days talking to a lot of the refugees in the camps, but again, footage of that was very limited. So, I’m afraid a lot of the video consists of my face talking to the camera, sorryyyyy! Talking to a camera lens was strange enough too, it’s something I feel will take a little getting used to – I have a whole new level of respect for those Youtube bloggers that vlog all the time and make it look like a piece of cake, because this stuff is really hard! – But hopefully this will inspire some people to get out there and make a difference in the world.

Even though I was only volunteering in Calais for a week, it was enough for me to become majorly inspired and feel a part of a massive movement! Help Refugees is an organisation run purely by volunteers, some long-term and some short-term (like me) and each and every person I met there had so much passion and determination for this cause. There were a number of people who had left their jobs and careers to volunteer full time and I know what you’re thinking, “How can they afford to do that?” But a lot of the long term volunteers lived in caravans on the warehouse site! My mum had this idea that I’d be slumming it in a sleeping bag in the middle of the jungle somewhere so she was fairly surprised too when she saw where I was staying! And I feel like this is something that a lot of people think, which may put them off going to places like this, but I went within a group of 10 lovely, lovely people and we had a fair bit of luxury as we stayed in an Air BnB – and by luxury I mean that we had showers and cookers – and we didn’t have to splash the cash with that either.

It sounds really soppy but with every person I had met there, it felt as if I’d known them a lifetime, and I won’t be able to justice to the atmosphere and feeling you get within an environment like that, so I’m going to stop writing and just let you watch the video. When you’re there it’s like you were inside a little bubble and sort of switch off from the rest of the world and the video does a little more justice to the experience, but basically you have to just go there and see it for yourselves! I’ll shut up now and just let you watch the video..Oh, and let me know what you guys thought of it, please! Just click on the image below to view it 🙂

First time vlogger, out x

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Getting Lippy | With Gerard Cosmetics and NYX

Hi Guys!

So now that my university assignments are out the way,  I have something called a life back!! However, the internet hasn’t been my friend recently, and after some technical difficulties – stupid WordPress wiped out the initial draft of this post! – I AM BAAAACK! And it is with this post where I feel like I am finally doing some justice towards my blog name!

Yeah, as you’ve probably already guessed I am talking all things lippy and sharing with you all my favourite shades of the season! More specifically about these “Liquid Matte Lipsticks” that I am obsessing over, and if you haven’t already familiarised with them, then where the bloody hell have you been living?!  Because they’re everywhere! I was getting bored with my current lipstick collection as I don’t really go all out and daring with some colours – quite frankly because I don’t suit them – so I tend to go for nude and natural colours (obviously with a few red lippy’s thrown in there too)! So, I thought the liquid lipsticks would be a perfect update to my makeup bag and when I saw the word “matte” printed across these babies, I was sold! Well, it doesn’t really take much to sell to me, but let’s not dwell on my shopaholic problems just yet, we’ll save that for another day. For now, let’s see some shades…

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I have chosen NYX and Gerard Cosmetics products today because up to now they have been the only liquid lipsticks I have tried that last, ALL DAY. Once I found the beautiful NYX counter standing there all pretty and ever so beautiful in the Boots store, I was hooked. It was like one of those moments in a movie where the girl sees the guy she fancies and everything else around them just fades away and is suddenly non-existent, apart from that guy. Well, that’s what this felt like. And I saw that I wasn’t the only person who was in love with this counter as much as I was, the NYX display was HEAVING with girls! So after I elbowed my way through the crowd – yes, you read right – I literally ELBOWED my way through to the lips display, until I finally reached the front! And seeing that the lipsticks were  £6.50 a tube, I admit things got a little cray-cray from there as I bought more than I intended! It was one of those sorry, not sorry moments! As for obtaining the Gerard Cosmetics lipsticks, it was a simple online order from the comfort of my own home with a cup of tea, the best kind of shopping if you ask me! At £13.59 a tube though, I was very weary with the colours I was purchasing, but looking at them now, I feel like I made some good choices!

The Gerard Cosmetics application is lovely, it glides on easy, I find only one coat is more than enough and once it’s on, the colour  doesn’t budge, like at all. Even with a makeup wipe you will need a little bit of elbow grease to get it off. The only downside I found was the slight stickiness that would be left on your lips after the colour dries to a matte look. They look amazing but that sticky feel just takes some getting used to! With NYX it’s exactly the same! – minus the stickiness, the texture is much softer. However, I did find having to reapply throughout the day with NYX. BUT apart from a massive price difference, I didn’t find these two brands that much different at all! Now, let’s go into further detail of my faves…

The following shades range from lightest to darkest:

Lip 1: “Soft Spoken” – NYX
The perfect everyday lip, it’s like having nothing on your lips, but you have something on your lips, the ‘no-lipstick’ lipstick, the barely there look .. you get the idea. Nude with a peachy glow!

 

Lip 2: “Iced Mocha” – Gerard Cosmetics
This was an “I’m going to try a colour I’ve never worn before” kind of buy, and I have to say I am lovinggg it! I have never found a colour that is more true to its name, this frosty brown is totally unique.

 

Lip 3: “1995” – Gerard Cosmetics
So take a wild guess as to why I bought this colour, not because I was born in 1995 or anything, jeeez, who would do something like that? I would do something like that, me, guilty. But I have no regrets from it! It’s similar to the Iced Mocha but with a much warmer tone!

 

Lip 4: “Cherry Skies” NYX
Because you always need a traditional red lip! It’s some kind of rule, right? Well, you can never have too many red lippy’s – and that’s a fact!

 

Lip 5: “Vintage” – NYX
It’s dark, (much darker than it what it shows in the picture I promise you) and daring! This is the kind of colour you would base the rest of your makeup look around! I love the punky, rocker edge it has to it without being too harsh!

And that is the end of my Lippy Lookbook! I honestly had so much fun shooting and writing this that I definitely want to make more posts like this! If there’s anything else that you guys would like to see from me then drop a comment, email me, message me on Instagram, tweet me, whatever you want, but just get in touch! And if you have any other lippy recommendations for me then let me know ASAP! I’m addicted!

So, my makeup advice usually stops at just the lips, I am hopeless at everything else but I know somebody who slaaaaays in the makeup game, and that is Louise Kaur. She has her own YouTube channel where she gives tutorials and shows you makeup hauls and honestly she’s just damn right hilarious, so go take a look at her magic heeeere!

 

Lippy Lover out x

Lost in a Fairytale: Celebrations and Dissertation

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Talk about you March Madness! Let me give you an update…

My eldest sister is about to tie the knot at the end of this of month and I am way too excited about this because guess who gets to be a Bridesmaid!?! Yeah, I doooooo! And it’s got the point where everything is starting to come together and all the exciting stuff has come around like appointments with florists, choosing bouquets for the Bride and Bridesmaids, button holes for the Gents and all that jazz. Picking the perfect dresses, getting fitted into those dresses etc. But I think the most adorable production that has come from all of this, is the invites. The wedding has a Fairytale theme to it, therefore, my sister wanted the invites to have a specific look to them. So it was left to her loving family to help make them exactly the way she wanted. For those who have added me on Snapchat would have seen the hard work that went into creating these babies. The boxes were flat packed and yours truly had to make them up. The ribbon tie around the scrolls was cut and glued together and the boxes were finished off with pretty pink organza – and I didn’t know what organza was until I was tieing the bows – See, I learned something new from all this! And without being biased or anything… they looked AMAZING!

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Soooo pretty, right?

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Alongside all of this wedding prep I have to keep reminding myself that I am still a student and I still have assignments and yep, still writing that dissertation!! That is due next month. Right now I do feel like Sleeping Beauty who has just woke from a 100-year slumber, except it’s more like a 2-month slumber because I did not see January or February go by at all! And there was no curse (as far as I know) or spindle wheels…or a Prince. So yeah, maybe Sleeping Beauty was a bad example but you get the gist. But the weird thing is that my dissertation also has a Fairytale theme to it! It was a complete coincidence but it’s as though everything around me has got me feeling like I’m in a Disney movie.

I remember at the end of the second year of uni we had to pitch our dissertation ideas to our tutors before the third year began. That was when quite a few people said to me “Don’t choose a topic that you enjoy, you’ll end up hating it when you’re finished.” And I understood where they were coming from because it is possible to  research things to the extent of having enough and wanting to be done with it. So I followed this advice and I initially had the idea to write a short story of some kind of dystopian or parallel universe, which I know has been done over and over and over before but I wanted to challenge myself into trying to make it unique from anything else that has been written before. And guess what? I tried it and failed at it, so it was time for the backup idea!

Enter: The Fairytale.

Now, I absolutely love the fantasy world. In the childhood days, Walt Disney held a special place in the hearts of the Ahmed household, getting us to believe the bird from Dumbo delivered all the babies in the world (still thought it until I was at an age I am too embarrassed to state) Ah, so naive! So it was easy to see where my dissertation would be heading, yep, down the path of Dragons and Pixies – there are actually no Dragons or Pixies in my dissertation at all – but there is a mix of poetry and prose in, so still a challenge, but a good one! My research involved a lot of readings of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, it’s been my favourite from a small age and recently I found a really cute edition of it in Waterstones here! With other reads such as Peter Pan, The Snow Queen, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales all counted as research I regret not writing about something I love sooner. I wasted so much time trying to look into a genre that I couldn’t really wrap my head around and I am really glad I changed my idea before it was too late.

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It’s got pink flamingo’s on it! What’s not to like about that?!

So, for anyone who is about to go into their third year, it’s sometimes best to follow your own instincts. It’s good to get advice from others, but I wouldn’t follow it blindy! But maybe that’s just me, in my opinion, when you research something you’re passionate about then that passion and enthusiasm will show in your writing too. That makes sense right? But just remember everybody works in their own way. It’s worked for me because I am actually loving writing this dissertation. There have been quite a few hiccups along the way that have been smoothed out buI feel like my only problem right now is TIME! It’s coming around far too quickly.

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My desk most days!

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My sister’s wedding is before the dissertation deadline- win! – but being the sister of the Bride is apparently a big deal or something. Oh did I mention I was a Bridesmaid? Yeah? Oh, okay. Anyhoo, that means sharing my time doing all the things that Bridesmaids are supposed to do alongside the dissertation (as well as other assignments), being a good student and trying to attend all lectures and seminars whilst holding onto sanity and maintaining a social life. And I swear if one more person asks me what I am going to do after I finish Uni you’re just gonna get glared at and ignored by me because honestly I have no idea. I only have 2 months left of being a student and I’m trying my best in taking advantage of all the student perks. (Although my NUS card doesn’t expire until December 2017 – not complaining about that!) The next step for me is entering the big, scary, real world and I feel like my sister is kind of in the same situation as she’ll be entering a whole new world too – okay, the Aladdin pun was seriously not intended there.

It’s as though we have just read the words Once Upon A Time of this tale and it is beginning to skip all the pages in between. For my sister, according to the way of a lot of fairy tales, once you marry the Prince you have reached those closing words of Happily Ever After and she can now see those words there at the bottom of the page.

I’m kind of at my own Happily Ever After but instead of a Prince I’m hoping mine right now will be in the form of a degree! And very soon I’ll be starting all over again at the beginning with another Once Upon A Time as I step into the adult world of work.

So, now I’m gonna fix myself a cuppa’ and watch the new episode of Pretty Little Liars! But you can keep up to date with all things weddingy on my Instagram and add me on Snapchat too with username iramahmed95 where I’ve recently been updating and commentating a behind-the-scenes look at wedding preparations and other things that I see as potentially interesting.

Bridesmaid-to-be out!
xxx

 

Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

It has now got to the point where there is a lot going off at university with assignments and research and that dreaded dissertation! So, I felt that to keep me sane I needed a small break! For normal people that may mean a little trip somewhere, a small getaway. But no, I decided that my break away from all that uni reading had to be filled with oh, more reading. Yep, it’s come to that now. But I was bloody glad I did because this little gem was just the most amazing thing I had read in a really long time.

As some of you may already know that Me Before You has been adapted into a movie that’s going to be released later this year in June (starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke) and it was from watching the trailer that willed me to buy the book. I’m still into the whole ‘reading the book before the movie’ kind of thing so I can then criticise the movie for missing out my favourite parts or changing little bits in the plot and ruining the overall magic of the book. But judging from the trailer I watched I have high hopes for it! Then again, Sam Claflin (who I adore. A lot!) is in it so I already know I’m going to love it.

So, without any spoilers here’s a bit about the story itself…

Jojo Moyes sets the scene in a cute, quiet, little town which is where we meet our protagonist, Louisa (Lou) Clark is currently living. For any girl in their twenties and trying to cope with life, you will find yourself instantly relating to Lou and everything she says and does. Believe me. Not only her but I love the way Moyes characterises the whole of the Clark family; a very close-knit family living a typical British lifestyle with their love, support, and many cups of teas just warmed my heart and makes the book feel so real. Then there’s Will Traynor. A quadriplegic patient bound to a chair for the rest of his life due to a motorcycle accident and is in need of twenty-four hour care. He’s sarcastic, grumpy and I quote from Moyes ‘a bit of an arse’ but through Lou’s perspective, somehow you fall completely in love with him. Although they both grew up in the same small village, Will and Lou have never encountered each other until now. They come from two very different worlds who need each other and begin to show each other all the thing they have been missing out on in life. I don’t know how Moyes does it but she perfectly captures the reality of the situations that Lou and Will find themselves in. There were times when I felt awkward and uncomfortable in some scenes but it was because you become so connected with these characters it is hard not to feel what they feel.

From start to finish the novel is completely full of ups and downs. Moyes has this sheer writing talent of being able to write with such wit where you’ll be laughing at one point but then you’ll turn the next page and be in floods of tears. (There may or may not have been a bit I was reading that caused me to cry, a lot, whilst sat on a train, in a carriage full of people, sniffling whilst pretending to check my phone but secretly looking to see that my mascara wasn’t halfway down my face.) Again, I don’t know how Moyes does it! The way she transitions her writing style from heartwarming to suddenly heartbreaking is a very talented thing to do indeed!

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Buy your copy here

This book will inspire you and maybe make you appreciate life a little more. That sounded really cheesy but it’s the good kind of cheese, I promise you. The book is roughly 500 pages long and I read it in two days, I’m quite a slow reader so that is like a world record for me. I just couldn’t put it down. Then, after I had finished it I was in a slight daze, it was that stage where I was like ‘what the hell do I do with my life now?’ That was when I saw that magical word that every bookworm will appreciate – sequel – yes, the sequel to Me Before You is quite rightfully titled After You and one that I will be reading kind of immediately.

All I can say is reeeeaaad it. That’s all.

Emotionally unstable bookworm out xx

Wishlisting over on ASOS

 

So, over the past couple of months I’ve done a fair bit of grafting in the world of work and today I woke up to find I had been paid not just from one of my jobs but BOTH of them! Say whaaaat! I promised myself that when this day arrived that I would be a good girl and not buy anything (I had this whole save, save, save state of mind thing going on) but it’s as though I have this natural instinct (that I have no control over whatsoever) and before I know it I’m immediately reaching over to my laptop and the pretty pretty clothes and shoes on the Asos website are staring straight at me. Then I’m sat there thinking how did this happen? I don’t know what’s going on? But then something else inside of me pipes up and is shouting out things like; ‘you deserve this”look how amazing those jeans are’ *adds to saved items* ‘you already have the perfect shoes that will match that top, get it.’ *adds to saved items* And the process never ends! Does anybody else get this way too? This battle with yourself? Anyways, moving away from my personal psychoanalysis… here we have my top picks from Asos at the moment that have already made reservations in my wardrobe. Just click on a picture to shop it, there’s a nice little variety on there and with this ongoing, freezing cold weather situation, a lot of it should keep you snug as a bug! I’m obsessing over the navy and powder pink colour combo and have recently been introduced the beauty that is the cylindrical heeled boots! If any of you have any favourites yourself, share them with me! Because I’m filthy, stinkin’ rich dontcha know? *she exclaims with wishful, delusional thoughts.* Oh, and don’t forget to take a peek over on my Instagram to see some of these pieced together in full outfit form (when they eventually arrive that is) 🙂

Happy shopping!  xo

All images shown in this post belong to ASOS

Published, Baby!

Happy New Year, Guys!

So, I’ve been working on this post for some time but with Christmas, work, assignments and the New Year getting in the way it got really delayed. Also, it took a while for me to wrap my head around what actually happened and it was something very very VERY exciting! If I haven’t already spammed your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram news feeds, (sorry about that) you may have guessed from the title, that yes, I’M PUBLISHED! One of my short stories – The Cores – that I began writing in my first year of University has been printed in the pages of The Young Writers’ Anthology 2015 by Electric Reads – exciting! This is Electric Reads’ first ever anthology and that just made me feel even more honoured to be a part of it! It’s publishing companies like these that I absolutely adore because they search for those unknown British writers lurking in the shadows just waiting for opportunities to strike and they give them that chance to put a foot in the door of the world of writing – as it has done for me! And right now I feel like the luckiest girl in the world! What a lovely way to end 2015 eh?

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The paperback version of The Young Writers’ Anthology and also in Kindle format!

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I highly recommend you all to pick up a copy of the anthology, not because my story is in there (who am I kidding, of course it’s because my story is in there!) But there is also a huge variety of raw, young, British talent out there that is featured in this one publication. As I was reading some of the other short stories within it I was immediately asking myself how I was considered to be chosen to be in the same category as this gifted bunch! Of course my mum will argue that mine is the best, so to keep the peace let’s all agree with her. Agreed? Good.  😉

On a more serious note though, if any of you are aspiring writers and want a platform such as this to get your name out there somewhere, here’s what I did.

*Cue my publishing journey*

I was lucky enough to stumble across the Electric Reads ‘Call for Submissions’ article on my creative writing university blog (Beyond the Walls) If you’re in school/college/university then taking a look at their creative arts programs for competitions and submissions is a good place to start. I saw this article in early September and when I saw the closing date was the 31st October I quickly jumped at the chance to apply for it!

I had taken a look-see at the submission guidelines – I can’t emphasise how important this is, for any aspiring writers, you could write an epic, amazing piece for a magazine/journal/anthology/article or whatever and it won’t be what they are looking for! So they’ll simply dismiss it and it will break your heart. Luckily, Electric Reads were looking for prose (my speciality!) and something unique, creative and original (not as easy to achieve!) Oh, and I had to be 25 and under and British so, from reading this I seemed to be ticking all the boxes that the submission guidelines consisted of – debatable about the originality part – and I instantly thought that my short story The Cores would be perfect for it. After drafting and re-drafting what I had wrote a year and a half ago I finally thought it was acceptable to submit (well, I wasn’t perfectly happy with it but then again I never am when it comes to my own writing!) So I submitted it a few days prior to the deadline.

A few days later. . .

To my surprise I received an email to say my piece had been SHORTLISTED! So that’s when I thought, wow! Okay, that’s it that’s as far as I’m going to get, to be shortlisted is such an honour and it’s something I can still put on my CV, always thinking ahead me! But as a shortlisted writer I was told by the publishing company that I still had to provide some details about myself like a short bio and a photograph! Believe me, the hardest part about this whole experience was trying to find a photograph of myself that didn’t make me look like a mug. We got there in the end, well, kind of.

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After I sent all that the next step was just to wait. Yes, it was painful because whilst waiting I was thinking to myself ‘OMG, what if I was too ego-centrical in my bio? What if I really did look like a mug in my photo and they don’t want anything to do with me now?’ I’m an over thinker, okay? So after what felt like a year (I think realistically it was like 4 days) I received an email to say that I had been chosen within the top 25 to be PUBLISHED!!! That’s when it all started to feel completely surreal and everything moved really quickly. I was assigned an editor to work with and he read over my piece and returned it to me with feedback and suggestions of what he thinks I should change/add. This was a process I didn’t mind doing because I love constructive criticism, this guy is just trying to make my story better, how could I argue with that?! So within the course of about 2-3 weeks my story had evolved massively. After a final proof-read it was ready for print!

THEN, IT WAS THE DAY WE HAD ALL BEEN WAITING FOR! The release date came about on the 11th December and the anthology was first available in an e-book and then the paperback version followed it a few hours later on Amazon. Of course, mum was already on the job ordering her own copy and arrived at our door a couple of days later. The whole thing just felt so surreal (it still does!) I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. When we opened the book to my page (the biggest shock was seeing my face take up a whole page on all its own) but they were MY words printed in that book, MY story, and I don’t think I’m ever going to get used to that feeling.

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ALSO, I also had the privilege to be published alongside a fellow York St John Creative Writing student and friend, Bryony Eilish Porteous. She has had her short story The Drude printed in this anthology too and I have to say it is such a unique, stunning read! This girl is crazy talented in story-telling which is why you need to pick yourself up a copy!

And I think that’s about it! Hope you guys enjoyed the post and have an AMAZING New Year! All the best for 2016!

I xo

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Diary: A Weekend in Whitby

From light breezes to blustering winds, drizzly spells to torrential rainfall and times where you are just simply left breathless – and I’m not just talking about walking up and down those hundred and ninety-nine steps several times – but whether it be in the warmth of the golden sun or through blurred vision because the wind has struck you and you’re crying rivers, Whitby is still without a doubt, breathtakingly beautiful.

You see, writing can get so overwhelming and stressful at times that a break is needed to avoid the risk of one becoming a sectioned patient. Luckily for us, our amazing creative writing tutors understood this and organised a weekend retreat to Whitby where we able to escape, to write, or to just take in the lovely sights that Whitby consisted of where inspiration was lurking on every cobbled corner. And it was definitely a wonderful break indeed! Minus those killer steps of course – our hostel was situated on the cliff top and the easiest way to get into the town was to go down that bugger of a staircase – but no pain, no gain right?

We arrived at the hostel and I’m sure the first question asked was “what’s the WIFI password?” (I may or may not have wanted to know that myself.) So once all that important stuff was out the way we had our chance to explore! Yes, we were at the seaside but let’s not forget it’s November (and this is Britain) so I basically wanted to wrap up so much that if I fell and hit the floor, the goal was to bounce straight off the ground and get back up again! (Fortunately I didn’t fall but that meant I was never able to test that theory.) So, hats, scarves, boots were the basics, obviously gloves were out of the question because then I wouldn’t be able to use my phone. #FirstWorldProbs

Whitby has always been a special place from a literary perspective as its mesmerising scenes has influenced many great writers – Lewis Carroll and of course, Bram Stoker are just a couple. Now, it was OUR time to become inspired! We had the pleasure of walking through cemeteries where the gravestones looked more like props stolen from a movie set (except there were actual real people buried underneath these ones.) We took a gander round the little town, discovered tiny coffee shops that seemed only fit for hobbits – there was a lot of “Mind Your Head” signs about it – I met some overly friendly donkeys and I think I probably made friends with more dogs than I did with people 🙂

We had a night dedicated to the students for their chance to read out what they had written over the course of the first day, I just have to say, I was surrounded by some crazy, mad talent in there! Being in the company of such a lovely group of people, bonding and meeting some amazing new friends has definitely been the highlight of the trip! Okay, soppy moment over.

And I think that’s it in a nutshell! So, here I have created a little photo diary of my time over the retreat. I switched into photographer mode quite often, okay, very often (I got a little excited at the Abbey ruins as you may be able to tell) and of course, there’s plenty of selfie action!

Somehow all 199 of those steps seemed to have had some kind of inspirational powers because writer, Michael Farber has wrote a whole novel about them. I don’t know what he was on whilst he was walking up (and down) them, but I want some of it. The point being, I intend to read his novel that is, oh shocker, called The Hundred and Ninety Nine Steps to try and find some positivity from the devil that made me feel like I’d done three straight days of leg-day at the gym! Okay, I’ve never been to a leg-day session in my life but if I did, I imagine it would feel like that.

Also, a massive, massive thank you to the Creative Writing Team at York St John! We had a blast!

Follow @YSJWriting on Twitter for more pictures of how the trip went down.

Relaxed Retreater out x

Confessions of an English Literature Student: October

Gather round peoples…it’s the second instalment of the confessional chronicles!

So this post has been in the making for a while, but it’s here! Better late than never right? So, to keep you guys updated with the shenanigans of my 3rd year, I’ve decided to show you through monthly posts because let’s face it, it’s only uni and my life isn’t interesting enough to read about on a very frequent basis. I don’t want to be that person who dedicates a whole post about what I had for breakfast that day (that’s what my Instagram is for) 😉 As it is now November (that rushed its way over to us with no intentions of slowing down – I swear, all I did was blink and October was over!) I am going to show you a brief October diary of the ‘settling in’ stage I experienced at uni at the start of the year. Also, a mini autumnal photo-shoot I shot of places around my university, as we say good-bye to the leaves for the last time this year – oh, oh, wait, did you hear that? Yeah, that was the sound of my heart breaking a little inside. I’m so not looking forward to winter.

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The First Day

You walk onto campus and you sense this nervous, lost and scared feeling. It isn’t coming from you but from the emotions of the Fresher’s that have left this sensation lingering in the atmosphere. You of course sympathise for the young Fresher, understanding the fact that you were in those shoes not too long ago. You don’t feel sorry because of the fact that they’re new and lonely, no of course not, but for the dreaded ice-breaker sessions that will be coming their way. God, them bloody ice-breaker sessions! Where EVERY tutor in EVERY class will assign EVERYONE to do. The whole, turn to the person next to you and tell them 3 fun facts about yourself but one of them has to be a lie, the other person has to guess which one is the lie. Anybody had that one before? You haven’t met this person before, so for all you know every single fact they tell you could be a lie! The worst part is trying to guess the fact that is a lie, because you don’t want to offend anybody if they say something that is completely ridiculous and you obviously assume it to be a lie, but then it turns out to be a true fact! So you’re sat there basically looking like a mug. Why do they put us trough that, eh?

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So this year you count yourself lucky as you don’t have to go through any more  ice-breakers because by now you should be ‘familiar’ with everyone, and you are familiar with everyone…everyone being those who are just your friends. It’s not like you choose to be anti-social with everyone else, you try to make conversation with somebody you haven’t spoken a word to in the past two years (and you don’t really know their name) but then they look at you as though you have trespassed some invisible territorial piece of land of theirs. Rude. But you tried.

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Classes are in session

Currently reading:
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (20th Century Writing module)
The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri (Scriptwriting module)

You walk into your first class thinking things are going to be so chilled, calm and cool, it’s the first week and you will be eased back slowly into being able to hold a pen and write on paper (because you haven’t done that all summer.) But boy, you were so delusional.Wrong, wrong and completely wrong! As soon as you sit your ass down in that lecture theatre everything comes at you at a billion miles an hour. Assignment briefs, deadline dates and …  the dreaded DISSERTATION.

Welcome to third year folks.

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The reading list you so very well prepared yourself (debatable) magically has two new books added to them! And your like ‘OMG’ and you flashback to a couple of weeks back where you tried to read just one of those books (the smallest one as well) and ended up watching the movie instead. You had followed the book while watching the movie, so that sort of counts as reading it, right? You’re panicking and think you’re going to have to up your game a little bit now and (with a miracle) squeeze in those two mysteriously added books into your reading agenda somehow. Buying them first might be a good idea.

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In classes, there is a discussion on the book you were supposed to have read, but you’ve only managed to read the first couple of chapters. Your tutor asks you to discuss it with the people around you. Now, there’s two ways this can go down. Scenario 1 – The person you are paired with has read the book in the summer and then re-read it in preparation for this class just last night and knows the plot inside out, understands every character’s feelings and thought of every philosophical theory about the book. Scenario 2 – You’re paired with someone who has read the blurb of the book and you can’t get no conversation out of them whatsoever. Here you have a fine example of two ends of the student spectrum. Then there’s you. Stuck in the middle. You smile, nod and throw in an ‘Oh yeah of course, I agree’ now and then in scenario 1, trying to bring the conversation back to the bits you actually did read to make yourself sound more intelligent. In scenario 2, I suppose you just talk about what they did over the weekend.

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As you can see from what you have read, I should totally be a representative of the university right? I just can’t get my head around as to why I haven’t been approached by any of the faculty members yet! Okay, I couldn’t even type that with a straight face. Oh! And I hope you all have an absolute blast tonight for Bonfire Night (sorry, these puns are even starting to irritate me) that is if you are doing anything interesting tonight. I for one am debating between going to the local firework display show and seeing the show through the lens of my camera, or sitting on the sofa in front of the TV with a Chinese take-away, and as I am typing this, it’s kind of a no-brainer.

Until next month guys for the next part of the Confessional Chronicles…

Bad Punned Student out ..x

Some Seventies Sass

Just taking a moment to appreciate the sibilance in the title right there, I look at things like that and sometimes think to myself, ‘Gosh Iram, you’re so creative!’ Aaaaand the moment’s over.

So, It’s November already?!?! Which means I am so desperately trying to make the most of Autumn before the big freeze sets in and I’ll be buried under a blanket (most likely a duvet) whilst sat in front of the fire with a mug of hot chocolate watching shows on Netflix (by the way, still not over the fact that The Office US has been removed. It’s actually quite painful to talk about). There may be some possibility of crying and stressing over a few Uni assignments some time further down the line, but let’s not focus on that just now.

October flew away too quickly from me and a race has begun between me and the falling leaves. They’re still floating about spreading all their vibrant colourfulness, but I have still have too many autumnal outfits with too little time! I’m always always always spoilt for choices when it comes to Autumn, there are waaaay too many trends that I am in love with and I wish I could wear every single one of them all at the same time, but that would be a little ridiculous, even for me. So I have to keep telling myself ‘C’mon Iram, one outfit at a time.’

And ta-dah! Here is one of them… It’s belted, which is where I immediately think I can eat a little extra at dinner and not have to worry about the bloating situation that will occur ‘cos all I gotta do is loosen up the strings a little. It’s denim! Denim and I have an all-love kind of relationship, so no complaints there. It has pockets, meaning my phone has a new home for the day instead of being shoved in a bag. Overall, it releases all this inner sassiness I assume I would have had if I was strutting my stuff in this babe of an outfit during the seventies era. Basically, it’s the jumpsuit of my dreams! Three Trends Alert: Denim, Layering and Suede! Those boots just tie the whole look together and add an extra seventies kick (pun intended) to the outfit.

Hope you guys enjoy these shots of me trying to be candid and that against my neighbour’s garden wall (I’m sure he didn’t mind), whilst my sisters waited for me in the car with the windows rolled down, shouting at me to hurry up so we could get going. I swear, professionalism is dead these days.

Outfit details are all posted at the bottom of the post!

Jumpsuit – ASOS
Turtle Neck Top – New Look via ASOS
Boots – H&M

Feedback and comments would be massively appreciated!!
Iram x